Criteria to Consider when Evaluating Web-based Discovery Tools

Criteria to Consider when Evaluating Web-based Discovery Tools

Amy Hoseth (Colorado State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1821-3.ch006
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As libraries re-think their collections, emphasizing online access and building digital resource collections that are growing at an exponential pace, Web-based discovery tools are under consideration by many academic libraries. These tools enable users to easily and quickly search across a broad range of pre-harvested, indexed content, including materials from databases, library catalogs and local collections. In 2010, the Colorado State University (CSU) Libraries conducted an extensive review of four Web-scale discovery services (EBSCO Discovery Service™1; Primo Central™2 from ExLibris™3; Summon™4 from Serials Solutions®5; and WorldCat®6 Local) in order to recommend one for purchase. Based on that experience, this chapter suggests five key criteria to consider when evaluating and selecting Web-based discovery tools.
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Literature Review

Due to the fact that Web-scale discovery tools are still relatively new, the published literature on their selection, implementation, use, and impact remains thin. In particular, few articles exist to guide libraries through the process of evaluating and selecting a Web-scale discovery tool. This gap is problematic for academic libraries seeking current information before they make a long-term and often costly investment for their institution. However, early research is beginning to appear. The most recent literature on the topic includes in-depth reviews of the technology along with use and impact studies from several libraries that were among the first to adopt the services.

The need for new, user-friendly library search interfaces has been discussed in the library literature for some time. Marshall Breeding (2010) heralded the coming of new discovery platforms “that aim to manage access through a single index to all library content to the same extent that search engines address content on the Web” (p. 34), and Jeff Wisniewski (2010) encouraged librarians to “[take] a serious look” at the newly launched Web-scale systems that seemed ready to fulfill the “‘one search box to rule them all’ quest” that librarians have long desired. (p. 55) Most recently, a study from OCLC (2011) took an in-depth look at the prospects for “single search” within libraries, archives and museums (LAMs) regardless of how resources within those institutions might be siloed.

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