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MIT Libraries Staff Web

Simplifying the Library Discovery Environment : Project Updates

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Final Report - August 2013

Project Status Update - June 2013

BartonPlus (MIT's EDS) was launched on June 17, 2013.

The EDS Transitional Support Team will take over product support of the EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) from the Simplifying the Discovery Environment Team, following the successful public launch of the new BartonPlus service.  Below is a team charge that describes the purpose and scope of the team in more detail.  The team membership is:

  • Melissa Feiden (convenor), Annex Services and User Experience Librarian
  • Christine Moulen, Library Systems Manager
  • Matt Bernhardt, Web Developer
  • Rich Wenger, E-resource Systems Manager
  • Reporting to: Nina Davis-Millis, Head of Digital Operations & Systems

 A mailing list has been created to facilitate communication with the team:

Project Status Update - May 2013

The Simplifying the Discovery Environment launch is rapidly approaching! On Monday, June 17th, we will officially launch the EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) at MIT (branded as BartonPlus). The Simplifying Discovery launch will also include changes to the search tabs on the MIT Libraries homepage. You can see a preview of the new homepage search design here:

Earlier in the month the team executed a usability test of the new discovery environment changes. The usability test included a total of 13 users—a mix of faculty, students, and library staff. An executive summary of the key findings from the usability test appears in the “Resources” section below. Overall, the homepage search tabs and EDS tested favorably, with most users able to complete tasks successfully and quickly. A few small improvements have been implemented following the testing. Special thanks to Remlee Green for leading the testing effort and several other library staff who helped with usability test facilitation.

Further progress has been made on the web analytics front. The “Resources” section includes a link to a usage report of the existing homepage search options for the spring 2013 semester. This data provides a benchmark for future comparative analysis. Additional progress has been made in capturing usage metrics in the EDS interface, such as tracking of failed searches, usage of EDS features, and other metrics for evaluating this service on an ongoing basis. These analytics tracking methods will be in place prior to launch.

On the support front, plans are underway to form an “EDS Transitional Support Team” that will have primary responsibility for supporting EDS when the Simplifying Discovery Team wraps up its work at the end of June.

On the marketing front, several members of the team have started working with the MIT Libraries Marketing Team to evaluate options for promoting BartonPlus in the Fall.

Activities and Accomplishments

  • Completed usability testing of Libraries homepage search tabs and EDS interface
  • Updated homepage search tab design follow usability test and Steering Committee review

Upcoming Milestones

  • Launch on June 17th
  • Handoff EDS support responsibilities to EDS Transitional Support Team
  • Complete summary report for the Simplifying Discovery initiative


Project Status Update - April 2013

The Discovery Service Implementation Task Group completed some additional improvements to Barton data exports to the EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) for our online access URLs. A second review of EDS accessibility was conducted in collaboration with the MIT ATIC Lab. The review was favorable, with a few specific optimizations sent along to EBSCO for review.

The Discovery Environment IA Redesign Task Group developed a final proposed design for the homepage search tabs to test in May, incorporating feedback received on previous designs.

The Staff Communication and Feedback Task Group completed reviewing the results of the staff testing. Some changes have already been made to MIT’s instance of EDS based on the feedback received.

The EDS Interface Design Task Group made changes to EDS based on staff testing feedback. These changes were made in advance of further usability testing with our user community that is happening in early May. Interface changes were made across a number of EDS features, including facets (expanders and limiters), brief results displays, advanced search options, and more.

Members of the Discovery Assessment Task Group met with EBSCO User Experience staff to review usability procedures and methods, share lessons learned and known issues, and to discuss possible future collaboration with EBSCO on usability testing. Additional optimizations were made on the website analytics front. We can now track the initial tab state, along with tab changes, and search form submissions on the Libraries homepage.

The Discovery Deployment Task Group commenced their work to develop a deployment plan for EDS and the associated libraries homepage search tab changes. The tentative launch date has been set for Monday, June 17th. A preview link to EDS was added to the existing MIT Libraries homepage in early May.

Activities and Accomplishments

  • Finalized proposed design of Libraries homepage search tabs for May usability testing
  • Completed review of staff testing results
  • EDS preview link deployed

Upcoming Milestones

  • Usability testing of Libraries homepage search tabs and EDS interface
  • Complete deployment plan and schedule


Project Status Update - March 2013

This month our team made progress across many fronts.

The Discovery Service Implementation Task Group worked on enabling Touchstone authentication for the EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) and providing guest access for non-MIT users. The group also met with members of the E-resources Team to discuss EDS and the staff workflow implications of retiring MetaLib/Vera Multi-Search. Additional work was also completed to improve the functionality of SFX buttons in EDS.

