LRTS v 42, no. 4, October 1998

Rising to the Top: Evaluating the Use of the HTML META Tag to Improve Retrieval of World Wide Web Documents through Internet Search Engines

Thomas P. Turner and Lise Brackbill

We evaluate the effectiveness of using the HTML META tag to improve retrieval of World Wide Web documents through Internet search engines. Twenty documents were created in five subject areas: agricultural trade, farm business statistics, poultry statistics. vegetable statistics, and cotton statistics. Four pages were created in each subject area: one with no META tags, one with a META tag using the keywords attribute, one with a META tag using the description attribute, and one with META tags using both the keywords and description attributes. Searches were performed in AltaVista and Infoseek to find terms common to all pages as well as for each keyword term contained in the META tag. Analysis of the searches suggests that the use of the keywords attribute in a META tag substantially improves accessibility while use of the description attribute alone does not. These results suggest that HTML document authors should consider using keywords attribute META tags. We also suggest that more search engines index the META tag to improve resource discovery.

Specificity, Syndetic Structure, and Subject Access to Works about Individual Corporate Bodies

Mary Dabney Wilson

The evolution of subject access to works about individual corporate bodies in Anglo-American subject cataloging practice is presented. Comparison is made to the similar problems of works of individual biography. The lack of comparable levels of subject access for the two classes of works is explored. Automation may have been part of the problem, but through automated maintenance routines, it offers the best hope for a viable solution. Recomendations are made that would restore parity in level of subject access using syndetic reference structure and preserving the principle of specific entry upon which most subject access systems in Anglo-American libraries are based.

The Impact of Subject Heading Assignment on Circulation of Dissertations at Virginia Tech

Richard E. Sapon-White and Mary Hansbrough

Subject headings for bibliographic records for dissertations are no longer assigned at some academic libraries, but the impact this might have on dissertation use has not been evaluated. In this study, bibliographic and circulation records for a sample of 248 academic dissertations were examined to deter-mine the effect of controlled subject headings in the records on circulation of the items. Titles with LC subject headings were compared to those without. Chi-square analysis showed significant differences in circulation for the total sample (p=.04), but not for individual areas of study. Discussion of sources of bias and suggestions for future research are included.