Bournemouth University

University in the U.K. integrates EBSCO Discovery Service with Blackboard

At a Glance

Bournemouth University
Poole, United Kingdom

Institution Type:   Academic Libraries
Related Products:   EBSCO Discovery Service

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Bournemouth University has been rated the United Kingdom's number one new university by The Guardian University Guide for both 2009 and 2010. The University is made up of two campuses, two libraries, and six schools with a student population of approximately 18,000. Several disciplines are offered, including health and social science, nursing, business programs, multimedia, journalism, computer animation, design, engineering, and law. In the past five years, Bournemouth University—traditionally a vocational institution—has seen greater emphasis on research with an increasing number of postgraduate students studying for doctorate qualifications, as well as an increase in the number of academic staff engaging in research.

People are finding items in the library catalog and the institutional repository that they wouldn't have found without Discovery. Content that has been here all along is getting more attention.

Chris Spencer
Library Procurement and Systems Development Manager
Bournemouth University


Having a single source for the discovery of all library resources has long been an aspiration for Bournemouth University. Prior to the launch of EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS), the institution had implemented a federated search tool. Chris Spencer, Library Procurement and Systems Development Manager at the University, said the user experience was confusing – the interface would change from database to database. Deciding which database to use for a specific discipline was not intuitive. At the time, 90 databases were simultaneously searched and performance was slow.

Another challenge for Bournemouth University was a significant change to how higher education tuition fees are handled in U.K. Historically, undergraduate education was largely state-financed. Beginning in 2012, the majority of students began paying the full cost of their education; therefore, student expectations of the quality of education have risen.

As discovery services emerged, Spencer and the University began researching the available solutions on the market. They found that EDS helps the Library to support research and provide an enhanced student experience.


EDS Implementation and Integration with Blackboard

Spencer led the EDS implementation team with a small team of library colleagues. The group determined the requirements for availability of content, federated connectors, and functionality.

Blackboard learning platform has been used at Bournemouth for three years. Integrated into the virtual learning environment (VLE) the university calls the service myBU. IP authentication is used on campus. Off campus OpenAthens MD authentication is currently used with plans to migrate to OpenAthens LA (Shibboleth) for 2012. Within Blackboard, students are authenticated through individual accounts creating a personalized landing page for each student. As the recommended path for all student communications, it was important to have a library presence within this product.

The tools available through EBSCOadmin were easy-to-use and made the integration with Blackboard a seamless process.

Bournemouth University uses the customizable EDS search box to create a single entry point for students called mySearch. The search box is available on the student landing page as well as scattered throughout the library web site to allow students to search easily from wherever they browse. Although many institutions use subject-specific profiles for a quick jumping off point for specific disciplines, Bournemouth does not use this approach.

“We don’t influence the experience," Spencer explained. "We use a generic profile as many of the courses have business modules running through them. It would be too difficult to decide what would cover the faculty. We’d rather have students search everything, then use limiters to get the best results. It has been clearly demonstrated by what we’ve seen that students find things they wouldn’t have found through a subject approach.”

Testing was performed by a small group of librarians over the summer. Participants were asked to provide feedback in preparation for use by incoming students.

Training & Promotion

Transitioning students and faculty to EDS was aided by a branding initiative the university had launched when the federated search tool was first rolled out. At that time, library staff were encouraged to submit names for the new service. The trend was to combine services with the word “my.” For instance, the gateway to the University's VLE is called myBU. Therefore, the most popular and obvious name choice for the service was mySearch.

The university softly launched EDS under the same name with confidence that users would not need extensive training in order to use the product.

“We said there was a new version of mySearch coming and we just switched it over and let them get on with it. The student population has been fine,” Spencer said. “Library liaisons were going out to demonstrate where necessary. We needed academic buy-in so they would say to their students ‘this is a good product. This is what you need to use.’ There was no concentrated effort on our part. Usage statistics indicate this was a reasonable approach. We’re seeing heavy usage.”

EDS Partner Program

An important factor in implementing EBSCO Discovery Service is the EDS Partner Program. The online community provides access to institutions from all around the world. Implementation best practices are a common topic. The listserv venue also enables EDS product management with input to create a more customer-focused product.


Reports show that not only are full text downloads going up but some of the abstracting and indexing databases are getting more use. A comparison of abstracts viewed last year compared to the same period this year shows usage has increase two-fold, and, in some cases, three-fold.

When asked how EDS has been received Spencer said, “EDS has been a huge success. My colleagues on the library team, faculty and staff are very pleased with the product. An end user can sit down and within a few minutes they’re getting results. Our student population finds EDS useful and we haven’t received a single negative comment.”

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