Users' expectations for finding information on the Web have changed dramatically in the last few years. Internet search engines, social-networking sites, online shopping and auction sites, and commercial-information services have all invested tremendous resources into developing technologies and interfaces for finding information among enormous bodies of content.
The approach that prevails in libraries for providing access to resources falls out of step with these current expectations. Libraries ask their users to search the library catalog for print materials, pick through A–Z lists of electronic journals, and search various databases of journal articles. Each of these interfaces can be complex, and users may have to deal with several of them to find what they need in the library's collection. In response to this set of rising expectations--versus the fractured approach present in the current generation of library interfaces--a number of alternative and next-generation interfaces have emerged. In previous issues of SLN, I have covered alternative library-catalog interfaces—like that of the AquaBrowser Library by MediaLab Solutions (SLN, 25:10, p. 2) as well as Primo, Ex Libris's next-generation information-discovery and -delivery tool (SLN, 26:3, p. 1). It's clear that the competition is heating up to deliver technologies that help libraries keep pace with the expectations of their increasingly Web-savvy clientele.
Innovative Interfaces announced it's developing Encore, a next-generation library interface, or discovery services platform, which is designed to provide a more unified approach to finding information resources.
Encore leverages the Millennium ILS and many of the other technologies that Innovative Interfaces has developed over recent years to create a search platform that encompasses all the library's resources. This new product will draw on the federated search, authentication, relevancy, and link-resolution technologies already integrated into Millennium.
Today, library users search the Millennium WebPAC for items held by the library, and search the electronic resources to which the library subscribes separately. MetaFind, Innovative's federated-search interface, at least makes it possible to search multiple electronic-resource products simultaneously.
The next step in the evolution of library interfaces involves providing a discovery tool that consolidates these separate steps currently involved when searching library resources. Through Encore, Millennium is extended to become the platform for discovery throughout all the library's collections, both print and electronic.
Encore supplements the library's existing catalog data by drawing metadata and search services from remote resources into Millennium to constitute a consolidated search platform. This approach contrasts with AquaBrowser, Endeca Guided Search, and Primo, which each export library-catalog data into an external-search platform. Encore allows the library's catalog data to remain in place, avoiding the overhead involved in keeping an external search platform up-to-date and developing linkages back into the ILS for delivering patron services.