Patrons need a variety of tools to find materials from within library collections. The genre of discovery services aims to retrieve resources in response to queries that a patron enters. Typical search queries involve subjects, authors, concepts, or other terms that might help discover what items exist and are available. The genre of index-based discovery services that addresses this approach to finding library resources has been extensively covered in Smart Libraries Newsletter.
Finding Tools for Journal Titles
Library patrons and personnel also require the ability to find materials based on a citation or other representation of a known item. The patron may have a specific journal title of key interest or may have a citation in hand with the need to find the associated document. Many researchers have a handful of titles that they closely follow. They may want to browse the articles recently published or delve into back issues. Discovery proceeds much differently when the starting point is a journal title compared to concepts, subject terms, or authors. The ability to navigate to specific journals within a library's collection has been fulfilled through alphabetical lists that the library maintains on its website. In the early days of e-journals, libraries built alphabetical lists manually on web-pages or built other local finding aids. As e-journals proliferated, each library maintaining its inventory of e-journal titles manually and independently proved inefficient, if not untenable. A variety of commercial products emerged that were based on a comprehensive knowledge base of journal titles issued across all major publishers. These products offered alphabetical e-journal listings of a given library based on their active subscriptions. Some of the early producers of these products included Serials Solutions, EBSCO, and TDNet. These knowledge bases were also leveraged to produce OpenURL link resolvers. Journal titles usually are also cataloged within the library's integrated library system, with holdings records that describe the coverage of dates and issues available. But since the ILS does not handle article-level records, it is not able to provide any next steps in the research process, such as finding a specific article. Representation of journals in the ILS was better suited for the time when they were held in print form, and patrons needed to know where to find the current issues and bound volumes. The A-to-Z listing of e-journals has become one of the wellestablished tools for providing access to specific articles via a library's Web presence. Yet the use of these tools can be cumbersome, especially for libraries that have extensive numbers of e-journal titles, because users may have to work their way through many pages of results in order to find the title of interest.
EBSCO Launches Full Text Finder
EBSCO has developed a new tool, called Full Text Finder, to efficiently provide access to journal titles using an interface designed to be more efficient and easily understood than alphabetical lists. Full Text Finder accesses publication titles through a search box with responsive auto-complete and a new landing page organized by disciplines. This new product provides a greatly simplified interface that aims to make it faster and easier to find an item in the library's collection when working from a citation. Full Text Finder operates through a knowledge base of publication records. This capability complements the discovery process, where patrons seek information resources on given topics or concepts. It also provides an efficient tool to assist staff when their work involves locating journal titles within the library's subscriptions. Full Text Finder is based on the knowledge base of publishers' titles maintained by EBSCO, with the ability for libraries to add any titles that they may own not already included.
The launch of Full Text Finder also fits within the context of EBSCO's platform consolidation. When EBSCO Publishing and EBSCO Information Services operated as separate business units, they each delivered their services through their respective technology platforms, EBSCONET and EBSCOhost. As the company has come together organizationally, it has also worked toward unifying its patron-facing services on EBSCOhost, with EBSCONET focusing on staff-oriented functions such as managing subscriptions. (See the July 2013 issue of Smart Libraries Newsletter for more details on this consolidation.) Rather than simply re-deploying the LinkSource and EBSCO A-to-Z on the new platform, EBSCO took the opportunity to completely redesign the way that these services are provided.
Publications Search Landing Page
The design of Full Text Finder was based on EBSCO's usability studies that revealed that users prefer this style of interface rather than the traditional A-to-Z listings. For libraries acclimated to the alphabetical lists, the new approach may take some adjustment. EBSCO asserts that finding titles through the interface of Full Text Finder takes only a fraction of the time that would be needed when using an A-to-Z listing tool. EBSCO reported that for library staff that search for 20 titles per day, its user testing of the two systems (A-to-Z using the alphabetical browse feature vs. Full Text Finder leveraging the search autocomplete feature) results in savings of an average of 45 minutes per day.
When invoking the search tool in the Full Text Finder landing page, titles will appear as drop-down options in the manner that has become a standard convention in most Web-based search environments. The titles that appear will be based on those included in the knowledge base, sorted by frequency of use (calculated daily) and limited to those to which the library subscribes. The matching is not strictly alphabetical, including titles that begin with and that contain the text typed by the user.
The product also includes the ability to target queries to articles that appear within a single journal title or selected groups, provided the library subscribes and that it is searchable within EBSCO Discovery Service. This capability can be convenient for those interested in exploring the content within a specific publication, without all the results that would come from other publications that would also match the search terms. The landing page of Full Text Finder, which would be labeled as a publications search on the library's website, presents a series of subject discipline facets, with the count of associated titles within the library's collection. Clicking on any of these terms will present additional facets that can be used to further narrow the discipline and will change the scope of the search box presented to the selected discipline. Once the desired publication title is located, users can easily access the full text of the associated articles using the same technologies integrated into EBSCO Discovery Service. This includes both SmartLinks that directly present a PDF icon or other download link when the article is available through EBSCO Discovery Service or through an OpenURL link resolver. As with EDS, Full Text Finder works with link resolvers other than the one provide by EBSCO. Integrated Into EBSCO Discovery Service In addition to being a tool accessed separately to search for publications, Full Text Finder comes integrated into EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS). When a patron types a query into the search box of EDS, its autocomplete will drop down the usual popular terms, but will also provide a second tier of responses labeled “Publications,” which will include titles from the knowledge base that match the query term, drawing on the same matching algorithm as used in the search box of the Full Text Finder landing page.
Full Text Finder will also be invoked when there is an exact match with a publication title entered into EDS.
Configuration and Administration
Authorized library personnel configure Full Text Finder via the EBSCOadmin console, which is also used to manage all EBSCOhost platform services to which a library subscribes. Through this console, libraries can adjust the branding of the pages presented through Full Text Finder to match their own logos and presentation schemes. This console also allows the library's administrator to enter custom publications and perform other configuration tasks. Full Text Finder also includes the ability to produce statistics on the use of publications, to download lists of publications, or to upload titles to be included.
Holdings and link management is accomplished through a separate and related tab within the EBSCOadmin interface called Holdings Management.
Full Text Finder also exposes an API for integration into other services or interfaces.
Replacing Legacy Tools
Full Text Finder represents the next generation product for EBSCO's A-to-Z service and LinkSource knowledge base and link resolver. It is currently integrated into EBSCO Discovery Service and can also be acquired as a stand-alone product. Libraries that have previously implemented EBSCO's A-to- Z and LinkSource products will have a migration path for the transition. The migration schedule will be deployed in phases and will be coordinated with libraries subscribing to the legacy products to minimize disruption.
One of the trends in recent years has been to consolidate the number of tools and interfaces that libraries put forward for their users. The development of Full Text Finder fits within this trend. Rather than offering a separate interface as a finding aid for locating e-journal titles, this product extends the capability of the discovery interface and subsumes this functionality.