Purpose – This paper sets out to provide an overview of the open source online public access catalog
(OPAC) software known as Blacklight. It includes a discussion of the reasons why the University of
Virginia decided to create the Blacklight project, rationale behind design decisions, an overview of the
technologies used, and some examples of interface designs and object behaviors.
Desi gn/ methodol ogy/ approach – Desi gn approaches di scussed i ncl ude open source
methodologies, model/view/controller development patterns, and strategies for efficient staff
training and utilization.
Findings – The Blacklight project is not yet complete, but initial usability testing is favorable. The
project shows particular promise among previously underserved populations such as music
researchers, and for previously under-used collections.
Practical implications – Libraries who are considering de-coupling their OPAC from their
Integrated Library System will find useful information about this process as undertaken by the
University of Virginia, as well as more information about Blacklight, and more information about
whether Blacklight might be a good fit for their library.
Originality/value – Blacklight is an open source OPAC system that is particularly well suited to
large libraries with diverse collections. It is the only open source OPAC system with a focus on
creating customized interfaces for specific populations.
Keywords Online cataloguing, Library systems
Paper type Technical paper