Re: a question of searching...

Gary Handman (
Wed, 12 Jun 2002 11:43:17 -0700 (PDT)

Hi Karen!

Wonderful having you as a resource on the list. Thanks for these
comments. My hackles DO stand up (what the hell IS a hackle, anyway?) when
you say "the answer lies in user education."

We've beat up our users enough over the years, I think. The answer lies in
collective economic muscle and advocacy in dealing with catalog vendors or
systems folks to develop catalogs for the people (right on, bibliographic
bruthas and sistahs!)... If libraries don't develop systems and standards
that meet real needs and that look toward the future, we're gonna be left
in the dust.

At 11:16 AM 6/12/2002 -0700, you wrote:
>Hello everyone. I'll introduce myself first since I have not posted to this
>list before. I am a catalog librarian at Williams College in Williamstown,
>Massachusetts. I joined this list because I am responsible for cataloging all
>of our videos and I wanted some contact with others who are involved with
>these little monsters! (I say that with affection.)
>I want to warn people about setting a system to ignore initial articles. "A"
>is a non-article word in every language I have ever studied (Russian, French,
>and Czech). "An" is, I believe, a preposition in German. "The" (with an
>accent) is a noun in French. Ignoring these words in a system (we have III)
>which does not pay attention to the language of the item or ask what language
>is used in the search (that sounds amazing!) leads to difficulty searching
>(for example) for Proust's _A la recherche du temps perdu_, any number of
>German works that begin with "an die" and a French work that I know we have
>but I can't find in our catalog because the only word I can remember from the
>title is the first word, which is "the"!
>Also I want to add (since I haven't seen this from anyone else) that the
>situation, as first described, is unrelated to III. The catalogers are
>following correct cataloging practice. I heartily agree with Tim Markus that
>the answer lies in user education. I realize that not everyone was as
>fortunate as I was to learn in elementary school to ignore initial articles,
>but this is a basic rule of indexing, and computer programs (at least, the
>ILS's I have worked with) are not smart enough to make it unnecessary for
>people to know that rule.
>Just to make things more complicated, in thinking about this I have come
>across a few Spanish article+noun phrases that have essentially become English
>words. I don't know if they are exceptions to the article-drop rule but maybe
>they should be: El Salvador, El Dorado, El Nino. I notice that the subject
>heading for the former retains the article.
>"Markus, Tim" wrote:
> > [snip] Innovative also
> > alows systems to be set to ignore searches using initial articles by
> > patrons. This can include the typical English A, An and The as well as
> > foreign language articles. We have ours set only for the English articles
> > but we have had folks lobby for including the foreign articles as well. In
> > my opinion this only causes more problems and makes certain searches
> > impossible.
> >
> > There probably is no perfect solution for this. I feel that educating the
> > public is the lesser of a range of evils here.
> >
> > Tim Markus
> > Head of Cataloging
> > The Evergreen State Collgege
> > Olympia, WA 98505
> >
> > > From: Rhonda Rosen <>
> >
> > > we use the Innovative online catalog. recently, when
> > > searching our catalog for "El Norte" i found that the
> > > system will not access the title by "El" Norte --only
> > > when you search by "Norte". Same for "La Boheme", "La
> > > Strada", "El Cid", etc.
>Karen Gorss Benko
>Catalog Librarian and Russian liaison
>Williams College
>Williamstown, Massachusetts

Gary Handman
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley