Prism Blog

Talis Prism 3 and Cross Searching.

Firstly, a big thank you to all those that attended our webinar on cross-searching multiple databases, your information was very helpful in directing our future plans for Talis Prism 3.

From your answers and comments we clarified that there are two key things you want to be able to do with Talis Prism, bring in your local collections and integrate with other, larger collections.

Integrating with Larger Collections

Many of you want to be able to direct your users to one or more larger collections such as the British Library or CURL in the event that they can’t find what they need within your collection. In some cases you want to be able to use the information from those collections to generate an ILL request to borrow the material needed.

This is a great thing to do as it supports your users in getting access to the materials they need and helps maintain your catalogue’s position as the starting point for any search.

Historically this has often been done using Z39.50 federated searching, a library-centric solution that predates the web by many years. To replace this functionality in Talis Prism 3 using Z39.50 would be costly and complex. In Talis Prism 2 the same functionality evolved over a period of several years. Doing the same in Talis Prism 3 would be a substantial cost and would only ever give access to the small number of services that have Z39.50 and that we could reliably configure.

A much more common approach today, both for libraries and for other services, is to use the services website directly. On the web generally this is often as simple as a link to the other service. To maintain a more controlled search experience and to allow for the data to be used in ILL requests in future we think it would be better to aim for a more seamless inclusion of those other sites’ searches.

A number of you have a strong desire to search a small number of sites as soon as possible and have your own web developers. This is exactly the kind of demand for extensibility that led us to seed the Juice project and there are already people on the Juice project doing similar things.

So, if you are one of those interested in connecting your users with the British Library, CURL, Library of Congress or Google Books and Amazon then please Join the Juice project, sign up to the Juice Discussion Group where you will find others, including some of us from Talis, taking advantage of Juice.

If you don’t have your own development resource and would like to discuss Talis writing custom extensions for you then please raise that with Alison Kershaw or your account manager.

If you have any specific queries about Juice then email Richard Wallis, coordinator of the Juice project.

Integrating Local Collections not in your LMS

Many of you also have local collections that for a number of reasons are managed outside of your LMS. DS Calm and iBase are common examples and you also talked about electronic serials data. Where the collection, and data about it, are under your ownership and control you expressed that you would like these to appear in Talis Prism searches as part of your whole collection.

In many cases the separation of these parts of your collection has been a side-effect of the tools needed to manage the data and is no longer serving your users well, so bringing this data together will be a good thing. Representing different types of asset within Talis Prism 3 is one of the drivers behind our re-working of the underlying data model and that stream of work will facilitate bringing in other collections in future. Look out for it appearing in future issues of the roadmap as we plan beyond our current horizon.

Our analysis of these collections shows that the detail of how each collection has been configured and how fields have been used is crucial to providing both appropriate indexing and display. This means that when we reach a position where this data could be brought into Talis Prism 3 there will almost certainly be a need for bespoke consultancy. That consultancy is likely to be needed in order to understand what form the data is in, how you’ve used the product locally and how you want those collections to appear in Talis Prism 3.

If you have other local collections, keep an eye on the roadmap and the blog so that when we start looking at this area in detail you know to get involved.

The Talis Prism roadmap is available from the Talis Prism site.

Rob Styles
Technical Lead, Talis Prism 3

7 Responses

  1. Fran Abbs Says:

    We at University of Sheffield are VERY unhappy about this announcement. OK, so Z39.50 isn’t great, we admit, but in many cases it does work and allows our users to search across multiple library OPACs within the Prism 2 interface. We have committed to only launching Prism 3 to our users when it contains all of the useful functionality currently found in Prism 2, and we consider cross-searching to be useful functionality. So where does that leave us? We don’t have a web developer, we have a systems team of 2 and it’s unlikely that we’d have the time to use Juice to add this functionality to Prism 3. So we either live without it, or find even more money to pay for bespoke development – which in the current climate is unlikely to happen.

    We were under the impression that Prism 3 was being developed as a market rival to Aquabrowser, Primo and Encore – have we got this wrong? All 3 of these are capable of being set up to cross-search multiple databases, or harvest records for searching. If Prism 3 isn’t going in this direction, we may be forced to consider other products in future.

