2004 Annual Discussion Session Table Comments

RUSA/RSS Catalog Use Committee -- Discussion Session

ALA Annual Conference 2004

June 27, 2004 – Orlando    FL

 

“Approaches to Explaining the Catalog in Reference and Instruction”

“User Behavior”   --   “Logistics”   --    “Technical Search Strategy”

 

User Behavior

Including but not limited to influences on the expectations and approaches users bring to searching     the catalog, as well as on search strategies and results.

  • Not everything in one place; need to search different locations; licensing   for specific user groups
  • Links to full-text not for everything
  • Hybrid nature of info resources – fit in role of catalog; understanding categories of info
  • Lack of user interest in process; current ability to get resources immediately
  • Printing problems (applications) – high frustration w/technology problems
  • OPAC hit searches vs. Google, always a hit – user attraction to ease/results
  • Motivated vs. unmotivated users
  • Make interfaces more like commercial products (Amazon, Google) – more user friendly, user centered
  • Non-graphical nature of catalog; how to make catalog as eye-popping as Amazon – esp. problem for academic libs; table of contents info is also valuable
  • Confusion between Web vs. online databases
  • Problem assignments – don’t work at all, quirky searches that even faculty don’t understand
  • How successful are students (users) who don’t get instruction?   Can we know?
  • Incorporating research education before college; faculty teaching students to do research
  • Faculty as gatekeepers of quality – they may accept inferior quality
  • In orientation, students already on overload and low motivation at that point
  • Blurring between support staff and reference libns
  • Impact of virtual reference?   When do people want to deal directly with a person?
  • Students look at top link
  • Why don’t they get it? - Typing in lots of terms, full sentences rather than concepts - Lack of understanding of what they are being taught   - Understanding of synonyms; term use; abstract ideas like better or pro/con is what they do - Don’t understand that the record is a representation of a physical item; didn’t understand the difference - Serials solution confuses the idea of the catalog   - Understanding of local holdings vs. remote (consortia)
  • Catalog subject access is not the best – Subject headings are not flexible – Absence of e-journal holdings in the catalog that are caused by aggregators or for whatever other reason
  • How user friendly can computers realistically be?
  • Why can’t we create a catalog more like Amazon?
  • Creating access points in “free” notes fields by cataloguers
  • Catalogs suggest like terms (proximity, adjacency)
  • What should catalog be?    What should be in it?   (only lib owned resources?) – different libs use differently – increasing concern about fragmentation of information – part of Ohio Link, thousands of e-journals (some subscription, others free) -- not consistent in what is included -- would like to see everything in catalog.  
  • “People want to type in one word and go from there.”
  • Online catalogs not as consistent in function / appearance as when we had card catalogs
  • We assume catalog users know things (what the author is)
  • E-book muddles issue – used to say only contained descriptions of books – now have links to full-text
  • SFX links to resources outside catalog useful – leads to resources (article databases) users might not find otherwise
  • How do we know if our users can use the catalog? – transcription logs old – pre-BI assessment module – lowest scores on “how do you search for a journal title in the catalog?”
  • Make many assumptions about users – even if we provide info, they may not retain it – basic misunderstanding between journal title and article title
  • Catalog records have gotten too long/complex (serials) – separate holdings and bib data – some catalogs treat different versions differently (paper, microfilm, electronic) – consortial catalogs make more complicated.
  • SFX as a complicator – some courses may not indicate catalog instruction
  • Journal indexing increasingly links to the lib catalog
  • ISSN practice being revised – publishers don’t like the lib preferences.
  • CalTech has $5 charge for either interlibrary loan or document delivery (on campus). “There is no transfer of learning”  
  • “Hoped-for items” less successful than known-item searches
  • Usability at DePauw showed browse search” not a good match
  • Students look for first blank box
  • What to call “browse”
  • “Browse an organized list” at Seminole Community College
  • Hard to see patterns in usability testing (Wayne State?)
  • Comment was “Don’t make it look like Goggle if it doesn’t work like Google.”
  • Do we force people to use the catalog?
  • CODEN – George Porter said that SFX does include CODEN for ACS titles
  • Designing catalog to look like Ebsco interface has been successful
  • User behavior:   links in catalog to things not technically owned further confuses students; differences between keyword and subject headings; Internet searching

muddies the waters; demarcation between cataloguing and public services does        disservice…librarians should know the catalog

