Roy Tennant says that “No one in their right mind wants to use a library catalog,” and I must, respectfully, disagree.
I agree that he’s right in some situations — if you just want to look for a mystery or a cookbook and you want go to the library to do so, then no, you probably don’t want to use a library catalog. But not every library user in every library is after a casual browsing experience, and not every user wants to use the library that way.
I know several people who go to the library only to pick up holds they’ve requested. You know how they request those holds? They use the catalog. When I was in college (when I would not have been caught dead consulting a librarian) doing research for a paper, I did not want to tromp all over the library looking for things; I wanted to have a list and go after it. You know how I got that list? I used the catalog (which, helpfully, listed both subjects and sub-subjects–I was a literature geek, so whenever I hit –History and criticism, I knew I was good). Sometimes I want a book but I can’t think of who the author is. You know how I find that information out? I use the catalog. One could, of course, use Amazon these days, but for much of my library-going life, that wasn’t an option.
We all know catalogs could be much, much better. But I’m not ready to throw them away entirely.