Category: Project Updates (page 1 of 6)

Advanced Search now available in Discover

Advanced Search now available in Discover

An exciting new search option was released for Discover during the maintenance window on Thursday, June 25.  The default keyword search is ideal for general topic discovery of resources. With the addition of this new feature, you also have the option refine your search for resources with a known title or known author. Advanced Search returns results from all six bento categories. You can also elect to refine by a specific focus view.

To illustrate the way Advanced Search can function to your advantage, consider these examples.

Example 1: Known title

Someone is interested in viewing the comic strip, Katzenjammer Kids. Because they know the title, they select Advanced Search and enter their terms in the title field, then further limit by Digital Collections. The top results include image thumbnails of all the digitized comic strips by that title from the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.

Image of results for title search Katzenjammer Kids

Example 2: Known author

Someone read an online thought piece by Roxane Gay, and would like to read more by this author. By switching to the Advanced Search button and searching the author field only, they see that she has published both articles and books, and can now berrypick for something to read.

Image of search results for author Roxane Gay

Example 3: Known title and author

A user wishes to read Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. They select Advanced Search and enter the terms  in the title field. Results that match that title are returned in most bentos.

A quick scan shows that some of the results are for the novel The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells, instead of the similarly titled book by Ellison.

Image or results for title search Invisible Man

To further refine, the user can add Ellison to author field, and also elect to search only within the Library Catalog view.  

Image of search results in library catalog of title Invisible Man and Author Ellison

The results are now more precise.

Bonus: the user may elect to access the full text via HathiTrust Digital Library:

Image of library catalog results showin access to Invisible Man for online access in HathiTrust


As you use this new feature and introduce it to users, we would appreciate your feedback. To do so, please click the Need Help? button in the results page and click the option for Feedback.

Updates for February 20, 2020: Library Catalog Banner & Footer Refresh

To improve consistency between various library applications, a new look for the library catalog will be put into production as part of the February 20th Maintenance window. Our Applications Development & Support team has updated the look and feel of the library catalog’s banner at the top, and footer at the bottom. With the update, when a user clicks through from the library home page to the library catalog, it will be a less jarring experience because of the similar style and color scheme. The library catalog maintains the same functionality, but the experience of using it will be more in line with the Libraries’ branding on other web pages. 

The new banner:

Image of updated design for catalog banner

Updated Design for Library Catalog Banner

The new footer:

Image of Updated Design for Catalog Footer

Updated Design for Library Catalog Footer

The previous banner:

Old Design of Library Catalog Banner

Previous Design for Library Catalog Banner

The previous footer:

Image of Previous Design of Catalog Footer

Previous Design of Library Catalog Footer

Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.


Discover Update: Connecting users with library expertise

As part of the Libraries ongoing incremental improvement of the Discover application, a new addition to the service will be put into production as part of the Thursday, January 30th maintenance window. 

New feature: Connect With

Libraries’ IT will release an exciting new feature that we are calling “Connect With…”

One of the unique goals for the Discover application is to have it act as a bridge between our users and the Libraries by connecting our community to the wide range of experts that make up our organization. The Connect With feature promotes the people who can provide guidance related to research needs.  

How does it look?

If a user performs a keyword search that closely matches an area of consultation or subject guide associated with a librarian, the Connect With box will appear and display contact information and a link to any  related subject guides. In the example below, a user searches for engineering.  Information for two of our subject specialists is offered:

An example of Connect With after searching using the term 'engineering'

An example of Connect With after a user searches for ‘engineering’


The intention is to display only the most relevant information.  To that end, if a user performs a keyword search that doesn’t match  up with an area of expertise in the library,  Connect With will not display. 

How do people appear?

The following pieces of data are indexed and then searched producing results:

  • Subjects (only applied to Faculty members) i.e. liaison librarian’s subject areas.
  • LibGuides Subjects. Subjects that are applied to subject guides.
  • Library employees who have the “Public Expert” option checked in their bios.
    • All subject librarians will have this option checked by default. They have the ability to uncheck this option.
    • Staff members who have areas of consultation may check the “Public Expert” option with supervisor approval.
  • Up to five Areas of Consultation added to your bio page.
  • Hidden tags for Discover (part of Areas of Consultation section). 
    • Add tags that represent your areas of expertise and/or subject expertise.
    • Do not duplicate what you already have in areas of consultation or your subject terms (if you are a subject librarian). Rather, add terms that may be synonyms or terms you weren’t able to fit into the areas of consultation. 
    • These tags will not be visible in your Bio. They will be used solely for indexing for discover search capabilities.

