More Cataloger’s Desktop comments

The Library of Congress’s Cataloging Distribution Service is doing a survey on the development of its Cataloger’s Desktop, which they are planning to overhaul. They seem keen to rework it for the web rather than replicating the CD product it is based on. I hope they think profoundly about this to make sure it is properly a web-based resource or, as I would prefer, a loose collection of separately accessible resources. Below are the comments I put in answer to one of the earlier questions on general satisfaction:

The content is second to none, but the presentation of the content is appalling:

  1. It is extremely unwieldy: there is no reason to shoehorn everything into one package and one great list. E.g. AACR2 would be better presented as a separate product as it is complex enough as it is. Rather than having shaky preferences, I would like to see separate sites for which I can produce my own list of links, as I do anyway for other sites.
  2. Despite being presented on the web, the site tries its hardest to discard the advantages of the web by imposing its own interface. This is bad practice as it means another interface to learn and is not intuitive (e.g. I cannot use the Back button to go back, or link to a section of a resource). Standard HTML pages are more than up to the job. I don’t think a system like this is very successful if you have to provide training in how to use it: it would be like inventing a different kind of book where you have to train readers in how to turn the pages.
  3. There is no need to have a system which has to find its way round popup-blockers: this just shouldn’t be an issue.
    These factors prevent me from using Cataloger’s Desktop nearly as often as I should. I mostly want it for quick look up of AACR2 and other standards. Instead I often find myself referring to an out-of-date paper copy for simple rules and abbreviations. I was hoping to have weaned myself off it by now.

My previous comments on a similar survey in 2005 are here.