Library updates feature new search technology

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The Melvin J. Zahnow Library staff is testing an alternative library search mechanism.

The new interface encompasses many more of the library resources including several databases in the library’s collection. The search box is located on the library’s homepage.

The new software is designed for novice users or for those not familiar with directly searching for library databases and resources. While using the new search box, approximately 60 percent of the library databases will be searched.

“The new search interface is designed to make more library resources available with a single search,” Library Director Anita Dey said. “It is different in that it offers features that both novice and experienced users will find useful for their level of research skill.”

In 2016, Head of Research Services Scott Mellendorf established and coordinated a “Discovery Tool Review Project.” Four different review teams involving all library departments reviewed five different discovery tools. Following the reviews, a recommendation was presented to library administration in 2016. After the unanimous recommendation was approved, the teams continued to work the project into its second phase, full trial implementation.

“The phase required extensive work on behalf of the library’s technical services department to prepare the search interface,” Mellendorf said. “(It) took many months of testing and working with the software provider to get the search interface ready for the live trial.”

The project entered its current phase in early March. The software will replace the former software vendor that is no longer updating. According to Dey and Mellendorf, the cost of the alternative software is comparable to the former software.

Library users can now test the new search interface and provide the library with feedback.

“We really want to hear from our users if this is the search interface we should adopt,” Dey said. “Please use the linked feedback form above the library’s search box. Also consider participating in our upcoming usability study.”

The new interface offers students a Google-like approach to searching, along with utilizing advanced search options for more specific search information.

“We look forward to seeing our users get more access to the library resources and spend less time doing so,” Dey said. “We also believe users will appreciate the many new features available to them with the new search interface.”