| By Maureen McClarnon |
Worn out by the red-and-pink holiday hype of hearts, chocolates, and diamonds? Are you lovesick, or sick of love? My last post featured this table of indexing terms used to describe a range of emotions:
Cure yourself with this poem, from Margaret Atwood:
How would you index this? Taken at face value, the poem is about sewing notions and fishing (being extremely literal). The underlying themes are much more nuanced.
When I began this series, I promised to introduce you to some of the people behind the metadata, but thus far, I’m the only person you’ve met. Today we’ll hear from Mary Campbell-Droze, Senior Indexing Specialist, who’s been here 20 years (full disclosure: this is nepotism, because Mary is one of my BFFs and had to agree to help me); she sometimes sends me cool poems she comes across in her work.
Mary’s all about nuance: “LitFinder is my favorite product to index because I love poetry, which is one of LitFinder’s primary genres. But poetry is also the most challenging to index, since much of what a poem means is hinted at or otherwise left unsaid. Putting these pieces together and then finding the right index term(s) is both demanding and a lot of fun.”
Indexing isn’t all about poetry and emotions; most of what we do here is the “hard stuff”: academic journals, newspapers from around the world, magazines, even videos, and images. Indexing terms are the “hook” into the content for users fishing for information (bah-dum!). Back to Mary: “Indexing is one of the best parts of my job: not only does it make our product easily accessible to the customer, but it offers the indexer an education as well. We get to skim many articles on a wide range of subjects, and not only learn something about those particular topics but also find out what other subjects they are connected to.”
Mary’s referring to the related terms in our vocabulary, which can be broader, narrower, or just “related”:
You can have a similar experience in our products by looking at the “Related Subjects” sidebar on an article, or the “Subjects” sidebar on a list of results.
“Related subjects” is the feature I wrote about in my first post in this series, the thing that got me hooked on metadata before I even knew what it was: the way good metadata enables discovery.
What information are you fishing for?
Cast about for seasonally-appropriate topics such as “Blood Diamonds” on Global Issues In Context, “Valentines Day” on Student Resources In Context, and “Consumerism” on Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Fun fact: while featured content in these products is curated by Gale’s editors, every topic in an “In Context” product is driven by queries written by the Machine-Aided Indexing team. These queries leverage the indexing terms by creating search criteria specific to the topic, so only the content with matching metadata shows up on that page. (I’ll spare you the fishing/net metaphor…)