Australian theological library integrates EBSCO Discovery Service™ and OCLC WorldShare to deliver cutting-edge patron experience

Camden Theological Library


Located in North Parramatta, New South Wales, Camden Theological Library serves the research needs of students and faculty at the United Theological College, an institution of the Uniting Church in Australia. Patrons also include those in the church ministry, congregation members and the general public. The library collection contains 45,000 monographs (including 3,000 Korean-language books), 70 print journals and six subscription databases (including Korean-language databases KISS and DBpia). In addition, the library subscribes to EBSCO’s eBook Religion Collection and 200 additional e-book titles from EBSCO.

In 2012, Camden Theological Library implemented EBSCO Discovery Service™ (EDS) to improve access to both print and electronic materials. EDS is a powerful, single-search platform that allows users to search across the majority of a library’s collection at once.

Since then, Camden Theological Library has become the first institution in Australia to incorporate patron functionality ― such as item holds and checkout information ― directly within the EDS interface using the OCLC WorldShare API.

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After the initial success of EDS ― known as Revelation to Camden Theological Library users ― Library Manager Moira Bryant began investigating ways to integrate patron functionality within the EDS interface. However, despite EBSCO’s assistance, the previous library management system vendor was unable to develop a suitable API to fully integrate with EDS.

“Patrons often found themselves in a ‘black hole’ between the LMS and EDS from which they could only extract themselves by beginning their search process again,” Bryant explained.

In 2015, the library moved to replace its LMS with OCLC’s WorldShare Collection Manager and WorldCat Discovery products. Once the implementation of WorldShare was complete, the library had planned to discontinue its subscription to EDS. However, these plans were halted when Bryant conducted sample searches in both EDS and WorldCat Discovery and determined that the pre-populated index did not meet the needs of Camden Theological Library users.

In addition, she said, students found EDS easier to use and appreciated that it automatically included resources from the American Theological Library Association (ATLA) as well as popular Korean full-text databases KISS and DBpia. (Access to the Korean databases is imperative given that a significant number of the library’s patrons are of Korean heritage.) Ultimately, EDS better enabled the university to fully benefit from their significant investments in theological e-content.

When Bryant learned that EBSCO was working with OCLC and Seton Hall University to develop full integration between WorldShare and EDS, she abandoned plans to terminate her EDS subscription. In December 2015, Bryant began working with EBSCO to utilise the OCLC WorldShare API to provide patron empowerment features, such as item holds and checkout information, directly in the EDS interface.


Branding & Customization

Camden Theological Library embedded a custom EDS search box on its library website home page and branded the tool as Revelation! Before clicking the search button, users can narrow their searches by keyword, title or author. They can also apply limiters to further focus their results.

The library's website features a branded EDS search box on the home page.

To improve the delivery of search results, the library enabled Research Starters (overview articles on popular topics) as well as links to Wikipedia, Google Scholar and YouTube. Enhanced Catalog Records provide direct links to related information such as Reviews of the Title, Similar Books, Other Books by the Author, and Google Preview.

Users can narrow ATLA searches by subject term using a custom placard app
at the top of the results list or a tree list app in the right-hand column.

“We also wanted to ensure an elevated relevancy ranking for our print collection,” Bryant said. “so that an Author and Title keyword search would quickly display a monograph from a course reading list.”

Revelation also includes other helpful tools. For example, users can click a “Scriptures” link in the top toolbar to easily search the ATLA Religion Database. A list of the books in the Bible are displayed in canonical order. The list is hierarchical, and the researcher can drill down from the name of the book to the chapter and verse.

EBSCO engineers were also able to create an ATLA Subjects Authority app. When a patron performs a search in Revelation, the ATLA Subjects Authority App submits the search term (e.g. reincarnation) to the ATLA database. Exact subject matches appear in a placard across the top of the search results page, while the right-hand column displays a tree list of related subject terms that can be expanded to reveal additional terms. Clicking a subject term in either the placard or the tree list will refresh the result list with an updated set of articles.

Finally, to help patrons more quickly locate items in the library’s print collection, EBSCO and a third-party company created StackMap, an app which directs patrons to an item’s location on the shelf.


According to Bryant, authentication proved to be the most challenging aspect of the project; however, EBSCO Library Services Engineer Alvet Miranda was able to create a single-sign-on solution that allowed users to enter their existing credentials to be both authenticated and personalized into their EDS experience.

“Now our patrons are able to seamlessly interact with all the EDS digital resources and experience the full range of patron functionality,” Bryant said.

Patron Functionality

Once patrons sign in to EDS, they are able to view items checked out, renew borrowed material, place items on hold, delete items on hold and view fees. At the library’s request, EBSCO created a widget that allows users to place a hold only when the item is checked out. In addition, any holds placed in EDS are automatically updated in WorldShare, and ongoing data synchronization ensures that EDS displays accurate, real-time availability (RTAC) for all records.

Benefits & Results

Six months after beginning the EDS/OCLC WorldShare integration project, Camden Theological Library officially launched the new-and-improved Revelation in May 2016. “It was a very tight timeframe, but I received excellent support from EBSCO in both Australia and the U.S.,” Bryant said.

Although she has not gathered usage statistics since the relaunch, Bryant has noticed that users are more comfortable and less frustrated. As an example, she pointed to one patron who was dissatisfied with the previous search interface, citing concerns about students’ ability to retrieve optimal results. Bryant said, “When I invited her to try out the updated version of Revelation, she was overjoyed that her concerns had been heard.”

Now, from a single point of entry, patrons are empowered to achieve their desired goal, whether they are seeking access to the library’s physical collection, electronic resources or licensed content.

Revelation now provides a cutting-edge experience for our patrons,” Bryant said. “[It is] a sophisticated tool for information retrieval.”

"[EDS] provides a cutting-edge experience for our patrons. It is a sophisticated tool for information retrieval."

-Moira Bryant, Library Manager, Camden Theological Library

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