The Libraries has always been about more than just its resources. While the book tower is the first thing that a user sees when they walk into Thompson, it is the faculty and the staff, that make the OSU Libraries special.

Discover Updates for January 7, 2020

As part of the Libraries ongoing incremental improvement of the Discover application, a new addition to the service will be put into production as part of the Tuesday, January 7th maintenance window. 

New Features in Articles+:  Date Range Slider, Date Range Selector

Articles+ Search Adds Limiter by Published Date

Articles+ Search Adds Limiter by Published Date


Above is an example search for the phrase ‘predictor of womens health after childbirth.’  Even when limited to only peer-reviewed and full-text resources, there are 1,143 article results. This can be an overwhelming number for the typical Discover user. Several new features will make finding just the right content easier than before. 

Date Range Selector

For users that want to limit the results by a specific year or years, we can manually enter or scroll up and down to the desired date(s). In this example, the beginning and end date have been entered as 2005: 

Results limited to the year 2005

Results limited to the year 2005

Date Range Slider

Using the same search example, say we are doing research focusing on the earliest articles available.  We can adjust the slider to a smaller year range. In this example, we limited to range 1985 – 1990, and clicked the Apply button.

Slider will narrow range of publications dates

Slider will narrow range of publications dates

This limits our results to only articles results published between 1985 – 1990.

Articles published between 1985-1990

Articles published between 1985-1990

Limit to Last 12 Months, Three Years, Five Years

Perhaps we want the latest findings on this topic.  Another convenient option is the ability to easily limit by common date ranges. There is now the added ability for users to limit results by the last twelve months, three years, or five years by clicking the appropriate link:

Date range will auto-limit to appropriate range if Last 12 Months is selected

Date range will auto-limit to appropriate range if ‘Last 12 Months’ is selected

If you have any feedback to share about the Discover application, please contact us!


Discover Updates for November 12, 2019

As part of the Libraries ongoing incremental improvement of the Discover application, a new addition to the service will be put into production as part of the Tuesday, November 12th maintenance window. 

Addition of OhioLINK results

Discover now returns results from the OhioLINK Central Catalog.  One of the guiding principles for this project is that Discovery should lead to access, not dead ends. Adding results from OhioLINK furthers that goal.  With this new release, OhioLINK results will be listed in the bento just below the University Libraries’ catalog results.  

A sample search of Discover which includes results from the OhioLINK Central Catalog

A sample search of Discover which includes results from the OhioLINK Central Catalog

In both the abreviated bento and the expanded focus view, users can click on a result to be directed to the OhioLINK Central Catalog record. From the Central Catalog, users can access consortially-owned electronic materials and directly request available materials from OhioLINK member libraries.

An example of online access:

Full text access to the Film & television literature index

Full text access to the Film & television literature index

Example of a requestable item from other OhioLINK member libraries:

This book available from Ohio University can be directly requested by a patron to be delivered.

This book available from Ohio University can be directly requested by a patron to be delivered.

OhioLINK results are also described in the Quick Tour:

Users can find out more about what OhioLINK offers as part of the Quick Tour

Users can find out more about what OhioLINK offers as part of the Quick Tour.

If you have any feedback to share about the Discover application, please contact us!

Discover Updates for October 29, 2019

As part of the Libraries ongoing incremental improvement of the Discover application, several new updates focusing on user onboarding will be put into production as part of the Tuesday, October 29th maintenance window. 

Some highlights:

Newly added Quick Tour

Users who want more information about the type of results found in each bento category may wish to take a Quick Tour. 

Click Quick Tour button to learn more about Discover application

Click Quick Tour button to learn more about Discover application

Users can opt in to take a brief tour of the search box, and the different categories found in Discover: Articles+, Library Catalog, Libraries’ Websites, Digital Collections and Special Collections. They can opt out of the tour at any time by clicking “Skip” or clicking outside of the highlighted window. 

