1. What are Discovery Services?
The Open Discovery Initiative’s definition of a “discovery service” is an index -based service that relies on a single index populated with metadata, full text, or other representations of content items -- such as journal articles, book chapters, ebooks, research reports, reference sources, images, maps, datasets, AV materials, and other selected material -- which a library provides to its users. The content comes from a range of information providers and products, such as commercial and non-profit publishers, universities and other research institutions, and many other types of organizations. The content of interest to ODI includes any materials that libraries would consider within their collection, regardless of the business model for acquisition or the type of license, such as commercially restricted or open access.
2. What Is the Discovery to Delivery Process?
There is a complex network of loosely coupled systems between a discovery service and the full text. In order for the end user to successfully obtain the discovered object, all of these intervening systems must be configured so as to consume and provide consistent metadata elements. From a query in a discovery service, the user might be linked directly to an appropriate full-text copy, might be routed through a link resolver to a menu of options, might be routed to a document fulfillment system, or might receive any number of other possible options.
3. What Challenges Was ODI Created to Solve?
Discovery-to-delivery pathways can break down when metadata and entitlements are not properly understood, transferred among vendors, or available at all. The Open Discovery Initiative was undertaken to help ensure that all three participants in this chain (the library, the content provider, and the discovery provider) could enjoy mutual transparency into what metadata elements are provided and used for discovery throughout the process. The degree to which transparency exists can be measured through the conformance statements made available by content providers and discovery service providers. One of the goals of the ODI is to foster consistent practices in the exchange and formats of data in order to lower the level of complexity as content flows through this ecosystem. This lessened complexity will mitigate technical issues that might hinder broader participation by content providers or potential discovery service creators.
4. What Can You Do to Ensure That Your Discovery Service Provider Serves Your Users’ Needs?
As a library contracting with a discovery service provider, or negotiating a contract, you can take a number of steps to ensure that the service you acquire is best suited to your users’ needs. Here are some things to think about at various stages of the process.
A. Selecting a discovery service provider
In keeping with the Open Discovery Initiative’s Recommended Practice, verify that your Discovery Service Provider’s statement of conformance (published statements are listed at http://www.niso.org/workrooms/odi/conformance/) matches your library’s expectations for full and equal treatment and access to all your licensed content.
B. Configuring your discovery service provider
Each discovery service provider’s configuration dashboard is different. However, there are some common functionalities to be aware of:
- Each discovery service provider has documentation specific to it. Make sure you identify that documentation and follow it, for optimal results.
- Broad areas you’ll want to make sure to address include:
- Marking your licensed content resources as active; many resources are only available to your users if the resource is included in the index AND you tell the discovery service you are a subscriber.
- Activating any free/open-access content that you want your users to have access to.
- Configuring your link resolver to make sure your preferred supplier for a particular target is prioritized. This is especially important if you use different vendors for discovery and link resolution. (Even if the vendors are the same, the knowledge bases may not be automatically synchronized). Contact your discovery provider to ensure you have the most complete and current documentation. Discovery tools are rapidly changing -- create a periodic internal review process to ensure you are optimizing your configuration with new features and functions.
C. Advocating for Discovery Service Provider Conformance with ODI
After reviewing your discovery service provider’s conformance statement, advocate for increased conformance by tailoring the suggested text below to highlight the specific areas for non-conformance for your provider:
Libraries, much like discovery service providers, place a high value on serving our customers to the greatest degree possible. We both want to provide the broadest possible access to the largest portion of the content libraries license and provide their users. As librarians, we feel it is critically important to ensure that the content we license -- one of our most valuable assets -- be readily findable and accessible to our institutional users through your discovery service. While we recognize that there can be barriers of various kinds that prevent the inclusion of all or some content into a discovery service provider’s index, a key thing is transparency. In order to understand how access to our content through your system is managed, we need to understand the full details of what you receive from your content partners and what you make available to libraries.
As a library, we fully endorse the tenets of NISO RP-19-2014, Open Discovery Initiative: Promoting Transparency in Discovery (http://www.niso.org/publications/rp/rp-19-2014).
