I wanted to wait until the final post before mentioning Jane Burke's guest 6-part series about user perceptions of the library and how Discovery Systems can help on the InfoViews blog. Jane is Senior Vice President of ProQuest and the executive sponsor of Serials Solutions (who makes Summon). In the first four posts Jane paints a well-cited picture of how academic libraries are currently perceived by students and faculty, which I summarize as:
- Our brand is still books in the eyes of our users (our electronic resources are invisible, but they always see the books when they do visit)
- Students do still look to the library for quality
- Students are too busy to learn how to search our sites and resources (most are self-admitted procrastinators)
- As the amount of the library's budget spent on electronic resources has increased, the perception of the library as the definitive information gateway has actually decreased!
Not until the fifth post does she start to address how Discovery Systems can help,
"Just as we have removed barriers from the physical library space, we need to do the same for our digital library. We need a friendly front door into the collections, one which allows users to easily enter our information environment, on which we spend so much money."
In this post she briefly mentions the three services that can be connected to a single search box, Federated Search, Hybrid Search, and Web-Scale Discovery, and discusses the pros and cons of each. Actually, there appear to be no cons for Web-Scale Discovery, and some significant ones for Hybrid Search, which can be counted as a jab against EBSCO's EDS.
Not until the sixth and final post does Jane even mention Summon by name, and then it's clearly acknowledged as "a commercial". She points out that many of the early issues with Discovery are now being addressed, and that the next big step she sees is the "Leap to Full Text Indexing of Books". The commercial is that Summon recently announced it would soon be indexing the full text content of over 8.4 million items in the Hathi Trust collection.
So while the 6-part series may be viewed as a commercial of sorts for Summon, I think you'll learn an awful lot about user perceptions and possible solutions by reading the posts. They're all pretty brief, and as I mentioned, backed up with citations to research, so lots of yellow-brick-road reading for you if you have the time.
Full disclosure: I currently sit on the Summon Advisory Board