Optimizing the Online
Experiences at Wichita State University
Gemma Blackburn, Library Systems Developer
Sai Deng, Metadata Cataloger
Wichita State University Libraries
This presentation will discuss recent changes
concerning the OPAC at WSU, including:
– OPAC evaluations and improvements
– Complimentary products considered for purchase
– Related tools that enhance library collections
• WSU Currently uses Ex Libris Voyager 6.5.3
• Background of Redesign Initiatives
– 2005
• An OPAC Redesign Team was formed to investigate
options for improving the appearance, functionality
and accessibility of WebVoyage
– 2008
• New OPAC Redesign and Evaluation Team formed
Team Charge
• Elements of the charge of the new OPAC
Redesign and Evaluation Team
• Research literature for good OPAC design
• Evaluate and select from Voyager provided OPAC
• Explore options for Ex Libris and non-Ex Libris OPAC
enhancement products (cover images, overlays, etc.)
• Team had 5 months to report findings
OPAC Overlays
• One part of the charge was to explore OPAC
overlay products
– Add additional features to the OPAC
– Can combine OPAC and Federated Searching
– Products differ greatly
• We viewed demos and asked for feedback
from our library faculty and staff
Ex Libris Primo
• Same vendor as our ILS
• Would require SFX and MetaLib to function
• We gave it a 6.5 out of 10
• Beautiful interface with many features
• Is compatible with Syndetics ICE
• We gave it a 7 out of 10
Endeca for Libraries
• Search technology is provided but no front
end, but development possibilities are endless
• Andrew Pace at NCSU and Endeca (a nonLibrary company) completed the project
• We gave it an 8 out of 10
Overlay Decision
• We decided not to purchase an overlay at this
• Products are costly
• Do not offer enough at this time to justify
• Will review again in the future
Findings from the Literature
• Users want more Google-like searching
– They expect “Did You Mean?” type features ¹
– Keyword searches are expected ¹
Users want more Amazon-like experience ¹
They look for a text box and a search button ²
They are used to relevance ranking ²
Novice users will not use Boolean operators ³
Investigating User Needs
– Uniformity between OPAC and other university
systems and other library databases
• Terminology
• Login information
– We must allow them to search in the way they feel
most comfortable
• Analysis of search logs
• Information on logging OPAC searches is available in the
User Guides in Support Web
– Complex searches must still be available for expert
Investigating Options
• Many places to find options:
– ILS Manuals
• More options since the last OPAC Redesign Team
– Online presentations
– ILS Specific Listservs
– Browsing other OPACs
– Word of mouth
Dismissed Options
• Spell checker
• Asterisk for truncation
– Not an available feature – “?” must be used
• Overlook initial articles
• Michael Doran’s Wrapper
Completed Improvements
• Started with the easiest, least time-consuming
– Allow for login with myWSU ID – the same log in
code as other campus tools
– Added permanent links to the OPAC records
Asking for Feedback
• April 17, 2008 – presentation to the library
about the completed and proposed changes
• Most of the feedback from audience
concerned small changes to the visual display
of OPAC records
– Change wording to fit with other databases
– Change record screen to be more user friendly
Picture Perfect!
• Added Syndetics Solutions cover images
– Makes OPAC look more ‘Amazon-ish’
Regular Size
Large Size
Changing the Default Search
• Changing default search to Keyword Relevance
– This was the most controversial change to the OPAC
– There was some skepticism from experienced users
– Our users had a low success rate with the current
default search (^Title) as seen in the search logs
• 47% of default searches had “no hits”
– Keyword Relevance is the recommended default
search in the literature
Problems with Keyword Search
• Another reason for skepticism was the
problematic keyword search that we currently
– The search used a “AND/OR” which returns far too
many results – most of them irrelevant
• Also, our field weightings had never been
tweaked and this was not helping us build
confidence in relevance searches
FT* / GKEY^* / TKEY^*
• Three available Voyager keyword searches
were analyzed:
– FT*: Our current keyword search (using “AND/OR”
and relevance ranking)
– GKEY^*: A Keyword All search that will bring back
results by relevance using “AND” between words
– TKEY^*: A Keyword Title search that will bring
back results by relevance using “AND” between
Comparing Keyword Searches
• We compared the three keyword searches by
using the same search query and analyzing the
three different sets of results
• Comparison was conducted using a test
interface – so users would not see the test
search types in the OPAC
Comparison Results
• Overall results showed:
– Too many hits with FT*
– Too few hits with TKEY^*
– GKEY^* was just right!
