Posting to Autocat
On Fri, 7 Jan 2011 10:42:57 -0600, Tim Skeers wrote:
<snip>One thing this person might want to try, if it hasn’t been tried already, is to talk to some of the other reference who object to the links and pin down the exact reasons, e.g., why are they confusing/annoying, what do the patrons say, etc. That might help clarify what needs explaining. Then try to get them to attend a short meeting that could be set up sort of like a training session where they can be *shown* what the links do (as opposed to just verbally explaining) by picking out some records and bringing them up, clicking through, etc.
I completely agree. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I remember reading that at one time our public was clamoring for *more information* in our records, specifically summaries and tables of contents. It must be pointed out that a library catalog record is certainly no more complicated than a metadata record in Google Books or in Amazon, e.g. compare the displays in my own catalog (semi-ISBD display): http://www.galileo.aur.it/cgi-bin/koha/opac-detail.pl?bib=19272
Amazon.com display: http://www.amazon.com/1491-Revelations-Americas-Before-Columbus/dp/140004006X
or my catalog: http://www.galileo.aur.it/cgi-bin/koha/opac-detail.pl?bib=22691
and Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=eaC7yKbxj8UC&source=gbs_navlinks_s
What accounts for the apparent fact that people prefer the Google and Amazon displays to ours? I personally suspect that this is actually signaling a change in user expectations: today, people assume that when they see a link, it will link to the resource itself, and if something does not link to the resource (or at least a related resource that is nevertheless complete, e.g. a review), they are tending to see such links as useless and consequently annoying. This, instead of the original intent of the 856s: as additional information that can help patrons decide if they actually want the resource. After all, it should be better to see a table of contents or a summary note than nothing at all. This is definitely how *I* see the 856s; and yet I accept that most people may not think this way and that the expectations of people are changing. (The underlying cause *may be* that people feel that clicking a link is a type of *work* that entails an investment of labor and therefore, there must be a definite return. Just a few years ago, clicking on a link was seen as incredibly easy, and this attitude may be changing in the popular mind. Still, these are guesses since I don’t know)
Since the public is seemingly so enamored of Google and Amazon, perhaps we could make a preliminary conclusion that *if* the same information were incorporated in some way into the record itself (as we see in the endlessly scrolling pages in Google Books and Amazon), and not as separate links to click on, the public would find this information more useful. Of course, this same functionality could be done in other ways, with onMouseOver events, or perhaps how I have implemented the OCLC api with the citations (see either record in my catalog above, and click on “Get a citation” in the right hand column). But it could certainly be done in much cooler ways, utilizing APIs in some ways.