Burke presented on web scale searching solutions for libraries. The presentation was founded on some firsthand research by Serials Solutions into the research habits of students. This research basically showed that library pages were essentially impenetrable and unusable with their siloed databases and indexes, lingo, and high learning curve for users. The web scale solutions Burke proposed generally include full content indexing of library holdings (catalog, aggregated content, hosted content, IR, etcetera) and searching with a single box interface ala Google. Watch for these solutions which are hitting the market.
Here are two telling quotes from a recent research study cited in the presentation:
“It is also clear from teacher and student responses in the study that the library is seen as an intimidating and inconvenient place, especially and interestingly in its primary purpose – supporting student research and often assisting students in the identification, location, and evaluation of sources.”
“We also concede it is understandable that students are drawn to using search engines on the Internet to conduct academic research. These engines are easy to use, available to anyone with an Internet connection, and quick and bountiful in their returns.”
So, students would prefer to use Internet search engines over the overly-complex library search environment. But, Burke notes that library content users acknowledge that library resources are far superior for credible content than web searches and prefer them for coursework. Burke summarizes the problem well:
Even though the library is perceived to be better… The use of Google and other internet search engines continues to rise
Burke’s research shows that roughly 65% of users find Google to be “the easiest place to start the research process” vs. roughly 20% of users finding library databases the easiest place to begin research.
Burke’s solution to the problem is to give users a discovery service with a Google-like interface so they can search their library’s holdings plus tons of publisher content. I imagine Serials Solutions’ Summon would be high on her list since Burke’s company ProQuest owns Serials Solutions. Burke’s solution makes sense with the caveat that discovery services will need to integrate with federated search engines to fill the content gap that is inevitable when a library commits to only providing access to scholarly material from sources available in a particular discovery service.
Tags: federated search