In this day and age, when Search is all important and everyone consults Professor Google at the first opportunity, the great virtues and pleasures of a Subject index are a little eclipsed.
Not if you are a librarian, of course, or even if you are close to a librarian. They’ve never forgotten how a carefully constructed Subject listing can find you a range of things that keyword searching never could.
We’ve taken that on board at the Dictionary and we are in the process of constructing, slowly but surely, a Subject index to the Dictionary’s content.
Let me show it to you. Be kind, because it is still being built, but I can indicate how great it is going to be one day.
When you click Subjects in the Browse panel, and go to the Browse Subjects page, you’ll see the usual blue listing of Entries. But if you click Sort by Name, up the top, you’ll get an alphabetical listing.
Click Aboriginal to see a Subject listing that has been pulled together to show the potential of this pathway into the Dictionary.
The Aboriginal subject page aggregates all the content we think is relevant to this important area of Sydney’s history, from pre-invasion to the present.
The listing shows entries, people, places, events and organisations, and will soon also include images and audio relevant to the topic.
Most of our Subject headings are currently empty, as work continues on a myriad other tasks at the Dictionary. One of our volunteers, an eminent former librarian, is working on placing the images into the Subject listings, which will be a huge step forward.
There are broader and narrower subject terms in most topic areas, which will enable readers to move around in subject areas, finding everything that ‘s relevant to their area of interest.
Each quarterly rebuild should see the Subject listings getting more and more useful, so have a look now and then to see how they’ve come on.
Other posts in this series:
Finding your way through the Dictionary part 4 — Contributors
Finding your way through the Dictionary part 5 — Demographics
Finding your way through the Dictionary part 8 — Bonus extras