Discovery Services: The Future of Library Systems?

Discovery services. Ever heard of it? Well, according to some, like those in the video below, it is supposed to be the future of the library.

A comprehensive article by Jason Vaughan titled “Investigations into Library Web-Scale Discovery Services” published in INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND LIBRARIES, March 2012 issue, states:

Web-scale discovery services for libraries provide deep discovery to a library’s local and licensed content and represent an evolution — perhaps a revolution — for end-user information discovery as pertains to library collections. This article frames the topic of web-scale discovery and begins by illuminating web-scale discovery from an academic library’s perspective — that is, the internal perspective seeking widespread staff participation in the discovery conversation. This included the creation of the Discovery Task Force, a group that educated library staff, conducted internal staff surveys, and gathered observations from early adopters. The article next addresses the substantial research conducted with library vendors that have developed these services. Such work included drafting of multiple comprehensive question lists distributed to the vendors, onsite vendor visits, and continual tracking of service enhancements. Together, feedback gained from library staff, insights arrived at by the Discovery Task Force, and information gathered from vendors collectively informed the recommendation of a service for the UNLV Libraries.

Web-scale discovery services, combining vast repositories of content with accessible, intuitive interfaces, hold the potential to greatly facilitate the research process. While the technologies underlying such services are not new, commercial vendors releasing such services, and their work and agreements with publishers and aggregators to preindex content, is very new.

The first 5 minutes of this AL Panel Discussion by Marshall Breeding will give you an introduction. You listen and you decide. Is this the future of library systems?


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2 responses to “Discovery Services: The Future of Library Systems?

  1. Yes, I have heard of (and seen) web scale discovery services. I guess I’m not convinced the same vendors who can’t come up with a descent ILS interface or integrated local discovery service will be able to pull this off successfully. So it very well could be the future, but I think it is a far off future.

    • I must admit that I’m not very experienced with ILS systems, and especially not with advanced ILS developments, so the whole thing sounds very cool, but a little far-fetched to me.
      Thanks for your assessment. Maybe we can all breathe a sigh of relief from “the next big thing.”

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