Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Next Catalog Improvement

Right now, a keyword search in our catalog arranges the results by date, giving you first the most recent items which have the keywords anywhere in the record, so that for example "wild horses" right now comes up first with a song book that has 'horses' in one song title and 'wild' in another. Surely a modern software program can do better than that?

Yes. Some time in the next few days, two new features will arrive in the catalog. Keyword searches will sort themselves in order of relevance, rather than by date. Here is a good explanation of how the system calculates relevance, from the catalog at Bowling Green State University (who uses the same software we have). Search for 'wild horses' at BGSU, and it will give you first 23 Most Relevant titles, then 2 Highly Relevant titles, and so on. Much better. Watch for the little graphics indicating the relevance rankings:

At the same time, the catalog will start giving us 50 results per page, instead of the present 12. This will be true for all searches, not just for keyword. Many fewer clicks to work your way through all of Marc Simmons's books (50 titles), for example, or everything with the subject heading 'Indians of North America' (948 titles). Watch for the changes, and let us know if you see any strange consequences we didn't anticipate.

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