Example: Description of type of results found in Digital Collections

Example: description of type of results found in Digital Collections

First Phase of Ever-Present Help Options 

In the lower right side of the application, a floating Need Help? button will display, regardless of what part of Discover the user is searching. 

'Floating' persistent Help button

‘Floating’ persistent Help button

In this first phase, if the user hovers over the Need Help? button, they will see four options. Users can browse the Ask Us (LibAnswers) page, start a live chat, send a query by email. or provide feedback. This is the first phase of user onboarding, just-in-time assistance. In future phases of this feature, we will be adding more detailed assistance for frequently asked questions. 

Options for help currently available: browse the Ask Us (LibAnswers) page, start a chat, send an email, or provide feedback.

Options for help currently available: browse the Ask Us (LibAnswers) page, start a chat, send an email, or provide feedback.

Relocation of More Search Tools

Usabilty testing found that the More Search tools sidebar was intrusive and confusing, often compared to sponsored ads found to the side in Google results. We have relocated the search tools menu option to the top of the application. When the user clicks on the option, it displays links to alternative search tools in a clean, three-column design. 

The More Search Tools options for locating online resources, print materials, etc. are more noticable at the top of the application.

The More Search Tools options for locating online resources, print materials, etc. are more noticable at the top of the application.

In addition to testing our users, many of these updates are a result of the valuable input from library employees. If you have any feedback to share about the Discover application, please contact us!

AD&S Quarterly Report: Quarter 2, 2019

See what the Applications Development & Support gang has been up to for the past few months in our report for the second quarter of 2019.

Please take a look and let us know if you have any questions or suggestions!

Discover Iterative Improvements for Tuesday, March 19

Please take note of the improvements coming to Discover during the Libraies’ IT maintenance window on the evening of Tuesday, March 19.

We have always known that it was important to clue users in to what type of results were displaying in each bento. The option to hover over the question mark graphic next to each label and view a description has been available. However, usability testing consistently demonstrated that users didn’t see the question mark as a call to action to hover over for them to get more information. In order to reduce cognitive load and clear up the confusion about what section would offer them the most appropriate results, we instead added a brief explainer next to each label.  

Explainers add to each bento

Red boxes added in screenshot for emphasis.

Another issue that bubbled to the surface from usability testing was in our Digital Collection bento. The default image icon being used when a thumbnail wasn’t available was seen by users as a clue that viewing that result would lead to an image, such as photo. But often, because the result would point users to a pdf of a document, the default icon when there is not thumbnail to display is now a pdf document icon:

Red box added in screenshot for emphasis.

The Applications Development and Support team continue to make improvements to the Articles+ segment.  The bento view results in Articles+ are currently arranged as scrolling tiles arranged horizontally.  While this works well for the Digital Collections segment, it didn’t work as effectively for this more text-heavy segment. 

Before: Horizontal scrolling

The new design will revert to a simplified vertical list view, showing three results, with a prompt to view more. 

After: Vertical List

To avoid confusion, the bento view is now also limited to peer-reviewed and full text results, just as it is in the focus view.  (See the 2/21 blog post on Discover improvements for more information about this.)    

And finally, to improve accessibility, we have improved the limiters that were displaying results in all lower-case text. Now, the capitalized results are easier to skim.  

Highlights of 2018: Libraries IT Division

2018 was a great year for the IT Division in the Libraries. The Libraries’ strategic investments in recruitment, team-building, technology, and infrastructure have come to fruition with the launch of several innovative Digital Initiatives projects: the Discovery platform, the upgrade of Digital Collections, and the Special Collections Registry. The new Library website was also unveiled. Please read about these projects, as well as the many other efforts in which IT was involved, in support of the Libraries mission, vision, and strategic directions

Discovery Platform: Infrastructure and interface

What is it?

