St. George's School

Canadian prep school library becomes digital learning hub with EBSCO Discovery Service

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At a Glance

St. George's School
Vancouver, British Columbia

Institution Type:   Schools
Related Products:   EBSCO Discovery Service

Overview

St. George’s School, a boys’ preparatory school in Vancouver, British Columbia, enrolls 1,150 students across two campuses: a Junior School (grades 1-7) and a Senior School (grades 8-12). To support student research and the open exchange of knowledge, the Senior School’s library—known as the Senior Learning Commons—provides access to a rich library collection that includes 22,000 print titles, 30 online databases, and more than 2,000 e-books.

In August of 2014, to surface more of its digital content, the library began subscribing to EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS). In addition, the school purchased NoveList Select and LibraryAware to support its readers’ advisory initiative and promote its digital resources.

We live in a world of information abundance and instant access. The problem is no longer in accessing obscure pieces of information, but in filtering out the noise in our information search.

Marc Crompton
Head of Senior Learning Commons
St. George's School

Challenges

According to Marc Crompton, Head of the Senior Learning Commons, libraries have long been viewed as merely quiet places with shelves of dusty books. However, over the last decade, many library professionals have been working to change that perception, using digital tools to both promote information discovery and increase library awareness.

Recently, St. George’s School adopted the Learning Commons model, which positions the library as the center of knowledge, research, and collaboration. While some schools adopting this approach are choosing to eliminate print books in favor of digital resources, St. George’s School simply wanted a way to put the library’s electronic resources on equal footing with items in its physical collection.

“We were looking for a way of making digital objects more visible,” Crompton explained. “As we move to a more open-inquiry model, we need to be able to give students easier access to a broader range of resources, which in our case is a combination of physical and digital resources.”

In addition, Crompton wanted the library to take better advantage of the NoveList Plus content provided by its provincial consortium. NoveList Plus supports readers’ advisory services with thousands of expert book recommendations and read-alikes. Crompton was looking for a way to get those recommendations and read-alikes more quickly into the hands of students, plus make it easier for them to discover books available in the school's collection.

Solutions

In 2012, the library took a step toward providing a unified search experience by implementing EBSCOhost Integrated Search. However, as he was earning his master’s degree in library science, Crompton grew determined to bring a discovery service to St. George’s School.

“The combination of my curiosity about how discovery tools searched a collection, coupled with our experience with integrated search already, made EDS a logical next step,” he said.

St. George’s School implemented EDS in August of 2014, just in time for the start of the new school year. Setup was easy. Crompton worked with EBSCO to load the library’s catalog data into EDS and customize the interface so users could identify it as part of the library’s resources. Branded with the school logo and red and white colors, the EDS home page displays a single search box. Crompton also inserted a widget (using LibraryAware) that displays a set of rotating images linking students to relevant content in the library collection.

    Introducing EDS at St. George’s School has had several key benefits, Crompton said.

    First and foremost, EDS brings all of the library’s resources together under one search much like the Learning Commons brings knowledge, research, and collaboration into one space.

    “The Learning Commons is truly a hub of connected learning and less the stereotype of a collection of dusty books that are accessed once a year for specific assignments,” Crompton said.

    Furthermore, the addition of NoveList Select—which enables more seamless integration of NoveList Plus content with a library’s catalog—has improved discovery of reader-focused features, such as reading recommendations, book reviews, and more. The NoveList Select widget in EDS displays this information in the detailed record so students can see all the great content from NoveList, including "You Might Also Like These" book suggestions. Crompton also enabled the “Local Holdings” feature, which limits recommendations to titles held in his collection.

      Finally, EDS exposes St. George’s School students to the kind of library research tool they will encounter in colleges and universities around the world.

      “As the boys head off to wherever they’re heading, they will run into the EBSCO interface, and they’ll run into the concepts and tools that the EBSCO interface addresses,” Crompton said, citing faceted searching—the concept of post-search filtering that students cannot learn from Google—as an example. “We are searching a smaller, richer collection of material and have the tools to do so with much more finesse,” he said. “This becomes essential in an educational environment that values student autonomy.”

      Crompton said that formal training sessions on EDS have been unnecessary because the interface is so intuitive. Instead, whenever a class comes to the library to begin a research project, he introduces EDS as “their one-stop information search shop,” focusing more on how to drill down results to find the best information for their particular research needs.

      “We live in a world of information abundance and instant access,” Crompton said. “The problem is no longer in accessing obscure pieces of information, but in filtering out the noise in our information search.”

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