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Magazines > Computers in Libraries > March 2016

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Vol. 36 No. 2 — March 2016

ILS Product Roundup: Choosing Among the Top Discovery Services
by Brandi Scardilli

One of ITI's editors helps you narrow your pick
All libraries need to facilitate discovery of their content, and the type of library you operate may determine the best discovery service to choose. One of ITI’s editors has gathered the facts. Here’s the roundup of the major discovery services of 2016, including a glimpse of their future plans.

EBSCO Discovery Service , Ex Libris Primo, the Summon Service, and WorldCat Discovery Services are the four main index-based discovery services, which are, for the most part, tailored to academic and research libraries.

EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS)

Company: EBSCO Information Services

Tagline: “Maximize the Value and Usefulness of Your Collection”

Unique Draw: EDS has 40-plus ILS partnerships and supports open source ILS options. It is the only discovery service that allows libraries to keep their existing knowledgebases and link resolvers. For example, it integrates with Ex Libris Group’s SFX link resolver in a fully automated way. It is ILS-neutral—an API allows integration with more than 2 dozen ILS vendors such as Innovative and SirsiDynix—and OPAC functionality is fully integrated via these partnerships. EDS allows libraries to decide from which sources patrons can access full texts by configuring their linking preferences via the EBSCOadmin module. Widgets allow libraries to incorporate chat systems, LibGuides, LibAnswers, and other special features into their websites. Libraries can use the API to run EDS from open source discovery interfaces such as Blacklight or power the EDS Reading List Tool to bring library materials into learning management systems such as Moodle or Blackboard.

What’s Next: Upcoming enhancements include improvements to EDS’s user interface, spell-check function, relevance-ranking algorithm, and API suite. EBSCO also plans to leverage aggregated usage data to improve search suggestions.

Ex Libris Primo

Company: Ex Libris Group

Tagline: “Empowering Libraries to Shape the Discovery Experience”

Unique Draw: Primo is the only discovery service that provides extensive OPAC functionality as well as browsing functionality in its interface, so libraries don’t have to maintain a parallel set of OPAC screens. Patrons can use it to place holds on books and view their current loans, among other tasks. Ex Libris Group’s X Usage-Based Services use data mining to expand discovery. For example, bX Recommender creates associations between articles based on researchers’ usage patterns to produce a list of related articles for the Primo results list, and bX Hot Articles features the most popular articles in a specific field. Libraries can use the Primo ranking algorithm to favor their local collections or blend results from those collections and the Primo Central Index.

What’s Next: The company’s product strategy for 2016 will focus on building up the combined content offerings from ProQuest and Primo now that the former has acquired Ex Libris Group; introducing a new Primo user interface; helping libraries promote their collections and services via a new way to manage and display digital collections as well as via enhanced workflow efficiencies; and expanding discovery into other fields of activity, such as teaching, through integration with reading list and research tools.

The Summon Service

Company: ProQuest

Tagline: “The Summon Service increases the value of your library by delivering an unprecedented research experience.”

Unique Draw: Summon is designed to be an important part of the research process by integrating with content access, research management, and collaboration tools such as Ex Libris Alma. An API allows for integration into existing catalogs or applications such as course management pages. Summon’s Index-Enhanced Direct Linking (IEDL) provides linking to more than 370 providers’ data and automatically shows full-text content. Other features include Database Recommender, which gives libraries local control over recommendations so they can curate their own along with Summon’s relevance-based ones; Topic Explorer, which provides related encyclopedia content, recommended research guides, related topics, and recommended subject specialists with search results; and Automated Query Expansion, which matches users’ queries to the proper controlled vocabulary terms to ensure the most relevant results.

What’s Next: ProQuest’s plans for Summon focus on three pillars: content and coverage, democratic discovery, and embedded librarianship. Summon will continue to build its comprehensive index and deliver relevant results regardless of source. ProQuest also advocates for bringing discovery beyond the library to massive open online course (MOOC) environments and learning management systems.

WorldCat Discovery Services

Company: OCLC

Tagline: “Connect your users to the information they need. Connect your library to the world.”

Unique Draw: WorldCat Discovery Services is a suite of cloud-based applications for the discovery of digital and physical resources. As the only discovery service with access to WorldCat, searches return non-biased, relevance-ranked content from it and from a library’s local collections (and searches can be limited to individual databases). WorldCat Discovery Services integrates with interlibrary loan services, digital collection management software, university research portals, and other services. Options for content delivery include the ability to link to online full texts, link to the OPAC, borrow from other libraries, or buy items directly. OCLC’s CONTENTdm software, which helps libraries create digital collections and integrate them into local search results, is included with WorldCat Discovery Services. Also included for each library is a unique URL that allows it to configure a customizable search interface with local branding.

What’s Next: WorldCat Discovery Services will continue to work on features and functionality that leverage the WorldCat database. Also, it plans to place more of an emphasis on improving research outcomes by implementing additional relevancy measurements, possibly including OCLC’s linked datasets.

