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Sorting out Relevancy for Library Search

It seems that most online catalogs and discovery systems attempt to present their search results according to relevancy. Thatís what library users expect since most of the search environments they use likewise follow this approach. Yet, itís really difficult to make relevancy work well for library collections, especially when intermingling results that include books, articles, and other kinds of materials. Itís pretty easy to tell when it goes wrong. But tuning search engines to bring the most important or interesting materials to the top of a result list presents incredible challenges and technical complicationsóespecially with query terms that have ambiguous meanings.

Computers in Libraries March 2011

In my March 2011 Systems Librarian column for Computers in Libraries I talk about some of the issues that arise related to relevancy in library interfaces. My basic assumption is that relevancy should follow some basic common sense principles, such as presenting the works themselves, in their most used form ahead of lesser-used formats and derivative materials.

In recent years, libraries have turned away from the traditional online catalog to embrace a new genre of public interfaces that go by names such as next-generation library catalogs, discovery interfaces, or discovery services. These new products aim to revitalize the stodgy online catalogs of the past to deliver to library patrons an experience of the collections and services of the library more in tune with the expectations set by the mainstream web. With increasing overlap and even competition to serve the information needs of library patrons by commercial destinations, it seems essential for libraries to offer the most compelling approaches possible for providing access to their valuable resources. continue reading...

Jul 30, 2011 16:57:55

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