UVic Libraries will completely update the search interface over the summer

Changes include better Brightspace integration, bug fixes and accessibility features

Photo by Isabelle Kennedy

The UVic libraries are undergoing a major system upgrade. The change, which will take place on June 28, will include a new integrated library system and a new search interface.

According to Lisa Goddard, co-chair of the project, the current system is now 20 years old and was originally used to catalog print resources.

“The vast majority of the library’s collection these days is electronic,” Goddard said in an interview with the Martlet. “Our old system just doesn’t handle electronic resource management very well.”

While library staff will see the most impact from the update, students can also expect changes to how they search and access library resources.

“It’s not so much that we really needed a new discovery interface,” Goddard said. She explained that the update is more driven by the need for a new backend system. “A new discovery interface is something that comes with that.”

The new search interface, called Primo VE or Library Search, will replace the current Summon search interface on the Libraries website.

Like Summon, the new system will allow users to search across all resources available in the library, including journals, books and videos, using keywords.

“We’ve worked very hard to try to make the new discovery interface work as much as possible like the old discovery interface,” Goddard said. “This won’t be a major change for students used to working in the old discovery interface.”

While searching in the library works the same as the current system, students can expect some changes, including better integration with Brightspace.

According to Goddard, this change will prevent students from encountering paywalls when accessing course materials.

“We don’t want links appearing on course listings that aren’t the links provided by the library,” Goddard said. “It will help students avoid running into logins and paywalls.”

The integration between the new backend system and the discovery interface will also benefit students. According to Goddard, an error sometimes occurs with the current system that causes resources not to appear in the catalog even though the library owns them.

“[Library Search] will more consistently ensure that whatever is available to you will show up in that search and be accessed by you,” Goddard said.

The new interface also includes a variety of accessibility features, including voice recognition, screen reading, and zoom functions. Library Search is also compatible with mobile devices and other screen sizes and orientations.

“[The] the accessibility features serve all users in the same way that a ramp might serve someone in a wheelchair, with a stroller or on a bicycle,” Goddard said.

Although Goddard is confident that most students will find the transition smooth, she notes that those conducting more advanced research may find the adjustment more difficult.

“[If] you have a lot of saved search strategies and very specific types of searches, so that can be a bit more of a change,” Goddard said. “Having to recreate them in a new system is a bit more work.”

However, Goddard encourages students to take advantage of available resources to learn about the new system and resolve any issues that arise. Students can access library staff help in person or online through the website or email.

Resources will also be available on the libraries’ website. Current guides focus on Summon. However, updated resources are currently in the works and will be updated on June 28 when the system switches.

The timing of the update was also a strategic choice to help students transition to using the new system. According to Goddard, the project team deliberately chose summer because fewer students are in class.

“We know there will be a small minority of students who actually see this discovery interface change happen in the middle of a class,” Goddard said, adding that she encourages students to contact libraries s they have concerns. with the new system.

“We take student feedback very seriously and will address these concerns.”