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As Researchers Turn to Google, Libraries Navigate the Messy World of Discovery Tools

scholar_logo_lg_2011Many professors and students gravitate to Google as a gateway to research. Libraries want to offer them a comparably simple and broad experience for searching academic content. As a result, a major change is under way in how libraries organize information. Instead of bewildering users with a bevy of specialized databases—books here, articles there—many libraries are bulldozing their digital silos. They now offer one-stop search boxes that comb entire collections, Google style.

That’s the ideal, anyway. The reality is turning out to be messier.

The rise of these “discovery” tools, which mine giant indexes of aggregated content, is generating new tensions. Because some companies that make the search tools are also in the content business, selling article databases and other material to libraries, one fear is that firms could favor their own content in results.

Another is that discovery software, by sluicing content together, could deluge users with less-appropriate resources. Either way, they could miss relevant articles.

Click here to read more from this April 21, 2014 Chronicle of Higher Education article by Marc Parry.

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