High-Level Subject Access Tools and Techniques in Internet Cataloging

1st Edition

Judith Ahronheim

CRC Press
Published March 17, 2003
Textbook - 272 Pages
ISBN 9780789020253 - CAT# HW14344

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Is your library's portal as efficient as it could be?

High-Level Subject Access Tools and Techniques explores the potential and early development of high-level subject access. It examines Web tools and traditionally maintained library structures that facilitate the automated relation of resources to high-level subject categories based on the descriptive metadata that already exists in traditional library records. It includes a research study of high-level subject browse structures, as well as hands-on reports of actual projects and development activities and an examination of the environment in which demand for high-level subject access arises.

From the editor: “As the World Wide Web and graphic user interfaces developed in the 90s, libraries began to build gateways for their online resources. These gateways allowed library users to employ the browse, point, and click approach to resource discovery that they had come to expect from online tools. Most of these interfaces amounted to little more than hand-constructed lists of links. Today, many libraries offer access to users through a set list of broad topics, sometimes called a high-level browse display. Methods for populating these subject categories remain crude and their maintenance requires considerable resources. As a result, libraries have begun to look at ways of applying traditional techniques associated with cataloging to these new interfaces. Several goals are involved in these developments. Many hope to reuse data from library catalogs and thus limit maintenance burdens. Others seek to apply a more standard set of tools and principles to the construction of portals to allow greater cooperation among institutions that want to interoperate with each other.”

This pathbreaking book examines vital issues in high-level subject access, including:
  • subject trees and their relationship to the structure inherent in Dewey Classification
  • emerging patterns in the development of browsing services, including a hierarchy of subjects that is not based in classification, a map that relates data from catalog records to the subject hierarchy, and tools for extracting data from a catalog and storing it in a separate database to produce a more flexible display
  • task-based (as opposed to materials-based) subject lists
  • the social issues that are associated with choosing categories—based on the nature and activity of an institution's library users
  • the political issues involved in selecting disciplines or topics for a browsing service
And presents fascinating case studies of:
  • Columbia University's efforts to build an automatically generated browsable display based on Library of Congress Classification as it occurs in catalog records
  • the High-Level Thesaurus Project (HILT), in which a group of libraries, archives, and museums attempted to find a common method for high-level subject access via portal


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