Kansas Tri-Conference 2007: Day 2 – Libraries, Vendors, and the Future of Search

Andrew Pace

Showed a timeline of library automation (that started on 1936!)

Where are we?

  • the rfp has not evolved
  • the traditional ILS system is a legacy system
  • new innovation requires new technology

Discussed the current state of the ILS

what ILS catalogs do well:

  • inventory control
  • known item searching

what ILS catalogs don’t do well:

  • any search other than known item
  • anything other than books and journals
  • logical groupings of results
  • faceted searching
  • relevance ranking
  • sideways searching (suggestions, expansion of searches and search targets)

NextGen library search tools: lots of them… including worldcat, clustered searching, endeca, open sources, etc…

a few words about nextgen and 2.0:

  • they are adjectives for libraries and systems
  • not our patrons – they are already there

To our customers, search looks like Google and iTunes and flickr

what is faceted navigation?

  • Sounds like boolean and limiting to me…
  • gave examples – narrow by category at amazon, clusty’s sidebar narrowing, etc

Needle Library, Haystack College is using ExLibris (look at it)

Existing catalogs are hard to use:

  • lots of topical searches and poor subject access
  • keyword doesn’t work well
  • relevance is really just system sort order in library catalogs
  • unforgiving on spelling errors or stemming
  • response time is bad

explained why NCSU wanted a new catalog…

showed a screencast of an NCSU catalog search

Most of their users are doing basic keyword searching – about 1/3 are choosing the refinements (mostly subject refinements)

usability testing:

  • relevance ranking is key
  • only 13% went to page two!
  • faceted navigation is intuitive
  • beware of library jargon
  • user behavior is influenced by previous experience

Interesting tidbits:

  • keyword searching up 230%
  • authority searching is down 45%

Future opportunities

  • integrate catalog with other tools through web services
  • enrich catalog with external web services – book jackets, etc
  • build cross application shopping cart functionality

Where are we headed?

  • interoperability – that’d be cool… right now, it’s the exception not the rule
  • web services
  • 3rd parties – will become a viable source for ILS type services
  • Re-integration (eventually)
  • continued mergers, market consolidation, etc
  • more vertical integration (portals, federated search, serials content management, etc)
  • more open source, local development, and 3rd party partnerships

“Open source is more like a free kitten, not like free beer.”