    Finally, although I wasn’t able to attend the webinar on this subject, I understand that Sheffield weren’t the only Prism 3 customers who expressed the need to have cross-seraching in Prism 3. Can I just ask, what was the point of listening to your customers’ views only to turn around and tell us all that we’re wrong?


  2. Angela Warlow Says:

    Forgive me if I have misunderstood this posting. At MMU we currently run Prism 2 connecting to large collections and to local material outside of the LMS (iBase). We do not have our own developers so in order to move forward with Prism 3 it looks like we are going to have to pay for consultancy in order to integrate those collections. At such a time of funding difficulties there is little incentive for us to switch over to Prism 3. We would be withdrawing a service that users currently have and then having to pay for the privilege of restoring it. I am very disappointed to say the least.

  3. Rob Styles Says:

    Fran, I’m sorry that you’re unhappy about this.

    We feel that cross-searching is a very useful feature. It’s configured in Prism 2 for many of our customers. Much has changed in the many years since customers set up those Z39.50 searches, not least the places many want to expand their searches into. All of the places we have had discussions about in the context of widening search, the British Library, CURL, Library of Congress, Amazon, Google Books and so on have very capable web interfaces. Only some of them have Z39.50 interfaces. That’s why we feel the focus needs to be on integrating these services on the web.

    At some time in the future Prism 3 is likely to do some of this out-of-the-box, but one of the things that came through loud and clear on the webinar was a desire to have something sooner. Our roadmap is published, so you can see what we’re working on and why. We don’t feel it is appropriate to move any of that work further out in order to accommodate cross-search in the roadmap yet, so for those who have a desire to do something sooner Prism 3’s extensibility allows that to happen. Without Prism 3’s extensible approach everyone would have to wait.

    The Juice project is a collaborative project. It is open-source and we are encouraging anyone developing extensions using Juice to make those extensions open-source as well. This kind of open collaboration, shared innovation, means that more people can contribute to and take advantage of the work that is done. While developers are a very important part of that community there are lots of ways to contribute, library expertise and knowledge of user needs being very high among them.

    Prism 3 is a long-term development. We have no plans to end-of-life Prism 2 so you can make your own choice about when Prism 3 is ready for you to take it.

  4. Rob Styles Says:

    Angela, on the webinar it became clear that there were two different needs that should be met in different ways in order to give users the best experience. Those discussing iBase on the webinar were keen to have the results show up as part of Prism 3 results, breaking down what is perceived as a wall between the LMS and collections managed outside of the LMS. We agree with that. That’s a very different demand than Prism 2 provides for and requires a different approach.

    Our research shows that collections outside of the LMS are configured differently on each customer site, having been tailored to your specific needs. This means that there is likely to be work specific to your collections needed to make things work properly.

  5. Fran Abbs Says:

    Just something else to add to this discussion. We’ve been talking about how we might offer cross-searching in Prism 3 using Juice, perhaps as extensions to send the search to another catalogue, or doing sending the search and displaying hits counts at the same time that a user searches Prism 3. If a user wants to view these search results, they can click on the link which takes you to the results in the external catalogue. Fine up to a point. But one of the main reasons for searching another catalogue is when we don’t have the item that the person is looking for, and in this case they will often want to place an ILL request. Ideally we would have them do this within the Prism 3 interface, with the bibliographic details being filled in by the search results. How can we do this if we have to send the user to the external catalogue to see their search results?

  6. Rob Styles Says:

    Hi Fran,

    Those sound like good approaches to using Juice to extend Prism 3.

    In the case of ILLs, Prism 3 doesn’t yet have the ability to generate ILL requests. You have ILLs in Prism 2 you could continue to link across to a Prism 2 search in the short term, leading on to Prism 2 ILL as well. In the longer term there are ways that Juice can take bibliographic data from another site and populate an ILL form in Prism 3 or elsewhere.

    Using Juice is a different approach to the problem and is capable of much more than simply linking to another page.


  7. Fran Abbs Says:

    Thanks Rob. I admit that I don’t know much about the potential of Juice, but once again we’re just having to hope that someone in the Juice community has the desire and expertise to develop this functionality as it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to do it ourselves and in the current financial climate we simply won’t have the funds to pay Talis for bespoke development. And the whol point of moving to Prism 3 will be to eventually switch off Prism 2 altogether.

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