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Monthly Archive for: ‘February, 2018’

  • University of the Arts London finds deficiencies in discovery services

    Broken egg orangeWe’ve written before about University of the Arts London (UAL), a customer we’ve worked with quite closely over the past several years. In particular, when we write about usability, we frequently use screenshots from their federated search application. Here is a good article featuring UAL. And, here’s another one.

    UAL came onto our radar once again when we learned of this journal article: Discovering the F-Word. Article author Paul Mellinger, Discovery Manager (Resources & Systems) for UAL’s Library Services, tells why they picked federated search over discovery services even while they were already using a discovery service.

    In the article…

    Mellinger explains why University of the Arts London’s library service decided to move to a next-generation federated search engine, at a time when most academic library services are moving to, or already using, a web-scale discovery product.

    UAL went against the trend toward discovery services and Mellinger’s “F Word” article is a good case study for why the one shoe fits all” approach doesn’t work. We’ve written a ton about discovery services and their pitfalls so I won’t repeat what’s in past articles. A couple of good articles on the subject are this one and this one.

    Now, let me introduce some novel ideas that Mr. Mellinger brings forth.

    One rather embarrassing experience that surfaced in a UAL e-library review was the occurrence of dead links.

    … the occurrence of supposed full-text results leading to dead links was far too regular to inspire confidence in the underlying search system. Not only did it cause frustration to the end-users but it caused a great deal of discomfort and embarrassment to those members of library staff involved in information skills delivery programmes.

    This is particularly disturbing when the discovery service provider controls the distribution of the content it’s linking to.

    Another UAL concern was the lack of stated provenance from their discovery service.

    Despite the assurances of RDS vendors about the decreasing importance of databases as brands, our students, because they were being directed to specific databases by their teachers, wanted to know why, if they performed a certain search in a named database, it tended to produce very different results from the same search performed via the RDS [resource discovery service].

    And, here’s the flip side of how our federated search system instills confidence at UAL.

    Since federated search engines actively showcase databases as information sources, they are seen by academic staff as promoting the trusted, curatorial heritage of those authoritative sources that they themselves recognise and promote. Perhaps it is a symptom of the relatively slow pace of arts education, compared to the sciences, but Explorit seems to foster a sense of familiarity and feels congruent with the pedagogical practice at UAL.

    That mention of “the relatively slow pace of arts education” got my attention. We’re all addicted to the lightning-fast Google experience and I wondered if UAL students weren’t so hungry for speed. Sure enough, the next paragraph did not disappoint.

    … the ability to actually see the databases being searched in real-time [..] grounds [student] understanding of the provenance of results

    This is particularly interesting to me because the value of real-time searching is often buried underneath the complaints of real-time searching.

    In closing, I should note that UAL is not your typical library. They are both an academic library and a specialized arts library. And, many of the sources they need access to are not going to be included in the discovery services.

  • Finding love on Valentine’s Day!

    Valentine heart
    By Lin Pernille Photography (Flickr: valentine.) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

    When it’s time to do that all-important Valentine’s Day research, we’ve got you covered! We searched a few of our major Explorit! applications for information about this all important holiday.

    We found this nice article about the history of St. Valentine’s Day at our largest Explorit! Application, xSearch, that federates 300+ sources at Stanford University.

    We found this little gem via Mason OER Metafinder, the Open Educational Resources search engine at George Mason University.

    Finally, if you’re a little late getting that card for your special love, maybe some clip art would help. We found these downloadable graphics via the University of Arts London Explorit! search engine.

    What’s your favorite piece of Valentine’s Day history, trivia, clip art, movie review, gift idea, or whatever that Explorit! helped you find?

    And, finally, if you love Explorit! we encourage you to Share the Love!