May 24, 2007

Summa: A Better Library Catalogue / Search Engine without Spending a Dime

Many of us have watched libraries who have rolled out Endeca, a faceted browse and search system to replace the traditional OPAC and have been impressed with the functionality and would like to offer it to our users, but where would we find the funds to do so? There's a wonderful search system, Summa, that incorporated faceted browse and many other next generation library catalogue features, and what's more it won't cost you a dime.

According to Jens Hofman Hansen, the Denmark State and University Library is planning to open source Summa, their integrated search system, with a whole host of wonderful features in 2008. Summa is a search service that you can put on top of any library system or other XML formatted data. You export data from one or more sources and index it overnight.

Try out a few searches using the English language interface and look for these features (some are still being added) to the beta version:

# Integrated search and sort by relevance
# Extra information that adds value and meaning
# Availability shown in the search results
# Did you mean...?
# Suggestions
# Find an expert; search for a subject and find the subject specialist
# Book or CD covers
# Mark, save, and bulk request or export to RefWorks
# Interface in Multiple languages
# Recommendations - Other users who borrowed this, also borrowed...
# Editorial reviews from Amazon
# Display of closely-related works, currently working on this feature, to roll up to the level the work: multiple editions, etc.
# Clusters – fully automatic classification

How well does it do? Well let's try a simple search for "dachshund". Not a surprise that there's just a couple of titles and of course, no subject expert for this topic, but there's a nice list of similar items. There's no book cover available for this title.

So let's look at an example of searching "kønsstudier" or Gender Studies. Now these results are much richer and more interesting. You can limit the results by facets or find people (subject experts) as well as other material types.

Find out more:

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Hi Darlene,

Thanks for mentioning Summa. The plan is to open source in the beginning of 2008. I just did a search on "dachshund" in our running system which has a few more features than the developer version :-)

Check out the covers:

Thanks - love those covers.
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