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Primo Implementation Update

Updates on usability, beta launch and name of the new system.


May 27, 2014—The Library is on track to implement Primo - a new scholarly search tool - this summer.

An earlier note outlined some of the background research that was conducted and key features of the Primo system. More recently, teams have been hard at work on implementing what will be called HOLLIS+.  

The Primo team is currently working on revised content and design for the navigation bar that appears at the top of HOLLIS, HOLLIS Classic, E-Research@Harvard and other Harvard Library web sites, guided by analytics and usability tests of possible revisions. The Usability Team, together with colleagues throughout the Library, is testing proposed changes to the persistent navigation bar that appears on most Harvard Library systems. After the navigation bar design is finalized, Library Technology Services will begin to phase in the changes over the next several weeks.

Usability testing indicated that users expect a search box on the Search & Find page rather than the list of resources that appears now, so the HOLLIS+ widget will be added to the top of the Search & Find page. This change will be in place for the fall. Placement of HOLLIS+ on the library portal home page will be determined by feedback from users and staff members and will be finalized after the beta release of HOLLIS+ in July.

The Implementation Working Group and Core Technical Team are also working on the layout, search options, pre-search limiters, facets and options for the results list on the Primo landing page.

Consultation with peers and colleagues has continued, including assessment of other Primo sites, participation in the ELUNA 2014 meeting (Ex Libris Users of North America) and hosting a panel discussion with colleagues from Princeton, Columbia, the Five Colleges and BU on lessons learned from implementing new discovery systems. These findings inform initial design choices and will be tested with faculty and students, and library staff will have an opportunity to provide feedback when a test system is ready.  

This project will expose many more resources from a single search starting point. Currently, the most comprehensive starting point is HOLLIS, which provides access to over 14 million items. HOLLIS+ will provide access to hundreds of millions of resources--primarily articles. This additional content, coupled with the search precision tools afforded by the Primo system, will provide a more fruitful research experience for both novice and experienced searchers.

Figure 1 - The new discovery tool will provide access to a wealth of content from a single search box

The project remains on track for a beta launch in July; recent activities and accomplishments include:

  • Open meetings were held at Countway Library, Lamont and 625 Mass Ave in April, with over 125 attendees.
  • User interface design and usability testing is underway.
  • Initial system configuration was specified, authentication is in place and more than 13 million bibliographic records were loaded into a test instance of the system.
  • Multiple training sessions for the implementation team have occurred.

Slides and other content from the open meetings can be found on the project wiki via the links below.  These include the final report from the discovery investigation team and the results of a user survey conducted in the fall 2013 related to desired characteristics in a new search system.

Additional reading at the project wiki:

Open Meeting presentation

Discovery Platform Investigation Final Report

Summary results of a user survey