Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Subject headings

Does anyone really search by subject anymore?? In our consortium, we have split up authority control responsibilities over three different libraries. One has names, one has series/titles, and I have subjects.

I used to have series/titles, which I just loved, but a more vocal librarian wanted to handle series/titles and I didn't feel it was worth arguing over. You want it? Fine! I miss taking care of those series sometimes, though. It was a small bunch, but squirrelly. And when I added cross references I felt like I was making a difference.

Now that I've been relegated to subject headings I have lingering doubts as to whether the work I'm doing even makes a difference. Everyone searches by series, but I have my doubts about how often people search by subject.

Not that I blame them. Browsing subject headings is horrible!! All those free floating subdivisions! Why are catalogers so compelled to add on as many subdivisions as possible?? It just irks me to see a heading with only one bib attached to it. What's the point? When I select a subject heading from a list, I want to see a group of titles with that heading, don't you?

Now, keyword subject searching is probably the way to go. I'll have to do some research into what methods our users are using to search. But I think there's something flaky about the way our system handles the subject keyword search. Something like it only looks for the terms within one heading as opposed to finding the keywords anywhere in any heading.

Well, I could go on and on about subject headings for fiction. Useless they are!! But that's a rant for a different day...

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