Orbis gets new look

After a recent facelift, Yale’s library search system is taking a page from another popular search engine: Google.

The new Orbis search engine, which will officially replace the current Orbis system Feb. 7, includes both features upgrades and a new visual scheme. The search website, available through a “new Orbis” link on the main library website since Jan. 10, links to Google Books so that library users may search for a book online as they use Orbis. The library has also added filters to the page which allow users to quickly eliminate unwanted results, said system librarian Kalee Sprague.

“The primary change is the new look,” Sprague said. “[It’s] a new style that is easier to use to view records.”

Page headers and icons have been redesigned, and new icons indicate if a book is already checked out to another user, Sprague said. Eight new filter options allow users to eliminate foreign-language results, and search specifically for alternate media forms and materials dating from 2006. Google Books now provides cover images for books when available, and the system will automatically refresh and add new results as Google updates its content, Sprague said.

A usability committee will polish the new Orbis, making small changes, throughout the term, Sprague said.

“We will be interested in introducing some other new features, like links to maps within Sterling [Memorial] Library,” Sprague said.

The maps, she said, will show users exactly where a book is kept. The old Orbis system will be available until the summer, when the library will again update the server to reflect major functional changes. The usability committee will implement user-generated suggestions collected via a feedback link, Sprague said, and the system will change once more when the Orbis software is upgraded this summer.

Brian Kiss, a library assistant who helped test the beta version of the new Orbis search engine, said he suggested that the library make Orbis more like Google and other search engines. Kiss said he would like Orbis to eventually save searches, look for related titles and authors, and point out possible misspellings in searches.

The library started work on the new Orbis system in June 2010 and presented a limited preview to library staff and student workers in November. Four of eight student workers interviewed Tuesday said they have used the new system.

“It’s not hugely different,” said Kate Reynolds ’13. “But it’s more user-friendly.”

The change comes as the library updates its management software, Voyager.

The Orbis search system debuted in 2002.

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