Axiell Arena, BiblioCore, and Iguana are discovery services that cater mainly to public libraries. Arena integrates with Axiell’s resource management products for libraries, museums, and archives. BiblioCore integrates with Biblio­CMS for comprehensive website management. Iguana is a comprehensive portal for website management as well as for online catalog discovery.

Axiell Arena

Company: Axiell

Tagline: “We’ll help you keep up with your customer’s demands”

Unique Draw: Axiell Arena features a range of tools and services to help librarians create webpages using a drag-and-drop administrative interface. It’s not only a discovery tool, but also an access point for library service. One key aspect of this service is integrating the metadata in the catalog with the library’s website. Arena facilitates the addition of resources such as reviews, related content, and author information to library holdings. Collaboration is a major theme for Axiell; Arena allows the sharing of content, reviews, ratings, tags, and other data. The Axiell eHub service integrates multiple econtent providers, such as OverDrive and OneClickdigital, into the discovery service.

What’s Next: Axiell plans to increase workflow handling for libraries’ digital initiatives and work with customers to modernize and enhance Arena’s user experience, making it digital-first by connecting front-end and back-end systems in new ways, while keeping them independent of each other. The company plans to pursue an open data/open system strategy that includes a fully supported linked-data initiative, as well as the ability to integrate library-preferred and community-preferred services more easily and efficiently.


Company: BiblioCommons

Tagline: “BiblioCore replaces all the traditional functionality of the library’s online catalog and integrates it seamlessly with the kind of discovery and interactive experiences that library customers experience daily elsewhere on the web.”

Unique Draw: BiblioCore is the only discovery service built to encourage conversations and community engagement directly in the catalog. Patrons can share recommendations, and BiblioCore aggregates all of the reviews, ratings, and other content—as well as events, online resources, and blog posts—created by staff members or patrons across its public library customers and makes them available directly in a patron’s search path via the BiblioCore catalog. Additionally, BiblioCore fully integrates with BiblioCMS, BiblioCommons’ website management platform.

What’s Next: All of BiblioCommons’ future plans are aligned to the strategic needs of public libraries. It aims to make public library websites as useful, welcoming, and functional as physical library spaces are. Continuing to help libraries support formal and informal education is another goal.


Company: Infor Libraries

Tagline: “The next frontier in library automation”

Unique Draw: Iguana is a marketing and collaboration tool that offers not only a discovery service, but also solutions for websites; interest emails (opt-in enewsletters featuring new items from the library according to individual patron interest); the ability to log in to services via Facebook, Google, and Yahoo; and integration with Pinterest and Facebook for services such as reviews and reservations. Add-on modules and newsletter creation tools are also available. Data is integrated directly into Iguana, with searches leading to results from the library’s collection and its website. The service has a nontraditional look and feel, with customizable animation and social features. Based on widget technology, Iguana has responsive design and is certified with Level AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.

What’s Next: Iguana’s fourth version (it is currently on version 3) will feature enhancements such as official e-resource integration, multi-target search (search results will be displayed as one result set regardless of the source of the data or the technology used), and animations extensions.

The Encore Discovery Solution and SirsiDynix Enterprise are discovery interfaces that focus on access to content from automation systems and use external indexes for searching.

Encore Discovery Solution

Company: Innovative

Tagline: “The Encore Discovery Solution brings the complete library experience into the light.”

Unique Draw: Encore caters to both new library users and seasoned researchers. Searching brings up results for sources such as scholarly articles, books, and local digital collections, with the service leveraging exposure to local collections alongside real-time integration into the back-end ILS or library services platform. Encore works with other content providers to provide a range of resources, including the ability to check out and place holds for OverDrive or 3M Cloud Library ebooks directly from the service. Encore Duet allows libraries to include integrated results sets of local content and full-text articles from EBSCO Discovery Service. Encore’s ChiliFresh integration facilitates social interactions such as ratings and reviews written by library users.

What’s Next: Innovative is working on folding linked data into the discovery experience, as well as developing additional partnership integrations and personalization options for Encore. The company’s goal is to use feedback to improve every aspect of Encore’s user experience.

SirsiDynix Enterprise

Company: SirsiDynix

Tagline: “Gather all your resources together in your own unique catalog, and create the ideal search experience for your users.”

Unique Draw: Enterprise, designed for all sizes and types of libraries, is fully customizable. Searches return relevancy-ranked digital, database, and physical items from a library’s collection and web resources in one interface. Additionally, SirsiDynix partnered with EBSCO Information Services to embed EBSCO Discovery Service search results interfiled with library catalog sources on the same results page. Enterprise can be used with SirsiDynix’s eResource Central digital content management tool to facilitate one-click e-resource checkout from vendors such as OverDrive and 3M Cloud Library.

What’s Next: SirsiDynix’s line of BLUE (Best Library User Experience) products will introduce BLUEcloud Visibility, its new linked-data initiative, to all of its discovery products, including Enterprise. It will aim to add local libraries’ catalog items to search results from major search engines by extracting libraries’ MARC records and transforming them into linked data.

Brandi Scardilli is the editor of ITI NewsBreaks and the managing editor of Information Today.