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Library Leadership Group Explores New-Generation Search and Discovery Solutions for Harvard

The group shares its approach and invites feedback.


September 10, 2013

Dear Colleagues,

The Library Leadership Team (LLT) convened a group a few months ago to explore next-generation search and discovery solutions for Harvard. We’d like to share our approach, and we welcome your feedback. There are three streams of activity underway:

1. Search and Discovery Exploration and Education
2. Discovery Platform Investigation
3. EBSCO Delivery Service Trial

The S & D Exploration and Education group aims to inform our community about the latest and greatest innovations in the field of search and discovery. The group will bring specialists in the field to come speak about their research with our community and we will welcome staff to participate in discussion groups before and after their talks to determine what elements should and can be implemented here at Harvard. Given the ever-evolving nature of search and the technology that facilitates it, we envision this as an ongoing activity.

The library-wide Discovery Platform Investigation (DPI) team is currently evaluating search and discovery solutions provided by several vendors, including EBSCO, Ex Libris, ProQuest and OCLC. Our hope is that implementation of a web-scale discovery service will simplify the research experience by providing more comprehensive search across as many “silos” of scholarly information as possible. An ideal web-scale discovery platform would include: books, articles, music, images, finding aids, special collections and more. The DPI is developing a through evaluation process by which to determine which service is the best solution for Harvard. We anticipate making a recommendation to the LLT on a search and discovery solution by January 2014.

In a related but separate effort, the Library is moving forward with a trial of EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) for aggregated article search. We are working with Library Technology Services on implementation, and the trial will occur in two phases. During Phase I this fall, Harvard research librarians will evaluate the service. If this assessment by research librarians is positive, Phase II will make the service available to users on the Library portal. A working group chaired by Michael Leach is defining the assessment criteria for both phases. More information on Phase I of the trial will be available in the next few weeks.

The findings from the EDS trial will inform our overall evaluation of next generation search and discovery options.

We look forward to updating the Library community periodically throughout both of these projects, and we welcome your questions and suggestions. Please hold the date for an open meeting to discuss these efforts on September 30 from 10-11am in the Lamont Forum Room.

Best regards,

David Osterbur
Tracey Robinson
Suzanne Wones

Members of the Discovery Platform Investigation Group:

Corinna Baksik 
Cathy Conroy (project manager)
Kathleen Donovan
Betsy Eggleston
Laura Farwell Blake
Robin McElheny 
Laura Morse
Ken Peterson
Tracey Robinson (chair)
Carli Spina
Bonnie Tijerina
Scott Wicks
Suzanne Wones

Members of the EDS Assessment Group:

Corinna Baksik 
Betsy Eggleston
Lauren Esser
Michael Leach (chair)
Kathleen Sheehan
Hugh Truslow