Sorcer at Port Phillip Library Service

Sorcer and
[email protected]
Can you browse your catalogue?
Maybe if you know your subject headings… or
you already know what you’re looking for.
Most library users don’t seem to.
Even if you know your subject
headings that kind of browsing can be
time consuming and pointless.
Most Library users
seem to expect more
from a catalogue
than just keyword
and browse
Surely someone is doing something to make library
catalogues easier to access???
Our search began by looking at
Discovery Layer platforms…
At the time we were looking there were only a couple around
and none that were really tried and tested for public libraries
in Australia. All were very big capital investments.
After evaluating the available
candidates we decided to hold off
on a Discovery layer. In the
meantime we purchased a
Federated Search tool.
• The Discovery Layers we looked at
were either too complicated to
maintain with infrastructure out
the wazoo, too expensive or had
show-stopping functionality gaps.
• Federated search seemed to offer
a good way to draw attention to
our expensive and underutilised
subscription databases at a lower
We looked at 360search and webfeat but chose
the latter for its proxy and admin functions.
A few weeks of config and testing later, we had a federated search tool that
could search about 60% of our eResources and provide ‘seamless’
authentication to the rest (Connectors don’t exist for all databases).
We named it Super Search and made it live.
How did it go?
• Our stats went up for individual databases
– but we didn’t buy the extra stats module so it’s hard to
drill into or tease this out.
– each search of webfeat searched various databases so one
search counts as many. How do you quantify that?
• Databases change, connectors stop working – there is a
need for constant admin attention.
• No particular feedback either positive or negative.
This made us ask the question: Do users of a public
library service even want a federated search tool? Time
for a change? We need more feedback here.
New developments…
Out of the blue Civica (Spydus LMS) launched a new
product and offered us a chance to get involved.
After some negotiation we purchased
An LMS upgrade later, we implemented what I have
come to think of as a bibliographic ‘Discovery Layer’
How is Sorcer going?
These stats don’t compare to catalogue use but should they?
Classic Catalogue
The act of browsing Sorcer containers
on a page doesn’t trigger further
google statistics.
Food for thought - maybe you can find
what you’re after using Sorcer without
unnecessary searching?
Or maybe users don’t know it’s there?
Problems with Sorcer?
• The staff interface for container editing and additions
is not very user friendly.
• It’s not W3C compliant – you have to keep your opac
for accessibility reasons
• It doesn’t take advantage of Library Thing for Libraries
data – LTFL are possibly seen as competition
• Friends functionality is very limited and has not
addressed user privacy
• Bugs and glitches with container functionality
• It does not search other resources – not a federated
search tool… yet
• We have now migrated to the webfeat successor, 360Search.
• This “express” migration took over 6 months with delays building a
catalogue and SIP2 interface
• 360Search has an improved search function where it does some
relevancy ranking
• Most connectors are maintained by support – email support for
new connectors to be commissioned.
It’s live now
Where to now?
• We’re building a new website.
• This website will provide a seamless gateway to the
catalogue and our federated search tool by way of
embedded search widgets and html dressing on these
external sites.
• Sorcer is the outsider here. We are bound by our licence
not to alter the general look and feel of this platform so we
can’t bring it into the new website. It might eventually
have to go? Unless Civica change their minds about being a
Facebook-type web persona.
• Maybe it’s time to look at the big Discovery Layers again?
I’m quite interested to hear what everyone else has to say.
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