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User Problems with Access to Fictional Characters and Personal Names in Online Public Access Catalogs


Reference librarians in libraries with online public access catalogs were polled to determine what indexes they thought most patrons would use to look for fictional characters. Most thought users would choose a name index over a subject index, but that they would choose a subject index over an author index. In addition, reference librarians were asked their own preferences. They said that the best kind of index to give users for such searches would be a general index in which no particular kind of search need be specified. Based on the descriptive statistics from this research, current system design practices for online public access catalogs and current tagging practice in the MARC format are evaluated, and recommendations are made for modification of those practices.

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