Customer Corner – University of the Arts London

This post was written by Darcy Katzman on December 15, 2015
Posted Under: Features,Partnerships

Editor’s Note: This presentation was given by Paul Mellinger, Discovery Manager (Resources & Systems), at the University of the Arts London (UAL), to attendees of the PTFS Europe Customer Day in early December 2015. PTFS Europe and Deep Web Technologies (DWT) recently partnered to broaden PTFS Europe offerings, and to provide the opportunity to integrate Explorit Everywhere! federated search and Koha library software for customers. UAL, already a customer of both services, kindly offered an educational review of UAL’s experiences with Explorit Everywhere!. As a follow up, Paul also graciously wrote the following excerpt to accompany his presentation on the Deep Web Technologies’ blog. 

For those of you unfamiliar with Prezi, use the bottom left and right arrows to scroll through this presentation. 

The aim of the presentation was to give some historical context to the current Library Search offering from UAL Library Services and to attempt to explain the seemingly unusual choice of employing DWT’s next-generation federated search engine ‘Explorit Everywhere!’, branded as ‘Articles Plus’.  The first half of the presentation charts the progress of the Library Services web portal and its inherent search options, whilst  the latter half comprises a series of screencasts, highlighting some of the features of ‘Articles Plus’.

A few metaphorical images were used, the relevance of which may not be immediately apparent, without the accompanying talk.

The appearance of Capability Brown and his work as a landscaper is a fairly obvious comparison to the process of assessing and designing the library portal to fit the information landscape.  I thought it pertinent, in the light of the evolution of UAL’s Library Services web pages, that Brown’s nickname was not due to his prodigious talent, as widely-believed, but because he would always tell his landed clients when assessing the scope of the grounds that they possessed “capability” for the landscape to be improved.

The image of ‘Apples and Oranges’ was mentioned at various points throughout the presentation to allude to the process of deciding which resources were to be searched together, e.g. in the Library Catalogue (Koha) or in ‘Articles Plus’ (Explorit Everywhere!) and which would be searched entirely separately, e.g. the UAL Archive Catalogue.  This also helps to explain the mock-up search of ‘Books and e-Books’, which illustrates the flexibility of Explorit Everywhere! and offers a possible solution for the possibility of removing e-books from the library catalogue.

The metaphor of the scuba diver and the jet ski was taken from page 17 of the book ‘The Shallows: how the Internet is changing the way we think, read and remember’ by Nicholas Carr.  In the book, it is used to describe the experiential difference between reading books and reading content on the internet.  I thought that this represented an appropriate analogy to demonstrate the philosophical underpinning of our choice of discovery tool as it reflects the difference in the respective models of ‘web-scale discovery services’ and federated search engines, the former marketed for the ‘Google Generation’ and dependent on huge banks of pre-harvested metadata, the latter open to genuine customisation, providing the ability to delve down into customer-specific resources and therefore more conducive to ‘deep’ research.

The quote from Roy Tennant highlights the irony that it was bandied around by vendors of web-scale discovery tools around 2009-2011, although it was originally written in 2001 to extol the ability of federated search engines to allow users to search multiple electronic sources, without having to access and become familiar with each individual search interface.

The deep zoom-back to reveal the final slide of the presentation is intended to depict the ‘unknown’ information landscape of the future.

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