piping up library feedback blog

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Using the new Catalogue

Published by Dipa Barua

Q. I do not like the "new" version of the online catalogue. I have tried to learn to like it and I think I have given it a fair try. I speak as someone who used to work in cataloguing at U of Guelph and McGill.

The main problem is that for unsophisticated users there are far too many marginally relevant hits. A large number of hits is not a virtue in itself. When I look up an author I should not get every book review written by this author unless that is specifically what I want. I know that this can be avoided by using advanced search and various codes. Before it was not necessary for me to give lectures on how to look things up, and in particular how to filter out all the junk that is now produced.

The net effect is to make the library catalogue irrelevant, I fear. Students are just using Google® or other tools. For my own work I often simply use other catalogues.

A. Thank you for taking the time to give your feedback on the new catalogue.  As you point out, it is very different from the previous catalogue. 

From the attached search we can see that you used an advanced technique that -- in the old catalogue -- limited searches to the author field (the  term "au" before the search query). 

In the new catalogue there are three options for searching by author name, e.g.:

  • to search by the keywords hall rupert (or hall, rupert)
    • in this case, the first 10 results are books by A. Rupert Hall
    • at this point you can also limit by Author/Creator and/or Resource Type (on the left-side) as needed to filter your results
  • to use the Advanced Search option and choose field author/creator to pre-filter your search
  • to use the Browse Search by author (last name first), found along the top menu in the catalogue
    • note however that this only searches materials in the Library's collection, such as books and videos (as the old catalogue did)

(There are further tips for using the new catalogue in the Library Catalogue search guide.)

Based on our observations and user testing, students and other non-expert users who weren't familiar with advanced search techniques in the previous catalogue find this new catalogue to be much easier to use. However we are hearing from expert researchers like yourself that advanced search techniques that worked previously are no longer helpful.

Thank you for bearing with us during this time of transition, and for letting us know about the problems you are encountering. If you have further comments or questions, or would like any further information, please let us know. 

Janice Banser
Systems Librarian

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