  • Maybe users should be frustrated with the catalog? – public libraries devoted just to catalog – separate from Internet access some benefits – need to educate user without so library-jargon oriented – they can get to resources without coming to library
  • Our catalogs do have problems
  • Undergrads don’t have preference about a specific OPAC or a new OPAC
  • SFX has a generic message, sometimes is a consortial setup; “special effects” = a term one libn uses
  • Catalogs force 5-6 clicks to get to a journal, often libn says try e-journals first
  • Multiple records too are confusing
  • Exact journal title feature – great; e.g., Science, Nature
  • SFX does resolve issue for abbreviated titles for science journals
  • One used Serials Solution prior to adding SFX
  • What is the call number for?   Which lib is it at?
  • Get rid of EZ Borrow – type label
  • These are not smart databases – it is character by character – not “do you mean?” like Google – people are geared to Google
  • Searching multiple-inst catalog is “crazy” when using keyword
  • Would people go to OPAC for all searches, or would they just search?
  • Stand-up kiosks for just OPAC
  • Catalog is initiative
  • Instruction – people spend more time on teaching databases than OPAC
  • Students will often copy down the wrong number
  • Start off with explaining what subject headings are
  • Instruction -   start off explaining difference between Internet vs. lib databases
  • What do you do when you need to find a print resource?
  • Just mention catalog
  • How do students know what number to take down?
  • Tech services putting notes in field
  • Reference not informed of changes
  • Students believe that everything will be listed in OPAC
  • SFX   - some students use without instruction
  • Databases – some say source, some say title
  • If possible, modify the catalog to give users concrete clues of the type of search they are performing or the type of material they have located
  • Naming the catalog detracts from the service; at least one person in our group thought that even calling it "the catalog" detracted.    Several people link to resources by the type of material found; for example, the catalog appeared as a link under "Find Books" or "Find Books" appeared next to a search engine window through which patrons could search the local and consortial catalogs together.

 

 

Logistics

Including but not limited to location/setting, scheduling,   preparation and   planning , as well as actual teaching, personnel

  • Semester courses successful; multiple libns teaching
  • Working w/faculty in research classes; tie   to actual assignments
  • Takes time to teach research skills
  • In orientation, students already on overload and low motivation at that point
  • Importance of friendly initial interaction with users
  • Built in lib instructor in regular courses
  • Info literacy courses tied to content courses
  • When teaching as support to an instruction – Tutorials are not at the point of need
  • Cataloguers helping with instruction
  • Better cooperation by technical services and public services
  • Need to focus our energies to help our users at the point of need rather than creating these other sets of tutorials, etc.
  • Easier to focus time restraints, etc., when working with specific groups of students – engineers vs. poets
  • Have to tailor BI to meet instructor requirements
  • Chicago Pub – no course-related BI – more often done on ref desk
  • Even instructors don’t know all the catalog can do – have to educate them
  • BI needs to have content link (course assignment) – Problem: Not enough staff to teach everyone – tutorials: best used to support/complement in-person instruction – cannot replace in-person instruction
  • BI / Tutorial also work for ref desk encounters (point-of-need instruction)
  • Hindrances to BI – students want more hands-on – use exercises to make points, rather than lecturing – problem:   Need to keep students from “roaming” (CNN, etc.) – need lots of prep time to prepare course-specific instructions – need to keep class active (small group work)
  • Important to do instruction in small pieces – build skills over 4 years
  • Varying amounts of time spent on catalog instruction – depending mostly on level of student but also when a new catalog is implemented
  • Importance of instructor interest
  • Get cooperation of libraries and faculty to tie catalog instruction to courses and the curriculum – team teaching – libs – need institutional buy in!
  • Maybe users should be frustrated with the catalog? – public libraries devoted just to catalog – separate from Internet access some benefits – need to educate user without so library-jargon oriented – they can get to resources without coming to library
  • Our catalogs do have problems
  • Logistics:   Where does instruction take place? – the setup of physical environment sometimes hinders instruction; classroom environment lends itself to different kind of instruction (formal); do we assume that this computer generation can do this?   To them, these (instruction and understanding) seem superfluous, but studies show differently; learn as much as is needed for task
  • Catalogers and reference/instruction librarians should work closely together to be sure instructors know how the catalog works; instructors need to know what fields a keyword search targets, for example
  • Collaboration with faculty is also important. Encourage students in reference-teaching situations to tell faculty about library services; often, students learn from a librarian and tell faculty that they want an instruction session for the class.
  • BI time is precious when we are limited to one-shot sessions; catalog instruction happens in reference area or through tutorials.

