Tuesday, January 11, 2011

RE: Helping the Searchers of the Catalog (Was: subject heading or subdivision for food aging?)

Posting to Autocat

On Tue, 11 Jan 2011 11:04:01 -0600, Mary Mastraccio wrote:
>Joan Jones asked:
>>wouldn't the subdivision "Effect of aging on" be a
>> better subdivision for Melissa Cookson's purposes?
>
>Not necessarily. If the material was about the process of aging cheese it would be better to have "Cheese--Aging".
All of these discussions are highly interesting and productive, but still avoid the primary problems, especially in a networked environment. First, we are supposed to interoperate with other terminologies. In some places, it may be "Fermentation", in others, it may be "Ripening" in others it may be "Aging", or even, "Effect of aging on". (By the way, I personally think this last one should be valid under personal names too!)

For example, in the NAL thesaurus, for cheese, it is "cheese ripening" http://agclass.nal.usda.gov/mtwdk.exe?k=default&l=60&w=5171&n=1&s=5&t=2, but for meat it is "meat aging" http://agclass.nal.usda.gov/mtwdk.exe?k=default&l=60&w=5173&n=1&s=5&t=2, and for wine it is "wine aging" http://agclass.nal.usda.gov/mtwdk.exe?k=default&l=60&w=5175&n=1&s=5&t=2 (no subdivisions at all).

In AGROVOC, the term is "Ripening" http://aims.fao.org/en/pages/594/sub?mytermcode=27924&mylang_interface=&myLanguage=EN. All of these terms have different language forms as well.

In dbpedia (through subj3ct.com), the term is "Fermentation (Food)": https://subj3ct.com/subject?si=http%3A%2F%2Fdbpedia.org%2Fresource%2FFermentation_%28food%29

This is the environment that our users inhabit. If they are going to navigate this effectively, they must know it. It is *unbelievably complicated*. No wonder so many just decide to settle for whatever Google throws out at them.

My point is, in deciding upon subject terms, you will *never ever* find a term that everyone will agree with. Somebody, somewhere, will say they would have never thought of such a ridiculous term for the concept they want. That is the reason for the absolute necessity of the UF terms. For the longest time, there were no cross-references at all in the OPAC; then they were implemented for the browse searches, but people overwhelmingly use keyword now, so they still miss them completely.

Second, many times, a single subject in an item is represented by multiple subject terms, since there is not always a 1:1 relationship. My normal example is a book on the library reference interview. There is not a single term for this, and has been handled as 1. Reference services (Libraries) 2. Interviewing, e.g. http://tinyurl.com/63847pb, and there is also the example in 26.52 Post-coordination of "LCSH, structure and application". http://www.itsmarc.com/crs/shed0143.htm.

We all deal with this every day, and all I am saying is that this system is complicated. I think it actually worked better in the card/physical environment than online because people had no choice except to browse alphabetically (mostly). In any case, we should not conclude that making a new subdivision "Aging" or a bunch of new headings is going to really solve anything. The system we have today was designed for a completely different environment and is broken.

That doesn't mean at all that the public do not want the product of what we make, e.g. the "set of all resources on the aging process in foods" because this is what I think people want more than anything else. When I explain just the idea of what we provide through authority control to non-librarians, it is so completely different from Google-type searching that it comes as almost unbelievable to many people. People want it. We provide this control now; we *can* provide it in a way that may be usable in the environment that our public inhabits (as mentioned above); that is, so long as we, and others such as NAL, AGROVOC, and whoever, decide to cooperate, which means that *everyone* will have to change. Do we have it in us? I honestly don't know.

But how do we achieve this? Through trial and error. I think dbpedia would be a great place to begin, since it could be done pretty much now and lots of people could benefit from our work.

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