Session 10 – Search and Explore in New Ways

Now let’s explore some of the implications of user-generated content for search and discovery in BiblioCommons.

10.1 Searching with Tags

Task: Use adjective tags to explore the catalogue.

  • Use the drop-down menu on the search box to go from Keyword search to Tag search. Try some of these adjectives – sad; funny; sad and funny; romantic; nostalgic.
  • For any result set, scroll down the left-hand facet menu to get ideas for other tags that have been used. Try using some of those tag facets to refine your search further.

Note: You don’t have to agree with any of these tags, but that’s the beauty of the system – everyone can have a voice and later we’ll see how you can connect with reviewers and raters and taggers that, through BiblioCommons, appear interesting to you!

Go Further: Look at tag search results on traditional searches.

Tags can also help users with more traditional searches.

  • Try doing a Tag search for “London”.
  • Open a second window and do a Subject search of “London”.
  • Now open a third window and do a Keyword search of “London”.
  • Take a look at the differences between the search results and the facets in all these queries.

10.2 Exploring from the Explore Tab

Go to the Explore tab on the top navigation and select New Titles. Browse the carousel for a little while, and then click View All New Titles.

You’ll see a very large result set. As with all very large result sets in BiblioCommons, this one is very easily handled with facets.

Task: Use facets to narrow the results to fiction books acquired in the last month.

  • Use the Acquired Anytime drop-down menu to narrow the results to a specific date range.
  • Use the Any Format drop-down to specify books.
  • Use the Form/Genre facet to narrow the set to works of fiction.

Note: If your library used to prepare lists of new acquisitions by hand, you can now leave that work to BiblioCommons, if you’d like. BiblioCommons has a method of automatically filing new records by the date of their addition to the database, meaning it will always automatically be maintaining a running record of the most recent additions to your library’s catalogue.

As an alternative route of discovery, BiblioCommons also maintains lists of award winners in various categories.

Let’s try using one of these.

Task: Browse Awards

  • Go to Awards.

Hint: You’ll remember from Session 6 that it was under the Explore tab.

  • Choose an awards category and browse through it.
  • Try filtering the set using the special Awards facets (you’ll see what these are when you get there.)

As yet another alternative route of discovery, BiblioCommons has ways of broadcasting recent user activity. This is essentially the electronic equivalent of stumbling across a book left by another user on a table or a return cart. In research, many users cited this kind of serendipitous discovery as a frequent source of new reading (or viewing, or listening) material.

Let’s take a look at how this works.

Task: Browse Recent Activity.

  • Go to Recent Activity under the Explore tab
  • Try poking around here. There’s a carousel of recently reviewed items, some user names of recent contributors to the catalogue, and even some links to recently created lists and video links. Keep clicking until you find something interesting. It shouldn’t take long.

10.3 Starting With a Known Item and Getting Lost in the Links

BiblioCommons also has ways of serendipitously leading users to items that are similar to items they already have some kind of familiarity with. The Browse the Shelf feature is one such way.

Browse the Shelf is particularly useful for users who want more items on the same subject as an item they have some kind of pre-existing knowledge of. If they were standing in the stacks of an actual, physical library, this would be easily accomplished by browsing the shelf.

Browsing works because library classification systems excel at ensuring that items on similar topics sit next to one another on physical library shelves. Unfortunately, library OPAC products tend to have a difficult time replicating the ease and simplicity of the shelf-browse for online library users. BiblioCommons has a solution that is almost (but not quite) as good as standing in front of the shelf, in-person.

Task: Browse the Shelf.

Let’s try using the BiblioCommons shelf browse feature to find more books on a known subject.

Say, for example, you had just borrowed So Sad to Fall in Battle, a collection of translated letters by Japanese World War II general Tadamichi Kuribayashi. Now you’re interested in reading more about the Japanese perspective on the War.

  • Using smart search, find So Sad to Fall in Battle’s bibliographic record.
  • Locate the Browse the Shelf button and use it to find some related items.

Users don’t necessarily need to rely on library classification to serendipitously discover unfamiliar items in BiblioCommons. They can also use user-added linkages between items to easily jump from known titles to new ones.

Task: Use user-added Lists, Tags, and Similar Items for discovery.

  • Do a keyword search for Twilight and choose the 2005 book by Stephenie Meyer. It is rich with tags and comments.
  • Using the right-hand side menu, explore the Subject Headings, Lists, Tags and Similar Titles associated with this item record.

Explore some of the different user-supplied lists associated with this title. Or add it to one of your own lists! If you’ve read Twilight and loved it, you might be inclined to click lists with positive titles, like “Favorite Books.” If you’ve didn’t like it, you might instead be inclined to explore a list title with a more negative ring, like “Overrated Books of the Last Decade.” How many of these titles do you agree with?

Users can also discover new titles by relying on affinities of taste between themselves and other users. Let’s take a look at an easy way of doing this.

Task: Find something new by searching another user’s Shelves.

  • Search for a well-known item (be it a book, a movie, or a CD) that you personally enjoy.
  • Read some of the user comments.  Click on the user’s name of a comment you like. This will take you to their Completed Shelf.
  • Browse their Completed Shelf. See if there’s anything else in there that you’re already familiar with—or anything that you’re not familiar with yet, but would like to be.  Mark items For Later that you are interested in.