Source Finder

The SourceFinder

SourceFinder is an online resource that allows users to quickly and easily generate a "Source List" of important study materials.  Sources compiled when the user runs the SourceFinder may range from databases, to Web pages, to printed reference works, depending on the options the user selects.

Overview and Purpose

The SourceFinder was designed to replace 15 "static" online study guides developed and maintained by Preston Library staff members.  An example of the old study guides we used can be seen here: English and Fine Arts Study Guide.

Two key goals drove our development of the SourceFinder: to decrease maintenance issues for librarians who create such lists, and to allow patrons the power to create their own "customized" lists.   The SourceFinder is modeled largely on The Data Genie, created by Paul Adalian at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.  Similar resources have been created by Dickinson College and Cornell.

While the SourceFinder has taken time and effort to develop, we believe it will be easier than creating and maintaining numerous study guides over the long run.  It takes the place of nearly 20 individual study guides and lists of links, including lists arranged: by subject,  format, and title.   Furthermore, it allows the user to decide how to arrange resources, instead of forcing them to conform to lists created by librarians.

In addition to centralization and ease of use, the SourceFinder provides a consistent template for all web pages generated.  That means pages will automatically be consistent in style and appearance, and that subject specialists entering new resources do not need to know any HTML.

Finally, it should be pointed out that the SourceFinder interface used by the public reveals only a portion of the entire project.  There is a separate interface to the web-based forms that allows librarians to access and modify data in the SourceFinder database.  Access to the database is password protected for security.  

Technical Details

The SourceFinder application is simply a series of dynamic web pages created to access information stored in a database residing on the VMI Web server.  Any change made to the database by a librarian is immediately reflected in the Web page that is generated by a subsequent user request.   FrontPage 98 was used to generate the Web site and an Access database is being used to store the information.   If you would like more information please contact David Somers.

Development Team

David Somers - Web Administrator

Don Samdahl - Head Librarian

Janet Holly - Reference Librarian

David Hess - Head of Media Services

Ken Winter - Reference Librarian

Special thanks goes to Paul Adalian at the Robert E. Kennedy Library at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.  Paul developed the concept of a "study guide generator," and was a source of encouragement and support for our efforts to do the same. 

Updated, Tuesday, January 19, 2010