Primo Central: A Step Closer to Library Electronic Resource Discovery

Primo Central: A Step Closer to Library Electronic Resource Discovery

Dale Poulter (Vanderbilt University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1821-3.ch031
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Vanderbilt University implemented Primo Central™ in early 2010. Although several factors went into the decision to adopt Primo Central™1 early in its development, this chapter focuses on the initial reasons that Vanderbilt considered using Primo Central™, methods used to determine if the service was being used, and challenges encountered, both during implementation and ongoing. The chapter also discusses items that should be considered when subscribing to and implementing the Primo Central™ Index. The last portion of the chapter discusses possible ways Primo Central™ content can be leveraged for future services.
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Vanderbilt was a Primo® development partner with ExLibris™. During many of the early discussions of Primo, one goal was to provide a single search method for accessing the quality material that the Library licenses and owns. The first attempt to search journal articles was made using Metalib, a federated search tool. The results were disappointing due to both slow search speed and the results returned; only a limited number of results were returned for each selected database, with no sense of ranking by relevance overall. Vanderbilt attempted to combine the federated search and the local search, but the performance and consistency were ultimately unacceptable for the desired application. This was not much of a surprise since the Z39.50 protocol used by Metalib was developed in the age of dial-up internet access and was intended as a way to search MARC resources and not full-text resources. The protocol has been enhanced over the years and federated search tools have continued to develop new methods (such as xml gateways) for searching, but the fact that each database is indexed using a ExLibris different set of rules and results are returned using different algorithms continues to be a barrier to fast and consistent search results. As a result of these limitations, Vanderbilt implemented a two-tab interface for searching. The first tab included the library catalog, several locally created database resources, and the U.S. Congressional Serial Set, while the second included federated searching using Metalib. Even after implementing this solution, ExLibris™, Vanderbilt and other institutions continued to discuss the ultimate goal of quick and universal access. The ExLibris™’ response to these discussions is Primo Central™.

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