Cataloging Transformed: From Traditional to Emerging Models of Use: Part II

Cataloging Transformed: From Traditional to Emerging Models of Use: Part II

RUSA_RSS “Catalog Use Committee”Co-sponsored by RUSA-MARS “User Access to Services Committee”

Sunday June 25, 2006 4:00-5:30PM

Morial Convention Center Rooms 295-296

This is a continuation of my previous post which focused on Andrew Pace’s presentation (see his new blog here: http://blogs.ala.org/pace.php). To get an idea of the crowd you check out the following photos:

From photographer jessamyn

http://www.flickr.com/photos/iamthebestartist/175864344/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/iamthebestartist/175864643/

Photos I took: http://www.flickr.com/photos/amerk/sets/72157594188529420/

Cindy Levine is the Director at Large of RUSA Public Services Quarterly editorial board and a North Carolina State University Reference Librarian.

She started out her presentation by saying how difficult it was to overemphasize how refreshing she found trying a new approach to the online catalog. Her tenure as a librarian began when the online catalog was first coming into being.

Cindy mentioned questioning the time and effort that was expended to make sure that subfields and fixed fields were perfectly coded. She deduced that all the time and effort was an act of faith that advances in technology would be able to fully utilize all the carefully coded information.

After the initial development of the catalog she felt that the best minds were working elsewhere and that vendors have allowed catalog products to stagnate.

Her voice rose with enthusiasm when she mentioned how heated the debate became once they actually felt empowered to make decisions about what kind of catalog NCSU wanted, how they wanted it to look.

As they put effort into transforming their catalog they, in effect, differentiated the catalog from the rest of the collection. It was acknowledged that the catalog is “far from our only collection or information source.” Cindy brought back shades of Andrew’s presentation as she described how they tried to “see the meaningful seams between the systems.”

Andrew assisted by pulling up their NCSU catalog as Cindy went on to describe the guided navigation technology that was used. Guided navigation is able to take advantage of all that data that was put in as an act of faith. It is able to pull and show patterns that have always existed in catalogs, but have never been adequately presented.

Guided navigation was described as different from the Google-approach where you have to rely on Google’s algorithm to bring needed results to the top. The guided navigation offered several ways to view the results. Right at the top of the screen you could see how many hits came into which call number area. In a search for the word ‘Islam’ guided navigation makes it quick and easy to distinguish between the Language & Literature (P) titles and Philosophy, Psychology Religion (B) titles.

Try this yourself in the NCSU catalog http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/searchcollection/

Other breakdowns (or refinements) are to the left:

  • Subject: Topic
  • Subject: Genre
  • Format
  • Library
  • Subject: Region
  • Subject: Era
  • Language
  • Author

You could also sort by:

  • Relevance (default search)
  • Publication Date
  • Title A-Z
  • Author A-Z
  • Call Number
  • Most Popular (Most checked out)

The most popular option was added after a debate about whether or not to point searchers to popular items, taking into account the appeal of Googlization.

Cindy noted that there has been steady use of all the search refinements since the system was implemented.

It appears that NCSU is well on their way to their goal of having a very intuitive interface that nearly eliminates the need for instruction. In Cindy’s experience it is still very worthwhile to point out the search refinements (Call number, Topic, Genre, etc.) to students. She also hopes to see more genre refinement to clear up confusion created by breaking apart LC subject headings. An example of an instituted refinement was that they changed “Sources” to the wording “Primary Sources” making the meaning much clearer for students.

It is interesting to note that when John Blyberg took an informal poll later in the session, to find out who was happy with their current OPAC, only people from NCSU raised their hands. 2-3 hands out of a very large group. We have a long way to go.