Magazine article Information Today

EDS: A Single Point of Discovery

Magazine article Information Today

EDS: A Single Point of Discovery

Article excerpt

Galileo once said, "All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them."

That succinct quote gives credence to the mission of EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS), a discovery product that lets library users search via one search box across a range of content that were once separated into silos. When EBSCO Publishing introduced EDS in January 2010, it wasn't the only "discovery" service in town vying for libraries' attention. In fact, EDS arrived almost a year after Summon from Serials Solutions and Ex Libris' Primo Central.

"All discovery services provide an almost ridiculous number of results for each search," says Sam Brooks, senior vice president of sales and marketing at EBSCO. So it's important that users take a look at the quality of the metadata being searched and at the quality of the relevancy ranking algorithm being used, he says. Sure, end users may not care about this stuff (they just want results), but Brooks sees EDS digging deeper to answer queries "through far higher quality subject indexing and significantly more full-text searching."

Brooks says the decision to release EDS when EBSCO did was intentional. "We held the release of our service until we had accomplished a far more ambitious scope than the other discovery services," he says, which afforded EDS more time to deliver better breadth and depth of coverage and a powerful platform with built-in customization. The one disadvantage in releasing EDS after the other services was that a number of libraries had already committed to other discovery services, he says. "We had some concern that delaying our release would allow competitors to gain market share and notoriety, while we sat on the sidelines, quietly developing," he says.

And that's just what happened. While EDS was still on the drawing board, Summon had already been selected for trial by the University of Liverpool, Europe's cutting-edge discovery site and a coveted academic showcase for the institution's prestigious libraries. Nevertheless, when EDS was ready for academic consumption, the university also decided to accept a trial of EDS, run it side by side against Summon, and collect feedback from user groups. "[T]horough side-by-side comparisons favor EDS with its superior metadata and superior relevancy ranking," says Brooks.

Competing With Google for End Users

With libraries facing budget limitations and reallocating resources to fund critical needs, Brooks sees EDS helping libraries compete with Google for the attention of end users. "There are lots of things libraries have that Google doesn't," says Brooks, "but two of the most important ones are 1) high-quality full text that is not free on the web and 2) subject indexing from controlled vocabularies applied to nearly every piece of important research." Since libraries are spending big bucks on journal collections and subject indexes, EDS lets them maximize the value of both and gives end users a single search box with better scholarly results than Google, he says. Subject indexes generate highquality citations in result lists for EDS customers, so libraries get more value from their existing collections. Plus, EDS customers are eligible for a few rewards, such as discounts on new database purchases or discounts on upgrades. Brooks says EDS also includes some extra content from the U.S. Government Printing Office at no additional charge.

"It is worth noting that we recognize that in the current economy, price is important for all institutions, large and small," says Brooks, who also points out that EDS has no setup fee. …

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