Western Libraries - Spring 2014 Issue 1

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This final "3 Things" of the year comes as Western Libraries approaches the first anniversary of our OneSearch implementation. The three articles below look at how OneSearch has begun to change the way students and researchers work, and what enhancements users can expect to see over the next year.  Enjoy the summer, and please take a moment to let us hear from you!

 A Student Look @ OneSearch

A Student Look @ OneSearch

By Tobias Osterhaug, Writing Center Student Coordinator & History Major

Tobias Osterhaug

As a History student I spend a lot of my time searching for resources to write research papers here at Western. My work led me to OneSearch in its earliest stages, and since then I have gotten to know the ins and outs pretty well. Let me share some observations.

The Good Stuff:

OneSearch, at its core, is an incredibly useful tool for students seeking academic source material. As the name suggests, one search is all you need to find literally thousands of academic journal articles, books, and other forms of media that relate to your topic. While many of these may not be directly relevant to your research OneSearch really shines is its ability to let you limit to exactly the kind of material you are looking for. Does it need to be a peer-reviewed journal? No problem. Does it need to be from the last 10 years? Easy. And, best of all, you can view many of the articles online.

The ability to have immediate access to articles from JSTOR, IIBP, and other article databases, all consolidated into one list that you can refine endlessly - that’s what really makes OneSearch a powerful tool. And if I need materials from other universities, I can easily have them mailed to campus simply by logging in with my WesternID, submitting my requests, and grabbing them after class when they arrive.

What Needs Work:

OneSearch has come a long way since last summer. My first experience involved searching for examples of diplomacy during the First Crusade, but my first page of results were primarily scientific studies of offshore drilling. That particular issue has been resolved, so if you had a similar experience early on I would urge you to try it again.

OneSearch search bar

The current issues that OneSearch faces are primarily about ease of access. Some students would prefer that they not have to log-in after they enter a search term, others have mentioned that the tutorials explaining its functionality (and yes there are tutorials), are not apparent to new users. These seem like pretty minor problems for a generation used to adapting to new technology. 

On the whole I’ve heard mainly good things about OneSearch. If you haven’t tried using it yet, I highly recommend it. It will save you a lot of time and effort.

 An Open Letter of Appreciation

Appreciation For My Colleagues in the Library

By Scott Pearce, Chair, Liberal Studies Department & Managing Editor, East Asian Studies Press

Scott Pearce

Often we simply take things for granted. But recently it struck me how much I depend on our institution’s library and my colleagues who work there, and how much I appreciate the various and vital ways you help the students and faculty of Western Washington University. Such accomplishment is all the more impressive in a time of straitened budgets, and sudden and rapid change in the very nature of library itself.

As a researcher, I am one of hundreds of faculty here at Western working in specialized fields, who draw on a vast range of very different materials. The library of a small regional school could never be expected itself to accumulate all these materials. I am, therefore, pleased to make frequent use of the well-functioning and quite convenient Summit and ILL systems, which allow me in a few days after discovering a citation to peruse the text itself. These are precious resources, without which I could not do the research I do. And I also appreciate the openness of the system, which allows me to request purchase of materials I’ve concluded are essential for teaching or study.

OneSearch search box

As the editor of a small local press, I am struck by the sudden and rapid change in the very nature of text itself, that upon which all academics depend in one way or another. This may disconcert, but it should also fascinate all of us; it is history unfolding right before our eyes. In practical terms, however, one must keep up with history, and that is what Western Libraries has made stalwart efforts to do with the new OneSearch cataloging system, a way to tie into the many different ways that are now emerging to catalog and access text, whatever form that text may take. With such efforts, the Western faculty will continue to be active participants in a world-wide exchange of ideas; without such efforts, we would simply be left behind.

For this and no doubt other reasons, I once again express my appreciation for the work done by my colleagues in Western Libraries.

 OneSearch at One Year

OneSearch at One Year (Look! It’s walking.)

Frank Haulgren, Collection Services Manager & Assessment Coordinator

Rebecca Marrall, Chair of OneSearch Management Team

Frank HaulgrenRebecca Marrall

Prior to the implementation of OneSearch in June of 2013 there was considerable hype about the desire to create a better discovery system built around a single “Google-like” search box. A single place to search which would provide users with relevant content, vetted by librarians and directly accessible. 

Since implementation use of OneSearch at Western appears very strong and seems to indicate increasing comfort on the part of users working in its environment.

  • More than 133,000 search sessions have been initiated
  • These sessions resulted in more than 824,000 searches against both local and network resources 
  • Supplementary data shows good use is being made of the OneSearch filters

An examination of additional data provided by OneSearch, from database and electronic journal vendors, and ILLiad suggests a shift in user behavior. This shift shows that those using OneSearch are finding the articles and other materials that they need using, primarily, the new interface.

  • Direct database searching fell by 48% overall between June 2013 and December (-1,800,000 searches)
  • Full-text journal article access increased by 15% (+35,500 article retrievals)
  • ILLiad requesting fell by 16% overall (-1,400 requests). Undergraduate requesting dropped by 20%! (This is a significant indicator. It suggests that users are finding subscribed content which serves their research needs rather than relying as heavily on interlibrary loan.)

The tables below illustrate database and journal use over the last three years based on vendor supplied data.

Usage trends

Over the next year OneSearch will continue to mature. In addition to undertaking local usability testing to better understand user concerns and identify areas for improvement, we expect to see these changes:

  • Improved search results for known items
  • Improved filters/facets for refining search results
    • These will include better access to local groupings of resources such as Heritage Resources collections, the Northwest Collection, as well as the ability to readily search using these local designations
  • Improved integration of Summit Borrowing
  • Improved interface for mobile devices
  • Fewer duplicate records in search results lists
  • Faster return of search results
  • Direct access to materials included in CEDAR, Western’s institutional repository currently under development

As we approach the one year mark Western Libraries remains committed to hearing user’s concerns and working both locally, and with our Summit partners, to make OneSearch a tool that works for everyone.

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