Discovering the Leeds Metropolitan University repository

Nick Sheppard, our Repository Developer, has written a guest blog post about integrating the Leeds Met Repository and Discover:

Historically, Institutional Repositories have been perceived as outward facing systems, designed to promote Open Access to institutions’ research outputs and/or openly licensed teaching and learning material, so called Open Educational Resources (OER).

As Repository Developer, however, a long term objective is also to ensure that the repository is well embedded in the institutional infrastructure and that relevant resources are easily discoverable, both within and without, by our own students and staff as well as scholars in the wider world, whatever discovery tools they may use and whatever their level of information literacy.

The EBSCO Discovery Service provides a mechanism, a one-stop-shop or library search engine, to explore a wide range of Library resources including the Library catalogue and electronic databases and we have been able to liaise with EBSCO to add the repository as a searchable target:

Nick's ego search....

Forgive the self-promotion but it was an easy way to illustrate the functionality with my (only) two full-text publications returned from this ego-search!

And now for the technical bit…actually the process was fairly painless and taken care of by the EBSCO technical team with minimul input from me; I was simply required to complete a standard pro-forma with various information about our intraLibrary repository platform including metadata formats, OAI-PMH base URL and questions about specific data-elements. EBSCO then simply harvested and processed the OAI-PMH output and lo and behold it works, returning a full record comprising all of the metadata and links from the OAI output for the relevant record.

There have been one or two glitches, largely associated with idiosyncracies related to the repository itself and the EBSCO technical team have been responsive throughout; the main issue was that EDS was set by default to prioritise full-text and records were being returned from the repository and designated as full-text when they were, in fact, metadata only. In order to manage access and discovery, intraLibrary has been configured with a number of discrete and overlapping collections (which for the purposes of OAI are all discrete “sets”) and I had initially asked EBSCO to harvest all 4 faculty collections and the OER collection. However, in common with many repositories, and as part of a pragmatic approach to open access and a developing research management infrastructure, our repository comprises a large number of metadata only records for which it has either not (yet) been possible to procure full-text or copyright does not permit deposit. The problem has been resolved by ensuring that all records that include full-text are included in a separate collection  (i.e. OAI set) which is now harvested along with the OER collection; the faculty collections are no longer harvested, meaning EDS will now only return research records that are full-text and OER (which, by definition, all provide access to a full resource.)

I am interested to see both whether the EBSCO Discovery platform will increase full-text downloads of research from the repository and particularly if it will raise the profile of OER – especially in the context of intraLibrary 3.5, due imminently, that will include an OAI-PMH harvest facility so that records from external OER repositories like Jorum can appear as a collection / OAI set in intraLibrary and hence discoverable from EDS.

Nick Sheppard

@mrnick/n.e.sheppard@leedsmet.ac.uk

 

Going live

We have now soft-launched Ebsco Discovery Service under the working title ‘Discover More in The Library’.  What we eventually call the system is just one of the things up for discussion.  There has been a small amount of publicity but we’re basically putting the system out there to be found, used and evaluated whilst it’s still under construction.  We think this is the best way of testing, developing and customising EDS.

A basic service was up and running at the beginning of term (initially minus the Library Catalogue, currently still minus the Repository & federated connectors). As we only decided to go with Ebsco’s solution in June we are pretty impressed at the speed with which this system can be implemented.

Already we’ve had some useful feedback (mostly good) through word of mouth and via a link to Wallwisher, where users can say anything they like (minus swears…) about the system.  Any negative feedback seems to stem from the fact that the system’s not perfect.  And it may never be perfect for the users who want 100% coverage of our resources.  We’ll be reinforcing this message through our training and publicity for EDS.  My personal view is why keep something locked away for months when it could be providing user benefits?  I’ve been on the help desk a lot recently and each user I’ve introduced to the system agrees that it’s easy to use and for general searching is a huge improvement on searching lots of separate databases individually.  [Obviously we’ll need to do some more in-depth evaluation, and not rely solely on my anecdotal evidence…!]

The admin interface (one of our selection criteria) has also proved to be extensive in its capabilities and easy to get to grips with, plus the support from Ebsco has been regular and responsive, just as we’d hoped.

We are now about to embark on a library staff training exercise- so far, staff have shown just as much interest in how the system works behind the scenes as about how to help users search effectively.  We’ll also be involving library staff from all areas in EDS development meetings.  A full launch date is still planned for early 2012.

We are also looking at the best ways to involve more stakeholders in evaluating EDS– no firm details yet on these plans, but more free cake is high on the list of incentives…..

Discover more in The Library

Oops! It’s been an age since we last blogged and such a lot has happened – much of it during a commercially sensitive tender process.

Anyway – at last here’s an update to let you know some outcomes of our project.

First, the real news – we’re pleased to announce we’ve chosen EBSCO Discovery Service as our Leeds Met Library resource discovery tool and we’re already a good way down the line with the implementation – hoping to go live with an initial version of EDS in mid-September.

The tender process took a while, as these things do, but it did make us consider each product at length and we believe this has helped us in making an informed decision.

The first part of this blog recorded Phase 1 of our project which enabled us to check out, in some depth, the market for resource discovery and left us in a good position for the tender preparation.   In particular, we really knew what we wanted from our end product, and how we would evaluate this.  Our Procurement Officer seemed confident that we knew what we were talking about!

