The Berkeley Public Library has just launched a new search interface it calls Encore. That sounds trivial, I know, but it’s really a powerful research tool that greatly expands the utility of the library’s databases.

At first, Encore seems as if it just presents library catalog searches with improved graphics (it shows book covers, for example). Look a little closer, however, and there are some useful additions. You can refine your search with tags, there are suggestions for other books you might be interested in, and there’s a link to related searches. What’s really helpful is that if you’re logged in with your library card, you can also search for articles in some of the online databases to which the library subscribes.

If you try Encore, the library is soliciting feedback in an online questionnaire.

Lance Knobel

Lance Knobel (co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine in Britain,...

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1 Comment

  1. Yes, well, umm….

    “Encore” is not what BPL calls this boondoggle, it is a product name by Innovative Inc. – the vendor BPL selected a few years back. So, you are giving away some free advertising here in a misleading and possibly naive way. (I mention it because of the possibility of “naive”.)

    I entirely agree that things like tagging hold out a promising future for library science and promise of future cataloging practices – I’m not too sure Innovative really gives us the most cost efficient way to reach the best improvements.

    You use descriptives like “powerful new ways” and yet admit “seems trivial” — I think you are overlooking the opportunity costs spent in getting to this point.

    The sad fact is that not that many years ago the University of California was in the R&D business of building library information systems and was doing a fine job – an effort that was allowed to languish and whither and get taken over by outsourcing to Innovative. A prime opportunity for Berkeley civic / UC cooperation on library IT was lost.