Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Catalog File Resources

From the LITA Blog I pulled this post, Cataloging Transformed: From Traditional to Emerging Models of Use June 30th, 2006 by Jennifer Smathers

What I learned from this is that the catalog needs to look and work more like Google and Amazon. Ideas from here I am passing on to my ILS vendor. We already have images from the books and videos provided by Syndetics Solutions (with reviews and excerpts), and I think Baker and Taylor does something similar. We can sort and limit by format, call number, or even popularity. I did a training session with staff on all the ins and outs on how to manipulate the catalog. However, even wit expert manipulation, we won't get better searches without a "search within the book" feature (like Amazon) or a feature that searches the book's index and looks for frequency of the search terms and ranks by frequency as it relates to the index. Maybe this is why Google is scanning all these books, so that they are indexed and searchable. I think that we have marc records with subjects; we only had so much space. Now that the format has changed and there are fewer limitations, we need to put the index frequency ranking in our records. I would also like a feature that corrects misspellings or can re-index faster. This file is a wait and see what the big libraries do.

The next file is A "Next generation" library catalog, which discusses how to make the library catalog better. Treating the catalog page like a separate webpage instead of a database hit is a great idea to combat the invisible web and findability issues. Another a part I liked was the ability for fans to write reviews like Amazon. It sounds great and I passed this on to my ILS vendor. However, not enough people would comment I would suspect. We have to think about why people write reviews and part of that reason is ego. It is a status symbol to be a top reviewer on Amazon or to be a significant poster on major forums or blogs and especially on wikipedia. People are making themselves instant experts because they have a hobby. We would have to have a way to engage these groups in order to get posts and comments which is where library 2.0 comes in. Multiple user reviews rounds out the perception and interest of the book. Many great bibliographies come from user fans, another way to harness this intelligence would to link to user lists of similar books or topics.

Dave Pattern's weblog provides results from a top five additions to the catalog for findability (I have edited the post to provide what he did, and then added my comment on how the catalog my library has compares:
Number 5 - Other Editions (if you sort by title you will get all books, audio, video and more with the title next to each other.)

Number 4 - Keyword Suggestions
(Nice to provide similar words, kind of works like authority control)

Number 3 - Similar Subjects
(Nice to provide similar words, kind of works like authority control, our catalog puts this on the dashboard beside the search results
Number 2 - Also Borrowed
(Like Amazon's also purchased, our catalog just sorts by popularity)

Number 1 - Spelling Suggestions
(Like Google)

Great suggestions the last two definitely need looking into.

User Centered Cataloging
Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records pull all comments reviews and different editions of a title all in one place. User comments helps identify the book using terms the public uses. Also get fan favorite comments, like people not liking James Patterson's Big Bad wolf or one of J. A. Janice’s series.

(Quoting from, Librarian in Blackwho is quoting from Steven at LibraryThing:)
"As one wrote on the blog, Isaac Asimov's Nightfall the short story collection, is distinct from Nightfall the novel and from Nightfall One. " (Just LiB here) Do libraries know that? Does Amazon? Wow! How can libraries and our ILS vendors leverage this kind of mass effort?"

After reading this we requested Syndetics Solutions to help provide a user comments section. Getting fans to help with collections and reviews helps everybody.

Best post about catalog future that is user centered

OLA Super Conference

post here
Presenter: Beth Jefferson, BiblioCommons

Post covers an ALA conference. Read the whole thing then save it. It covers all the ways we can interact with patrons using the catalog. It covers the items I have already mentioned with much greater detail. Much of it help solidify my thoughts on how to help patrons find books without necessarily using the catalog.

And lastly, from the techsource blog,

"How OPACs Suck, Part 3: The Big Picture
by Karen G. Schneider
A wonderful post (one of three parts) that does a thorough breakdown of the problems with OPACs, "First Literalism: The OPAC Is a Citation Index
One major problem is that the online catalog is merely a citation index. It doesn't index the book itself—only a mere handful of terms in its metadata. As librarians, we're accustomed to this. But our users aren't. The user of tomorrow grew up in a full-text world. For that user, the limitations of the online catalog make no sense."

Indexing the entire book and sorting by frequency and relevancy sounds good to me.

That's what I am reviewing for now. Next post will be Fix-it Fridays on my catalog.

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