From OPAC to SOPAC

This session is one that interested me because I’ve read a lot about SOPACs and wanted to get a better understanding of what they do. (SOPAC = Social Online Access Public Catalog) The session after this one is one I should have stayed for but there was another equally as interesting one at the same time. I wish I could have done both but luckily our head of IT went to it…I think (I’ll have to double check).

There are some good notes from an official CIL blogger.

It began with Phil Green – CTO Inmagic, Inc. discussing what a SOPAC is. He really did a good job of going over the highlights and describing different aspects of what a SOPAC does. A SOPAC is a type of product that enables certain level of capability. Below is a quick rundown of some of those capabilities.

  • Vetted content (OPAC – subject headings etc.)
  • Community tools – search, rate, commenting, blogs, and tagging
  • Building community around content
  • SOPAC is not meant to be the Internet. We have some controls
  • Both bottom up and top down info coming together

Amazon is a good example of a SOPAC. It started as a catalog but grew into a way for people contribute. You know what content came from the publisher and what content is from the public. You must be able to tell the difference easily in a SOPAC.

Openfields is a  website using a SOPAC.

He compared a SOPAC to a gated community. There is some control of who can come in and what can be done.

We need to separate the back office from the user interface because the needs of librarians and users are different. Therefore different types of products with different strenghts are required. SOPAC is not a library with a blog on the side. SOPAC tightly integrates social media to enhance the content. An OPAC and a blog can’t do that.

Why SOPAC?

80% of what people know is in their heads 20% is in a repository. SOPAC can capture conversations that may be lost by using only email etc. It becomes a hub for information and can help get that knowledge because:

  • It is something people will use to look things up
  • They will contribute/share new information

Not everyone will contribute…that’s ok. The people who have something to say will contribute and that will grow. It will help the organization discover the innovators and influencers that may not be in positions of power (yet). When looking for these informal leaders be on the look out for the people who are:

  • posting useful information
  • posting useful comments

There is a new model for library catalogs. Users want to contribute. We can benefit from their contributions but we will need to moderate. A SOPAC allows us to do just that. When moderating we need to realize that our catalog is not an Internet site where anything goes…we want high quality. If the contributions from the users aren’t high quality then we can ax it.

Mark Patrick of the REVS Institute was next.

His organization uses the Presto SOPAC (developed by Inmagic) as their public interface. His organization is all about classic automobiles so they have a lot of pictures and other digital content that would be difficult to showcase in a standard OPAC. He and his organization are very happy with their SOPAC. He spent some time demonstrating some of the things they are able to do with their SOPAC and generally interesting me in his organization. I’m not a gear-head but I do enjoy automobiles. I’ll have to check out his site when I get some time.

I really wish I would have stayed for the next session with John Blyberg but I decided to attend a different one. It was good but the SOPAC is something I need to learn more about sooner rather than later.

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