Web Scale Discovery Services

Authored by: Jason Vaughan

Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, Fourth Edition

Print publication date:  November  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781466552593
eBook ISBN: 9781315116143
Adobe ISBN:


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Web scale discovery services facilitate a streamlined discovery and delivery environment for end users. These services began gaining traction in the library marketplace around 2010, as multiple services from various vendors entered general release into general release. These services consist of a modern web interface used to search and retrieve results from a large preaggregated and optimized central index hosted and maintained by a discovery service vendor. Compared to earlier library search tools, web scale discovery services offer a single search box approach, with queries returning results to a much greater level of granularity than the traditional library online public access catalog (OPAC) (such as returning results indexed at the individual article level). Web scale discovery services search a greater pool of content, sourced from both local library repositories (e.g., OPAC holdings, digital collection holdings) and remotely licensed sources (e.g., publisher or aggregator provided electronic journal content). Web scale discovery services can be compared to an earlier predecessor, “federated search.” A primary differentiator with web scale discovery resides in the fact that a pre aggregated and optimized central index is searched, as opposed to a real-time search of multiple, disparate targets. Compared to earlier library search technologies, web scale discovery services offer the promise of quickly returning results at a granular level, typically ranked by relevancy. Web scale discovery services are at an early stage of development, with some noted concerns, which may be addressed in the future as the product space matures.

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