 

 

Teaching Search Strategies

Including   but not limited to content, method of presentation, objective(s)   and   “philosophies” related to educating users about the catalog.

 

  • Accommodate simple needs of catalog users – 1 or 2 references vs. libn desire to teach “the best” search; undergrad vs. grad
  • User desire for 1-stop solution vs. reality of different resources
  • Lack of user interest in process; current ability to get resources immediately
  • Technical (Misspelling, Boolean, etc.) vs. concept/strategy approach – need to teach both
  • Motivated vs. unmotivated users
  • Provide positive feedback – start simple, help solve immediate problem
  • Make catalog fun
  • Make sure user can find at least one thing, build on that: from keyword to controlled vocabulary
  • What is our mission: Get something vs. education – are these in conflict – what are our priorities
  • Browsing:   Teaching people this is a tool; connections to grocery store, music store
  • Value to nonfull-text nature of catalog (less junk)
  • Confusion between Web vs. online databases
  • Incorporating research education before college; faculty teaching students to do research
  • In orientation, students already on overload and low motivation at that point
  • Importance of friendly initial interaction with users
  • Problem-based learning is good, but takes time
  • What do you want users to take away from instruction sessions?   Lots of content vs. we are here to help; enforce idea of difficulty of searching in library
  • Tool vs. strategy approach
  • Call the catalog a “search engine” or “a search engine for books” – what vocabulary do we use to refer to the catalog?   “Scholarly search engines.”
  • Assessing catalog instruction - Teaching a group of students once a   semester and then testing them later in school year
  • Motivating of students is very difficult
  • Conceptual problems – terminology jargon is confusing
  • Break down concepts – teaching them to use concepts rather than full thoughts
  • Walk them through (make them drive) and offer advice
  • Use of subject headings; multiple headings
  • Bring in the physical item to help explain the representation of an OPAC record
  • Changing terminology from subject headings to subject for instance
  • Teach granularity – difference in options, but overall the same
  • Take live questions
  • Cable television metaphor
  • Creating an outline tutorial that has a self-grading exercise – UMass pilot (tutorial)
  • Use question sets, in order to reduce cheating in tutorials
  • Be less precise in terminology to more general terms that better describe what can be found in a library catalog or a database
  • Have students design an instruction session or sessions and make comparisons between how they view teaching and how we view it
  • Instruction – emphasize that catalog is not “one-stop shopping,” not like Google – sometimes compare catalog to Google.
  • Have to tailor BI to meet instructor requirements
  • Can’t discuss catalog w/o discussing other databases
  • Is catalog still source we start with?   Group says yes
  • Started giving class citations, have class look for – talk about why did/did not find
  • “Don’t take no for an answer” - ask for help – try multiple strategies – keep digging
  • Another BI exercise – give different search terms – show changes in number of search results.
  • How do we deal with LC subject headings? – use subject headings to refine thesis statement – refine subject to fit “language of computer” – do keyword search, look at detailed records, note useful LC heading fundamental to catalog.
  • How do we explain LC headings? – need to “speak language of machine” – keyword as triage – go fishing, see what you get – some dissatisfaction w/LC headings – need to demo advantages/disadvantages of keyword and LC headings approach
  • Would tutorials work? – need a combined approach – online tutorials not enough – need an instructor to explain nuances
  • Catalog vs. other search tools
  • How do we explain differences? – typically start in catalog, branch out from there
  • BI ask if users had purchased from catalog – what you purchase from mail-order catalog is “your stuff” – lib catalog is “our stuff” – need to make help available from within catalog
  • Co-browsing useful – tend to move too fast for our users – they get lost trying to follow us
  • Should we spend less time teaching the catalogs? – consensus was no – use as example of database, techniques that will work other places.
  • Is “catalog” understood?   -- discussion included:   Does calling it “catalog” cause confusion?   Does using “horizon” or “Calnet” inhibit life-long learning?
  • Remember active learning techniques.
