Beginning today, UCSB students will have access to a world of knowledge as the launch of the Next-Generation Melvyl search engine takes the library global.

Designed to replace the current, aging Melvyl library search software, Next-Generation Melvyl will be capable of searching all University of California libraries and UC books digitized by Google. Additionally, the engine will grant UC students and affiliates consolidated access to the WorldCat global catalog – an online computer library center which contains library records from around the world.

Although the search engine is still in its test phase, Next-Generation Melvyl will eventually be a compendium of resources from all 10 UC campus libraries and will serve as an electronic entry into library catalogs throughout the world.

The UC library system will bring this new version of Melvyl into mainstream usage for the next six months, at which point a decision will be made whether or not to proceed with the program.

UCSB Associate Librarian Patrick Dawson said the Next-Generation Melvyl seeks to improve search capabilities by providing a more interactive platform for users.

“Next-Generation Melvyl will be very much like Amazon or Google,” Dawson said. “You’re able to manipulate it, arrange it [and] comment on it, whereas the old Melvyl only takes commands. … The library isn’t just about books, it’s about all the formats that people want to use.”

In the past, students and faculty had access to UCSB libraries with Pegasus – UCSB’s in-house search engine. If a resource could not be located, library browsers could then search the entire UC system using the old Melvyl search engine.

Finally, an even broader search could be conducted on WorldCat and individuals could then request the resources be transferred to UCSB using the Interlibrary Loan system.

The new Melvyl will allow users to search all three databases at once and then request the transfer of materials using Interlibrary Loan – all in one place.

Users will be able to sort queries based on year, language or topic and will be able to post reviews and recommend materials to friends using Facebook, Myspace or e-mail.

James Oglesby, a first-year Slavic Languages and Literatures major, said the international element of Next-Generation Melvyl will benefit his Russian studies.

“That would be more than helpful, especially in researching books that are exclusively in Russian,” Oglesby said. “It opens up the entire world.”