LAUW Journal Club

Let’s Talk About Web-scale!

February 24, 2011 · No Comments

LAUW’s recently-expanded journal club met at the end of January to discuss the month’s selected article, “The Impact of Web-scale Discovery on the Use of a Library Collection,” written by Doug Way from Grand Valley State University Libraries (GVSU).

Image reads "web-scale"

The article appeared in the most recent issue of Serials Review (Vol. 36, No. 4) and explores how the GVSU Libraries’ implementation of the web-scale index Summon has impacted the use of their databases.

The group agreed that this article was “wonderfully topical” for us to review at Waterloo, as we’ll be moving forward with a trial of the web-scale index Primo Central in the near future. It raised a lot of questions about what a web-scale search will mean in our context and offered us a glimpse into the potential impacts that it could have on the use of our resources.

Topics discussed included…

  • How our database usage is currently being tracked and how this may change during the Primo Central trial. We were impressed with the approach that the author took to track statistics, but wondered if something simpler could be possible for us.
  • How a web-scale index will change library instruction. Someone mentioned how significantly the implementation of Primo alone changed library instruction at Waterloo. Everyone agreed that Primo Central will change things much more drastically.
  • How web-scale compares to Google. The group discussed whether or not web-scale searches like Summon or Primo Central are intended to compete with or complement Google. There was general agreement that implementing a web-scale search would be a good way to bring students back to the Library’s website as a starting point for research.
  • How subject-specific database usage might be affected by a web-scale search. The author noted that subject-specific database usage declined with GVSU’s implementation of Summon. Based on his analysis and discussion, it seems likely that Waterloo could experience the same trend with the Primo Central implementation. We wondered to what extent a web-scale index might affect the usage of these important resources.
  • What’s included in Primo Central and what’s not. Connected to the above point, we wondered if there is a way to find out exactly what’s indexed in Primo Central.

After following up on these questions, it appears that many of them are unanswerable at this time. What exactly Primo Central contains, for example, is information that we’re still hoping to find out from the vendor ExLibris in the near future.

Thanks to everyone who attended this meeting. Stay tuned for information about our next journal club meeting scheduled for March.

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