Alexandra Papazoglou gives a final report on Project Verity: Virtual and Electronic Resources for Information skills Training for Young people.
A user analysis conducted prior to the project confirmed what many librarians have already experienced. Young people need help from the library in the selection of appropriate resources selected on the basis of their quality and relevance. They need a better search platform in order to locate OPAC and Web resources than the one normally available through traditional tools. They also need better training in developing their information skills. On the basis of these findings Verity attempts to offer a solution to this problem by providing a new search service called 'Virtual Resource Finder'
The Verity project first produced an English prototype called Virtual Resource Finder that has two parts:
Figure 1: The Resource Finder
The resource finder guides the user through a series of options that assist him in locating the correct bibliographic information both in the OPAC and from a database of selected web resources. For the purposes of the prototype the Web resources were chosen from two large subject areas: environment and social issues.
The idea of the project was to try to offer on line the type of support the user normally receives when assisted by a librarian in the library environment. After consideration of various possibilities it was decided that the best way to accomplish this objective, given the budget and time constrains of the project, was through the use of a thesaurus. A thesaurus offers links and suggestions similar to the ones offered by a librarian when trying to assist a user. For the particular needs of Verity, the EUROVOC thesaurus was considered. The selection was based on the fact that it is available in the 4 out of the 5 languages (English, German, Greek, Portuguese) of the project and it covers the subject areas of the environment and the social issues. For the Finnish prototype the partner had to provide a translation of EUROVOC in the Finnish language.
When the user queries the resource finder through a keyword search, the submitted term gets linked to a list of relative terms provided by EUROVOC . The user can stop and think if the keyword he used was the appropriate one, or whether one of the options provided serve better his purpose. In Figure 2 one sees that there is a variety of terms related to the query population that represent different aspects of the submitted keyword.
Figure 2: Related terms provided after the initial keyword search
The user can either continue with his original term of choose one of the related terms,
The outcome of the search could be a result screen or a no result screen.
The result screen can provide library catalogue resources from both the OPAC of the library and selected Web resources from the special database built by the library, or it can present resources from either the OPAC or the Web resources database.
In the example provided in Figure 3 the user is presented with both library and Web resources that correspond to the query population.
Figure 3: Virtual Resource Finder Results screen
When the result screen does not provide satisfactory resources because of too many or too few resources, or because of content quality, the user can choose to continue his search. Also available are options for selecting an encyclopedia in order to get better acquainted with the research topic, a dictionary to check the spelling of the keyword used, the ask a librarian option to directly ask a librarian for help by means of e-mail communication. The user can also make an advanced search, which is really a Boolean search screen that provides the Boolean operators.
By selecting the continue button the user is transferred to another screen, again EUROVOC supported which can provide a specific related term, a broader or a narrow term. By choosing one of these terms the user can go on and find more and better resources (see Figure 4).
Figure 4: Related, broader and narrow terms screen
The encyclopedia, the dictionary, the advanced search and the ask a librarian options are also available to the user in a no result screen in order to assist him in the search process. Help screens are also provided throughout in order to offer additional help in this process.
To further assist the user with their search needs and also train them in the information seeking process a special section called infoskills has been developed by the Verity project.
Infoskills includes the following three sections:
The Learning material is a guide for information seeking and processing specially designed for school assignment and project work. It teaches the user how to work effectively with information. The topics it develops are
An example of a model paper is included in order to allow a young person to follow it when writing his own paper.
The self-evaluation questionnaire section presents ideas concerning the writing process and provides a forty five questions questionnaire users can take to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses in searching and writing. An explanation of the scores helps the user understand his problem areas. Users can take the questionnaire again to see how practice has contributed in the improvement of his information and writing skills.
Finally the Teachers guide discusses the challenges of education of the future and required conceptual changes. It offers guidance in encouraging collaborative work, how to construct new knowledge and understanding the knowledge-seeking goal.
After the completion and verification of the first prototype in English , additional prototypes were also produced in Finnish , German , Greek  and Portuguese .
Guided and assisted by the Virtual Resource Finder the user gets the support that the current commercial library catalogue softwares cannot provide and the quality and directness that search engines cannot offer. The features and concept of both the resource finder and the infoskills of the Verity project can and should be exploited by commercial companies in order to provide better service to young users. The Virtual Resource Finder can become a very powerful tool that would add quality to the search strategy and offer an effective search mechanism not only limited to young users.
For more information on the Verity project see the international home page . An introduction article to the Verity project was given in Exploit Interactive issue 2 .
Athens College Library
Alexandra Papazoglou gained a MLS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College, Boston USA. She then worked at Widener Library, Harvard University between 1976 and 1982. Since 1987 she has been Director of Libraries, of the schools and programmes for the Hellenic American Educational Foundation. She is the local project manager for the CHILIAS and VERITY (Telematics for Libraries 1994-1998, European Union) projects. She is also a reviewer for the Telematics for Libraries (1993,1994,1995,1997) and the IST (1999) Programmes.
Alexandra is secretary of the Section for School Libraries and Resource Centers, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (1997-2001) and a member of the Co-ordinating Board of the Division Libraries Serving the General Public (1997-2001) for the same organisation. She has worked as an expert on library issues for the Greek Ministry of Education, the Greek National Documentation Centre and the Union Catalogue of the Greek Academic Libraries. She works as a consultant to public and academic libraries in Greece and is the author of many professional articles, an editor of conference proceedings and professional Newsletters (Greek Library Association 1991-1995 and IFLA, Section of School libraries 1997- ).
For citation purposes:
Alexandra Papazoglou, "Project Verity: Virtual and Electronic Resources for Information skills Training for Young people: a New Online Library Service for Young People", Exploit Interactive, issue 7, 2nd October 2000
[HTML Validation] - [Accessibility check]
Issue Home | Editorial | Features | Regular Columns | News and Events | Et cetera
|Go to Top||
A UKOLN Service. Contact Us.
Copyright © 1999
|Last Updated: 2nd October 2000|