The Library with a Thousand Databases: Web Scale Discovery and The Hero's Journey

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Matthew Reidsma, Web Services Librarian, Grand Valley State University Libraries

In his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell laid out a narrative pattern he saw across myths, stories, and religious rituals that he called The Hero's Journey. The hero moved out of the ordinary world into the "special realm," where s/he encountered all manner of obstacles before coming back to the ordinary world transformed.

As librarians, it's easy for us to forget that many patrons leave the ordinary world for the "special realm" of library research databases when they use our services. For decades, these tools have been disconnected, proprietary tools that require a truly epic amount of effort from our hero/patrons if they are to find their treasure (usually articles, books, or citations). But it doesn't have to be this way. We can make the journey easier for our patrons with the right tools and an eye toward improving the search experience.

At Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, Matthew makes library websites better for the people who use them, and is the co-founder and editor-in-chief for Weave Journal of Library User Experience. He holds a Masters of Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and a Masters of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School.

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