Finding a library book at Yale may soon be easier than ever before.
In the coming weeks, Yale Library Information Technology will beta test a new search system called Quicksearch, slated to replace the current Orbis catalog in September 2015. According to library administrators, the new platform, which will be unveiled this month, will streamline the different search engines available across schools into a unified Yale library site. Library administrators said they hope the new system will resolve inconveniences in searching for texts.
“The library always had a multitude of systems that don’t necessarily talk to each other,” Chief Technology Officer for Yale Libraries Michael Dula said. “We are aiming to pull the resources available at Yale under one umbrella, starting with main library catalogue and law library catalogue.”
Systems Librarian Kalee Sprague said students and faculty voiced frustration regarding the current system structure, which requires two separate searches in both Orbis and MORRIS, the law library catalog.
As a result of these concerns, Yale Library IT met with library staff at Columbia University to see whether their search system could be adopted for Yale’s purposes, Sprague said. Since that meeting, developers and librarians have been working on the project for roughly a year.
“Faculty would be pretty angry about it especially if they were in a cross-disciplinary type of area and needed both types, Orbis and other library resources,” User Experience Librarian Katie Bauer said. “So basically we have been working on the database based on code from Columbia University library to present a unified search for those catalogs.”
Sprague described that the search window will appear as a split-screen, in which one column will display the merged catalog results and the other column will show academic articles accessible and licensed through Yale. She added this will aid research on all levels of the University since both primary resources and secondary resources are available in one view.
Programmer Analyst Lakeisha Robinson, the technical lead for the project, said that because the system uses the code of a peer university, there are additional steps that are necessary before launching it on campus. She said Yale’s system relies on Solr index and Blacklight interface — two systems specific to Yale’s platform.
“We had the baseline of their code, but unlike what some people think, ‘you flip a switch,’ it is not like that,” she said. “So basically we had to go and get everything that was Columbia-specific and make it work for Yale.”
Robinson added they are currently doing user testing before moving forward with a formal launch in order to resolve any bugs or glitches.
Sprague said one issue that the team is currently attempting to resolve is increasing the descriptions of the search results. She said that while Quicksearch may provide a more convenient format, library administrators are working to provide the level of detail that is currently available in Orbis.
Students and library staff interviewed were generally excited about the new project, although some remained unsure whether it would change their research habits.
Library Service Assistant Dan McHugh said that while he had not been directly informed about the new search engine, he was in favor of its planned launch.
“It would be nice since it makes it easier instead of having to go to two systems,” he said.
John Muniz GRD ’15 said that since he does not use the library search for law documents, he believed the change would not greatly impact him.
He added that the current system is functional and serves both his academic and personal needs for research.