Thursday, June 28, 2012

Re: [ACAT] Tell all your associates, don't go to library school.

Posting to Autocat

On 27/06/2012 16:03, Brian Briscoe wrote:
<snip>
On Wed, Jun 27, 2012 at 8:40 AM, Dawn Grattino wrote:
Not at my library! Even the "advanced" search option gives only keyword. All she'll get is the final hit list of items that her terms call up. Even doing an author/title search yields stuff by other people and/or with different titles! The best one can do for subjects is limit the keyword search to the subject line. Then you get an item list that will include a lot of crap along with what you're looking for.
It sounds to me like your whoever set up your ILS or discovery layer did a really poor job of meeting the needs of its users. I wish your case was rare, but I see too many other catalogs that, in chasing the Google model, do indeed throw out the baby with the bathwater and create a tool that combines the worst of both keyword and controlled searching at the expense of the useful facets of either. That is why library catalogs get criticized.</snip>
But even then it's broken. The subjects, along with all headings, must have the cross-references included somehow because nobody will ever know an authorized form. How many people would possibly think of World War, 1939-1945? Or if you are going to search for IBM that you have to search for International Business Machines Corporation, while if you want sub-bodies of IBM you may (or may not) have to search under International Business Machines Corporation. The cross-references are absolutely critical.

Without cross-references, even if you know the heading for WWII, how can you know that "World War, 1939-1945 Battles" doesn't work and you need to search under:
World War, 1939-1945--Aerial operations.
World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns.
World War, 1939-1945--Naval operations.

I discussed a lot of this in one of my open replies to Thomas Mann http://eprints.rclis.org/handle/10760/11314#.T-sYz7Vo2xU

The great example of "Future, The, in motion pictures" illustrates long-dead card catalog thinking perfectly, which is gone, forever, whether we like it or not. This ridiculous-looking heading actually made perfect sense in the card catalog. And even if your catalog can display the subject headings in alphabetical order, such as LC's does, such an attempt to recreate the dictionary catalog is retrograde and just too weird for today's public. Even "surname, forename" is considered too much by many, as we see in Worldcat displays and Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Smith.

This doesn't mean that it's the end of the catalog but it very definitely is the end of the *dictionary* catalog. The dictionary catalog broke the day keyword was introduced and was never fixed. We need to acknowledge that and get on with the task of harnessing the power of the dictionary catalog--and there very definitely was (is) a power there that has been lost--to actually work again today. Unfortunately, since that power hasn't worked in decades and has been mostly forgotten by the public, and it is so alien to how people think today, it is difficult to get people even to agree that it is worthwhile salvaging.

Earlier on this list I mentioned that the subdivisions could possibly display as a word cloud under the main topic http://blog.jweinheimer.net/2012/04/re-acat-death-of-dictionary-catalog-was.html. That may be worth a try. Here is an example of what the subdivisions under E.A. Poe could look like: http://www.jweinheimer.net/images/poesubjects.png. All of these would be clickable. There are a lot of possibilities, once we confess that our current methods have been broken for a long, long time.

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