The Discovery Environment IA Redesign Task Group finalized several homepage search tab designs for usability testing by the User Interface Group on March 11th. These new designs integrate EDS into the search options and are intended to improve discovery overall. In response to the results of the testing, one of the designs was adapted and was presented to the Simplifying Discovery team. This candidate design will be tested again with users and staff in our next round of usability testing in May.

The Staff Communication and Feedback Task Group received completed testing forms as well as comments and suggestions via email, and are now working on compiling the feedback. Thanks to all of you who have been putting the system through its paces. The Group also held two preliminary open sessions for all interested staff. At the end of March, the Group hosted meetings with representatives from EBSCO to talk about the tool, hear directly from the testers, and coordinate follow-up work with the Simplifying Discovery Team.

The Discovery Assessment Task Group created an assessment plan that outlines the usability testing and data collection activities we will conduct in order to gather qualitative and quantitative data on the effectiveness of our EDS implementation and its integration into our web site. A link to this plan is available in the Resource section below.

Activities and Accomplishments

  • Open staff sessions on 3/6 and 3/8
  • EBSCO visit to MIT on 3/27
  • Initial usability testing of homepage mockups complete
  • Staff testing of EDS complete

Upcoming Milestones

  • Finalize proposed design of Libraries homepage search tabs for May usability testing and to share with library staff
  • Compile EDS testing feedback from IRS, LDLC, UX, and ID&LA staff. Assign work to Discovery Implementation Group or other subgroups as appropriate.
  • Update EDS user interface based on staff testing feedback before May usability testing.


Project Status Update - February 2013

This month our team made significant progress across many fronts.

The Discovery Service Implementation Task Group continued work with EBSCO on functionality in MIT's implementation of EDS, including dynamic holdings calls from EDS to Barton, Shibboleth authentication, guest access, custom search boxes scoped to specific content within EDS, and some interface customizations.

The Discovery Environment Information Architecture Redesign Task Group is exploring changes to the MIT Libraries homepage to integrate the new EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) into the search tabs. The group has been through several rounds of design and is finalizing a few mockups with distinct functionality that will be evaluated with users in March. 

The Staff Communication and Feedback Task Group met with staff from Instruction and Reference Services (IRS), Liaisons for Departments, Labs and Centers (LDLC), and Information and Delivery Services (ID&LA) Leadership to demonstrate EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) and assign testing. The subgroup also scheduled two open sessions in the DIRC on Wednesday, 3/6 at 10:00AM and Friday, 3/8 at 1:00PM for any interested staff to get an update from the Simplifying Discovery team and to see a demo of EDS.

The Discovery Assessment Task Group is developing an assessment plan that will include performing usability testing on the redesigned homepage, as well as the EDS interface. The group is also exploring new data collection methods on the homepage in order to get more detailed information on how the search tabs are being used. The group is also exploring custom usage analytics in the EDS@MIT interface, to supplement standard usage reports from EBSCO.

Activities and Accomplishments:

                • EDS functional testing complete

                • EDS preview site available:

                • Staff testing of EDS assigned

Upcoming Milestones:

                • Open staff sessions on 3/6 and 3/8

                • EBSCO visit to MIT on 3/27

                • Usability testing of homepage mockups complete

                • Staff testing of EDS complete

Project Status Update - January 2013

This month the team focused on defining the major work areas for the initiative over the next 3-4 months. This planning effort resulted in the formation of five task groups:

  • Discovery Environment IA Redesign (led by Darcy Duke)
  • EDS Interface Design Team (led by Melissa Feiden)
  • Staff Communication and Feedback (led by Millicent Gaskill)
  • Assessment (led by Darcy Duke)
  • Deployment (led by Melissa Feiden and Tito Sierra)

A staff communication and feedback plan has been created and includes meetings with staff in February and March to solicit feedback on the EDS@MIT implementation and proposed discovery environment changes to the library website. Details on these meetings are forthcoming.

The Discovery Service Implementation Task Group (DSITG) continued functional testing of data loads, and worked with EBSCO to set up a development site to test out new changes.

Activities and Accomplishments

  • Formation of Task Groups
  • Creation of staff communication plan
  • Creation of EDS@MIT development site

Upcoming Milestones

  • EDS@MIT functional testing complete
  • EDS@MIT preview site available

Project Status Update - December 2012

This month team members participated in a pen-and-paper exercise to generate ideas for how we might reconfigure the hi-level information architecture (IA) of our information resource discovery environment. The activity generated several approaches for grouping and scoping discovery options. In January we will create functional mockups of several candidate models for some early focused user testing.

Custom, anonymized, activity tracking was implemented on the MIT Libraries homepage to capture usage behavior of the current discovery environment (e.g., search queries, search tab selection). In addition to providing insight into current usage of the discovery options on the homepage, this provides baseline data for assessing changes to the homepage that will come later. 

