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!