In this time of ubiquitous electronic information, it is easy to find a lot of information quickly. What is much harder is finding high quality information that supports your specific inquiry. We frequently need to remind students that not all information is freely available online, and that consequently a Google search will only expose a fraction of the available information. And often this fraction will not contain the precise information that they need.
Consequently, the OWHL subscribes to dozens of proprietary products that offer sources that can’t be obtained freely over the Internet. This is both the good and the bad news for our users. In some sense we are plagued by an abundance of riches. It can be frustrating to digital natives to learn that comprehensive research requires you to search many different text/source collections and employ a variety of search techniques in different interfaces. Our students expect useful, relevant search results quickly and seamlessly. They want to be able to search our rich resources as easily as they can search Google.
This has been hard for libraries to achieve. Advances in technology have made it easier to create and store documents, but effective access and structuring of the vast world of information presents significant challenges to librarians and data scientists. For over a decade, academic librarians and publishers have been working to develop “federated search” products intended to provide a single search, Google-like experience searching across the library catalog and subscription databases.
Recently, “discovery” tools have supplanted these federated products. Discovery tools make it possible to quickly search multiple document collections simultaneously. One such tool is EBSCO’s Discovery Service (EDS.) The OWHL has been working for more than a year with EBSCO to implement EDS for our users and we are ready to roll out the product for community testing.
EDS features search ranking and refinement tools tailored to the broad document types relevant to research, teaching, and learning here at PA. An EDS search can lead you to broad results–reference works, primary source documents, popular magazines, historical newspapers and academic journals. We anticipate that Discovery searches will deepen the search experience in ways that lead users back to the native search interfaces of products such as JSTOR or Historical Newspapers to dig deeper and search more precisely.
We are still trying to fine-tune the tool, and we need your help and feedback. If you are a current member of the PA Community (faculty, staff, or student) give us feedback and we will reward you with the chance to win a very special treat—a “care package” of baked goods made by the expert bakers on the OWHL team.
You can start searching with Discovery by entering some keywords in the large search box on this page. You will notice that there are four tabs above the search field. If you select the Discover tab, you will be searching through almost all of our collection, regardless of material type. If you search using the Catalog tab, you will be searching our holdings of printed and electronic books, music, films and DVDs. If you search using the Articles tab, you will be searching through the full text of most of our extensive collection of journals and popular magazines.
Please fill out this feedback form when you are finished. You will automatically be entered into our raffle. The winner will be announced in mid-May.