Charting Discovery

Against the Grain, Oct 2016

By Jesse Holden, Published on 10/31/16

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Charting Discovery

Charting Discover y Jesse Holden 0 1 0 University of Southern California , USA 1 by Scott R. Anderson, Associate Professor, Information Systems Librarian, Millersville University , Millersville, PA , USA Part of the Library and Information Science Commons Recommended Citation - Article 7 Follow this and additional works at: http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/atg REfERENCE PUbLIShINg ISSUE voLUME 25, NUMbER 4 TM SEPTEMbER 2013 “Linking Publishers, Vendors and Librarians” by Jesse holden (Head, Acquisitions, USC Libraries, University of Southern California) <> ISSN: 1043-2094 Charting Discovery Ddiscovery has become ubiquitous with iscourse about and including the idea of the recent rise of Web-scale discovery services. So complete has this technological (not to mention lexical) revolution been that the correlation between “library” and “discovery” seems fairly obvious and natural today. Of course, libraries have always been about discovery on one level or another. But this emerging concept moves away from previous notions of what it means to discover and, by extension, what it means to search. A curious way to mark the paradigmatic shift already underway is to look at how librarians themselves view discovery. The 1943 A.L.A. Glossary of Library Terms (“Prepared under the Direction of the Committee on Library Terminology”) does not include an entry for “discovery.”1 This omission may already seem odd, so common is the use of the term at present. It may help Big Drumroll!!!! Your friend and mine, Anthony the most outstanding Watkinson has been selected to receive the ALPSP Council Contribution to Scholarly Publishing Award this year. The Award is nominated by ALPSP Council and is for outstanding individuals or organizations who, as the name of the award suggests, have made a major contribution to scholarly publishing. The Award will be presented at the ALPSP Awards Dinner on Thursday, September 12. Dr. Audrey McCulloch is the Chief Executive of ALPSP. Huge congratulations, Anthony! Was super-excited to learn that CRL has announced the appointment of brimming-with-energy Christine Stamison as the If Rumors Were Horses to take a step back, then, and ask: What was the official definition of “library” in 1943? Answer: A library is “a collection of books and similar material organized and administered for reading, consultation, and study.” Also, it is a “room, group of rooms, or a building” designated for said purpose. This definition conveys two things about the library: first, its inherent materiality; second, the implication that the library is (or contains) a collection of relatively known things. The idea of discovery in this context can only be in a very limited sense; that is, whatever information materials are available in the surrounding room(s) or building. The library was an island to be explored, perhaps, but the information within had already been discovered. new director of NERL. Christine succeeds Joan Emmet, who led NERL since 2011. In her new capacity, Christine will negotiate pricing and terms of use for the hundreds of databases and e-journal and eBook packages licensed or purchased on behalf of NERL’s 28 members and 80 affiliates, and will work with the NERL Board, Program Council, and CRL to increase these libraries’ return on their investment in electronic resources. The appointment is effective September 3. Christine has considerable experience in the electronic publishing and the information marketplace. With over thirty years in the private and public sectors, working for both subscription vendors and academic libraries, she brings extensive knowledge of the information industry and a valuable set of skills to the NERL program. She has worked in technical services and periodicals at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and also directed the Serials Orders Section at the University of Chicago, Likely it is not surprising that the 1943 Glossary lacks a definition of discovery. However, it is interesting to note that the contemporary Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science, the open access resource from AbC CLIo, also lacks a defined concept of discovery.3 The closest entry is, in fact, “discovery service,” which is defined foremost as “an interface.” Such a technological ontology for the term can be expected given that much of our conceptual development of the idea of “discovery” the past few years has been technology-driven. Regarding the “library,” it is worth noting that the Online Dictionary provides rather a more nebulous definition, indicating that a library is “organized to facil continued on page 14 What To Look For In This Issue: “The End of the Wax Cylinder as We Know It…” .......................................... 8 ATG Luminaries – Comment On Twitter ................................................ 38 If Filter Failure is the Problem, Then What Is Filter Success? .................... 42 Usage Statistics: Do They Drive You… or Do You Drive Them? .................... 71 Interviews Dr. Avram Bar-Cohen ....................... 32 Liz Chapman ..................................... 34 Leslie Mackenzie ............................... 36 Peter Binfield..................................... 66 Profiles Encouraged Michael A. Arthur ............................. 24 Grey House Publishing..................... 