As librarians, we understand the importance of making sure that our library’s resources are accessible and discoverable to patrons. But did you know that your online public access catalog (OPAC) could be used as a powerful tool for patron engagement? By optimizing your OPAC, you can create a pleasant browsing experience for patrons while also highlighting new content and vital information. In this post, we’ll take a look at how librarians can make the most out of their OPAC to engage patrons and foster positive interactions with library users.
What is an OPAC and Why is it Important for Libraries to Engage Their Patrons in its Use?
An OPAC (online public access catalog) is a web-based application that provides library users with an organized, searchable list of all available library material. This includes books, magazines, CDs, DVDs and more. The purpose of the OPAC is to make it easier for patrons to find what they’re looking for without having to wander around the library or search through a paper catalog.
The OPAC is becoming an increasingly important tool for libraries as patrons shift their focus from physical materials to digital content. With the rise of e-books and other digital media, it’s essential that librarians use the same technology to make information accessible and discoverable online. Optimizing an OPAC helps libraries keep up with changing technologies and provides patrons with an easy and convenient way to find information.
How Can You Make Your OPAC More Engaging for Patrons of All Ages and Backgrounds?
The key to creating an engaging and user-friendly OPAC is to focus on the patron experience. Consider how your patrons interact with the catalog, what information they’re looking for, and how you can make their journey easier. Here are a few ways librarians can make the most out of their OPAC:
- Add short descriptions to items and collections. This helps give patrons a better idea of what they’re looking at, making it easier for them to decide what they want.
- Offer different search options. Give users the ability to search by title, author, genre, and other criteria so they can find what they’re looking for quickly and easily.
- Create special collections or featured items. Spotlight new materials, highlight certain genres, or create special collections that cater to different user interests.
- Make it mobile-friendly. Over 50% of library patrons use their smartphones or tablets to interact with the catalog, so make sure your OPAC is optimized for these devices
What are Some Fun and Creative Ways to Get Your Patrons Excited About Using the OPAC to Find the Information They Need?
- Host an OPAC scavenger hunt. Challenge patrons to find specific items in the catalog, giving them clues along the way.
- Create special collections or featured items that relate to seasonal events or current trends.
- Offer library patrons rewards for using the OPAC – give away prizes like gift certificates to local bookstores or other business, or movie tickets for the most frequent users.
- Invite library users to curate their own collections in the OPAC and share them with other patrons.
- Have a monthly poll in which library patrons can vote on their favorite book, movie, etc. based on items they find in the catalog.
What are the Benefits of Engaging Your Patrons in the Use of Your Library’s OPAC?
The benefits of engaging patrons in the use of the library’s OPAC are numerous. For libraries, optimizing the OPAC helps reduce manual labor and allows librarians to focus on other areas such as customer service. Additionally, an engaged patron base can help boost library usage statistics and increase visibility within the community.
For patrons, using the OPAC helps make search times faster and more efficient. An engaging OPAC also encourages individuals to explore different materials and discover new items that they may not have found otherwise. Furthermore, the availability of special collections or featured items can help patrons find something interesting to read, watch, or listen to that they would be interested in. Finally, rewards for frequent use of the OPAC can incentivize patrons to keep coming back and exploring the library’s catalog. All in all, an engaging OPAC makes for a better experience for both libraries and their patrons.
How Patron Reviews Can Drive OPAC Engagement
Patron reviews can be a great way to drive OPAC engagement by providing an extra layer of information and opinion. Reviews can help patrons make more informed decisions when browsing the catalog, as they allow readers to get insight into the quality of items and collections. Reviews also provide an opportunity for library staff to interact with their patrons in an engaging way, as they can reply to comments and start conversations in the OPAC.
Additionally, reviews can incentivize patrons to use the catalog more often – they may be interested in seeing what other people have said about certain items or collections before making a selection.
Finally, library staff can use patron reviews to learn more about their patrons’ preferences and interests, thus helping to further optimize the OPAC’s offerings and make it even more engaging.
Overall, patron reviews can be a great tool for libraries to drive engagement with their OPACs and help patrons make better selections when searching the catalog.
Surpass Cloud offers Patron-written Reviews and Ratings on all of its plans. Not all OPACs have the ability to offer Patron Reviews.
Ultimately, utilizing an OPAC for your library is an essential tool for patrons and staff to efficiently find the materials they need. While the catalog has come a long way since its inception, there are still some improvements that can make things even better. Making sure that your OPAC is engaging, informative, and up to date will go a long way in providing patrons with the excellent experience they deserve. User-generated reviews and comments can be one great way of doing this: not only do they help guide people towards great material; they also bring a sense of personal engagement that was otherwise inaccessible in a standard catalog search. The library world is ever-changing – let’s make sure it changes for the better!
Surpass Cloud is the easy-to-use, cloud-based library management system for libraries of all types and sizes. Whether you’re a school, church, museum, business, or any other organization with resources to lend, Surpass is likely a good fit for you. We pride ourselves on being affordable and flexible, with an expert support team ready to help you at a moment’s notice.