In particular, please review Section 3.3.1, which notes that “Discovery service providers should make available to prospective and current customers sufficient information about the content of their repositories to ensure an adequate evaluation of that content against the customers’ needs.”
In addition, in order to maximize our investment in both the licensed content and the discovery layer, we want to ensure that barriers to content provider participation are removed. Sections 3.3.2 and 3.3.4 describe key areas in which discovery providers can reduce potential for system bias and ensure accurate reporting of usage for content providers, which will mitigate concerns and increase participation. Please review your current practices and ensure that you meet or exceed conformance in these areas to support all content provider needs.
5. What Can You Do to Ensure That Your Licensed Content is Available and Visible to Users in your Discovery Platform?
As a library contracting with a content provider, or negotiating a contract, you can take a number of steps to ensure that the services you acquire are best suited to your users’ needs. Here are some things to think about at various stages of the process.
A. Advocate for Additional Content
The 2014 revision of the LIBLICENSE Model License Agreement (http://liblicense.crl.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/modellicensenew2014revmay2015.pdf) provides language that might help you advocate for content while you are negotiating the license:
5.1.b. Discovery of Licensed Materials. Licensor shall make the Licensed Materials available through Licensee’s Discovery Service System(s) for indexing and discovery purposes. Licensor shall provide to Licensee’s discovery service vendors on an ongoing basis the citation and complete descriptive metadata (including all subject headings, abstracts, and keywords), and full-text content necessary to facilitate optimal discovery and accessibility of the content for the benefit of Licensee and Authorized Users. Discovery Service Systems are defined as user interface and search systems for discovering and displaying content from local, database and web-based sources.
5.1.p. Itemized Holdings List…. Licensor will use reasonable efforts to update itemized holdings reports as soon as is practicable when holdings information changes, and will provide this information to Discovery Service Systems in a timely manner and to Licensee on request.
B. Optimize Configuration of Each Content Provider
Each discovery system offers unique functions and services. Libraries need to configure their systems to optimize content visibility and linking. We have compiled a list of specific content provider instructions. Please see Configuring Content Providers on this site.
C. Advocating for Content Provider Conformance
After reviewing your content provider’s conformance statement, advocate for increased conformance by tailoring the suggested text below to highlight the specific areas for non-conformance for your provider:
Libraries, much like content providers, place a high value on serving our customers to the greatest degree possible. We both want to provide the broadest possible access to the largest portion of the content libraries license and provide our users.
As librarians, we feel it is critically important to ensure that your content -- one of our most valuable assets -- be readily findable and accessible to our institutional users through all the pathways they choose to use to access it. In order to maximize our investment in the content we license from you in our discovery layer, we need to understand what content is provided to our discovery service provider. While we recognize that there can be barriers of various kinds that may prevent the provision of all or some content into a discovery service provider’s index, we need to understand the full details of what you contribute to the discovery service.
As a library, we fully endorse the tenets of NISO RP-19-2014, Open Discovery Initiative: Promoting Transparency in Discovery (http://www.niso.org/publications/rp/rp-19-2014), including section 18.104.22.168, which notes that content providers should provide all content to discovery providers, as follows:
22.214.171.124 General Requirements
1. Content providers should make available to discovery service providers core metadata, and underlying full-text/original content for complete offerings, for the purposes of indexing to meet licensed customers’ and authenticated end users’ needs.
2. To this aim, all content providers should make available to discovery service providers, at a minimum, the core set of metadata elements (see 126.96.36.199) for each item they submit for indexing.
3. Content providers should provide the content item (full text, transcript, etc.) and additional descriptive content (abstract/description and controlled and/or uncontrolled keywords) (see 188.8.131.52), for as much of their content as possible.
In this context, we write urging you to both publicly disclose your current level of conformance with the Recommended Practice, using the NISO ODI Conformance checklist (https://niso.org/standards-committees/odi/conformance), and to work to come into full conformance as soon as possible by providing all of your content to discovery providers. We see your participation in discovery as mutually beneficial – inclusion of your content to be searched by mutual subscribers in all discovery systems will expose your content to your authenticated licensees, regardless of research path.