Does Web-Scale Discovery Make a Difference?: Changes in Collections Use after Implementing Summon

Does Web-Scale Discovery Make a Difference?: Changes in Collections Use after Implementing Summon

Jan Kemp (University of Texas at San Antonio, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1821-3.ch026
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The University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries implemented the Summon1™ Discovery Service in January 2010 to provide a convenient starting point for library research, particularly for undergraduate students who are less experienced in library research. Librarians thought Summon™ would help users find and use materials more effectively; therefore, implementation of the discovery tool was expected to positively influence collections use. At the end of the first year following Summon™ implementation, statistics on the use of collections showed significant increases in the use of electronic resources: link resolver use increased 84%, and full-text article downloads increased 23%. During the same period, use of the online catalog decreased 13.7%, and use of traditional indexing and abstracting database searches decreased by 5%. The author concludes that the increases in collections use are related to adoption of a Web-scale discovery service.
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Background: Web-Scale Discovery Services Enter The Market

One of the fastest-growing educational institutions in Texas, UTSA enrolls over 31,000 students in 64 undergraduate, 48 masters, and 22 doctoral programs. The university began offering classes in 1970, and its goals include expansion of the graduate programs and eventual status as a Tier One university. The library maintains four facilities on three campuses: the John Peace Library on the main campus; the Downtown Campus Library; the Applied Engineering and Technology (AET) Library, a 2,200 square-foot bookless satellite library on the main campus; and the Special Collections Manuscripts Unit at the HemisFair Park Campus. The library’s collection includes 1,747,000 volumes (809,644 e-books), 3.2 million microform items, 68,866 current serial titles, and 375 electronic reference sources and aggregation services. In 2010, the library spent approximately 68% of its 5.6 million dollar collections budget on e-resources. The library has a staff of 105 full-time librarians and classified staff.

As the library’s collections have expanded, particularly in electronic format, librarians were concerned that many students struggled to find appropriate research materials. UTSA librarians thought a Web-scale discovery service had the potential to improve students’ access to materials, and they believed that improved access would likely result in increased use of the collections. Once implemented, librarians would need to determine whether the discovery service was usable and effective, and use of the collections would be one measure of success.

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