Thursday, October 21, 2010

DRAGNET and its offspring

My summer project this year was to create a search gadget to put on our Facebook page. Google gives you access to something called Custom Search if you have a Google account (and why wouldn't you?) I'd used this to little effect in my Quinnipiac days, but I knew that there are many good free sites in the legal world, so I gave that another try. Once I had added about thirty sites, I knew I was on to something big. The more sites I added the more powerful this became, and the speed was always lightning-fast. Over the summer we finalized it, got the database count up to 80, and launched it with a new name "DRAGNET." The idea came from library director Camille Broussard, and I worked out the acronym "Database Resource Access using Google's New Electronic Technology."

Once I announced DRAGNET to some listservs it became an immediate sensation. I got several good suggestions about how to expand and fine-tune its results screens. The new expanded DRAGNET went live yesterday with search tabs for New York, International, Federal and a tab that displays the most recent hits from all 80 sites. Then I added the same search technology to a screen we keep that tracks 150 law journals with current issues and archives available free online - "Law Reviews with online content." More recently, at Camille's suggestion, I created a search page to use DRAGNET technology to track the constitutions and state codes of all 50 states and the federal government. This went public today at the NYLS Website.

I have about 10 custom searches in progress, including a few that I did just for practice. One of them tracks suggested recipe sites, to avoid the ones that have abusive popups. That will appear on my personal web page one of these days. Christina Crocker of the East Meadow Public Library used the technique to track book talk information. There is just no end to this.