Friday, October 5, 2007

Why should libraries care about this year's Ig awards?

Glenda Browne of Blaxland, Australia won this year's Ig Nobel prize for literature with her study of the word "the" and the various problems it causes for anyone trying to index things. In a report for the journal the Indexer, she said that taking the "the" into account was useful in many situations: "In the book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, for example, each 'the' is as important as the others. If we sort on the initial 'the' (as well as the following ones in their turn), then we are according each of the articles equal importance."
But she conceded that a blanket rule to incorporate 'the' into indexes often led to long lists of titles starting with the word, making specific entries harder to find. A particular problem, Dr Abrahams added, was indexing the rock band the The.