Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A New Look for the Libraries' Catalog

If you use the Goodson Law Library’s homepage “Catalog Search” box, you may soon notice a slight difference in the look and feel of your search results. Starting January 5, the Goodson Law Library will change its default catalog search from the “Classic” to the “Basic” view. Links will be updated on the library homepage, as well as in all research guides and other instructional materials.

The new catalog interface contains the same inventory (the collections of all the Duke University Libraries), but with a few changes to the search methodology. Results are displayed by relevance, rather than the traditional reverse-chronological order (making it much easier to search for periodical items, like magazines and newspapers, where the “date” listed in the catalog record is the first year of publication; the reverse-chronological display often pushes these items very low on a search result list). Faceted browsing allows you to further narrow your search results based on certain limits, like subject matter, format, language, and/or owning library. (For those who prefer to set search limits up-front, an Advanced Search screen is also available.)

The new “Basic Catalog” offers a number of useful features which are not available in the “Classic” interface:
  • Permalinks for individual titles in the catalog make it easy to return to a search result, or email the link to a particular title.
  • RSS Feeds are available for any search, via the orange RSS icon next to your total number of search results. If you use an RSS reader (such as Google Reader), you can subscribe to a feed and receive automatic updates when new search results are added.
  • “Where Is This?” links provide quick access to location maps for most search results, making it easy to figure out where a particular title can be found in the library.
  • Book cover images and Google Book Previews, where available, help you assess the potential usefulness of a search result.
The Duke Libraries have a helpful comparison chart of other features in both the new catalog and the “classic” catalog.

Of course, the “new” catalog may not look so new to everyone – it actually debuted on the Duke University Libraries homepage way back in the summer of 2008, but some issues related to the Law Library’s 2007-2008 renovation put a hold on our adoption of the new interface at the time. Because it’s been in use on the Duke University Libraries page for so long, it’s likely that may of our users have already encountered it while searching for library materials. But if the new catalog leaves you in need of assistance, be sure to Ask a Librarian.