Thursday, March 30, 2006

Guide to the Enterprise Portal Solution, Part 2 (or, What is a portal, anyway?)

The name of Sirsi's new public interface incorporates several concepts, including web portals in general, and more specifically enterprise and library portals.

In the broadest sense, a portal is simply a Web site that offers a broad array of resources and services, such as search engines, news headlines, e-mail, discussion groups, and shopping. Yahoo, MSN, and AOL are popular examples of such portals, which many users set as the starting page for their Web browser. Somewhat more narrowly, a portal such as MyYahoo takes the concept further by allowing users to customize their own Internet start page according to their own needs and preferences – displaying only their local news and weather, latest scores from their favorite teams, daily price quotes for the stocks they own, and perhaps a few feeds from blogs they follow.

The concept of the enterprise information portal developed in the context of the corporate Intranet. Such a portal integrates an organization’s electronic data and services into a single user-customizable environment. Each member of the organization can have their own unique web site with access to all of the information and services they commonly need to do their work.

EPS screen
The library portal applies this idea to the library world. The library portal has been described as “an information hub” (a familiar concept for MPLIC!) -- a single user interface for access to the wide variety of information resources both within and outside of the library. In addition to some level of personalization or customization, library portals usually include federated searching -- also known as metasearching, or broadcast searching -- which allows customers to search all of the library’s online resources – the catalog, specialized databases, and even the Web – with a single query.

More reading about library web portals:
Abram, Stephen. "The Shop Window: Compelling and Dynamic Library Portals," SirsiDynix OneSource, December 2005.
Boss, Richard. "Library Portals (PLA Tech Notes)," March, 2005.

Next: What are “Rooms?”

Image courtesy of SirsiDynix.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

The Shop Window article is a must read. This is a great summation of a growing movement in libraries.