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veritas Harvard University Library Notes, For Harvard Library Staff, Number 1325 May 2005

Available to Staff Now, Live for Users on June 30—
Harvard Implements MetaLib

On June 30, the University will launch a new set of tools for accessing and searching electronic resources on the Harvard Libraries web site (also known as "the portal") located at http://lib. harvard.edu. The tools are based on the MetaLib software from Ex Libris, and the Harvard implementation of MetaLib will be known as E-Research @ Harvard Libraries. These tools will replace the portal's current "E-Resources" menu. Library staff can access and use a beta version of the new system now at http://e-research.lib.harvard.edu.

E-Research @ Harvard Libraries is a new environment that will allow Harvard users to find e-resources and e-journals in ways that they always have on the current portal, with some important improvements. Using E-Research, users can

  • locate e-resources by name, keyword, or subject;
  • locate e-journal titles in a single alphabetical listing;
  • search across the content of multiple resources ("federated searching" or "cross searching") with a single search;
  • save and manage search results, e-resource sets, and lists of favorite e-journals; and
  • click on "Find It @ Harvard" buttons for all search results in order to locate items online or on the shelves at Harvard libraries.

In order to achieve maximum benefit from E-Research @ Harvard Libraries and to access all of Harvard's licensed e-resources, Harvard users should be encouraged to log in, using Harvard IDs and PINs, at the beginning of each session.

According to Lynda Leahy, associate librarian of Harvard College for research and instruction and chair of the University-wide Public Services Committee, "The new E-Research tools—and the cross-search functions in particular—provide tremendous benefits to novice users and to researchers looking beyond their usual subject areas. Users can search for individual e-resources and e-journals in more user-friendly ways. Cross-search capabilities—available in limited ways since 2002—are greatly expanded. Users will also find that we've much more fully exploited SFX technology—those 'Find It @ Harvard' buttons—to link users directly to their search results."

E-Research @ Harvard Libraries is built around five research modules:

Quick Search

  • Find articles on a topic by searching within multiple resources in broad subject areas recommended by Harvard librarians.

Find E-Resources

  • Find and access article databases and indexes, encyclopedias, e-book and e-journal collections, and many other electronic resources.
  • Search or browse by resource name, keyword, or subject.
  • Find favorite e-resources and add e-resources to personal lists in the "My Research" module.
  • Quick-jump to selected major resources.

Find E-Journals

  • Find and access individual electronic journals.
  • Search or browse by journal name or ISSN.
  • Find and add favorite e-journals to personal lists in the "My Research" module.

Cross-Search

  • Find and select multiple electronic resources to cross search.
  • Search previously saved sets of e-resources in the "My Research" module.
  • View results of cross-searches by individual e-resource.
  • Find new e-resources.

My Research

  • Save lists of favorite e-journals for quick reference (My E-Journals).
  • Save customized sets of electronic resources (My E-Resources).
  • Store links to articles, books, and other items (My Citations).
  • View past searches (Saved Searches).

Sidney Verba, the Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the University Library, notes that the MetaLib implementation uses a "Google-like" approach to simultaneous searches, based on keywords, for materials that have been selected and authenticated by the Harvard libraries. "It's an important next step," Verba stated, "in the evolution of the library's search mechanisms in an information environment that's increasingly rich and complex."

Harvard's original Cross-Catalog Search service, based on an early version of MetaLib, was made available late in 2002 to gauge user interest in federated searching across multiple Harvard catalogs. Feedback from both staff and patrons indicated a strong interest in expanding this functionality to include external databases. With this in mind, the University Library's Office for Information Systems (OIS) sought approval from the University Library Council and began to work towards the implementation of a new version of the MetaLib software.

As part of the current rollout of the E-Research tools, a series of five staff training sessions, held between April 25 and May 3, drew an estimated 250 participants from the Harvard library community. The MetaLib project web site, which is available to staff at http://hul.harvard.edu/ois/projects/metalib, includes access to an overview document, entitled "E-Research @ Harvard Libraries: Overview for Library Staff," as well as "how-to" guides for some of the more complex E-Research functionality. Important project documents and reports are also posted on the site, as are links to other MetaLib implementations and related articles and presentations. More detailed training sessions for staff will follow in the summer.

The implementation of E-Research @ Harvard Libraries represents the work of many librarians across campus. Members of the MetaLib Working Group include: Amira Aaron, HUL Office for Information Systems (OIS), chair; Paul Aloisio, OIS; Deanna Barmakian, Harvard Law School Library; Laura Farwell Blake, HCL's Widener Library; Elaine Fadden, Countway Library of Medicine (through November 2004); Sue Gilroy, HCL's Lamont Library; Carla Lillvik, Harvard Graduate School of Education's Gutman Library; and Janet Taylor, OIS. Various staff on additional MetaLib project sub-teams dealt with issues of content, metadata, interface, usability, and rollout/publicity.

Staff are encouraged to try out the new E-Research tools and to provide feedback in the next few weeks to the MetaLib Working Group at metalib-wg@hulmail.harvard.edu.

 

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