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 The Discovery to Faster, Easier Research at the Library

The power of search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing has more college students turning to the Internet for research rather than their campus libraries. That’s no surprise, considering the ease of typing keywords into a single search box versus navigating through hundreds of article databases, indexes, and the complicated library catalog.

Librarians like Elizabeth McKeigue at Santa Clara University recognize the growing problem and hope to change that trend through the use of discovery systems that allow students to easily search for everything at once, including books, magazine and journal articles, DVDs, and archives.

“Librarians are competing against Google for attention. We have better content than Google, but students don’t always realize that,” says McKeigue.

 Following the paths of Penn State, Columbia, and University of Michigan, SCU is looking at various software systems that can simultaneously search across all article database content and local library collections. Using the library’s extensive resources can be daunting and requires training. With discovery systems, librarians wouldn’t need to devote as much time teaching the basics of how to search. They simply type the keywords into one simple search field, much like you would with Google or Yahoo.

SCU students, faculty, and staff are testing a number of discovery systems, including EBSCO Discovery System, Summon, Encore Synergy, and Primo Central. The library will gather feedback at the end of the quarter and weigh the pros and cons that will determine the next phase of the project.

McKeigue wants the University to invest in a discovery system, because she believes it will ultimately increase usage of the library’s databases and indexes, which has been relatively flat in the past few years.


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