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Using Endeca for a Catalog Interface. “So, yeah, the catalog sucks, but what are you going to do about it?”. Andrew K. Pace Head, Information Technology NCSU Libraries “OPAC Complainers”.

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Using endeca for a catalog interface

Using Endeca for a Catalog Interface

“So, yeah, the catalog sucks, but what are you going to do about it?”

Andrew K. Pace

Head, Information Technology

NCSU Libraries

Opac complainers
“OPAC Complainers”

“There is certainly no dearth of OPAC complainers. You have Andrew Pace (OPACs suck), and Roy Tennant (You Can’t Put Lipstick on a Pig) writing and presenting about the need for change (more simplicity) in the OPAC world. I can appreciate their arguments for a simpler OPAC (not to mention the rest of the system) but other then present their arguments, neither has much in the way of suggestions nor have they sparked a movement among librarians or the automation vendors to do anything about the situation.”

-ACRL Blog entry


  • The State of the Market

  • Purchase decision

  • Implementation team

  • Technical overview

  • Features

  • Interface decisions

  • The future…

Nextgen opac
NextGen OPAC

  • The Next Generation OPAC is more than just a facelift

    • Vivisimo clustered search (demo)

    • Aquabrowser visual context (demo)

    • RLG FRBR combined holdings (demo)

    • Endeca faceted search (demo)

  • More products on the horizon

    • Innovative Interfaces “OPAC Pro”

    • SirsiDynix Enterprise Portal System

    • Ex Libris, Talis, et alWeb Services

    • OCLC Custom Worldcat

Pursuit of features

Endeca, et al

Relevance Ranking

Faceted Browsing

True Browsing (LC)



Automatic stemming

“Did you mean…”

Unicorn / Web2

Last-in / First-out

Authority index links

Query required

As if…




Pursuit of Features

Purchase decision
Purchase Decision

  • Lots of broad topical keyword searches

  • Authority infrastructure underutilized

  • No relevancy ranking of results

  • Opportunity to partner with Endeca

Implementation team
Implementation Team

  • Andrew Pace, Systems, Chair

  • Cindy Levine, Research and Information Services

  • Emily Lynema, Systems, ex officio (tech lead)

  • Erik Moore, Systems, ex officio (ILS librarian)

  • Charley Pennell, Cataloging

  • Shirley Rodgers, Systems

  • Tito Sierra, Digital Library Initiatives

Technical overview
Technical Overview

  • Endeca ProFind co-exists with SirsiDynix Unicorn ILS and Web2 online catalog.

  • Endeca indexes MARC records exported from Unicorn.

  • Index is refreshed nightly with records added/updated during previous day.

Endeca profind overview
Endeca ProFind Overview

  • Endeca’s ProFind software is responsible for…

    • Ingesting and indexing reformatted NCSU data.

    • Creating a back-end service that responds to queries with result sets.

  • NCSU is responsible for…

    • Reformatting MARC records into something Endeca application can parse.

    • Keeping these reformatted records up to date.

    • Building the web application that users see.

    • Sending queries to Endeca back-end service and displaying results.

Data extraction
Data Extraction

  • First, extract MARC data for import into Endeca.

Marc to
MARC to ??

  • Endeca doesn’t understand MARC records.

  • MARC  flat text file(s) for ingest by Endeca.

  • Creates opportunity to manipulate data on the back-end.

Nightly update
Nightly Update

  • Each night a script updates the data indexed by Endeca:

    • Exports updated or new MARC records from Unicorn.

    • Reformats and merges these records with those already indexed.

    • Starts Endeca re-index – completely rebuilding index for the catalog.

  • Process requires about 7 hours.

Interface decisions
Interface Decisions

  • Search interface pages

  • Full view holdings display

  • Order of dimensions

Search interface pages
Search Interface Pages

  • Problem: How to provide Endeca keyword searching and Web2 authority searching while keeping the search interface as close to the ‘one box’ approach as possible.

Pre endeca catalog search
Pre-Endeca Catalog Search

  • 6 search tabs

  • 14 radio buttons

  • 1-4 drop down boxes

Endeca catalog search
Endeca Catalog Search

  • 3 search tabs

  • No radio buttons

  • 2 search boxes

  • Keyword search default

Full view holdings display
Full-View Holdings Display

  • Problem: Communicate whether a resource is available and where it is located in a usable fashion.

Pre endeca results list
Pre-Endeca Results List

  • Too many boxes, lines, and shaded areas.

  • Elements for a single record not visually grouped.

Using endeca for a catalog interface

First version of results page wireframe (~8 total iterations).

Ideas drawn from Web2, RedLightGreen, Amazon, etc.

Using endeca for a catalog interface

Brief view vs. Full view gives user choice about displaying holdings.

5th Revision:

Attempt to aggregate holdings information by call number. Particularly confusing for online resources.

Using endeca for a catalog interface

Reduces complexity of continuing and online resources. holdings.

8th (and Final) Revision:

Aggregate holdings information by library.

Dimension display
Dimension Display holdings.

  • Problem: With 10 dimensions to display on the results page, where should they appear (and in what order)?

  • Goal: Give high visibility to dimensions that will be most valuable to users, but also highlight useful dimensions that may represent new concepts.

Using endeca for a catalog interface

9. Availability holdings.

10. Library of Congress Classification

  • Subject: Topic

  • Subject: Genre

  • Format

  • Library

  • Subject: Region

  • Subject: Era

  • Language

  • Author

Quick demo
Quick Demo holdings.


Challenges holdings.

  • Using LCSH like it’s never been used before

  • Using LC Classification for collection browsing

  • Integration with Web2 and authority searching

  • Creeping Featuritis

    • FRBR (“Record Rollup”)

    • Authority File  Endeca Thesaurus

  • Uncharted territory

Future plans
Future Plans holdings.

  • Ongoing tweaks:

    • Relevance ranking algorithms & spell correction thresholds

    • Display fixes/enhancements

    • Additional browsing options

  • Endeca 2.0 ideas

    • FRBR-ized display [more on this in a minute]

    • Discussions with OCLC regarding FAST (Faceted Access to Subject Terms)

    • Build detail page in Endeca with live item data from Oracle

    • Shopping cart functionality for email/export of records

    • Enrich records with supplemental content – more usable TOCs, book reviews, etc.

    • The death of authority searching (?)

Frbr rollup
FRBR & Rollup holdings.

  • Explore Endeca’s built-in rollup functionality.

  • Need to create a single text key to ‘roll up’ individual records for different editions into a single work result.

  • Looking at using author/title keys as outlined in the Library of Congress FRBR display tool algorithm.

Using endeca for a catalog interface

Users performs keyword search for ‘iliad’ holdings.

Single aggregate record represents 73 actual records — different editions of Iliad with Homer as author

Using endeca for a catalog interface

Click on ‘See all editions’ to view individual publication and holdings information for each aggregated result.

Some user reaction
Some User Reaction publication and holdings information for each aggregated result.

“This is absolutely the coolest thing I've seen all century.”

  • Will Owen, Head of Systems (UNC Libraries)

    “Also, I'm really digging the new NCSU library catalog. Very nice."

    - Educause staff (non-librarian)

    “The new Endeca system is incredible. It would be difficult to exaggerate how much better it is than our old online card catalog (and therefore that of most other universities). I've found myself searching the catalog just for fun, whereas before it was a chore to find what I needed.”

    - NCSU Undergrad, Statistics

Thanks publication and holdings information for each aggregated result.


    Andrew Pace

    Emily Lynema