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The James P. Boyce Centennial Library

Boyce Library News

WCL – The Search Results Screen

May 20th, 2009 • Robb Brunansky

A significant improvement in WCL over our classic OPAC is the way in which search results are delivered. The search results screen resembles the design of online retailers such as Amazon.com, providing an intuitive place to begin sifting through works that relate to your research topic.

The improvements in WCL are more than merely aesthetic; they extend to the usefulness of the results themselves. Our classic OPAC would return results sorted in descending order by publication date and author. While this could be modified to return results by relevancy ranking or other sorting options, it is not the most intuitive way to display search results. Moreover, the relevancy rankings were sometimes suspect. For example, a search for 1 Peter sorted by rank in the classic OPAC returns as the top hit a work from 1641 entitled Two Looks over Lincolne. It’s not immediately evident what, if anything, this work has to do with 1 Peter. The first item that is clearly related to 1 Peter in our search results is ranked third in the list. When you run the same search on WCL, the first ten items are all obviously related to 1 Peter. Nine of them are commentaries on the epistle, and one of them is a monograph focusing on particular themes in 1 Peter. WCL also provides the flexibility to change the sorting method of your search results. You can sort by author, date of publication, or title as well as relevance. On the level of search results, WCL is a vast improvement over the classic OPAC.

The search results screen of WCL also helps you drill down into the search results to find exactly what you need. A search for 1 Peter returns over 3,700 items held at our library. How do you determine which items are useful and which ones are irrelevant? On the left-hand side of the search results are suggestions to further refine your search.

If your research involved determining how 1 Peter was presented in children’s literature, you could click on the link “Juvenile” under Audience to see the 24 items in that category. If you need to find journal articles, under Format you could click “Articles” to see the 304 articles your search found (many of which have full text available, but that’s for another blog entry). These suggestions are helpful when you are beginning with a broad topic and need to narrow it into something manageable. They’re also helpful to get an overview of the literature available. For example, you can quickly see what authors have written the greatest number of works on your subject, which could lead you to a new helpful source of inquiry previously unknown to you.

Two other items on the search results screen deserve mention. The first is the ability to save a search. For certain research projects you might run the same search several times, and WCL allows you to save searches to make it easier to re-run the exact same search multiple times. The second is the ability to create a list of items returned in your search results. I’ll talk about that more in an upcoming post. Note that both of these features require you to have a free WorldCat account so WCL can store your searches and lists for you.

If you haven’t had a chance to use WCL yet, test it out and let us know what you think! For feedback please email us at worldcatfeedback@gmail.com. We trust these improvements will help you be more efficient and productive in your research tasks.

WorldCat Local – The Home Search Page

May 19th, 2009 • Robb Brunansky

One of the first things you notice when you come to WorldCat Local (WCL) is the streamlined home screen. In many ways it is familiar to anyone who has used Google due to a similar look and feel. You are greeted with a simple search entry box and a search button. However, there is more to this page than you might notice initially.

First, notice between the search box and the search button that there is a drop down list. This list allows you to set the limits of your search to Southern’s Library or to expand it to include every WorldCat library in the WorldCat database. By default, we have it set to only search our library, but if you are looking for resources that we don’t have in our library, or you just want to expand your search to see everything that is available regardless of where it is located, you can choose to search libraries worldwide.

Beneath the search box there is an advanced search option. Clicking that link expands the search page so that you can specify if you want to search by keyword, title, author, and so on. It also allows you to limit results to certain formats (books, journals, audio recordings, etc.), certain publication dates, types of content (dissertations, for example), and other criteria.

Three drop-down menus appear at the top-left of the page: Home, Search, and SBTS Library. Clicking on the Home menu will take you to sbts.worldcat.org. You can also use this menu to get help and submit feedback directly to WorldCat (although we would prefer if you would send feedback directly to us at worldcatfeedback@gmail.com).

The Search menu brings up a page with three tabs: Library Items, Lists, and Contacts. Incidentally, these are also the three options in the drop down menu under Search. Searching for library items is basically the same as the regular search on the home page. Searching for lists allows you to find a list of resources someone else created. Perhaps a professor has compiled a bibliography for a course and has saved it on WCL for his students. You can search for that list by name or description. Searching for contacts allows you to find other WCL users who have a WorldCat account.

The SBTS Library menu allows you to sign into your library account on the classic OPAC. It also has a link that takes you directly to information about Boyce Centennial Library on our library web site.

On the top-right side of the page, there are two different “sign in” options. My Account is your library account on the classic OPAC. As this is a beta release, we are still investigating ways to integrate your account information from the classic OPAC into WCL. The WorldCat sign in link allows you to sign in to your WorldCat account if you have one, or to create one if you don’t. WorldCat accounts are free, and they allow you to save searches, create lists and share them with others, tag items, and write reviews.

While streamlined, the home page for WCL also provides many options to help you find the resources you need quickly and accurately. We hope you’ll spend some time exploring these options and let us know what you think at worldcatfeedback@gmail.com.

WorldCat Local Beta

May 18th, 2009 • Robb Brunansky

This week we are beginning beta testing of WorldCat Local, a new online interface for searching Boyce Centennial Library’s Catalog. A quick comparison of WorldCat Local with our current OPAC helps visualize some of the changes that are coming.

Initial Search Page on current OPAC:

Initial Search Page on WorldCat Local:

Search Results on current OPAC:

Search Results on WorldCat Local:

WorldCat Local delivers many enhancements and new features to our patrons, including:

  • A streamlined search interface
  • Categories to refine your search terms quickly
  • Cover art to help you locate an item quickly by sight
  • Lists of subjects related to your results that can be quickly searched with a single click
  • A “Browse Similar Items” window
  • Easy-to-understand circulation information so you can see where the item is located in the library and whether or not it is available
  • Links to do further research about authors
  • The option to write reviews about items in the library
  • The ability to add tags to items
  • The option to share items on social network sites like Facebook or bookmark them on sites like Delicious
  • A custom list editor to quickly create a bibliography of your search results
  • Built in citation options to export references to your favorite bibliographic software
  • This is a partial list of new features now available in our beta test of WorldCat Local. In the coming days, I’ll post blog entries overviewing these features with tips on how to get the most from them. In the meantime, we hope you’ll spend some time exploring WorldCat Local (sbts.worldcat.org), and then please send us some feedback (worldcatfeedback@gmail.com) on what you like, what worked, what didn’t (it is a beta, after all!), and what could be added or improved.

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