  • Chinese training would mean students are less likely to ask
  • Jargon – Web aids can help
  • Difficulty in explaining structure of information within the catalog – students who learned to research using a card catalog may have been able to more clearly visualize a body of information because there were fewer access points and fewer opportunities to stray in a different, unrelated direction – today’s students are usually not familiar with this structure and explaining it adequately does not often fit into brief opportunities to teach the catalog
  • Teach in context, provide positive feedback
  • Incorporate market-driven ideas; e.g., change subject headings to real “look here for similar items” to provide familiar cues from Amazon & Google – the technology already exists – subject headings & call numbers
  • What are we teaching? – specific software/interface or searching a catalog and strategies to do so and why – applying concepts across interfaces – teaching aimed at what user wants to do.
  • Teaching strategies:   What do you teach them?   We set our catalogs to mimic “Google” or Internet…keyword vs. advanced one box, one set of phrases; getting the user beyond on this; e.g., asking user when type word(s) in box, where do you think it is looking…parameters, so can be applied in other systems/situations, teach them concepts – its structure; standardized subject headings; searching mechanics; i.e., use of “ “, etc.; using keyword to get to subject headings; search techniques
  • “One-stop shopping” – search here for all types of info, needs to be well-designed to work but concept teaching will, perhaps, facilitate understanding what is found
  • How do you teach a catalog?   One libn w/a paper catalog uses it to describe browse – don’t have time to explain what it is,   with the drive to present instruction linked to an assignment in a 45-minute session
  • One-on-one teaching – have the student do the keying
  • One gives students 2 cites, one from NYT (not free), one from a journal – then gets them to the article via e-journals or Euclid (OPAC)
  • Teaching hands-on as much as possible, group agrees students aren’t familiar with citation concept
  • 45-minute example to get to a specific journal article – but by going to ILL
  • Do you teach Boolean searching to undergrads? – “AND” – Venn diagrams – Catalog has implied AND – AND, OR, proximity, synonyms – Push synonyms – as part of constructing a search
  • One libn works with faculty who will give extra credit if student comes in with a failed search or fails to find a specific thing
  • One libn enters the full sentence to illustrate no results and the need for ANDs, ORs, nesting, etc.
  • What are the hindrances to effective catalog instruction? – All catalogs are different – “the catalog is a tool of description, not a tool of discovery.” – Lbn is in the guinea pig role, asks students to provide topic for search
  • Put in keywords, find good hit and then use subject heading links
  • One lbn has students asking how to teach Google and get good hits
  • Good Berkeley site “Evaluating Web Sites” modified
  • Google is good for basic facts – encyclopedias are useful, too – federated searching – another complexity but it’s a basic search
  • Instruction – people spend more time on teaching databases than OPAC
  • Students will often copy down the wrong number
  • Start off with explaining what subject headings are
  • Instruction -   start off explaining difference between Internet vs. lib databases
  • What do you do when you need to find a print resource?
  • Just mention catalog
  • Introductory instruction spend lots of time on catalog
  • Students do not get the difference between journal title and searching for articles in a journal
  • GA teaches Galileo
  • Do students know how to get print journals?
  • Online tutorial – freshman experience will have tutorial on using catalog – Cantasia – Textsmith – can do streaming video
  • How do you get students to understand where we have come from in terms of information and searching for it?
  • Penn State – information cycle – 8 minutes another video – e-literate
  • Have students take a tutorial before a freshman seminar or similar session, and teach to frequently-missed questions
  • BI time is precious when we are limited to one-shot sessions; catalog instruction happens in reference area or through tutorials.
  • Include student input when designing gateways, determining content of BI session
  • Encourage faculty to have creative assignments that stimulate students to use a variety of resources, including books; examples were "prepare to interview an historical figure," "write a letter from the point of view of an historical figure."

