Prism Blog

Identifying the format in search results

The latest release of Prism, when supplied with data from the new MarcGrab, re-models title and statement of responsibility information from MARC field 245, analysing the different kinds of data that MARC often lumps together, to make better use of it. One benefit of this is that any number-and-name-of-part information embedded in subfield $c (statement of responsibility, etc) is now appended to the main title so that you can see all of the precise title information together. Another benefit is the display of the statement of responsibility.

Historically, a General Material Designator (GMD) has been added to title information to give some indication of the kind of material of the item. However, its general nature has always been unsatisfactory because users want more precise information, and this is why, in the new cataloguing rules, RDA, the GMD is dropped in favour of more specific alternatives. For these reasons we have omitted the GMD.

A better alternative to the GMD is accurate format information, presented so the user can see at a glance what it is. The format is already in a regular position at the beginning of a line, but to improve its display we’re proposing the following changes:

  • Move the summary snippet to the foot of the entry
  • Select the most specific format term, where more than one is currently given, according to a preference list. For example, select ‘eBook’ from ‘Electronic resource, eBook, Book’
  • Display the selected format in bold
  • Place the edition statement and the year of publication, in that order, after the language, to give more prominence to these important elements
  • Change the label ‘Published’ to ‘Publisher’ and unbold it by default, so that it does not distract attention from the earlier elements.

It is posible to hide the language and publisher elements with styling tools (a simple update to you site.css file). It is also possible to hide just the default language, that is, the language of your catalogue, usually ‘English’. For details of how to apply these changes, or to request us to do it for you, please raise a Support case.

This proposal is only about results entries, not the Item Detail page. There are other issues and ideas for the Item Detail page, which will be addressed later.

We’ve put together some examples. Please click on the image to get a full size view. Cover images have been omitted from the examples but they would be there, as now, in the implementation.

We’d love to hear your views on this proposal. Please comment on this blog post, or you can email me As soon as a favourable consensus is clear we’ll start work on this with a view to getting it into the next release of Prism.

8 Responses

  1. Susan Murray Says:

    In reference to the language element, it would be good to be able to hide the default ‘English’ setting and to only show for the non-English languages

  2. Terry Willan Says:

    Hi Susan, Yes we can enable that as an option.

    We’ll assume that the absence of other comments means that everyone is happy with the proposal, but it would be great to hear any other thoughts.

  3. Kate Bunting Says:

    I emailed you this morning about some issues raised by colleagues about the Format facet, but having just watched the recording of last week’s webinar (which I had missed), I realise that the proposed changes will solve at least some of the problems with display of multiple formats. We have also increased the size of our Facet lists from five items to eight so that more options are visible without using “More”.

  4. Terry Willan Says:

    Thanks Kate. Yes, the proposed changes will eliminate the problems with the display of multiple formats in results entries. The multiple formats will continue to occur in the Format facet, providing users with options to refine their searches, but we will consider ways of optimising that functionality with clarity of meaning for users, as discussed in our email exchange.

  5. Melanie Keady Says:

    To hyphen or not to hyphen
    In collections it is ebook, no hyphen , but in the list of formats it is e-book. Is this the same for e-journals, ejournals, . What is the standard? Is there one?

  6. Terry Willan Says:

    I’m not sure what you mean by ‘the list of formats’. The default English text in the format facet and the format display in results and the Item Detail page is ‘eBook’. Similarly ‘eJournal’.

    I’m not aware of any authoritative standardisation of this group of terms. ‘e-book’ retrieves far more results in Google than ‘ebook’ but I think the latter is on the increase. Wikipedia uses ‘e-book’, but ‘ebook’ is used by major players such as Google eBooks, Waterstones, Sony, and WHSmith. Amazon has ‘Kindle eBook’.

  7. Heather Jardine Says:

    One query (raised ages ago by a colleague but I think its time has now come) – how do you define “book”? We see it coming up against things which aren’t books – specifically, in-analytics for journals, and the same thing happens with broadsides, proclamations etc – which are text, but not bound books. This may be our fault – we may have omitted the necessary coding – but from memory there are types of text which aren’t books but which can’t be coded in a more specific way.
    Is “book” being used as a default for things which can’t be defined as non-book?
    Generally, though, I think the new display is a huge improvement and will be welcomed.

  8. Terry Willan Says:

    Thanks for the positive vote, Heather. You’re right that there is more to do to make the format terms more extensive and accurate, and that MARC makes it difficult in some cases. There is no provision for broadsides in the Books 008. However, the term ‘Broadside’ could be used in field 655, with $2rbgenr, meaning ‘Genre terms: a thesaurus for use in rare book and special collections cataloguing (Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries). That would be a good standard basis for an enhancement to the Prism format detector. In-analytics for journals might be more difficult (008/24-27 Offprints would work for some), but we’ll be looking at that anyway from the point of view of journal articles.

    We are planning to go ahead with this proposed development as soon as possible. meanwhile any further comments are welcome.

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