How do we search?
A recent article in Library Resources & Technical Services, entitled “Re-strategizing Bibliographic Services and the One Good Record,” pointed out the divide between how things have been done within catalogs and how users tend to use online interfaces. John Riemer also makes a statement to a vision of what he is calling the “One Good Record.” His main factor in this argument is that the granularity of modern library meta-data can negatively affect the simplicity in searching that users prefer. He puts forth the statement:
“If users are abandoning the catalog for Amazon and Google, it is an indictment of the outdated practices and products of cataloging activity.”
Further explanation leads to the concept of a communal record that stems from a base classification. Further granularity is then available from that point, but the initial classification allows for an easier shift in re-mapping is required. Riemer even goes so far as to suggest that the records would exist in a near wiki format, ready for community analysis.
I am excited by this concept, but at the same time rather nervous. Having encountered on too many occasions, records which had subject headings that seemed to have extremely obtuse meanings or archaic terminology, I began to shudder at the shear scale of such an endeavor. I think the world of library records needs to be unified and made equally user friendly and library relevant. Whether that means user generated tagging or universal records remains to be seen, but it is clear that just having more detail in the meta-data does not equal a greater occurrence of relevancy.
I was quite excited by the statements Riemer made concerning the simplification of the users catalog interface. All of the factors that are presented make sense from a users perspective but are not simple fixes within existing LIS software. One product that has been before as of late seems rather promising. Sirsi-Dynix’s Enterprise Portal Solution. To do a comparison:
- Users want simplicity or single search box – EPS has the ability to use a single search box interface
- Intuitive searching
- EPS utilizes a feature called rooms to narrow searching behind the scenes
- Users benefit from provisions like tables of contents and cover art
- EPS can provide both of those and even reviews on the item
- Users would benefit from the “more like this” option to escape dead-end searches
- EPS provides see also based on Subject Heading
- One system to search many “silos”
- EPS can harness other solutions, such as Metalib, to provide federated search results
- Users expect full-text or other fulfillment options
- EPS supports full-text linking and can provide easy service point access through its portal design
- Users appreciate the ability to annotate, tag, and review items
- Although this system does not support direct record tagging, users can save records for their own reference
- Users would appreciate services delivered to where they are (CMS, portals, search engines…)
- EPS supports most portal based interfaces and presents multiple access points
I don’t mean to sound like a complete Sirsi-Dynix cheerleader there, but the abilities this system provide us seem to be moving us forward into a much more user friendly environment. Of course I can just throw a wrench in my own works by saying that,”Just because something is easy, doesn’t always make it better.”
Citation: John J. Riemer, “Restrategizing Bibliographic Services and the One Good Record,” Library Resources & Technical Services 51, no. 1 (January 2007): 2-4.