EEVL is the Hub for engineering, mathematics and computing. It is an award-winning free service, which provides quick and reliable access to the best engineering, mathematics, and computing information available on the Internet. It is created and run by a team of information specialists from a number of universities and institutions in the UK. EEVL helps students, staff and researchers in higher and further education, as well as anyone else working, studying or looking for information in Engineering, Mathematics and Computing. It is funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) through the Resource Discovery Network (RDN).
Brand new EEVL service
There is a brand new EEVL service at http://www.eevl.ac.uk
As well as engineering, which has been covered since 1996, the new EEVL service also encompasses mathematics and computing. New database software to power the extended service has been written by Geir Granum, the EEVL Technical Officer. A brand new web site has been designed with several interesting features. It works in a similar way to the old service, so regular users should find it easy to become familiar with the new service. The new site is sponsored by Adept Scientific, who supply and support a range of software and hardware products for scientific, technical, mathematical and industrial applications on desktop computers.
The official title of EEVL for some time now has included the tag "the guide to engineering, mathematics and computing information on the Internet". Now all three subjects are available from the EEVL web site.
The core of the new site is still the searchable and browseable Internet Resource Catalogue (IRC) which now contains over 7,000 records covering all subjects within engineering, mathematics and computing. Thanks to AERADE, who provide IRC records in Aerospace and Defence, this section of Engineering is particularly well represented, but all the other subject sections are rapidly being populated. Content for the Mathematics section is being managed by the University of Birmingham, whilst the University of Ulster is managing the content for the Computing section.
Enter a search statement in the search box on the home page and the results will be fairly familiar to those who used the old service except for two things: the Engineering Newsgroup Archive is no longer cross-searched; and the full text search engine, which is cross-searched, has been completely revamped. Both changes should improve the service and make it more user friendly. For some time we have been aware that the relevance of results from the newsgroup archive was sometimes low and did not justify being cross-searched from the main search box. The newsgroup archive is still available separately elsewhere on the site.
The new search environment on the home page has been designed to make it look and feel like many of the newer commercial search services, with some options being presented via an index-card concept. An important new option is available. It is now possible to limit searches to only those records in the IRC deemed to be key resources by clicking on the 'Key Sites' tab.
From the new home page there are several links (from the three simple graphics representing gears, mathgate and a computer) to colour-coded subject sections for Engineering, Mathematics and Computing. It is possible to limit searches to those subject sections, and also browse down through the subjects covered. Also available from these sections are subject-specific services, such as the Engineering E-journal Engine, the Engineering Newsgroup Archive and Maths Secondary Homepages.
At present, there is only one full text search engine for all of EEVL. This searches the full text of most of the sites included in the Internet Resource Catalogue. However, we are hoping to develop additional subject-based search engines in the near future.
The Key Site filter option mentioned above came about because we were aware that not every user wants to search for all quality-assured resources in any given subject. Doing so sometimes produces a quite lengthy list of results. To limit the content of the EEVL IRC only to key sites, however, would make it too specialised to be useful for the average user because the database would be very small and highly selective. The new service therefore caters both for those looking for numerous quality-assured resources, and also for those who are only interested in discovering the core sites on a topic. Default searching of the new EEVL service combines both key and non-key resources, with key resources being ranked higher is result sets. By 'Key Sites' we mean the most important resources, such as the large professional associations, important government departments, large databases, well-known ejournals, prominent research groups, large publishers, major recruitment services, substantial subject guides and directories, and so on.
Ranking of search results was mentioned above. Ranking is regarded as important in order to ensure that the best resources appear high up in any list of results. EEVL's ranking criteria takes into consideration the frequency and location of search terms, and whether a resource has been designated a Key Site. EEVL is one of only a few gateways which rank results in this way..
The new EEVL site is more complex, has wider coverage, colour-coded subject sections, several new features, more options and additional services. To assist users and information professionals a new reference guide is being prepared which explains the purpose of the service and how to make the most of it. We hope that this will be helpful for user education sessions.
Over the last few weeks copies of a new EEVL flier were distributed to a number of libraries and academic departments. Additional copies are available by contacting me at the address below.
As mentioned in previous issues of Ariadne, this is the start of a period of development for EEVL and the other RDN Hubs. Bibliographic cross-searching projects have been funded under the DNER Programme, as well as a variety of subject-based community services. Hopefully the new EEVL site can be expanded to include these features as they are rolled out without too much redesign. I hope to report on some of these portal developments in the next issue of Ariadne.
Heriot-Watt University Library