Optimizing Discovery Systems to Improve User Experience
The Innovative Librarian's Guide
by Bonnie Imler and Michelle Eichelberger
May 2017, 136pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Paperback: 978-1-4408-4382-2
$60, £47, 53€, A83
Please contact your preferred distributor for pricing.
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-4383-9
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Moving towards an easier search experience can still present challenges for libraries. This book offers best practices for implementation, instruction, and promotion of discovery systems.

Two authors with more than 40 years of combined library experience tap into their wealth of knowledge about discovery and user experience, sharing proven methods for setting up, promoting, and teaching their own discovery systems.

Discovery systems are the new one-stop search model for libraries, but simply implementing the software doesn’t ensure that it will meet your users’ search needs. This book looks at how discovery systems are actually used by examining the findings of several user experience (UX) studies, providing data and observations that will inform your decisions about selecting, implementing, and enhancing this software.

This book provides library practitioners who choose, administer, and interact with discovery systems with insight for establishing or fine-tuning a discovery system. You will understand how the use and effectiveness of the top discovery systems compare to more traditional databases and web resources, get insight into the comparative strengths and weaknesses of the best-selling discovery systems, and examine the UX research findings of the authors on student response and faculty response. You’ll also learn about key configuration options that help or hinder search success with these systems and affect content selection, linking software setup, and interlibrary loan processes. The book concludes with recommended best practices for promoting discovery systems, including web design, placement on the library’s website, getting coworkers on board, and PR ideas.


  • Provides a comprehensive guide that helps librarians make a library discovery system work better for their specific community
  • Examines how system design and careful fine-tuning can greatly improve system efficacy
  • Explains how usability and user experience studies should be used to assess and evaluate system performance
  • Describes how to use UX data to inform tutorials and instruction for more efficient patron research
Bonnie Imler is library director at Penn State Altoona, Altoona, PA, and the web usability and assessment coordinator for Penn State University Libraries. She has been conducting studies on actual use of library resources by patrons long before the term "usability" and the acronym UX came into vogue. Imler has conducted studies on student use of full-text articles, databases, link resolvers, and eBooks. She has published articles on her usability study results and the use of screen capture video as a means to capture and analyze human-computer interaction.

Michelle Eichelberger is the systems and electronic services librarian at Genesee Community College in Batavia, NY, which is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system. She served on the SUNY Office of Library and Information Services Task Force that reviewed options and presented recommendations for implementation of a SUNY-wide Discovery System in 2013. Eichelberger has collaborated on user research and publications with Bonnie Imler for more than a decade.


"...recommended for discovery system administrators in both academic and public settings."—Technical Services Quarterly, February 1, 2019

"A thought-out and thorough exploration of discovery systems. . . . Thorough, sound, and achievable for most libraries and librarians."—VOYA, October 1, 2017

"Optimizing Discovery Systems to Improve User Experience will be of use to all library administrators and IT staff seeking to enhance their single search system or for professionals seeking to develop such searching in their digital library community. Recommended."—ARBAonline, December 6, 2017
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