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Search features of digital libraries

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Author(s): Alastair G. Smith

Journal: Information Research: an international electronic journal
ISSN 1368-1613

Volume: 5;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 73;
Date: 2000;
Original page

Keywords: on-line search | search features | boolean | proximity operators | truncation | digital libraries | World Wide Web | controlled vocabulary | browsing

ABSTRACT
Traditional on-line search services such as Dialog, DataStar and Lexis provide a wide range of search features (boolean and proximity operators, truncation, etc). This paper discusses the use of these features for effective searching, and argues that these features are required, regardless of advances in search engine technology. The literature on on-line searching is reviewed, identifying features that searchers find desirable for effective searching. A selective survey of current digital libraries available on the Web was undertaken, identifying which search features are present. The survey indicates that current digital libraries do not implement a wide range of search features. For instance: under half of the examples included controlled vocabulary, under half had proximity searching, only one enabled browsing of term indexes, and none of the digital libraries enable searchers to refine an initial search. Suggestions are made for enhancing the search effectiveness of digital libraries, for instance by: providing a full range of search operators, enabling browsing of search terms, enhancement of records with controlled vocabulary, enabling the refining of initial searches, etc.
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