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.
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.