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Web Scale Discovery Reality Check


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  • 1. Web-Scale Discovery Reality Check Jeff Wisniewski Frank Cervone Web Services Librarian Vice Chancellor and CIO University of Pittsburgh Purdue University Calumet
  • 2. Original idea…
  • 3. Here’s the problem…• The ILS is no longer integrated• Libraries don’t work with their ILS but around it ▫ Duplicate data entry  Bibliographic  Financial transactions• Digital materials are the majority of the collection ▫ Often managed by separate staff in separate, often inefficient workflowsBurke, Jane. 2012. Sometimes you just have to start over. Serial Solutions Words, January 24, 2012. Online at start-over
  • 4. Important point #1 0% of users start their research on your library’s website, so discovery needs to be diffuse
  • 5. Important point #2Fulfillment is just as important as discovery• All of these need to be as seamless and integrated as possible: ▫ Remote access ▫ openURL ▫ ILL ▫ Requesting and other catalog functionality
  • 6. Some bizarre arguments• Users generally do not tag or review in next generation catalogs
  • 7. Common arguments• No need for broad searches• Aggregated indices are opaque• Encourages lazy searching• We can/should/are teaching users to search “properly”• Google Scholar already does this
  • 8. No need for broad searches• Searching through millions of items is not necessary and tends to confuse users  No real evidence to support this claim• There are better more discipline specific tools  This is true, so use them when appropriate  In most cases though, this is not really the issue• As research becomes more complex, most researchers are interested in the long-tail results
  • 9. Aggregated indices are opaque• Is it full text? Metadata?• What about “quality?”• Balancing the needs of certainty vs. sufficiency ▫ Satisficing• Discovery tools are simply easier to use Howard, D., and Wiebrands, C. (2011). Culture Shock: Librarians Response to Web Scale Search. Information Online Conference. Online at http://www.information- Connaway, L. S., Dickey, T. S., Radford, M. (2011). If It Is Too Inconvenient, I’m Not Going After It: Convenience as a Critical Factor in Information-seeking Behaviors. OCLC Research. Online at
  • 10. Discovery is only as good as thecontent included or excluded• Yes, but it’s our job to know that and work to get problems fixed• Our patrons don’t know and (generally) don’t care• Favoritism – a legitimate concern
  • 11. Encourages lazy searching • Quick and dirty searches • Welcome to the real world! • People expect to be able to search easily • Tools tend to increase usage of library resources ▫ SerendipityWay, D. (2010). The Impact of Web-scale Discovery on the Use of a Library Collection. Serials Review, 36(4), pp. 214-220. Online at
  • 12. “…dramatic increase in the use of full-text resources from full-text database and online journal collections…” Which is a dramatic increase in ROIDoug Way, The Impact of Web-scale Discovery on the Use of a Library Collection, Serials Review, Volume 36, Issue 4, December 2010, Pages 214-220, ISSN 0098-7913, 10.1016/j.serrev.2010.07.002.(
  • 13. We can/should/are teachingusers to search “properly”Users failed:• Finding the correct starting-point for the search• Using search terms that were indexed and therefore searchable• Got lost clicking subject heading and call number links WHY? “Participants expected library searching to behave like their other search experiences” -Nancy Kress, Darcy Del Bosque, Tom Ipri, (2011) "User failure to find known library items", New Library World, Vol. 112 Iss: 3/4, pp.150 - 170
  • 14. Speaking of teaching…“Bibliographic instruction is much better received and easier to provide, as Primo has freed librarians to spend more time teaching the finer points of research resources and methods…instead of basic search mechanics.”Discovering what works: thinking of implementing a discovery service? Successful pioneers of several products describe their experiences.Zinthia C. Briceno-Rosales, Rebecca Fernandez, Amanda Clay Powers, and Ken Varnum. Library Journal. 136.19 (Nov. 15, 2011
  • 15. Google scholar already does this • Google Scholar is free • Interface is user friendly • Outperforms discovery tools? ▫ Not true  Found wanting on validity and reliability  Many of the results did not add any significant value to the topic in question X.2011.592115 • Customization is not easy ▫ Affiliation settings are pretty hiddenTimpson, H., and Sansom, G. (2011). A Student Perspective on e-Resource Discovery: Has the Google Factor Changed Publisher Platform Searching Forever? The Serials Librarian 61(2), pp. 253-266. Online at
  • 16. Discovery tool may notcompletely replace the online catalog?
  • 17. Repeat after me… I am not our users I am an information professional My users neither search nor think like me
  • 18. Unlike Janet Jackson, we’re NOTin control So we need to stop thinking like we have to be
  • 19. We don’t need to host locally,really
  • 20. Traditional in-houseimplementation Advantages Disadvantages • Complete • Complete control responsibility
  • 21. Alternative models SaaS Hosted (Software as a services Service) Vendor Vendor assumes assumes some primary responsibility responsibility
  • 22. Bottom line benefits • Lack of specific skill sets in house • Internal policies Agility • In house regulatory compliance Decreased cycle Deployment time time is decreased Higher return on assets Cost savings
  • 23. Practical benefits Eliminates major responsibilities in keeping systems operational Has Saves time and increased Can help effort safeguard • Failed hardware usage of applications • Natural disaster electronic • Separate location resources Fast system restoration • Based on scalable architecture at vendor site
  • 24. Advantages for the library Demonstrably less expensive to implement Much faster deployment Allows us to focus on “value added” services Social computing benefits
  • 25. Thanks• Jeff Wisniewski – University of Pittsburgh ▫ ▫• Frank Cervone – Purdue University Calumet ▫ ▫