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Library Simplifies Search
Remember the world without Google? Since its development in 1997, the search engine giant has revolutionized the power of the Internet through single-box search engines. What if a similar type of search engine existed in our campus libraries?
Now, it does.
On Oct. 7, the University’s Orradre Library and the Heafey Law Library launched OneSearch, a new online tool that facilitates library research and resource discovery. OneSearch allows students, faculty, and staff the ease of searching simultaneously through hundreds of article databases, indexes, and the complex library catalog in a fast, single-box search interface similar to Google.
The University began investing in a discovery system last year in an attempt to combat a growing concern that college students were going to sites like Google and Wikipedia for research rather than their own campus libraries.
“Librarians are competing against Google for attention. We have better content than Google, but students don’t always realize that,” said SCU Librarian Elizabeth McKeigue.
What Students Don’t Know, a recent ethnographic study by Steve Kolowich, confirmed that students “tended to overuse Google and misuse scholarly databases. They preferred simple database searches to other methods of discovery.”
McKeigue believes that OneSearch will change that trend and ultimately increase usage of our libraries’ databases and indexes, which has been relatively flat in the past few years.
“At Santa Clara, our decision to purchase and develop OneSearch is an acknowledgment of the demand for libraries to meet students’ expectations with easier research tools,” she said. “It is also a response to the crucial need for us to help connect our students with relevant, scholarly, and reliable content, content for which the libraries pay publishers increasingly higher costs.”
In addition to benefitting students, OneSearch also gives librarians an added advantage. Using the library’s extensive resources can be daunting and requires training. With OneSearch, librarians won’t need to devote as much time teaching the basics of how to search. Students simply type the keywords into one simple search field, much like they would with Google.
“OneSearch is not a replacement for OSCAR, specific subject indexes and databases, or other crucial research tools that students need to know how to use,” McKeigue said. “However, we hope that students will come to count on OneSearch as a better alternative to Google or Wikipedia when approaching a research topic.”
A recent testimonial from a law school librarian shows that OneSearch has already had success as an alternative to both Google and OSCAR.
“I was helping a student with a cite-checking assignment for a high-tech journal. The student needed some Canadian patent cases, Canadian regulatory code, and Canadian session laws. We have these in print but they are all over in storage. The student needed to turn in her assignment that day and really couldn't wait for a storage request to be processed. I decided to take a look at OneSearch and was able to find all these materials via LLMC (Law Library Microfilm Consortium), a resource we often forget about and isn't cataloged in OSCAR.”
Early feedback for the discovery system indicates that the ability to search simultaneously across library content and databases will be a great help to students, faculty, and staff. However, as a beta-release, the development of the library’s newest tool is an ongoing process.
“OneSearch includes so much content that you may find that the results are not always as relevant as you might expect. There may be ways that library staff can change certain settings to improve relevancy, but we need to know specific examples to help us make these changes,” McKeigue said.