What’s in a word? : Rethinking facet headings in a discovery service


  • David Nelson Middle Tennessee State University
  • Linda Turney Middle Tennessee State University




The emergence of Discovery systems has been well received by libraries who have long been concerned with offering a smorgasbord of databases that require either individual searching of databases or the problematic use of federated searching.  The ability to search across a wide array of subscribed and open-access information resources via a centralized index has opened up access for users to a library’s wealth of information resources.  This capability has been particularly praised for its ‘google like’ search interface, thereby conforming to user expectations for information searching.  Yet, all discovery services also include facets as a search capability and thus provide faceted navigation which is a search feature that Google is not particularly well suited for.  Discovery services thus provide a hybrid search interface.  An examination of e-commerce sites clearly shows that faceted navigation is an integral part of their discovery systems.  Many library OPACs also now are being developed with faceted navigation capabilities.  However, the discovery services faceted structures suffer from a number of problems which inhibit their usefulness and their potential.  This article examines a number of these issues and it offers suggestions for improving the discovery search interface.  It also argues that vendors and libraries need to work together to more closely analyze the user experience of the discovery system.


Author Biographies

David Nelson, Middle Tennessee State University

Chair, Collection Development and Management, James E. Walker Library, Middle Tennessee State University

Linda Turney, Middle Tennessee State University

Catalog Librarian, Collection Development and Management, James E. Walker Library, Middle Tennessee State University


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How to Cite

Nelson, D., & Turney, L. (2015). What’s in a word? : Rethinking facet headings in a discovery service. Information Technology and Libraries, 34(2), 76–91. https://doi.org/10.6017/ital.v34i2.5629