Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bridging the gap from Wikipedia to scholarly sources: a simple library bookmarklet

So I know I have been alluding to a fancy-shmancy "project" for awhile now, and it's finally at a point that I can show it off! Barbara Arnett and I (mostly Barbara, but I set the project in motion, so that counts for something I guess) have created a javascript bookmarklet that can be used in any browser to execute a search in Ebsco Discovery Service from any web page.

The impetus for this project was a tendency for novice researchers to rely on internet sources that may not be up to the standards required by their professors for college-level research (read: Google & Wikipedia). Unfortunately, those users were not only beginning, but ending their search with those websites, without ever trying the library’s subscription databases, or even making it to the library’s website.

Stevens is currently undergoing a trial of Ebsco Discovery Service (EDS), a federated search tool which includes the library catalog data. To make it easier for students to search the library resources, we decided to create a bookmarket that eliminates the step of having to go to the library website first before searching library resources.

The bookmarket provides an important bridge between common search behaviors (especially among undergraduates), and the "deep web" content located in library-funded, proprietary databases, thus easing their transition into scholarly research. You just drag-and-drop it into any browser, after which a search can then be initiated from any webpage the user visits. When the bookmarklet is clicked, the search terms default to the title of the page (so it works especially well with Wikipedia articles), and a prompt is displayed that allows the user to edit the terms, if so desired. When they press the OK button, the search is automatically executed in the Discovery tool and the results are displayed in a new browser window.

The bookmarklet is written in simple Javascript code, which resides on the library’s server, so it can be edited or updated without the user having to reinstall it. It works on all major browsers, and can also be edited to work with various search tools, such as specific databases, library catalogs or competing federated search tools (such as Serial Solutions’ Summon.)

A short demo:

Barbara and I will be participating in a webinar for the Metro New York Library Council in December, demonstrating various tech tools for libraries. See here for details: http://bit.ly/aYud4Q

11/19/10 - NOTE:

Ken Varnum at the University of Michigan has used our code to create an ArticlesPlus bookmarklet for their users. To make it easier for other developers to adapt our code for their projects, here it is, in its entirety. You'll have to edit it to use whatever search tool you want it to run, and change it to link to your own Google Analytics account (or just take that part out if you're not using GA), and we ask that you keep the attribution statement in there.