In a joint effort between the California State University Chancellor’s Office and the CSUs, university library collections are available to student and faculty researchers of all disciplines statewide through a software tool called OneSearch.
Instead of limiting CSUF researchers to the 1 million books of the Pollak Library at CSUF, OneSearch allows access to over 29 million books in the CSU system.
“OneSearch is the culmination of a three-year project amongst all of the Cal State Universities,” said Mike DeMars, Pollak Library systems and instruction librarian.
The Pollak Library rolled out the new online public access catalog in June 2017.
Prior to its soft summer release, OneSearch was demonstrated to college deans, the Academic Senate and faculty and thoroughly tested on its features.
“What you are seeing now is the result of extensive user testing that was conducted at four different campuses,” DeMars said. “We did all this testing to make sure we had something good out the gate but ultimately, your biggest group of testers is going to be the public.”
The Pollak Library website states that OneSearch features an intuitive, user-friendly interface that makes it easy to find, cite and save materials from all the CSU library collections.
“I think that’s excellent,” said English major Chelsea Harrinson. “With more resources extending from other campus libraries, it’s not so limited to what our campus has to offer.”
With the new feature CSU+, students, staff and faculty can request a physical book from any other CSU campus library to be delivered to their home campus within two to three days.
As the semester is well under way, OneSearch is receiving mixed reviews. Some professors say it is unclear whether OneSearch is more efficient than the old system.
Complaints have been voiced by faculty and students that OneSearch is too broad, has difficulties filtering search criteria and lacks access to previous databases.
“I think that students are flummoxed by it and not sure how to use it,” said Ellen Caldwell, associate English professor, Ph.D. “My sense is that the caliber of research being done by students (using OneSearch) has not improved.”
But some students have found success using the tool.
“It’s much easier to use,” Harrinson said. “Rather than giving just one academic source it gives multiple sources. The way it’s set up isn’t as difficult as the previous system.”
For students who are new to OneSearch or having difficulties with the interface, the Pollak Library systems team installed a suite of tutorial videos on the Pollak Library YouTube channel, along with an “Ask Us” icon directly on the search pages.
By clicking on the icon, researchers have access to a chat feature operated 24/7 by a campus librarian.
“We can’t anticipate everything that people are going to do and how they are going to use it,” DeMars said.
The report a problem feature is a link that gives users the opportunity to report any issues immediately with a same day response from the library systems team, DeMars said.
OneSearch also comes installed with a robust analytics feature.
A task force made up of representatives from multiple CSU schools communicate through Slack, an interoffice channel to monitor user issues and generate reports to improve research efficiency.
“Because we all went live at the same time, we’re all getting our feet wet,” DeMars said.
With a new product like OneSearch implemented and offered to thousands of researchers simultaneously, it takes time to get the library systems team up to speed and utilize the analytics reports effectively.
“We’re all working together to make it a better product,” DeMars said. “When you see the OneSearch icon, it’s going to be the same experience no matter where you go. All the libraries are on the same page, and we’re all talking to one another. ”