Monthly Archives: October 2014

The First Lady Collection: Stories of Women, Strength, and Courage

Information Tasks:
1. Which items in the collection focus on women during wartime?
2. List the items in the collection that could be described as autobiographies or memoirs.


Titanic Group: Information Tasks

1) How do the costumes and sets of the film Titanic compare to the actual fashions and decor?

2) Who were the passengers of the Titanic and what social groups did they represent?

3) How was the tragedy of the Titanic represented in the media in 1912?

Dublin Core Record Examples

I’ve updated the list of metadata examples from Session 5 with some specific implementations of Dublin Core in different contexts (also listed below). These may help you think about how you want to format the records in your group Omeka collections.

Dublin Core record examples

Dublin Core “User Guide:”

Response #9: Kyle Olmon

I very much enjoyed this week’s readings. Thomas Mann opened my eyes to the importance of OPAC browser displays. His observations of how patrons were interacting with the system and spelling out the differences between precoordinated phrases and postcoordinated Boolean terms was very helpful in getting into the minds of the casual user. All too often I feel that these organization systems we have been discussing are more in the service of the librarian/gatekeepr or the actual information source rather than the end user, of which all of this is for.

Taylor continues on this thread when he shares numbers from his observations about how subjective subject analysis is. I found this chapter fascinating, with easy language and ample examples. The 1954 study where 340 students looked at 6 books and suggested an average of 62 different terms that could be used to search each book really showcases how even with the best intentions and a specific controlled vocabulary, there will never be a consensus when humans are used to evaluate subject matter. Teasing out the “of-ness” and “about-ness” of an information source is truly a daunting task for the librarian or indexer and matching that perspective with a large and varied user base is downright Sisyphean.


Weekly Response, Maureen McElroy

Of all the readings this week, the Thomas Mann article sticks out in my mind most or maybe I have the biggest problem with.  I get what he is trying to say–he apparently thinks the best way to do research is to use OPAC’s subject browse feature and feels that is being under utilized.  I am not sure if I agree with his argument.  The Yugoslavia example he gave seems a little far fetched.  I think that if someone came up to the reference desk and said they need materials on the history of Yugoslavia, the first thing a reference library should ask have done is asked a few questions to narrow down his search before he even got to a computer.  I do not think this person should be “delighted” at Mann points out–his head should have exploded when he realized his topic was too broad.  What do some of those subject strings mean, they are just as broad; also, is it complete (I know he indicated that this was a sample).  He seems to think a problems are solved by typing Yugoslavia in, what about if it a term that has multiple meanings in multiple contexts–perhaps if he was looking for the history of Turkey (the country or the animal).  Haven’t we read a lot about headings not being accurate, or up-to-date, or culturally sensitive–he seems to think the OPAC’s subject browse feature produces only gold.  What is his problem with Boolean–yes if you do not know how to use it can produce a mess but you can also do some very sophisticated queries–limiting the information you want to see.  I laughed when I read in reference to Boolean that patrons are “simply incapable of coming up with the best terms.”–Really.  Isn’t it part of the job of the librarian to help in that area.  Using the Yugoslavia example, can’t things be missed–would typing in Yugoslavian yield additional results, Yugoslavia was made up of many ethnic groups–should you also search them if you are looking at history.  He his offering a simple argument to prove his point but not a good one.

If there is anything I have learned as a researcher is that there is no one way to do it and if you are any good at it you use multiple methods to achieve this end.  Using OPAC’s subject browse feature should be just one way.

Weekly Response 8 — Diana Rosenthal

Last week’s readings on the radical catalog were a nice set up for this week’s look at subject headings, Online Public Access Catalogs, and classification. Though all the readings made interesting points about these topics, the main consideration I came away with concerned education. It seems to me that the best use of subject headings and OPACs requires a lot of previous insight (and maybe even a Master’s degree!) into how the system works in order to maximize the access to information pertaining to a research topic. How much of a librarian’s time should be spent educating patrons on using the subject headings to their benefit, and how much time should be spent doing the searches for (or with) them?

This is a somewhat silly example, but has anyone used Netflix’s “Max” to help decide what to watch? When browsing by genre, title, or recently added movies and shows doesn’t help users find something they would enjoy watching, Netflix has a service called Max that asks the viewer a series of questions and then comes up with a list of recommendations. I wonder if this user-friendly searching option could be modified and applied in a library OPAC setting. Perhaps a digital tour guide could point patrons to the best search methods in order to maximize their results and factor in the lesser-known secrets of finding information in order to steer them away from simple keyword searches. This could help orient patrons who are searching within an OPAC, but who see a search bar and equate it with Google.

One question I came up with while reading Naun’s piece on “Next Generation OPACs” related to the description of new design features, including “the ability to filter keyword search results by a range of criteria including subject, format, genre, location, language, author, and period … [and] other features like spelling correction and relevance ranking…” Is there such a think as synonym searches? It seems that the existence of thesauri would provide for this feature, but I’m not sure if this actually exists on an automatic level.

Weekly Response #8: Emily Moyer

In previous classes we’ve discussed the artificial language of classification schemes, which are composed of systems of notation. This week we begin to learn the methods of how to assign natural language to a concept or concepts through subject analysis. Taylor’s chapter on “Subject Analysis” presents a comprehensive and compelling perspective of the intricacies of determining the aboutness of items and the difficulty in arriving at an agreed upon term. Taylor writes about a study where for each concept or object an average of 25 topical names were applied! So if people naturally arrive at different terms using different methods of analysis, how do we determine aboutness at all? It seems impossible. However, I think Taylor’s chapter strives to make us aware of the different methods that have been proposed and use them (or not) to form a strategy to create terms consistently and without bias.

I liked the format of this article and how Taylor divided up topics and subtopics discussed. For example, in “Differences of Methods Used” Taylor clearly articulates Langridge’s, Wilson’s, and Use-based approaches to demonstrate the different ways to arrive at a subject term. I also appreciated Taylor’s quick dive into subject analysis of nontextual information resources, which seems to include the semiotic methodology of reading the “text” and sense-making regardless of the medium.

Response 8(?) – Scarlett Taylor

Regarding the Thomas Mann article – I just must get this out first – I was consumed thinking about the cataloging implications of Yugoslavia as a subject heading, particularly how that reflects on our need to maintain (some) historical subject headings so that materials cataloged that way can still be found, and researchers working in a historical vocabulary can find them without translating to a current phrase. Would changing “Yugoslavia” to “Former Yugoslavia” be technically accurate? Yes. Necessary? Nio. This is, of course, a different case than blatantly offensive subject headings, but it interested me nonetheless.

Similarly, Taylor’s address of cultural subjectivity in subject analysis, while appropriately shallow for the scope of the section, was nice to see. I realize that this course’s reading assignments are overwhelmingly influenced by the professor, but I like to see such address of subjectivity in areas many people think of as objective – and it’s in our readings every week! I’m developing a skewed view of the library world as entirely full of very active social justice crusaders, and I really like it.

More relevantly to the week’s topic, Taylor’s address of “aboutness” and analysis of whether there even can be objectivity resonated with me. Again, libraries are thought of as these places of all knowledge, and therefore of course cannot have any bias, but they do. I had not thought of how even looking at the audience for a book that you have (subjectively) determined the subject of can be so very subjective, and how that audience influences the subject headings.