Friday, April 5, 2013

Update ... for real.

I hope everyone enjoyed that April Fool’s post, because now it’s time to bring the pain.

Just kidding! Actually, we’re long overdue for new stuff on this thing, which I admit is my fault.

First and most immediate, we’d like to announce a trial subscription to EasyBib; it’s an online citation tool similar to RefWorks.

And by “citation tool,” we really mean, “thing that does all the work for you when you have a bunch of references to cope with for your paper, project, or other academic product.” This trial expires April 25, so if you’re curious, you’ll need to hop to the following:
  • Go to http://www.easybib.com while on campus.
  • Register for a free personal account. You can tell you’ve done it right if you see the Gallaudet logo.
  • Once that’s done, you can get in from off-campus with your login information.
  • Play around a little bit. Maybe take a stab at it with an actual assignment.
  • Let us know what you think. We’ve got a survey up and running.
A lot of other things that we’ve been working on are taking place behind the scenes. For instance, we’re in the process of getting some new inter-library loan software on its feet.

That doesn’t sound terribly interesting, but the immediate advantage for students, staff, and faculty is that the turnaround time required to get your requests out and the loaned items in should go down somewhat. Ideally, you wouldn’t notice much of a change from the way we already do it, but the truth is, a lot of work had to happen in order to get your requests out there and taken care of as quickly as possible. It saves you time and us a lot of work!

Speaking of lengthy implementations, you can expect to see one version of our catalog, ALADIN Discovery (the search box on our web site), change considerably at some point in the near future, mostly in terms of what it looks like and the results that will show up when you search. I’m careful to say “at some point,” because I’ve been teasing this announcement for the past year. But the light at the end of the tunnel is finally visible.

Basically, we’re replacing Discovery with a newer product from the same company, one that will -- wait for it -- also search quite a few of our databases in addition to our print and electronic books. It’ll be more of a one-stop shop than ever!

It’s taken so long because, as it turns out, figuring out how several universities and their library collections, database subscriptions, and generally-weird resources, some of which are publicly-available and some of which aren’t, all slot together so that the right people take the right pathways to the right resources ... is a bit of a challenge.

Each university library also has its own individual preferences for how to present things -- do we want to make sure Gallaudet items are at the top of the list (well ... yes)? Do we display books only first, or let the articles come through full blast, or tweak the relevancy algorithm, or set up a tabbed search box for each type of resource? That kind of thing -- so that’s also taken some time.

I’m sure that the folks directly involved with this process would roll their eyes and say “a bit of a challenge” is a bit of an understatement, and they’re right about that.

Either way, we’re looking forward to the final implementation at some point before the next Fall semester, and getting prepared for the inevitable flood of confused and delighted e-mails from the campus community.

And our old-school users don’t need to worry: the Classic Catalog isn’t going anywhere. Truth is, it’ll be years before that one goes away; it actually grows directly from the backbone system that most of WRLC uses to handle, well, everything. That backbone has to be replaced before Classic goes anywhere. We’ve begun the process of figuring out what we want from the new system, but are looking at, possibly, several years before a final decision is reached.

What can I say? We’re picky.

Anyway, those are the big things, as well as all the smaller things we all do every day, that keep the Library moving along.

Next week, you can anticipate a vlog of some kind. Stay tuned ...

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