In an earlier post, I described what I learned about Bloomberg Law at the SLA conference in Seattle earlier this month. This posting will briefly describe other products I saw in the exhibit hall that made an impression on me.
Deep Web Technologies’ Explorit Research Accelerator
Explorit Research Accelerator is a federated search engine developed by Deep Web Technologies. I’ve long thought that federated search was a project that wasn’t worth doing. My problem with this type of search is that while the search engines are able to bring the results back from many sources, I’ve never seen a federated search engine that did a good job of displaying the results in a way that made sense. Usually the results for each resource were displayed individually or they were combined in a way that overwhelmed. Explorit surprised me. The results were returned in clusters of topics, dates, etc. that allowed for filtering of the results. The example I saw provided clusters that organized results by topic, dates, publications, and more. I may have to start rethinking my position on federated search.
Altarama RefTracker, DeskStats, Virtual Reference, etc.
Altarama Information Systems, a company based in Australia with a business unit in the United States, is described as follows on their web site:
Altarama Information Systems focuses on the development, supply, and support of software, products and services that improve information management in libraries, with a special focus on the needs of reference librarians.
RefTracker is a web application that provides the ability to
- Receive reference/research requests
- Assign the requests to a librarian (the requests can be self assigned)
- View a dashboard of new, open, and completed requests
- Enter and view information about the work done on each request.
- Track the online systems that were used to answer requests
- Create reports with metrics that demonstrate who requested what (with demographics), how it was done, who worked on it, when the work was completed, and where the requests came from.
- Integrate cost informaiton with internal accounting systems
Other products in the Altarama line include
DeskStats – allows libraries to track the simple questions that librarians are asked much like the system librarian’s have used in the past (making a mark on a sheet of paper that reflects each question.)
Reference by SMS – allows users to make requests via mobile phone
Virtual Reference– provides the ability to communicate with end users via instant message, online co-browsing, etc.
ScheduleSource – creates reference desk schedules
While this isn’t a new product to many of you, it is the first time I’ve seen Llesiant Relevance. Llesiant, based in Austin TX, provides a current awareness service that allows users to search, save and track information. While not real time, it does provide same day news. Content from Reuters (now Thomson Reuters), Moreover Technologies, Comtex News Network, and the Economist Intelligence Unit is aggregated and delivered through various means (email, intranet, etc.) to users who have defined the topics/news items they would like to receive. Along with general news sources, they also have made or are forging partnerships with legal information vendors. While no current awareness system gives you all the features you want, this one is worth checking out.
My favorite description found on the Llesiant website is “Llesiant Relevance is built upon the three pillars of actionable intelligence – content, context, and delivery.” A lofty endeavor.
There were many other vendors/products at the SLA Conference that are worth talking about. I will be writing about them in the future.