37 Plus more.............................. See inside continued on page 6 itate access” and that its user needs are met by “trained personnel.” This is a marked change from the overt materiality of the library of 70 years ago; the present-day library has come to include connections as well as collections, and service as well as a physical, administered space. But even now, the idea of “discovery” is not always integral to the definition of the library. However, it is undeniable that our emerging concept (or concepts) of discovery are becoming more complex and nuanced as the information landscape becomes more difficult and confusing to navigate. The very idea of discovery is becoming inextricably tied to the library. And though this idea certainly carries the connotations of technological development and expanding access to content, it also provides a new framework in which to refine (or even redefine) library collection and service models. As the featured selections in this issue demonstrate, the concept of discovery goes beyond a simple interface, advanced search algorithms, and electronic content. Several of the contributors take the conceptual aspects of discovery to the next level. Scott R. Anderson uses analogues from everyday life to illustrate the valuable potential of mental models in the development of discovery services. Sam brooks looks at the potential of discovery services to enhance and enrich the end user experience. Eddie Neuwirth and gillian harrison Cain make a compelling case that discovery creates the possibility to increase the scale of library services while simultaneously promoting the value of those services. Meanwhile, v irginia bacon and ginny boyer trace the implementation and evolution of a discovery service at East Carolina University, providing a case study for the adoption of (and adaptation to) discovery in a way that impacts the whole library. Exemplified by these collected articles is the fact that discovery may be approached from many perspectives. Though some ideas and manifestations overlap, it is clear that those within the information ecosystem are all exploring the concepts and developments of “discovery” along many different paths. Endnotes Discovery and Mental Models Tsimplify the library in virtual spaces. he concept of a discovery service should This simplification isn’t intended to convey that discovery services are always easier or better — sometimes yes, sometimes no. But what it does do is provide libraries an opportunity to align content, collections, and services into a reasonably consistent mental model for users. The first layer of this consistency is increasingly manifest as a search box.1 Users already possess and use in everyday life a multitude of mental models for a variety of tasks (shopping, ordering food, pumping gas, etc.) Let us be clear, this idea of a mental model isn’t just about searching the library. Nor am I going to proffer that a discovery service or a discovery layer is perfect in all cases. But what such a model does provide is a relatively logical starting point for “the library” as a mental model and what to expect in many cases regardless of where or how they encounter “the library” and its collections and services. That encounter could take place at the library Website, a search widget embedded in some other space such as a university portal or social media platform, within a learning management system, perhaps a browser plugin, stand-alone mobile app, etc. To the extent that functionality can be effectively inserted into other spaces, the library will need to be mindful of how it positions collections and services within the results of that initial search environment and not just prior it. Let us explore a brief shopping example. How difficult would it be to buy groceries or navigate a “big box” merchandise store if each Against the Grain / September 2013 and every time you visited a different store you have to determine the general layout of the store? With each visit you have to determine where various sections are located in either absolute terms and/or if sections are logically located relative to each other. While not the Twilight Zone, this unique shopping experience each time you entered a different but similar kind of store would become rather laborious, tedious, and time consuming. There is a rationale behind the layout and collocation of merchandise in like types of retail establishments as the experience is strikingly similar from store to store, experience to experience, and location to location. By following a similar approach to location and layout, if not look and feel, it significantly reduces the amount of mental energy it takes to find the general area or service, which you are trying to locate — even if you don’t know exactly what you were trying to find. If you enter the “front” of a general merchandise store (think Target, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, etc.), it’s typically arranged left to right: hard goods (sporting goods, tools, light bulbs, TV’s, etc.), soft goods (clothing, towels, seasonal attire, shoes, etc.), and groceries; and if it’s not that, then it’s probably reversed but still with retail food and the pharmacy “in or near the front” of the main entrance of the store. If you enter from some other point (e.g., garden, automotive, or seasonal), the store might seem “backwards” or perhaps inverted but the relative positioning of these various categories is generally the same once you have oriented yourself to your in-store surroundings. In stores that seem unfamiliar or confusing, the layout probably doesn’t follow the mental model that most of us have learned through experience to facilitate navigation in these kinds of spaces. The point is that regardless of exactly how the store is arranged, you can get a general sense of where you are because previous experience drives the idea that “bed and bath” (soft goods) is probably going to be close to “kitchen” (also soft-ish goods) and both will be relatively far from “automotive” or “sporting goods” (both hard goods). Items like paint or plastics (hangers, containers) are typically “on the edge” of a section because they’re not strictly hard or soft goods, but somewhere in between the two (like gray literature). Or these items on the edge work in conjunction with a hard or soft good, so you’ll have to look a bit harder for them. And this relates to libraries how? It relates to the rise of the search box as the primary point of entry to library content and services.2 It’s an opportunity to position or embed collections 1. Elizabeth h. Thompson. A.L.A. Glossary of Library Terms . Chicago: American Library Association, 1943 . 2. Joan M. Reitz . Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science (ODLIS). AbC-CLIo , [ 2013 ]. Available at: http:// www.abc-clio.com/ODLIS/odlis_A.aspx. continued on page 16


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Jesse Holden. Charting Discovery, Against the Grain, 2016,