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SearchWorks enhancements: Requests, Government Documents, and more


You may have noticed some changes in SearchWorks over the past several weeks. We've been working on a list of features prioritized by the SearchWorks Steering Committee and user feedback: new Requests forms, a Government Documents access point, better discovery and display of digital content, new items feed, and more email options.

Here's an end-of-year wrap-up and a look at what's still to come in 2016.


The Request forms have been completely redesigned. The former process for requesting delivery from off-campus locations, or placing a hold or recall, was built on aged and fragile technology and had become impossible to update. The forms themselves were difficult to use, and not fully accessible. This functionality was replaced from the bottom up, resulting in improvements to the user experience, support for new services, and an infrastructure that will allow for expansion of services in SearchWorks and on the library website.

  • Scan-to-PDF:  Stanford patrons can now request PDF delivery of parts of print items, such as an article, or book chapter. This is a pilot service, requiring SUNet ID login, and limited to our circulating collection at SAL3. Future plans include expanding this service to additional SUL libraries.

Request feature in SearchWorks

  • All Special Collections items can now be requested via SearchWorks. Previously, only a subset of items could be requested online; many had to be requested in person or via email, which was especially challenging for scholars who were travelling to visit our collections.
  • Usability and accessibility of the forms have been improved, including:
    • opening the request form in the context of your search result or record page, instead of leaving SearchWorks;
    • fewer steps to complete for most requests;
    • translating the complex delivery schedule to an estimated delivery date, based on the hours of the selected delivery library;
    • emailing a copy of the request to the requester, with a link to a page to check delivery status.
  • A new administrative interface allows library staff to mediate and troubleshoot requests when appropriate, and to post alerts about planned or unplanned closures and delays affecting paging libraries.

Government Documents

A Government Documents access point has been added to the Featured resources column. Stanford is a depository library for California state, federal, UN, and EU government documents, and has extensive holdings of documents from foreign national and local IGOs and NGOs. The new access point brings all these documents (including e-resources) together in a single search result, allowing you to search within, or refine further by call number, resource type, topic, etc.

Features resources in SearchWorks

Better integration of digital surrogates

For some time now, digital versions of physical objects in the Libraries have appeared twice in search results: one record for the physical object, and a separate record for the digitized version of that object. In some cases, one physical object is associated with multiple digital objects. These records have now been merged, so that one record represents both the physical and digital version(s) of the same object. Here’s an example showing two versions of a map held by the Earth Sciences library.

New viewer for Stanford Digital Repository content

The embedded viewer for digital images has been updated with an improved zoom experience and gallery view.

Embedded viewer in SearchWorks

We are currently working on new viewers to show interactive previews of geospatial objects and archived websites. These viewers allow you to:

  • view the digital content directly in SearchWorks;
  • download the content, as allowed by the use and reproduction statement;
  • embed the same viewer in any other web page, blog, etc.

For more detail about the viewers, see What you need to know about the redesigned SDR PURL page.

Changes and additions based on user feedback

New items feed. An orange icon now appears next to the results count on any search result. Clicking the icon shows the Atom feed for the search result, automatically sorted by newness. (Depending on the browser and its configuration, clicking the icon may automatically open the feed in your reader.)

"New to the Libraries" is now a sort option on search results.

New item feed in SearchWorks

Email records to more than one address. And if you are sending to a third party and would like a response, you can add your own address in the Email-from field. (To mitigate spam opportunities, the Email-from address is included as plain text in the email.)

Email feature in SearchWorks

There is more coming in the new year, including:

  • support for new digital content types, such as digitized books, geospatial objects, and web archive seed records,
  • digital bookplates to acknowledge our donors’ contributions,
  • improved discoverability of items in Art Locked Stacks.

These updates are the culmination of many months of hard work by a large number of staff in DLSS, Technical Services and across SUL. Thanks and kudos to all who were involved.

We welcome your feedback on these improvements and new features.  Please send us your comments by clicking the "Feedback" link in SearchWorks.