Educational research specialist Mimas has selected Autonomy's Intelligent Data Operating Layer (IDOL) software to streamline the searching of digitised historical books.
Mimas is based at the University of Manchester and provides researchers in the UK with information and resources. It was approached by digital books service provider JISC Collections to help improve the functionality of the JISC digital book service.
"We were approached by JISC Collections who buy content and provide access to it by licence. This makes it cheaper for universities to acess the content," explained Vic Lyte, head of technology services at Mimas.
JISC offers a historic books collection that contains the full text or page images of more than 300,000 books published in Britain before 1800 as well as the British Library Nineteenth Century collection, which contains digitised versions of more than 65,000 original editions from the 19th century.
Lyte said that searching between the two data sets needed streamlining.
"If you wanted to search 17th century articles and then 18th century articles, you had to exit and search again.
"We wanted a single search interface, but more importantly a semantic linking between examples that an individual is looking for in an article," he said.
Semantic linking is when conceptually related content shows up in a search for another term. This function was key in Mimas selecting Autonomy's IDOL software.
"We did an in-depth analysis of the available technologies. We looked at Google, Yahoo and Microsoft but none could conceptualise like the Autonomy IDOL software," he said.
Lyte said that the new search function will save money.
"It would take around four and a half minutes for a paid researcher to search for a specific journal but with the IDOL software this is cut by a third," he said.
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