Tuesday, July 8, 2014

More Thoughts on Discovery, Plus a Poster

Last week I presented a poster based on From Here to Discovery at the American Library Association's Annual Meeting in Las Vegas. That poster is below. Zoom in and have a look. Here's a link to the session.

We rolled out discovery during spring break, and it's too early to say what's working and what's not in terms of COUNTER stats and the like, in no small part because traffic to the library website is down, dramatically, from spring of 2013 to 2014. More on that later. Both student and faculty focus groups reacted positively to the website changes, and we're not done yet, that have come with discovery, as well as with the service itself. We've phased out our online public access catalog (OPAC) in favor of EBSCO Discovery Service's (EDS) blended platform, which makes for a prettier looking catalog (third column from the left, above). In addition, some introductory English courses received library instruction sessions featuring EDS, and others did not. We'll track these students over time to see what, if any, effects modes and methods of instruction have on student performance.

The gold standard in articles about discovery services comes from The Chronicle of Higher Education, which provides an excellent overview of the issues surrounding these platforms, including user experience, accuracy, efficiency, licensing, and bias, among others.

Next up, perhaps EBSCO and ProQuest can play nicely. At present, when a member of our community searches for something in EDS that comes from a ProQuest database, there is no mention of that database within the EDS search results. A journal article that we get via ProQuest that comes from Sage, for example, with metadata from Sage, but not from ProQuest. The exact database has been erased from the search. The issue here is not bias, but rather representation, and the branding that comes with it.

Since I wrote and presented From Here to Discovery in January of 2014, EBSCO, the vendor that provides us with discovery, and worked hard to bring us a dedicated open access search tool (see the poster above), has become more open in terms of sharing metadata and adhering to the Open Discovery Initiative's guidelines on fair linking. Though, as Carl Grant points out, more can and should be done. There are hundreds other EBSCO databases not covered by current agreements. We'll keep an eye out, but this is progress.

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