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Karen Reece, head of libraries at Capita, explains how Full Library Discovery will help students to get more from their library

Universities work hard to attract the best students and academics, and the library plays an important role in this. As a result, university libraries are continually innovating in order to improve the services they offer. Students’ and academics’ information requirements are also increasingly sophisticated and demanding as they seek information from a greater number of sources.

If trends in the States are indicative of what will happen this side of the water, then Full Library Discovery (FLD) is one innovation that looks set to become the next technology wave in academic libraries. FLD will help libraries differentiate themselves by transforming the search and discovery experience, and increasing the usage of less used but valuable resources. 

Full Library Discovery in a nutshell

Today, library users can easily search for content which is available through their library’s discovery tool, typically books, journals and electronic resources.
However, these tools do not search all the information and resources that a library has or has access to.

Libraries have a plethora of information that is contained in other locations or ‘hidden’ deep within library databases. FLD takes discovery to the next level by aiming to provide one single search box that enables the user to discover absolutely everything the library has to offer.

FLD means that databases, research repositories, archive contents, images, YouTube content and details of experts within the organisation can all be included in a user’s search. It doesn’t matter where the information resides, the objective of FLD is to make all the resources that a library has to offer available to the library user.

In the US, Duke University Libraries use FLD to open up resources to users by transforming the way it displays search results: “If you search for ‘Civil War women soldiers,’ for example, you don’t just get results for books we have on that subject, but also links to related scholarly articles, images of women in the Civil War from databases and digitized archival collections, links to historical documents in the Rubenstein Library, helpful research guides, and more.” 
Duke University Libraries’ blog, August 2014

ABOVE: Search results displayed in bento box style

Widen the net, narrow the search

The risk of widening searchable resources, however, is that the user is overwhelmed by the volume of information. 

To overcome this, some academic libraries in the US have opted to display the results in the style of a ‘bento box’. Its name is taken from the Japanese bento lunchbox in which each item is contained in a separate box. The search results returned are divided up and displayed within separate panels, each containing a different type of source. 

One panel might display relevant books; another would display specific journal articles; documents from the university’s archives might appear in another panel, while a further section would focus on relevant multi-media resources. 

By grouping together information in an intelligent way, users will find it easier to select the material they need, but still retain the ability to see all the sources available to them.

Bringing FLD to the UK

FLD solutions in the US have been built with large in-house teams at considerable expense, which has presented a barrier to widespread adoption. Capita’s research and development team has been working to bring a cost-effective Full Library Discovery solution to UK institutions.  

Initial prototypes are available now and the first operational FLD sites will appear in early 2016, meaning that the future of library discovery is very much upon us.


You can learn more about Full Library Discovery by downloading a briefing paper from Capita’s website:

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