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EBSCO Information Systems Introduces Panorama for Analytics

Smart Libraries Newsletter [May 2021]


Following a period of design and development, EBSCO Information Services has released Panorama. The new platform provides a diverse set of capabilities to help libraries manage each aspect of their operations using empirical evidence.

Panorama was created primarily for academic libraries. It provides insights on the performance and value of collections and services and the library's impact on their campus communities. EBSCO designed Panorama as a vendor-neutral analytics service.

Panorama extends EBSCO's portfolio of SaaS products, which also includes EBSCO Discovery Service, Stacks, EBSCO Knowledge Services, and Full Text Finder, as well its services for the FOLIO library services platform.

Data Sources and Ingestion

EBSCO positions Panorama as a self-service analytics platform. One of the key concepts behind Panorama involves streamlining the ingestion of data, enabling library personnel to spend less time with the details of acquiring data and focus more on analysis. EBSCO has developed automated pipelines to feed data into the platform, including internal library sources, institutional data, and usage reports from suppliers.

The platform is delivered with a set of data ingestion tools programmed for common data sources of interest to the library. These connectors are programmed to transform and load data into the platform without the need for detailed technical programming by the library. In addition to these prebuilt connectors, libraries can also create customized data sources, following templates defined for the platform. The data connectors perform the initial load of data sets with automated refresh intervals.

Some of the connectors currently available include:

  • Multiple categories of data from the ILS or LSP, including bibliographic and holdings records, patron demographics, circulation data, and acquisitions data. Products currently supported include FOLIO, Ex Libris Alma, and Innovative Sierra. Connectors for other ILS products, including Sirsi- Dynix Symphony, are planned.
  • Data representing other areas of library service, such as instruction or outreach.
  • External sources of data related to library collections include COUNTER statistics from content providers. Upcoming versions of the product will include collection and use data from additional EBSCO products, such as GOBI, EBSCO Discovery Service, EBSCONET, and EBSCOhost.
  • Institutional data describing user interactions with library resources and outcomes can be acquired through student information systems, authentication services, and campus research management systems.

The data from the multiple sources associated with a given institution are loaded into a single repository. This aggregation of data enables analysis of library data with external sources. Each institution using Panorama has a dedicated data repository, isolated from other institutions using the product.

Underlying Technologies

EBSCO delivers Panorama as part of its growing software-asa- service offerings. The product is entirely web based and does not require any local software.

Panorama is built on top of components from Tableau Software, which was acquired by Salesforce in 2019. Tableau provides a robust set of tools to analyze data and create visualizations and has grown to be one of the leading products in this sector. Many organizations, including libraries and universities, use Tableau products directly for data analytics.

Tableau provides a solid foundation for Panorama. While libraries could develop their own environment based on Tableau or other analytics engines, EBSCO has created a products specifically for academic libraries that eliminate the need for technical development as well as the staff time of data librarians or analysts in normalizing and loading data sets and crafting reports and visualizations.

For product developers such as EBSCO, licensing an analytics engine such as Tableau allows them to focus their development on workflows and features, rather than on building complex infrastructure components.

Platform Interfaces

Panorama follows a visual approach to presenting the results of its analysis, providing a variety of dashboards populated with multiple graphs or visualizations pertaining to the area of interest. The Panorama interface features a collection of dashboards, each comprising a set of visualizations that describe some aspect of library or collection performance. These dashboards give an immediate impression of the status of its area of concern. Most of the visualizations include links that present a more detailed view of the underlying data.

According to John McDonald, director of product management for EBSCO Information Services, the dashboards and visualizations of Panorama give libraries real-time insights into impact of their collections and services. Since the data sources are continuously updated, the visualizations represent current collection or use patterns, enabling libraries to proactively address access problems or to make adjustments in the corresponding area of operations.

The initial dashboard presents an overview of the library, including visualizations for multiple high-level areas of activity such as print loans and collections, electronic resources and overall use levels, patron breakdowns, and collection expenditures. Any of these visualizations can be selected to invoke more detailed charts and analytics.

One of the dashboards aims to provide insights between library use and student outcomes. This dashboard relies on data from the student information system to illustrate inferences between library use and grades. It addresses the question of whether higher levels of library use, such as book loans, correlate to higher grade point averages.

EBSCO Panorama sample dashboard
EBSCO Panorama sample dashboard

Availability and Product Roadmap

EBSCO partnered with three libraries to inform its concept for a new analytics platform. University of Denver, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Chalmers University of Technology participated as alpha sites to refine the concepts and test the product as it developed. An additional set of institutions served as beta partners to test the data pipelines and expand the number of data sources. These included:

  • University of South Carolina
  • Seton Hall University
  • University of Melbourne
  • Missouri State University

The initial version of Panorama was released in March 2021. EBSCO will continue to expand the capabilities of the product to support additional data sources and corresponding dashboards and visualizations. EBSCO anticipates facilitating a community among institutions implementing Panorama to share customized tools, such as report parameters or analytical models.

View Citation
Publication Year:2021
Type of Material:Article
Language English
Published in: Smart Libraries Newsletter
Publication Info:Volume 41 Number 05
Issue:May 2021
Publisher:ALA TechSource
Place of Publication:Chicago, IL
Products: Panorama
Record Number:26225
Last Update:2023-02-04 14:51:23
Date Created:2021-05-04 08:24:12