Tuesday, January 24, 2006

NCSU Debuts New Catalog

During ALA Midwinter there was quite a bit of chatter about North Carolina State University Libraries new catalog. High points, in my opinion, are relevance ranking, spelling help, and clean user friendly design. Here is an announcement from LJ Academic Newswire, 19-Jan-2006:

North Carolina State University Libraries (NCSU) has taken an important step in making catalogs more robust and user-friendly, deploying the Endeca ProFind™ platform to add capabilities patrons expect from web browsing. Patrons can now search results ranked by relevance, and refine navigation by topic, author, genre, language, material type, format, and availability. Sorting options include publication date, title, author, call number, and popularity. Also, the application displays a “breadcrumb” of the refinements selected to allow backtracking and broadening of search results. Users can also browse by subject without searching at all. Endeca’s technology is used in TLC’s CARL•X library system that has been installed in a few public libraries, but NCSU worked directly with the company, which mainly sells its software to retailers. “Endeca was very interested in talking to libraries,” Andrew Pace, NCSU’s head of systems, told the LJ Academic Newswire. “They knew a lot about searching. We knew a lot about metadata. We did it in six months.” He said the technology “costs less than an ILS, but what you’d expect to buy a high end web search technology.”

Pace known by many of his peers for his colorful denunciations of OPACs, said he began examining Endeca and similar products offered by AquaBrowser and RLG last year. “We don’t have any relevance in Sirsi,” he noted. The last thing cataloged is at the top of the list, which is not great when you add 5000 government documents in a batch load. We’re hoping to expose those titles that users wouldn’t be able to find.” While other libraries may be using Endeca technology, “the thing that’s really first for [our library] is the [Library of Congress] classification browsing. We took LC subject headings and broke them up into their four component parts.” Previously, he noted, the system had to be down for three days to reindex the library’s keyword index of 1.5 million bibliographic records. “Endeca does that in about four hours.” How will users respond to the system? “I almost hope it’s met with deafening silence from the users,” Pace said. “It’s about time it made more sense. Nobody calls up Barnes & Noble and Wal-Mart and asks them how to do a search.”

More links:
NCSU Libraries Unveils Revolutionary, Endeca-Powered Online Catalog

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