Monday, April 2, 2007

Mashups & Subject Searching (Contributed Papers)

Library Mashups for the Virtual Campus: Using Web 2.0 Tools for Current Awareness
Adriene Lim, Systems Librarian/Assistant Professor, Portland State University; Linda Absher, Humanities Librarian, Portland State University; Kerry Wu, Business Librarian/Assistant Professor, Portland State University

Portland State University Library has designed beta “Topic Watch” pages using HTML, JavaScript, AJAX, CSS to create mashups of relevant information sources

Uses RSS feeds organized by topic (news, podcasts, etc.), provides front page multisearch/federated search option powered by SerialsSolutions’ 360Search (formerly Central Search), and employs tags from sites such as to direct students to relevant websites

Includes new books section with title links to OPAC record

Mouse-over balloons give further information on title of interest

In podcast section, play buttons are incorporated in interface, and automatically open users’ media player

Although the rest of the information fed through the Topic Watch page is freely available, there is a small box alerting users that access to multisearch results require University username/password for access; search results display with icons (similar to those found in PubMed) linking students to institutional holdings

Wanted to include other APIs such as YouTube, but elected not to due to copyright concerns

Current concerns include lack of customization/personalization; no keyword filtering; few licensed databases offer RSS; possible copyright violations; non-Romanized characters displaying incorrectly

Topic Watch not just for students: many faculty don’t have time to subscribe to RSS, even if they know what it is, so these pages eliminate their need to do this CA work individually

Eventually the librarians hope to include links to webinars and videocasts; flag already read items; and share framework & scripts with other libraries using a Creative Commons license

Subject Search Disconnect: Or, How Do Our Users Want to Search for Subject Information
Margaret Mellinger, Assistant Professor, Oregon State University; Jane Nichols, Social Sciences/Humanities Librarian, Oregon State University

Students don’t really connect with libraries; this disconnect isn’t new but exacerbated by the internet

Historically, libraries have tried to connect users to information using taxonomies, pathfinders, and browse lists

Unfortunately, these methods are as incoherent as a building without doors

Visual search and tag clouds are new methods being used by libraries to make connections within subject searching

When confronted with a long list of database options, students (who want & expect a single search interface) can be overwhelmed, as they feel they shouldn’t have to know both where and what to search

Thus, students often choose familiars databases first, be it Google or ProQuest, even if it doesn’t best match subject (I think students and staff do that here with PubMed; not only is it the default database [with good reason], but it also offers a single search box right on the front page!!)

Common search features that, thanks to Google and Yahoo!, students want/expect include: short phrase natural language searching, no Boolean necessary, spell check, “Did you mean...?”, suggested terms, and relevancy-ranked results

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