In recent weeks, EBSCO has announced a number of partnerships that potentially extend the reach of EBSCO Discovery Service. This product has become well established as one of the major indexbased library resource discovery services, along with Summon from Serials Solutions, Primo and Primo Central from Ex Libris, and OCLC's WorldCat Local. These products compete vigorously to offer the broadest coverage of the resources in library collections, the strongest features for search and retrieval, and for the most flexibility and interoperability with other applications within a library's technical infrastructure.
EBSCO stands apart from these other competitors in that it has not ventured into the arena of library management systems. While WorldCat Local will naturally be paired with WorldShare Management Services, Primo with Alma, and Summon with Intota, EBSCO Discovery Service is positioned to work with any back-end management platform, including both the legacy and newgeneration products.
The release of the EBSCO Discovery Service API, described in July 2012 issue of Smart Libraries Newsletter, provides a solid foundation for its integration with a variety of back-end management systems or other end user portals. In recent months, EBSCO has announced partnerships that leverage this API to combine the capability of its discovery service into strategic products of other companies, including SirsiDynix, OCLC, and Innovative Interfaces.
An agreement with SirsiDynix enables an integration between SirsiDynix eResource Central and EBSCO Discovery Service. SirsiDynix created eResource Central to fully integrate discovery and access of e-books and other electronic resources into the patron interface. It allows e-books provided through selected services to appear alongside print copies and to be downloaded to e-readers with minimal effort. Initial partners included 360 Axis from Baker & Taylor. The agreement with EBSCO will extend the general discovery capabilities of EBSCO Discovery Service into eResource Central and integrate eBooks on EBSCOhost for seamless access.
This arrangement helps SirsiDynix expand its discovery services. Its Enterprise discovery platform lacks the centralized index associated with products such as EBSCO Discovery Service, Summon, Primo Central, and WorldCat Local. Through this partnership, libraries that have purchased SirsiDynix eResource and also subscribe to EBSCO Discovery Service will gain extended search capabilities. Libraries that have purchased eBooks on EBSCOhost will see titles fully integrated in search results. Their patrons will be able to check out e-books without additional authentication steps and read them on the EBSCO e-book viewer.
EBSCO also extended its existing partnership with Innovative Interfaces. Innovative also has not created an article-level index for its Encore discovery service. Encore Synergy provides access to articles by sending the user's search request to selected resources and highlighting items alongside the primary Encore result set so that users can click through to request additional articles on the topic. Through this arrangement with EBSCO, libraries that have purchased Encore and that also subscribe to EBSCO Discovery Service, can get the full capabilities of EBSCO's index and search features delivered through the Encore interface. This joint development partnership will also strengthen the interoperability between EBSCO Discovery Service and Innovative's Millennium and Sierra automation products.
OCLC and EBSCO have also initiated a partnership to develop full interoperability between EBSCO Discovery Service and WorldShare Management Services. For libraries that subscribe to both products, EBSCO Discovery Service could be used as the public interface for libraries that use WorldShare Management Services. This scenario would appeal, for example, to libraries that prefer the discovery capabilities of EBSCO Discovery Service over WorldCat Local and that have elected to use WorldShare Management Services rather than a traditional integrated library system.
One of the trends anticipated going forward would involve a renewed pairing between discovery services and new library management platforms offered by the same vendor, somewhat contrary to the pattern seen in recent years for discovery products to be acquired independently of back-end systems. Some of these natural pairings would include OCLC WorldCat Local with WorldShare Management Services, Primo with Alma, or Summon with Intota. By acquiring discovery and management products from the same vendor packaged together, no additional work will be required relative to the significant amount of effort required to integrate products acquired a la carte. The recent trend toward dis-integration between automation and discovery might see some re-integration. But there will be many exceptions to such re-integration, such as with EBSCO Discovery Service, where the company does not offer its own management product and has focused on integrating with all the others. The creation of an advanced API and multiple partnerships to connect EBSCO Discovery Services with other automation products will support its adoption should the movement toward product suites play out. There will also be other scenarios, such as the Kuali OLE platform for library management that has not developed its own discovery service. Many libraries may also have strong preferences for a given discovery service that override other concerns.