Response to K. G. Schneider’s (The Free Range Librarian) Post: Scilken’s Law and the Future of Libraries

Worthy read from the Free Range Librarian.  Schneider argues that … well, I’m not sure exactly what she’s arguing for.  She clearly is arguing against e-books, licensing as opposed to fair use, and any move toward shrinking physical collections.  In some respects I agree with her–it may be unlikely that public libraries will ever […]

Peter J. Rolla: User Tags versus Subject Headings: Can User-Supplied Data Improve Subject Access to Library Collections?

Rolla, P. J. (2009). User Tags versus Subject Headings: Can User-Supplied Data Improve Subject Access to Library Collections? Library Resources & Technical Services, 53(3), 174-184.

Like Merliese, et al., Rolla only compares most popular titles, which limits the applicability of his findings to less popular library holdings.

Today’s library users, who are increasingly comfortable with searching on the Internet, have certain expectations about how to search for information and how it will be displayed. These expectations, however, do not match how information is contained, discovered, and presented in traditional library catalogs. A recent study, for example, found that students using the University of Oklahoma’s online public access catalog (OPAC) performed keyword searches fourteen times more often than subject searches.1 In addition to a reliance on keyword searching, today’s users increasingly use interactive websites that allow them to both upload their own data or content and to connect with other users of the site—the Web 2.0 phenomenon (174).

Providing subject access to collections, therefore, is an expensive part of cataloging work, since it is time-consuming and usually performed by professional staff (175).

User tags would also permit patrons to personalize the library’s website (175)

User tags do nothing to solve the problems of polysemy and synonymy, whereas one of the main purposes of controlled vocabularies is to disambiguate polysemous words and choose preferred terms from groups of synonyms (175).

Continue reading Peter J. Rolla: User Tags versus Subject Headings: Can User-Supplied Data Improve Subject Access to Library Collections?