SearchWorks is the Stanford University Libraries' next generation search engine. It is designed to make it easier for patrons to discover and use the wealth of information resources held at SULAIR, and beyond, by providing a comprehensive place to search and browse for academic information resources.
SearchWorks incorporates many of the best features of today's web applications to make searching, browsing & finding fast, easy and powerful. The most important of these features are:
- a simple, intuitive and powerful interface
- relevance-ranked search results
- facets to guide searches and refine search results
In addition to these big three features, SearchWorks contains a wealth of bells and whistles that users would hope (and many have now come to expect) to be there, including:
- book cover images
- embedded Google Book viewer (for those books that have been scanned by and are available at Google Book Search)
- sort by relevance / year / author / title
- the ability to "drill down browse" by call number
- instant display of item locations and availability in search results
- the ability to "Cite This" for books, showing copy-and-pasteable citations for MLA and APA formats
- the ability to send records via email or SMS
- the ability to export citations via EndNote, RefWorks or Zotero
- "Did you mean" suggestions for searches with no or few results
Taken altogether, these features make SearchWorks both easy to use and powerful, and we believe it goes a long way towards achieving its mission of exposing SULAIR's wealth of information resources to the academic community.You can try SearchWorks to see how well it works to fulfill some of the most common information needs library patrons may have.
- Find a specific book (or film)
- Do you have "dreams of my father"?
- Do you have the Twilight movie yet?
- Find books about a topic, or by an author
- I need some books on women in the military.
- Do you have any books by Stephanie Meyer?
- Find a newspaper or journal title (or a specific citation)
- Do you get American Sociological Review
- Do you get any newspapers from India?
- I need this article: Gender and the Career Choice Process: The Role of Biased Self-Assessments, by Shelley J. Correll, Amer. Journal of Sociology, Volume 106 Number 6 (May 2001).
- Find resources in a particular library or location
- What videos are in Green Library?
- What online, full-text resources do you have on the sport of cricket?
- Do you have any printed works in the Art Library on the topic of pyramids?
SearchWorks has been running for the last year, and those who've tried it and sent feedback have been overwhelmingly positive. We often get comments along the lines of:
- "Had I known how good SearchWorks would be I would have used it earlier! It is very fast and very nicely organized."
- "I did the same search in Socrates and this new search is vastly superior (faster too). Nice job."
- "The browse function is really useful. Congrats on the good job there."
In addition to the positive comments, we've also been the fortunate recipients of many feature enhancement requests. This is particularly valuable, because SearchWorks is based on Blacklight, an open-source application that was originally written at University of Virginia. In addition to UVa, a number of other institutions, including Stanford, are now actively enhancing and maintaining the code base. The major benefit of this open code is that we can tailor and enhance it at will, to meet the needs of our local environment, users and resources. This makes getting your ideas and feedback on what would make it better that much more important, as we have the means to fulfill many of them, and our only limitations are good ideas and time.
Over the next year, we will expand SearchWorks to add more features and functions, and to cover more information resources: articles, images, audio and video, finding aids for Special Collections, data sets, web sites, the full text of e-books, and more. We view SearchWorks not as a single project to create a simple (albeit much improved) search application, but rather as a core part of SULAIR's programmatic efforts to serve the academic community by continuously improving its access to information resources--both in the libraries and beyond.
And while we're excited about SearchWorks' proven utility and even greater potential, we do not imagine it becoming the one and only search tool for scholarly resources (though we think it may likely be the best place to start in most cases). In particular, SearchWorks is a complement to Socrates, the Libraries' current catalog. Socrates is based on iLink from SirsiDynix, the providers of SULAIR's library management system. It provides a powerful search tool, especially for researchers who know how to use some of its specialized features. And for some functions that require deeper interaction with the library management system, Socrates remains the best way to fulfill them.
Our ultimate objective is to make it easier for patrons to discover and use the wealth of information resources held at SULAIR by providing a comprehensive place to search and browse. We call this a "next generation discovery environment" or NGDE. In time, the NGDE will be much more than a slick search engine interface on top of (tens of) millions of information resources; it will also provide an open set of applications and exposed data to allow searchers to integrate with the latest and greatest technologies on the web, including annotations and link backs from third party sites, mashups with geo-referencing and other social software, visualization of bibliographic data and search results, and much, much more. SearchWorks is one small step for discovery, and one large leap for building a platform that will provide today's scholars with the next generation of tools to conduct teaching, learning and research by tapping the full scope and power of Stanford's academic information resources.
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