A new interface for IUCAT: Blacklight

As you may have heard, work has begun on a new interface for IUCAT. The IU Libraries OLE Discovery Layer Implementation Task Force (DLITF) will be overseeing the implementation of a new discovery layer, powered by Blacklight, to overlay our current SirsiDynix system. Development work is going on during this fall semester and a public Beta will be launched in spring 2012. This is a good time to share some background information around the new discovery interface, Blacklight.

What is Blacklight?

Blacklight is a free and open source OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog) solution developed at the University of Virginia (UVA) Library; check the project site for detailed information. While some OSS (Open Source Software) systems, such as Evergreen and Koha, were developed to replace a library’s entire ILS (Integrated Library System), Blacklight has been designed to work with a library’s current ILS to assist in reengineering the library’s searching tools.  It uses Apache Solr for indexing and searching records and Ruby on Rails for its front end.

What are some of the features?

Blacklight features faceted browsing, relevance based searching, bookmarkable items, permanent URLs for every item, and user tagging of items. As it is capable of searching both catalog records and digital repository objects, digitized images or repositories become more discoverable for users.  Unlike MARC records, which use similar templates for different types of objects, the use of Ruby on Rails allows librarians to define behaviors that are specific to certain kind of objects.

Where can we see examples?

The Task Force will begin soliciting feedback on the local beta implementation in the near future, but in the meantime, if you would like to see more, there are other mature installations of blacklight you may review. The University of Virginia, Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University, and WGBH are the principal contributors to the code base. There are dozens of sites worldwide and here are some of heavy users:

If you have questions about the task force or the project, feel free to contact us!

Additional reading:

Sadler, B. (2009). Project Blacklight: a next generation library catalog at a first generation  university. Library Hi Tech, 27(1), 57 – 67. Access the full text.

Sadler, B., Gilbert, J., & Mitchell, M. (2009). Library catalog mashup: using Blacklight to expose collections. In Engard, N. C. (Ed.) Library mashups : exploring new ways to deliver library data. Medford, N.J. : Information Today, Inc. Access the record in WorldCat.org.

Author- Hyeran Kang

Graduate Assistant, Digital User Experience department

3 thoughts on “A new interface for IUCAT: Blacklight”

  1. This is a great intro. We keep hearing about “Blacklight” but having the pointers to all this additional information is super helpful… thanks!

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