Library Committee Handbook

Search Assistant Working Group

Charge & Membership

Meetings & Minutes

SA Databases & Platforms


Search Assistant Working Group Meeting Minutes

May 23, 2007 

Present:  Susan Avery, Kathleen Kern (Chair), Bill Mischo, Katie Newman, Nancy O'Brien (Recorder), Peggy Steele, Nathan Yarasavage 

1.  Minutes & Communication:  Kathleen distributed a summary of the March 22 meeting and a draft of the Search Assistant (SA) Working Group's charge for review.  Nancy O'Brien volunteered to take minutes for this meeting.  It was decided that taking minutes would be rotated alphabetically by last name starting with this meeting.  

Kathleen will log a work request to get a folder on the g-drive for the working group, as well as arrange to have a committee Web page established.  Nathan will serve as the group's Web manager.  Content for the Web page will include the committee charge and composition, minutes, and a list of the platforms that are already established for SA, e.g., OVID, CSA, etc.  Peggy Steele will arrange for the group to have an alias email address to expedite communication. 

2.  Recap of last meeting:  Everyone was reminded that in addition to the existing areas of Engineering, Business, History, and General, new SA areas under development are Health Sciences, Education, and Life Sciences.  Nancy reported that the Social Sciences Division is also developing a social science targeted series of sources for Search Assistant.  A working group (Cindy Ingold, Amy Killoran, Lisa Romero, and Lynne Rudasill) will develop a report for the social sciences by August 1, 2007. 

Katie Newman reported that the Health Information source lists were under rapid development by Nikki Wright with input from the Life Sciences Division for that area and an expanded life sciences section. 

3. Discussion Items:

Based on the number of areas being developed and the connections to existing areas, there was discussion about the need to create a priority order for displaying databases on the main SA page.  It was also strongly urged that the intent, scope and audience of SA be clearly defined on the top page of SA since there is confusion about whether this is a resource primarily targeted for undergraduates or for everyone.  Peggy Steele suggested that if SA is targeted for undergraduate students then the Undergraduate Library should determine the content.  The working group also had mixed opinions about the intended audience and agreed that it may vary for different disciplines.  Since only one to a few databases are typically included in SA for each topic area, it was recommended that a statement such as "more" or "go further" be added next to each topic area to link to more specialized databases in the subject.

4. Demonstration:

Bill Mischo demonstrated SA and the new Gateway design <> for discussion purposes.  Peggy briefly discussed the work of the Next Generation (NG) task force and the possible implications for SA.  The NG group is recommending an approach (NOT a product) that will pull together content in the OPAC, local digital collections, and licensed e-content.  If student fee monies are made available for this project, there must be an extremely fast (i.e., one year) implementation.  Possible commercial products might be PRIMO or Aquabrowser, each of which has different issues in our environment.  Katie asked about the advantage of commercial software over SA.  SA has many advantages including added value and functionality.  For examples of other systems that might be useful, consider the Research QuickStart function at the University of Minnesota Libraries Web site <

The group liked a name or title such as "Easy Search" instead of "Search Assistant."< /span>  Kathleen indicated that a final name needs to be decided before we implement serious marketing. 

The group noted that the Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, etc. aspect of SA was still not functional and recommended removing it.

5. Assignments: 

SAWG members need to review the new Gateway page <> and provide feedback. 

Consider adding a "browse by subject" aspect to the drop down menu on the Easy Search tab on the new Gateway page. 

6. Next meeting:  

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 12, at 10:30am.  At that meeting the group will discuss second-level pages; representation on the Gateway committee; user testing; evaluation metrics; and, marketing and promotion. 

Kathleen will send out the agenda no later than the Friday before the next meeting.

(Submitted by Nancy O'Brien)