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Lecture 6

INST 352 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: William MckinleyExam

Information Studies
Course Code
INST 352

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INST352 Lecture 6: Searching the library
Leslie begins by consulting the library’s online catalog, a tool she has used before. Being a regular
visitor to this library, she is aware that if she chooses to consider journal articles she will need to
consult at least one online database to obtain the titles and full-text of articles that contain relevant
information, and that this would entail much more work than a simple search of the library’s holdings.
She decides to restrict herself to books about the war and McKinley. First, Leslie tries typing the
words “war cuba mckinley” into the search box of the library’s online catalog. Immediately she is
presented with a screen divided into two kinds of displays. On the left side of the display is a cluster
of words, with lines connecting them. In the middle of this network-like diagram are her own search
terms (war cuba mckinley) and branching out from them in all directions are other terms: Cuba,
Spain, President, United States, History, Novel, Nations, Battle, McKinley, McKinney … and a
variety of other words that appear to be synonyms or alternate spellings (and meanings!) of the
words she typed. On the right of the screen is a list of books, a few of which are indeed relevant to
her topic.
Not sure what to do with the cluster of words many of which seem irrelevant Leslie decides to
try the search again with a different approach. She types “McKinley” into the “Search”: box and
chooses within Title” from the pull-down list to the right of the box. She is rewarded with a listing of
12 books. Looking at the book titles, however, she is dismayed to see that few of them are about the
former president; rather, they are books that begin with the name McKinley, whether that is the
name of a county or a mountain or a person. Next she receives a list of four books by typing William
McKinley. Even though that seems like very little material to browse through, she heads for the
shelves. Checking the books in the E711” section of the Library of Congress system, Leslie
immediately sees that there are many more books on her topic than were retrieved in her search
dozens more, in fact. Based on the titles alone, Leslie’s first insight is that most of these books are
about the life and/or presidency of McKinley, and are likely to contain merely brief descriptions of the
war with Spain in 1898.
After browsing a while and picking up two books about the McKinley administration and one
biography of the president, she heads to the reference department of the library. There she asks
why her search of the online catalog was so incomplete.
The reference librarian shows her that there are such things as subject headings in the catalog
records. Returning to her computer to search the online catalog again, Leslie this time selects the
within Subject choice from the pull-down menu, and types in McKinley, William. This time, 25
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