University of the Pacific

Students "pounce" on research with EBSCO Discovery Service

At a Glance

University of the Pacific
Stockton, California

Institution Type:   Academic Libraries
Related Products:   EBSCO Discovery Service

Overview

Located in Stockton, California, University of the Pacific offers more than 80 majors and programs of study. In addition to its main campus, the University has a law school in Sacramento and a dental school in San Francisco. With a total enrollment nearing 7,000, University of the Pacific wanted to offer its faculty and students an easier way to access its unique library offerings, including the largest collection of John Muir papers in the world. To achieve this goal, the University Library implemented EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS), known by Pacific users as “Pounce.” With a single point of entry in the form of a customized search box on the library home page, University of the Pacific offers a strong research platform that mines its library assets with the speed and simplicity of a commercial Internet search engine.

The thing that really struck me about this [EDS] implementation was how responsive our EBSCO colleagues have been to us. It’s been a really great implementation in terms of working as partners with EBSCO.

Mary Chimato
Assistant Library Dean
University of the Pacific

Challenges

According to C. Brigid Welch, Dean of the University Library, the inspiration for implementing EDS at Pacific initially came from the Dean’s Think Tank, a student advisory group made up of 12 undergraduates. In February of 2011, the Think Tank students approached Welch with concerns about the Library’s online search functionality. They found the multiple points of entry into specific library catalogs and databases to be complicated and asked if there was a way to make searching the library’s collections more user-friendly.

“It was difficult for even our faculty to use, let alone teach and make sure students understood,” Welch acknowledged. “Unless you were initiated, I think it was really hard to use it effectively.”

Another catalyst for implementing EDS was the University Library’s desire to bring to the surface more of its distinct content, such as the digital collections of jazz musician Dave Brubeck and the papers of naturalist John Muir. Welch believed that integrated access to these collections would increase usage.

In addition, Welch said, students would not need as much guidance in finding these valuable resources if the process of searching for them was made simpler.

“[Our] fear was that students and faculty were not able to dig into the richness of the content we were providing them without having a lot of instruction,” Welch said. “While instruction
is really critical, there should be some fundamental access and discovery that our systems are allowing for us.”

Solutions

Implementation

For several months, Welch and her colleagues evaluated the discovery services of EBSCO and its competitors. By June of 2011, Welch said, they had decided that EBSCO was “the superior product.”

“It was clear to us that the EBSCO Discovery Service had evolved and was really a product that matched our needs,” she explained.

Since Pacific already subscribed to EBSCO’s A-to-Z product, Welch said it made sense to go with EDS because users were already familiar with the EBSCO interface. In addition, the University Library replaced its existing link resolver with EBSCO’s LinkSource product.

Mary Chimato, Assistant Dean of the Library, said that EBSCO’s products work very well together. “[It] has been fantastic for the workflow and for our staff,” she said, adding that the data migration and clean up process was seamless. “We wanted first and foremost no disruption of access to any of our resources to users,” she said. “This is where EBSCO really helped out. What could have been a very painful and long migration was very quick.”

Pacific’s EDS implementation took approximately six months, with a soft launch occurring in January 2012.

Chimato credits the teamwork of EBSCO’s sales representatives, technology specialists, and customer service agents for the successful implementation.

“The thing that really struck me about this implementation was how responsive our EBSCO colleagues have been to us,” Chimato said. “It’s been a really great implementation in terms of working as partners with EBSCO.”

Welch said her librarians were closely involved in the testing phase of EDS because they would be the ones teaching students how to use the tool. Prior to launch, Welch said, members of the Think Tank got a sneak peek at EDS. “They were blown away by it,” she said.

Customization, Branding & Authentication

Welch and Chimato said they wanted to integrate the new EDS search box while maintaining the library website’s look and feel. As a result, the “Pounce” search box features prominently on the University Library’s home page. The search box is branded with the school’s orange and black colors as well as the tiger mascot logo. The tagline, created by the Library Dean’s Think Tank, reads: “Got Research? POUNCE On It!”

Pacific has long used EZ Proxy to authenticate remote users, who must enter a user ID and password to access the library’s databases. “That was another nice thing about going with EDS,” Chimato said. “It worked with our existing infrastructure.”

Training & Promotion

Since the soft launch, librarians have begun to do mandatory library instruction sessions about Pounce. These sessions are embedded into a general education course called Pacific Seminar, a requirement of all freshmen. So students are being exposed to EDS right from the start.

In addition, Welch has strongly encouraged users to consult the resources that EBSCO provides on its Support Site. “That’s been very helpful in answering questions,” she said. “It’s been really easy to point [users] to the web page resources.”

To announce the arrival of Pounce, flyers were posted around campus, and librarians handed out bookmarks to their Pacific Seminar students. Upon entering the University Library, patrons are greeted by an electronic sign announcing the new discovery service, and librarians have been wearing badges featuring the tiger logo and the phrase, “Ask me about Pounce.”

In March 2012, the library celebrated the official launch of Pounce with a party that began with a flash mob singing and dancing to “Jump on It” by Sir Mix-a-lot. Nearly 200 students along with the University’s Provost and President attended the launch party. After a brief introduction by Welch, students were invited to experiment with Pounce at library computers. The Think Tank team provided cake, cookies, and punch, as well as free shirts, pens, buttons, and press-on tattoos.

First and foremost, EDS is saving us money. Part of our desire was to utilize EBSCO to help us streamline our work flow as well as give us the serials management, database management, and associated information to really help us make decisions.

C. Brigid Welch
Library Dean
University of the Pacific

Benefits & Results

According to feedback shared at the launch party, users like the search box because it functions like a typical internet search, searches the library’s entire collection, and allows them to refine their search results according to source type.

“It has everything the library has to offer for its students all in one place,” said student Rosa Munoz. “When professors ask for research papers, I typically use Academic Search Complete for articles and PacifiCat for published book sources. With Pounce, I don’t have to do a double search because books and articles show up together. It does, however, have source type options for picky professors who only want one source type, like articles, referenced. It really facilitates research by putting all source types in one place with the same accessibility to the [the library’s] different databases.”

Student Ivy Olsen agreed. “I found it easy to expand and narrow my search, and didn't have any trouble differentiating the multitude of options,” she said.

Welch has been pleased with the initial success of Pounce. Statistics show that library usage is up dramatically since implementing EDS. The library averaged around two million searches a month during the Spring 2012 semester, with full-text searches topping 5,000 in April.

“First and foremost, EDS is saving us money,” Welch said. “Part of our desire was to utilize EBSCO to help us streamline our work flow as well as give us the serials management, database management, and associated information to really help us make decisions.”

Welch said she is extremely happy to be an EBSCO customer, adding that Pacific faculty members are “absolutely thrilled” by EDS. “I think we’re going to see the benefits pay off both on the users’ side and on the library’s side for years to come,” she said. “I think it was a good move for us.”

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