The Berkeley Public Library has just launched a new search interface it calls Encore. That sounds trivial, I know, but it’s really a powerful research tool that greatly expands the utility of the library’s databases.

At first, Encore seems as if it just presents library catalog searches with improved graphics (it shows book covers, for example). Look a little closer, however, and there are some useful additions. You can refine your search with tags, there are suggestions for other books you might be interested in, and there’s a link to related searches. What’s really helpful is that if you’re logged in with your library card, you can also search for articles in some of the online databases to which the library subscribes.

If you try Encore, the library is soliciting feedback in an online questionnaire.

Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...