Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Introduction

Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Introduction

Article excerpt

Libraries strive to implement the best technologies to provide access to the collections they build on behalf of their sponsoring institutions or communities. These tools must be convenient for users yet deliver sophisticated features and return relevant and objective results. The realm of library discovery products has become increasingly multifaceted as it evolves to meet the expectations of librarians and library users. The information environment these discovery tools address has become increasingly complex and reshaped by multiple models of open access publishing and competitive dynamics among the major companies involved in publishing, scholarly workflows, and analytics.

This issue of Library Technology Reports gives an updated look at the realm of discovery products implemented in libraries, focusing especially on how these products have been implemented in academic libraries. It is the third issue of Library Technology Reports produced by this author addressing topics related to library catalogs or discovery services.

"Next-Generation Library Catalogs" (July/August 2007) detailed the transition from traditional online catalogs provided with integrated library systems (ILSs) to a new genre of discovery interfaces designed to accommodate the expectations of users acclimated to the more elegant and powerful interfaces of popular internet services. (1) This work is now dated but remains as a historical overview of the emergence and development of the first generation of discovery interfaces apart from library catalogs.

"Library Resource Discovery Products: Context, Library Perspectives, and Vendor Positions" (January 2014) provided an overview of the many types of discovery products available at that time and included survey results from libraries evaluating their perceptions of the effectiveness and objectivity of these products. (2)

This issue focuses primarily on index-based discovery services. This genre of products was established in 2009 and has since become a mainstay of academic libraries. Despite broad interest, the number of players in this product category has remained limited and constant. Four products were launched in 2009: Summon from Serials Solutions/ProQuest, WorldCat Local from OCLC, Primo from Ex Libris, and EBSCO Discovery Service from EBSCO Information Services. No new products have entered the field. The merger of Ex Libris into ProQuest has brought about a consolidated process for producing their respective indexes, but Summon and Primo Central continue to be offered as ongoing products.

Almost a decade has transpired since the introduction of these products. Libraries have made a substantial economic investment during that period. These products have gained general acceptance in academic libraries as one of the components expected among their service offerings, often the launchpad offered to their users to gain access to their full array of content and service options.

The immense investment in these products warrants a look at some of the patterns in which they have been implemented in libraries, which may in turn inform trends to expect looking forward. In the absence of comprehensive and reliable data regarding the deployments of these products globally, the author gathered data describing the use of these products among colleges and universities in the United States. This group of libraries forms an important constituency for these products. Although patterns may vary within each global region and among other types of libraries, these US academic libraries can be taken as generally representative of the broader market.

This issue of Library Technology Reports gives a high-level view of the general characteristics of the index-based discovery services and the overall marketplace trends. It does not aim to provide a detailed evaluative look at the features provided by each product. The marketplace study included in chapter 4 can help libraries understand which products have been most successful among a library's peer institutions. …

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