Bethany wrote recently in praise of Bess Sadler’s work on Blacklight, and its recent release (as “VIRGObeta”). I’d like to offer my own (admittedly anecdotal, perhaps insignificant) praise.
Yesterday I needed to go looking in the library for Jacob Neusner’s translation of the Mishnah into English. I typed into the search box on the UVA library homepage, “Neusner Mishnah.” Seems straightforward enough, right? When I had done the same on Google Books, the book I needed was the very first search result. (Of course, Google limited my viewing of the very page of text I needed to refer to, hence the need to consult the physical book at all!) But when I searched in the legacy UVA catalog system, I received 81 results, none of which were the book I needed. Admittedly, Jacob Neusner has written a lot about the Mishnah, and I was looking for a book he did not author, but translate. Now, I knew how to modify my criteria to get the results I wanted. But should I have to? Shouldn’t the search be smart enough to help me out? Frustrated, but used to this experience, I next turned to Blacklight to try the same search. The book I needed popped up immediately, on the first page of results. Smart searching. How refreshing!