The technology department has implemented the latest version of VuFind (VuFind 1.1) which is an upgraded version of our current VuFind (VuFind 1.0RC2). Although there were important back-end enhancements to VuFind 1.1, this blog post is going to discuss some of the new improvements that impact the front-end of the application. The new features include alphabetic browse, better advanced search, and enhanced RSS functionality.

The link to the alphabetic browse page (Alpha Browse) will be found on the new VuFind home page under “Catalog Options” at the bottom of the page . This module provides a traditional alphabetical heading browse capability allowing users to see all of the authors, subjects and titles in our collection. The browsing result page lists results in alphabetical order including the number of records found under each result.

The link to the advanced search page (Advanced Search) will also be found on the new VuFind home page under “Catalog Options” at the bottom of the page. This feature has been improved to allow users to specify their search to a specific combination of fields. By clicking on “Add Search Field”, the user is provided with an additional search field allowing him/her to add further search specifications. A reference librarian tested the advanced search feature today and said: “I always used to teach students in BI sessions how to do complex, multi-concept searches both in the online catalog as well as in databases (with the standard 3-concept search template). It was a constraint when I could no longer do that in VuFind, and instead had to do multiple permutations of search terms. I tried the following in the new Advanced Search: diar* or correspondence AND women AND civil war. 19 results. This is great. The flexibility will be so useful for more complex searching needs”.

The RSS feeds are more efficient in VuFind 1.1 due to a new back-end functionality called Record Change Tracking. With this functionality, RSS dates are based on the date items are added to our collection instead of publication dates. Now RSS feeds are sorted by index dates and display index dates within the feed. This will allow users to track searches in order to be notified of new additions within their chosen areas of interest (like new videos).

We would like to move this new version of VuFind into production on Thursday May 12, 2011 to replace our current VuFind instance. We would need your help to make this transition so please try out the new implementation and provide us with feedback. The information collected will help us polish the product before moving it into production.