As part of the tender process we sent out useful product information to stakeholders and invited them to demos from the 3 companies who tendered (EBSCO, OCLC and Serials Solutions).  The demos were pretty much an open invitation to as many interested parties as we could fit in one room, and we had some great feedback which helped us to make the final decision.

We also held a well-attended focus group (OK, so the free cakes helped a bit too…) which gave stakeholders the opportunity to try out demo versions of all 3 systems and complete an online survey to feedback their thoughts and preferences.  This was illuminating stuff – it was clear from the feedback that one product was beginning to stand out.

In the middle of all this, 5 members of the project group attended a very timely resource discovery event at the University of Huddersfield which gave us the opportunity to speak to library colleagues in other institutions about their resource discovery choices and experiences.  It was great to hear from the people who’ve already implemented these products, and, as you might imagine, it was very different from a vendor demo!  Fortunately, the outcomes of attending this event helped to reinforce the research we’d already done.

So – why did we choose EBSCO Discovery Service?  A number of factors made this system stand out for us and our specific circumstances:

Content – we already have a high percentage of EBSCO resources at Leeds Met and EDS, unsurprisingly, returns a higher proportion of relevant results from our most highly used databases.  Tests using other systems proved less successful in retrieving this content.

Good admin interface – which can be easily accessed by a wide range of staff (not just the super-techies) & from which useful usage data can be extracted.

Proven customer service track-record – EBSCO is one of the few companies we deal with who we know from experience will provide good customer service!

User interface – EDS was shown to be the preferred user interface throughout our stakeholder testing & evaluation.

Fast and simple implementation – we should have the system live and being used and evaluated (whilst still being improved/developed!) within a couple of months.

References sites – there were examples of successful existing implementations & integrations already out there, such as the University of Liverpool and Cranfield University.

As with any system implementation the project will not stop, we will just continue to evaluate and develop EDS & in 2 years’ time we will look again at what’s out there.  Things progressed so much in almost all the systems we’d researched within one year of our project, so we can’t rest on our laurels despite EBSCO being best for us at this moment in time.

As I type, others are planning the publicity, design, content and training programme for our version of EDS – exciting times – but the real test will be the user feedback, which I guess will be the subject of my next post.

Resource-Discoveried-Out

a resource-discoveried-out librarian, earlier today

It’s been a while, but be assured we’ve all been very busy with resource discovery demos and every day more opportunities to see the systems in action seem to be arriving in my mailbox.  In fact, to coin one project member’s phrase, some of us are a bit ‘resource-discoveried-out’ this week!

Firstly, we took a look at what Ebsco Discovery Service could offer us.  As part of Ebsco’s ‘Complete Discovery Solution’ this system promises deep indexing and ‘quality not quantity’ in the results it delivers.   Partnerships exist with Ebsco and most of our major database/ejournal suppliers and project group members liked the familiarity of the interface and thought that our users would too (although we’ll be testing that assumption at a later stage).

Another box ticked was the wide range of search options available from quick to advanced in various configurations, which went down well with our subject librarians.

Here are some more thoughts from our Graduate Trainee –

“Well, if you’re familiar with and enjoy using the EBSCO platform, it would seem you’re on to a winner. The new EBSCO discovery service shares the same look and feel as its sibling, but incorporates a lot more utility. Whilst this is a positive from a familiarity perspective, the advantage is of course lost in the event that students have never seen an EBSCO platform before. So, how much significance should be given to the continuity in platform design for the discovery service? Well, in a truly non-committal way I’d argue it is an advantage, but a slight-one, and should certainly not be the be-all and end-all when it comes to decision making.

Ready for the clichés? On the one hand we have the ‘better the devil you know’ approach. We use EBSCO, our students use EBSCO, so why not build on this head-start by implementing the new discovery service which looks and feels the same, but is actually better? All well and good you might say, but what about the adage that ‘familiarity breeds contempt’? I’m sure everyone has an opinion on some of the quirks of EBSCO, and whilst I’m unable to determine whether these might have been ironed out, there’s surely no harm in considering a move away from the platform, familiar or otherwise. So, what’s the verdict? Well, I was quietly impressed during the demonstration and would certainly like to have a play around in the event that a trial could be arranged. “

Resource Discovery mini road trip!

Last week was a busy one for the Project Team.  The week began with some of us attending the Ebsco Information Day in Leeds, where our main aim was to see a preview of Ebsco Discovery Service, their new resource discovery product.  Unfortunately this session was the last of the day and I missed out due to other commitments.  Colleagues, however, seemed very positive about the product in principle and it will be interesting to see a full demo when Ebsco visit us in April.

Later in the week we had a visit from Serials Solutions to demonstrate Summon.  I’ve already posted the thoughts our graduate trainee had on the product but in general staff felt, from the demo, that Summon looked good (simple, clean design and layout) and liked the way that results were retrieved and displayed.  There are still questions about the knowledge base and how the product searches and deals with various data that we need to ask the vendor and existing users.

Finally a couple of us saw a demo of the British Library’s new beta catalogue which uses Primo, during a Forum for Inter-lending (FIL) event at the BLDSC.  It was interesting to hear how the BL had gone through a very similar process to the one we are planning – looking at ‘Google-style’ interfaces after their primary research exercise had indicated users’ preference for Google & Wikipedia… It also became clear that it’s difficult to obtain a balance between too much and too little regarding information and design and that this can be the difference between ‘clear and simple’ or ‘busy and complicated’. The BL are looking for feedback from users and encouraged us all to take a look and send them our views.