Re: [ACAT] Added Title Entry to Include Initial Articles

Posting to Autocat

On Tue, Aug 20, 2013 at 10:54 PM, Audrey Driscoll wrote:

There seem to be two schools of thought on this one — do the quick fix and make the reference librarian/patron happy vs. treat this problem as a symptom of a much bigger problem and fix that instead.
The trouble is that the quick, limited fix is within the scope of an individual, but the large-scale fix that would create a catalogue capable of both keyword and browse searching that requires no knowledge or thought on the part of the user — well, you can’t just whip that up in a minute, can you?
I suppose the conscientious approach would be to do the quick fix and then start lobbying system vendors, or singlehandedly creating a better ILS. Sadly, most of us do only the first.

The problem is not with the ILS vendors or anything like that. The problem is: people are doing left-anchored text string searches incorrectly. So, in the example of “der baumeister” people cannot find this because it contains an initial article. Why?
Obviously, the problem is not with the ILS–the problem is that people are choosing the wrong search option. A general keyword search will find it; a title keyword search will find it; a title phrase search will find it. Only when you search the OPAC as if it were a card catalog (a powerful option, but very difficult and tricky) is when people encounter this problem.

People are choosing an option that says something like “title browse” instead of “keyword”. In LC’s catalog, in the “basic search” it is called “Title begins with (omit initial article)*” and the asterisk denotes explanations that people are supposed to read(!).

So, the problem that underlies everything else here is that these people are choosing the wrong search option and not that “der baumeister” has an initial article or that an ILS needs to be upgraded. This is why I suspected that the default search in that catalog (and almost everybody uses the default search) is set for “Title begins with…” and that the solution would be to change the default search to general keyword, which will find “der baumeister” immediately.

If it turns out that the keyword is the default search already, then that would mean that people are actively choosing “Title begins with…” and then doing it incorrectly, then that would be very surprising indeed and would demand more analysis.

Therefore, the solution is for the cataloger to tell the systems people to change the default search in the catalog, which can be done in about two seconds. To do otherwise leads to tons of useless, thankless labor that harms the cataloger and infantilizes our users, who can only come to a single conclusion: that library catalogs don’t work. The quick fix (here) will make no one happy and only serves to keep a few people quiet–temporarily.