Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Subject Searching in the Catalog

I am still  reading and studying Mary W. George's book The Elements of Library Research: What Every Student Needs to Know.  I look forward to introducing it to the students who will be taking the Information Research class I will be teaching this fall.

One thing she encourages students to do is to "confront a finding tool head-on to make it yield its list of assigned-subject terms" (112).  I like her writing style quite a bit: "This tactic is an open sesame command that will reveal the otherwise-hidden thesaurus."  Her book encourages exploration.  In an effort to follow her suggestions, I went to our catalog to conduct a subject heading search.  Admittedly, I have not taught subject searching very much, but it seems like it could be a valuable thing to introduce to students.

A search for "information literacy" in the subject heading search indeed reveals the hidden thesaurus.  Following are a few of the subject headings:
  • Information literacy (10)
  • Information literacy--Ability testing
  • Information literacy--Problems, exercises, etc.
  • Information literacy--Psychological aspects
  • Information literacy--Social aspects
  • Information literacy--Standards--United States (2)
  • Information literacy--Study and teaching (9)
  • Information literacy--Study and teaching (Elementary)--United States
  • Information literacy--Study and teaching (Higher) (20)
Scope notes for the broader "Information literacy" subject heading include the following:

Scope Notes

Note:Here are entered works on the ability to recognize when information is needed and to locate, evaluate, and use the required information effectively.
The cross references listed below may also contain information related to your search.
  • See - identifies the official form of author, title, series, or subject heading. Use this form.
  • Narrower Term - suggests more specific terms that may be useful
  • Related Term - suggests associated terms that may be useful
  • Broader Term - not available
Cross References  
Scope Note
Narrower Term:  Electronic information resource literacy
Narrower Term:  Internet literacy
Narrower Term:  Media literacy.
Related Term:  Information science

Knowing and utilizing the thesaurus for research projects can be useful in finding what you need.  It might be quicker than a keyword search in some cases, but not always.

JasperFforde.comPhoto also seen on Harper Studio site.
See also this road sign for the Village of Thesaurus.

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