The Role of Discovery and Its Relationship With the ILS

Neil Block, Tim McGeary, Elizabeth Leonard

(L-R) Neil Block, Tim McGeary, Elizabeth Leonard

Neil Block, Vice President of Discovery at EBSCO Information Services, wondered if it is time to rethink the Integrated Library System (ILS). He mentioned the  importance of choice in the library ecosystem, discovery, and the post next-generation ILS. The traditional ILS represents a small part of a library’s workflow.

E-journals and bundles are all on the rise, which must be reflected in library spaces. New collections mean changes to physical spaces and should also be reflected in workflows with an increased emphasis on user success. The new paradigm embraces “digital native” users with modern expectations and different needs, a diverse selection of content accessed on a myriad of devices (especially mobile ones), and a unique technologies within the library ecosystem. Much of the focus seems to be on back-end processes and materials. Needs are changing, so shouldn’t our automation strategy be focused more on user success and outcomes? Should the ILS become the Discovery Services Platform (see Block’s blog post on EBSCO’s DiscoveryPULSE blog).

Every library has a unique mix of services, so choice is important. Libraries should feel free to pick the best available technology mix for their users. They must expect their discovery platform to interact with that technology.

Many libraries are moving beyond a single vendor for ILS technology. Post next-gen systems replace the monolithic megasuite, and the marketplace determines the vendor chosen.The new environment is much more open, discovery and the ILS are not connected together. EBSCO is not an ILS vendor, but it is very interested in ILSs and has partnerships with over 40 ILS providers around the world.

Tim McGeary, Associate University Librarian for Information  Technology Services at Duke University, described the Kuali Open Library Environment (OLE). OLE involves people, community, and collaboration. The Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN, a partnership of which Duke is a member) decided to be discovery independent, so every partner has a say in what it will offer, and every specification is written by a librarian in the partnership.

Systems have become much more complex since 2001, and we now have many more systems to interact with. North Carolina State University decided to install the ENDECA platform. It had mostly been marketed to commercial entities, but it was successfully installed at NCState.  TRLN developed the “Search TRLN” project which was launched in 2007 and extended NCState’s ENDECA implementation. The goal of the project was to enable searching of the combined TRLN collections with a single interface and to facilitate delivery of materials in the network.

Seton Hall University had an ILS that was not changing and developing with the times.  Elizabeth Leonard, Assistant Dean for Library Technology, described how the decision was made to replace it with OCLC’s Worldshare Management Service. They were happy with the integration of Electronic Research Management (ERM) and the ILS, but were not happy with discovery layers (Worldcat Local (WCL) and Worldcat Discovery). So they decided to keep EBSCO’s EDS as a discovery layer and WCL as an OPAC, which worked very well. Some senior faculty members still want the catalog even though EDS had catalog data in it.

Students did not like the new system because if they wanted to go into their library account theyhad to leave WorldCat and go into the discovery system. The solution was to combine the ILS and the discovery layer. OCLC actively supported the integration. Data from the old ILS was reconfigured and MARC records were extracted and moved to the combined system. Real time availability tracking (RTAC) was added which allowed users to see if a book is checked out and when it is due back.  A hold function was also added. Future plans include creating temporary records for ILL items, adding off-campus login and credit card payment capabilities, and correcting some cosmetic issues.

Don HawkinsDon Hawkins
Charleston 2015 Conference Blogger and Against The Grain Columnist

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