Monday, June 20, 2011

WMS is A-Live!

librarian and card catalog Do you recognize this antique? (Not the librarian, the card catalog.) In 1999 we retired our card catalog and started using our first integrated library system (ILS). Today the Darling Library "goes live" with WMS (Web-scale Management Services) a whole new kind of ILS. We signed on as an early adopter and have been working toward this day for several months.

So, what does this mean?

As of today, our whole system is "in the cloud" -- including circulation, cataloging, and acquisitions. But while that's pretty revolutionary for the library world, our patrons are probably not even going to notice it.

The most obvious and significant change is to our online public access catalog (OPAC). WorldCat Local is now the discovery tool you will use to “Search for books and more.” Before today, "and more" meant e-Books, videos, sound recordings, periodicals, and so on. But now you will also be searching for articles in the research databases at the same time.

You will begin to see boxes like this one below inviting you to do a federated search throughout the library's web site. We are even hoping that online students will see such a box within their courses before long -- making it possible to "go to the library" without leaving their classroom!

We think our students will love this. Let's say they're working on a paper for which their professor requires them to use at least one book and three scholarly journal articles in the bibliography. In our old system, they would have had to look up the book in our catalog and then figure out which research database(s) to use to find the three articles – ProQuest? EBSCOhost? ATLA Religion Databases? PsychInfo? They might have had to log in to more than one of these (one at a time) and learn how to navigate the search capabilities of each in order to find the articles they wanted. This is going to save them time -- a precious commodity!

By default, WorldCat Local searches in all 11 of our databases at once! After you get your search results, you will be able to limit your list to certain formats such as books, e-books, articles, videos or any combination thereof on a specific subject. Or you can refine your search by clicking on a particular author or year of publication, among other things.

It also has Advanced Search options for fans of Boolean searching and, for those who are ready to narrow their search further and dig deeper, the individual databases may still be the way to go. (More on this in the coming weeks.)

There is so much more I could say about it, but for now, go ahead and give it a spin. Kick the tires and let us know what you think!

Stay tuned for more!

(Photo courtesy Joy Tsai, International Theological Seminary)

No comments: