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Archive for the 'Search' Category

New Stock/Prepared Searches

One of the features in the latest Prism 3 preview is new stock searches. I’m going to explain how to perform these searches once we roll out the MarcGrabber update to your system, as well as cover some other additions to the advanced search syntax.

Back in February, Alison explained how any query in Prism 3 can be saved as a prepared search, either by bookmarking or by copying and pasting the URL in your browser address bar. This also holds for new stock searches: you’ll be able to bookmark them, have them on your library website, link to them in emails or even from Facebook.

To prepare a new stock search, all you need to do is perform a search and then add a small snippet of text to the end of the address/URL. To allow you to have very broad sets of items included, we’ve added some new modifiers to the advanced search syntax:

  • collection
  • genre
  • languagecode
  • loantype
  • location
  • language
  • subject
  • dewey

These can be used just like the current modifiers: append a colon followed by a single word or, if searching for several words, surround them in quotation marks (e.g. subject:"Historical Drama").

If we look at one library who are beta testing the new stock search capability, I can enter a query for all items in their main catalogue by entering collection:"Main Catalogue" in the search box.

Search for collection:"Main Catalogue"

When you click on the “Search” button, the URL in the web browser address bar changes to:"Main+Catalogue"

To turn this search into a new stock search just put the following snippet at the end of that URL:


This sets the sort order to recent shelved dates first and limits the number of records returned to a single page. The finished URL that you can bookmark/link to etc. now looks like:"Main+Catalogue"&sort=shelveddate%3Ad&limit=10

Finally, you may have noticed in the list of new advanced search modifiers that you will be able to search by Dewey Decimal Classification. Some people have been asking if they can run searches on a sequence of classes; presently we only support searching on a single class, but we are investigating adding this capability in a future release.

If you have any questions on this, or any other issues, please feel free to email me or your account manager (or comment here, of course).

Talis Prism 3 usage November 2009

In November we saw 2,769,129 searches being carried out in Talis Prism 3.

If you have any queries about this or any other aspect of Talis Prism 3, please contact your Account Manager or email Alison Kershaw on

Talis Prism 3 and Cross Searching.

Firstly, a big thank you to all those that attended our webinar on cross-searching multiple databases, your information was very helpful in directing our future plans for Talis Prism 3.

From your answers and comments we clarified that there are two key things you want to be able to do with Talis Prism, bring in your local collections and integrate with other, larger collections.

Integrating with Larger Collections

Many of you want to be able to direct your users to one or more larger collections such as the British Library or CURL in the event that they can’t find what they need within your collection. In some cases you want to be able to use the information from those collections to generate an ILL request to borrow the material needed.

This is a great thing to do as it supports your users in getting access to the materials they need and helps maintain your catalogue’s position as the starting point for any search.

Historically this has often been done using Z39.50 federated searching, a library-centric solution that predates the web by many years. To replace this functionality in Talis Prism 3 using Z39.50 would be costly and complex. In Talis Prism 2 the same functionality evolved over a period of several years. Doing the same in Talis Prism 3 would be a substantial cost and would only ever give access to the small number of services that have Z39.50 and that we could reliably configure.

A much more common approach today, both for libraries and for other services, is to use the services website directly. On the web generally this is often as simple as a link to the other service. To maintain a more controlled search experience and to allow for the data to be used in ILL requests in future we think it would be better to aim for a more seamless inclusion of those other sites’ searches.

A number of you have a strong desire to search a small number of sites as soon as possible and have your own web developers. This is exactly the kind of demand for extensibility that led us to seed the Juice project and there are already people on the Juice project doing similar things.

So, if you are one of those interested in connecting your users with the British Library, CURL, Library of Congress or Google Books and Amazon then please Join the Juice project, sign up to the Juice Discussion Group where you will find others, including some of us from Talis, taking advantage of Juice.

If you don’t have your own development resource and would like to discuss Talis writing custom extensions for you then please raise that with Alison Kershaw or your account manager.

If you have any specific queries about Juice then email Richard Wallis, coordinator of the Juice project.

