Tag you’re it: Enhancing access to graphic novels Wendy West firstname.lastname@example.org
Summary of Research Project To examine the access being provided for graphic novel titles in the discovery layers and online catalogs of a group of Association of Research Libraries through cataloging practices and social tagging.
Research Questions • Do academic libraries provide users with the option to add social tags within their online catalog or discovery layer? • When libraries provide tagging capabilities do end users tag graphic novels to enhance access? • Are there specific patterns in the tagging terminology of graphic novels (i.e., use of the term graphic novels)? • What metadata are catalogers using to identify graphic novels? • Does retrospective tagging play a role in access enhancement of earlier issued graphic novels?
Methodology • Through a series of searches in WorldCat, identified a sample of 59 titles that lacked genre headings (655) or subject headings identifying them as graphic novels. • Selected 75 ARL libraries to review catalogs & discovery layers. • 38 libraries offered social tagging options to users.
Graphic Novels • 59 graphic novel titles were used in the study. • Publication dates ranged from 1979 through 2010. • All but 5 were held in at least 1 library, resulting in a review of 668 bibliographic records. • Content ranged from young readers to adult. • Amelia Earhart: this broad ocean • Cancer vixen • Charles Darwin’s on the origins of species
Social Tagging • All of the discovery tools offered users the option to tag. • 13 (34%) offered a search utility to retrieve tagged items. • 7 (18.4%) offered the ability to refine results lists with tag terms only. • 19 (50%) of the libraries had at least one title with a social tag indicating that it was a graphic novel.
Genre Headings • 64 (9.6%) record had genre heading for graphic novels. • 39 (60%) records - updated in WorldCat • 21 (32.8%) records - added at the local level • 28 (73.7%) of the libraries had at least 1 record updated to include a genre heading. • Of the 28 libraries: • 15 (53.5%) = <10% of sample titles • 8 (28.5%) = 10.1 – 20% • 5 (17.9%) = 21.4 – 43.4%
Access • 143 (21.4%) sample graphic novels had additional access through genre headings and social tags. • Social tags provided more additional access than genre headings. • There was very little overlap of genre headings and graphic novel social tags (3%).
Limitations • Graphic novel – genre vs format remains controversial • Did not survey catalogers to determine differing philosophies • Graphic novels are a unique resource and the practice of adding these materials to collections. The wide range of holdings impacted the number of potential tagging opportunities across libraries.
Conclusions The results of this study indicate that while social tags and/or genre headings did provide additional access to graphic novels, their use is limited across the study’s library population. Addition of the social tagging and genre headings increases the potential for users to identify and locate the materials. Social tagging provides a provocative mechanism for user access. Libraries need to provide adequate search mechanisms to promote effective retrieval.
For more details…… West, Wendy (2013). “Tag, you’re it: enhancing access to graphic novels.” Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 13 (3), July 2013.