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 Discovery Revisited at Leeds Met Library

Welcome to the project blog investigating Resource Discovery and Federated Searching systems for Leeds Met Library.

As an introduction/background to the project I’ll explain why I’ve used the word ‘revisited’ in the title of this first post.  Leeds Met Library last investigated federated searching solutions when we were looking for an Open URL product during 2006/07.  At this time the 3 main products  we evaluated were from Serials Solutions, Ex-Libris and Ebsco.  When we decided to chose SFX, the Ex-Libris product, the use of their federated searching system Metalib seemed like a natural progression, however various factors delayed further investigation or implementation of this (or any other) product.

Now, however, we are more than ready to move on and have become aware that the market for resource discovery has developed (as these things do!) beyond anything available 4 years ago.

The key objective of the project is to improve overall discoverablity of print and electronic resources for students and staff at the University.

The project group itself consists of colleagues from each ‘stream’ of the department (Academic, Resources, Technologies and Operations) and I hope all of them will be as enthused as I am about the project and contribute to this blog (i.e. help a fledgling blogger to add some of the content!).

We’ve had an initial meeting, decided on Terms of Reference and are now at the stage of organising vendor demonstrations and setting criteria to evaluate the systems against.

I hope to include demo highlights on the blog in the near future, so that’s something to look forward to 🙂

Two recommended  & excellent blogs I’ve already added to my RSS reader are Federated Search Blog and eLibrary (Birmingham City University eLibrary Team).

Well, as someone more used to microblogging (@DebbieMN), this has taken me ages to write but I think it’s going to be a useful addition to the project, if only as a reflective tool for the group’s collective thoughts.   And if it’s half as good as our repository blog I’ll be happy 🙂