Libraries, including OSUL, have been organizations made up of a wide array of information silos, from locally created content (such as websites and blogs) and vended scholarly content (academic journals) to distinct special collections (both digital and physical), just to name a few.  These silos are organized and maintained by content experts–individuals dedicated to the curation and development of cultural heritage resources to support the teaching and research missions of the University. What if we combined the Libraries’ vast resources into a more intuitive interface to make it easier for patrons to browse, locate and access our materials? Prior to 2018, OSUL IT was focused on building the complex technical infrastructure for retrieving, harvesting, aggregating, and transforming information (the Library Services Platform) to enable this strategic goal. The Discovery layer itself, continually refined throughout 2018, presents the information available through the Library Services Platform in a design that is well-structured, more quickly understood by students, and easier to use. It also provides us with an opportunity to highlight our Special Collections and digital collections. 

Why is it important?

The Discover design represents feedback from a wide range of stakeholders, from our student population (made available to us through a partnership with USG) to our faculty and staff (both in the Libraries and outside the Libraries). Throughout the process, we have tried to keep in mind the core vision of the project:

  1. That ultimately, we are trying to make it easier for our community to access the wide range of resources at the Libraries 
  2. That we want to make the way we search for materials less reliant on libraryisms and more compatible with existing search patterns
  3. That we wanted to reduce the decisions users have to make before looking for anything
  4. That we wanted to make it easier to access help at the point of need and reduce dead-ends
  5. That we wanted to put in place a system that would allow us to continue innovating–to anticipate rather than simply respond to user needs.

Based on user feedback and task observation, we believe that we’ve put in place a good starting point that will simplify the process of finding content within the Libraries and expose our patron community to a fuller breadth of our resources (both purchased and curated special collections). 

Strategic direction

Enrich the User Experience: Seamless discovery access, and delivery

More information

Discovery platform as a strategic initiative

OSUL Working Principles for Discovery

Discovery project documentation 

Discovery: As we make our way to the starting line (blog post)

Discovery project update and timeline (blog post)

Discovery project information session: recording and slides (blog post)

Discovery beta refresh (blog post)


Digital Collections: Software upgrade

What is it?

We replaced Digital Collections with a much improved version on the latest software (Hyrax/Fedora) to take advantage of the community’s recent investments to improve functionality, stability, and performance. 

Why is it important?

Digital Collections was last updated a couple years ago, and it took nearly 8 months at that time to update the software and migrate the data. When the community entered into a significant grant project with DPLA, each release would break the previous one. Investing this much time into upgrades was not sustainable, and nearly every institution was a version behind, because no one had the resources to rebuild their systems for each new release. Concurrently, new versions of Fedora were being developed, addressing the performance issues that we were also experiencing. With these efforts in the community, it was time to upgrade the Digital Collections software stack.

Strategic direction

Enrich the User Experience: Seamless discovery access, and delivery

More information

Recording of information session

Website Redesign Initiative: New website

What is it?

The former website was housed on an older, highly-customized, and brittle content management system, making it difficult to maintain or to enhance. In addition, due to many years of content sprawl, visitors to the site found it challenging to find relevant information. Adopting a user-centered design approach, the team employed surveys, focus groups, and user testing to first understand how patrons interact with the Libraries’ services and programs. With these needs identified, the new website was then architected, designed, and implemented from the ground up, on a modern and flexible content management system (Drupal). 

Why is it important?

The Libraries’ flagship website now has a modern look and feel, is responsively designed for mobile devices, and organizes and prioritizes information according to what most visitors are seeking. User experience (UX) research ensures that the navigation is more intuitive and that the site is more engaging to our patrons. 

Strategic direction

Enrich the User Experience: Seamless discovery access, and delivery

More information

Project documentation (login required)

Website redesign as a strategic initiative

New website announcement

Special Collections Registry: Inventory of collections

What is it?

The Special Collections Registry (SCR) is an online centralized location for authoritative information about each collection in our Special Collections. It combines information from various data sources, including finding aids and the library catalog, and provides links to related digital content in the Knowledge Bank and Digital Collections. 

Why is it important?

We’ve been working on a foundational digital library infrastructure for a couple of years. The SCR was an early demonstration of the potential in being able to link together various systems of that infrastructure. The SCR is now the most complete online inventory of our Special Collections’ holdings to date. As such, the site provides visibility to the important work that curators, catalogers, and archivists have been doing to organize and to describe our collections and makes it easier for researchers to locate materials of interest. 


