Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

The "Black Box": How Students Use a Single Search Box to Search for Music Materials

Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

The "Black Box": How Students Use a Single Search Box to Search for Music Materials

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Given the inherent challenges music materials present to systems and searchers (formats, title forms and languages, and the presence of additional metadata such as work numbers and keys), it is reasonable that those searching for music develop distinctive search habits compared to patrons in other subject areas. This study uses transaction log analysis of the music and performing arts module of a library's federated discovery tool to determine how patrons search for music materials. It also makes a top-level comparison of searches done using other broadly defined subject disciplines' modules in the same discovery tool. It seeks to determine, to the extent possible, whether users in each group have different search behaviors in this search environment. The study also looks more closely at searches in the music module to identify other search characteristics such as type of search conducted, use of advanced search techniques, and any other patterns of search behavior.

INTRODUCTION

Music materials have inherent qualities that present difficulties to the library systems that describe them and to the searchers who wish to find them. This can be exemplified in three main areas: formats, titles, and relationships. First, printed music comes in multiple formats such as full scores, vocal scores, study scores, and parts; and in multiple editions such as facsimiles, scholarly editions, performing editions (of various caliber); each format and edition serving a different purpose or need. Related to this, but less problematic, is the variety of sound recording formats available. Second, issues resulting from titling practices abound in music, ranging from frequent use of foreign terms, not just in descriptive titles (L'oiseau de feu = Zhar-ptitsa = The firebird = Feuervogel), but in generic titles as translated by various publishers from different countries (symphony=sinfonie). Additionally, musical works often have only generic genre titles enhanced by key and work number metadata, for example Symphony No. 1 in c minor. Third, music materials present a relationship issue best defined as "one-to-many." Musical works often have multiple sections or songs in them (an aria in an opera or a movement in a symphony), and a CD or a score anthology may contain multiple pieces of music.

Given these three main challenges presented by music materials, it is possible that those searching for music develop distinctive search habits compared to patrons in other subject areas. This study uses transaction log analysis of the music and performing arts module of a library's federated discovery tool to determine how patrons search for music materials. It also makes a top-level comparison of searches done using other broadly defined subject disciplines' modules in the same discovery tool. It seeks to determine, to the extent possible, whether users in each group have different search behaviors in this search environment. The study also looks more closely at searches in the music module to identify other search characteristics such as type of search conducted, use of advanced search techniques, and any other patterns of search behavior.

BACKGROUND

Since Fall 2007 the University of Illinois Library has had Easy Search (ES), a locally developed search tool designed to aid users in finding results from multiple catalog, A&I, and reference targets quickly and simultaneously. There is a "main" ES on the library's main gateway page that searches a variety of cross-disciplinary tools (see figure 1].

On the gateway, users have the option of selecting one of the format tabs to narrow their search to books, articles, journals, or media. When the data for this study was gathered, the journals tab was not present.

Starting in 2010 many of the subject and branch libraries in the University Library created their own ES modules with target resources specific to the disciplinary areas they serve. …

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