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Priority Update: Enhanced Discovery and Delivery Systems

The first in a series of updates on progress on the FY15 Library Priorities.

visual representation of Library Cloud function

January 6, 2015—The first half of the fiscal year brought intense focus on and completion of the Library-wide goal of enabling more effective access to knowledge and data through intuitive discovery via two projects: HOLLIS+ implementation and LibraryCloud.

HOLLIS+ is now fully operational as the default search and discovery platform for library resources. Following a beta launch in the summer, additional content from print and digital collections was integrated into the platform throughout the fall. Now, HOLLIS+ users can discover books, articles, images, manuscripts, data, sound recordings and much more in a single search, creating a scholarly alternative that mirrors the function of common general-interest search engines.

The implementation team didn’t just focus on the tech, but reached out to the Harvard community via in-person forums, email and web guides to share information while soliciting user feedback to incorporate throughout the process.

“I think it was really a pretty flawless case study of the implementation of a new product in a very large institution,” said Sarah Thomas, vice president for the Harvard Library and Roy E. Larsen Librarian for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “It was done very swiftly. We made the choice and signed the contracts in February, and to think in July we implemented.”

As more and more users come to rely on HOLLIS+, the team will continue to focus on active support and improvement of user experience as well as including more data from various sources like LibGuides or the Harvard Geospatial Library in search results. The success of this project depended on tight collaboration among Library Technology Services, Harvard Library team members, and Ex Libris.

In November, LibraryCloud also became fully functional. The service aggregates metadata from across Library systems and allows users to access it via APIs. The accurate and comprehensive metadata represents over 19 million records from Aleph, VIA and OASIS and is rich for innovative use to fuel apps, feed websites and more. The data is linked via the platform and refreshed automatically, meaning the metadata is always up to date.

“LibraryCloud promotes the ability to use and combine library metadata with other types of information in ways we’ve never thought of, making it accessible and free to the world,” said Tracey Robinson, managing director of LTS. “It’s yet another way the Harvard Library is providing open access to scholarly information.”

A LibraryCloud hackathon in November gave participants the mandate to think big about possible usages; among them, search from Android phones, advice on which repository to visit when researching a particular subject, or creating a button to feature on Amazon or other booksellers' sites that tells users whether the book is in a Harvard library.

Implementation required collaboration among the Library Innovation Lab, LTS and project consultants. While major milestones have already been met, the group will continue to upload data and spread the word about the project and its potential while maintaining and making improvements to the system.