Located in New Delhi, India, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) enrolls approximately 7,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees in a wide range of fields. These include art, computer science, social science, environmental science, biotechnology, the life sciences, law and governance, international studies and more.
To support the research needs of the institution’s students and faculty, the Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Central Library maintains an extensive collection of print and digital resources, including 150,000 e-books, 55 online databases, 22,000 electronic theses and dissertations, more than one million digital news clippings and hundreds of journals, magazines and newspapers. In an effort to simplify the search experience and surface more of this valuable content, the JNU Library purchased EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS), a powerful research platform that allows users to search across the majority of a library’s collection using a single search box. Since launching EDS, the JNU Library has seen a significant increase in the use of its e-resources.
In 2012, library leaders surveyed students and faculty to identify specific pain points in using library resources. The inability to quickly find relevant search results was a key concern.
“The traditional tools provided by the library to search various library databases, catalogues and other electronic resources — all of which are in different silos and have totally uncommon characteristics — lead to underutilized usage of library resources, among other challenges,” said University Librarian Dr. Ramesh C. Gaur. “We wanted to find a service that would remove the barrier of having to figure out which databases to search so the library becomes more familiar and user-friendly.”
Led by Dr. Gaur, 11 representatives from the JNU Library and various academic departments formed a library advisory subcommittee to evaluate discovery solutions vendors. In a request-for-proposal document, the committee identified 24 prerequisites for the discovery solution. In addition to providing users with a single search experience, the tool would need to offer a regularly updated central index that covered 75 percent or more of the English e-journal titles subscribed to by the Central Library.
Over the next several months, the subcommittee evaluated EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS), ProQuest’s Summon, Knimbus Academic eLibrary, and Informatics FedGate.
The JNU Library trialed three of the vendor products and solicited feedback from end users. Ultimately, the library advisory subcommittee chose EDS because of its rich metadata, seamless access to full text, “robust and well-defined relevance ranking,” flexible customization options, compatibility with the institution’s Integrated Library System (Innovative Interfaces Virtua), and top-notch customer support.
“EDS had an edge over the competition,” Dr. Gaur said. “It offered better features as compared to the other products.”
Dr. Gaur identified EBSCO SmartLinks as particularly valuable because the feature seamlessly links users from an article citation in one database, where the full text is not available, to the full text of the article in another EBSCO database where it is available.
“JNU subscribes to a number of full-text databases and e-journals from EBSCO,” he said. “The SmartLinks feature was a significant and vital factor in our decision to select EDS.”
In addition, the library subscribes to hundreds of EBSCO eBooks and Audiobooks. Whenever the library needs to purchase a new title, the eBook record typically appears in EDS search results within 24 hours.
“EDS provides a seamless and easy integration of new EBSCO eBooks,” Gaur said. “It allows for almost immediate discovery in the library’s collection.”
The Central Library officially launched EDS to end users on January 28, 2015, and has promoted the new tool via email, faculty seminars and training sessions.
Benefits & Results
Since the roll out, the institution has seen what Dr. Gaur calls a “miraculous” increase in the use of its library resources. In 2012, before implementing EDS, the library saw a total of 4,696 full-text downloads. Since then, the total number of full-text downloads has skyrocketed, exceeding 100,000 in each of the last three years. The number seen in 2015 represents a 2,300-percent increase over 2012.
“By implementing a discovery service, we were able to increase the usage and accessibility of library resources by providing users with a single point of entry,” said Dr. Gaur.
Users have praised the new research platform. “I never thought we had access to so many resources at JNU Library,” said one student. Another student credited EDS as helping him easily locate the information he needed to complete his PhD research.
“With EDS, the Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Central Library has been able to reach each of its users — faculty, staff and students, from bachelor’s degree candidates to PhD candidates — with required resources,” said Dr. Gaur.
"EDS had an edge over the competition. It offered better features as compared to the other products."