The TextbookCat research instrument provides a welcome extension to the library OPAC system and is a search tool that dramatically improves the search possibilities within the textbook collection. The difficulties encountered when conducting textbook research using conventional search methods were a key consideration in the design process, as short textbook titles such as “Terra” produce little in the way of meaningful search results. This desideratum is one frequently broached by researchers and has been taken as the basis for a corresponding search tool which is tailor-made for the specific requirements of textbook searches. The TextbookCat employs an internal classification system in order to categorise textbooks according to applicable country, education level and subject. Additional categories of federal state and school type are provided for German textbooks and international textbooks can be filtered according to language. Any search results containing material that is not available online, will include details regarding whether it is available for loan.
The International TextbookCat pilot project further developed the idea of the TextbookCat and augmented the textbook collection with the inventories of international partners. The project is currently focussing on combining the textbook databases of three institutions: the Georg Eckert Institute, the University of Turin and the National Distance Education University in Spain, in order to create a joint reference tool. Workflows and system architecture are being developed that in the long-term will enable further institutions to participate with relatively little effort on their part.