Monday, June 7, 2010

RE: Title browse within the new systems (was Are MARC subfields really needed?)

Posting to NGC4LIB

Michele Newberry wrote:
Jim,
You might want to look at our Endeca-based library catalog to see an example of a title browse within an interface that normally doesn't support this type of browsing. http://catalog.fcla.edu
Click on the "Search begins with" radio button and after the screen refresh, type your title. You can also select Author and Series. Lack of the Subject option is an indicator that we just couldn't quite work out all the issues of those pre-coordinated index entries within this technology.

In this instance, I think it aids the user not to have the content from the subfield c in the display so that subfield has some value to me. We find some value in the subfield b for relevance ranking purposes when we're trying to bring the probably most likely results to the fore. We call it the "on the road" test. This uses the words be searched as a percentage of the words in the title. Differentiating the subtitle is helpful here.
Thanks for sharing this. Certainly, it is a much better display, but if I search for War and Peace, I still find various titles proper filing together. Still, my experience with people is that they almost never know the exact titles of an item they want. Citations are very often incorrect, and the need for browsing titles proper is far more important to librarians and catalogers than to the public. [As an historical aside, from my researches of early catalogs, some *never* made an entry for title, sometimes not even for the Bible. If the cataloger could find no author to enter the record under, they would place these records into an "Anonymous, Pseudonymous Works" or something similar.]

My suspicion is that in the public's mind, much more common is what used to be termed the "catchword title", e.g. they would think "Bury's Later Roman History", and not "History of the later Roman Empire" or "Professor Thompson's book on Alfred Hitchcock" instead of "The moment of Psycho : how Alfred Hitchcock taught America to love murder".

Just to make it clear, I am *not* saying we should stop coding the subtitle separately, primarily because it is codified in ISBD. But its utility does have to be reanalyzed seriously in our new environment, along with *every other part* we do. There are also consequences to consider: if we want to accept metadata from other providers that do not code the subtitles separately, do we continue to edit the subtitles locally? Is that a wise use of our resources?

Yet, if we just accept these other records without recoding, consistency falls apart and what does that mean for quality? If we do not consider the implications and consequences of all of this, then when higher authorities ask what someone has done in the last week, they certainly will wonder when they hear: "I've added 245$b to 400 records!" and when this higher authority asks why this is so important, we won't be able to point to any adverse consequences, so there will be no other answer than: "it's the correct way to do it."

Is this the best use of the staff?

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