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Puzzling books

My local library system came out with a massively revamped online library catalogue interface in the last week. Fully a quarter of the screen estate for the new interface is devoted to a word spider.


I can think of very few times when a word spider is what I would need when looking up book titles. In theory, I can see that it might be useful for accessibility of various sorts, whether for people who think in synonyms or English language learners, or people who are generically searching by topic instead of by book. I wish I knew if it was actually going to be useful enough to devote that much of the visual catalogue space to.

Speaking of book-related puzzles, if you would like to try winning seven science fiction books (six of which would be the books you guess, the seventh a forthcoming anthology of original short stories by lots of people you've heard of if you read much contemporary SF), go enter the contest over at Torque Control. It's only running through Wednesday. To enter, you need to guess the six books which might form the shortlist for this year's Arthur C Clarke Award from the list of eligible submissions and post that list in a comment in reply to this post.

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( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
labellementeuse
Mar. 1st, 2011 02:29 am (UTC)
The local system here has a word spider too and it has also seemed bizarre to me, although I do find it sort of fun to look at...
lil_shepherd
Mar. 1st, 2011 06:05 am (UTC)
I know, I know. But (presuming this is the same catalogue that startled me yesterday) you can switch to 'Classic Catalogue' on the menu at the top of the page. Which I did immediately and bookmarked.
owlfish
Mar. 1st, 2011 10:23 am (UTC)
Functionally, yes! But I would love to know if there really are people who would find a word spider invaluable in a library catalogue.
schizmatic
Mar. 1st, 2011 10:16 am (UTC)
When it comes to electronics, and especially the internet, libraries often seem to lose all rationality. You'll have libraries that quit repairing or using microfilm readers because, "everything's on the internet now." You had U of T's library sciences school change it's name to the "iSchool," a move so stupid, short-term, and faddish that words cannot describe my contempt and disdain for it. And of course you have the tendency to being early adopters.

All of which means that libraries will see that some internet searches now use word spiders and think, "This is the Next Big Thing!" In a few years, it will look as obsolete as the term "iSchool."
owlfish
Mar. 1st, 2011 10:22 am (UTC)
Yeah - but I was hoping there was some significant minority of people out there who really would find them invaluable. I just don't know if I know any of them. But it would justify what I initially took as a waste of screen estate.

Speaking of i*, I saw someone referring to a trip to the iHop the other day.
ashfae
Mar. 1st, 2011 10:26 am (UTC)
We have one of those in one of our browsers (we're switching from our classic opac to Aquabrowser, though fortunately for now we have both available) and frankly it's useless. Most of Aquabrowser is useless. As the name implies, it's not bad when you're browsing, but if you're looking for something specific it stinks. but the word spider had never yet led me, or anyone I've helped, to anything even remotely like what they're looking for. Sigh.
owlfish
Mar. 1st, 2011 01:42 pm (UTC)
I think that may be the progression of these library catalogues too.

Do let me know if you encounter someone who really used the word spider to find what they were after!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )