Ablah Library unveils new SmartSearch feature

Gone are the days of searching ProQuest, LexisNexis, EBSCOhost and Google in search of a single academic article at Wichita State’s Ablah Library. 

Now students can use SmartSearch and access all of the library’s content—books, e-books, academic journals, and newspapers—in one keystroke.

It’s a lot like a Google search, Melissa Mallon, an assistant professor and coordinator of library instruction, said. The new tool allows users to search all subscriptions and free content available through WSU libraries at once.

“Right now when students are wanting to look for articles or books, they have to go to different databases and search engines individually,” Mallon said. “This new search tool is designed to save time and make the research process more efficient.”

The tool is operating now, but the library will host a launch party Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to offer training, giveaways and refreshments.

“We like to let people know when we have new services and new features,” Mallon said. “SmartSearch can be used by everyone in the university—we like to provide training opportunities and let people get some hands-on experience.”

The party will also recognize the student who selected the name for the tool.

“We ran a contest to name this new service and at 10:30 we’re going to have an award ceremony for the winner of the naming contest,” Director for Public Services Nan Myers said. “We had two finalists but we all decided that ‘SmartSearch’ was very descriptive and easy to remember.”

The service will be provided by a vendor, EBSCOhost, and customized for WSU.

“It’s a relatively new development from our library vendors. We always want to do everything the minute it’s available if it’s great, which this kind of search is,” Myers said.

The library tested three competing vendors to find the best for WSU. The tool is a one-time purchase with an annual maintenance fee. 

“There are things that are good for a portion of students but not everybody, so we can’t justify spending that money,” Myers said. “SmartSearch is a service that will benefit everyone. All researchers are going to be happy to use it.”

SmartSearch particularly benefits undergraduate students, she said, as they learn which databases apply to their field.

“It is becoming more popular, definitely, in libraries to have this single-search feature,” Mallon said. “There are so many resources we have available for students to do research and it’s sometimes difficult to know what the best resource is.”

Mallon said the library offers a lot more resources now than it did when she was a student at WSU.

“We’re here to help. Even if we’re not offering a specific training or workshop, we encourage students to come in and talk to us if they’re struggling with research or library resources,” Mallon said.

More information is available at their website.