It’s easy to be passionate about a service with a clear mission that you believe in. So I feel lucky to be part of the pioneering Summon service which was built to purpose with a singular mission—to return researchers to the library by meeting the needs and expectations of today’s users. It’s all about keeping libraries from suffering further disintermediation from the research process. The Summon service provides libraries with real opportunities to stem users’ preferences for starting research with open Web search engines over library resources.
A recent Library Journal article provides a thoughtful conversation with some of the stakeholders involved in the NISO Open Discovery Initiative (ODI)—an important effort that Serials Solutions actively participates in and supports. The goal of the group is “to define standards and/or best practices for the new generation of library discovery services that are based on indexed search” and to help libraries, information providers and discovery service vendors work better together. However, the real measure of success for this group will be how well we serve the most important stakeholders of all—the end user, the researcher.
One of the ground-breaking benefits of the Summon discovery service is a user experience that breaks down traditional content silos. The Summon service makes the breadth of a library’s collection discoverable irrespective of database associations. Yet, a database-centric way of thinking about discovery naturally persists perpetuated by the longstanding acquisitions models for e-content. This difference in thinking is spurring dialogue and a drive for best practices. But it is of little concern to most researchers who simply want to get to relevant content as quickly and easily as possible.
The Summon service provides a compelling starting place for research. Not a replacement for native databases or research instruction, it is a new gateway to the library, guiding users to content or other resources relevant to their search. In hundreds of libraries the Summon service is having a real impact—by exposing users to all of the library’s resources, including research guides, database recommendations, librarians and more. The Summon service is proven to increase usage of library resources. And, increased usage of the library is good for discovery services, good for content providers, good for libraries, and ultimately good for researchers.
The article touches on the great hope amongst librarians and content providers that discovery products will help promote information literacy. Libraries using the Summon service are finding this is more than a promise. Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of hosting on ongoing webinar series on the very real and positive impact discovery is having on information literacy at various libraries. The common theme expressed in the webinars is an opportunity to spend less time teaching the mechanics of search and more time helping researchers to better evaluate information and use the library more effectively. I hope you can join us for one of the upcoming sessions in this series, or view a recording of a past session.