When Too Many Cooks Do NOT Spoil the Broth: Selecting and Implementing a New Web Scale Discovery Tool for a Large University Library.




Fleming, Jane
Kessler, April
Diaz, Jade
Lyon, Colleen
Snow, Sara

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In early spring of 2011, the University of Texas at Austin Libraries convened a working group to recommend a discovery tool to be implemented on the Library’s Web site. The group's broad membership of user services staff, technical services staff, librarians and classified staff and branch and main library staff, reflected the desire that this search function provide patrons the "Google-like" single point access to the entirety of the University's collections and databases that our patrons now expect. A second working group was convened to implement the tool chosen. The second group included a few core members of the first and was extended to include staff qualified to consider the implementation's information architecture, the user (patron) experience and its integration with the Libraries’ existing technology and bibliographic processes. The new search tool, dubbed "scoUT", was fully launched in August 2012, and has been the most successful rollout of any new service at the Libraries.

The poster presentation will cover the process to the present day. Both teams began with research into best and recommended practices for their tasks, and an evaluation of peer institutions' experiences and implementations. Both formally sought the input of library staff and of users. The first working group developed an extensive evaluation tool for discovery tool products, evaluated the tools and made a recommendation from among the final candidate tools, and contributed to the development of an RFP and to negotiation of the final contract for the tool.

The second working group guided the customization of the discovery tool's capabilities to the library's needs, devised a continuing process for updating bibliographic metadata on the libraries' holdings and subscription services, and designed the incorporation of the discovery tool into the Libraries' Web site. The group also coordinated the marketing of the tool and the development of training in its use for library staff and the Libraries' user community. Concurrently to other work, group members created and carried out a usability assessment plan. Heuristic evaluation and usability testing of other libraries’ implementations of the same product, an analysis of analytics and search logs for the existing UT interface, and an assessment of technology constraints informed the information architecture and design. The prototype of the scoUT search interface and the final scoUT search interface were tested and assessed between May and August 2012 in an iterative design process leading to the version in full release. Months of staff training preceded the full launch. Feedback on staff training prompted subsequent tutorials in customizing scoUT training for different user groups. We continue to collect feedback on scoUT to enable us improve service to our users. The University of Texas Libraries' rollout of scoUT exemplifies what can be accomplished when groups of individuals who collectively have broad knowledge from across the library structure work together.

(Presenters from both working groups will be at the poster reception to field questions.)


Poster presentation for the 2013 Texas Conference on Digital Libraries (TCDL).