The Transition from the Library OPAC to the Library Resources Portal: Difficulties and New Approaches in User Education for the Academic Librarians and Their Changing Roles

By Patrick Lo.

Published by The Technology Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Electronic technologies have made a significant impact on the education section, affecting the day-to-day activities in classrooms, offices, libraries, and media centres, etc. In fact, libraries have been most affected by the electronic technologies, because the essence of the library is information management. As we move towards the new millennium, the effects of this technology on schools or academic libraries will become more critical pervasive. Librarians who prepare for these changes will find themselves and their libraries affecting all aspects of learning and teaching, unstrained by space/location and time. Along with the various types of access methods being developed, information contents and services provide through the Internet have also become a great variety. In terms of information management, developments in library automation technologies have also changed the role and the functional capabilities of the library’s Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC), as well as the traditional librarianship. Users can now access different Internet resources through the hot/URL links provided in Web-OPAC (WebPAC). Our library catalogue or OPAC is no longer just an inventory list or a finding aid only for what the library owns, but rather for everything to which the library has access. It has changed from just a list to a comprehensive content delivery mechanism. This paper discusses the new nature of OPAC, and attempts to explore various ways that librarians as OPAC designers could do to enrich the contents of the catalogue, and its records to provide easy and yet comprehensive access for Internet resources for their end-users. This paper examines the difficulties and the new approaches in user education for academic librarians in relations to the transition from the library OPAC (Online Public Access Catalogue) to the library resources portal – investigating the current trends, as well as the potentials of the future library OPAC. It commences with an overview of the developments of the library OPACs at different stages, followed by detailed descriptions on the different attributes, as well as the limitations of the old and existing library catalogues, and defines the new concept of the future developments as a library portal for electronic resources. It also offers proposal to respond to the dilemma of librarians as designers of the future library catalogue, i.e., to provide access to the expanding universe of information and knowledge. This paper presents and illustrates general trends related to the development of OPAC, and how these trends continue to gain momentum in libraries – to encourage librarians to come more proactive in their roles as information managers and educators.

Keywords: OPAC (Online Public Access Catalogue), WebPAC (Web-OPAC), Library Online Catalogues, Lingnan University Library, Hong Kong, Electronic Information Resources

The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp.39-50. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.121MB).

Dr. Patrick Lo

Current Postgraduate Student, Doctor of Education (EdD), University of Bristol, UK

Mr. Lo is currently a candidate of Doctor of Education (EdD), at Bristol University (UK). He has a Master of Arts in Design Management (MA) from Hong Kong Polytechnic University (2004), a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from McGill University (Canada; 1994), and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from Mount Allison University, (Canada; 1992). Mr Lo is efficient in: Cantonese Chinese, Mandarin Chinese (Putunghua), English and German. 1996-2007, Mr Lo was seving as Cataloguing Librarian at Lingnan University Library (Hong Kong). 2003-06, Mr. Lo was also serving as the Coordinator of the Library as Cultural Centre activities at Lingnan University Library. Mr. Lo's professional affiliations include the following: 1. 1999-2006 - Secretary of JULAC-HKCAN (Hong Kong Chinese Name Authority) Workgroup. 2. 2003-2006 - Representative of Lingnan University Library (Hong Kong) for the Hong Kong JULAC-BSC (Bibliographic Services Committee). 3. 2004 - present - Member of CALIS (China Academic Library and Information System) Unicat Expert Group. Mr. Lo has presented close to 40 research papers and project reports focusing on humanities, education, and library science at different local and international workgroup meetings, seminars, conferences, including: Mainland China, Hong Kong, Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Japan, United States, Korea, and Sweden; including presenting at: 1. The Library of Congress (U.S), 2. Austrian National Library (Vienna), 3. University of Vienna, 4. National Library of France (Paris), 5. National Institute of Informatics (Japan), etc. Mr. Lo’s recent professional activity includes presenting “Using Outsource Data of Digital Resources in Creating Our Own Bibliographic Records: Lingnan University Library’s Experience in Converting Naxos Music Library and Spoken Word Library Online Titles to MARC Records” at the 72nd IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) Conference in Seoul, Korea, in August 2006: Mr. Lo's research interests include: latest developments of Metadata, Chinese authority works, and cataloguing among Chinese libraries in Asia and North America; exploring potentials for resources sharing among Chinese libraries in Asia; future development and enhancement of bibliographic records; users’ interaction with the online catalogue; Western classical music, especially Italian operas, vocal music of German Post-Romantic period, Lieder (German art songs), etc. Award(s): Most Active Presenter Award of HKIUG (Hong Kong Innovative Users Group) Annual Meeting in December 2006. Recent Activity: serving as Reporter of Recent Serials Publications in China of Fontes Artis Musicae Journal.


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