 

 

Three Most Important - Highlights

 

User Behavior

  • Try to make catalog accessible, but don’t make it easy -   Learning from Google, Amazon – more market-driven tools
  • Do not make the interface promise something it cannot deliver

 

Logistics

  • Partnering w/faculty, etc., to teach research process institutional (schoolwide; university-wide) commitment to info literacy.

 

Teaching Search Strategies

  • Helps to have context/motivation for searching catalog
  • Tailor instructioin to your audience
  • Despite what we have been taught, transfer of learning from one interface to another may be limited
  • Very important to teach concepts in context, not so much mechanics; applicable/transferable to any software/interface
  • Still important to teach catalog?   clean, well-maintained
  • Different ways to learn about catalog that addresses different learning styles and availability



Complete List of Three Most Important Points from Each Small Group

 

GROUP 1

  • Have undergraduate students help with design of instruction sessions
  • Bring in physical items to show relationship between physical resources and electronic record
  • Tech services and public services can work together to improve catalog & instruction

GROUP 2

  • Tailor instruction session to audience
  • Transferability? NO. It doesn't help to try to transfer the learning of one interface to another
  • Don't present your interface as something it actually ISN'T (truth in advertising)

GROUP 3

  • It actually IS still important to teach the catalog
  • It's important to have a well-maintained catalog
  • The catalog is still useful finding tool and it's complex
  • Critical to include these concepts in teaching:
    • structure of record/catalog (what it is you are seeing)
    • interface transferability – draw relation to other tools
    • the context of catalog in relation to other search tools
  • Important to offer instruction in multiple ways to address multiple styles

GROUP 4

  • How do you define the catalog? Does it contain what you own? Is it a portal to outside information? How you define it will guide how you teach it.
  • Subject headings vs keywords: a combination of the two is needed to get most information
  • Combination of methods of delivery is needed: online tutorial, in class interactive, chat button, reference desk, etc.

GROUP 5

  • Important to trying not to refer to or present catalog as separate beast, like giving it a name
  • We should be doing usability studies, watch students perform, so we can learn how to create concrete clues in catalog to aid students in searching it
  • Conceptual issues in teaching:
    • interface/functional transferability – does it work? does it happen?
    • access points – title, author searching
    • interpretation – how to read record page
    • evaluation – how to evaluate what you find

GROUP 6

  • It varies how much time is spent on teaching catalog -- in upper-division classes, need to focus on search tools vs. lower-division
  • It's important to actually explain the records and what information to take from it, so they can find book
  • It's important to spend time explaining journal records in catalog

GROUP 7

  • Argument over teaching catalog last or first?
    • For instance, find a print article as a lead-in to catalog?
  • Can use a Google-type search that fails on purpose to emphasize why not find results/how results differ
  • We need to redefine what we want catalog to be, hope to be. Are we helping patrons with ToC in catalog? What if they think it will get them full-text?

GROUP 8

  • Use market-driven strategies. If it looks like Amazon, might be easier to teach. Amazon's "More like this..." uses LCSH, why don't our catalogs?
  • Catalogs can have context help with failed searches – maybe suggestions for a successful search. If you can help them when they need it, they are more likely to come back
  • Teaching catalog is complex, do it over time. It's a process and it requires cooperation among librarians and teaching faculty.