Skip to Main Content

Special Interest Group Archive: Discovery Layers 07/02/2019

These are the notes from meetings dating back to 2015.

July 2, 2019

We had a small group facilitated by Denise Garofalo to talk about Discovery layers and search.

Notes from the meeting

Mount Saint Mary does not use a discovery layer at all, and that’s because of financial reasons. They use Sierra. Vassar uses Sierra, and Dominican uses EBSCO and Sirsi.

It’s working well at Vassar, and they have faculty who are vocal about not wanting to use discovery layers, so the catalog has been the main search box.

In the new iteration, they made Discover the primary search, and there are options to limit to the catalog or to books. Summon is basing the search on full-text, not like the catalog search, which is using the subject headings. Their search is proprietary, so you don’t know what they’re prioritizing, or if they are pushing their own content.

But what do the students think? Maybe a focus group or a study is called for to see how they are using it. They did some user testing, and the students were excited to find out that they had discovery because they hadn’t found it in the past.

We did a side-by-side comparison between the two discovery systems, and the results were very similar. You need to address what is going to happen with students who don’t go through library instruction.

At Dominican, they’re seeing that the students don’t really know what they’re searching for when they encounter a search box. One of the good things about EDS is the customer service, and they send representatives to do a check to go over settings. They have an easy-to-understand search box on the main page.

There is an issue with not seeing the material from the competitors. There’s an EDS wiki where you can meet up with other libraries who are using it, and you can use that for ideas of what other libraries are doing. One library has a separate link with content from another service. “Algorithmic bias in discovery layers.”

Both also include open access materials in their discovery layers. A lot of that is done in the back-end. One problem is that students don’t click through if they don’t see a .pdf option.

Making a switch is not as big of a deal as switching an LMS, but it’s still a big deal. Do you consult with faculty or students first? If the vendors are willing to help with user testing, that can be a good resource for taking a look to see what’s working and what’s not.

Sierra, Sirsi, have products that work well at public libraries. None of them are truly agnostic. FOLIO is getting close to being rolled out. It still is bankrolled by EBSCO.

Ideas for next time:


Vassar used an API to have people sign out laptops.

Sharing / demo / hack-a-thon (but that is a problematic name) for learning, sharing, spectating… use the word “introduction” Json, how it’s structured. Maybe a TOR browser demo.

Southeastern had a Javascripting workshop with someone from SUNY New Paltz a few years ago.

Southeastern NY Library Resources Council
21 South Elting Corners Road | Highland, NY 12528
Phone: (845) 883-9065