Our relationship with EBSCO’s EDS have evolved from “We love it!” to “We love it, but…”. We implemented EDS in 2011 and immediately realized stunning increases in full text downloads from our patrons. We were recognized as an EBSCO success story and received an innovation award from our local business community. When EDS works, it is wonderful, but keeping it working is more work than we anticipated. I think it is more work than EBSCO anticipated too. Building an enterprise data warehouse is difficult when you own all of the data so I don’t envy the challenges EBSCO must face building one out of the content owned by other entities. Creating a working system that links to their competitor’s content must be a daunting experience, but also at fault are EBSCO’s own management tools LinkSource and A-Z. These tools ensure that EDS knows what the University of North Florida has and how to get them. It should be as simple as telling A-Z, “these are the packages we have”, but it isn’t. Frequently we find that EDS doesn’t get the message or that our particular package configuration, like dates, is not an option. That means EDS either thinks we have something we don’t or doesn’t recognize what we do have so our patrons get false positives and false negatives. Worse, perhaps, is when they find the result they want, but the link to the full text doesn’t work. For a library, this is a breach of trust in our patron relationship and something we have to minimize. It is getting harder and harder to get patrons to use the library, given all of the competition we have these days. When they go to the trouble of searching our resources and fin something they want, they need to be confident in their ability to get it. They need to be confident in the library’s ability to provide it. As a result of all of this, we spend a great deal of time working with EBSCO to ensure that we meet our patron’s expectations.

So, does that mean we are unhappy with EDS? No, we still love it, but we are always looking for opportunities to improve it and reduce our own work load. Enter Full Text Finder, EBSCO’s new and (hopefully) improved suite of tools to manage holdings and linking. Always anxious to improve our resources, we pushed to be an early adopter of the new tools, but our past experience tells us that methodical testing is crucial to a successful implementation. So we won’t be the first to implement Full Text Finder, but we hope to go live this Fall and have an improved experience for our patrons. Over the next three months we will plan, test and implement Full Text Finder and share our methods, challenges and results along the way.

Next post, planning the project.