Monday, June 04, 2007

LitFinder - Strong In Poetry Content

LitFinder is most practically used for finding poems. Poem content is in abstract, full-text, and in explanation form from public domain or under copyright in poetry books. Subject searching at times is very spotty for poems. The keyword searching for poems on topics is useful. It is that catch 22 going between using the regular catalog to find poetry books on a topic or by doing a sometimes imprecise keyword search and then (limiting results to full-text of poems) or finding content by browsing. The database also covers short stories, speeches, essays, and plays in which this blogpost will only briefly cover. This post primarily addresses poetry due to length, to view the rest of the article below the tags, click the read more link.

On the LitFinder database the content description covers:

* 125,000+ full-text poems including 25,000 copyrighted poems
* 850,000+ poem citations and excerpts
* Subject Access
* Contemporary Works
* Poem Explanations
* Kids’ Korner
* Biographies and Pictures
* Glossary

* Essays,
* Short Stories,
* Speeches,
* Plays,

Browsing Poetry -
There are so many different combinations in which a person can browse for content. At times, it can be a little disconcerting.

A Person can search for poetry or content by:
* Genre
* Subject
* Contemporary Work
* Kid's Korner
* Full Text Availability

Browse or Faceted Searching -
I find this to be practically tricky when your looking for content, but useful when you really kind of think about how material is grouped and searched.

You can structure a search in so many different ways. It is similar to setting up several true or false statement searches being: want full text yes or no? want to search by subject if so pick one of several choices. Faceted or browsing search breaks content into numerous groupings based on optional choices.

The browse menu is best used when a person things like an indexer using controlled terms use mother for motherhood, mothering, mother figures. A person can get more precise or broad searching results when thinking like an indexer and keeping in mind to look for similar terms you may have initially thought of, but covering closely related topics as well. The trick is to use the predefined terms already set in motion when using the browse menu.

A weakness of LitFinder is when you do use the browse function most of the terms are not in alphabetical and or there is a large splattering of terms that seem to be random at times and then some show up in quasi alphabetical order.

Keyword and Advanced Searching.
This section pretty much speaks for itself.

Explanations of select poems are available, but these are not as numerous as the number of poems in the database. This section Is at times really spotty on volume of content.

The keyword searching for poems on topic draws upon poem titles and select groupings. I had difficulty figuring out as to whether a poem was selected based on a term within the poem, explanation, or title and how the search generates relevancy results. Relevancy searching seemed to be primarily based on title keywords, poem text, followed by poem explanations. I did not do extensive searching on keyword
searching, but ask anyone who has or has an inclination on this matter to please post a comment with your thoughts and experience on poetry keyword searching.

The Kids Korner, Biographies, and Glossary sections are nice add-ons that help Round out the product as well as have some practical and useful information as well.

In comparisons terms, Granger’s Index to Poetry has been a poetry standard In libraries for years. LitFinder in many ways does the same thing Granger’s online does, and at the time of a formal comparison, demonstrated substantially more content and value.

ADDITIONAL Content Areas -
Essays, Plays, Short Stories, and Speeches are generally derived from printed works, many still under copyright protection, and in some cases are also available in the public domain online. Litfinder does not have a vast online collection in each of these areas, but it has a fairly sizeable amount of content.

Bottom Line, A majority of patrons and staff, in my casual observations, seem to find the poetry content in Litfinder is the most useful part of the database.