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Celebrating the third anniversary of introducing the Summon® web-scale discovery service and the recent Library Journal feature article about Dartmouth College’s use of the service has prompted me to reflect on how far we have come with the development of this discovery solution. We started with the mission of partnering with libraries to provide a compelling starting place for research and now more than 400 libraries have joined us on our commitment to facilitate discovery and access to the highest quality, most credible content.

The concept for web-scale discovery was born out of ethnographic research I conducted examining the research behaviors of students in relation to use of the library. It was revealing to me to see first-hand how researchers expect a seamless user experience that simply was not available for searching library resources. This insight led to the premise that if libraries don’t provide an easily accessible entryway into library vetted and sponsored resources, they run the risk of being bypassed for more accessible alternatives – such as the Open Web.

Early adoption and active participation by Dartmouth, Oklahoma State University and other libraries has ensured development of the world’s first web-scale discovery solution reflecting the high-quality standards of library services. Our partnership with these leading institutions was mission critical, highly valued and reinforced our vision. Their positive synergy, expertise and passion contributed significantly to our success, and these qualities continue to foster ongoing collaboration and innovations. As the article points out, Dartmouth genuinely embraces the philosophy of continuous improvement, focus on services and the user experience – qualities that align with our vision and approach to developing a compelling discovery solution.

The agile and rapid development approach our team embraces has proven essential for responding to and meeting our clients’ needs. We continue to invest in assembling the most comprehensive unified index in the industry. Our focus on building strong relationships with content providers has rapidly grown the index to exceed one billion items – and this momentum will continue. With the adoption of the Summon service by more than 30% of the Association of Research Libraries’ (ARLs) members, it’s reassurance that we’re on the right path.

The enthusiasm and level of engagement from Dartmouth and other Summon service clients continues to fuel the fire. This type of collaboration is energizing and helps foster innovative thinking within my team. Our mission to return researchers to the library continues, with more innovation on the horizon as we transform and enrich the user experience.

It’s personally refreshing and invigorating to see the impact of discovery in the eyes of our clients and their users – today and into the future.

If you are interested in reading more about discovery at Dartmouth, click here.

13 Mar 2012 | Posted by John Law

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