Band-aids & thoughts inspired by Chris Harris

I’ve been having a lot of conversations with folks about band-aids lately. Not the kind that my 5 year-old insists will magically make her skin stop itching if I just let her “have one more, pleaseeeee.” But rather the kind, that as organizations, we create ourselves whenever we patch a procedure or create a work around for a process that no longer fits our needs.

This week I received an email from a staff member with a “wish list” of items for the next version of our ILS and while I’d love to be able to say that these enhancements will definitely be included, I know there’s no guarantee yet.

Anyway, as I read the list of items (which included simple things like the ability to set permanent parameters for pull lists and improvements to check-in alert messages) it occurred to me that most of our staff has already created band-aids for these short-comings. These are frustrations they shouldn’t have to work around (example: A check-in message that says “This item has 4 tapes, please check to be sure all are present” shouldn’t automatically check-in the item unless the staff member confirms it.); instead their work flow should have an easy rhythm.

But what is worse then applying too many band-aids, is not knowing when to peel them back slowly or just rip them off. We seem to have gotten comfortable with our scabby patches (especially in our ILSs and catalogs) to the point that we don’t even realize that they’re still there. And when the band-aid wears thin, we seldom seek consultation but raterh reach for another from our medicine cabinet.

Christopher Harris offers a great post this week on looking deep inside into the guts of our OPACs and asks the question … do MARC records really have to be the core of the catalog, or is there a better way to connect and improve the search and find experience?

It’s an interesting question and a great post to ponder. I for one appreciate Chris’s prompting to look under the accumulation of band-aids and take a second look.

What's your take on OPACs? Are you happy with your band-aids or ready for something better?

PS: I agree with Chris, AADL's SOPAC rocks and the band-aids are pretty amazing too!

1 comment: said...

It is so funny that I read this post tonight just after I came back from Target with--you guessed it--a box of Band-aids (I'm not making this up!). I was very particular in my search for the Band-Aids I wanted--they had to be the flexible kind and in assorted sizes. Hmmm, flexible, assorted there is another metaphor for Libraries...but before I digress, let me say that Band-aids should NOT be long-term solutions. Band-aids do serve us, to get us through the oh-my-gosh-this-doesn't-work moment, but let's not let them stick too long! Listen to the person using a particular product or application daily...listen to the staff member who says "this isn't working quite right." If that Band-aid moment lingers into weeks, months (years!) then soon the band-aid becomes a part the process itself--and when it gets pulle off--yeoooow!.