On 09/03/2015 0.56, Karen Coyle wrote:
> On 3/8/15 12:07 PM, James Weinheimer wrote:
>> They can sit there quite literally, all day long and not have learned 
>> anything about the War. All they see are *catalog records* and if 
>> they are to learn about the war itself, they need to get into the 
>> books of the collection.
> Great. You just described Amazon and the Apple APP store, two of the 
> most successful sites on the web.

I don't really understand the comment. I didn't make a criticism of 
anything, I just made a statement of fact. It is a problem that users 
experience all the time and why some students--those who actually came 
to trust me enough to be honest--told me that library catalogs were a 
huge waste of their time. Even some faculty agree. (See the excellent 
articles: "The-3-Click-Dilemma" in the Chronicle 
with its follow-up

Another example of a similar problem, one person (I can't remember 
where, but I could find it) mentioned that she had taught an information 
literacy session to undergraduates, explained how the catalog worked, 
what was on the library's various websites etc., and then asked them: 
Tell me what hours the library is open on Sunday.

Most people searched *in the catalog* "What are the hours the library is 
open on Sunday?" We can laugh, but what they did was completely logical 
and understandable. When we consider it more carefully, this represents 
a disaster for libraries. I am sure that these sorts of things happen 
all the time; people get weird results, or nothing at all, and the only 
conclusion the searcher can come to is that the library catalog is bad. 
What other conclusion could they possibly come to? In an earlier time a 
person might think: maybe I did something wrong. Maybe I should ask, but 
those days appear to be over. It seems that nobody ever asks.

Today, one text box looks like any other text box, and how is someone to 
know that one search works with full-text and another with "summary 
records" (as I called catalog records). Understanding that these are 
different types of information is difficult (obviously). Merging the two 
types of data would only seem to me to complicate the problem 
further--but my mind is open and we should find out. We need to be 
honest in appraising the results however, basing them on what the users 
think, and not on what we think.

While Amazon may be popular among the public, I haven't met any 
instructors who want students to use it as a research tool.

James Weinheimer [log in to unmask]
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