Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Aquabrowser and Archaeology

This morning I went to a presentation on the university's new catalogue search tool, Library Search, which uses the Aquabrowser interface. While it's not going to replace our old search tool, Newton, straight away, it sounds like it's going to be phased in over the next year or so. I was pretty impressed with the presentation, and although they made it clear that there are still some problems with it and it's not perfect by any means, there are several things that I think are going to be really good about it.

One of the main aims of Library Search is to promote discovery when using the catalogue, so it uses some kind of word association to nudge users towards books on similar topics, and there's an optional word cloud which will hopefully do more than just look pretty.

The MyDiscoveries feature sounded great, users will be able to tag books themselves and comment on them, and you'll be able to see comments not just from Cambridge libraries but from any other libraries using Aquabrowser (including Harvard, Chicago, RICE, and York universities). Apparently it's bringing in tags, comments and also star ratings from LibraryThing too which will be cool. I like the fact that when the first Cambridge students start using this, there will already be comments, tags and ratings up there.

The main bad news for me is that just after learning to use Newton I now need to learn how to use Library Search, but I guess everyone will be learning to use that together.

I met Jen, the Murray Edwards trainee, at the presentation, we didn't really get a chance to talk but we're all meeting up on Tuesday after work so that will be good to get to know the others!

After the presentation we came back to the library, did some work, had lunch, then went outside to look at the digging going on in the gardens!

In World War II when they were digging to put in an air raid shelter, they found some human skeletons. Throughout the week, about 20 sixth form students, as well as some archaeologists from the college, have been digging two trenches where the shelter was, to try and find any more skeletons, or anything else interesting! So far they haven't got deep enough to find skeletons (they've only dug out 18 tons of earth, the slackers!), but they have found lots of bits of pottery of all shapes and sizes going back to Roman times, tiles, bricks, glass, and several bits of bone including one possible human finger bone! I took a few pictures, trying out my phone camera which turned out to be not great but not terrible either *shrug*.

There were two trenches a few metres apart from each other, and it was quite interesting to see the difference between the things dug up in trench 1 and in trench 2. You probably can't see in these pictures though!          

I might go back on friday to see how much deeper they've got and what kind of stuff they've uncovered by then!

Tomorrow I have a Cambridge Library Group meeting after work, then Rory is coming to stay for a couple of days, before we both go back home at the weekend, I'll be lending my *ahem* sharp young mind *ahem* to the parents' quiz team hehe :)

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