Thursday, Nov. 3, Lively Lunch, Charleston Library Conference – an overview

Discoverability of electronic content is critical to all sectors of the scholarly communication system. If discovery services include inaccurate or incomplete data, usage of electronic resources at libraries that use those systems will be reduced substantially. Without good data that points users to the content available from their library:

  • researchers are less likely to find valuable new results
  • authors and researchers risk not getting appropriate credit for their valuable research
  • librarians are unlikely to get credit for using their university’s funds to bring value to their community
  • publishers risk cancellations of subscriptions

With a panel representing librarians, publishers, and discovery services, the group discussed issues from each of their perspectives. Key points:

From librarians:

  • Discovery services are mostly geared to undergraduates.
  • For books, individual chapter metadata needs to be included.
  • Librarians would like to see discovery services include information about their print collections included.
  • They set up processes to authenticate the accuracy of the links from the discovery service and these are very time consuming.

From Publishers:

  • Finding the right contact in the discovery service is difficult.
  • Getting answers on what metadata is required has been difficult for smaller publishers.
  • It is not clear who has decision power over what content is included in the discovery service.

From Discovery Service providers:

  • They must ensure that all content is equally discoverable. Content neutrality is a key principle.
  • Discovery services must not weigh users toward the content in their own aggregated databases rather than to the library’s direct subscription to that content. However, librarians have control over how to set up the links to go to the database or to the subscription. Ultimately this has a big impact on usage.
  • It is very important for publishers to supply subject terms as part of the metadata.

Todd Carpenter from the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) said the current system requires much regular and constant maintenance. Publishers often do not know who to reach out to at the discovery services, and discovery services do not know who to contact at the publisher. At this time, metadata standards have not been outlined for e-books and how to include (or not) open access content is an unresolved question.

Publishers need to understand the importance of accurate coverage in discoverability services and set up systems to deliver in a timely fashion metadata that meets the standards set up by the Open Discovery Initiative Working Group of NISO. Work needs to be done to communicate the standards to publishers of all sizes.

If you are having trouble getting your content included in discovery services, contact Janet Fisher, Senior Publishing Consultant at Publishers Communication Group, for help at:


Round Janet

Janet Fisher’s background includes journals publishing, delivery of electronic content, and consulting. She is a past president of the Society for Scholarly Publishing and works with publishers of all different types to develop strategies for growing content visibility.