How Users Approach Discovery Tools

How Users Approach Discovery Tools

Lucy Holman (University of Baltimore, USA), Elias Darraj (University of Baltimore, USA), Jonathan Glaser (University of Baltimore, USA), Alice Hom (University of Baltimore, USA), Heather Mathieson (University of Baltimore, USA), Deane Nettles (University of Baltimore, USA) and Aronya Waller (University of Baltimore, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1821-3.ch014
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Researchers observed 21 participants (undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty) conduct known item and topic searches using EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS)™1, Ex Libris’ Primo®2, and Serials Solutions’®3 Summon™4 discovery tools to compare users’ reaction to their interface design and evaluate each tool’s functionality. Participants generally liked the tools’ simple interfaces but had difficulty identifying material formats and faceted search features and were often confused by advanced search limiters and other features. Most demonstrated right-side blindness, failing to notice features or options on the right side of the screen. Participants expressed frustration with what they perceived as less than relevant results in many of their searches.
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Literature Review And Background

In the mid-2000s, developers of integrated library systems and indexing and abstracting services began to create a next-generation system that would provide an alternative to the Z39.50 federated search process. Web-scale discovery harvests metadata and often full-text content from a variety of information sources, such as library catalogs, commercial databases, and local library digital repositories. This technology offers users a simple search interface and single (and, in most cases, faceted) results lists. What sets discovery services apart from federated search is in their creation of a centralized index of content across sources and platforms, which allows for a faster retrieval process (Vaughan, 2011e). Discovery tools can offer the “Google generation” an experience similar to a Google search with a broad range of academic sources. In recent years, several products, both proprietary and open-source, have emerged, including the four studied here: EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS)™, Innovative Interface’s Encore™, Ex Libris’ Primo®, and Serials Solutions®’ Summon™.

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