A little while ago I went to one of the seminars that the National Library put on detailing the latest developments in bibliographic description Resource Description and Access or RDA. Initially as they discussed the new philosophy Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) I was quite excited.
Essentially FRBR considers that each work has a unique entry point and from that you can then describe that work in its various formats. In many ways this is how I would organize my ultimate OPAC/LMS. My vision of the OPAC is that when a customer types in a search for a particular work, say The Fellowship of The Ring by J. R. R. Tolkein, they would get just one result despite how many variations the library holds. In a simple result display it would show with icons next to the title the various formats audiovisual, different editions, large print etc, and when moving into the fuller display you would have, say tabs with the details of each edition, and all the holdings would display in a single list. This would be much cleaner and simpler, especially when dealing with multiple editions, or even with multiple titles for the same work.
However my excitement was dampened as I realised that those in charge of MARC are unlikely to adopt the necessary changes that would allow that in a MARC record. And as such the LMS vendors are even less likely to alter the systems to enable an OPAC to work in that fashion. In the end I came away thinking that with a little vision, the philosophy proposed could fundamentally make for a better OPAC for our users but that vision is yet to be seen.