PROVO — The name sounds like a clue in an Indiana Jones movie.

Created by Jerusalem-based company Ex Libris, a digital library search tool using the Internet is being implemented for BYU's Harold B. Lee Library and Howard W. Hunter Law Library.

The program, called Primo, is planned to be available to BYU students and employees this fall. They could access Primo from anywhere in the world where the Internet is available.

For the general public, Primo would be accessible from any of the 700 computers in the BYU library.

While a regular Web search can lead researchers to a plethora of general information, Primo allows users to access the library's collection.

"We have access to all sorts of resources that the university has licensed. If you just do a Google search, you are not going to find them," said William Lund, BYU's assistant university librarian for information technology.

This would include the online catalog — which includes everything the BYU library owns, such as books and journals; special collections, including rare manuscripts, missionary diaries and early church publications; digital items such as photos, video and music; and about 1,500 subscriptions the library has to publications such as scholarly journals.

"People really want to have easy search and delivery of the information they need — find it, get it — instead of digging through irrelevant information," said Laura Gilinski, director of marketing communications for Ex Libris. She spoke in a phone interview with the Deseret News.

The BYU library contains collections of nearly 4 million volumes, 3 million microforms and more than 1 million photographs.

Randy Olsen, university librarian for BYU, said the benefit of Primo is that the resources will be "reliable, credible, academic research."

BYU is among the first universities in the country to install the new technology. Other institutions using Primo include Vanderbilt University, Iowa State University, University of Minnesota and New York University. The Royal Library of Denmark also uses Primo.

BYU will test Primo as a pilot program in September. Focus groups consisting of students and faculty will give input on how the new program is working. The library's current Web search program will remain in place until any glitches are

resolved with the new system. Primo is planned to be fully implemented in January 2009.

BYU library officials heard of Primo during a demonstration at the American Library Association Conference in Washington, D.C., during summer 2007.

"We have been on this quest for quite some time," Olsen said.

The BYU library has been using a Web search feature called "WebFeat" since 2005. The library began implementing computer searching programs in the mid-1980s followed by Internet research.

Primo and WebFeat are leaps and bounds from the old card catalogs that BYU library officials began getting rid of during the mid-1990s. The university auctioned the card catalogs and they were "snatched up" by buyers, Olsen said. In fact, the library auctioned its last card catalog on e-Bay a few months ago, he said.

It went for $200, said Roger Layton, university library communications manager for BYU.

The wooden card catalog structures looked like desks with square drawers to fit hundreds of index cards in alphabetical order, containing authors, subjects and titles, which coincided with call numbers on the book binding.

Many local people bought the old card catalog drawers to store nuts and bolts in — or even for food storage. "They're exactly the right size to fit a can of soup," Olsen said.

What does the BYU library do with the money from old card catalogs? "Buy Primo," Lund joked.

Library officials at BYU, which is a private university owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, declined to disclose monetary figures regarding the acquisition of Primo.

Gilinski of Ex Libris said the cost of implementing Primo depends on the size of the university and the collection.

Ex libris is Latin for "the bookplate," which is a label placed on the inside front cover of a book.

Approximately 50 percent of the customer base of Ex Libris is in the United States. Ex Libris' first product, Olaf, an integrated library system for managing the print collections of a library, was created at Hebrew University in Israel 25 years ago. The Israeli company was purchased by Francisco Partners in California about two years ago.


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