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Appraisal Institute solves business challenges with Liberty and illumin

The Appraisal Institute, based in Chicago, is a global association of professional real estate appraisers, with 19,000 members and 80 chapters worldwide. The Institute funds and operates the Y.T. and Louise Lee Lum Library, which provides members with reference services in all areas of real estate appraisal.

Eric Goodman, librarian at the Lum Library, is rapidly gaining a reputation as a problem-solving superhero! But Eric has two secret weapons – Liberty and illumin.

In a recent exchange with Softlink’s Customer Community Manager, Maida Rubin, Eric explained how, using illumin, he was able to instantly offer the “perfect” solution to a problem the Standards and Guidance Committee members at the Appraisal Institute had been dealing with.

The Committee wanted to create a set of information guide note monographs on a range of topics on real estate appraisal.

“They did not want to generate a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) guide on the main website because information gets lost on our website and sometimes researchers do not know that this information is even available on their topic,” Eric said.

Moreover, the Chair, a regular user of library services, had the idea that a great way to make this information available would be to have these guides included in the library’s search results list when a search on that topic is conducted.

Enter Liberty and illumin. In a conversation with the Chair, Eric described how he’d been using Softlink solutions in the Lum Library to manage the library’s information files through illumin’s Body of Knowledge interface. In the nine years since introducing Liberty and three years of using illumin, Eric has made approximately 15,000 articles from the Institute’s two publications easily available to members. Full-text indexing, embedded PDFs (which means there is no need to download), and onsite or remote access via a secure mobile app have made it a breeze for members to find, access and view this valuable information on a 24/7 basis.

Already impressed, and excited by the potential of such an efficient indexing system, the Chair invited Eric to give a presentation to the Committee, who were meeting that day.

Eric said his presentation, which began with a simple walkthrough of browsing the hierarchy of terms within illumin’s Body of Knowledge, left the Committee very impressed.

“They liked the whole product, especially the top level page with a taxonomy already in place to drill down. It was intuitive to them,” Eric said.

But the display of problem-solving capabilities didn’t stop there: seamlessly switching to his Liberty interface, Eric demonstrated the robust thesaurus functionality within Liberty, which offers another easy way of cross-referencing and connecting related search threads.

The committee was impressed, not only with the products’ technical features but also with the user-friendly home page display. They loved how Eric had used color to individualize the information boxes, making it easy to quickly locate and distinguish information on the screen (especially at 2 AM when one is trying to complete an appraisal report).

There are still many components to this project to be worked out; however, the question about how to deliver this information has been answered. The committee can now focus their attention on developing these guides.

Since his presentation, Eric has learned the Standards and Guidance Committee recommended Eric and his library system to the Institute’s Body of Knowledge Committee, who have been grappling with an information delivery problem that their current education delivery software can’t handle.

“The library really shone on Wednesday,” Eric told us proudly. “Softlink’s Liberty and illumin proved their weight in gold.”

Thank you, Eric, for sharing your experience!