The NCSU Libraries announced today the first library deployment of a revolutionary new online catalog. Leveraging the advanced search and Guided Navigation® capabilities of the Endeca ProFind platform, the NCSU Libraries' new catalog provides the speed and flexibility of popular online search engines while capitalizing on existing catalog records. As a result, students, faculty, and researchers can now search and browse the NCSU Libraries' collection as quickly and easily as searching and browsing the Web, while taking advantage of rich content and cutting-edge capabilities that no Web search engine can match.
After submitting a search, users are presented with a list of matching results ranked by relevance and are offered several navigation refinement options based on characteristics of the materials in the results set. Navigation options include topic, author, genre, language, material type, format, and availability. Sorting options include publication date, title, author, call number, and popularity. To help users understand the navigation choices they have made, the application displays a "breadcrumb" of the refinements selected that allows backtracking and broadening of search results. Catalog users can also browse the entire collection by subject, without issuing a search at all, which is a feature that no other library catalog supports.
NC State Vice Provost and Director of Libraries Susan K. Nutter says, "With this groundbreaking approach, the NCSU Libraries is responding to Web searchers who expect to retrieve results in order of relevance. The new system - the first of its kind in a library - empowers users to quickly locate the items they're looking for or to explore the multifaceted research collection in depth, exploiting both the software's cutting-edge capabilities and the library's many decades of investment in detailed cataloging and classification."
Endeca's approach to information retrieval mimics the human discovery process by integrating the two most common means of finding information online - searching and browsing - allowing people to continually adapt and hone their search based on their own determination of relevancy. The NCSU Libraries' new catalog allows users to browse their results along pre-defined facets with context-specific values automatically generated from the results set itself. These dynamic navigation schemes and search refinement options are made possible by the Endeca ProFind platform, which takes advantage of all of the relationships in the catalog data and how those relationships themselves relate to each other. Resembling what librarians call "faceted classification," this data-driven approach reflects the multiple ways any resource can be described, rather than its location in a rigid hierarchy of categories.
For example, in a keyword search for "deforestation," library catalogs typically return a very long, unranked list of results containing that term anywhere in the title or description. By contrast, the same search in the NCSU Libraries' new catalog not only ranks the results by relevance, but also allows users to browse or narrow them down by sub-topic - environmental aspects or economic development, for example - or by genre, format, region, and many other variables. In a few easy steps, one student may locate an online atlas of Russia's intact forest landscapes, while another chooses among four biographies of Amazon rain forest activist Chico Mendes, meeting very different research needs even though they initiated their searches in exactly the same way.