On 15/03/2013 15:38, Michelene Orteza wrote:
While I do believe that catalogs must serve the patron and, in doing so, not be over-complicated, I also think that catalogs should give as complete a representation of a resource as possible. The question “Who needs to see ______?” often has the unspoken answer “No one”. I think there are many instances where people do need to see the information that sometimes is dismissed as unneeded. (Music cataloging comes to mind as depending on details to differentiate works.) I currently handle textbook ordering in addition to my librarian duties, and there are times when I face title, author, date, ISBN, page numbers, et al. that don’t match. No one actually has the book in hand; it’s in a warehouse somewhere. The publisher’s website and Amazon don’t always have everything I need. It’s at these times that I think about the need for complete information in the description.
This is a basic question to solve: exactly who are the users? Librarians are probably the biggest users of the catalogs so they should not be left out. They certainly need better descriptions for inventory purposes, while others come in only looking to browse the shelves for something to read probably do not need such a level of description.
Before the computer catalogs, this all had to be done with the catalog–a single one–which meant the catalog used by the public since the old, official catalogs were pretty much scrapped. (Those were the copies of the public card catalogs that were unavailable to the public) So it turned out that one catalog had to serve everyone.
Does it have to be the same way today? Probably not. Many users are satisfied with simple pointing information because all they want to do is browse the shelves. Others may want more information. Extremely few need the fullest information librarians need.
But librarians need that full information to do their jobs, and they are the ones who should be expected to learn any of the little “tricks” such as, what do the brackets, angle brackets, question marks, etc. mean? They should know and if they don’t know, it is their professional duty to ask.
It’s just too bad that nobody really knows what the public needs since nobody has done any research on it. As a result, everyone is left with their own feelings and personal beliefs.