Where We're Headed With Bento-Box Search

Kevin Beswick, NCSU Libraries


What is Bento-Box Search?

What is Bento-Box Search?

What is Bento-Box Search?

What isn't Bento-Box Search?

  • The ultimate, robust discovery solution
  • A search problem at all?

How Do We View Bento-Box Search?

  • An opportunity for instruction
  • A shortcut to known items or other search tools
  • A recommendation problem


  • NCSU's bento-box search solution
  • Initially created in 2005
  • Rewritten in 2013 as a Ruby on Rails project

quick_search (or quick_search-core)

  • Open source version of QuickSearch released in 2016
  • A toolkit for easily creating bento-box applications
  • Extracted from NCSU's version


  • Rails Gem Engine - easy to install
  • Modular & extensible
    • Searchers
    • Themes
  • Statistics (local & GA), Best Bets


  • Create a new Rails project
  • Add 'quick_search-core' gem & bundle install
  • Run "rails g quick_search:install"


  • Plugins for QuickSearch that search an external service
  • Small amount of code to implement
  • Automatically hooks into QuickSearch infrastructure for stats collection, etc.

Available Searchers

  • arXiv
  • OpenLibrary
  • Wikipedia
  • Summon
  • ContentDM (contributed by Temple University)


QuickSearch automatically collects usage data for all searchers

  • Queries (query text)
  • Clicks (which box, which part of the box, etc.)
  • Sessions (on/off campus, mobile/desktop, length)

Statistics Visualization


Near-term features

  • Typeahead - backend support already there, frontend needs to be generalized & migrated from NCSU QS

NCSU Implementations

NCSU QuickSearch

  • Our original QuickSearch
  • Now running on open source gem in production since Jan.
  • Working on extracting/generalizing last features into open source gem

Historical State Search

  • Special Collections focused bento-box search
  • Originally developed as an entirely separate application
  • Migrated to QuickSearch core platform by Nushrat Khan
  • Launched into production in Mar. 2017

Historical State Search

  • Planning on releasing as open source as an example project that uses QuickSearch
  • Also planning to release new searchers for lunr.js, and other services

Next Steps

  • More library content:
    • Events
    • Spaces
    • People
    • Services

Next Steps

  • Intelligence:
    • Show results from more specialized sources depending on subject
    • Use collected data for recommendations
    • Promote library services
    • Context-aware - device type, on/off campus

What could this look like?

What could this look like?

What could this look like?

Growing the QuickSearch community

  • We're interested in working with people that are interested in using QuickSearch
  • Help installing, customizing, creating new searchers
  • Goal is to have a large collection of searchers for popular library services, and more examples of applications and themes.

We want to work with you!