Tuesday, May 6, 2008

VuFind: A Resource Discovery Portal

VuFind: A Resource Discovery Portal—2:00-3:00

Speaker: Andrew Nagy, Technology Development Specialist, Villanova University

Ok! There was some waiting to get to hear VuFind, but it was well worth the wait! What I thought would be a presentation at lunch was in fact a post-lunch program divided into two-parts. I got to hear the presentation without the burbling of digestive tracks. I also needed my hands free to follow with the demo. VuFind is the product of Villanova University’s Falvey Memorial Library, with the work of Andrew Nagy, Technology Development Specialist at Villanova. Andrew presented the features of VuFind. He was quite a dynamic speaker. Here’s an overview from VuFind’s website that might be worth checking out (http://www.vufind.org/):

“VuFind is a library resource portal designed and developed for libraries by libraries. The goal of VuFind is to enable your users to search and browse through all of your library's resources by replacing the traditional OPAC to include:

  • Catalog Records
  • Locally Cached Journals
  • Digital Library Items
  • Institutional Repository
  • Institutional Bibliography
  • Other Library Collections and Resources

VuFind is completely modular so you can implement just the basic system, or all of the components. And since it's open source, you can modify the modules to best fit your need or you can add new modules to extend your resource offerings.”

VuFind is absolutely fun and easy to use. I mean it! The best way I can explain VuFind is by describing it as a library catalog on steroids, with a little bit of Web 2.0 and user input. It is a Next Generation Catalog.

Andrew describes VuFind’s mission to create one (1) single interface for all library resources to minimize the interface learning curve. Essentially, VuFind is a Library System with the best of all features in the digital age:

  • Homepage
  • Secondary Web Pages
  • Catalog
  • Article Search
  • Digital Library

VuFind is integrated into the library website as another branch of the library. It’s as if a complete library has been placed online. Imagine going to a library catalog and accessing all the information you need from the catalog. There is no need to check out features on amazon.com in another window, or cross-check information at CNN in another window. The library portal, as it is called by Andrew, is like a catalog that links to all of these features from your initial search. The idea was described to me as a substitute for a librarian—if you need to do research at 3:00 AM and the library is closed.

VuFind combines all the resources for searching into some digital form (no relying on print). A patron can search all content from one single repository and retrieve faceted results, ‘More Like This’ suggestions, and browsing suitable to personal preferences, i.e., call number, tags, language, and subjects to see what the library has—without traditional limitations. VuFind combines Apache SOLR—an open source enterprise search engine—that uses highlighting and faceted searching with features from Web 2.0—Flickr, Wiki, Blog, and Tagging (Folksonomy), in a simpler and friendlier package for a variety of users. Vufind allows a user to save resources, view book covers, bookmark records, and retrieve live updates.

Andrew Nagy walked us through a demo so we could try VuFind. Try the Demo here: http://www.vufind.org/demo/

If we search “World War Two” we get results in real time. The faceted search on the right gives plenty of options to “refine” the search. I really like the option to “Add to Favorites” and bookmark results for later viewing. The item can also be texted or e-mailed. In addition to this, anyone can tag the result for later ease of access. It’s like managing research according to self-described subjects. One of the features highlighted in the presentation is the biography link attached to title results. If I do a search for Walt Whitman, I retrieve an active link to biographical information from Wikipedia. VuFind offers the best of all worlds for students and the accomplished researcher alike. VuFind, as Andrew reminds us, is also compatible with Zotero. The advanced search option in VuFind also has an interface similar to iTunes, or what I like to call stepped searching (at the end of the search the highlighted search looks like I walked down to my results). I encourage all to try the demo. I’d like to try playing around with it later.

Check out this brief blog from Library Journal for an additional overview: http://www.libraryjournal.com/blog/1090000309/post/1050012105.html

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