Searching Arkansas State University – Beebe’s Library Catalog

August 4, 2006

Notes on my experiences searching for information in Arkasnas State University – Beebe’s library catalog:

Traditional catalog – Library.Solution 2.0 from The Library Corporation:

  • Using Search button from home page: I did a search using any fields containing the words computer and juvenile. There were 124 results. Many of the results were juvenile books in [computer file] format – which were not relevant to my search.
  • From the browse results screen, results can be sorted by Title, Author, Publication Date, Availability and Material Type.
  • The browse display has title, location and call number included and all are links.
  • Items are sorted by title.
  • Results can be saved. Can save checked items to a list or save all items to a list and can uncheck all selections.
  • There is a button to place a hold prominently to the right of every record listed in the browse results list. This is a nice feature. It is easy to see and fairly self explanatory.
  • On the left-hand portion of the screen, there seems to be the status highlighted in bright green: non-checkout, available, etc. Computer files have a status of non checkout. This is an odd wording. Computer files can’t really be checked out. This makes it seem as if one cannot use the item.
  • There is a nice feature in this catalog. Above the status, there is information that reads “Found as . ..” – can be “subject, title,” “author,title,” etc. This information tells the user where the keywords were found (in what indexes). I found this to be very helpful. I wish other catalogs had this feature.
  • Search box to allow user to perform another search (or the same search) are on every page – at the bottom.
  • In item display, user can return to the results list via a button. There are next and previous links to broswse through the items in the results set.
  • In the item record display, the Title, Author, Annotations Link, Excerpt Links, Imprint, Physical Descript., Subject, Index, and Electronic Resources link are displayed. Author, Subject and Index items are hyperlinked to allow for browsing these indexes.
  • The Annotations, Excerpts, and Character Information links (buttons) are to enhanced content provided by Syndetic Solutions. This information displays in a pop up window. The Annotations link brings up a pop up window with a short description of the work. How is this an annotation? This wording is confusing. These buttons are also displayed in the initial browse results screen.
  • Of note: There is information about item availability “This item has been checked out 0 times and currently has 0 hold requests.” This print is very small and note terribly noticeable under the bibliographic information. I have never seen checked out information in the record, but could be useful to users.
  • There is a button on the top of the screen which allows users to see the history of their searches. Users can click on these searches to perform them again.
  • There are also buttons in the top navigation bar to see MARC display, to download MARC record and to save item citation to list.
  • I did an author search for “Mark Twain” using the contains option. There were 61 results – there were 61 results when I did the same search as “Twain, Mark.” I think this is a very important feature. There are no confusing see also references when the author search is performed first name last name.
  • Browse option from the home page – links to more traditional library catalog search options – here author searches must be performed last name, first name. A search for “Mark Twain” will bring up see also references pointing the user to “Twain, Mark.”
  • User can browse through several indexes including Title, Author, Subject, Notes, Publisher, Series, Local Call Number, Dewey, GPO, ISBN, ISSN, LC Call, LCCN, or LCCN2004.
  • The Combination option from the home page allows users to use Boolean operators in their searches. This is a complicated search option with three different terms and different options for putting the terms together.

Searching via Medialab Solutions’ Aquabrowser:

  • Main page has one search box – labeled “Enter your query.” Search can be restricted to all locations, ASU – Beebe or ASU – Searcy.
  • There is very little on this home page. The letters ASU do appear in the discover area on the left-hand portion of the screen. Otherwise, there is little branding for the school or library. Also, there is no link back to the library web site.
  • I did a search for computer juvenile and retrieved 14 results that were ranked by relevance.
  • There is a tag or word cloud on the left-hand portion of the screen in the “discovery” area. Users can click on the words in order to broaden their search for related items.
  • The browse display lists the Title, Series Title, Author, a short description, and the subject information. No local information about the item (call number, location or availability) is given on this page. This is disappointing. Users are forced to click on the item to see the item display to get availability information.
  • Clicking on the item, brings up more of the bibliographic information along with call number, location and availability. There is a link to return quickly to the hit list (original browse display of results).
  • On the right-hand portion of the screen, are several options to refine the search. The results are broken down into format, author, subject or series. Users can choose to see the results in book or movie format, see results by a particular author, subject or series. This feature is wonderful. It allows the user to see how many items are in the collection by author, subject, series or in book, movie, serial, or computer file format.
  • In the discovery pane (word cloud), words offered are offered from associations, translations, discovery trail, spelling variants and thesaurus terms.
  • Aquabrowser is very easy to user. I was very happy with my search experience. I do wish that there was better branding on the page – and wish that local item information appeared in the original browse display.  The items retrieved in my search were much more helpful than in the search I performed in the traditional catalog.
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I Think I’m Done

August 4, 2006

The final exam for my summer class consisted of a fake title page and verso from which we had to write a full bibliographic, MARC record. In addition to the descriptive cataloging fields, we were instructed to use the SCSU library catalog in order to assign a LC classification number and LC subject headings. I was able to finish most of the descriptive cataloging last night, but had to wait until this morning to work on the classification number and subject headings. Violent thunderstorms ono Wednesday evening caused tremendous damage in the surrounding towns taking down telephone polls and trees. As a result, our power was shut off yesterday around 2PM – and did not come on until 9PM. I admit to being a bit worried about the possibility of not being able to complete the final. As a result, I was up bright and early this morning to make sure that I would be able to finish. So, I think I will go eat some lunch, then review my bibliographic record and email it to the professor. Can it be true??? Am I really almost done for this semester??? Can I start to celebrate???


The Final Exam has been Posted

August 3, 2006

I have the final exam in hand – and approximately 30 hours to complete it. I am taking a half of vacation day today and all of tomorrow off to work on it (This is assuming that I can get out of work today. We had major thunderstorms last night which led to power outages on campus – and power outages lead to all sorts of problems for computers and networks). Fortunately, I feel a bit better about it having seen the exam. It makes sense – and although, I think it will be difficult, I feel prepared.


Happy Places During Study Breaks

August 2, 2006


Orient Beach, St. Marten

Originally uploaded by ScruffyNerf.

I’ve been having fun playing with vacation pictures while on study breaks. They make me happy – which helps me get back to studying (ok, maybe they don’t help me get back to studying, but they do make me happy). I actually have been studying for a while tonight, but I don’t feel as if I’m prepared for the exam. I have no idea what to expect – other than we will be asked to catalog a fake book. This class has been frustrating in so many ways because I just feel disconnected from the material. I need another vacation!!


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.