For more information on discovery service see the 'Discovery' page of Higher Education Library Technology

Discovery Services Specification

Requirements for a library Discovery product.(Online editable version and WORD download)


In the library domain the term 'Discovery Service' is widely adopted. Their key attribute is the unification search across multiple library (especially print and electronic) resources. It does this by 'harvesting' (meta) data from publishers and other sources (such as the library catalogue, institutional repository etc) and creating a unified index for all materials. This (Google-like) approach is fundamentally different from federated products (such as MetaLib or 360Search) which make search requests (simultaneously) of many separate databases (indexes). Discovery services therefore overcome some of the performance issues inherent on a metasearch approach. However federated search remains valid as some key resources will not be found in central indexes. For example some key law resources are not indexed. For example Solcara (from Thomson Reuters is a federated search system that searches across law resources, some of which are not available through central index based discovery services

Discovery products-

To link the user from the search results through to a journal article the vertical search system may provide a direct URL, or may rely on the institution's own OpenURL resolver. Sometimes an OpenURL resolver is included with the vertical search product.

Issues with Discovery services.

A key issue is the coverage of resources in the unified index. A library will typically want to provide access to a wide range of licensed and also unlicensed (often free) resources. There may not be a 100 per cent match against the resources that the vertical search product includes in its unified index. These resources will either be neglected of may have to be accessible via federated , which may be integrated with the vertical search product or may be a separate product. This diminishes some of the value of a 'unified' search. The library will typically want the discovery service to also harvest and index local databases such as the library catalogue and institutional repository (IR). The harmonisation of metadata (eg variant forms of names or subject descriptors) across a diverse range of resources may also cause problems.

For more information on discovery service see the 'Discovery' page of Higher Education Library Technology