Gelman introduces new search program

Gelman Library’s resources are now the most accessible in the library’s history due to the introduction of Surveyor, a more comprehensive version of previous online catalogs, library administrators say.

Named for the first profession of the University’s namesake, George Washington, Surveyor incorporates popular social networking tools to search books, databases and multimedia files more “intuitively,” said Martha Whittaker, the director of content management at Gelman Library.

The catalog provides direct access to online sources if licensing permits or call numbers that correspond to resources are in the library.

“This generation of students grew up with simplified, Google-style searches. So many people are used to that,” Whittaker said.

“Young people are fed up with non-intuitive engines like Aladin,” she said, referencing the system previously used by Gelman. “Surveyor is an intuitive, more user-friendly discovery interface.”

After inserting a term, the interface provides options to hone the search by format of desired resource, author, language, subject, genre and location.
Surveyor also incorporates social networking tools like tagging sources by subject to facilitate research and allow user interaction.

After creating a login and password, students can also use the “My Discoveries” tool to write reviews of sources and keep a record of materials they have viewed.

“My Discoveries,” will help students write bibliographies, Whittaker said.
The Word Cloud, another new tool, is a web of associated terms, translations, and spelling variations that forms on the screen and provides direct links to other relevant materials.

The system also tracks the trail of words a user follows to find sources and uses those to offer new, related words in the web.

Hypothetically, Whittaker said, a researcher could begin a search with a topic as broad as history and use only the Word Cloud and refine menu to narrow it into a manageable research topic.

Transitioning the university to the new system should be painless, Whittaker said. She continued to say that the library will give any necessary instruction, but doesn’t anticipate any formal training will be needed.

The process to transfer and clean-up data to Surveyor has taken six months, library officials stated.

Whittaker said librarians have generally been pleased with Surveyor’s performance and encouraged students and faculty to send their comments as well.

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