Overviews of commercial library discovery products

Library Journal has a very useful article with case studies of four commercial library-sector “discovery interface” layers.  Four sections written by librarians at institutions implementing each of four products:

  • EBSCO EDS (Amanda Clay Powers, Mississippi State University)
  • OCLC WorldCat (Zinthia C. Briceño-Rosales, Washington State University) [Haven’t figured out if this is the WorldCat Local product, or simply the free-to-any-OCLC-member use of worldcat.org]
  •  Ex Libris Primo (Rebecca Fernandez, Midwestern State University), and
  • Serial Solutions Summon (Ken Varnum, University of Michigan).

Discovering What Works: Librarians Compare Discovery Interface Experiences

A very useful overview of what’s out there, why institutions are choosing these products, and what their experiences are.

One negative critique I have is that, like many such articles, these are kind of short on people sharing the negatives, what didn’t work as expected, what they wished worked better, what they could have done differently.  Surely any product and any implementation process has some negatives too. I think people are still too reluctant to admit that not everything went perfectly (nothing ever does), that there were unexpected c consequences of choices made by the library (there always are) or to criticize their vendors in public (library customer/vendor relationships are kind of sado-masochistic).  But making informed decisions requires knowing upsides and downsides, things that worked and things that didn’t, and we provide tremendous value to our community when we share the full picture. Still, just sharing the experiences as they are in this article is still a great step, we need more of this.

Thanks to local colleague Agnes Flannery-Denner  for alerting me to this article. 

update: (15:33) Ken Chad on the Code4Lib listserv draws our attention to  The Higher Education Library Technology (HELibTech) wiki ‘Discovery’ entry with some actual compare and contrast between products. Although it seems to me to mostly just be marketting brochure text for the commercial products. Still useful to have em all in one place, I guess.

And Peter Murray tells about the Unified Resource Discovery Comparison chart on Google Docs.

Neither of these resources look all that useful to me, honestly.

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