Monday, September 18, 2006

Next Generation Catalog Browsing

Another comment from the discussions going on in the Next Generation Catalog listserv:

"THAT seems to me like a major component of findability—not getting you to the book faster, but finding what you wouldn't otherwise find."

EXACTLY-- I've been thinking about OPAC browsing all day since reading that the Evergreen team is thinking about modeling a browse feature on the one used by the Barnes and Noble web site. But my most successful browsing experiences always seem to involve some serendipity or randomness. I wonder if there is a way to harness this?

For example, StumbleUpon works because they collect the "thumbs up" search results of members and associate the sites with tags. So StumbleUpon searches provide a theoretically more productive web browsing experience. Why couldn't a library discovery tool collect "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" responses from users on catalog searches, and associate them with the search terms that were used so as to create a similar improved browsing experience?

One forthcoming discovery product, Innovative Interfaces' Encore, is already going to keep it's own database of patron-supplied tags for the items in the OPAC. It could similiarly build a database of search terms and results.

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