Browsing isn’t random

I’m still thinking about browsing
Browsing for research (rather than pleasure) is usually a very purposeful activity, and the browser usually has a pretty good idea of what she is looking for. I think that research browsing falls between “known item searching” and “keyword searching”. When I am browsing for research purposes, I usually start with a known item, and I am looking for items that are similar or related on some dimension. I’m usually looking for other items by the same author, or items that cite or are cited by the original item, or items that use the same methodology, or theoretical perspective. I’m rarely interested in seeing all the other items on the same topic/subject — academic browsing is so much more selective.

Because academic browsing is so selective, browsing the stacks of a large research library strikes me as a pretty inefficient way of finding items of interest. LC call # order is a lousy approximation of the kinds of similarities or relatedness that I am looking for when I browse. It seems unlikely to me that scholars find much useful material by browsing the stacks.

This is why I am optimistic that online browsing, faceted searching, citation linking, tag clouds, and lots of other developing discovery tools will make browsing easier, better, faster … not harder.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow Feral Librarian by email.

Join 9,665 other followers

Follow me on Twitter

  • Hollywood called and said Jiffy would probably be the next Lassie but he would have to do an interview so he said no 6 hours ago
  • Duke called and said I was probably their new hoops coach but I would have to do an interview so I said no 6 hours ago
  • The SF Giants called and said I was probably their new left fielder next year but I would have to do an interview so I said no 6 hours ago
  • RT @medialab: “We know that diversity is essential for healthy ecosystems.” For @edge 2017, @joi reflects on the necessity of #neurodiversi16 hours ago
  • RT @shlew: Thrilled & grateful @cIRcle_UBC has accepted my chapter "Creating a Path to Feminist Leadership" in their repository. 🙏 https://… 18 hours ago

%d bloggers like this: