Libraries Integrate New Tech

New browser function to make accessing E-Resources easier

The operating hours of Harvard’s libraries can now be accessed by anyone with a Web-enabled mobile phone, the latest technological innovation available to patrons following the debut of a new search extension for the Firefox browser.

Starting today, the new Web site,

hcl.harvard.edu/mobile, displays a list of currently open libraries in the Harvard College Library system as well as their regular hours. The page is formatted to be readable on the small screen of a mobile device.

Another recent piece of software gadgetry is the Harvard LibX extension for Firefox.

LibX integrates search functions for the Harvard University Library directly into the Firefox software.

Under a pilot program launched late last month, a user can right-click on selected text on any Web page and search it against the online HOLLIS library catalog or Google Scholar, a search engine for electronic databases of academic literature.

The browser extension can also be used to ease the process of gaining access to fee-based online resources to which Harvard subscribes. By choosing to “Reload this page via Harvard access,” a user can avoid having to navigate through the many layers of Harvard’s E-Resources site.

“Some people are savvy about E-Resources, but it’s a lot of cutting and pasting and this will do it for you automatically,” said Kathleen Donovan, research librarian in the Gutman Library and the chair of the University Library’s MetaPAC Committee, a group of librarians charged with overseeing Harvard library Web pages.

According to Donovan, the Harvard LibX extension is based on an open-source tool, also called LibX, developed by Virginia Tech. The MetaPAC committee and library staff worked for two months to customize the software for Harvard’s libraries.

Among other features, LibX also installs a toolbar sporting a search box for HOLLIS. Dragging text from a Web page onto another part of the LibX toolbar initiates a search in Google Scholar for that text.

Harvard College Library’s new mobile interface, a separate initiative, was unveiled to two focus groups of students this week, according to Beth Brainard, director of communications for the Harvard College Library.

“We want to make sure that we’re serving up information in a way that’s useful for students,” Brainard said. “We’re always looking for students who are willing to share their ideas with us.”

—Staff writer David Jiang can be reached at djiang@fas.harvard.edu.