Monday, September 28, 2009

20th Anniversary of the opening of the Berlin Wall

Professor Nancy Decker's German students are organizing a party to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Berlin Wall in October 1989. They have erected a huge polystyrene version of a section of the wall and placed it outside the library in the atrium. As you can see from the pictures it is certainly dramatic. The top photo is the east side (plain except for the names of people who died trying to cross the wall.) The bottom on is decorated with graffiti, like the west side of the original. On October 3, they will move it to Mills Lawn, the symbolic heart of campus and destroy it during a party.

The opening of the wall, the reunification of Germany and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, was one of the most significant periods of my life. They were events that I had grown up never expecting to see. Most of our incoming class were not even born when the wall came down.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I Think You Are Really Going To Like R-Search

The holy grail of academic libraries for the last few years has been a search engine that rivals Google in attracting our students. Even pre-Google we knew we had to find some way of making searching, and more importantly finding, the good stuff in libraries easier.

Originally we thought dumping everything into our catalog or into our Integrated Library System (in our case, Sirsi) might be the answer, but those systems were designed to retrieve records of books and harked back to the old card catalog.

Then we thought we might be able to develop a "scholar's workstation" in some form, but that never really panned out.

Recently we thought federated searching might do the job, but lowest common denominator searching and the need to connect to multiple databases in real time led to slow and inappropriately displayed results that frustrated users and (even more) reference librarians.

I am over holy grails, but R-search, our name for Serial Solutions Summon service, is really cool. No more choosing databases, clean single search box, fulltext just one click away, intuitive limits and refining of search results, and nice previews. I think students are going to love this.

Let me know what you think.

Friday, September 11, 2009

WorldCat Local quick start

Here at Rollins we have been playing with OCLC's Quick Start for WorldCat Local. Playing being the operative word. It is really easy to set this up and it has some interesting potential.

Could this replace our OPAC? With the interesting reframing of our collection within the larger WorldCat collection (once again de-centering our catalog.)

The interface is clean, and includes the nice link to electronic content, and to ILL. I also like the limiting features that are all the rage in library databases these days.

But what is the relationship between this and When I search Google I come across WorldCat records. When I click on a record I go to the generic WorldCat record, not the WorldCat Local record. What would OCLC have to do to change that? Because that is true web scale discovery: web search and local retrieval.