It’s all about the search

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The enhanced library catalog has a lot of helpful new features, including a large text version for customers with low vision and a Spanish-language version. But the biggest enhancement is in how users can find things.

We caught up with Frank Blair, the Library’s Director of Research, Innovation and Strategy to find out more about the catalog’s improved search capabilities.

Improved searching with more relevant results was a key factor in the decision to launch the new catalog interface. It’s important that customers find the information they need whether they are using the catalog from home or come in to the library. The enhanced catalog lets you not only find results that match what you’ve typed in, but it will also present relevant alternatives, and help customers easily refine their search.

So, what has Frank used the enhanced catalog for?

My ninth-grader has to do a book report on “To Kill a Mockingbird” this year.  I typed in the title in the enhanced catalog, and not only did I find a copy of the book, and the Gregory Peck DVD, but also a teen-friendly biography of the author, Harper Lee.  I would never have thought to look for the biography, but the enhanced catalog just suggested it.

My eighth-grader loves horses, and loves to read the “Phantom Stallion” series.  With the enhanced catalog, I can just type in “Phantom Stallion” and the 20+ books in that series come right up.  The ease of use is extraordinary.  In the classic catalog, I would have had to know how to do a special kind of search to find all that information.

I like foreign films.  With the enhanced catalog, I just type in “DVDs” in the search box, and then select a language to refine the search.  Instant access to cinema from around the world!  It also works great if you just want to see English-language releases in the last year.

I was helping a customer about 10 years old find the “mail-order ninjas” graphic novels – very popular with 5th and 6th graders right now, especially boys who don’t want to read a chapter book, or longer fiction.  I typed in his search, and sure enough, all our copies were checked out.  But the enhanced catalog was smart enough to suggest “ninja” as a search term in the visual search pane.  With one click, we found “Blue fingers: A ninja’s tale” as another option, and the Accelerated Reader information in the catalog indicated it was perfect for his age and reading level – and we had it in.  When I got the book for him, he said “I don’t usually read books this long, but in this case I’ll make an exception.”  The delight of discovery is what the new catalog is all about.

Have you had a chance to use the enhanced catalog? What do you think about the new search tools? Leave a comment and let us know.

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6 Responses to “It’s all about the search”

  1. John Says:

    Please-leave the Classic Catalog intact and available, as the new one is a busy nightmare!

  2. Jim Teat Says:

    The new search function has plus features such as the starburst of related items. Our library is a WONDRERFUL asset to this community.
    On the minus side, once I find a CD, so far I’ve been unable to “Open” it and see what songs were included. And I didn’t have success searching the new catalog for song titles on CD. The previous catalog handled both thos searches well. Maybe it’s there and I need to play longer to find out how.

  3. Sarah Poole Says:

    Hi, John. Thanks for taking the time to try out the new catalog.You’re right that there’s a lot going on with the enhanced catalog. Some might find that there are features they’d rather not use. The good news is that the interface is customizable, so you can control the way the search interface looks. There’s a short video that shows how you can collapse and reveal tabs that hide the Word Cloud or any other tabs that may appear. Go here and scroll down to the video called “Customizing”. http://www.plcmc.org/catalog/catalogvideos.asp

    You can also use the old catalog search tools by clicking on the “Classic Catalog” link at the top of the page.

  4. Frank Blair Says:

    Hi Jim. Thanks for the feedback on song titles. We are working on getting the track list to display along with the rest of the information about a music CD, but we are not quite there yet.

    With regard to searching for song titles, try enclosing the title in double-quotes, and then using the “Music CD” icon to restrict the results to just CD’s. If you have a title that is easy to find in the classic catalog, but can’t seem to find in the new catalog, use the “Technical Feedback” option to let us know about it; I’d like to follow up.

    The Classic Catalog will continue to be used to renew items, so you can still use it to search also.

  5. Frank Blair Says:

    Song titles are now listed as part of the content description for CDs.

  6. Terri Farley Says:

    Dear Frank,
    Thanks for guiding children through the world of books — especially mine 🙂
    Happy trails,
    Terri Farley

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