Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Discovery Tools in the Information Literacy Classroom and at the Reference Desk


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A presentation on the impact of the Summon Discovery tool on information literacy and reference services at Hunt Memorial Library at Fort Valley State University.

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  • I first became interested in discovery tools after I began working at Hunt Memorial Library at FVSU back in the fall of 2009. Professors were very eager to bring their students to the library, but I noticed that when students, particularly first year students, attempted to use library services, such as the online catalog and the libraries various databases, they were often confused and frustrated.First and foremost, there were just too many resources to discuss. While it was tempting to go to my tried and true database, Academic Search Premier, I also wanted to show students other subject specific databases and resources.These challenges were exacerbated by the fact that often times, particularly for first year students, the research topicI believe the challenges faced by reference and information literacy librarians, whether at the reference desk or in the classroom are very similar)Too many resources – This is probably the main driving force behind the development of discovery tools and associated technologies, such as federated searching. Libraries are spending large amounts on resources (increasingly electronic resources) which, for a host of reasons, cannot be searched efficientlyI’m sure that I’m not alone when I say that often times, professors tend to arrange classes for students at times that are convenient for them, but not necessarily well-timed for the students. Quite often, students either do not have topics or their topics are not well developed when they come in for information literacy classes. I would say the same is true at the reference desk as well.Our library resources are coming for a variety of different vendors who use different platforms that are changing all of the time. Librarians have a hard time keeping up with these interface changes, so we can only imagine how frustrating it can be for students.Whether you are at the reference desk or in the classroom, time limitations definitely pose a challenge. Classes are usually only for 50 minutes, maybe and hour and 15 minutes. Students have to get settled in the classroom, computers have to be ready to go, etc. Small technology challenges can eat up precious time. Same is true for the reference desk. It is very difficult to effectively teach more than a few resources within that time period, let alone conduct any type of assessment. At the reference desk, students want a quick answer and at peak times, it may be difficult to have a well-developed research consultation where you show a student multiple databasesLastly, our students have high expectations for their search experience. They use Google and Yahoo for their everyday research experiences and these tools set the standard for “good” and “easy”.
  • Just to set the context for our discussion today, I’d like to briefly talk about federated searchedBack in ________, federated searching seemed to be the answer to many of these problems that were raised in the previous slide. It allowed users to search several different databases, regardless of platform, at one time. Librarians could pick and choose which databases could be included in a federated search tool.
  • However, time and experience proved that federated searching was not necessarily the ideal solution.One of the primary criticisms of federated searching is that it is too slow. Federated searches have to “go out” and retrieve the search results, which can take a long time. Multiply that by the number of databases being searched.Federated searching, like discovery, can also produce a large number of search results, which can prove daunting, even for the experienced researcher, to navigate.Duplication is another problem inherent in federated searching. For example, for resources where there is a lot of crossover, such as in the case of EBSCO databases, one search result can appear multiple times in different sets of search results.Another early complaint of users of federated search is that the results are not unified.
  • In response to some of the frustrations experienced by federated searching and based on the need of libraries to expose “hidden” resources and get a better return on investment for existing resources, the discovery tool was born.These tools feature a one search box concept that can be used to locate resources, regardless of type.Mimics search engine experienceDiscovery tools feature pre-harvested content. One of the frustrations of discovery tools was that they had to go out and “fetch” results. Discovery tools generally feature a pre-harvested index, which produces results much quicker than federated searching.One caveat about discovery tools is that they are only as good as your resources.
  • One solution that I have found to the problem of Summon producing too many search results is developing subject-scoped search boxes.In January 2012, Summon introduced the scoped subject boxes, which allow you to limit search results to a
  • My experience, both at the reference desk and in information literacy classes is that fulfillment (actually getting the resource into the users’ hand), not discovery should be the goal. Discovery tools will definitely illuminate what you have, but if researchers are unable to access it quickly and efficiently, they will lose confidence in the library. Discovery forces us, or at least it should, to look at our fulfillment processes to make sure that they are seamless and intuitive. We are moving fastly toward a less mediated service model. If we think a student is going to call us because the link on the resolver page is broken, we are fooling ourselves. I think in some cases, we expect users to be able
  • Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Discovery Tools in the Information Literacy Classroom and at the Reference Desk

