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Libraries and their problems

Poster: Shalandara@aol.com

barderic@mailcity.com writes:

<<  Anotehr problem I have with the libraries, with the new computer data
bases that they have, is if you do a key-word or a subject search, and you get
a list of 500 books, and you go throug them all jsut to find that MAYBE 5 of
them actually ahve anythong to do with your subjest beyond a minor mention of
like 3 words.>>

Key word searching can be a wonderful thing and it can be a bad thing.
Understand that the system can only retreive records if the word is in them.
Often times people get frustrated because they use the words that they think
and it is not part of the controlled vacabulary for the database.  For example
(remember I work in a theological library) most people do searches for
EUCHARIST or COMMUNION which are both valid words and used by different
denominations.  But the controlled vocabulary in Library of Congress Subject
Headings (which most libraries use) is LORD'S SUPPER.  So someone searching
with either of the first two terms might find a few or no records at all.  Ask
a librarian what type of classification/subject headings they use in the
card/computer catalog.  If it is LCSH then they might have a copy of the 4
volume set that you can look at.  It is a listing (albeit confusing) of valid
subject headings.  And if the term is not valid it gives a "see reference".
As for online databses, often there is documentation on what the controleld
vocabulary is.  If there isn''t, and you are having problems, try variations
of the word you were searching.  The other thing to remember with keyword
searching is that it possible to get too specific by having too many search
terms.  Nothing might match.  On the other hand having too broad a term will
result in an overload of hits.  (Try searching keyword BIBLE in my library and
you will be overloaded!)

>> Or the books that you REALLY need at "loaned out" at the time, and I always
have teachers that think that you can write a complete essay over a 2 day
period, with something like 5 news articles, 3 encyclopedias, and numerious
other accurate sources.  I've actually had more of those than I can count on
my fingers and toes, and you go looking for this stuff, and, SURPRISE, it's
never there, not what you need!
 Anyone else out there like that? >>

Not knowing where you are or the specific library, have you tried recalling an
item if it is deadly important?  Sometimes you can do that -- it depends upon
your library policies.  Our students have priorities over local clergy and we
have recalled books for them if they truly need it.

As far as the person who posted that their local public library had nothing
but fiction paberbacks, that does surprise me.  Most public libraries at least
have a limited reference collection.  Perhaps it is a small branch and the
main library has the most, but it is a start.  Besides, you might find that
that the librarians are happy that someone is interested in useing the library
and its sources!  Although I work in an academic library and we don't have
much fiction, I am surprised at how little resources are actually used by
people.  They just don't bother to look hard enough, especially when they can
just download something from the web (another whole issue......)  In a public
library the fiction is usually heavily used, but not the non-fiction.

Be friendly to your local librarian, they jsut might be able to help you in
ways you hadn;t thought of.......

Elizabeth of Hadley Hall
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