Ex Libris continues to make significant gains with Primo, its discovery platform for research libraries. There have been new developments in terms of the production and release of Primo Central, new libraries selecting Primo, and completed installations.
The company launched Primo as its strategic discovery platform in 2006, designed especially for research libraries with large and complex collections (See Smart Libraries Newsletter March 2006). From the start, Primo specialized in receiving metadata from a variety of different sources to provide a normalized, comprehensive index that provided rapid access to library collections. The content represented in this local index would include materials managed within the library's integrated library system, institutional repositories, digital collections, and other sources available to the library for local indexing, especially those available through the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH). Primo provided access to the collections of articles through an integrated federated search component, based on MetaLib. This approach to discovery within the body of article collections provides the advantage of access through a single interface, but requires the user to launch an additional search, with results returned much slower than the content indexed locally in Primo.
To overcome the limitations of searching articles through federated search and to strengthen its position against competitive products like Summon from Serials Solutions, in July 2009 Ex Libris announced its intentions to extend Primo with a large consolidated index of mostly article-level content that would provide the same degree of speed and ease of use as with the materials indexed locally. This new component, named Primo Central, has been under development for the last year, with Ex Libris not only developing the technology platform for this hosted service, but also in making agreements with publishers to index their content.
A number of libraries have been involved with testing and evaluation of Primo Central, including Brigham Young University, the Cooperative Library Network of Berlin-Brandenburg, Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, Oxford University, the University of New South Wales in Australia, Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, and Vanderbilt University. With this cycle of testing complete, Primo Central was announced as a production product in June 2010 and available in general release. Ex Libris has also completed Primo Version 3.0, a major revision of the product with many new significant features.
Some of the capabilities new of this version include integration with Primo Central, a redesign of the user interface that presents more details on the initial results listings lessening the need to click through to the full display, more search options such as left-anchor or “begins with,” and more flexible sorting.
Primo Version 3.0 brings many of the user services features directly into the discovery interface, avoiding a handoff to the Web-based catalog of the ILS for tasks such as those related to renewals, holds, fines, recalls, and user profile updates. These features make use of the more advanced levels of the Integrated Library System-Discovery Interface protocol produced by the Digital Library Federation. (For more on the ILS-DI protocol, see: ISQ Summer 2008 “Progress on the DLF ILS Discovery Interface API, the Berkeley Accord.) This version also offers an optional recommendation service for scholarly articles through integration with the bX service (covered in detail in the June 2009 issue of Smart Libraries Newsletter).
As of June 2010, a total of 280 libraries have selected Primo. Libraries recently acquiring it include Monash University in Australia, Atlanta University Center in Atlanta, GA, the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, the library of the Parliament of Hungary, Coventry University, Aberystwyth University in the United Kingdom, and the University of the West Indies. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich), a major Ex Libris site in Switzerland, announced that it has now put Primo into production use.
In addition to the integration of bX into Primo mentioned above, Ex Libris has seen a high level of interest in this service, delivered primarily as a feature within SFX. Since its initial release in January 2009, a total of 271 libraries have purchased subscriptions to the service. Until recently, the bX recommendation service has been used by libraries involved with SFX, the company's own link resolver. As of June 2010 two libraries, Washington University in St. Louis and Claremont Colleges, have implemented bX with the 360 suite of products from Serials Solutions through the APIs available through the two respective platforms. These initial integrations between bX and competing linking and discovery products pave the way the adoption of the service by a wider range of libraries. Ex Libris has consistently been able to expand its business by placing its products in libraries outside its own direct customer base.