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January 10, 2000

'One-stop' scholarly searching unveiled in new release of the California Digital Library

By Phillip G. Torrez
UC Office of the President

New features including a sophisticated online tool to simultaneously search many different scholarly information sources have just been added to the California Digital Library at the opening of its second year of service to the University of California and the public.

The experimental new tool--dubbed "SearchLight"--and many of the journal, reference, and library databases it searches are available to the public. For visitors to the California Digital Library and for the 315,000 scholars, students, and staff of the University of California, SearchLight and other enhancements help integrate the traditionally separate tasks of discovery and use of information. 

The California Digital Library (CDL) Web site and many of its resources, including digitized collections of photographs, manuscripts, and other archival materials from institutions around the state held in the Online Archive of California, are also available to the general public.

The CDL, which partners with the nine UC campuses in a continuing commitment to apply innovative technology to the management of scholarly information, opened to the public last January.

As a digital "co-library," complementing the physical libraries of the UC system, the CDL uses technology to efficiently share materials held by UC, to provide greater and easier access to digital content, and to join with researchers in developing new tools and innovations for scholarly communication.

The January release of new features represents another step forward in UC President Richard C. Atkinson's vision of "a future when our libraries, at the press of a button, can come to us, wherever we are, whenever we wish."

SearchLight facilitates "one-stop shopping" for a research topic or it can be used to explore the most promising resources when working in an unfamiliar subject area.

For instance, a patron may be interested in the theory of particle physics that treats elementary particles as "string-like" objects. Entering a single SearchLight search on "string theory," the researcher will view a single results screen showing the availability of hundreds of relevant books in UC library collections, 350 abstracts from the National Science Foundation grants and awards database, and various other materials publicly available.

A University of California researcher will additionally discover more than 10,000 journal citations from licensed databases such as Inspec, Current Contents and ArticleFirst. Additionally, he or she will be able to view online more than 220 relevant journal articles related to string theory drawn from the nearly 5,000 electronic journals made available through the CDL to the UC community.

Several other enhancements and significant additions of digital content to the CDL will be a boon to researchers.

The CDL has additional coverage in engineering through Ei Village database services, and in science and social science with more than 240 electronic journals from Wiley and 32 titles from the Institute of Physics.

UC faculty, graduate students, and staff can now place automatic requests for book and journal article delivery from throughout the nine-campus system with a single click on the "Request" button found in CDL-hosted databases.

New experimental and applied research resources draw upon cutting-edge technology and are the results of research partnerships. In addition to the SearchLight tool, the Alexandria Digital Library of maps, aerial photographs, a place-name gazetteer, and other geo-spatially referenced information debuts here.

UC Press Electronic Editions include the full content of approximately 60 UC Press books, which are available via links in search results of the Melvyl Union Catalog of all UC library collections.

The CDL-hosted Databases interface, which includes access to the Melvyl Catalog, now includes a drop-down menu for easy linking to other journal databases. Improvements to the CDL's Directory of Collections, including more than 4,800 electronic journals, more than 50 journal article databases, and 4,000 inventories or "finding aids" to archival collections, have been streamlined with clear information about availability.

Many of the January enhancements of the California Digital Library are the result of suggestions from faculty and students, campus librarians, and members of the public. Soliciting these comments and working with advisory groups and the digital library and computer science research communities allow regular improvements to the look, feel and usefulness of the CDL for UC, for Californians and for the public.

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