Those of you who are Reference Universe users just got an early holiday gift – a new interface. For details on the changes, check out the Paratext overview document.
- customized library logos
- simplified email/download and export functions – direct to RefWorks and EndNote too
- eBook only display
- classification number options – LC, Dewey, both, or none
- quick format identification
- stationary search and browse functions
- option to display title NOT owned by your library – great for collection development
- and more….
For more information on Reference Universe, listen to the NSR interview with Eric Calaluca, Founder and President, Paratext.
If you’ve ever heard me give a presentation about eBooks, then you’ve probably heard my soap box rant about the plethora of eBook platforms. I can’t stand it. I look forward to the day when all of my e-content – reference, monographs, textbooks, whatever – will be on one consistent platform, fully searchable by keyword and every other possible facet. With ALA Annual coming up in June, I am asking all of you who feel the same to please remind the publishers that we want one platform for our electronic content. I know I’m not alone here. I’ve just heard some rumors from a publisher that librarians in Japan asked for the exact same thing – one central platform!
Here’s an excerpt from my Nov. 1, 2008 article in Reference Books Bulletin about eBook platforms:
Make access a priority. The best way to drive business to e-reference is through the online catalog. Make sure all MARC records are in the catalog with persistent links to the e-books. Strive to use as few interfaces as possible. Our comparison chart lists 6 vendors, each with a unique interface and special features; how can we make things simpler? Purchase titles to own, and get the licensing agreement to provide a copy of the e-book in either the HTML, XML, or PDF version. With this data, libraries can mount all e-book content on 1 platform, like Ebrary, or an open-source product, like XTF. Or purchase from vendors that support multiple publishers in one platform—Gale Virtual Reference Library is a good example. Another good option for access is through Paratext’s Reference Universe, which indexes the table of contents, entries, and thousands of print and electronic titles. It’s a deeper search than the catalog, uses one interface, and has persistent links to the article level of e-books and to the catalog record of print titles. When shopping around, talk to publishers about access, and remind them that fewer interfaces make for simple searching by users and librarians.
REVIEW. First published November 1, 2003 (Booklist).
Here is a database that librarians will really appreciate. We have spent countless hours selecting, storing, and carefully weeding our reference collections. But patrons would rather search on the Internet, and get any old answer, than use our pride and joy, our reference collections. Reference Universe has taken article titles and indexes from more than 2,000 reference works “from both major and minor reference publishers.” These entries have been compiled into a user-friendly database that covers topics from a wide variety of disciplines. It is searchable by singular or plural forms, word variants, exact phrase, or exact words. It also includes searches by all of the words and any of the words. Searches can be limited by publication date and by number of hits (the default being 1,000). A Browse Mode allows users to browse for books by publisher, title of work, subject, or Library of Congress classification number or to browse the Reference Universe index of terms.
After searching, the system presents a list of reference titles in relevancy-ranked order. Besides the title, the brief display includes publisher and date and the total number of index entries or article titles containing the term. There are also links to the local catalog, a full-text e-book version if it is available, article titles and index terms, and a fuller bibliographic record. The full record in turn links to other reference books on the subject, other reference books by the author, the record in MARC format, and a review from ARBA Online, available to subscribing libraries. A notes field generally contains brief bibliographic information. As of this writing, Paratext plans to add reviews and publisher links and has installed a prototype that will automatically indicate whether a library owns a title that appears in a list of results.
Do you remember First Stop: The Master Index to Subject Encyclopedias, published by Oryx Press in 1989? Reference Universe has a similar idea but with a modern interface. Titles indexed seem to have good recency, and keeping the electronic version up-to-date will be easier than updating a printed version. General searches will produce many hits. It may take discernment to determine which subject encyclopedia is best for a particular query, but because this is a librarian’s tool, finding the best references for a patron shouldn’t be a problem.
This metaindex is an exciting product that will get a lot of use at reference desks in both public and academic libraries and also has uses as a collection development tool. Highly recommended.— Jack O’Gorman