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CIL2008: LibX

Apr - 15 - 2008
Nicole C. Engard

Kyrille Goldbeck and Dr. Godmar Back of Virginia Tech talked to us about LibX. I (probably like you) have heard of this tool before – but I had no idea how cool and powerful it was!!

LibX was originally developed as a way for patrons to take the library with them on the web as a sort of a “virtual librarian” that guides user to library resources while they use the web. LibX is a Firefox tool and an IE plugin (view screenshots and screencasts via the LibX site).

This handy tool adds a toolbar to your browser where you can search the catalog for your institution. It even lets you add additional lines for advanced searching and choose the fields you’d like to search. When you perform a search, it opens the results in a new tab/window – so that you don’t lose the page you were on. Another (seemingly simple – yet often overlooked) awesome feature is that the search terms you entered in your toolbar come down into the catalog interface so you can alter/re-run the search.

In addition to allowing catalog searches via the toolbar, LibX also integrates itself into various websites. When on Amazon.com each book page has a LibX link to the library catalog (this uses xISBN) that searches for any edition of the book you’re viewing.

You can also highlight the book title or ISBN and right click to see search options in the catalog (and LibX knows which you’re highlighting – title or ISBN and runs the right search).

Next, if you have the tool installed and you visit Barnes & Noble’s site, you’ll see that the ISBN is linked (the dashed underline means that the page has been altered by an external app). If you click that link you’ll be brought into the catalog with results for an ISBN search.

But that’s not all! LibX also searches for articles! You can choose to search Google Scholar and then on the results page the links automatically reformat to go to the library’s databases (if the articles are available) with openresolver links. This works both on and off campus. If you’re off campus, you can reload the page using EZproxy and access the resources from home.

And as if that isn’t enough!! We’re always told to check the references in the articles we’re reading – well LibX makes this super easy! You just open up the PDF file and drag a reference onto the Google Scholar button on the toolbar. A new tab will open with the results!!

How is it that I went through library school without realizing how handy this tool was???

If you’re wondering how you can get this for your institution, it’s actually pretty easy!

Originally, institutions had to contact Virginia Tech to ask them to create the toolbar for them – but now you can use LibX Editions and create your own toolbar in minutes. Keep in mind that some manual customization will be required to make this toolbar meet your library’s needs.

That said, Editions has had a great impact on the usage of LibX. This tool allows anyone to build a LibX edition, share it, copy it, modify it and distribute it. All in the spirit of open source!

Conclusions

I wish I was still in school so I could use this tool all of the time – for now I’ll have to settle for using it when researching blog posts :)

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