Something to consider about why libraries end up with bad interfaces (at least as far as catalogs go) is that it might be that the people who use the interface (and help the public use it) are not the people who decide which interface to use.
When it comes to demanding better from vendors [...] consortiums like mine seem to place more emphasis on “cheap and reliable” than in “useful to the patrons.”
More than identifying individual vendors, I’d like this to be a discussion about our decision making processes. Let’s look carefully at how we got here — not to point fingers (for we are all responsible), but to plot a path out and try to make sure we never find ourselves here again.
It’s corny, but I’m serious. If you’ve taken the pledge, you’ll know to look skeptically at every product. You’ll ask yourself and a mix of likely users how it could be better. And you won’t buy anything or renew any contract on anything that sucks. There is no consortium, no institution that can afford to throw away money on products that can’t deliver the ease of use and quality of experience that users expect from competing (and more familiar) tools elsewhere on the internet.
The real challenge, of course, is making sure everybody involved with every decision-making process understands this.