New academic search tool at Brock

 

Photo Credit: Omni

Photo Credit: Omni

The Brock library has replaced Super Search with a new system to improve student and staff research by linking multiple libraries and databases across 14 universities in Ontario.

On December 12, 2019, the new Omni system went live at Brock. While students were in exams and the academic research demand was decreased this was an ideal time to test out the new system.

“It works out well for timing. We launched on purpose so it was less of an impact on people researching in the moment. When people come back in January it will be the first time they see the new system,” said Nicole Nolan, the implementation lead for the Omni project.

When visiting the library home page, the screen does not look drastically different from the old Super Search except for the Omni logo. The majority of the changes are happening in the background infrastructure. According to Nolan, the old system was acquired in 1996 when most of the materials were in print and throughout the years new pieces were added. These additional pieces have not always worked well together. This new system has electronic resources in mind and is more modern, which allows for better collaboration.

“With this new system we are sharing the infrastructure with 14 universities in Ontario. It is easier to share resources with each other. The bonus is that you will have seamless access to print resources from the 14 schools without having to go through an interlibrary loan process. Borrowing will become much easier and you will not have to fill out a racer interlibrary loan form for much of what you need. I think being able to collaborate provincially will be really beneficial for users,” said Nolan.

There have been a couple hitches in the transition, one of which was the original live date was pushed from Dec. 10, 2019 to Dec. 12. However, the real test will take place when students return to campus.

The system is expected to be fully up and running by March, linking Brock to the 13 other universities such as Ottawa, Guelph, Waterloo, Laurier and Queens. This would mean forms like the racer forms will not be as common unless material is requested outside the 14 universities.

“We are aiming to have all the schools tied together effectively by March. It is challenging to configure so we are working through some technical challenges but once we have it all up by March it really is just a click of a button. If you want something, you will be able to search any of the 14 schools if you want a  book that you see you will be able to click on a button and it will come. The requirement of interlibrary forms is gone. Although interlibrary loan will still exist because there may be things you need outside the 14 schools and you can still do that. It just makes it easier for the things you might be asking for,” said Nolan.

The hefty price tag on the system according to Nolan was paid for through the President’s Strategic Initiative Fund. So far $170,000 has gone towards the transition to the new system from the old, but Nolan and the transition team have met their cost neutral goal in maintaining the same cost as the prior system.

Regardless of the cost, the old system was approaching the limit of its life and needed to be updated.

“I would say we were nearing the end of life with the current system. Regardless if we went with Omni or went at it alone we absolutely needed to update the infrastructure, but so did everyone else in Ontario. We decided as a group to update our infrastructure together. Instead of updating in isolation we decided to update with 14 other universities in the province because we are better able to share resources and processes,” said Nolan.

During this transition Nolan welcomes student input. If there is something students and staff can’t find, Nolan and her team would like to know about it, so they can investigate the issue. Contact libhelp@brocku.ca.

To assist students in this transition, students are welcome to attend three upcoming workshops.

“Faculty, students and staff are welcome to attend. It will be a hands on workshop and we will walk you through some of the features. There are some nuanced differences and you will pick up some of those changes at that point but not everyone has used all the features of Super Search so that may be a good opportunity to learn the full functionality of this database. We definitely wanted to make sure that users are getting what they need and are able to access resources that they need,” said Nolan.

Omni workshops will be held on January 8 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00, Jan. 9 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. and Jan. 14 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. in Matheson Learning Commons, Classroom A.

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