What’s your default test search?

At MPOW I search a lot of library catalogs (and usually I am indeed interested in the searching, not the finding per se). But what do you search for in a “foreign” library catalog?

In the postscript to this post, Jonathan Rochkind reveals that his “brainless test search” is typically “frogs”. Mine is “Amish”, which I picked up from one of my bosses years ago. It’s short, found in the catalogs of most English-language libraries (and in a surprising number of non-English catalogs), and doesn’t return thousands of hits. And apparently, every public library in the U.S. is required by law to hold a copy of Amish society by John Hostetler.

What’s your typical search when you want to test a library catalog?

CC BY-SA 4.0 What’s your default test search? by Galen Charlton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

13 thoughts on “What’s your default test search?

  1. I actually tend to use the term “test” — not only are there hits, but I get to see all the test records that got left in the catalog by people messing around with the system and not cleaning up after themselves.

    My boss uses “zoonoses,” for reasons I’ve never been clear about.

  2. “Illuminati” is my default test, usually. Or “Hegel”. My only real reason for choosing these is that the results amuse me. “Test” sounds like a good one.

  3. I always use “Jane Austen.” Every public and academic library has at least one Jane Austen novel, and (for larger libraries, anyway) it gives me a sense of how the catalog relevancy ranks author versus title versus subject matches.

  4. I search for Jim Butcher. Because he’s one of my favorite authors. And I get a reasonable number of hits, but not tons. Also, because it tests for format display, since there should be books, audiobooks and hopefully ebooks and digital audio if the library has any funding.

    And the fringe results can be hilarious if it turns out to be an implied “or” search instead of an implied “and” search.

  5. I usually test with “Information Architecture” because as a phrase it means something fairly different than the individual words (so, if I get a bunch of results about gothic architecture, I can easily tell the search isn’t working well). Locally I test with “bubbles” because it’s a fun word and if I see it in the search logs, I’m pretty confident that it’s me.

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