News: Featured Stories

February 17, 2018

Healey library launches UMBrella: A one-stop search and discovery tool


  • Boston

Students who are drowning under a sea of assignments and deadlines can now turn to UMBrella for cover. The resource access tool, which was launched on January 31, is the latest implementation to the Joseph P. Healey Library’s integrated database system.

“This is an unprecedented large-scale project and system upgrade for the university,” said Yueqing Chen, the deputy director for Library Technology, Systems, and Discovery Applications.

The antecedent to UMBrella was Voyager, a system that hadn’t been updated in nearly two decades and whose limited functionality allowed users to search for only e-books, print books, and videos. Not only does UMBrella grant users open access to a vast range of resources—from peer-reviewed journals to newspaper archives that date back to 1684—but it also contains over 260 databases.

Teresa Maceira, who is the head of Reference and Outreach Instruction at Healey Library, called UMBrella a “game changer.”

“It changes the way we will be able to find resources that Healey owns,” said Maceira. “This is a platform that’s very fluid, that’s very flexible to your research needs.”

Students, faculty, and staff can locate physical, electronic, and digital resources through UMBrella’s single sign-on interface. They can then filter their search by term, keyword, or resource. UMBrella also features options to “tweak” results by subject, author, material type, availability, and other options. Users can then save and share their searches or create a citation for individual use.

Maceira acknowledged that, as a research tool, UMBrella is competing with information giants such as Google and Amazon. The main difference between Google Scholar and UMBrella, Maceira said, is that users don’t have to worry about paying fees to access sources such as newspapers and journals.

“In UMBrella, you’re behind that paywall. What you will find in UMBrella will be for free. You’re not going to be denied access to an article,” said Maceira.

The filter options on UMBrella are more robust as well.

“With Google, the presentation of your resources is manipulated by links, number of clicks, and advertising. If you go to UMBrella, you’re guaranteed peer-reviewed materials and scholarly resources,” said Maceira, adding that UMBrella also offers more obscure resources such as dissertations, open-access material, patents, and reference entries.

The Healey Library is currently holding workshops for those who would like to learn more about UMBrella. More than 60 people have already taken advantage of this opportunity, including student Rachel LaRusso, who attended the workshop on February 14.

“I decided to learn more about UMBrella because I’ll be doing a lot of research,” said LaRusso, who’s a graduate student in applied linguistics at the College of Liberal Arts. “If the system has changed since last semester, I want to know about it.”

Upcoming workshops will be held on February 22 and February 26. Participants can sign up here. More information about UMBrella is available on the Healey Library’s website.