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The Discovery Zone – developing an innovative UX-driven library discovery service

Libraries have seen substantial change in the technologies that enable discovery of and access to their collections. At the same time the complexity and volume of the information and data sources of scholarly communication have increased dramatically. This presentation provides an overview of a web project at the University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services to improve the findability and accessibility of library resources and services. It outlines our approaches to better understand our users’ experience of our library and covers how we have responded to these insights through an iterative, user-centered design process to build a discovery service.

Abstract
Libraries have seen substantial change in the technologies that enable discovery of and access to their collections in the last decade. From library catalogues, to federated metasearch to index-based (webscale) discovery services, the goal of a single, google-like search across all relevant resources has come closer. At the same time the complexity and volume of the information and data sources of scholarly communication have increased dramatically.

User expectations are also driving change. Encounters with commercial entities such as Google Scholar are making researchers less accommodating of library sites that present multiple starting points on a homepage.  Too many choices can lead to decision anxiety and in worse case scenarios a wrong choice can mean relevant information or data sources are not discovered.  The role of serendipity in the information seeking process needs to be drawn back into the spotlight.

This presentation provides an overview of a web project at the University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services to improve the findability and accessibility of library resources and services. It places this work in the context of 20 years of a local website development and metadata “wrangling”, and addresses the continuing disconnect between search and browse in much library web design.

It also outlines our approaches to better understand our users’ experience of our digital library and covers how we have responded to these insights through an iterative, user-centered design process.  The resultant discovery service delivers a search everything experience, presents help in context, works across all devices and will become more personal over time.