- A social networking site where the society members are libraries, not individuals.
- The ability to capture copy cataloging from other libraries or create cataloging on the site itself.
- Full Unicode support, both for the interface and for the data.
- The ability to capture and create records using a MARC-compatible format.
- The ability to export the library catalog records in MARC format.
- A reports function that could print off the results of searches or even the library's inventory, so it could be used off-line.
- The creation of groups of "library friends," that is other libraries whose data should be included in searches and displays. This will facilitate sharing and also will serve users in areas where resources are scarce and scattered.
- A search and display interface that looks like a modern library catalog
- It all has to be easy to use with no training required, and not require any technical support on the part of the library.
There are many people encouraging libraries to use Open Source systems like Koha, but the libraries I'm talking about here have no capability to run software, much less Unix-based software. They may have only one computer, and it has to be used for everything: Internet access, office applications like document creation, and, if they have the capability, the library catalog. For those that do have at least part-time Internet access, the ideal system would be run online, with no technical requirements on the library's part.
The MARC requirement is an important one. The system does not need to support the full MARC record, but support for a standard minimum record means that the libraries can use each other's data for copy cataloging, and that some time in the future they may be able to contribute their records to library systems or to regional union catalogs. The ability to form networks between libraries is essential to overcome the incredible scarcity that exists for people living in rural and under-developed areas.
We already have many of the parts of this system, and I'm confident that the technology is no problem. We need the organization and the sustainability. Please send along any suggestions you have for how we can get this done.