Big changes have happened at the James A. Gibson library this summer.Among the most significant new technologies that have been added to improve the available facilities for students and staff is a new initiative involving all Ontario university libraries.
Scholarsportal is a system designed to cut down on the time and stress normally associated with research by integrating thousands of resources into one simple search engine.
Previously, students had the time-consuming and inefficient task of searching each of the 80 library databases separately.
Scholarsportal, when subjected to a simple search, can locate a large number of articles on most topics. The majority of the currently available journals have more relevance to science students at this time, though there are some resources available for those researching the humanities.
“Currently, there are only six databases hooked up to Scholarsportal,” says Debbie Kalvee, associate university librarian, adding “In the next three to four years, more of the library’s 80 databases will be added.”
Scholarsportal uses a technique known as meta-searching, a method of simultaneously searching thousands of journals almost instantaneously.
In order to get an idea of the convenience of such a system, Kalvee explains “It’s like going shopping in a lot of different stores across the city, or just going to Wal-Mart and having everything right there.”
The interface is laid out as simply as possible, with databases arranged by subject instead of by alphabetical order. This makes it much easier for the student who may not know what CANSIM II or CINHAL stands for.
Funding for Scholarsportal is through the Ontario Innovation Trust, and is operated by the University of Toronto Libraries, a service provider for Ontario university libraries.
Though it is important, Scholarsportal is not the only innovation the library has made this summer.
A large format printing service has been added, which provides high quality colour posters, photos, banners, and other large format prints. This is useful for any student who needs a poster made for a presentation, seminar, or just to decorate their dorm room. The prices are competitive when compared to local copiers, ranging from $5 to $10 per linear foot.
Simply submit your picture on a diskette, cd, or as an e-mail attachment to email@example.com, and the library can print off a picture that is 24, 36, or 42 inches wide and in any length. Service is guaranteed by the next business day, if the order is received by 3:30 p.m.
To familiarize students with the new services offered by the library, the staff is holding SMARTstart seminars for first-year students from Sept. 4 through Sept. 12. For mature students, more in-depth seminars are being held Oct. 2 through Oct.17.
To sum up the library’s philosophy this year, Kalvee says “Most faculty and students, want it now, want it fast, and want it cheap, and that’s what we try to deliver.