Next, our fictional student is going into RedLightGreen to find resources for her paper. RedLightGreen, a union catalog, is an excellent tool for resource discovery as the user only needs to enter one search query, and then can easily narrow or broaden her search by subject, author, or language. It combines searching and browsing in a really user-centered way. [watch the Flash movie]
The reality of searching is that most users do not know how to properly put their information need into words. As a result, they need the ability to be an active participant in the process of information discovery. RedLightGreen allows them to take part in this information discovery and recognizes the fact that users are better at identifying strings of words than in creating or recalling them.
If you haven’t already checked out RedLightGreen, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to use, especially compared to traditional OPACs. It is proof positive that we can combine the highly structured metadata of the OPAC with the usability of things like Google and Amazon (while recognizing how users actually search for and find resources).