Posting to Autocat
Vosmek, John J. wrote:
You are always telling us how users aren’t searching for authors, titles or subjects. Do you mean that they aren’t searching for controlled author/title/subject headings? That is the only thing I can imagine, yet that distinction seems irrelevant to me. Even when people are keyword searching, they’re still searching by authors (in the broadest sense, of course, including names of corporate bodies, etc.), titles and subjects (again, in the broad sense “I’m looking for something about…”), aren’t they? What else are they searching for if not these? Please give an example if you can. I’m baffled by your assertion.
I have answered this several times on this list and others. I must say that I am just as baffled by the opposite assertion. From the moment that OPACs offered keyword searching, people began to flock to it and the old methods began to become less used. And the moment that Google/Yahoo-type of relevance ranking began to become dominant, the old ways began to seem very strange to anybody who was not brought up under them and even those who were old enough began to forget. Several times, I have had to explain how and why the old ways worked.. When someone uses Google primarily, the mere idea of searching by author, or title, or subject is very strange because you cannot do it. In any case, asserting that “people search for works/expressions/etc by their authors, titles and subjects” is completely unwarranted and flies in the face of how everyone today searches for information.
How can we search by author, title subject in Google? We cannot, yet people love Google. How can we explain this away? Well, either by proclaiming that the Google result is not useful, or we can simply ignore Google. But if we accept that the Google results are useful (as 95%+ of the populace would probably say) and we do not ignore it, then the conclusion seems inescapable that people do *not* find WEMI by their ATS (resorting to shorthand), bit they are doing something else. In fact, to believe anything else seems completely illogical. (I believe that this realization could possibly have major repercussions for the history of cataloging as well, bit that is another issue.
What are people really searching for? I don’t know and I wish I could say, but there are some real efforts being made to find out what people are doing with information. I believe that until the cataloging world accepts these facts, there can be very little progress.
At the same time, I will state once again that I believe people would love to be able to search by ATS, although WEMI is much less important to them. Yet, we must reconsider how to do this in the emerging information world, because it is pretty clear that this world will not wait for us.