Originally written on August 4, 2006.
Notes on my experiences searching for information in Arkasnas State University - Beebe's library catalog:
Traditional catalog - Library.Solution 2.0 from The Library Corporation:
- Using Search button from home page: I did a search using any fields containing the words computer and juvenile. There were 124 results. Many of the results were juvenile books in [computer file] format - which were not relevant to my search.
- From the browse results screen, results can be sorted by Title, Author, Publication Date, Availability and Material Type.
- The browse display has title, location and call number included and all are links.
- Items are sorted by title.
- Results can be saved. Can save checked items to a list or save all items to a list and can uncheck all selections.
- There is a button to place a hold prominently to the right of every record listed in the browse results list. This is a nice feature. It is easy to see and fairly self explanatory.
- On the left-hand portion of the screen, there seems to be the status highlighted in bright green: non-checkout, available, etc. Computer files have a status of non checkout. This is an odd wording. Computer files can't really be checked out. This makes it seem as if one cannot use the item.
- There is a nice feature in this catalog. Above the status, there is information that reads "Found as . .." - can be "subject, title," "author,title," etc. This information tells the user where the keywords were found (in what indexes). I found this to be very helpful. I wish other catalogs had this feature.
- Search box to allow user to perform another search (or the same search) are on every page - at the bottom.
- In item display, user can return to the results list via a button. There are next and previous links to broswse through the items in the results set.
- In the item record display, the Title, Author, Annotations Link, Excerpt Links, Imprint, Physical Descript., Subject, Index, and Electronic Resources link are displayed. Author, Subject and Index items are hyperlinked to allow for browsing these indexes.
- The Annotations, Excerpts, and Character Information links (buttons) are to enhanced content provided by Syndetic Solutions. This information displays in a pop up window. The Annotations link brings up a pop up window with a short description of the work. How is this an annotation? This wording is confusing. These buttons are also displayed in the initial browse results screen.
- Of note: There is information about item availability "This item has been checked out 0 times and currently has 0 hold requests." This print is very small and note terribly noticeable under the bibliographic information. I have never seen checked out information in the record, but could be useful to users.
- There is a button on the top of the screen which allows users to see the history of their searches. Users can click on these searches to perform them again.
- There are also buttons in the top navigation bar to see MARC display, to download MARC record and to save item citation to list.
- I did an author search for "Mark Twain" using the contains option. There were 61 results - there were 61 results when I did the same search as "Twain, Mark." I think this is a very important feature. There are no confusing see also references when the author search is performed first name last name.
- Browse option from the home page - links to more traditional library catalog search options - here author searches must be performed last name, first name. A search for "Mark Twain" will bring up see also references pointing the user to "Twain, Mark."
- User can browse through several indexes including Title, Author, Subject, Notes, Publisher, Series, Local Call Number, Dewey, GPO, ISBN, ISSN, LC Call, LCCN, or LCCN2004.
- The Combination option from the home page allows users to use Boolean operators in their searches. This is a complicated search option with three different terms and different options for putting the terms together.
Searching via Medialab Solutions' Aquabrowser:
- Main page has one search box - labeled "Enter your query." Search can be restricted to all locations, ASU - Beebe or ASU - Searcy.
- There is very little on this home page. The letters ASU do appear in the discover area on the left-hand portion of the screen. Otherwise, there is little branding for the school or library. Also, there is no link back to the library web site.
- I did a search for computer juvenile and retrieved 14 results that were ranked by relevance.
- There is a tag or word cloud on the left-hand portion of the screen in the "discovery" area. Users can click on the words in order to broaden their search for related items.
- The browse display lists the Title, Series Title, Author, a short description, and the subject information. No local information about the item (call number, location or availability) is given on this page. This is disappointing. Users are forced to click on the item to see the item display to get availability information.
- Clicking on the item, brings up more of the bibliographic information along with call number, location and availability. There is a link to return quickly to the hit list (original browse display of results).
- On the right-hand portion of the screen, are several options to refine the search. The results are broken down into format, author, subject or series. Users can choose to see the results in book or movie format, see results by a particular author, subject or series. This feature is wonderful. It allows the user to see how many items are in the collection by author, subject, series or in book, movie, serial, or computer file format.
- In the discovery pane (word cloud), words offered are offered from associations, translations, discovery trail, spelling variants and thesaurus terms.
- Aquabrowser is very easy to user. I was very happy with my search experience. I do wish that there was better branding on the page - and wish that local item information appeared in the original browse display. The items retrieved in my search were much more helpful than in the search I performed in the traditional catalog.