For the past 10 years, Ghent University Library has provided an in-house discovery service, presenting library collections and a diverse mix of online databases in one search. Based on user responses to the website and a systematic LibQUAL survey, on detailed logfile analyses and on in-depth interviews with researchers about their reference and bibliographic workflows, the focus has shifted from discovery to streamlining the delivery of library services.
Every day, data from the diverse library systems and from the institutional repository is processed and indexed. This allows:
- integrated search of print and digital collections
- integrated search of library holdings and the full institutional repository
- merge of digital and print holdings of periodicals in one view
- cross-links between digital and print versions or editions of books
- simplified presentations of key metadata, to aid in remembering/recognizing the resource needed, with cover images added where possible
- faceted search over all data sources (material type, language, year, access)
Blacklight helps the library to ensure the minimal services for all records: open data ready to reuse in different formats, reference details available in multiple citation styles, clean URL's in a multilingual inferface.
With the help of specialized user interaction designers, the team at Ghent University Library focused on presenting all available library services:
- "view online" is the primary call to action where available items in open stacks in a library show current opening hours and geolocation, no further clicking needed
- items in closed stacks can be requested in advance through a simple web form
- items' status is live data from the Aleph ILS
- patrons can come in and consult print holdings of periodicals in a library, but librarians scan and email any article on demand.
Sylvia Van Peteghem, Chief Librarian at Ghent University, concludes: "Our users, particularly the research community were at the heart of our reshuffle of the library systems. We engaged with researchers of all disciplines to understand their bibliographic workflows and their information seeking methods. We invited them in to test different iterations of the search and navigation in the website and the presentation of the books and other resources.
Search is now more powerful and results more relevant to our faculty and students. The library's many services are now available on any internet device."
What is Blacklight?
Project Blacklight is an open source Ruby on Rails gem that provides a discovery interface for any library collection. Blacklight uses Apache Solr, an enterprise-scale index for its search engine. The project provides a default user interface which is highly customizable via the standard Rails (templating) mechanisms. Blacklight accommodates heterogeneous data, allowing different information displays for different types of objects.
The University of Virginia, Stanford University and Johns Hopkins University are the principal contributors to the code base and use it heavily at their institutions. There are dozens of sites worldwide that use Blacklight, UGent is now joining them.
Ghent University Library
Ghent University Library is a network of libraries in Ghent University and University Hospital, covering all scientific domains. The Book Tower, a landmark library building in the heart of town, is the hub of their shared services. They are united in a common vision: facilitating open knowledge creation.