No Subject Search! Say what?

Near the end of the Encore discussion, Dinah hit us with a fascinating tidbit of information. The University of Glasgow found that only 4% of their users were actually using subject searches because they didn’t know the terms. As a result, they finally removed subject searches from their OPAC.

 

Say what? No subject searches? Now that’s a bold move! And I don’t disagree with it. Congratulations to Glasgow for being brave enough to take such a radical step! Regardless of the system – OPAC, Wikipedia, Twitter, etc. – most users probably never use the full power of the given system. In fact studies repeatedly show that users are often overwhelmed by too many choices.

 

When I looked at their OPAC, I was able to get to a subject search through the “advanced search” link on a search results page. This link took me to the same old, complicated advanced search screen that we have in our own catalog, but if I’m one of the 4% who actually uses a subject search I’m probably already pretty comfortable with this.

 

So they took out subject searches. Big deal. To some people this does sound like a big deal, but is it really? I’m sure that the Glasgow folks aren’t advocating this for all OPACs. But they took a logical step of analyzing what their patrons actually use and then modifying their OPAC based on the results. Bravo!

Advertisements

Encore Panel

The IUG session closed with a discussion panel which highlighted some of the various implementation issues and considerations encountered by some of the libraries implementing Encore.

 

Encore on the Front Range: A Panel


Jefferson County Public Library

Encore is especially useful for the inexperienced user.

Encore is a more familiar interface to a younger audience.

The product was ready to go out of the box. They did some customization, but they had a fully functional product from the get-go.

During testing, they found that some of the staff didn’t really understand the differences between title searching and keyword searching. Staff thought that search results were different in Encore, but they were actually identical to the original OPAC.

The integration of Research Pro with Encore gives patrons access to databases and information they might not otherwise find.

Taking Advantage of Open-Access Digitized Books

I’m sitting in the Innovative Users Group meeting at ALA Midwinter.

The first speaker, Jeffrey Beall (Auraria Library, University of Colorado, Denver) did an interesting presentation on making freely-available open access e-books available through the OPAC. This project builds on the work done by the University of Michigan and Google by providing OPAC records linking to thousands of digitized books. This also draws on work done by the HathiTrust Digital Repository.

This project ultimately resulted in approximately 100,000 new records in the system. This represents potential online access to 100,000 additional full-text items.

Jeffrey pointed out some advantages and disadvantages of this project.

Advantages
Access to great content through the OPAC
Reap the benefits of years of UMich collection development
Collocated with other library resources
Fills gaps in the collection
Gives easier access to material in obsolete and unpopular formats (like microform)
Free

Disadvantages
Content controlled by others, may disappear
Poor metadata quality may make using catalog more difficult

A Big Question
What’s more important: access to great content with bad metadata, or access to fewer resources with good metadata?