Friday, October 16, 2009

Discovery layers article

From the Chronicle of Higher Education 'After Losing Users in Catalogs, Libraries Find Better Search Software' an overview of 'the problem with catalogues' - and Summon gets a mention eventually.

Great quote from the article:

"a graduate student specializing in early American history, once had such a hard time finding materials that she titled a bibliography "Meager Fruits of an Ongoing Fight With Virgo [the U of Virginia's catalogue]."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Summon to replace X Seach?

First up apologies for the lack of posts lately - I've been busy reading a book about improving your blog

Because I have more formal ways of telling you what's happening I'm going to concentrate on using this blog on scanning the horizon for those who want to see what might be coming over the hill and on things that are making me ponder in a brave attempt to get you to ponder with me too.

Currently I'm looking at Summon, the latest offering from Serials Solutions. I urge you to look at it on the early adopter sites and tell me if it excites you as much as it excites me:
Basically Summon is search engine & metadata harvester. Serials Solutions call it a 'web scale discovery tool' and in library tech talk it fits in the spectrum of 'Resource Discovery Layers'. Sluicing off the jargon it is like having a Google searching your library collections. All your collections: Catalogue, institutional repository (eprints) AND your subscription econtent.

It is not a federated search engine like X Search (360 Search). It does not translate your search into other formats and submit them to lots of search engines, then wait for the all the results to come back and process them and display them to you. Because it has it's own index it's quick (almost Google quick). You search it like Google too: one search box, and the same syntax for phrases, ANDs and NOTs.

All that is cool enough but don't forget what it's searching. Everything* you've got. Regardless of format or location. In one search. No more 'why can't I search for articles in the catalogue?' or 'what's the difference between Proquest 5000 and Expanded Academic Index?' No more scrolling through hundreds of databases with meaningless titles (ASABE Technical Library, Project Muse) wondering which one will return anything.

And that's only point one. I will circulate my proposal/information document to the Library Management Committee and through that forum to anyone interested. Please try it out on at least one of the example sites (you can do everything except view subscription content without logging in - yet another cool addition the list of why Summon is grabbing my attention.

Watch the promotional video

*Ok not quite everything, to search subscription eresources SS negotiates licensing agreements with publishers, and while they have literally hundreds of these agreements, with major publishers, and they are growing, there are some titles not yet included.