A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I came across a really interesting article on The Chronicle of Higher Education. Written by Marc Parry and titled, After Losing Users in Catalogs, Libraries Find Better Search Software, the article highlights current attitudes felt by students that attempt to find sources at their school libraries. The article is recent and relevant to the work that I do at Bronx Community College.

Published in September 28, 2009, this article also serves to further what I know about search engines, searching, and indexes. This article starts by posing a scenario in which a University of Virginia student queries the library catalog for Thomas Jefferson and comes up blank. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, "The problem is that traditional online library catalogs don't tend to order search results by ranked relevance" (par. 3).

And what is wrong with regular, standard, run-of-the-mill library catalogs? Well, they don't rank results by relevance. And if you don't write the phrase or word exactly like it has been inputted in the catalog, then the catalog comes up blank. For example, if you write Tomas Jefferson instead of Thomas Jefferson, the catalog retrieves a blank. In addition, it does not interface with the user, trying to second guess where or what the user is trying to find. And it doesn't search by "media type, language, and date" (par. 6). So, for example, if a student is looking for books and articles from magazines, they have to use different indexes: one that searches books and one that searches magazines. If the index

The weaknesses of the catalogs that universities and colleges employ is that they don't resemble the search engines that students find on Google or Sears or Amazon or any other of the indexes they encounter on the world wide web. These engines are not better per se but they do offer single entry points into the content that they have inputted. So it doesn't matter whether you are searching an article, monograph, book, DVD, congressional hearing, or "herbarium specimens" (par. 13).

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