Library aims to streamline research with new tool

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    Palo Alto High School librarian Rachel Kellerman demonstrates the library’s new One Search Discovery program that aggregates most of the library’s research resources into one database. Photo by William Zhou.

    In an effort to streamline research, the Palo Alto High School Library recently purchased its new One Search Discovery Tool

    Like the name suggests, One Search Discovery aims to simply research by aggregating the library’s various research tools into one page, according to Paly librarian Rachel Kellerman.

    “One Search Discovery is a global search engine that connects most of the library’s research products,” Kellerman said. “As consumers we don’t want to click a lot, everyone wants products where you can get to the meat of the product as fast as possible.”

    Currently, the librarians are working on introducing students to One Search Discovery.

    “The challenge is always marketing,” Kellerman said. “I’m working on an online tutorial, and librarian Sima Thomas went into all the AP Psychology classes to demo the tool. My goal is to go into all the social science courses so that every senior touches this product before he or she leaves.”

    Through their tutorials and visits, the librarians hope to familiarize students with One Search Discovery’s many features, according to Kellerman.

    “In addition to searching, you can also filter specifically for books in the library, e-books and books published within a certain date range,” Kellerman said. “If you are at home, you can also access the database through the library libguide. The nice thing about the e-books is that you can search for specific words in the books and the e-books aren’t one to one, so the whole class could be looking at the same book. Furthermore, you can create folders, save books and access them anywhere, it’s very much like a Google Drive environment.”

    After the school’s contract with its previous research tool expired, the librarians had been looking for a new system that could make research faster.

    “The old system for searching was very, very slow,” Kellerman said. “If you needed a book, you would have to go to the library catalog, then if you wanted a database article you would have to go the library libguide, then if you wanted an e-book you would have to go the e-book catalog. Nothing was integrated. The old library system that we had was more designed for middle school students.”

    Additionally, the librarians hope that this new tool will help prepare students for college research.

    “Similar search tools to One Search Discovery are found in colleges and universities,” Kellerman said. “It’s not hard to use, but like a new app on your phone it’s good to practice before you have pressure for a research report and we wanted to expose students to it beforehand.”  

    To Kellerman, the adoption of the One Search Discovery tool is representative of Paly’s willingness to innovate and explore.

    “We’re one of the high school that vendors [of software] will look at because we will try things out,” Kellerman said. “In the spring we’re going to a user’s conference day that mostly has colleges, but we’ve been invited because Paly really has that forward looking attitude.”

    Though the librarians discovered One Search Discovery last year, it has taken around nine months to get it up and running and they’re still some areas which need to be improved.

    “You still need to click through a couple pages to access the text for the e-book,” Kellerman said. “And some research tools like The New York Times and ABC Cleo aren’t integrated.”  

    Student reaction has been positive so far, according to Kellerman.

    “The best reactions I got were ‘I found it!’ and ‘I’m going to use it.”

    Senior Alice On’s opinion reflects Kellerman’s view.  
    “It’s not perfect,” On said. “I tried it in my AP Psych class and there were some glitches, but other than that, it’s pretty cool and convenient. It’s like the entire library on your computer, I think I’ll use it in the future.”

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