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Tag: Librarianship

Please: don’t return your books

So, I’m at code4lib 2013 right now, where side conversations and informal exchanges tend to be the most interesting part. Last night I had an conversation with the inimitable Michael B. Klein, and after complaining about faculty members that keep books out for decades at a time, we ended up asking a simple question: How much more shelving would we need if everyone returned their books? Assuming we could get them all checked in and such, well, where would we put them? I’m looking at this in the simplest, most conservative way possible: Assume they’re all paperbacks, so we don’t…

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How good is our relevancy ranking?

For those of us that spend our days trying to tweak Mirlyn to make it better, one of the most important — and, in many ways, most opaque — questions is, “How good is our relevancy ranking?” Research from the UMich Library’s Usability Group (pdf; 600k) points to the importance of relevancy ranking  for both known-item searches and discovery, but mapping search terms to the “best” results involves crawling deep inside the searcher’s head to know what she’s looking for. So, what can we do? Record interaction as a way of showing interest One possibility is to look at those…

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Does anyone use those prev/next/back-to-search links?

There’s a common problem among developers of websites that paginate, including OPACs: how do you provide a single item view that can have links that go back to the search (or to the prev/next item) without making your URLs look ugly? The fundamental problem is that as soon as your user opens up a couple searches in separate tabs, your session data can’t keep track of which search she wants to “go back to” unless you put some random crap in the URL, which none of us want to do. But let’s take three giant steps backwards before we throw…

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Why RDA is doomed to failure

[Note: edited for clarity thanks to rsinger’s comment, below] Doomed, I say! DOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMED! My reasoning is simple: RDA will fail because it’s not “better enough.” Now, those of you who know me might be saying to yourselves, “Waitjustaminute. Bill doesn’t know anything at all about cataloging, or semantic representations, or the relative merits of various encapsulations of bibliographic metadata. I mean, sure, he knows a lot about…err….hmmm…well, in any case, he’s definitely talking out of his ass on this one.” First off, thanks for having such a long-winded internal monologue about me; it’s good to be thought of. And, of…

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Intuition-based librarianship?

Not long after I started working in the library, I heard someone talking about “Evidence Based Librarianship.” Like the good little kind-of-a-librarian I’d become, I looked it up and found this article which states that: EBL employs the best available evidence based upon library science research to arrive at sound decisions about solving practical problems in librarianship. My immediate response was, of course, What the $#!&% is everyone else doing? The sad truth, of course, is that in general folks working in libraries do not use the “best evidence” based on “library science research” because, like many of the practitioners…

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