There is a renaissance of interest in the catalog and catalog data. Yet it comes at a time when the catalog itself is being reconfigured in ways which may result in its disappearance as an individually identifiable component of library service. It is being subsumed within larger library discovery environments and catalog data is flowing into other systems and services. This article discusses the position of the catalog and uses it to illustrate more general discovery and workflow directions.
The context of information use and creation has changed as it transitions from a world of physical distribution to one of digital distribution. In parallel, our focus shifts from the local (the library or the bookstore or …) to the network as a whole. We turn to Google, or to Amazon, or to Expedia, or to the BBC. Think of two trends in a network environment, which I term here the attention switch and the workflow switch. Each has implications for the catalog, as it pushes the potential catalog user in other directions. Each also potentially recasts the role of the catalog in the overall information value chain.
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