Weekly Response Posts #8 – Subject Analyisis, Rachel Skinner-O’Neill

This week’s subject matter for the readings (no pun intended) was particularly pertinent for me given I’m still on my crusade to master searching the classic catalog at NYPL which is the preferred on-line version of the NYPL’s catalog used by the Reference Librarians in the Mapping Division to find material pertinent to Patron’s (mainly students and researchers) queries/interests. Just this week I’ve been shown a couple of ways, one using the advanced search option and the other just keying in one or two “keywords” and then clicking on the LCSH that appears as starting points to a search. Thanks to the Chowdhury chapter I now have a much clearer idea of the way subject indexing systems are classified as pre-coordinated and post-coordinated systems and what this actually means in terms of the way keywords are combined in the former and not in the latter to assist in searching the catalog. The value of pre-coordinated subject strings is emphasized in the Mann article and was brought home to me even further when I commented on this week’s readings to colleagues, one of whom declared the problem with thinking of the Library catalog in the same way as one might a browser such as Google, is that “Patrons use so many search terms they wind up with nothing (they want to look at)”, the message would seem to be to keep things simple.

Seemingly at the other end of the spectrum from simple but with a huge “wow” factor is the NYPL Subject Heading Network created by Matt Miller to show the extent of the Steven A. Schwarzman Building’s collection – it’s a pretty amazing project and great fun to peruse. Miller blogs about the process here. Below is a screen shot of the NYPL Subject Heading Network – click the link to experience the “wow”!

NYPL Subject Heading Network
NYPL Subject Heading Network

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