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Christina's LIS Rant
Friday, September 22, 2006
  Inspec via EbscoHost: To stack or not to stack, that is the question....
(also posted to PAMnet)

For any/all who have access to Inspec via EbscoHost AND have the archive (back to 1898) --

How are you linking to the databases? My initial plan, and what I did, is to stack the databases in the link so customers/patrons/researchers would automatically search the full coverage -- in Physics, you're really tying one hand behind your back if you stop at 1969!

Here are the problems with that:
1) The name of the database does not appear on the interface, only "multiple databases"
2) most of the fields are missing in the dropdown on the guided search -- because the fields change (in EbscoHost) from 1968 to 1969

University of Maryland, I've noticed, links to the two databases separately so you'd have to search one, then the other.

I'm of two minds on this because I'd hate for someone to miss a 1967 article that's really relevant, but it doesn't make sense either to send my really smart customers to a limited interface without obvious markings of where they went.

Have any of you faced this choice? Which way did you go and why?

(yes, I know, not a problem in other interfaces, thanks for the reminder :) )

Please comment here or email me and I'll compile the answers

The stacked URL is http://search.ebscohost.com/login.asp?profile=web&defaultdb=inh&defaultdb=ieh

Where the individual URLs would just have one or the other of the defaultdb= statements.

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This is part of a larger problem where decisions are made based on the architecture of the database, not the needs of the users. For example, in IEEE Xplore, there are these artificial breaks at 1988 -- not because anything special happened that year, but because at some point that's where they decided to stop. If you're an electrical engineer -- do you care if it's 1988 or 1989? They're both pretty old, but...

----
Update: after the listserv posting, I got a couple of e-mails the first basically glad they went with another interface and the second saying the majority of their customers probably wouldn't want the older stuff and might seek it out directly if they need it -- but agreeing with my points.
 
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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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Christina Kirk Pikas

Laurel , Maryland , 20707 USA
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