The days when collections could get away with cluttered, blocky interfaces are long gone. With Biblionarrator, your users will have the seamless experience that they expect from a modern website.
Users will find at their fingertips all the facets they have come to expect, and maybe even a few they always wanted but never had before, since Biblionarrator will generate facets on a per-search basis.
Users can explore the catalogue visually using maps and knowledge trails, finding what they need even if they don't know the right words.
Cataloging should be as easy as e-mailing: the focus should be on the content, not the carrier. Built into Biblionarrator is a cataloguing interface every bit as easy to use as your e-mail program or Microsoft Word.
Explore the relationships between records, authors, and subjects. Follow the knowledge trail from what you know to what you need.
Intuitive, straight-forward data entry, easy enough for non-catalogers, but expressive enough for the most precise bibliographer.
By emphasizing what makes your collection special, Biblionarrator connects your users' needs and your collection's strengths.
Biblionarrator is a fast, innovative open source catalogue system that revolutionizes how administrators showcase and users explore a collection and addresses the shortcomings of both Integrated Library Systems and the current crop of discovery layers. By emphasizing relationships between records, Biblionarrator helps users understand the collection and find what they need, even if they don't quite know what that is when they sit down to search. Like other discovery layers, Biblionarrator provides a keyword searchable, faceted interface. Unlike most other discovery layers, though, Biblionarrator integrates non-bibliographic information directly into the catalog. Contextual information about authors, places, and concepts can be loaded directly into the catalog from authority files—such as those provided by the Library of Congress—and enriched with the fruits of scholarly labor to help users understand why a particular person or concept may be the one they are looking for—or one in which they have no interest. Once they have found a landmark, users can explore the catalog either using traditional results pages or with maps that show the relationships between their landmark(s) and other records in the catalog.
It's Monday morning, and three people have arrived for a week of research in your collection. Dr. Johnson is an experienced scholar who knows exactly what she wants, but the other two have less clear-cut needs. Mr. James has only recently entered the field and has never been to your collection before. He is in the early stage of his research and is not quite sure what his topic is. Dr. Smith is a senior scholar who has decades of experience working in your collection. Her project, however, is new: she is working on a social history that includes many of the authors in your collection.
You point Dr. Johnson to the correct section, and then turn to helping Mr. James and Dr. Smith. Both have enough research experience to know their way around a traditional catalogue, but neither sees how the catalogue would help. They are happy to give it a try, though, when you assure them that your new catalogue will help them find what they need.
You start showing them how to use the catalogue, but after only a few minutes they have figured out the interface and are ready to explore on their own. Mr. James is very impressed with the concept of knowledge trails, and the way he can move from what he does know—that he would like to build on the scholarship of Dr. Walker—to what he does not know. You show Dr. Smith your catalogue's map functions, which she is then able to use to identify items that will be central to her research.
Once you have finished helping Dr. Smith, you turn to your collection's latest acquisitions, a series of books with an unusually complex publishing history. It takes you much of the day to determine exactly where they were printed, but once you have worked it out by comparing the type to other books in your collection you are able to easily condense your research into a narrative that you can put in your catalogue for future researchers.
John is a freshman in college, working on one of his first assignments for his freshman composition course. He isn't very familiar with libraries, but his assignment requires him to use the library catalog to find references for his paper. He finds the catalog by searching for “Old Ivy library catalogue” on Google, and begins looking for references on the University's football team, the Groundhogs. To his relief, he finds the catalogue interface familiar: it feels a lot like Google or Amazon.com, and, like Amazon.com, it makes it easy to find related books once he finds his first reference (Rip the Chipmunks off the field by J.B. Biggley).
Most of his references are in books that he needs to pick up from the library, so he sends his list of references to his smartphone, and puts on his shoes on to head across campus. Once he arrives at the library, he finds most of the books he wanted, but he realizes that he needs two more references. All the public terminals in the library are already in use, so he uses pulls out his smartphone to look for more references. Since the keyboard on his phone is so small, he uses the catalogue's knowledge trail feature to find books on the same subjects as some of the books he already identified. He easily finds another two references that will provide a counterpoint to the pro-Old Ivy slant of Rip the Chipmunks off the field, and heads back to his dorm room, where he will spend the rest of the evening writing his essay.
Biblionarrator is built on a number of technologies, including:
Biblionarrator's code is available on GitHub. Anyone interested in getting involved in Biblionarrator development is encouraged to subscribe to the listserv and stop by IRC to introduce themselves, or even to just roll up their sleeves and dig into the code.
Hosted Biblionarrator installations are currently available from C & P Bibliography Services only through a closed beta program. Unfortunately there are no spots currently available in the beta. If this changes, we will update the website.
After the conclusion of the beta test period, standard hosting subscriptions will be available from this site. For more information about subscriptions, you can request an e-mail or call from a sales representative from C & P.
Biblionarrator is the natural outgrowth of C & P Bibliography Services' work describing, organizing, and managing both private and institutional collections. Although every collection is unique, with its own challenges and needs, nearly every collection suffered at the hands of its catalogue: either there was no way to capture the richness of the material, or there was no way to understand the richness and context of the collection through the catalogue.
C & P's principle service areas are rare book description and online catalogue support, hosting, and development for small and special collections. We believe that every collection is unique and valuable, and our goal for every project is to make that value apparent to the collection's users, whether they are the owners, senior scholars, elementary school students, or all of the above.
Jared is the founder of C & P Bibliography Services and a bibliographer by both trade and avocation. In the past eight years he has worked with more than a dozen collections, and experienced firsthand the limitations of current library software. Building on his experiences working on the Koha open source integrated library system and his knowledge of search practices from both sides of the reference desk, Jared conceived of Biblionarrator as a catalogue system that would better meet the needs of institutions, private collectors, and researchers.
As a former editor for an academic journal and an experienced dramaturg, Shari brings to the project a gift for language and an eye for detail that catches not just awkward wording but also functionality bugs in the Biblionarrator software.
C & P Bibliography Services is the principle developer of Biblionarrator, and the only provider of hosted Biblionarrator solutions.
As an open source project, Biblionarrator's community is larger than just one single company, and has its own communication channels.