No Homework or Computer Tonight

July 31, 2006

I finally turned my paper in about 20 minutes ago. I’m done with school for the day, and I’m on way home from work. I need to start cramming heavily for my final later this week. But for I’m done with everything computer and school related for the night. I definitely think a break is in order.

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The Third Assignment is Done

July 30, 2006

Yeah! I finished the third assignment for my cataloging class with 24 hours to spare. I am SO ready to be done with school right now. I definitely have to spend this week studying for the final. We will be able to acess the final on Thursday morning – and then have until Friday at 6:00PM to finish it. I will admit to being very nervous especially given that I didn’t do too well on the first assignment. I did feel better when some of my classmates admitted to having difficulty with it also. Meanwhile, I have added the paper on making the library catalog more user friendly to my eportfolio site for those who expressed interest in reading it. Enjoy!


Searching UMass Dartmouth’s Library Catalog

July 29, 2006

Notes on my experiences searching for information in UMass Dartmouth’s Library Catalog:

  • Most irritating feature is the 10 minute time out. Several times I had to restart my search because the system had timed out.
  • Basic Keyword search: Did a search for computer AND juvenile in Keyword Anywhere. There were only 7 results. Results can be sorted by Title, Author, Publish Date, and Publish Date Descending.
  • Post Limit Button on page with search results. Can set limits: Language, Location (Archives, Special Collections, Electronic Archives Finding Aids, General Collection, Periodicals, and Reference Collection), Date (several options =, <,>, range), Medium (Map, Computer File, Globe, Projected Globe, Microform, Nonprojected Graphic, Motion Picture, Sound Recording, Text (Eye readable), and Videorecording), Item Type (Book, Serial, Archival Manuscript, Music Score, Map, Nonmusical Recording, Computer File, Software, Kit, Mixed Material/Collection, Mixed Material, and Visual Material), Place of Publication and Publication Status (Currently published, Ceased Publication, and unknown). What is the difference between Medium and Item Type? I think this is confusion. There is definitely some overlap in the two categories which makes it unclear which limit to use. I also thought the Publication Status confusing. I assume that this is intended to limit Publication Status of serials, but am not sure. And why unknown?? There is nothing to indicate on the page whether or not this limit refers to serials.
  • Back to results of Basic Search (7 items). Results are sorted by Title. One initial browse results screen, the Title is listed (hyperlinked) along with the call number and item availability.
  • Records can be saved and exported in various formats, can be emailed.
  • Individual record display: Lists database, Title, Primary Material, Publisher, Database, Location, Call Number(hyperlinked to Call number index), Number of Items and Status. One odd thing – in the browse display the status reads available, but here it reads not charged. I assume they are the same thing. This is confusing.
  • Each item page has a navigation bar with Holdings, Bibliographic, Table of Contents, Linked Resources, and Marc Format. The holdings tab is the initial/default display. The bibliographic display shows more of the bibliographic record. The table of contents links to the items table of contents – if it has one. The page is blank if not. The Linked Records icon takes the patron to any linked resources. From a brief examination, I did not find any items with linked resources. The Marc Format link displays the bibliographic record in MARC format.
  • Each display page has the options to save records in select formats (full record, brief record, EndNote Citation, Latin 1 MARC, Raw MARC, and UTF-8).
  • Previous and Next buttons in order to navigate between results.
  • Once perform a search, the History link in the top navigation bar becomes active. This link will allow a user to see a page will all of their searches (from one session which remember times out after 10 minutes of inactivity) and click to re-execute them.
  • Title/Author/Subject/Call No. Search tab: Many different search options are available here.
  • I did an author search for Mark Twain. Presented with results page – browse of author index in the Ma’s. No see also references to remind user to search last name, first name. No search box offered on this page, must return to library catalog home in order to redo search.
  • Author search for Twain, Mark returns browse results for all authors matching Twain, Mark. Twain, Mark, 1835-1910 is first. Were 140 results. Not readily apparent where to click. On left, is an icon reading Note/Ref. Click on this icon reveals see also reference for Twain, Mark including Clemens, Samuel, 1835-1910, Snodgrass, Quintus Curtius, 1835-1910, and Louis de Conte, 1835-1910. I had to use back button to get back to author results for Twain, Mark.
  • Back on author result page, next to Note/Ref icon was a hyperlink appearing as such [1]. I clicked on this to finally be presented with the results of items written by Mark Twain.
  • At this point, the Headings link on the top navigation bar became active. Clicking on this returns one to the author browse screen for Twain, Mark.
  • From browse screen, records can be marked to be saved and exported. The column with the check box is not labeled, however.
  • From Title/Author/Subject/Call No. Tab – did a search for computer juvenile in Keyword Anywhere AND with Relevance index. This search returns the same results as the Basic Search function, but items are ranked with relevance. There is an additional column for relevancy. There is no easy way to return to browse display. Back button does work.
  • From Title/Author/Subject/Call No. Tab – did search for computer juvenile in Keyword Anywhere OR with Relevance index. Had 8889 results.
  • Did a search for computer juvenile search in Keyword Relevance Search index. Results are the same as in Keyword Anywhere OR with Relevance index.
  • Search for Ivanhoe in the Left Anchored Title index. 4 results were returned with Title (short title) starting with Ivanhoe. Interesting to note that the Author index was highlighted in these results. The 4th item was a videorecording without an author – there was no link to the item display in this case. Doing the same search in the Title Keyword AND index returns the same 4 results – in this case the title is highlighted rather than the author (so one can click on all 4 results).
  • I did a search for journal chemistry in the Journal Title Keyword AND index. This brings up all journal/serial titles with journal and chemistry in the title.
  • Command search with relevance – I never found a search strategy to work here. Every search I tried returned a system error “system couldn’t interpret search.” I have no idea what this search strategy is for.
  • Name Title Browse searches author index. If you search for Shakespeare, William, a listing of all records with Shakespeare as author are displayed with the titles of the item records. Putting a title keyword in the search strategy brings the same results as without the keyword. I thought this would have been an author/title search – but not really.
  • New Titles tab – a cool feature that patrons can use to list new titles by certain criteria. Can display recent titles in a variety of ways.
  • There is no way to limit ones search to available items.
  • Overall impressions, I think that Basic Search functions well. There are too many options on the Title/Author/Subject/Call No tab – and too many of them are labeled with confusing terms. Keyword Anywhere AND with Relevance, Keyword Anywhere OR with Relevance, Keyword Relevance, etc. You need to do a couple of searches before their function becomes clear. Some search options still don’t seem very clear to me. The ability to limit search to available items would be useful. The author indexes are also confusing. When searching by author, it takes longer to get results.

