Approximately 30 people attended the ALCTS Continuing Resources Section (CRS) Holdings Information Forum, which took place at the 2018 ALA Midwinter Meeting on Saturday, February 10. The program, titled “Making Holdings Work,” was sponsored by the section’s Committee on Holdings. The forum featured two presentations by librarians configuring their discovery layers and holdings. Both presentations provided novel experiences and practical lessons.
Cynthia Kane and Dr. Terri Summey (Emporia State University) delivered a presentation titled “Holding Steady with Changes! Using and Teaching a Discovery Service While Planning for a Transition.” Emporia State University has undergone several system migrations. Each time they have experienced challenges and learned lessons. They are currently migrating to Innovative’s Sierra from OCLC’s Worldshare Management Services (WMS). On top of the integrated library system, Emporia State utilizes an EBSCO Discovery Services (EDS) discovery layer, which is not changing. While feature rich, the discovery layer requires training to master. To compensate, Emporia State maintains an “old catalog” search option and instructs users that searches for known items are easier in the old catalog than in the discovery layer. They’ve also added BrowZine, though it requires additional work to also maintain holdings in that product. BrowZine is “on top” of the discovery layer, and searches for journal titles will redirect users to use BrowZine. The “one-stop shopping” experience of the discovery layer meets user’s expectations for a single search, but it can be difficult for some students to differentiate the source types of results. The discovery layer may also be replacing discipline specific tools. The discovery layer’s configuration can also create confusion because the displayed locations of resources are mislabeled and use branch codes instead of the names of the locations. To deal with these challenges, Kane and Summey suggest being proactive with vendors and emphasize asking questions until you’re satisfied. Reflecting on their many migrations, the presenters quoted Aaron Schmidt, who wrote in a 2015 Library Journal article that “Every decision we make affects how people experience the library. Let’s make sure we’re creating improvements.”
Ali Larsen (Siena College) presented “Consortia, E-books, and Holdings — Oh My!” Larsen described how Siena College functions within the ConnectNY consortium of independent academic institutions in New York. The consortium has added e-books to their collection through a variety of demand driven acquisition (DDA) vendors. The consortium also added a ProQuest Academic Complete subscription. Like Emporia State, Siena College uses an EDS discovery layer to make their e-books discoverable. The Academic Complete collection is not available in EDS, which meant that the only way to make Siena’s holdings available was by loading MARC records into the catalog. This created a concern about missing materials that they were purchasing due to MARC records being unavailable. To deal with these challenges and concerns, ConnectNY established an e-book committee and a discovery subcommittee, which Larsen joined. The subcommittee worked with both ProQuest and EBSCO to establish solutions to their problems. Larsen volunteered Siena as a test case, and EBSCO proved a willing partner for the subcommittee. Together, they streamlined their method of making MARC records available in the discovery layer and even pushed patrons to their subscribed e-books instead of their DDA collection. Additionally, they’ve identified and solved a number of display problems in EDS. They’re now working on further automation and expanding the work done for Siena to the other members of ConnectNY. Going forward, with technical and operational problems resolved, the committee will be able to focus on strategic issues.
Following both presentations the speakers answered questions. Kane and Summey explained how they used student workers, who work directly with the public, to identify and report issues with their discovery layer. They also described how they’re working to develop more systematic methods of identifying and triaging issues. Both presenters offered some thoughts about how they’re using analytics to understand how students are using their discovery services.