Chapter 1: Web Scale Discovery What and Why?

Jason Vaughan


Web scale discovery services for the library environment have the capacity to more easily connect researchers with the library's vast information repository. This includes locally held and hosted content, such as physical holdings, digital collections, and local institutional repositories. Perhaps more significantly, web scale discovery also accesses a huge array of remotely hosted content, often purchased or licensed by the library, such as publisher and aggregator content for tens of thousands of full-text journals, additional content from abstracting and indexing resources, and content from open access repositories.

This chapter defines web scale discovery and highlights a few key concepts essential for understanding these services. For anyone who has worked a reference interview and heard a student utter, “I couldn't find an article in the library catalog,” web scale discovery services hold tremendous potential. Extensive research on user expectations in the discovery arena, and the tools used by those seeking information—tools often disassociated from the library and often overlooking much of what the library holds and licenses—provide ample rationale for why web scale discovery is important for the library environment.

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