Junk records in Discovery Platforms
I got a problem with a couple of junk records in our discovery platform. Slow down that bandwagon I need to jump on it.
I was recently contacted by some patrons who were looking for the full-text of a couple of items found in our discovery system
Case Study #1
I was contacted by a curious patron that wanted to look at this book. I had to delve into the arcania of the A & I database to describe that this record is in fact for a database product that is talking about the book, but not the book itself. Sure it says book in the metadata and the markup on the total record display doesn't seem to discourage thinking that this might be a book. Tell me intrepid Librarian reader, what value does this record provide our Discovery Platform? I can say from experience that it adds perplexity that required a well eqiupped Library user to doubt their sanity.
Case Study #2
This one to me is more heinous. The OpenURL click through drops you on a not found 404 on the journal's site. After some digging you can discover that this is in fact a poster abstract from a conference, these conference abstracts were added to the issue in question, but done so en-masse and not as discrete objects in the TOC of the issue. (Explaining the lack to click through). The record doesn't provide any idication of what this is. With the exception of squinting really hard to see the 1/4p page designation. Patron wants to see this study but can only get a summary. What value added by this record? Without a deep dive it is pretty useless.
How many records on the platform are either one of these two cases? I'm sure there are other use cases I'm not considering. Even if is what, 5% of total records, that is still a signficant amount of useless/confusing stuff. Who watches the watchers, by this I mean is anyone calling vendors on this cruft that we are paying for and confusing users. With how persnickety the profession is generally we have given up the ghost on the content of databases without much of a fight. Perhaps this is part of the tension of 'we provide a valuable service helping people navigate through this stuff' vs 'enabling total self-sufficency of users and thus putting ourselves out of work'. Follow me here, we collectively overlook these peccadilos so we can keep living the glory days of times past.