| By Heather Hedden |
Gale engaged with the library community at last month’s Computers in Libraries (CIL) conference in more ways than one: through the exhibits, attending educational sessions, presenting, and hosting a social event. Computers in Libraries (April 16-19 in Washington, DC) is probably the largest library conference and trade show that is not affiliated with a professional organization, so it attracts a diverse group of both librarians and technical specialists. This year there were about 1,200 participants.
At CIL, all exhibit booths—42 this year—are the same small size, so the opportunity to connect with customers is more intimate. Outside of conversing with patrons, I attended sessions in the three tracks Navigation & Search, Open Access, and Discovery.
In the Navigation & Search sessions, I learned the ways search in subscription databases, such as Gale’s, differ from that web search engines. Google does not have proximity searching, and it’s difficult to perform international searches. Trends that are relevant to both web and subscription database searching include mobile, voice searching, image searching, AI (artificial intelligence)/machine learning, quick answer boxes, and search suggestions. Web searches take into consideration locations and past searches, whereas subscription databases offer suggestions such as “did you mean?” I was pleased to hear presenter Mary Dee Ojala mention Gale’s new Digital Scholar Lab as an example of the new technology of cognitive search.
In the Open Access track, I got a good overview to the subject of open access, which refers to freely available high-quality content, typically scholarly, such as journals, books, or research data. This is of particular interest to academic librarians. I learned that open access is part of a larger open system that includes open data, open education, open government, open license, open scholarship, open science, and open source software. Open access has its challenges, such as privacy and security, digital inclusion, and web usability.
I had only recently heard of discovery services for libraries, so it was good to learn about this relatively new and growing platform, which often includes Gales database products. The discovery services have their own user interface, so the users do not see our InfoTrac user interface, but they may go directly into a Gale database article. Thus, it is the uniqueness of Gale’s content that is important. I learned that discovery services are more widely used in academic libraries than public libraries, since academic libraries tend to have special collections which they would like included in the single search.
In addition to attending sessions, I also presented two: a half-day pre-conference workshop “Designing & Maintaining Practical Taxonomies” and a 15-minute exhibit hall cybertour: “Customer-Focused Thesauri,” which were both opportunities to show how controlled subjects enhance search and retrieval in Gale products. Slides of the cybertour are available at on the conference website: http://conferences.infotoday.com/documents/222/1400_Hedden.pdf
Gale also hosted a happy hour one of the evenings to further extend relationships with customers, prospects, and colleagues.
Heather Hedden is a senior vocabulary editor at Gale, where she edits the subject thesaurus and other metadata for the indexing and retrieval of Gale research database content and develops discipline taxonomies for educational products. Heather is currently a member of the board of the American Society for Indexing, is author of The Accidental Taxonomist (Information Today Inc., 2010, 2016), and blogs at http://accidental-taxonomist.blogspot.com/