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Monday, April 21, 2014

Library introduces improved search tool

Published February 7th, 2013

UW-River Falls faculty, staff and students are now able to try out the beta version of a new library search tool that was recently implemented.

The new search tool, called Search@UW, is currently being introduced in all 13 UW System, four-year, schools, with hopes of being fully integrated by the fall of 2013. The new tool is funded in the first year by the UW System, and schools can request ongoing funding for future years.

With the beta version, users are currently able to search a vast collection of scholarly journals, magazines, newspapers and digital materials. Once the full version is implemented by fall 2013, everything from all the UW libraries will be available including: millions of books, videos, sound recordings, manuscripts and much more. There will be access to full-text articles from thousands of journals.

To begin a search, users enter the keywords for their topic in the search box. After a search has been entered, a list of results that matches the keywords will appear. Users are then able to use the facets on the left side to focus or narrow the search. The facets are specific categories for narrowing down searches. They could be categories like peer-reviewed (scholarly) articles or full-text articles.

UWRF Library Director Valerie Malzacher explained that the new search tool is extremely user friendly. She said it is easier to use and navigate than the previous search tool and also much faster.

“It is definitely easier to narrow down search results with this tool. The different facets really help you find exactly what you are looking for.”

Users on campus are able to search with the tool without logging in, however Malzacher said that it is much easier if users just log in from the beginning of their search in order to make use of all the options available. If a book or other material is not available from UWRF, but UW-Madison or another school has it, then the inter-library loan system can be used which requires users to be logged in to utilize.

As of right now, not all features in Search@UW are available to users off campus. However, by fall 2013, students will be able to log in and make use of options like viewing their library account and saving items to their e-shelf.

Head of Technical Services Michele McKnelly said that with the old search tool you can save searches, but it is not very efficient or easy so the e-shelf will be a great addition with Search@UW.

McKnelly is chairing the local committee for the implementation of Search@UW and has been very involved with the process leading up to the integration of the new tool.
The old search tool, SuperSearch, will not completely go away. It can still be used for more specific searches for articles only.

One class has already had a library instruction session where they learned how to use Search@UW and there will be many more sessions this semester. Malzacher hopes that through these sessions and other forms of outreach such as information in the Falcon Daily e-newsletter, etc., students will become aware of the new tool and begin to use it.
“I noticed the change on the library home page, but I haven’t used the new search yet. I am excited to try it and hope that it is better than the old one,” said UWRF senior Emily Kessler.

For those students or faculty who have already used Search@UW, there is a link on the library home page to a feedback form where you can leave your thoughts on the new tool.
“The search tool is really meant to help students to discover. It is really just the beginning,” said McKnelly.

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