SU Library

Search engine improves ease of research

SU Library

Syracuse University Library launched a new, easily accessible search engine that transforms the way students and faculty carry out their research.

The new system, Summons, replaced Discover, the older version, in an effort to streamline the search process and allow quicker access to important resources.

“There is a difference between the information you find on the Internet and the resources the university purchases,” said Pamela McLaughlin, director of communications and external relations at SU Library.

She said she hopes the new search engine will encourage and help students to utilize the scholarly information SU has to offer.

With Discover, searching for material was overwhelming for students who were unsure of where to look. Summons is designed to pinpoint specific data for efficient results, McLaughlin said.

The layout of the new search engine appears similar to the search engine Google, a familiar tool for students and faculty. A student can type his or her query into the search bar or use the Advanced Search to obtain more specific results, she said.

Results are automatically listed by relevancy. Students can refine searches through the options listed, by selecting particular content types, excluding articles, narrowing publication dates and locations, and choosing subject terms, McLaughlin said.

Students also have the ability to save results and return to them for more information, links and citation formats. New additions to Summons will be accessible as the vendor makes them available, she said.

Summons is able to index the entire SU catalog, which consists of more than 500 online databases and 80,000 electronic journals, scholarly articles, government documents, books and eBooks, newspapers, manuscripts and interactive media, such as video and audio recording, according to an Aug. 20 SU Library news release.

Rare, expensive materials and books once overlooked by students are now more accessible, McLaughlin said.

Students are not the only ones that must adapt to the new system, though. The SU librarians were the first on campus to use Summons and were among the first to be trained to navigate the store of data, McLaughlin said.

Maggie Teschler, a freshman in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, said she worries that the hands-off nature of Summons may distance the student from the personal input of a librarian.

But she still sees Summons as a great improvement.

“It’s infinitely helpful to have a smaller, more concise database,” Teschler said.  “And it saves paper, which is cool.”

McLaughlin said she hopes Summons will create a more independent, accessible research experience for the student in an updated environment. So far, she said, responses have been positive.

“We’ve had a lot of good feedback,” McLaughlin said. “People have been tweeting about it.”

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