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System Design and Cataloging Meet the User: User Interfaces to Online Public Access Catalogs


Current research on user interfaces to online public access catalogs is reviewed in an attempt to identify research methods and findings applicable to the design of effective user interfaces to online public access catalogs. A broad definition of user interface is employed which includes data structures, in addition to searching and indexing software. The following features of online public access catalogs are discussed: the demonstration of relationships between records, the provision of entry vocabularies, the arrangement of multiple entries on the screen, the provision of access points, the display of single records, and the division of the catalog into separate files or indexes. For each feature, user studies and other research on online public access catalogs are reviewed and those findings summarized which provide insight into user needs concerning that particular feature; issues are identified and directions for future research are suggested. Implications for cataloging codes and standards and system design are discussed.

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