Vol. 5 No. 2 (2014): Speciale "Faster, Smarter, Richer: Reshaping the library Catalogue" 2014

Using a Google Search Appliance (GSA) to search digital library collections: a case study of the INIS Collection Search

Dobrica Savic
International Atomic Energy Agency

Published 2014-05-26


  • Google Search Appliance,
  • digital libraries

How to Cite

Savic, Dobrica. 2014. “Using a Google Search Appliance (GSA) to Search Digital Library Collections: A Case Study of the INIS Collection Search”. JLIS.It 5 (2):61-83. https://doi.org/10.4403/jlis.it-10071.


Libraries are facing many challenges today. In addition to diminishing funding and increased user expectations, the use of classic library catalogues is becoming an additional challenge. Library users require fast and easy access to information resources regardless whether the format used is paper or electronic. Google search, with its speed and simplicity, set up a new standard for information retrieval which is hard to achieve with the previous generation of library search facilities. Put in a position of David versus Goliath, many small, and even larger libraries, are losing the battle with Google and letting many of its users use Google rather than library catalogues.
The International Nuclear Information System (INIS) hosts one of the world’s largest collections of published information on the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology. It offers online access to a unique collection of 3.6 million bibliographic records and 320,000 full-texts of non-conventional (grey) literature. This large digital library collection suffered from most of the well-known shortcomings of the classic library catalogue. Searching was complex and complicated, required some training in using Boolean logic, full-text searching was not an option, and the response time was slow. An opportune moment came with the retirement of the previous catalogue software and with the adoption of Google Search Appliance (GSA) as an organization-wide search engine standard. INIS was quick to realize a great potential in using such a well-known application as a replacement for its online catalogue and this paper presents the advantages and disadvantages encountered during three years of GSA use. Based on specific INIS-based practice and experience, this paper also offers some guidelines on ways to improve classic collections of millions of bibliographic and full-text documents, while achieving multiple benefits such as increased use, accessibility, usability, expandability and improving the user search and retrieval experience.


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