School of Information Management & Systems.
290-1 Design of Library Services.
Buckland. Spring 1999.
Exercise 3: Subject access in the MELVYL Catalog. Due Feb 26.
Read the hand-out on Subject Access
before doing this exercise
and do this exercise before the assignment on
Social aspects of naming. This exercise introduces
the rather complex
subject headings used in library catalogs, commonly composed of
multiple elements strung together.
Searching is a two stage process: First find the heading(s);
then find the records associated with the
heading(s). The GLADIS catalog makes one go through these
two stages. MELVYL allows that option
with the BROWSE command to
find the headings, then the SELECT to get the
More commonly one uses the FIND
command which goes through the subject headings to the records
without stopping to show you what they
the headings were. To see the subject headings
you can either (i) Use BROWSE to
display headings, e.g. BRO SW and BRO XSU, or
(ii) Use a FIND search, esp. on title words (F TW ),
then DISPLAY LONG or D SU [display SUbject headings] to see
what is there.
The subject search commands:
Find Subject keyWord: F SW CRIMES retrieves all subject
headings containing the word CRIMES,
including, for example, WAR CRIMES -- (F SU is same as F SW)
Find eXact SUbject heading with quote marks (F XSU
"WAR CRIMES") retrieves the whole subject heading
exactly and nothing else, so it retrieves WAR CRIMES
but not, say,
WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL
Find eXact SUbject without quote marks assumes words may
have been omitted at the end. So F XSU
WAR CRIMES would retrieve WAR CRIMES and also WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL.
1. Suppose you wanted to search for books on the Blackfoot Native American tribe.
Try F XSU BLACKFOOT How many records?
Try F SW BLACKFOOT How many records?
For a closer look at what is going on do BRO XSU BLACKFOOT
Tip: Try D WITH COUNTS
What proportion of these are really about the Blackfoot tribe?
Take a closer look at the 4th heading, by doing SEL 4 then
D LONG What is this book about?
Now do BRO SW BLACKFOOT How does it differ from
BRO XSU BLACKFOOT?
Would BRO XSU "BLACKFOOT" have been a good search query for
this tribe? If not, why not?
2. There have been lots of books about the Vietnam War in the
past decade. So it should be easy to find
a general, overall account of it - not a just one
aspect of it - in the MELVYL's TEN database,
which contains only material published in the last TEN years.
Do SET DB TEN
2.1. F XSU "VIETNAM WAR" How many records are retrieved?
2.2. How many does the broader search F XSU VIETNAM WAR yield?
2.3. Shouldn't there be more than this? Take a look at the
subject headings being used with BRO SU
2.4. Does this seem really on target? Does it look
complete? Try another tactic, searching on words used
in titles rather than words in subject headings.
Do F TW VIETNAM WAR and then do D LONG (or more
conveniently D TI SU ) to see what the subject headings
would seem to work best when searching MELVYL
for books in the Vietnam war.
2.6. Check your choice by doing BRO XSU search using it.
3. Let's look for the Hoopa Indians in the
full MELVYL CATalog. Use SET DB CAT
3.1. What do
you find using BRO XSU HOOPA INDIANS
3.2. What do you find with BRO SW HOOPA INDIANS
3.3. Try F TW HOOPA INDIANS and examine subject
headings using D LONG
3.4. What is the heading for this tribe? Check your hunch
by doing a BRO XSU search.
4. Any non-subject field may help, e.g. for Sioux material,
try their language F LAN SIO
5. When old records on cards were copied into electronic form,
superseded forms of subject heading were
not usually updated. Some unorthodox subject headings, not in
the massive red Library of Congress Subject
Headings list, also exist in MELVYL, and even a few typos.
MELVYL has cross-references between variant
authors' names, but it does not yet have them between subject headings.
CAT has lots of books on the UNITED STATES and on CALIFORNIA -
and some headings not found in
reference works, e.g. Try BRO SU CALIFRONIA or
BRO SU UNTIED STATES. One can find
SOIUX as well as SIOUX. OPTIONAL: Can you find similar unusual