Dialog: Cause for Calgon?

By , April 15, 2011 2:18 pm

by Kristine Lloyd

Does the thought of using Dialog make you reach for your migraine meds? It may be a trifling claim to fame, but I was once an excellent Dialog researcher, in graduate school, a million years ago. The commands were burned into my brain along with my SSN and pin numbers, but alas, it’s not like riding a bike, you use it or lose it. I find myself heading to the old Rolodex to phone a friendly Dialog rep every time I’m faced with a need to use the service.

Ever since ProQuest acquired Dialog, I have been wondering how this fickle but powerful research tool might evolve. Seems like it was an albatross around Thomson’s neck, one that they were happy to offload. Plus, its cache of educational and academic materials makes it a better fit with ProQuest.  

Well, it seems I am getting my wish for a Dialog that doesn’t require life support from a rep. The interface that has hardly changed since the Middle Ages is finally getting a facelift, thanks to the union with ProQuest. This isn’t exactly breaking news, but the announcement issued last August about a Dialog makeover is gradually coming to fruition. Eventually, there will be no more B.E.S.T. (Begin, Expand, Select, Type), no more Bluesheets, no more flipping through the War and Peace-sized Dialog guidebook while typing. It’s AND, OR, NOT, proximity operators, fields, and some other cool searching tools for your techno tool belt. The interface will look and feel much more like ProQuest. It will be more template driven, which has its advantages and disadvantages. Personally, I think it’s a change for the better. As librarians, it’s our job to promote equal access to information, and it’s not equal if you need a MLS to understand the search syntax. Check out Amelia Kassel’s review of ProQuest Dialog. I’m looking forward to giving it a spin myself.

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