University of the Fraser Valley

EBSCO Discovery Service improves library access with a single search

At a Glance

University of the Fraser Valley
Abbotsford, British Columbia

Institution Type:   Academic Libraries
Related Products:   EBSCO Discovery Service

Overview

Located in the Fraser Valley, just east of Vancouver, British Columbia, the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) enrolls approximately 16,000 students each year and employs 1,400 faculty and staff. With campuses in Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, Hope and Agassiz, UFV offers more than 100 academic programs including two master’s degrees, 15 bachelor’s degrees, majors, minors, and extended minors in more than 30 subject areas, and more than a dozen trade and technology programs. The UFV Library, with locations in Abbotsford and Chilliwack, features a collection of more than 550,000 titles, including 222,000 electronic resources. In 2012, to make its collection more accessible to patrons, UFV implemented EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS), a powerful research platform that unifies a library’s resources and provides a single search experience.

EDS helps our students to discover more resources that they would not have found otherwise [...] I am happy to see a trend of increased use for our specialized subject content. This will be very helpful in looking at our future subscriptions and in our approach to student instruction.

Patti Wilson
Interim University Librarian
University of the Fraser Valley

Challenges

According to Patti Wilson, Interim University Librarian, students using the UFV Library website to conduct academic research had to perform separate searches of the library’s catalog, subscription databases, and other electronic resources. Although customized search box widgets on a number of subject LibGuide pages enabled users to search only relevant databases, the content provided by different vendors could not be unified in one search.

“It’s frustrating for [students] to have so many different interfaces,” Wilson explained. “All those interfaces are completely different. They have different ways to print, different ways to save, different ways to search, different ways to limit, different ways to view your article. We wanted something that would integrate a number of resources into a single search box, so that the students could efficiently look for a multitude of resources and not have to go individually database by database and retry their search.”

Because searching individual databases was time-consuming and because they didn’t always know which databases to use, students would not always find the most pertinent articles.

“We wanted to help them to discover items on some of the more obscure topics [that] they weren’t finding otherwise,” Wilson said.

Solutions

Implementation

Led by Wilson, UFV librarians began evaluating discovery services in the fall of 2010. EDS became an early front runner, in part because the library already subscribed to a number of EBSCO databases.

“A lot of our students had used EBSCO databases, they liked them, and they knew the interface,” Wilson said.

In addition to leveraging the familiar interface, the library would be able to incorporate its catalog items into EDS, which was another incentive.

During the library’s trial period, Wilson worked with the systems librarian to upload the library’s catalog records to EDS. They also established a process for adding, updating, and deleting records.

Customization, Branding & Authentication

The UFV Library home page features a tabbed search box branded with the university’s colors. The search box includes a link to a special LibGuide that explains what EDS does, how best to use it, and includes a feedback survey encouraging users to suggest a unique name for the service, which is simply known around campus as EDS.

“One of the things that we liked was the amount of customization that was possible, in terms of the look and feel of the interface,” Wilson said.

The EDS search results page also features the university’s colors and logo as well as a top toolbar that includes links to LibGuides, the UFV Library Catalogue, Research Databases, Journals, and the “Ask a Librarian” email form. Custom widgets appear on the right-hand side of the results page to provide users with access to Related Images and “Ask Away,” a provincial online chat service.

To broaden searches, librarians chose to enable the expander that would automatically look for occurrences of search terms within the full text of the articles in addition to the fields that are normally searched. Wilson said this option increases the number of results, thus helping students to easily locate information on more obscure topics.

Finally, Wilson likes that she has the power to control the content in her profile by enabling or disabling databases in EDS. This feature will come in handy if she decides to create subject-specific EDS profiles to embed in the LibGuides pages. However, she is also exploring whether Discipline Limited Searching will fulfill that need.

Since the UFV Library has used EBSCO Research Databases for a number of years, no internal EDS training of library staff was required.

Since all first-year English students and first-year Communications students receive a library instruction session, library leaders decided including EDS in these sessions was the best way to reach as many students as possible.

“It’s part of what we do when we teach our instructional sessions,” Wilson said. “When I show students how to use EDS, I spend quite a bit of time helping them refine their results. We work on how to improve relevancy by using quotation marks around search terms and limiting to scholarly/peer-reviewed journals, and so on.”

To promote the resource, the library wrote about EDS in the student newsletter and announced its arrival on the library’s blog and in faculty meetings. But not much else was needed.

“It’s really front-and-center on our homepage,” Wilson said. “Anybody going to our site can’t miss it.”

Benefits & Results

In the year since EDS launched, library use is up and user frustration is down. Students have reported that EDS is “very fast,” “easy to use,” and a much more efficient way to find the journals they need.  One student called it “one-stop shopping.”

So far, Wilson said, library leaders have been pleased with the results. “We have a good collection of online full-text journals,” she said. “Rather than their having to go into individual databases and running their searches, students can use the EDS search box, put in their term, and bring back results from all these disparate places. Being able to pull those together in that easy way is really useful. It’s going to bring out those journal articles that they may not be finding otherwise.”

Initial usage data supports this theory. Statistics measuring database usage from 2011 to 2012 show that several databases—including Communications & Mass Media Complete, PsycArticles, and SportDiscus with Full Text—have experienced increases in full-text views. Although the Academic Search Premier database saw slightly fewer hits during 2012, Wilson attributes this drop to the students’ ability to find content in other sources using EDS.

“I am happy to see a trend of increased use for our specialized subject content,” Wilson said, adding that she’ll be interested to see if EDS surfaces more of the library’s other resources, such as JSTOR. “This will be very helpful in looking at our future subscriptions and in our approach to student instruction.”

To learn more about EBSCO Discovery Service, or to request a free trial, click here.