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5 Ways to Make Your Catalog More Searchable

"Where's the next Percy Jackson book?" "I can't find the newest Guinness World Records." "Do we have more books like Matilda?" While you enjoy interacting with patrons and helping them find things, some questions should be easily answered by searching your catalog.

So, how can you improve your catalog's searchability, making the lives of your patrons – and by extensions, yours – easier? We've gathered the best tips and tricks for you below!

Weed Outdated Materials

While we may gasp at the thought of getting rid of books, we recognize that it’s necessary to keep a clean collection. Our last blog post, New Year Weeding, goes through a few reasons you might weed a title or copies: no interest, fallen popularity, out-of-date material, damaged items, and alternate mediums. If you need to weed in Alexandria, check out our Spring cleaning—Weeding old items tip for specific help. We have a report that makes things easy peasy!

Standardize Series Information

Books don’t always print the series on the cover. Or, they may tell you the series but they don’t tell you the number. Which one comes first? Just because the publishers make readers guess, doesn’t mean you have to. Help your patrons know each volume’s series and series number so they can start at book one and continue to book two instead of book three. If I’ve just finished reading Magic’s Pawn, I can find it in the catalog, see what the series is, locate book two, and place a hold. Then I’m a happy patron! Invest some time in your 830_ tags and learn more about Cataloging Series and Serials in Alexandria.

Add Genres

You know, there aren’t limits for the number of genres your books can have—the 655 variety, anyway. While a physical arrangement has to stick to a single genre, your online catalog has no such restrictions. You don’t have to decide if Twilight is a Romance OR Paranormal OR Paranormal Romance. It can be all three. Help your patrons find Wealth of Nations by giving it not only the genre Economics but also History and Philosophy. (Tip: If you aren’t sure about a book’s genres, check Goodreads for ideas!)

Interested in genrefying your library? Get some tips from one of our most popular blog posts: Library Genrefication: The Do’s and Don’ts. When it comes to Alexandria in particular, take a look at Researcher Best Practices and Spring Cleaning—Authority Control for help with genres.

Include Tags for Common Misspellings

Just as with genres, you aren’t limited to the subject tags that will print across a 5x3 card. That means you can be truly expansive with the subjects you list for any book; this allows patrons to find books relating to their search term (e.g. when I search “Sacagawea,” it might be nice to get results that include books about the Lewis & Clark expedition or about the Shoshone in general). But take it further. Consider adding alternative terms and even misspellings as subject tags, so when a young patron searches “tree hose,” they find the Magic Tree House books. Learn about adding tags for misspellings and alternative names in Alexandria.

Improve Your Data Using Mitinet

The better your data is, the easier it is for your patrons to locate the materials they want. The good news is, this isn’t new news, and you aren’t alone. Introducing… Mitinet Library Services!

Mitinet sets the standard in metadata management, offering comprehensive data cleanup as well as MARC enhancements. Discover how virtual cataloging offers quick and convenient ways to analyze, enhance, and standardize your MARC data. With Alexandria and Mitinet together, you can make your catalog more helpful and discoverable by adding reading program information, converting to RDA format, fixing tags, genrefying, and more.
Alexandria's various tools make it easy to keep your catalog searchable. For more tips, check out Clean Up Your Data.

What other methods have you used to make searching easier in your library? Let us know in the comments!

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