Friday, August 31, 2007

Subject Headings: Fun at Last

Subject headings drive me crazy. I occasionally give talks on how to do subject searches in library catlaogs -- I use the Library of Congress subject headings, which are the most common in my field. I always tell an audience that while the Library of Congress (LC) is full of warm wonderful librarians who want to help people, when it comes to subject headings one should always remember that as federal employees, the LC people are distant relatives of other federal employees who bring us the IRS forms. So, how easy should one expect them to be?

LibraryThing shows the gap: I enjoyed just adding tags to my personal books, and seeing what tags others had added. I was listing fiction titles, and the subject headings there tend to be closer to what most people use, but the tag cloud still shows lots of terms.

I don't need a list of my books: long before library school, I was weeding my books at random intervals -- mostly to make room for more books. I know what I have, and where they are ( I lack the "summer home" that LibraryThing uses as an example of helpful location info to add to one's list.) But I like the links to other titles, and the comments.

Library Thing would seem quite handy for small libraries, and, I guess, for public libraries that don't subscribe to one of two main databases for cataloging (OCLC and RLIN.) I may use it to see if I can find a listing for any books our cataloging department can't find in OCLC.

In the July-August issue of Utne (formerly Utne Reader,) there was a brief note, "Gaming for the Greater Good," about the ESP Game at The game "involves viewing images and typing descriptive words at the same time as a randomly selected, unknown partner .... Players accrue points when they agree on a word." The game has a serious purpose: "Researchers designed the game to cull data, making it more efficient to search for images online and help label them for blind users." (Utne 142:11, quoting from Science News (March 17, 2007.) Now that is a fun way to approach cataloging.

23 Things #11

1 comment:

Judielaine said...

I was searching around the blogosphere as RLIN comes to an end today as a live database. Searches are allowed for one more month. In October, there will be only one: WorldCat.