For the search “Martin Luther King Jr Speeches”
0 Hits
3 Hits
11 Hits
GKEY 1 = FT 176
GKEY 2 = FT 183
GKEY 3 = FT 161
Field Weighting
• The OPAC Team studied our field weights for
about 2 months
• Field Weightings had never been touched
since they were pre-loaded into Voyager
• The results of our relevancy searches told us
that the field weightings were unbalanced
Field Weight Logic
• Relevance is based on:
• The number of times the query terms appear in a record
• The weight of the fields where those terms appear
• With an ‘AND/OR’ search
• Not all terms need be present in a record
• if a single term is present 100 times in one record it will be
weighted higher than if all terms were present 1 time in a
• Rarer words are weighted higher
Field Weighting Issues
• Some things to consider:
• Do you have fields that contain a lot of text (TOCs,
descriptions, etc.)?
• Do you use a disproportionate number of subject
• Are there other fields that are important to your
library (local notes)?
• Consider your collections
• How are your patrons searching?
• Are dates important too?
Finished Field Weights?
• Always opportunities for improvement
• Title needs to be weighted even higher
• We will cap all weights at 300, keeping the same
relationship between weights
• The exception will be the title field (245a), which we
will keep at 500 (at least 200 higher than everything
Before and After
• Before and After statistics of default search
Search Type
Percentage of
“No Hits”
Number of
people using
default search
Number of
queries per
Room for Improvement
• Reasons for ‘No Hits’
– 47% because of typos
• Number of queries per search has not reduced
• Number of people using default search has not
• Field Weighting Tweaks
– Would like to see titles listed at the top every time
– Need to weight title field even higher
Another Change Coming
• Dynamic Statistics
– Circulation (and other) statistics for each item
dynamically linked to each record
– Has already been done by Jim Robertson at NJIT in
– Currently in test phase
• Uses ASP.NET and SQL query to pull stats based on 001 field
• Would like to rewrite in another code (Java, etc.) to put it on
our Voyager server
Dynamic Statistics
Dynamic Maps
• What is dynamic mapping?
– Point to point mapping
• Location – map (e.g. Gov Docs, Special collections…)
• Call no. – map (e.g. M, PZ)
– Animated directional path (Version 1)
– Virtual 3D patron, shelves and maps (Version 2)
• Dynamic Mapping (version 2) download:
– http://library.wichita.edu/techserv/dynamicmap.html
– Ask your system librarian to install Java 6/Tomcat 6 and deploy .war
file on the server.
Going 3D: 3D Modeling
Modeling in
3D Animation
Software: Antics Professional
Define the floor
Define no go area
Choose/create patron model
Create animation
– Define path or destination, point and drag;
– Switch perspectives and scenes (if necessary).
3D Animation
Promote Specialized Voyager Data
• Possible examples
– World War II Newsmaps, Women studies resources,
Goldbarth poems and books, Job interview resources…
• An ongoing project: Faculty Research Showcase
– Source data: books by local authors and WSU researchers
– How to get the data: query Voyager by 590 (local notes)
field and save the results in a table
– Web presentation: ASP, XHTML, CSS
Project Interface
Linked to OPAC
Final Thoughts
• Continue to improve and reinvent the OPAC!
• Ways you might consider:
– Enrich the OPAC (E-books, TOC, cover images…)
– Improve and integrate search experience
• Spell checker, simplified search box, optimizing search…
• Endeca, 360 search, Unified Resource Management (URM)?
– Enhance visual presentation (OPAC interface, Aquabrowser…)
– Provide greater convenience and something “new”!
• Wi-fi positioning of patron, 3D maps, text messaging…
• The rest of the OPAC Redesign and Evaluation
Amy Williams, Circulation Assistant
Janet Brown, Education Librarian
Willie Baer, former Engineering Librarian
Nancy Deyoe, Assistant Dean for Technical Services
Nan Myers, Director of Public Services
• Everyone in the Voyager community who has
shared valuable information about WebVoyage
• Dynamic Map Project Team
– Erik Mallory, Nancy Deyoe, Sai Deng, Gemma
Blackburn, Amy Williams (Version 2)
– Hongfei Li, Nancy Deyoe, Sai Deng (Version 1)
• Faculty Research Showcase Project Team
– Sai Deng, Tse-Min Wang, Gemma Blackburn
– Nancy Deyoe, Kathy Downes (Consultants)
Works Cited / Recommended
1) Yu, Holly & Margo Young (2004). The Impace of Web Search Engines on Subject
Searching in OPAC. Information Technology and Libraries, December, 168-180.
2) Mi, Jia & Cathy Weng (2008). Revitalizing the Library OPAC: Interface, Searching, and
Display Challenges. Information Technology and Libraries, March, 5-22.
3) Dinet, Jerome, Monik Favert & Jean-Michel Passerault (2004). Searching for Information
in an Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC): The impacts of information search expertise on the use of Boolean
operators. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 20, 338-346.
Jansen, Bernard J. (2006). Search Log Analysis: What it is, what’s been done, how to do
it. Library & Information Science Research, 28, 407-432.
Lau, Eng Pwey & Dion Hoe-Lian Goh (2006). In Search of Query Patterns: A case
study of a university OPAC. Information Processing and Management, 43, 1316-1329.