UVic Libraries to completely upgrade search interface over summer

Campus News

Changes include better Brightspace integration, bug fixes, and accessibility features

Photo by Isabella Kennedy

UVic Libraries is undergoing a major system upgrade. The change, happening on June 28, will include a new integrated library system and search interface. 

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

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

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

“It’s not so much that we felt like we really needed a new discovery interface,” Goddard said. She explained that the update is motivated more 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 through all the resources available from the library, including journals, books, and videos, by using keywords.

“We’ve worked very hard to try to make the new discovery interface work as much like the old discovery interface as we can,” said Goddard. “It’s not going to be a major change for students who are used to working in the old discovery interface.” 

While Library Search will function similarly to 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 material.

“We don’t want any links appearing on course lists that are not the links that are provided by the library,” said Goddard. “It will help students to not come up against logins and paywalls.”

The integration between the new backend system and discovery interface will also benefit students. According to Goddard, an error sometimes occurs with the current system that causes resources to not show up in the catalogue even if the library does own them. 

“[Library Search] will more consistently ensure that every single thing available to you will show up in that search and that you’re going to have access to it,” said Goddard. 

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

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

While Goddard is confident 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 really precise kinds of searches, then this may be a little bit more of a change,” said Goddard. “Having to recreate those in a new system is a little bit more work.”

However, Goddard encourages students to take advantage of the resources available to learn about the new system and solve any problems that come up. Students can access help from library staff in-person or online through the website or email. 

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

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 purposely chose the summer because fewer students are in classes. 

“We know that there will be a small minority of students who are actually going to be having this discovery interface change happen in the middle of a course,” said Goddard, adding that she encourages students to reach out to the libraries if they have concerns with the new system. 

“We take student feedback very seriously, and we will respond to those concerns.”