Musings on Newton and the age of AquaBrowser

Yesterday a student came into the library asking where to find a certain book. He showed me the reference on his mobile phone. How many are using their mobiles and other handheld devices, to access library catalogues now? A week ago or so, Tony Hirst over on the University’s Arcadia Project Blog was Doodling Ideas for a Mobile Library App.

Since then, Tony has been musing on further aspects of the University’s libraries, such as how they might be made more accessible and ‘user friendly’. For instance, by improving consistency with regard to the loan types and cataloguing rules which, with the many separate college and faculty libraries, have developed so each library has its own different rules. Or how about Rethinking the Front End of the Library Catalogue.

The Arcadia Project Blog is an interesting read, not just for anyone keen to understand the workings of the University libraries but also for those interested in using the excellent free web applications available. For example, on the companion Arcadia Mashups Blog there was an item on Getting Started With Yahoo Pipes: Merging RSS Feeds and recently back on the Project blog an item on free bibliographic tools Mendeley and Zotero plugin for the Firefox browser: Reading list management with Mendeley.

Tony Hirst also has his own blog: OUseful.Info, the blog…

Talking about ‘Rethinking the Front End of the Library Catalogue’ we have, by coincidence, been told (although I cannot find an announcement – is it still a secret??) that the University Library has puchased AquaBrowser to enhance the overall search and discovery of its resources. It will come into service early next year. Click over to University of Edinburgh Library AquaBrowser search to see it in action: the typical AquaBrowser front end with a simple Google-style search box. Do a search and the whole thing opens like a flower with research results, ‘word clouds’ and clustering of results into groups or ‘facets’. None of this is particularly new in itself, but its application, finally, to library catalogues is a step towards improving the traditional library catalogue search experience.


About homlib

The Library of Homerton College, University of Cambridge.
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