Friday, July 13, 2012

The problem with being overly precise -- it may limit your results!

I wanted to follow up on a comment by one of our readers from Wednesday's challenge.  

Kiltedcap writes:  

I got the same results as most did but did want to bring up one point. 
Using Worldcat via Google books does not in fact give you the full results of who holds a particular book. Many libraries (mostly corporate) will not show up in the public version of Worldcat and you will need to ask your local library to help get you the full list.
You also need to search Worldcat itself rather than use the Google books find in a library feature as it will often take you to one catalog record when there is in fact several records and one has more holdings than the other. This is due to different libraries cataloging it slightly differently or it may be that there is a reprint of the book.

Kiltedcap is absolutely right!  In fact, if you do follow along the solution path as I show it in yesterday's blogpost, you'll get to the Google Books page I showed: 

If you click on the "Find in a library" link, it will, in fact, connect you to WorldCat and try to find EXACTLY that version of the book.  That is, Google Books hands a hyper-specific query to WorldCat (in particular, the Ediciones Poligrafa© 1987).  

That's fine as far as it goes, but there's only one version of that book in the WorldCat system--and it's in Puerto Rico!  

Instead, as Kiltedcap points out, it's often a good idea to THEN use WorldCat to search for the title of the book (and not the hyper-precise book title + author + edition, which is what Google Books is handing to WorldCat as the query).  

Once you do that, you'll find that there are 4 slightly varying bibliographic records for the book.  (In truth, it's all the same book.)  But you need to know that backing up and searching on just the title will sometimes yield much better--and in my case, much more local--results.  

1 comment:

  1. Actually, there are 5 different bib records in WorldCat for this work. The record that Google Books links to is the 5th record - it's not included in a WorldCat search for "Vitrallers de la Barcelona Modernista" due to an error in the MARC record regarding the initial article in the title. A search of the title including the initial article, "Els Vitrallers de la Barcelona Modernista", brings up this record. The Google Books query did not recognize ‘els’ as an initial indicator either. So in this case yes, too much information did limit the search, but not in the way that you might have expected.

    Not sure how much of an issue this is with bibliographic records that are coded correctly. Maybe the Google Books query should also request DLC copy or the record with the greatest number of holdings. (Disclaimer: Not necessarily the best guarantee of quality, although I'd bet the catalogers at LC know a Catalan initial article when they see one)