SUL Web OPAC Interface Development Process
Based on the Process for Making Changes to WebLUIS approved by the SUS PSPC (Public Services Planning Committee) January 26, 1998

WebLUIS was an interface developed and maintained completely by FCLA staff working with staff from throughout the State University Libraries. Ideas for improvement were proposed, FCLA staff determined feasibility, and desired changes were made when possible. 

The ALEPH Web OPAC uses configurable software developed by Ex Libris to create the interface; setup options exist to allow some customization of appearance, text, etc. In addition, some other desired changes may be possible through local development if FCLA programming resources are available. Finally, Web OPAC enhancement requests will periodically be submitted to Ex Libris by its customers, and some interface changes will eventually occur as a result of that corporate development.

An additional consideration in development of the SUL ALEPH Web OPAC interface that did not exist in the WebLUIS environment is the desire to provide a good deal of interface continuity with the Community Colleges' ALEPH Web OPAC, and with the union catalog interface that will be maintained for the SUL and CC systems.*

While implementation of desired changes in the SUL Web OPAC interface will not always follow the same path as those changes identified for WebLUIS did, this document describes a mechanism for determining interface priorities which is based on the process used successfully for WebLUIS development. 

  1. Anyone may suggest a change to the SUL (State University Libraries) Web OPAC interface and request initial discussion of the idea by posting it to LIBOPAC-L (or asking an institutional representative to do so). Ideas developed by the PSPC OPAC Subcommittee will be posted to LIBOPAC-L as well. LIBOPAC-L includes all members of the PSPC OPAC Subcommittee, all PSPC members, and many others who have expressed interest in being involved in this interface development - and is the appropriate place for discussions of this type. Any other interested persons may also be added to the list. The list archives are immediately updated online and are available for monitoring by anyone at
  2. Any interface ideas posted to FCLLIST or any other SUL listserv will be directed to LIBOPAC-L for discussion. A message will be sent to the original listserv indicating that the idea is being forwarded for discussion, and that membership on that listserv is open to all SUL staff.
  3. The idea will be discussed on LIBOPAC-L during the next week in order to determine interest in the suggested change, identify particular pros and/or cons to be considered, and suggest possible refinements/modifications to the original idea. In addition, FCLA staff should try to convey any initial concerns they have with technical implementation of the idea (including whether they believe that the idea is one which will need to suggested for Ex Libris development). Many individual postings to the list are encouraged during this period to help others clarify their own thinking about the idea. Any list member can reply directly to the list or may direct their comments to their OPAC Subcommittee representative. During this time, members of the OPAC Subcommittee will also coordinate any additional desired efforts to solicit local feedback from staff. NOTE: It is very important to try to use this period to think in depth about the idea and offer any suggestions for refinement before the idea becomes a formal proposal. Raising new issues during the period designated for voting on a proposal is potentially disruptive and confusing.
  4. Following a week of discussion:
    1. If initial discussions and suggested refinements continue to be active, the OPAC Subcommittee chair will extend the period of discussion.
    2. If initial discussions have been fairly substantial in number, have seemed to be generally positive, and have not had technical concerns raised by FCLA staff, the OPAC Subcommittee chair may propose (on LIBOPAC-L) that the idea be adopted by consensus without a formal vote of the OPAC Subcommittee Force. However, if any member of the OPAC Subcommittee or the PSPC requests a vote, the matter will become a formal proposal with an assigned Proposal Number. NOTE: The OPAC Subcommittee chair, as a member of the group, may also judge at this stage that the matter should become a formal proposal without first suggesting that the matter be adopted by consensus without a vote.
    3. If little discussion about the idea has occured, the OPAC Subcommittee chair will ask for final comments before the idea is tabled. If this does not stimulate significant discussion, the idea will be tabled.
  5. If an idea becomes a formal "numbered" proposal, it will be posted on a web page to track the status of proposals. The voting period will be one week. Any OPAC Subcommittee or PSPC member may request that the voting period be extended one additional week if it seems necessary for gathering local feedback. NOTE: "Numbered" proposals may include ideas that may be implemented by FCLA or ideas that may be submitted through appropriate channels to Ex Libris for development consideration.
  6. OPAC Subcommittee members will submit their institution's vote on a formal proposal to LIBOPAC-L. NOTE: Each SUL institution, the Health and Law Libraries, and FCLA have one vote. No response from an institution's OPAC Subcommittee or PSPC member will be interpreted as tacit approval of the proposal.
  7. Following the voting period, the chair of the OPAC Subcommittee will report the result and the action to be taken to LIBOPAC-L. The web page to track the status of proposals will be updated.
  8. If consensus does not appear to exist, the idea will be discussed further at a subsequent conference call of the PSPC OPAC Subcommittee. If consensus is achieved in that forum, the decision to implement the idea (perhaps slightly modified) will be posted on LIBOPAC-L. If the idea will not be implemented, that will be reported to LIBOPAC-L as well.
  9. Once approved, FCLA will develop an implementation schedule for any ideas which they will be responsible for. If possible, this will include some period of viewing the upcoming change in a test environment before implementation. NOTE: Some changes will first require communication with the joint SUL/CC AISC (ALEPH Implementation Steeering Committee) OPAC Task Force and CCLA to see if consensus can be achieved.*
  10. FCLA will post a message to LIBOPAC-L approximately one week in advance of the date of actual implementation in the production system. PSPC representatives will be responsible for forwarding these messages to their constitutencies.
  11. Web OPAC enhancement ideas to be sent to Ex Libris for consideration will be gathered by the PSPC OPAC Subcommittee and submitted through appropriate channels by FCLA. Communication with CCLA about enhancement ideas may sometimes occur to help build support for any ideas that are of common interest.*
*No formal process for ongoing interaction with CCLA, the joint SUL/CC AISC (ALEPH Implementation Steering Committee), and the AISC OPAC Task Force about Web OPAC interface changes has been established. But the idea that some level of continuity between the separate SUL and CC systems be maintained for the benefit of library users has been supported by the AISC, so a process can be expected to evolve. The report of the AISC OPAC Task Force (in which some level of continuity is recommended) is available at

Drafted by Rich Bennett (Chair, PSPC OPAC Subcommittee)
November 25, 2002