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ChaCha in Indiana

This session is explaining the relationship between ChaCha and Indiana University (including IUPUI) to a very empty room. Speakers are Polly Boruff-Jones (IUPUI), J B Hill and Jennifer Laherty (both from IU Bloomington).  Polly explains ChaCha. ChaCha is now mobile search with a guide, as they’ve done away with guided search on the Web. J B talks about the actual deal between the univeristies and ChaCha. It seems that it’s a happy relationship – the librarians enjoy the deal because it extends libraries’ reference presence throughout the University web site and course management system and allows libraries to have an impact on campus search. ChaCha benefits by exploring new market, increase in customer base, increase in knowledge resources. Jennifer says the ChaCha architecture is web-based platform. It has authentication via CAS (Central Authentication System from Yale). Logic has ability to take infoseekers (that’s ChaCha’s term for end-users) to the guide best able to answer query. So a health question goes to the Health Center; if it’s research, it goes to the library. Now she’s got up a flowchart on the screen. Sends to best available guide, waits 3 seconds, if no answer, goes to 2nd guide, wait 2 seconds, and so on. Corporate call center technology.

Jennifer is showing search form for movies. When they started the library sent pre-vetted results to ChaCha. Apparently at IU and IUPUI, the web "search with a guide" platform still exists. She’s now showing the guides’ screen. In theory, the system relies on the Knowledge Base and adds to it as the system learns from questions asked and answered. The difference between what ChaCha can do inside the university and outside is that the librarians can access premium content databases for the academic community. Jennifer’s showing EBSCO’s Academic Premier. She can search it and show to a student in her capacity as guide.

IU is only academic partner. IU has 140 guides, will add another 20. There have been 998 session requests, there were 853 last year. Most come from IUB campus. ChaCha gives them lots of statistics, like requests per hour and ratings of the guides.


Marydee Ojala

Editor, ONLINE: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals

Drilling Down into Your Search

During Monday afternoon’s Metasearch & Clustering Engines presentation, Tamas Doszkocs, senior computer scientist at the National Library of Medicine, talked about the beginnings of searching multiple sources.

In the process, he gave a nice endorsement: He said the best multi-faceted clustering search OPAC he’s seen is that of the North Carolina State University libraries, which is powered by Endeca. "It’s a very nice catalog" that lets you drill down further and further into results sets.

~Kathy Dempsey, CIL Editor in Chief