The elusive tale: leveraging the study of information seeking and knowledge organization to improve access to and discovery of folktales



The “Folktales and Facets” project proposes ways to enhance access to folktales—in written and audiovisual formats—through the systematic and rigorous development of user-focused and task-focused models of information representation. Methods used include cognitive task analysis and facet analysis to better understand the information-seeking and information-use practices of people working with folktales and the intellectual dimensions of the domain. Interviews were conducted with 9 informants, representing scholars, storytellers, and teachers who rely on folktales in their professional lives to determine common tasks across user groups. Four tasks were identified: collect, create, instruct, and study. Facet analysis was conducted on the transcripts of these interviews, and a representative set of literature that included subject indexing material and a random stratified set of document surrogates drawn from a collection of folktales, including bibliographic records, introductions, reviews, tables of contents, and bibliographies. Eight facets were identified as most salient for this group of users: agent, association, context, documentation, location, subject, time, and viewpoint. Implications include the need for systems designers to devise methods for harvesting and integrating extant contextual material into search and discovery systems, and to take into account user-desired features in the development of enhanced services for digital repositories.