Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Chapter 3: Knowledge Bases and Library Services Platforms

Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Chapter 3: Knowledge Bases and Library Services Platforms

Article excerpt

One of the most exciting new uses of the knowledge base is its central place in the current generation of library services platforms (LSPs). These systems aim to integrate functionality traditionally distributed across siloes, specifically the discovery knowledge base, the integrated library system (ILS), and the electronic resources management system (ERMS). Oliver Pesch, chief product strategist at EBSCO, sums up the way that bringing these environments together around a central knowledge base benefits libraries:

   For things to function properly--acquisitions and
   circulation and discovery and linking and usage
   and all of those pieces--you need to be consistent
   in how you talk about the resources that are in
   your collection. And the best way of doing that is
   to have some fairly rich central knowledge base
   in the middle that, if nothing else, is acting as an
   identity broker. You can take and enhance that
   thing that you decided to purchase. You're not
   copying that thing each time in a new system, but
   supplementing it. We see the knowledge base as
   pretty important in that world. (1)

By using the knowledge base to create consistent, reusable representations for electronic resources holdings, these new systems promise to offer libraries new levels of efficiency, interoperability, and automation. And while there is still work to be done before any one vendor fully realizes the LSP vision, several of the larger players have already made significant progress. These systems offer a taste of the impact that a knowledge base-centered system will have on the library management space.

EBSCO's EBSCONet, Usage Consolidation, and ERM Essentials

While EBSCO doesn't offer a single, unified LSP, its suite of tools demonstrates an understanding of how to use a central knowledge base to achieve consistency and interoperability across related products. EBSCO's global knowledge base supports its discovery products, including EBSCO Discovery Service and the LinkSource OpenURL resolver. As a subscription agent and content provider, the company has begun to also explore the use of the knowledge base in other contexts, including an ERMS, a usage statistics manager, and its flagship EBSCONet subscription management service.

Pesch describes how EBSCO creates a mapping between its subscription management service and its knowledge base. On the subscription side, customers place orders that are tracked along with information about payment and coverage entitlements. This information can then be ported to the customer's implementation of the knowledge base, where EBSCO knows which holdings to activate based on subscription data. The value the subscription agent can bring to this exchange is the knowledge of the purchase details--whether a resource is owned or leased, bundled with other titles, and billed at the title or collection level.

That knowledge can then be used to manage additional types of data, for example, usage statistics. EBSCO's Usage Consolidation product allows libraries to import their COUNTER-compliant statistics and associates them with the appropriate holding in the knowledge base. Associating the usage data with the holding rather than the title is essential for creating sophisticated metrics. Large libraries often purchase access to the same title through multiple sources, including traditional subscriptions, back files, and aggregated databases. Each of these purchases will accrue its own usage statistics that need to be correctly matched with payment information to calculate the popular metrics like cost per use. Usage Consolidation aids in this process by pulling together usage statistics with cost information from EBSCONet. The knowledge base holding acts as a connector between these two components, allowing the correct match to be made (see Figure 3.1).

The connection between subscription and knowledge base data has also allowed EBSCO to automate processes related to license management. …

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