Identifying Barriers to Effective Subject Access in Library Catalogs
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Citation:F. W. Lancaster, et al, "Identifying Barriers to Effective Subject Access in Library Catalogs," Library Resources and Technical Services 35, no. 4 (1991): pp. 377-391.
Fifty-one subject searches were performed in on online catalog, containing about 4.5 million records. Their success was judged in terms of lists of items, known to be relevant to the various topics, compiled by subject specialists (faculty members or authors of articles in specialized encyclopedias). Many of the items known to be relevant were not retrieved, even in very broad searches that sometimes retrieved several hundred records, and very little could be done to make them retrievable within the constraints of present cataloging practice. Librarians should recognize that library catalogs, as now implemented, offer only the most primitive of subject access and should seek to develop different types of subject access tools.
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