    1. 1. Shaundra WalkerHead of Information Services Hunt Memorial Library Fort Valley State University
    2. 2.  Participants will… ◦ Become familiar with the concept of a discovery tool ◦ Learn about experiences using the discovery tool with students in information literacy sessions and in reference transactions ◦ Become familiar with challenges posed by discovery tools in information literacy sessions and at the reference desk, as well as possible solutions
    3. 3.  Too many resources Research Topics not well-defined Different vendors and platforms Limited amount of time Higher user expectations (Google, Yahoo, Amazon, etc.)
    4. 4.  Searches several databases simultaneously, regardless of vendor Librarians can pick and choose the databases including in the search
    5. 5.  Too slow Too many results Duplication Results not unified
    6. 6.  One box search for resources regardless of resource type ◦ Books and ebooks ◦ Articles ◦ Digital content Mimics Google/Yahoo/Bing type searching ◦ Faceted Searching ◦ Predictive Text Feature pre-harvested content ◦ Faster and better than Federated Searching ◦ No need to “go out” and fetch results ◦ Resources already reside in a unified index that is unique to your library
    7. 7.  Serials Solutions (Summon) EBSCO (Ebsco Discovery Solution – EDS) OCLC (WorldCat Local) ExLibris (Primo and Primo Central) Innovative (Encore Synergy)
    8. 8.  Serials Solutions Software as Service (SaaS) Product Features ◦ One search box ◦ Facets ◦ Advanced Searching Indexes over 90% of our full-text scholarly content
    9. 9.  Launched in Spring 2011 Includes ◦ GIL Data(mostly print) ◦ Knowledge base (eresources)  GALILEO databases  Independently purchased databases  Ebooks Featured prominently on the library’s web page Included on LibGuides Used at the reference desk and in research consultations
    10. 10.  Information Literacy Classes ◦ 1000 – 2000 level courses ◦ Upper level courses (after subject resources) ◦ Interdisciplinary courses ◦ Some graduate courses Reference Desk/Research Consultations ◦ When researcher wants to know what resources are available on a particular topic ◦ When a researcher has a particular citation (article) and needs to know if we have the full-text
    11. 11.  Challenges ◦ Indexes an enormous amount of resources ◦ Can be overwhelming for first time users/first year students ◦ For full-text, calls the link resolver for non-direct linked resources (confusing to students) ◦ Broken links (primarily for newspapers)
    12. 12.  Solution ◦ Spend time teaching the importance of developing a good search statement ◦ Provide an overview of refining search results using the facets  Limit by resource type  Limit by date  Limit by subject
    13. 13.  Use the Summon Search Box Creator to create subject-scoped search widgets ◦ Items are scoped at the individual level ◦ 59 disciplines ◦ Subject development  Columbia’s Hierarchical Interface to Library of Congress Classification  Ulrich’s  Serials Solutions Knowledgebase Process ◦ Select one or more relevant subjects ◦ Limit search box based on assignment needs/assignment requirements ◦ Embed search box in LibGuide ◦ Use LibGuide in session and push LibGuide out to students
    14. 14.  For results where Summon does not have agreements with a publisher, users are presented with the “FindIt” Link Resolver menu ◦ Many students have not encountered this menu before (limit results to full-text) ◦ Students are confused by the multiple fulfillment options ◦ Vendors sometimes don’t play nice (links don’t work)
    15. 15.  Worked with GALILEO Support to customize the menu ◦ Added a link to an FAQ on “FindIt” ◦ Added a link to our Ask-A-Librarian Service ◦ Simplified the menu text to make it more intuitive
    16. 16.  Summon’s “Index Enhanced Linking” ◦ Publisher Agreements allow Summon to present user with content with one-click  ProQuest & ebrary  JSTOR  Gale  IEEE  Sage Publications  Credo Reference  Growing list of other publishers
    17. 17.  Less time spent teaching individual databases or how to navigate to a database More time spent actually searching and using library resources
    18. 18.  GIL  Developing good Library Locations search statements GALILEO Password  Library Locations  GALILEO Password GALILEO Interface  Summon Academic Search  Hands –on Searching Complete Other Subject DatabasePre-Summon (40 Post Summon (20 -25minutes) minutes)
    19. 19.  Expect the unexpected when doing demos ◦ Discovery tools are constantly evolving organisms ◦ Test searches from yesterday may produce different results today The GALILEO Brand ◦ Discovery can be difficult to sell ◦ Students often take the word of their professors ◦ Promote discovery tools as an enhancement, not a replacement of catalogs, databases, etc.
    20. 20.  Best when students want to know what we have on a particular topic Less precise when searching for a particular book (articles seem to work better) Facets are great for limiting resources by location ◦ Filtering out non-circulating items ◦ Finding items at a particular location (ex. Warner Robins Center) Walk up patrons are usually not interested in ebooks
    21. 21.  Fulfillment, not discovery, is the goal Discovery tools do not address issues of user perception of library resources Discovery tools blur the lines between print and digital in ways that may be challenging for library staff
    22. 22. Email: walkers01@fvsu.eduhttp://www.linkedin.com/in/shaundrawalker @shaundrawalker