A recent infographic on CNN was made for information literacy classes and honestly, it does an okay job explaining the “web.” It’s creative and interesting enough to share with undergrads. With it’s reference to “Academic Journals,” I’m betting it will make the rounds in the library world. Though I am curious as to why the creators separated academic journals from “Databases” given that academic journals are almost always contained within databases of some sort. The web is full of databases!
As our library implements EBSCO Discovery Layer and switches our journal locator from Serials Solutions 360 to EBSCO’s Full Text Finder, we also need to consider a new database list solution. Our current database list is entirely dependent on the Serials Solutions 360 interface which we will no longer have in a few months.
First, a little background. In 2012 our library ended a consortium-like relationship with a nearby university. We purchased our own instance of Serials Solutions 360 Core and Link (in part because SUNY had a contract with them) and used the main page as our database list as well as the place to search for journal titles. This was a great quick solution at the time but we have since discovered some usability issues. The most concerning and repeated issue was that users were using the “Journal Search” box to search for Databases instead of browsing the “Database List.” Naturally, we would get questions about someone searching for a database such as Scopus and complaining that we didn’t have the database when in fact we did. Knowing that the SUNY contract was shifting to EBSCO, I altered the page as best I could and began seeking a different solution.
I briefly considered using EBSCO’s provider index within the Full-Text finder. While this would work as a solution, it would not provide the searching capability that users kept looking for. So I looked at what other libraries were doing and noticed that a lot of the larger libraries at schools like Syracuse University and SUNY University at Albany seemed to have a homegrown solution where databases where retrieved from an internal database using php. I knew I could do this, but did I want to spend the time to create such a list? Not really.
Then I found an interesting feature in a product we already have! Springshare’s LibGuides product has the ability to import all databases found in your Serials Solutions 360 products. After looking at Springshare’s A-Z Subscription Database List Management guide and other libraries who have created A-Z guides, I gave it a try and I liked what I saw. The pages are highly customizable. People can search for a database like Scopus and see a link to the page that has that database link. I can easily add icons to indicate open access databases. And we can use these links as the master link for each database and use the reuse feature to place a linked copy elsewhere. This let’s you change the original and everything linked to it will change! And finally, we can also keep using the page even after we no longer have Serials Solutions 360.
As of this writing, the new database list isn’t 100% ready for our users but it’s well on it’s way to becoming part of our arsenal!
One of my fellow librarians wanted to embed database specific search boxes into her libguides and it turns out there are some cool resources out there to accomplish this with little work. For example, some vendors provide online tools to create an embeddable search boxes such as:
EBSCO – This one can incorporate proxy information, a real bonus!
Web of Knowledge
It also turns out that Springshare has a decent Libguide on the subject with lots of examples:
So after discovering all these cool tools and creating some search boxes, I’m keeping a ongoing list of ready to embed search boxes for use at our library: http://libguides.esf.edu/widgets