Some Grades are in

July 29, 2006

I finally got an email from the professor of my cataloging class with grades on both assignments. Unfortuntely, I didn’t do so well on the cataloging assignment (not flunking bad) – but am not terribly surprised. I really had no idea what the professor expected in terms of access points (added entries for 4XX and 7XX). I used added entries in some examples, but not all in order to hedge my bets. So really, I guess I did as well as could be expected given the circumstances. Fortunately, now I know exactly what he was looking for – and it makes sense. He also was clear about what type of cataloging examples will be all the final. I will be able to better prepare for that. The good news is that I did well on my paper about creating user friendly library catalogs. This makes me feel much more secure about the paper that I am working on right now.


Information on Endeca’s ProFind and Medialab’s Aquabrowser Library

July 29, 2006

Aquabrowser Library– Medialab Solutions

  • Ability for patron to Search, Discover & Refine
  • Results are ranked by relevance
  • Search interface locates results using associations, context and spelling alternatives generated from a library’s OPAC based on search query
  • Compares search terms to metadata in catalog
  • Creates a visual “word cloud” which creates “suggestions for patrons to discover new information and help them formulate a query.” Includes most relevant associations, foreign language translations, spelling variants and synonyms. Taken from http://www.medialab.nl/index.asp?page=aquabrowserlibrary/overview (July 29, 2006).
  • Refine options: Patrons can refine their search results by limiting the results based on format, subject, author, category or genre.

