How can librarians and publishers enable discovery of scholarly content? (Survey results!)

LettieConrad_069By, Lettie Conrad, Executive Manager of Online Products, SAGE

What do libraries expect of publishers when it comes to promoting and enabling discoverability of scholarly content? What do librarians believe has the greatest impact of the findability of research resources? What’s at stake if we don’t get discoverability right?

That’s what I do here at SAGE; I work to optimize the discovery of our content – to ensure the important works we publish find the right scholars at the right time, and to ensure high usage rates for our stakeholders. And these are the questions we set out to answer in a 2014 study designed to inform our online product development strategies at SAGE.

This survey of 252 librarians about their resource discovery practices and priorities was intended to help us with some fundamental, tactical questions – like should we focus our efforts on MARC records or SEO? The answers we gleaned from these findings are addressed in the latest SAGE white paper on discoverability, the third in a series: Improving the Discoverability of Scholarly Content: Academic Library Priorities and Perspectives.

Some of my favorite insights are learning that:

  • The highest potential for increasing discovery was seen to be indexing in a wide range of search engines. Librarians encourage publishers to “get their metadata out there everywhere,” because there is so much at stake if a resource goes unused.
  • The library catalog remains a priority discovery channel for librarians – who are in need of timely, high-quality MARC records from publishers at the point of sale.
  • When asked to prioritize publisher efforts, librarians ranked the wide availability of metadata as the most important, followed by collaboration with library systems, standards compliance, and clear statement of content index coverage (transparency).
  • These issues are serious enough that a lack of publisher metadata has prevented almost 33% of librarians from purchasing/subscribing to scholarly resources – the same number that reported deciding against resources due to a lack of publisher transparency about their metadata.

Building on the previous white papers on this topic in 2012 and 2014, this report outlines key discoverability challenges and the relative library priorities and perspectives on how publishers can help enable discovery and access of licensed resources. Come learn more about this study and SAGE’s discoverability recommendations at ALA Midwinter! Saturday, January 31st at 2pm in the SAGE Booth #4021. Dessert will be served. To RSVP, click here.

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