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The Lay of the Land: Libraries at the Crossroads. Roy Tennant California Digital Library. Goals. Raise questions Spark imaginations Motivate Encourage professional self-criticism. More Specifically….

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The Lay of the Land: Libraries at the Crossroads


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the lay of the land libraries at the crossroads

The Lay of the Land: Libraries at the Crossroads

Roy Tennant

California Digital Library

goals
Goals
  • Raise questions
  • Spark imaginations
  • Motivate
  • Encourage professional self-criticism
more specifically
More Specifically…
  • I will focus on our primary and most shameful failure: our inability to provide an easy and effective information locating tool
  • Remember: only librarians like to search, everyone else likes to find
  • However, we are failing even to do things we have explicitly tried to do
  • Let’s take a look at the evidence…
slide6

260 Berkley, CA : Library Solutions Press, [c]1993

300 [vii,]134 p. : ill., maps ; 28 cm

500 Includes bibliographic references (p. 32-35) and index

650 0 Internet

250 1st ed

260 Berkley, CA : Library Solutions Press, c1993

300 viii, 134 p. : ill., maps ; 29 cm

500 Includes bibliographic references (p. 32-35) and index

500 "An earlier version of this book was published as a

workbook in support of hands-on Internet training

workshops."

650 0 Internet

250 1st ed

260 Berkeley, CA : Library Solutions Press, c1993

300 viii, 134 p. : ill. [,maps]; 28 cm

504 Includes bibliographical references (p. 32-35) and index

650 0 Internet -- Handbooks, manuals, etc

650 2 Computer User Training

2 Computer Communication Networks

4

3

9

typical searches
Typical Searches
  • Known Item
  • “A Few Good Things”
  • Comprehensive
typical searches known item
Typical Searches: Known Item
  • The good: searches can be limited to a particular field: author, title, etc.
  • The bad: limiting to a particular field doesn’t always act the way you expect
  • The ugly:
typical searches a few good things
Typical Searches:“A Few Good Things”
  • The one type of search we have so far ignored in library system design
  • A type of search that we can do something about today
  • Bring Google-style relevance to library catalogs
typical searches comprehensive
Typical Searches: Comprehensive
  • Most library catalogs hide many things available via regional cooperative or ILL
  • It is difficult, if not impossible, to search all appropriate journal databases
  • Most libraries do not provide good access to gray literature and web sites
  • Subject headings are often unintuitive, and catalogs give no guidance
  • Catalogs give no chapter-level access to book content
some of the things most users care about
Some of the Things Most Users Care About
  • What information resources are accessible to them
  • What they have to offer, in more detail (contents, index, cover copy, etc.)
  • What others think about them
  • How much pain they must endure to get them
  • What they can expect when they show up
  • What they must do with them when they’re done
some of the things most users do not care about
Some of the Things Most Users DoNot Care About
  • Many of the things we care about
  • Where the information comes from
  • Who is responsible for providing it
  • Quality, if it means spending a lot of time and effort to get it
  • Differences between printings of the exact same book
  • The height of a book (in centimeters!)
what many users expect
What Many Users Expect
  • A simple search box
  • Automatic filters, sorts, and groupings, and/or some that they can apply
  • Fault-tolerant search systems (“If you can’t give me exactly what I asked for, do your best to give me what I want”)
  • Let’s see how fault-tolerant we are…
slide20

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome -- Africa

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome -- epidemiology -- Africa

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome -- transmission

AIDS (Disease) -- Africa

AIDS (Disease) -- Africa

AIDS (Disease) -- Etiology

AIDS (Disease) -- Public opinion

AIDS (Disease) -- Social aspects

AIDS (Disease) in mass media

Arts and society -- History -- 20th century

Culture -- Philosophy

Ethnic arts

Marginality, Social -- History -- 20th century Mass Media

Minorities in art

Prejudice

Public Opinion

Race Relations

Racism

recap on library catalogs
Recap on Library Catalogs
  • We cannot claim to support any of the top three main types of searches well
  • Our systems work inconsistently and demonstrably incoherently
  • Other bibliographic search systems (e.g., Amazon) demonstrate how pitiful our systems are to our users
  • We have taken very few steps toward fixing our broken systems
what we have
What We Have
  • A computerized card catalog focused on inventory control
  • Non-standard database records
  • Systems that don’t interoperate
  • In union catalogs, multiple catalog records for the same book
  • An A&I database Tower of Babel
  • Haphazard attempts to provide access to web sites
  • Limited experiments providing access to gray literature
what we must do
What We Must Do
  • We should design our systems for 80% of our user needs, not 20%
  • We must design the public view of our catalogs for searching, not inventory control
  • We should stop worrying about things that don’t matter (e.g., book measurements) and start worrying about things that do (e.g., our inability to use one record per book)
  • We must think imaginatively and critically about how to design useful search systems
  • We need to design systems to integrate access, not fracture it
the road not yet taken
The Road Not (Yet) Taken
  • Create effective methods to put users in touch with what they need, wherever it can be found
  • Design fault-tolerant, multi-purpose systems
  • Build for interoperability
  • Strive for the Holy Grail of Librarianship: one-stop searching for everything
how we can give it to them
How We Can Give it To Them

The User

Interface

Online

Reference

The Integration Engine

Serial

Databases

WorldCat on

Steroids

Google

OAI-

Compliant

Archives

Digital

Library

Collections

Local Circulation Systems

slide29

Source: ARL Statistics

http://searchlight.cdlib.org/cgi-bin/searchlight

the integration engine
The Integration Engine
  • Requirements:
    • Parse the query for each database
    • Sort, organize, and de-dup the results
    • Rank according to perceived relevance
    • Be fault-tolerant (do the best it can with what it’s given)
  • Targeted search engines may be better:
    • Specific topic areas
    • “A few good things” vs. Comprehensive
concluding thoughts
Concluding Thoughts
  • We’re failing at our own goals
  • We need to think imaginatively about our challenges
  • No library can do this alone
  • Regional cooperatives are the smallest unit for tackling this problem
  • A regional cooperative with vision and guts could lead the way for the rest of us