Endeca’s ProFind Platform – Endeca

  • From Andrew K. Pace’s My Kingdom for a OPAC article in the February 2005 issue of American Libraries. Available via American Libraries Online. Endeca creates “muti-relational” index where results are refined on the fly to match patron limits. Has fast searching with guided navigation.
  • From NCSU’s press release – Endeca platform uses information retreival scheme whic integrated searching and browsing. This combinationis meant to allow people to continually define and adapt their search strategies based on their own determination of relevancy. Contains a dynamic navigation scheme.

DOPA & Libraries

July 28, 2006

Like many others, I generally try to stay away from political issues. However, the passage of DOPA in the House of Representatives has the potential to have such a major impact on the way that libraries do business. Jessamyn West has a post over at librarian.net that summarizes many of today’s blog posts regarding the passage of DOPA. I think all are worth a read. I would add a post by post by Don Wood at Library 2.0 – Tell Your Senators Why DOPA is Bad for Libraries. Don Wood offers some great ways to help and get involved. (Found via Tame the Web).


What Makes a Librarian

July 28, 2006

In a post aptly titled Librarian – Just a Title over at Library Stuff, Steven M. Cohen discussed how he learned a lesson that one doesn’t have to have an MLS to be a librarian. In many ways, it doesn’t seem as if this should have been such a revelation. However, it isn’t a sentiment with which everyone who holds an MLS agrees. It is difficult to hold a professional librarian position without an MLS. This I can speak to from experience. Often times, people who hold an MLS find it very difficult to accept ones without an MLS in professional librarian positions. I can certainly understand – and even sympathize – with their point of view. They worked hard to get their degree, many have spent a good deal of money for it and worked hard to get their job. I’m sure there are many other reasons as well. Regardless of being able to understand their point of view, it is an attitude with which it is often very difficult to deal. Often when you meet librarians at conferences, workshops, etc., they ask right away where you work, what you do and inevitably where did you get your MLS. When you mention that you don’t have an MLS, they often ask why, are you thinking of getting it, you should consider going to such and such. There are even some that really do not want to deal with you once they discover that you do not possess the degree. Fortunately, I have only encountered this attitude a couple of times (and really look forward to not ever having to deal with it again when I complete my degree).

Sadly, people with this attitude are missing the fact that the best person for the job is the best person for the job regardless of educational attainment or experience. In my case, somebody (who has an MLS) thought I was the right person for my current job despite my lack of MLS. I can’t or shouldn’t allow others to undermine my belief that I am good at my job or that I deserve it. I try and remind myself of this when I do encounter people that question my abilities or right to my job. I think it is important to note that such questioning can come from both sides of the MLS divide. Library staff members who have paraprofessional jobs (and do not have MLS degrees) can also be critical – sometimes even more so than those with degrees. This can make me fell as if I don’t always fit in on either side of the divide. It is a tremendously difficult position to be in. Do I call myself a librarian or not? My current title is Head of Library Systems rather than Systems Librarian in order to subtlety convey that I do not possess an MLS. When I meet people casually, I tell them that I am a librarian. People outside of libraries don’t care about such idiosyncratic distinctions. However when dealing with people who work in or around libraries, I am careful to note that “No, I am not technically a librarian.” Admittedly, I will be happy when I complete my degree and won’t have to worry about such technicalities anymore.

Having said all that, this is not specifically the reason that I am going to graduate school to get my MLS. I don’t personally believe that the degree itself will make me a better librarian, but I do believe that the process of learning and being engaged about learning will. Something I intend to continue beyond my current stint in graduate school. Ultimately, I am too young to not get my degree. I have found my calling in life and want to continue working in library systems. One never knows what life will bring. I don’t think it would be wise to assume that I will work in my current job for the next 30 odd years until I retire. If I didn’t get my degree, I think I would be doing myself a great disservice. And that is the bottom line, I’m going to graduate school for myself not because the degree will make me a librarian.

7/29/06 Update: Nicole Engard from What I Learned Today chimes in on the issue. I particularly like Nicole’s take because we are in somewhat similar circumstances.