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13487RE: [mythsoc] libraries

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  • Croft, Janet B.
    Dec 17, 2004
      Carl asked: "Do library websites allow one to search the _contents_ of
      the library's holdings? Or just the metadata describing the holdings
      (titles, authors, keywords, etc.)? Because if one can't search the
      contents, then I don't see how anyone can believe that Google's
      projected database won't be _vastly_ more valuable for research purposes
      (all things being equal, that is: sc., if Google and the library in
      question index the same materials)."

      Well, it depends. In the case of journal articles, yes, in most
      full-text databases you CAN search the actual contents of the electronic
      holdings. The same for electronic books, depending on the vendor
      interface. For books scanned by the library, it depends if we used
      optical character recognition software and what kind of interface we
      provide.

      I'm not saying it won't be a wonderful thing to have these books scanned
      and searchable, because it certainly will be. I just don't think this
      means library catalogs are going to become unnecessary, and that library
      cataloging (when properly detailed) is valuable even when full-text
      searching is available. Standardized index terms can bring resources
      together that you might miss when just searching full-text; a classic
      example would be using the index term "gasoline," which in the library
      catalog would also retrieve British works that only use the term
      "petrol," and which you would miss entirely in a full-text search. Or
      closer to home, what if you're looking for resources about "Gollum" and
      there's a paper that calls him "Smeagol" the whole way through and never
      uses the name "Gollum"? Full-text searching will miss it; an index using
      a standardized vocabulary and a see-also entry will retrieve it.

      Full-text searching and controlled-vocabulary indexing are complementary
      tools; one doesn't make the other obsolete. I'd call Google and the
      library catalog valuable in different ways, depending on the task at
      hand.


      Janet
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