Wednesday, 10 September 2008

A Genius OPAC

OPAC vendors: you probably downloaded iTunes 8 last night, as I did. You probably set up the Genius function too, like me. You were probably pretty impressed by its ability to build a playlist based on a single track: give Genius a song, and it finds more to go with it.

It's not perfect: it picked some Sugababes and Destiny's Child to go with rockin' '80s classic Summer of 69, but the playlist I listened to on the way to work this morning - based on a White Stripes track - worked really well.

Wouldn't it be good if the OPAC was like iTunes, but for books? It has a nice, clear interface; it has pretty pictures of album covers; it allows you to arrange content by genre; and you can attach any tag you like to any track.

There are some iTunesesque bits and pieces out there, but two years after Ed Vielmetti suggested Coverflow for libraries and Mike Cunningham built it, why aren't we seeing these things built into our OPACs?

Genius is not rocket science, but as you'd expect with Apple, it's the implementation that impresses: my iPhone is not the most technologically advanced device on the market, but it's a joy to use. I'd love to see a library catalogue put together as well as this.