New Search Engine Assists Research at Westminster’s Giovale Library
May 9, 2006
ANAC Quarterly Bulletin- Spring 2006
New technologies are revolutionizing access to research information, enhancing uses of college and university libraries and impacting dramatically research at the undergraduate level. The new award-winning Christopher Center for Library and Information Resources at Valparaiso University was profiled in a past issue of the Bulletin. In this issue, Krystel Baggerly, a student archivist in Giovale Library at Westminster College, describes the impact that Griffin Search, a federated search engine, has had in facilitating library research at Westminster:
Westminster College is finding that its library, Giovale, is progressing with topnotch research aids for its patrons. On Giovale’s webpage, approximately 100 databases for journals and other publications can be accessed. With so many resources, it soon became apparent that an organization to make navigating the databases more user-friendly was needed. Thus, Giovale’s latest project, Griffin Search, was launched Sept. 30, 2005, to make the lives of students and faculty a little easier.
Jennifer Foy, systems librarian and administer of Griffin Search, says that Griffin Search is, technically, a federated search engine. “What that means is that formerly, when people did research for a paper, they had to search each database individually; with Griffin Search, they are able to search up to 8, 10 or all of our databases at the same time,” she says.
Despite the large number of databases included in each search, Griffin Search is very efficient. It allows users to choose what subject categories and/or individual resources to use when entering a search, including other features such as what date range the desired publications should be. Having subject categories is useful because they help take the guess work out of having to know which individual resource to use, which was a bit of an issue in the past, according to Foy, “the names [of the resources] aren’t always intuitive.” With Griffin Search, once a search is entered not only are the results neatly categorized, but a list of the chosen databases appears above with how many hits each database has.
WebFeat, a leader in federated search engines for libraries, built the search engine. “Any library can get it, and then they customize it for their library,” says Foy. Giovale worked closely with WebFeat to adapt it for the webpage and school, including what categories the library wanted and how to design it.
The plans and work put into the search were very particular. This also included the name for the search and the logo it would be associated with. Foy says, “We came up with a name that would be easily recognized by Westminster students,” and the mascot fit perfectly. In designing the griffin graphic for the logo, the work was turned over to Amelia Davis, a junior at Westminster College.