Dirk Lewandowski
How can Library Materials be Ranked in the OPAC?

Some Online Public Access Catalogues offer a ranking component. However, ranking there is merely text-based and is doomed to fail due to limited text in bibliographic data. The main assumption for the talk is that we are in a situation where the appropriate ranking factors for OPACs should be defined, while the implementation is no major problem. We must define what we want, and not so much focus on the technical work. Some deep thinking is necessary on the "perfect results set" and how we can achieve it through ranking.

The talk presents a set of potential ranking factors and clustering possibilities for further discussion. A look at commercial Web search engines could provide us with ideas how ranking can be improved with additional factors. Search engines are way beyond pure text-based ranking and apply ranking factors in the groups like popularity, freshness, personalisation, etc. The talk describes the main factors used in search engines and how derivatives of these could be used for libraries' purposes.

The goal of ranking is to provide the user with the best-suitable results on top of the results list. How can this goal be achieved with the library catalogue and also concerning the library's different collections and databases? The assumption is that ranking of such materials is a complex problem and is yet nowhere near solved. Libraries should focus on ranking to improve user experience.

Bielefeld University Library - last update: 30/10/2008