Strategies for WorldCat subject searching, 2010 style
This post graciously comes to us from Gary Perlman, a Consulting Research Scientist at OCLC who works on WorldCat searching, improving user interfaces and analyzing the overall user experience for WorldCat.org, among other sites.
The links above are for generic types not on particular subjects. Tens of thousands of WorldCat catalogers have added subject headings to millions of records, primarily using the Library of Congress Subject Headings. These are the hotlinked subject headings you see under "More Like This" and "Related Subjects". They are chosen from a controlled vocabulary by cataloging experts and ensure that items with the same focus use the same terminology.
Unlike the general keyword index, which matches terms anywhere in records, the subject headings index is much more precise, while at the same time, less forgiving.
Subject headings provide precise hotlinks to similar items, but it's best to use the subject hotlinks in records because guessing and using the wrong terms instead of the controlled vocabularly used by catalogers can give you poor results. Once you have some subject headings that you like, you can save them for future use to show you high-quality results in that subject area. You can also limit them to specific languages, ranges of publication years, and by format, content, and audience. Each of the following is limited to English non-fiction books published in 2010. On January 1, 2010, some links matched no books, but new items are added every day.
* Economic Development: adult, juvenile.
* Genealogy: adult, juvenile.
* Global Warming: adult, juvenile.
* Globalization: adult, juvenile.
* Nutrition: adult, juvenile.
* Presidents: adult, juvenile.
* Social Networks: adult, juvenile.
* Sports Doping: adult, juvenile.
* United Nations: adult, juvenile.
Of course, subject headings can be used to find fiction. Instead of saving a search with a particular year, you can save a search with a sorting option to show the most recent publications first, such as with these juvenile offerings: Wizards, Witches, Vikings, or Dragons.
Final Tip: You can remove the language, year, format and other limits in the "Refine Your Search" section on the left side of the results. Just click on "All Languages", "All Years", etc.