Soon after joining the the British Library nearly three years ago I had my first encounter with our Integrated Catalogue, and I have to say it was not a happy experience. Having used and developed simple and easy to use databases and catalogues in the past, I found our system complicated, confusing and definitely not a thing of beauty.
Once the sheer scale of the database (over 14 million records) was explained to me, and how much of an improvement it was over the numerous separate catalogues that pre-dated it, my criticisms were somewhat muted.
However, I still struggled every time I needed to search it. But the good news is that from this week I now have the option of using the beta version of our new Primo based ‘Search our Catalogue’ service from ExLibris.
The role model for this new interface is Amazon and other similar simple to use search services such as Flickr and eBay. After just a few sample searches I have to say that I am very impressed. The design is much cleaner and clearer than the Integrated Catalogue, and provides display options and mechanisms for filtering the results.
Even more revolutionary for the library is the ability to tag books and even write reviews once you are logged in.