There used to be a website that searched all Australian library catalogues. I used it whenever I wanted to cite a book and couldn’t work out what the publishing details were. If I typed in the book’s ISBN, the site would show the relevant information from the catalogue: publisher, place, year, edition, and so on – exactly the information I was looking for.
Sometime in the last few years the site’s activities were taken over by another. The new search results don’t show publishing information – which, as I said above, is often all that I’m looking for in a book search. Instead, the new site shows information which is completely and utterly irrelevant.
Don’t believe me? Look at this: I searched for the ISBN of Edward de Bono’s book, How to be More Interesting. The search returns the author, title, and a list of libraries which carry the book. There are also lots of “possibly related” items:
– a newspaper article from 1897;
– a journal on human communication research;
– an audio book or article (but under the Maps header, so who knows): Kim, by Rudyard Kipling;
– a map: Vocalizations of the pilot whale (seriously);
– a Uni of Melbourne Department of Psychology site;
– an archived website: Gay and lesbian issues and psychology review.
My point? I have no point, only rage at this ridiculousness. There used to be a site which did a simple thing well, and it helped me. The new site tries to cover everything in the known universe and gives me exactly nothing of what I’m looking for. Maybe there’s a way to strip away the superfluous dross from the search results, but if there is a way, it’s not obvious, and anyway, I’m too angry to try it.
The old site worked. The new one doesn’t. Grrr.