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Getting the Most Out of Discovery Service
Posted On June 3, 2014
Libraries have to do their fair share of marketing for their programs and services. Fliers, posters, newsletters, you name it. But there’s one aspect of library promotion that goes on behind the scenes: showcasing what materials libraries have in their collections. That’s why libraries need to subscribe to a discovery service to help patrons find the resources they need in their library catalog.

Here’s an overview of the four major discovery services, including their newly implemented features.

EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS), from EBSCO Information Services

Tagline: “Takes Discovery to the Next Level”

Central Index: EDS brings together subject indexes, full-text sources, and the entire library collection, offering a unified index. The subject indexes come from dozens of sources to which a library can subscribe using the EBSCOhost research platform. The full-text sources are leveraged from EBSCOhost and other providers. EDS’s indexing focuses on rich metadata created with input from its content providers, which includes abstracts, author keywords and affiliations, geographic terms, and other detailed information. This level of detail allows EDS to offer highly refined search algorithms that provide the best possible results.

Library Services: With EDS, libraries can show off their value by offering a fast, single search of their collection, and the discovery layer is full of features to help patrons, such as instant access to full text. EDS focuses on the needs of undergraduate students, postgraduate researchers, and library administrators.

New Features: EDS recently added Research Starters, which gives users links to citable, authoritative summary articles for thousands of topics. When searching in EDS, users can now access a Research Starter placard that appears at the top of the results list for popular topics. By clicking on the placard, users can view articles on related information to their original search, as well as detailed bibliographies retrieved from proprietary and encyclopedic sources. EBSCO developed this new feature in response to feedback from undergraduate and graduate students; the company is also constantly enhancing its central index with updated content and technology.

Unique Draw: EDS is compatible with any knowledgebase or link resolver. Integration options such as Ex Libris Group’s SFX and ProQuest’s Serials Solutions products allow libraries using those services to keep their existing knowledgebase and link resolver. EDS is also ILS-neutral: The service’s APIs allow integration with almost every major ILS, including products from Innovative and SirsiDynix, and allow OPAC integration with EBSCO’s ILS partners.

Primo, from Ex Libris Group

Tagline: “Empowering Libraries to Address User Needs”

Central Index: The Primo Central index is offered as part of the Primo discovery/delivery solution so libraries have a one-stop service for research. It consists of hundreds of millions of scholarly e-resources from primary and secondary (A&I) publishers and aggregators, with more than 90% of content available as abstracts or full text. Primo is the only discovery service with agreements for searching ProQuest and EBSCO Information Services content. Since Primo does not provide data itself, it is content-neutral, allowing libraries to determine which provider’s full texts to supply to users. Customers can request indexed content they’d like to see in Primo Central.

Library Services: Ex Libris delivers an end-to-end library management solution by allowing Primo to interface with applications from Ex Libris and as well as from other vendors: ILSs, course management systems, institutional portals, etc. Libraries can also incorporate the Primo search box into third-party webpages, learning management systems, blogs, and social networks to increase the library collection’s visibility.

New Features: Ex Libris added personalized search result ranking for users based on their academic degrees and scholarly fields and redesigned its usage reporting so librarians can personalize content and services for their specific users’ needs. A Virtual Browse feature now helps users access a visual browsing experience of library shelves, organized by items’ call numbers. Also enhancing the search capabilities is an autocomplete feature that draws on Primo search logs, Primo Central, and libraries’ local collections. Primo records were updated to include citations in multiple formats and a simplified, static URL for each.

Unique Draw: Primo has extensive OPAC functionality in its interface so that libraries do not have to maintain parallel OPAC screens. Users can access functions, including the ability to place holds, renew current loans, and make photocopy requests. Primo’s API helps libraries index content that caters to each individual community and integrates Primo with course management systems, library portals, and other systems. Libraries can also load metadata about course reserves as fields in catalog records, which helps users find content by course name, number, instructor, or department.

Summon, from Serials Solutions (a ProQuest business)

Tagline: “A Digital Front Door for the Library’s Resources”

Central Index: Summon’s single, unified index of content allows library print and digital collections to be discoverable together without prioritizing one source or publisher above another. It includes content from commercial databases, open access (OA) and traditional publishers, library catalogs using any ILS vendor, and local collections. ProQuest normalizes all of its metadata before indexing it in Summon and adds enrichments such as Web of Science and Scopus citation counts, Ulrich’s peer-review data, and CrossRef DOIs (digital object identifiers). Data is preserved from full texts, abstracts, subject terms, and other sources.

Library Services: Libraries using Summon get lists of databases and packages covered, indexed serials titles, and participating publishers so they can see what is discoverable through Summon. Summon also offers free title-level analysis that shows which journal titles in the library are already covered in Summon. Interoperability with non-ProQuest services, solutions, and vendors such as Ex Libris Group’s Alma management system helps students, graduate researchers, and librarians streamline the research process.

New Features: Summon’s interface is now responsive to different screen sizes on a variety of devices, and on mobile, users can access all of the same features as in the full Summon. Another update is automated ebook holdings in Summon’s knowledgebase: Librarians no longer need to manually maintain holdings for titles from EBL and ebrary, and titles can become discoverable in Summon more quickly after they’re released. In the near future, ProQuest plans to integrate Summon with its Flow document management program so users can save Summon results directly to Flow and access past Flow research when searching in Summon. Account integration will allow a single sign-on for both services.

Unique Draw: Summon is built on new web-scale architecture, enabling it to handle large amounts of content while still returning results quickly. Its “match and merge” technology makes library items more discoverable because it combines metadata and full text from multiple sources. Before adding information to the index, a team of librarians matches and merges records across vendors and publishers, creating single records so each provider’s content is equally discoverable.

WorldCat Discovery Services, from OCLC

Tagline: “Connect your library to the world.”

Central Index: Patrons can discover more than 1.5 billion electronic, digital, and physical resources from global libraries in the WorldCat database. Users also have access to a central index of metadata about 2,000 econtent collections from publishers such as Gale and Elsevier. WorldCat’s OA content consists of 8 million-plus full-text items. Libraries subscribe to the content they choose, and their users can access it from a single search, searching databases separately or simultaneously. Searches return content that is most easily accessible to users.

Library Services: WorldCat Discovery Services launched in March 2014 as OCLC’s suite of cloud-based applications for its existing FirstSearch, WorldCat Local, and WorldShare Management Services subscribers. Librarians can add features based on their needs. WorldCat Discovery Services supports researchers by offering delivery options such as online full-text, OPAC, interlibrary loan, or purchasing links.

New Features: OCLC recently added content from NBC Learn, a subscription database of primary source videos, original series, and daily current events for use as teaching tools in schools and universities. New search functionality includes type-ahead suggestions for commonly searched phrases, permanent URLs to items in the central index based on their OCLC number, and full-text search results that now include ebooks alongside articles and other items. By the end of June, OCLC plans to include real-time availability options, group views of available items, and remote database searching in WorldCat Discovery Services.

Unique Draw: Besides being the only discovery service with access to the WorldCat database, WorldCat Discovery Services helps users get increased visibility for their collections. When libraries represent their collections in WorldCat, and OCLC’s partnerships with websites such as Google, Goodreads, and Wikipedia allow linking back to that library. The CONTENTdm digital collection management software helps subscribers make all of the content in their digital collections available to everyone regardless of format. This includes local history archives, newspapers, books, and maps that CONTENTdm stores, manages, and delivers to users.

Brandi Scardilli is the editor of NewsBreaks and Information Today.

Email Brandi Scardilli

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