Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Using default tabs in Enterprise

We've been working with SirsiDynix to develop a mechanism that will provide increased access to local collections - if that is how libraries want to configure Enterprise.  

The reason for this is that, all things being equal, when a customer does a general search such as "dogs" or dinosaurs" they are likely to get items from right across the consortium displaying on the first few screens. The system does not have a bias towards local collections.  And Google research tells us that people will usually click on a search result on the first one or two screens, rather than regularly looking deeper into the search results.  What this means is that customers are reserving items to come from other libraries, when there could be perfectly good items sitting on the shelf of their of their local library.  This leads to delays in the customers getting what they want & also has an impact on libraries who pick and ship items, perhaps unnecessarily.

We've created three options for libraries & various libraries have taken up all of the options.  So I am going to use some screen shots to explain the options and how they work.   

I will start with the most extensive option - which has 3 tabs.  Below is a series of partial screen shots to illustrate this.

You can see that I have done a search for roses, and there are 2 tabs below the "Select an Action" button, one of which says in red text Quorn Library (180). You will also notice that at the top and centre of the grey box is both the number of items found as well as where you are searching - i.e. Quorn Library. You will note how this advice changes with searches of other tabs.  This is saying that in the Quorn library there are 180 items with the word roses in the record.  Again - as per my last post, screen shots from Enterprise don't reproduce in this blog software very well - so apologies. 

You will note that next to the Quorn Library (180) there is a tab that says in blue Flinders Ranges Council.  This is there because there is another library in the council - that operates semi-independently from Quorn, but is a nearby library that customers may choose to travel to if an item was available there.  If the user clicks on this tab they see the following:  

This shows that the combined holdings of both libraries have 251 items with the word roses in them.  Note that both the tab for Flinders Ranges Council has red writing as well as a clear statement at the top and centre of the grey box saying both the number of search results and where you're searching.

And finally, if the customer clicks the last tab called "All Libraries" they get a search result that shows there are 10,646 items in the consortium with the word "roses" in their records. 

I should note at this stage, that if no items at Quorn match the search the system automatically cascades to search by items in the 2nd tab, and then if there is still no match it will automatically go to the final "All Libraries" tab.  This is demonstrated in the screen shot below, where I searched for Bool Lagoon (a relatively small obscure place about 6oo kms away from Quorn). It is not surprising that they don't have any items with this term in the record.

You can't see what happened, but I started the search with Quorn selected as my default search target, but on finding nothing the system kept searching until if found some records that matched.

The option of starting the search by a specific branch has merit in a range of situations, one of which may be the OPAC in a local branch, where customers want to start by looking at what is available in the building they are in.  Or in some cases, some of our smaller libraries want to look locally first.

Another option is to just have two tabs, with one of them set to search all branches in a library system before looking at all libraries in the consortium.  This is illustrated by the City of Playford's site, which has 2 library branches. Their default setting is Playford Library Service.  And you can see from the screen shot below that a search for roses returned 476 results. 

Playford has set their default to start across their two branches, but then widen to All Libraries, as is seen below: 

Another one of our libraries has taken a different position on the choice of defaulting to looking locally first.  As you can see below Mount Barker has chosen "All Libraries" as its default.  The Library Manager told me that this was the library's preferred choice because they were not confident that customers would understand how the tabs worked & may become despondent if what they were looking for did not display in their first search.  Maybe they would give up their search & not click through to the "All Libraries" tab. He made the comment that Enterprise is very "busy" & the tabs may not be all that obvious to the average customer.

I have some sympathy with this thought & certainly don't want customers to miss out.  So while these tabs are a bit of a workaround, and an attempt to improve Enterprise, it is not the perfect solution.  And it will need libraries to do a bit of teaching / pointing out the changes to customers if they have deployed a local search as their default position.

So - until we get the perfect solution where the balance between relevance ranking and location are well handled by a library discovery layer, we're hopeful that for customers doing general searches, that they will have greater success finding local items, thereby reducing waiting times and shipping effort.

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