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Discovery
Interesting today to read Lorcan Dempsey’s latest blogpost on ‘Full library discovery’ noting trends to include a wider range of content either into the local indexes of discovery platforms or through API-based solutions, to cover content from library websites, help and support materials and even the names of subject specialist librarians, all accessed through a single search box.   It certainly looks like a interesting approach and starts to make me wonder about the future of library websites being little more than a single search box.  I remember a debate with a library colleague a number of years back when we were putting in Plone as an intranet solution, and talking about whether to just let people search for content rather than design an overt navigation based around the information archictecture.beta search screenshot

The bento box approach used by Stanford is an interesting approach and something that we’ve been playing around with in a beta search we’ve been testing.  Stanford’s approach of being able to present the results in a wider display format side-by-side is better than having the restriction of stacking the boxes, but we’re constrained by our frustratingly narrow template.  But nonetheless, feedback on the approach is so far quite good.

At the moment though we’ve ended up with distinct versions of our discovery layer for staff and students (sans catalogue for students).  We’ve added in our institutional repository into the discovery local index and will ultimately probably add in metadata for our developing digital library (using OAI-PMH).  But, as seems to be the case with all discovery solutions, coverage of our collections isn’t comprehensive so local ‘front-end’ style solutions that essentially intercept a query by checking local collections and offering them as a ‘did you mean?’ may have some value to users.  But what you lose is the single index and its relevance ranking.

Responsive web design
I’ve become pretty convinced that responsive web design is a better direction for our mobile-orientated offerings rather than dedicated mobile sites.  The content mobile and tablet users are viewing on our websites are now pretty similar.  Bohyun Kim’s latest slides on ‘Improving your library’s mobile services’ did however give me a little pause with some of the common problems (slides 56 onwards) with responsive web design.   Some important lessons about cutting down content, ensuring that there are options to get out of the responsive web design (not a dissimilar problem to getting trapped in a mobile website with cutdown content when on a smartphone or tablet), and sze download filesizes.  Quite a few things to consider with RWD.

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KIndle MatchbookSo Amazon have announced Kindle Matchbook, initially for the US, but hopefully like Autorip it will come to the UK sometime later.  The Amazon press release is here, BBC News have also picked up the story.

The idea seems to be that if you’ve bought a printed book from Amazon you can get a copy of the ebook version for a discounted price or maybe even free.  The scheme will apply to books bought as far back as 1995, but as it stands there’s currently just 10,000 eligible titles.  Although as with Autorip you’d expect that to expand as Amazon negotiates with more publishers.  Presumably making this available in the UK will depend on which UK publishers come on board.

It’s easy to see this as an obvious step following on from Autorip (where you can get a free MP3 version of CDs you’ve bought through Amazon).  Amazon may see this as a way to grow their ebook customer base by encouraging people who’ve bought the book to try the ebook.    Whereas with CDs/MP3 I can see how useful it is to have both formats, for many people their CDs are going to turn into MP3s at some stage (although your autorip MP3s only seem to be playable from Amazon Cloud Player).

For books/ebooks I’m not quite so sure that I’d want ebook versions of everything I’d bought as a printed book.  If you are someone who reads and re-reads your books then I can see it being a selling point.  But I don’t often go back and re-read fiction that I’ve bought, or even some of the lighter non-fiction.  So it’s not too much of a benefit.  It’s interesting though if you’ve bought books as a present for people, in that you could get a free or cheap ebook version.  Where I think it would be particularly useful is for non-fiction/reference-type books that you go back to.  It will be interesting to see the mix of books that are made available through Matchbook.

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