Using search engine technology to improve library catalogs

Lewandowski, D. (2010). Using search engine technology to improve library catalogs. Advances in Librarianship, 32, 35–54.

Download: Preprint / Publisher Version


This chapter outlines how search engine technology can be used in online public access library catalogs (OPACs) to help improve users’ experiences, to identify users’ intentions, and to indicate how it can be applied in the library context, along with how sophisticated ranking criteria can be applied to the online library catalog. A review of the literature and current OPAC developments form the basis of recommendations on how to improve OPACs. Findings were that the major shortcomings of current OPACs are that they are not sufficiently user-centered and that their results presentations lack sophistication. Further, these shortcomings are not addressed in current 2.0 developments. It is argued that OPAC development should be made search-centered before additional features are applied. While the recommendations on ranking functionality and the use of user intentions are only conceptual and not yet applied to a library catalogue, practitioners will find recommendations for developing better OPACs in this chapter. In short, readers will find a systematic view on how the search engines’ strengths can be applied to improving libraries’ online catalogs.