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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

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 adam university of western ontario

Tom AdamUniversity of Western Ontario

What we re doing
What we’re doing…

  • Why?

  • Variables and options

  • ILS and the Discovery Layer

  • Interface Decisions

  • Are we there yet?

What s it all about
What’s it all about?

  • Embrace change

  • Work backwards

    • Consider the user

The user experience
the User Experience…

  • OCLC

  • Perceptions survey

  • Extract issued 2006

Where do you start


Where do you start?

I use a search engine like google.

I use a library website.



Libraries are…

Search Engines are…

Reasons …















What can we do
What can we do?

Make the search engine better…

Canadian Undergrad

Martha whitehead queen s university library

Martha WhiteheadQueen’s University Library

Discovery layer next generation catalogue
Discovery Layer? Next Generation Catalogue?

Discovery Layer

Fed Search

ILS - circ

ILS – bib, holdings







About discovery
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 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 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
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
Summary: some factors to consider

User experience

  • degree of integration

  • search intelligence

  • extensibility

    Local (or consortial) capacity

    • time and money

Sian miekle university of toronto

Sian MiekleUniversity of Toronto

Introducing the discovery layer
Introducing the Discovery Layer

  • Data loading

  • User experience

  • Local vs.hosted solutions

Data loading decisions
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…

Convert to xml

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 changing search model
User experience:changing search model

User experience feedback
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
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 gaskin mcmaster university

Nora GaskinMcMaster University

1 user interface choices decisions 2 user feedback behaviour

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

Ui choices basic search screen
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?

Ui choices decisions
UI Choices & Decisions Location:

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

Search within results search button start over link
Search Within Results; Location: Search button; Start Over link

New search button search within results button
New Search button; Location: Search Within Results button

Ui choices defaults
UI Choices: defaults Location:

  • 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
UI Choices: facets Location:

  • 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 decisions1
UI Choices & Decisions Location:

  • 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 decisions 2 user feedback behaviour

1. User interface decisions Location: 2. User feedback & behaviour

Mcmaster s initial implementation
McMaster’s Initial Implementation Location:

  • Spring 2007

  • usability testing

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

  • most feedback within first 3-4 months

Some interesting results from usability tests
Some interesting results Location: from usability tests...

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

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

Alan bell university of waterloo

Alan Bell Location: University of Waterloo

The hope the promise
The hope, the promise Location:

  • 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
Considerations, challenges Location:

  • 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