In September 1998, the Libraries Information Access System (LIAS) became accessible on the Web. Since then, the evolution of Web LIAS has continued at a steady pace; a number of new value-added features are now in place or in the works. These changes which improve and extend the capabilities of LIAS on the Web are highlighted below.
Choose your library
In January 1999, LIAS added the ability to tailor a search on The CAT (online catalog) to include only the contents of a selected library within the forty plus that make up the Penn State University Libraries. Now using the "library" feature, a user who wishes to search for items in University Park's Math Library or Altoona's Eiche Library, for example, may limit a search to just those locations.
In The CAT on Web LIAS, every search is initiated on a Search page, which includes a drop-down box where the user can select a library. If searching from a Penn State library, the box defaults to that particular location.
Good News for Remote Users
The Fast Track to All Resources page provides an alphabetically arranged gateway to every database available through LIAS on the Web. Users who accessed the first version of LIAS on the Web from workstations other than those inside the University Libraries weren't able to select all of the menu choices, even though they were visible.
In February, the Fast Track to All Resources page was further enhanced to display only those databases accessible to the remote user, based on his or her location. Users entering from a Penn State IP address may retrieve almost all of the databases that they see at a Libraries workstation, except for databases mounted on CD-ROMs and STAT-USA, which have contract restrictions. Users entering from external addresses such as AOL may be unable to access some other databases where third-party software causes turmoil. We are hopeful that the third-party software issue will be soon resolved.
Remote users will need the following for full access to LIAS. Remember, though, that "full access" depends upon the location from which you're accessing LIAS:
I Want It
In February, the "I Want It" feature in The CAT, was revised. This useful button now lets you "Reserve" any currently available item, or "Recall" any item presently on loan to another user...no matter the item's Penn State Libraries location.
For example, if you're at University Park and want a book shelved at the Behrend College Library, clicking "I Want It" initiates a series of steps that results in the book being delivered to the circulation desk at your campus for pickup. You can even sign up to be notified of the items arrival via e-mail.
You can now limit your search results in The CAT and other locally loaded LIAS databases, by these criteria:
"Do It Yourself" features in Web LIAS that let users handle circulation information (renewal of materials, checking circulation activity on one's account, etc.) are very popular. By the end of spring semester 1999, users will be able to update their local address and e-mail information online from any workstation without staff assistance.
On the Drawing Board: Detailed Search Page
Boolean operators (And, Or, Not) used with keyword searches enable the user to search for multiple concepts at the same time, expanding or limiting retrieval as desired.
Although a user can perform a Boolean search in the current version of Web LIAS (and the older Telnet version), operators must be keyed in preceded by periods (for example, ".AND"). The Detailed Search page is scheduled for release in summer semester, hence simplifying the process by providing boxes where search terms can be entered, and drop-down boxes that enable the user to select the type of search.
Sylvia MacKinnon, Library Computing Services