A key service now provided by libraries is that of information Discovery, i.e. tools and technologies that help users to discover information resources that are relevant to their needs. In an age where library collections are becoming increasingly complex, discovery systems allow searching across the entirety of the library collection.
Discovery services are essentially search interfaces to pre-indexed metadata and/or full text documents. Discovery services differ from federated search applications in that discovery services don’t search live sources. The searching is done on pre-indexed data, meaning that results are returned for the user very rapidly. Discovery services are an evolution beyond federated search. Some discovery services either provide integration with federated search or provide an API for others to do the integration.
The terms “unified index” and “unified search index” are associated with discovery services. Just as the terms imply, discovery services use a unified search index to search content from all sources they have access to from a single index. The discovery service must deal with differences in the structure of metadata (e.g. names and contents of fields) from different sources to produce the unified search index.
Discovery services are more popular for users due to speed- federated search systems cannot compete with discovery systems in terms of response time. A second factor driving the creation of discovery services is the willingness of publishers and content aggregators to form partnerships with developers of the services. Given the pressure to deliver search results in “Google time,” publishers have an incentive to cooperate with one another and with discovery service providers.
Another reason for the big interest in discovery services is that the onerous task of building, monitoring, and repairing connectors disappears since there are no connectors. Unified indexes provide benefits due to their “homogenization” of metadata. Duplicates can be removed much more easily via discovery services than by federated search engines. And, discovery services produce more “complete” results, i.e. results with titles, authors, publications dates and other fields of interest that federated search can’t reliably get. With better-fielded results it will be easier to cluster and otherwise organize search results.
The SemperTool Libhub Discovery system is a Central Index search tool enabling true Web-Scale Discovery of resources available through the library and beyond. Enabled by the configuration of the Knowledge Base of the RMS, this central index of resources enables researchers and students to search across all available information resources, and to locate relevant information across multiple databases through one single search interface.
Libhub allows users complete freedom to search, access, and download full-text of resources available through all products subscribed to by the library, as well as enabling browsing, by alphabetical listing, or subject category.
In addition to the main search functionalities, it integrates the other end user services:
A-Z listing: of products and resources
browse by subject: classifying individual resources across all of the products in the collection by Library of Congress classification, and creating lists of resources relevant to these specific subject classificatons;
table of content of journals: creating journal homepages for each specific resource within the collection, will full table of contents for each issue available in the library collection
build in Link resolver for determining the availability of the discovered content: matching availability across all databases to obtain a complete and accurate picture of availability of each resource in the library collection, and de-duplicating overlaps of content across multiple database s
building end user collections of favorite content: allowing users to create their own customized collections of journals, articles
Alert system about new TOCs and content: allowing users to configure a system of alerts for new issues of journals (emailing Table of Contents for new issues once they becom