While I like the ideas behind WPOpac, I have to disagree with Casey’s post about exposing the information to Google. I actually have no problem with exposing, as you can do what you want, but I don’t think it’s very helpful as is and would hope if more libraries do it that Google takes action and moves the results to the bottom. The information on most OPAC’s pages are only useful to a few people and it would make more sense to have it only show up when they include the library name or something similar. It looks ok know and seems like it might be a good idea to have it wide open and high results but that’s only because very few are doing it. When I search for an author or book the last thing I want is 20 pages of results for different libraries that all tell me nothing. Casey does include a link to WorldCat but it presumes you know what “worldcat libraries” is.

Now I should say that I think library holdings in search engines are a great idea and the way to go in the future but I have some caveats:

I think Google could pull something off that was useful. I like their displays when you search for a band or album. I’d like to see something similar when you search for an author or title. Google could work with libraries, oclc and others to get the dataset they need to group information such as this. OpenWorldCat within Google. Libraries/Worldcat could then be featured without clogging up results. I think Google could also expand their openurl or something they use with Google Book Search to general results. Those with an account could then choose their library and have it linked to from applicable results.

If I sound like I’m saying that library results aren’t useful it’s because I find many aren’t. A link in Amazon that says my library has an item is pretty useful. 10,000 results for different libraries when I’m trying to look up some information online isn’t. I do have to point out an exception though: rare out-of-print books. For books that only a few libraries hold it makes sense to let people know a print copy is still available as it might be worth the time and frustration to get. Again something like worldcat is often used and could be a help in this area.

I’m sure some disagree, feel free to write up your own opinion. This is just one by a library user.