Posting to Autocat
On 8/19/13, Tina Gunther wrote:
Here is an analogy/metaphor that came to mind as I caught up on this contentious thread this morning.
A catalog user who is stymied by a filing rule is like a cyclist who is tripped up by a pothole in an unfamiliar road. Both lose valuable forward momentum. The locals know to avoid the pothole and there are plans to rework the path at some point in the future to eliminate the problem.
I would agree with this if it really were a matter of just a few potholes i.e. a very rare occurrence that happens only once in awhile. But if it happens a large percentage of the time, it is a completely different matter.
In this case, someone searching for the title “der baumeister” and looks under “D” for “der” is doing something seriously wrong since there are lots and lots and lots of titles that begin with “der” along with tons of other initial articles. This means that when a title starts with an initial article they will *never* be able to find it. They can’t. Ever. That is, unless some cataloger adds another title, thereby re-doing a lot of work, losing efficiency, and thereby ignoring the real problem. That kind of work would never have been done in the card catalog, by the way, since everybody–even the public–could have easily seen the massive waste.
With the analogy you provide, it is not a matter of just a few potholes, but a road filled with potholes such as this one in Cleveland.
Should the people who are in charge of that road decide just to put up more and more barriers or should they fix that lousy road? “Well, there are no real problems here. We’ll set up a few barriers and if somebody hits a pothole, it will be their own fault, not mine.”
It is important to look at the situation from the eyes of the user (that is, the driver of the automobile or the searcher of the catalog) and not just from the viewpoint of those putting up the barriers. The person putting up the barriers may actually love it because he or she gets to work; the person responsible can claim to be saving money in their budget since it is cheaper and easier to put out some barriers than fixing the road, but for the drivers/searchers, they are looking at a total disaster. And everybody knows that if nobody fixes the road, it will not fix itself and can only get worse.
Dealing with initial articles is one of the simplest things to do, so we must conclude that every day people experience something like this:
These are some of the reasons why so many members of the public dislike our catalogs and it should not be a wonder that they abandon library catalogs for other tools.