Saturday, August 26, 2006

My OPAC Really Does Suck!

Sorry it's been so long since the last post, but I haven't really had anything I had to say...until now.

So, the library I work at and the consortuim it is a part of is getting a new automation system. The dreaded time of migration will be here in a c0uple of short weeks. Now as you may know, migrations are a big deal. You're saying adios to a system that, regardless of the many flaws it probably has, everyone knows how to use and is used to in order to bring in something that no one knows how to use and everyone is a little afraid of - even us tech savvy digital natives. Obviously there's going to be anxiety, a lot of frustration, a lot of unhappy patrons who don't understand how it could possibly be taking you this long to find out if Harry Potter and the____ is in, a huge learning curve among staff, and general chaos for quite awhile. Now, one hopes that you're going through this super happy fun time because, in the end, your old OPAC sucked and you're going to get something shiny and new (and not text based) with lots of bells and whistles that will make searching easier, check out faster, and have some nifty reports you can run. This is a normal hope right? After all, "they" wouldn't make you go through this hell without a reason, and a darn good reason at that, right?
I have a news flash for all of you out there: windows-based is not necessarily better than text-based. It's true. Really. I wouldn't have believed it before I encountered SirsiDynix's Horizon. I started out in a tiny library in tiny rural town but we had an amazing windows-based automation system called Athena put out by Sagebrush. I love Athena. It's got great features, it's pretty to look at, and it's incredibly intuitive - it only took me a few days to feel comfortable using it. So I was a bit shocked when I started at my current library to find that even though we're a huge library (by comparison) that's part of a huge consortium the automation system is text-based and looks like DOS. It took me a little while to learn the commands and was frustrating because it wasn't intuitive but I've come to like it and appreciate how quickly you can move through it. When I heard that we were changing systems I was hopeful that it would be something like my old one. But that hope has died. Along with any hope of the new system being an improvement in any way, shape, or form. It's slooowww, ugly, not intuitive, appears to have less searching features than our current one does, and is just all around awful. Everyone I've talked to at work is filled with the same sense of impending doom. I wish there was a way we could bail and just stick with what we've got, but that's one of the downfalls of being in a consortium like we are - autonomy is basically an illusion and you just have to grin and bear it.
This is my question: why?!?!?! Why did the consortial PTB pick this automation system. It's like moving from DOS to Windows 3.1, when the rest of the world is using XP. Let this stand as evidence that change is not always a good thing.

1 comment:

Cat. said...

This is fascinating.

We are in the midst of a merger in which we are switching from Innovative Interfaces to Sirsi, and yes, Impending Doom is exactly how we feel. The last paragraph is PRECISELY how we feel, except we feel like we're moving from XP back to Windows ME (to use your analogy).

When we started training this month, the first thing we were shown was how to change the color of the windows. Because, yeah, that's definitely on the list of things we need to know how to do.