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Deploying Library Discovery Services Statewide

Deploying Library Discovery Services Statewide

Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) has implemented a delivery and discovery service for its library resources throughout the state.


KCTCS operates 16 colleges with more than 70 locations. Each college has its own library with its own local collection, as well as subscriptions to electronic resources, some of which are shared between multiple KCTCS colleges. With this combination of resources, traditional and electronic, individual and shared, searching library collections was becoming complex and difficult for students and faculty.

"Each resource had to be searched discretely," said Paul Fuller, director of library systems and support for KCTCS. "So you went one place to search the library catalog, and then each of the electronic resources had to be searched individually as well."


A few years ago, library discovery services emerged on the market to enable patrons to search library holdings and electronic subscription-based resources through a unified interface. Once library discovery began to mature as a service, KCTCS started considering its options.

A team from the KCTCS library system, including Fuller and three other people, viewed presentations from a series of vendors and questioned them extensively on their feature sets. The team wanted a solution that could integrate with KCTCS's Microsoft Active Directory user authentication system and that could search and present results from all of KCTCS's subscribed resources. They chose the ExLibris Primo discovery and delivery system, along with the ExLibris SFX OpenURL link resolver, which enables library patrons to link directly to electronic resources from their search results.

"The decision was based on functionalit — on the ability of the vendor to support the complexity of our environment," said Michael Stapleton, systems librarian and technology coordinator for KCTCS and member of the selection team. "ExLibris has a good track record with that, and we had a long track record with ExLibris as a subscriber to their Voyager Integrated Library system, which we still maintain as our back-office library management system."

According to Fuller, one explicit criterion for the new system was the ability to handle a known title search very well, "which you would think that they all might do, but entering a known title search can really give unexpected results, particularly when its something that's all stop words, like 'have' and 'have not,'" he said. "ExLibris really nailed the search results on those."


KCTCS implemented ExLibris Primo and SFX as a consortium to ensure that the system architecture could configure one central office "view" — the ExLibris term for each college's interface — and then connect the other 16 views for the individual colleges to the central office view.

The KCTCS team worked closely with a team from ExLibris throughout the implementation process, which began in October 2013. Phase one focused on three colleges plus the underlying architecture for all of the subsequent implementations. Phase two began in March 2014, and the team rolled out the system at the remaining 13 colleges at a rate of two per week.

"The implementation of each college involved configuring the Primo Central Index, which contains metadata for discovery of the resources and in many cases full text of the resources themselves, and then activating the subscribed resources in the index, so the content could be retrievable," said Stapleton. "On the other side was configuring the targets in the XFS link resolver."

Phase two wrapped up in mid-May. After completing extensive testing, the team handed off the project from the implementation team to the support team. Throughout the summer, KCTCS will be running ExLibris Primo in tandem with its old library catalog. "And then when the students come back in the fall, the primary link to the KCTCS library catalog will be removed and Primo will be the primary search interface for all the resources," said Stapleton.

How it will be used

Once ExLibris Primo and XFS go live across KCTCS libraries this fall, students, faculty and staff will be able to log on with their KCTCS Active Directory credentials, which will enable them to personalize their user experience by saving searches, creating RSS feeds and interacting with the system in various other ways that they couldn't do without logging on. Their logon credentials will also give them remote access to e-books, full-text journal articles and other electronic resources based on the college's subscription and licensing agreements.

KCTCS plans to make the libraries searchable through its mobile application for students, Blackboard learning management system (LMS) and Peoplesoft student information system (SIS). Professors will be able to embed an ExLibris Primo search box in Blackboard or link to articles and other electronic resources such as articles they want use in their courses. "I expect these links will be all over the place," said Paul Czarapata, vice president and chief information officer of KCTCS. "We'll have it everywhere we can get it in front of students to give it high visibility and make it easy for them to get to."


The system will make it much easier for students to search for library resources, according to Czarapata. "Rather than having to know which electronic content repository to go into, whether it's ERIC or EBSCO or one of those, they can simply go to one user interface, search, and if the content is available online, they can click on a link and get right to it," he said. "With this, you're basically laying, for lack of a better term, a Google on top of all of your subscriptions and you'll find the best match based on their search logic."

Fuller expects KCTCS to see increased usage of its electronic resources, "which heretofore there has been no efficient way to search," he said.

One problem staff have encountered so far is incorrect search results. For example, a DVD title might be accompanied by the image of a different DVD. "Well, after a little looking around, it revealed a problem with the metadata inside the library catalog record," said Stapleton. "So it's not a Primo or SFX issue at all. We were told by the vendor that once we started searching our resources, especially our local library resources, that we would begin seeing areas inside our library metadata that needed cleaning up or correcting."

So the system has had the unexpected benefit of prompting a cleanup of library metadata, "and with cleaner metadata, you have better retrieval," said Stapleton.

KCTCS staff members who have had the opportunity to test the new system have been pleased with the results, but according to Stapleton, the best measure of success is a lack of response from users — because the system now works exactly as one would expect a library search system to work. "So we haven't heard the, 'Wow! This is wonderful!' comments because it works the way it's supposed to," he said.

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