Wednesday, 5 November 2014

A new interface for our online catalogue

A previous post sought feedback on our on-line catalogue and we are delighted to announce that it now has a new interface with new features and a new address.

The new interface uses Blacklight (the same software used for the university's library catalogue). We started by looking at our current catalogue, the aspects we wanted to retain and those we wanted to improve, we also looked at other on-line catalogues for ideas and inspiration. The quickest way to see what we have done is to go and have a look but before you do so here are a few highlights from the journey we have taken.

The homepage for our new on-line catalogue
Data analysis
A key requirement was the better integration of the local studies book material. Much of the data analysis of the information our library and archive systems created was undertaken for us by Data Curation Experts - they handed back an infrastructure and solution and colleagues in the university worked on the interface so it works on a phone, tablet or PC.

Local studies books

One problem we had previously experienced was presenting the library data through an archive catalogue. The new interface has fixed this and also allowed us to expose the author and subject indexes for the first time and we hope this will encourage users to browse around and discover more useful titles and resources.

Archive collection

For each archive collection we hold we produce an overview describing the context of the material including a biography of the individual or the organisation that created the material and a broad overview of its contents. Restricting a search to archive collection is a very effective way to identify collections that we hold that are relevant to a particular topic or subject – eg search the entire catalogue for Philip Larkin and you get over 9000 results - restrict this by format to Archive Collection - you get 66 - which is far more manageable!

We have also added a link (from the Archive Collection Summary screen) to allow users to download a PDF version of the catalogue as many users find this an easier way to find the information they are looking for.
Our groovy new date slider 

Date slider
Being able to browse and filter a search result was always important and the new interface allows users to filter by repository, in addition the local studies books can also be filtered by format type, subject keywords and by author. 

The date slider (see right) adds a touch of fun to filtering by date (hopefully users will be familiar with this type of tool from on-line retail websites). It also gives a representation of the number of items in the catalogue across that period.

One of the most visible elements of the new interface are the colourful icons to distinguish between different types of material (including CD/DVD, microfilms, maps etc). To keep this simple all items for the archives are either archive items or archve collections - so if you are looking for a map in the archve collections use map as a search item and restrict format to archive item.

New address
The new interface can be found at 

There might be a few gremlins - if you come across a broken link or something isn't quite right please use the feedback button on every page to contact us.

Simon Wilson
Senior Archivist

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