Customer Corner – Colorado Technical University
Editor’s Note: This is a guest article by Michelle Powers, Director of Library Services at Career Education Corporation (CEC). The Colorado Technical University and a number of other schools owned and operated by CEC are Explorit Everywhere! customers.
In 2015, the librarians of Colorado Technical University wanted to investigate alternative options to our discovery search tool. While we were not unhappy with the system we had in place, we were often stymied by the inability to incorporate competing vendors into the system’s platform and create a truly seamless experience for our students who relied heavily on the ability to search multiple subscription resources at one time.
In short, we wanted a system that provided results from truly everything we had, based on relevancy, in a completely seamless fashion, through an easy-to-use interface.
To begin, it’s important to understand that CTU has 3 campuses: 1 online campus which serves students in a completely online environment and 2 ground campuses in which students can access a traditional library facility but rely heavily on the electronic database collection for academic research.
Each campus has a unique campus portal; therefore, there are 3 separate library portals. There are also some database differences, based on campus programs and other factors.
Our initial decision criteria included the following:
- We needed a system that we could implement across multiple campuses—giving our students and faculty who work in multiple campus environments the same experience
- We needed a system that would allow individual branding for our separate campuses
- The system needed to work well with a multitude of vendors
- They system needed to allow us to continue to track database usage from each campus
- We needed a system that could be embedded into our campus pages, which is behind a firewall and only available to authorized users
- We needed a system that would not require additional authentication from our students, such as a student ID, after they log onto the campus portals
- We needed the system to be intuitive for our users
- The system had to be affordable
We were at first hesitant to move back to a federated system, which is what we had in place prior to the implementation of the discovery system. Our federated system had burned images in our collective memory of clunky interfaces and groupings of results which confused users. However, after reviewing how Deep Web Technologies met the criteria outlined above we invited Abe to give us a demo.
We were impressed with Explorit Everywhere!’s easy-to-understand interface, and features like the Search Builder, the ability to categorize resources on the search page, the ability to embed the search widget into our LibGuides, and more. What we liked most about the product though was that it was vendor neutral and promised to incorporate all of our resources in a way our previous system did not.
In early 2016 we decided to make the switch and launch the Explorit Everywhere! search tool in April at CTU and multiple other institutions owned and operated by CTU’s parent company, Career Education Corporation. This meant an implementation of Explorit Everywhere! on nearly 50 campus portals in less than 3 months!
Deep Web Technologies’ team provided clear instructions of what needed to be done on our end, met regularly with our IT team and library leadership to ensure our timeline was met, created systems on the back end to allow for our requested search features, and created a method of providing the library with statistics.
Our launch was astoundingly…. quiet. No upset student responses, no confusion or dismay at the new interface. Our students and faculty took to the new system like fish in water, which reinforced the library’s own opinion that the system was easy to use, and satisfied the needs of our users.
Abe and his team including Christy Ziemba, Ellee Wilson, and Susan Martin have been awesome at responding to our queries and resolving any situations we’ve encountered with such a massive change.
The library is still gathering statistics to accurately calculate changes to usage with the implementation of Explorit Everywhere! We did immediately have increased usage in an e-book database that was unavailable through our previous system, and are expecting to find an overall increase in database usage, especially in the other resources unavailable in the previous system
Librarians smarter and better than me can argue the pros and cons of a federated system vs a discovery system. I can say that our students ultimately benefit by the comprehensive search feature Deep Web Technologies has offered us.
Disclaimer: CTU cannot guarantee employment or salary. Find employment rates, financial obligations, and other disclosures at www.coloradotech.edu/disclosures.