Monday, July 28, 2008

Online Catalog vs. E-book Collections

Database Use Tip: Multiple options when searching for books: The Online Catalog vs. Collections of Electronic Books (with special attention to Ebrary).

Suffolk University's Library Catalog is the key to the print circulating and reference collections for the Mildred F. Sawyer Library (including the Madrid and Dakar campuses), the Moakley Law Library, and the NESADSU Library.

The general circulating collection of the Sawyer Library includes more than 100,000 print volumes shelved in the stacks on the 4th floor. The Catalog - which is THE tool to identify and locate these items - is accessible from the Sawyer Library homepage and from the Sawyer Library computer workstations by a shortcut labeled "OPAC" (Online Public Access Catalog).

The catalog also provides access to the Sawyer Library's collections of electronic books, or E-books, which together comprise more than 50,000 titles. The Catalog is the only tool that will simultaneously search the print titles and all the E-book collections. E-books may be searched through the Catalog in the same way as print materials (title, author, subject heading, keyword combination), and most keyword searches will bring a set of results that is a mix of print and E-book sources. However, unlike print items which are physically present in the library, the content of E-books is accessed through a link on the catalog record. All of the titles in all of the various E-book collections that the Sawyer Library subscribes to may be accessed through the Library's Catalog. Catalog users may also limit their results to either print materials or E-book materials by choosing "Modify Search" once the initial search results are returned. In rare occasions the Sawyer Library may own a title both in print and in electronic format, however this is the exception, and not the rule.

Users may directly access and search the individual E-book collections from the Sawyer Library homepage by choosing Databases by Subject, and then E-books. Each of the collections will behave somewhat differently, but all of them will let the user search for a term anywhere in the content of the book.

The feature of being able to search anywhere in the content of a book is the primary distinction between the Library Catalog and the various E-book collections. A keyword search in the Catalog will look for the search term in the title, subject headings, author names, and in some instances the book's table of contents. The Catalog does not search the text of the books. Each E-book collection has the ablility to search the full text of its entire book collection. In the case of Ebrary, users must go to the advanced search to specify that the term appear either in the book's title, subject headings, or author's name.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

The Catalog will search accross all book collections that the Suffolk Libraries own or have access to, but search of the full text of the items is not possible. The E-book collections allow a search of the full text, but each collection must be searched individually, and even though results are ranked by relevancy, the term may only be mentioned one or two times in the entire book.


A keyword search for "klezmer" (traditional Yiddish or Jewish folk music from Eastern Europe) in the Catalog yields 3 results: One promising title, "American Klezmer its Roots and Offshoots" (which happens to be an Ebrary book), and two false hits where the Author's surname is Klezmer.

A simple search in Ebrary (one of the larger E-book collections), for "klezmer" yields 104 results. The first three titles ("American Klezmer : Its Roots and Offshoots," "Anglish Yinglish: Yiddish in American Life & Literature," and "Performing Ethnomusicology : Teaching and Representation in World Music Ensembles") provide a good amount of information on klezmer, but many of the remaining 101 titles only mention the term briefly.

Notes on Ebrary:

On Campus, users will have immediate access to Ebrary and all other Ebook collections (either from a link in the Catalog to a specific book, or from the list of databases) without any ID verification. Off campus, users will be prompted for their name and their Suffolk University ID number. Within Ebrary, users have the option to "Sign In" and create an account. Signing in allows the use of Ebrary features such as creating a personal bookshelf, highlighting text, and adding one's own notes. It is not necessary to sign in to view Ebrary books, even though there will be a button on the screen stating "not signed in." The Ebrary "Help" feature steps through the brief process of signing in and creating a bookshelf, and the privacy statement (available at the point of creating an account) explains Ebrary's policies regarding the information they collect from users.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This blog is great! Thanks for your hard work on it.