Integrating Local Collections not in your LMS

Many of you also have local collections that for a number of reasons are managed outside of your LMS. DS Calm and iBase are common examples and you also talked about electronic serials data. Where the collection, and data about it, are under your ownership and control you expressed that you would like these to appear in Talis Prism searches as part of your whole collection.

In many cases the separation of these parts of your collection has been a side-effect of the tools needed to manage the data and is no longer serving your users well, so bringing this data together will be a good thing. Representing different types of asset within Talis Prism 3 is one of the drivers behind our re-working of the underlying data model and that stream of work will facilitate bringing in other collections in future. Look out for it appearing in future issues of the roadmap as we plan beyond our current horizon.

Our analysis of these collections shows that the detail of how each collection has been configured and how fields have been used is crucial to providing both appropriate indexing and display. This means that when we reach a position where this data could be brought into Talis Prism 3 there will almost certainly be a need for bespoke consultancy. That consultancy is likely to be needed in order to understand what form the data is in, how you’ve used the product locally and how you want those collections to appear in Talis Prism 3.

If you have other local collections, keep an eye on the roadmap and the blog so that when we start looking at this area in detail you know to get involved.

The Talis Prism roadmap is available from the Talis Prism site.

Rob Styles
Technical Lead, Talis Prism 3

The importance of customer feedback

University of Bolton library

University of Bolton library

As we all strive to do the best job possible, the importance of getting feedback from customers is really important. The validation of knowing what we are doing has an impact; and more importantly makes a difference is gratifying for all of us.  That’s why surveying users has always been an important aspect of any library service.  The need to ensure that what is being provided for users of the service is meeting their expectations is an integral part of checking relevancy and satisfaction. Its a way of learning what people want and how things can be improved.

The University of Bolton have recently undergone an extensive refurbishment (and blogged about it) including a new entrance area, self service and they also implemented a new library Catalogue, Talis Prism.  They have asked their users for comments regarding the catalogue, which they have shared with us:-

“The library catalogue is much easier to use now”

the new library catalogue is a very welcome improvement making navigation far easier.”

Library catalogue – is excellent, easily navigated and accurate”
It’s great to see this type of response from users of Talis Prism, have a look at the University of Bolton’s implementation and see for yourself. Also come along to our Talis Prism days to see how Prism can make difference to your users; and to your catalogue.  Of course, not all the comments are completely positive, as the old adage goes, you can’t please all of the people all of the time; but as  Hugh Prather said:-

Negative feedback is better that none. I would rather have a man hate me than overlook me. As long as he hates me I make a difference.

An extreme reaction, but I’m sure you get the point.

Searching Prism from everywhere

The easiest way to extend the reach of your Prism is to encourage your users to search it from wherever they are.  Embedding the Prism search box in any site is simply a matter of pasting some code into the site page. You can find all you need in a Developer Documentation topic in the Prism Forum.

Here are a few examples based upon the Broadminster demonstration tenancy – all you would have to do is change the address used in these examples to that of your tenancy and you will be up and running!

Here are a couple of examples:

Prism Search PromptIn your Blog
Just like this blog, most blog systems allow you to create widgets that contain html.   So why not embed a search prompt for your library catalogue on to your library blog, just like we have done.

In your Browser
The Internet Explorer Web Browsers has a search box that enables you to directly search places such as Google and Wikipedia.  It also enables you to add custom search targets – so why now add one for your local Prism catalogue.
Here are the steps:

  1. Go to your Prism tenancy home page and search for ‘TEST’ – without the quotes but yes in uppercase.
  2. Select the text in the browser address bar and copy it – it will look something like this:
  3. Select ‘Find More Providers…’ from the search menu at the top right of the browser
    ie select
  4. Paste the address you copied in to the prompt on the right of the page, enter a name for the search in the prompt below, click the Install button and job done.
    ie target

There are lots more places that you can embed a search prompt, such as your library, council, or university web site.  As the code that is inserted is simple html, the way the prompt appears can be styled to suite the page it is inserted upon.   Loads of possibilities – I would love to hear of your ideas and your experience.

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