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The University of Virginia Opts For EBSCO's Library Search Tool

The University of Virginia has changed the retrieval system it uses in its libraries, moving from ExLibris' Primo Central to EBSCO Discovery Service's EDS API.

One of the top public research institutions in the United States, the university in Charlottesville, VA, has more than 5 million print volumes, nearly 463,000 e-books and dozens of electronic databases in its multiple library collections.

Unhappy with the online search tool they were using, university librarians began their search for a better tool.

"We have so many online resources, so we were trying to figure out how to make sure that the discovery service had the best chance of being used," said Esther Onega, head of the Brown Science and Engineering Library and a member of the committee that conducted the search for a new tool.

The main problem the committee wanted to solve was how to make sure the search tool provided researchers, students and faculty with the most relevant information.

"A lot of things, such as book reviews, were coming up first — not scholarly articles," she said.

  The University of Virginia’s new library search will prioritize scholarly articles over other kinds of content, like book reviews.
The University of Virginia’s new library search will prioritize scholarly articles over other kinds of content, like book reviews.

As an example, she pointed to a search for articles about "fuel cells," noting that the article at the top of the list had been written in 1964.

"A lot has been done on fuel cells since 1964," Onega said. "I really couldn't stand behind those article results."

After a search that lasted nearly a year and a six-month trial period, the university chose ESCO's EDS API, which streamlined access to library resources through a single search box.

First, Onega said, the EDS API prioritizes recent scholarly articles, making researchers' searches for relevant material much easier.

She also said the university was happy with its application programming interface and the fact that it is more intuitive than other discovery services it looked at.

"One of the other discovery services broke down subject phrases into words and listed them separately in the facets, which made for a confusing display," Onega said. "The faceting was especially helpful in EDS."

Finally, she said the committee felt EBSCO's customer support was superior to that of other vendors they spoke to.

The libraries launched EDS in June, following the close of the spring semester, so it will be fully up and running when students and faculty begin to return to campus for the fall semester in a few weeks.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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