Our thanks to everyone who responded to last year’s Library Hub Discover feedback survey. We had 164 responses, with satisfaction at 89%, and some lovely comments about the value of the service.
We’ve already blogged about some interface changes we made as a result of the feedback.
One of the questions we asked was ‘what would you most like to change?’, and while there are some things that we can and will look at changing as a result of this, there are others that are out of our control.
Improve date sorting: we know how frustrating it can be when results seem wildly out of date order, or results apparently from outside your range appear in date searches. Many of the records on Library Hub Discover don’t have any dates at all. There’s also a complication caused by date ranges. To allow the description of things such as journals and periodicals, which are published over many years, you can use a range of years with a start and end date.
Take for instance a periodical such as The Lancet, published continuously since 1823. Within the bibliographic record for this item, the date is recorded as a range, with a start date of 1823 and an end date of 9999 (‘9999’ meaning that publication is ongoing). The record is then indexed for each year within that date range, in this case 1823, 1824, 1825, 1826 … 9998, 9999. While 9999 is the standard format used for signifying a continuing publication, in practice the end date is often left blank.
This has a couple of effects. One is that you can search Discover for a publication date of any future year you like (say, 3978) and you will get over 2 million results. The other is that if you sort a result set by latest date first, you will get at the top the records with a blank end date. Sorting by earliest date first is usually more reliable, though there are complications due to other dating systems (such as Anno Mundi) being used in some records. There are also often errors and typos in dates, most often the substitution of a 0 for a 9, such as the biography of Thomas Gainsborough allegedly published 650 years before he was born.
One way to reduce the number of false positives for date searches is to restrict your search to books, although item type identification is another of our challenges!
Identifying journals: journals can be difficult to identify. Library cataloguing doesn’t distinguish between journals, book series and other multi-volume works published over time. This is why the advanced search screen on Discover says ‘journals and other periodicals’.
This means that items such as this one for a multi-volume book series will legitimately appear in a search for journals and other periodicals.
Display the MARC data: due to licensing restrictions, we are not able to make the MARC data available through Library Hub Discover. For librarians who want to use our database for cataloguing, a subset (due to licensing constraints) of the MARC data is available to Jisc members and NBK contributors through the Library Hub Cataloguing service.
Quality of scans: there were some comments on the quality of the full-text page scans available online. These aren’t part of the Library Hub Discover service: we link out to online resources from other providers. If you have comments on the quality of an online resource, please contact the resource provider directly.
We always welcome feedback about the Library Hub services, and please feel free to send any comments or queries to email@example.com, mentioning Library Hub.