Hide and Seek: Blacklight’s Smart Search Functionality

Bethany wrote recently in praise of Bess Sadler’s work on Blacklight, and its recent release (as “VIRGObeta”). I’d like to offer my own (admittedly anecdotal, perhaps insignificant) praise.

Yesterday I needed to go looking in the library for Jacob Neusner’s translation of the Mishnah into English. I typed into the search box on the UVA library homepage, “Neusner Mishnah.” Seems straightforward enough, right? When I had done the same on Google Books, the book I needed was the very first search result. (Of course, Google limited my viewing of the very page of text I needed to refer to, hence the need to consult the physical book at all!) But when I searched in the legacy UVA catalog system, I received 81 results, none of which were the book I needed. Admittedly, Jacob Neusner has written a lot about the Mishnah, and I was looking for a book he did not author, but translate. Now, I knew how to modify my criteria to get the results I wanted. But should I have to? Shouldn’t the search be smart enough to help me out? Frustrated, but used to this experience, I next turned to Blacklight to try the same search. The book I needed popped up immediately, on the first page of results. Smart searching. How refreshing!

Former Scholars' Lab desk consultant and current Director of Educational Ministries at the Center for Christian Study in Charlottesville. Fitz is completing his Ph.D. at U.Va., studying the history of the Early Church. He likes talking about how early church leaders read and interpreted their Bible.

Comments are closed.

Archives