02 May 2009

how popular are you? ask LC and ARTstor

It used to be that a gross count of Google hits would tell you whether one thing was more popular than another. LC sometimes used it in determining which term to use for a new subject heading. It's rather like one ARL library or super-bookstore saying they're better because they have more volumes. I've always preferred a bookstore that seemed to have a collection development policy. Now, Samuel G. Freedman has shown that we can move to smarter counts on the Internet. Well, we always could do that but I was amused by his counting in "Before there was King David, there was King Saul" in today's New York times. The article is about the new television series "Kings": King David and Saul in modern dress, with modernized names and places. What amused me was that he determined that David was way more popular than Saul by comparing hits in the LC catalog and ARTstor. For the record, the LC count was 43 Sauls and 297 Davids; the ARTstor count was 59 Sauls and "several thousand of David."

The whole article may be found online as "In ‘Kings,’ Television Tackles the Conflicted Saul" (title varies in print edition, as above). The picture is taken from the Saul entry in Wikipedia; it's called "David and Saul" (1885) by Julius Kronberg.

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