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Universities Unify Campus and Library Data Search

In the last month three universities have licensed EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) to allow campus users to search across their respective databases, library catalogs, and institutional repositories. Drake University in Des Moines, IA; James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA; and Millersville University in Pennsylvania are using EDS to create unified indices of their library resources.

Drake U's Cowles Library introduced "SuperSearch" to meet three goals: to increase the use of scholarly resources overall, to increase the interdisciplinary use of scholarly resources, and to enhance the technical and financial management of digital content resources. The Cowles Library has acquired an extensive array of electronic journals, databases, and e-books, along with a unique collection of digital content. The current version of SuperSearch is still in pre-production and covers about 100 databases. Eventually, the library will implement several specialized options such as SuperSearch Education, SuperSearch Pharmacy, and SuperSearch Business for specific academic needs.

"Faculty, both inside and outside the library will be able to spend less time teaching disparate databases because students will be able to use the same interface for most searching needs--quickly moving students beyond 'how to search' to the content itself and what the library collection has to offer," said Library Dean Rod Henshaw. "Advanced students will have access to custom informational units that combine resources not just from a variety of providers but from a variety of formats not regularly searchable in one place."

James Madison U sought customization options, article and journal metadata, and rapid response times when it began shopping for a search tool to build what is now called "Quick Search." "We were familiar with the numerous customization options possible with EBSCOhost and we were glad to see that EDS not only preserved the existing customization options but also added additional options," said Jody Fagan, associate professor and content interfaces coordinator in charge of projects to improve user access to collections.

Fagan added that the university was also attracted to EDS for its track record with article search. "While seeing our library catalog data in EDS was new, we had no questions about the depth of article and journal metadata in EBSCOhost databases or EBSCO's article relevance ranking. EBSCO has this part of the problem solved, and at [James Madison U], we know more article searching is done than book searching."

Millersville University worked with EBSCO in developing a process for handling standard file and record group extracts from the institution's library system that allows institutions to more easily add their local catalog to the EBSCOhost platform. The catalog can then be included in a comprehensive discovery index or included in indexes specifically for a particular subject or academic discipline. In addition, Millersville has added a number of special collections based on the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative standard to the Discovery Service platform to expose local content as well.

"We want to engage with our users, and EDS gives us the opportunity to make content available in a holistic way, reshaping how the library is used and perceived," said Associate Professor and Information Systems Librarian, Scott Anderson.

The EBSCO technology includes a base index upon which each subscribing library builds out its custom collection. According to the company, that base index represents magazine, journal, CD, DVD, and conference content from 20,000 content providers and 70,000 book publishers. Each institution extends the reach of EDS by adding appropriate resources, including its catalog, institutional repositories, EBSCOhost, and additional content sources to which it subscribes.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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