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Library Website Search Suggestions

Published by Dipa Barua

Q: I'd like to encourage the library to re-design its web site and specifically its search page. I have no idea what sort of researcher the current page is designed for, but it is certainly not me. I generally go to the library site because I have some specific source in mind and am trying to find it or, in the case of electronic journals, gain access to it, but the current site seems to be trying to be a mini-google but where the algorithm that runs it bears only the most tangential relation to the request.

Most recently, for example, I went to the site to see whether we had electronic access to the Philipine Law Journal, so I entered "Philipine Law Journal" on the search page. BAck came a dozen or so entries under all sorts of categories (books, articles, media), all of which were completely irrelevant. The only thing they had in common was that they all had the word "Philipines" somewhere in their title or in the title of the article they cited. So I still have no idea whether we have electronic access to the Philipine LAw Journal, unless I am supposed to infer that when I get a dozen irrelevant references, that means we don't have access to the Philipine Law Journal. I much preferred the previous set-up where we could go in and search electronic journals, or books, or theses, or videos. Is there some way I can do that sort of search in the library site now? I tried to give it a while -- thinking that perhaps I might get used to this new website format -- but I continue to find it counter-productive and frustrating. So please take this as one vote against the current page, and if I'm simply being thick and there is some way I can bypass that search page and look into specific sources, please let me know. Thanks.
Which library?  Bennett (SFU Burnaby Mountain)

A: I work at the SFU Library and have overall responsibility for its web site. Thank you for your feedback about the library's search page and site.

The library's main search engine is a way for all of our end users (but especially novice searchers) to see at a glance in a collated fashion results from the various and disparate pieces of software the library uses for its collections and to disambiguate results. It's based on close examination of how end users search the library's site -- some of whom query for known items and some for subject searches.

Advanced researchers are of course welcome to bypass the main search engine for more specialized tools or entry points e.g. the list of databases at http://cufts2.lib.sfu.ca/CRDB4/BVAS/ for journal article databases.

In the case of your search for the "philippine law journal", my suggestion is to use the library catalogue's journal title search at:  http://troy.lib.sfu.ca/search/s. Links to the catalogue and other search tools and entry points are close to the bottom of the home page. I think the library catalogue is probably what you're used to but of course it doesn't contain journal articles.

As an aside, the library unfortunately doesn't carry the journal you were looking for.  You probably know this already, but you are welcome to request the content you seek from it from the Document Delivery / Interlibrary Loans service at:  http://www.lib.sfu.ca/find/document-delivery/request-form .

Lastly, you are totally correct about not having to infer that the library doesn't carry a specific journal.  As a result, we have changed the main search engine's functionality so that a query for something we don't own alerts end users to this fact e.g. http://search.lib.sfu.ca/?q=philippine%20law%20journal .

Nina Saklikar,
Head, eBranch
Simon Fraser University Library

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