The Discovery Service Implementation Task Group (DSITG) met with EBSCO staff to lay the groundwork for establishing automated SFX and Aleph data exports to MIT’s EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS). As of the last week of December, the automated exports were in place and operating successfully. The DSITG has also worked with EBSCO to set up dynamic retrieval of holdings and circulation data from Aleph in the MIT EDS interface.

Activities and Accomplishments:

                • Automated exports of SFX and Aleph data in place

                • Activity tracking implemented on MIT Libraries homepage

Upcoming Milestones:

                • 1/31 Mockup discovery search models for preliminary user testing

                • 1/31 Complete functional testing of data exports on EDS development site

Project Status Update - November 2012

This month our team completed the environmental scan of nine peer university library discovery environments. The findings and recommendations from the scan are captured in the Simplifying Discovery Environmental Scan Report (see Resources). The recommendations include a redesign of the tabbed search options on the MIT Libraries homepage, use of a controlled vocabulary with descriptive labels for discovery tools across the MIT Libraries website presence, and a recommendation to feature EDS prominently in the discovery environment. These recommendations will inform our design work over the next couple of months.

The Discovery Service Implementation Task Group officially kicked off in mid-November. This group, led by Melissa Feiden, is charged with implementing the EBSCO Discovery Service product as part of the broader Simplifying Discovery initiative. The group is working with EBSCO staff on a timeline for EDS implementation.

Activities and Accomplishments

  • Completion of the Environmental Scan Report
  • Discovery Service Implementation Task Group kickoff
  • Preliminary data exports from SFX and Aleph sent to EBSCO
  • On-site meeting EBSCO staff to discuss automated data exports and ingest

Upcoming Milestones

  • 1/1: Automated exports of SFX and Aleph data in place


Project Status Update - October 2012

This month our team work focused on the environmental scan of peer library discovery environments. Nine peer library websites were selected for the analysis, mostly university libraries that have recently redesigned their discovery environments (see Resources). Although the environmental scan is off to a good start, more analysis work is needed. We expect to produce an Environmental Scan Report with findings and recommendations by the end of November and have moved this milestone accordingly.

In other news, the MIT Libraries has formalized an agreement with EBSCO Publishing to license the EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) product. The implementation of this product at MIT will be coordinated by a subgroup of the Simplifying Discovery Team called the “Discovery Service Implementation Task Group” led by Melissa Feiden (see Resources).

We are also pleased to announce the addition of Matthew Bernhardt, SDA Web Developer, to the Simplifying Discovery Team. Welcome Matt!

Activities and Accomplishments

  • Progress on environmental scan
  • Agreement with EBSCO to license the EDS product
  • Formation of the “Discovery Service Implementation Task Force”
  • Completed NISO Open Discovery Initiative survey

Upcoming Milestones

  • 11/31: Complete Environmental Scan Report


Project Status Update - September 2012

This month our team focused effort on the inventory of existing MIT Libraries e-resource content and tools, leading to the completion of this milestone. This work was useful in getting all team members up to speed on the wide variety of resource discovery services and tools available on the MIT Libraries website. The exercise led to an initial pass at determining what content and tools are in-scope for our initiative, to focus the team’s subsequent information architecture work. The team is now meeting weekly (from bi-weekly) to increase productivity on research and planning tasks. Next month the team focus will shift to the environmental scan of peer library discovery environments, to identify aspirational models of discovery that can be adapted to the MIT Libraries environment. The SDA Web Developer position, a missing team member for this initiative, has been filled and will join the team in November.

Activities and Accomplishments

  • Completed inventory of existing MIT Libraries e-resource content and tools
  • Team viewing of the NISO Webinar: “Discovery and Delivery: Innovations and Challenges”

Upcoming Milestones

  • 10/31: Environmental scan of peer library discovery environments complete

Project Status Update - August 2012

Following the project kickoff meeting on July 25th, the team focused its attention this month on two areas: 1. activities to cultivate a shared understanding of the “discovery environment” problem area among team members, and 2. project management logistics (e.g., processes, communication, tools). Regarding project logistics, the team meets regularly every two weeks. Project roles have been discussed and clarified among team members. The team is using Basecamp to manage project communication among team members. We also have a staff web page for the initiative that will include project updates and related documentation for a broader staff audience. The SDA Web Developer position, a missing team member for this initiative, remains unfilled, however the prospects for filling this position near term are strong. Overall, the project is off to a good start.

Activities and Accomplishments

  • Team review and discussion of the strategic objective statement for this initiative
  • Basecamp project site created and in use
  • Team review of related literature including Cornell and Minnesota discovery reports
  • Team discussion of project milestones, with a focus on near term planning and research milestones (e.g., environmental scan, e-resource content/tools inventory)
  • Draft project scope document created, reviewed and discussed by project team
  • Staff web page created:

Upcoming Milestones

  • 9/28: Environmental scan of peer library discovery environments complete
  • 9/28: Inventory of existing MIT Libraries e-resource content and tools complete