Rollyo is one of the first gadgets listed on the 23 things program that I have not used in the past. The concept behind the program is similar to that behind a meta or federated search (searching multiple databases at a time), but the site allows users to create custom search engines that search across websites selected by the user in addition to those already available on the site. After reading about the site’s purpose, I created my own profile and started playing with custom search rolls. My first attempt did not go as planned because some of the URLs that I included in my selection required authentication (I was trying to test it with OPAC urls. I am sure other librarians have tried this as well.). However, my second attempt proved much more useful.
After considering some of my research interests, I decided to create a search roll based on Victorian reference resources (an area that I often explore). I included a selection of resources that I frequently use (mostly reference sites and other websites that I use for general Victorian research), as well as Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and Google Books. I then tested it by conducting a search on George Eliot and another on corsets. I received thousands of hits from the sites in my custom roll, but I was able to refine my search by choosing to browse through results from each of the sites individually (a sidebar option appears on the results page that allows the user to view only those results derived from a particular website). Overall, I was pleased with the relevance of my search results and the variety of items retrieved.
Using Rollyo in ILI
I found the site useful, and the custom search roll option especially effective for a subject specialist who prefers to search a particular set of websites for quick reference. The custom search can provide an easy access point through which to search across these sites, increasing efficiency.
I do not recommend instructing students or patrons to create custom searchrolls, unless they are knowledgeable internet users, but I do think custom rolls can be created and linked as part of subject search guides on a library’s website in order to lead students to valid web sources that might meet their information needs.