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On 09/03/2015 0.56, Karen Coyle wrote:
> On 3/8/15 12:07 PM, James Weinheimer wrote:
>> They can sit there quite literally, all day long and not have learned >> anything about the War. All they see are *catalog records* and if >> they are to learn about the war itself, they need to get into the >> books of the collection.
> Great. You just described Amazon and the Apple APP store, two of the > most successful sites on the web.

I don’t really understand the comment. I didn’t make a criticism of anything, I just made a statement of fact. It is a problem that users experience all the time and why some students–those who actually came to trust me enough to be honest–told me that library catalogs were a huge waste of their time. Even some faculty agree. (See the excellent articles: “The-3-Click-Dilemma” in the Chronicle with its follow-up

Another example of a similar problem, one person (I can’t remember where, but I could find it) mentioned that she had taught an information literacy session to undergraduates, explained how the catalog worked, what was on the library’s various websites etc., and then asked them: Tell me what hours the library is open on Sunday.

Most people searched *in the catalog* “What are the hours the library is open on Sunday?” We can laugh, but what they did was completely logical and understandable. When we consider it more carefully, this represents a disaster for libraries. I am sure that these sorts of things happen all the time; people get weird results, or nothing at all, and the only conclusion the searcher can come to is that the library catalog is bad. What other conclusion could they possibly come to? In an earlier time a person might think: maybe I did something wrong. Maybe I should ask, but those days appear to be over. It seems that nobody ever asks.

Today, one text box looks like any other text box, and how is someone to know that one search works with full-text and another with “summary records” (as I called catalog records). Understanding that these are different types of information is difficult (obviously). Merging the two types of data would only seem to me to complicate the problem further–but my mind is open and we should find out. We need to be honest in appraising the results however, basing them on what the users think, and not on what we think.

While Amazon may be popular among the public, I haven’t met any instructors who want students to use it as a research tool.

James Weinheimer
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