September 30, 2014

Tamir Borensztajn on APIs, Responsive Design, and Other Tools Enabling the Digital Shift

Tamir Borensztajn

Tamir Borensztajn

On October 1, Library Journal and School Library Journal will host their fifth annual virtual conference, “The Digital Shift: Libraries @ The Center.

EBSCO is a Platinum Sponsor of the conference, and LJ reached out to Tamir Borensztajn, Vice President, Discovery Strategy, EBSCO, to participate in this series of interviews addressing libraries’ central role in the transformation of our culture from analog experiences to digital experiences.

LJ: How do you see the digital shift enabling collaborations, and how are these new kinds of partnerships changing the library user experience?

TB: It is increasingly clear that technology providers are moving towards interoperable cloud technologies, more collaboration, and system openness. These trends provide opportunity for expanding the ecosystem of tools and resources that libraries offer, and as such deliver richer user experiences. A good example is integrating article discovery with an institution’s Learning Management System (LMS). Another example is the use of APIs to integrate web-scale discovery with a library’s existing discovery system or OPAC and ILS. This type of integration, which relies on system openness and interoperability, delivers more choice for libraries and patrons.

Now that the digital shift and mobile and tablet use are converging to create an expectation of accessing library materials everywhere, how is the library world rising to that challenge, how must we modify user experience to cross screens successfully, and how do we best serve those still struggling with the digital divide?

User experiences are increasingly shifting to mobile, as we see with the widespread adoption of operating systems such Android and iOS. The challenge is to deliver a consistently good mobile experience on the myriad of mobile devices. As technology providers, we must assess our products to meet mobile best practices whether through native apps or web-based interfaces. For libraries, a good approach is the deployment of responsive websites that dynamically adapt themselves to different devices (smartphone or tablet). To serve all constituents, we must be all inclusive and deliver the right experiences on any device—mobile or desktop alike.

How do libraries best support key community needs such as workforce development, enabling better healthcare and education outcomes, and how can they work with corporate or institutional partners to advocate for these roles more effectively?

It goes without saying that libraries provide access to trustworthy information around different topics such as health and education. Through discovery services, users can readily explore these topics, yet the key to better outcomes lies in understanding user needs, habits, and practices. The online user experience must be intuitive and meet expectations of users accustomed to Google and Wikipedia.  User research is imperative to understand user habits and expectations, and to align services and products with user needs. Partnerships between libraries and technology providers help drive user research and inform product development to address needs and drive better outcomes.

As Altmetrics mature, how are they impacting materials acquisition, retention, and licensing and/or the tenure process for authors? Where do you see the field going in the next decade?

As altmetrics mature all of these areas will be impacted. Collections managers will have new metrics beside their own COUNTER statistics and 2-year-old JIF [Journal Impact Factor]-based measures that include metrics for specific articles published by their own researchers as well as more timely and global metrics for journals and packages. Tenure and promotion will naturally evolve as new metrics are introduced that are seen as valuable, and more importantly seen as providing an edge. Grant makers, who are underserved using citations as measures of ROI for the funds they are providing, will be a market driver for these metrics.

When this event began, whether ebooks even had a future in libraries was far from clear. Now that all of the Big 5 offer ebooks to public libraries, what is the next step? Will acquisition models diversify for public libraries as they have in the academic market? How will rising ebook prices in academia change collection development? How will the school market evolve?

We recognize the value of the library for all publishers, and we are pleased to have Random House and Hachette in EBSCO eBooks. We are working toward achieving the necessary requirements to offer the other publishers. As far as public libraries are concerned, there are a variety of acquisition models available today. Note that rising ebook prices are no different than rising prices of other content.  Libraries will continue to work to define the collection development goals of their institution and achieve them with the budget they have to work with.

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