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In addition to being able to search library catalogues for books and journals, Franklin now offers the ability to directly search the contents of Penn's thousands of databases and e-journals. | DP File Photo

Credit: Luke Chen

Sleep-deprived essay writers, rejoice! Penn libraries has just made finding sources for that upcoming essay or term paper quicker and easier.

In addition to being able to search the library catalogue for books and journals, Franklin now offers the ability to directly search the contents of Penn's thousands of databases and e-journals. Previously, students had to search the databases themselves in order to find relevant articles and then go to a separate site to access the full text. With the new update, the libraries have eliminated this preliminary database search and can now produce a list of research-relevant articles, as well as other materials, in a single Franklin search.

Library faculty and some students have dubbed the new Franklin “Google for Penn students”.

“[Penn] subscribes to approximately 1,400 databases, citation, index and abstract databases and 182,000 journals, so there’s an enormous amount of information at your disposal," said Joe Zucca, director of strategic initiatives and library technology services.  One of the challenges for these kind of systems is helping you find your way through that incredible corpus of knowledge that the University licenses for you."

As part of its makeover, Franklin has new search options. Users can do a combined catalogue and article search or they can do an individual article search — named Articles+ — or vice versa.

In the combined search, Franklin divides  the results, showing catalogue results on one side and related articles on the other. In a practice run to show the effectiveness of the new search feature, Director of Logistics and Access Services Jon Shaw performed a sample search that yielded over 1.6 million related e-article results sorted by relevance in addition to showing the related physical corpus present at the library.

Users can click the article link to go directly to the full text and citations. A Penn text tab is also present on every page to show all the databases that contain the article so that users can go on whichever site they are most comfortable with.

What differentiates the new search from other online search sources like Google Scholar is that it is custom for members of Penn. For example, Google Scholar shows relevant articles but directs users to a paywall to access the articles. Franklin allows students to jump over the paywall and in addition shows what articles on Google Scholar are available on Penn text.

Third-year Engineering graduate student Zeyn Li and second-year Engineering graduate student Yu Sun both said that the new search has made searching for relevant materials for their engineering papers much easier, considering that the subjects they work with are specialized and can be hard to find materials for.

“I was just using [Articles+]” said Wharton senior Summer Hu, who said she ran into some difficulty last year in finding sources for research papers. “It was really helpful. I needed three sources, and before I used it, I was going to chat with librarian online to see if they could help me. But then I just searched and found the reviews I was looking for." 

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