Strategic directions

Empower Knowledge Creators: Leveraging distinctive collections for use

Enrich the User Experience: Seamless discovery access, and delivery

More information

Telling the story of the new special collections website (blog post) 


Continue reading

Discovery Beta Refresh

Digital Initiatives and AD&S have been actively working hard on the discovery project as we work towards January 1st, 2019 as the target date to take the software out of beta.  We are excited about the progress being made and the plan that will take us into the new year. With this most recent update, you’ll see some exciting new concepts as well as the integration of a good deal of backend development designed to make the tool faster, easier to manage, and more consistent.

But first, Terry would like to thank some people for their continued hard work on the project… 

Stephen, our lead developer, has taken it upon himself to learn a variety of new skills and tools to really push the direction of this project.  Early on, we challenged him to find a better technical model that what was currently available – something that would be easy for us to manage and potentially easy for us to share.  And he’s delivered…incorporating modern web development techniques to develop a light-weight tool made for today’s internet and devices. 

We’d also like to highlight the UX partnership between AD&S and Digital Initiatives.  When we started the discovery project, we wanted to model a different type of development – one that put users at the center.  And this has at times been a challenge for the Libraries.  As we all know, it can be difficult to get a good representative sample when working with such a large population – so we had to look for partners.  Early this summer, we proactively reached out to the OSU student government, and they have been working in partnership with the Libraries to identify and provide students for testing.  It has been a fantastic partnership, and one that is giving us a much larger community to draw feedback.

Michelle has been regularly interviewing and working with our user community to understand some of the pain points in the new discovery tool.  In general, the feedback has fallen into a handful of specific categories:

  1. Confusion around the interface – while we have tried to reduce the reliance on library jargon (like facet), the many bentos, the scope of content…these are proving to be barriers. The many bentos are giving a lot of context, but ultimately, one of the challenges for students is a lack of understanding as to how we organize collections in the Libraries.
  2. Inconsistent links – we’ve been having some troubles with some interactions with the proxy and content returned via EDS. This hasn’t been completely resolved, but it should be soon.  However, this has lead us to over compensate on the interface by putting links everywhere.  Students are asking that when we link something (like an article title), that the results are consistent and reliable. To that end, we have reduced some unnecessary data and linking options.
  3. Simplifying Workflows – the process of getting to help or items is still taking too many clicks. We need to find ways to continue reducing the number of decisions made to get to valuable content.

Discovery Refresh

With this in mind, we spent a lot of time working on the back end to fix reliability and refresh issues, to address speed and performance concerns, and to take a hard look at how we present content to the Libraries.  So, with this refresh, you will  notice a few new things.  First, there is a new “view”.  While the default view continues to be bentos broken out by category, we have introduced a more integrated list view as a new option for Discovery. 

Discovery Refresh

This view has just the Articles+ and the All Library Content.  Users can toggle to this view by clicking the list icon in the upper left  of the application, and allows us to put all the content in the Libraries in context against the user’s search.  This option is provided specifically to address user feedback – to simplify finding content in the Libraries.   For users who still want to focus on a particular type of content,  the focus views continue to be available.  We’ll be performing usability testing this new interface and making a decision around the default view based on extensive feedback.

In addition to the new user interface option, we’ve implemented an updated indexing core and session management.  This will have two important impacts.

  1. It will allow us to develop more granular indexing rules around content types – enabling better discovery.  In our previous model, books shared the same indexing rules as EAD files.  In the new model, these can be different.  That’s enabling us to really push our indexing tooling.
  2. In the current discovery tool, sometimes pages would hang. This was sometimes related to how events (actions) occurred within different browsers.  To fix this, Stephen has implemented a shared session manager that will create a more reliable and faster user experience.

Going Forward

With these changes in place, AD&S and Digital Initiatives will be shifting Discovery development from feature development to quality development.  This means that over the next month, we will be specifically addressing user feedback – targeting pain-points and simplifying workflows.  This will include some new limits in Articles+ like limiting results to OSU owned content and peer reviewed materials, to a more straightforward process for users looking to find e-books or pass a search to OhioLINK.

Finally, if you are interested in providing feedback, Michelle is actively looking for feedback from the Libraries.  In addition to working with students, Michelle has done a number of usability sessions with faculty and staff in the Libraries.  If you want to be a part of that process, or know a student who might be interested, please let her know.

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