Considering new discovery layers
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Considering New Discovery Layers. Tom Adam, Information Literacy Librarian, University of Western Ontario Alan Bell, University of Waterloo Nora Gaskin, McMaster University Sian Miekle, University of Toronto Martha Whitehead, Associate University Librarian, Queen’s University Library.

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Considering New Discovery Layers

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Considering New Discovery Layers

Tom Adam, Information Literacy Librarian, University of Western Ontario

Alan Bell, University of Waterloo

Nora Gaskin, McMaster University

Sian Miekle, University of Toronto

Martha Whitehead, Associate University Librarian, Queen’s University Library

Tom AdamUniversity of Western Ontario

What we’re doing…

  • Why?

  • Variables and options

  • ILS and the Discovery Layer

  • Interface Decisions

  • Are we there yet?

What’s it all about?

  • Embrace change

  • Work backwards

    • Consider the user

What we know about what we do

How we are perceived…

Our Brand…

What would you do?

the User Experience…

  • OCLC

  • Perceptions survey

  • Extract issued 2006


Where do you start?

I use a search engine like google.

I use a library website.


Libraries are…

Search Engines are…

Reasons …















Search engines fit perfectly with my lifestyle.

Our Legacy…

What can we do?

Make the search engine better…

Canadian Undergrad

Martha WhiteheadQueen’s University Library

Discovery Layer? Next Generation Catalogue?

Discovery Layer

Fed Search

ILS - circ

ILS – bib, holdings







About “discovery”

  • From inventory to discovery (and back again)

  • Keyword searching versus index browsing

  • Relevance ranking: precision, recall and first page principle

Open Source or Vendor

  • open source

    e.g. VuFind, eXtensible Catalog, SOPAC

  • ILS vendors

    e.g. Primo (Ex Libris), Encore (III)

  • other vendors

    e.g. Endeca, BiblioCommons

    AquaBrowser, OCLC, Serials Solutions

Local or Hosted, Customize or Not

  • Local:

    • hardware/software infrastructure

    • some local configuration possible

  • Hosted:

    • minimal local hardware/software

    • ideally a service to manage user generated content

  • Either: data matters

Web 2.0

  • Why?

    • interaction with collections

    • reliance on peer and expert opinion

    • social search

  • What? Where? How?

    • user generated content

      • academic concerns, placement, web scale

    • usage logs, recommender systems

Summary: some factors to consider

User experience

  • degree of integration

  • search intelligence

  • extensibility

    Local (or consortial) capacity

    • time and money

Sian MiekleUniversity of Toronto

Introducing the Discovery Layer

  • Data loading

  • User experience

  • Local vs.hosted solutions

Data loading decisions

Should data be loaded in new system?Advantages:Self-contained interface Data available to functionality of new systemChallenges:Shifting the dataSynchronizing the data

Convert to XMLfor search & display

Build indexes


8.5M items

6.4M bib records

2.3M authorities

144K MARC holdings

Data transfer (nightly)‏

Discover Layer Application

Restart application


  • <RECORD>

  • […]

  • <PROP NAME="p_title">

  • <PVAL>The Canadian almanac & directory.</PVAL>

  • </PROP>

  • <PROP NAME="p_publication">

  • <PVAL>Copp. Clark [etc.], 1848-</PVAL>

  • </PROP>

  • <PROP NAME="310.a">

  • <PVAL>Annual.</PVAL>

  • </PROP>

  • <PROP NAME="362.a">

  • <PVAL>[1st]- year; 1848-</PVAL>

  • </PROP>

  • <PROP NAME="503.a">

  • <PVAL>Title varies: 1848-50, Scobie & Balfour's Canadian almanac, and […]</PVAL>

  • </PROP>

  • […]

  • </RECORD>

Not quite 1000 MARC fields, 26 subfields, but…

MARC data

“Convert to XML”



<PROP NAME="p_title">

<PVAL>The Canadian almanac & directory.</PVAL>


<PROP NAME="p_publication">

<PVAL>Copp. Clark [etc.], 1848-</PVAL>


<PROP NAME="503.a">

<PVAL>Title varies: 1848-50, Scobie & Balfour's Canadian almanac, and […]</PVAL>




User experience: using facets

User experience:changing search model

User experience:feedback

  • 169 comments, Sept 08 – Jan 09

  • 2:1 in favour of the new interface

  • 50 comments requesting features (26 ideas)

    • 6 ideas based old search models 6 grads, 3 library staff

    • 6 ideas for new features4 grads, 2 undergrads, 1 library staff

    • 14 ideas: functionality missed from old system 6 faculty, 12 grads, 12 library staff, 3 undergrads

Local vs. hosted solutions

  • Time to think

  • Flexibility

    • Content: BIP, web pages, other data repositories

    • Presentation: visual, multiple, changing

  • Challenges

    • Infrastructure

    • Staff

  • Shared local solution?

    • Share common tasks

    • Share resources

Nora GaskinMcMaster University

1. User interface choices & decisions2. User feedback & behaviour

UI Choices: Basic Search Screen

  • just a search box & go?

  • include choice of search indexes? (fielded searching)

  • include alpha as well as keyword indexes?

  • include limiting at time of search?

Search ‘n’ Go: UWO (Encore)

Search ‘n’ Go: Queens N.Y. (Aquabrowser)

Search ‘n’ Go & Limit by Collection: Vanderbilt (Primo)

Choice of Keyword Indexes: U of T (Endeca)

Choice of Keyword Indexes & Databases: Villanova U. (VuFind)

Choice of Keyword & Alpha Indexes: Florida State U. (Endeca)

Choice of Keyword & Alpha Indexes: McMaster (Endeca)

Choice of Keyword/Phrase Indexes & Limit by Format, Location: Waterloo (Primo)

UI Choices & Decisions

  • Search, search within results, start over – Oh my!

Search Within Results; Search button; Start Over link

New Search button; Search Within Results button

UI Choices: defaults

  • facets: open, closed or a mix?

  • after a closed facet has been opened, keep it open?

  • after a search, keep the previously selected index chosen, or return to the default?

UI Choices: facets

  • which? hierarchical or flat?

  • what to call them?

  • display order

  • order of values within facets: alpha or most hits at the top?

  • all “and” or some “or”?

UI Choices & Decisions

  • Search logic

    • match on any 1, 2, 3 terms, all terms?

  • Display

    • how to display the full bib & item details

  • Alpha indexes

    • how to display?

1. User interface decisions2. User feedback & behaviour

McMaster’s Initial Implementation

  • Spring 2007

  • usability testing

  • feedback via “Tell us what you think” button in catalogue

  • most feedback within first 3-4 months

Some interesting resultsfrom usability tests...

  • only 1 of 5 subjects used the dimensions (oh no!)

  • some subjects relied on type-ahead to complete all queries

User Feedback: Negative


User Feedback: Positive

Most-Used Facets, Jan.-Dec. 2008

Alan BellUniversity of Waterloo

The hope, the promise

  • One search box to provide fast and convenient access to all of our resources, regardless of format

    • Enable access to our digitized cultural memory

    • Address disjointed library experience

    • Attempt to remain relevant to web savvy users

    • Provide Google-like relevance and react to challenges on the commercial internet

Considerations, challenges

  • Existing OPAC features

  • Becoming an aggregator

    • Can we ever get metadata/access to everything?

    • Native interfaces

    • A lot of data

  • Controlled vocabulary cross walks

  • Local modifications and needs

  • Partners/Community and Collaboration

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