Concurrent session

Influence of Libraries in the Discovery Services Process

  • Maria Stanton (Atla)
  • Robert Wainwright Boissy (Springer Nature)
  • Matthew J. Jabaily (University of Colorado, Colorado Springs)


The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) Open Discovery Initiative (ODI) was undertaken to help ensure that all libraries, content providers, and discovery providers can enjoy mutual transparency into what metadata elements are provided and used for discovery throughout the process. This session explored the role of libraries to ensure that discovery services meet their users’ needs. The presenters promoted the ODI standing committee’s recently released conformance checklist, which outlines standardized actions for libraries to perform that benefit their user communities. Presenters discussed the benefits to all parties of completing the checklist and encouraged librarians to share feedback and descriptions of their needs with members of the NISO ODI committee.

Keywords: National Information Standards Organization (NISO), Open Discovery Initiative, resource discovery, collaboration

How to Cite:

Stanton, M., Boissy, R. W. & Jabaily, M. J., (2023) “Influence of Libraries in the Discovery Services Process”, NASIG Proceedings 37. doi:

Rights: Copyright © 2022 Maria Stanton, Robert Wainwright Boissy, and Matthew J. Jabaily.
CC-BY-NC 4.0

Published on
02 Nov 2023

Maria Stanton, Director of Production at Atla and a member of the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) Open Discovery Initiatives (ODI) Standing Committee, began the presentation by discussing the purpose and history of the committee. It was formed in 2011 to address the needs and expectations of the three main stakeholder groups who support emerging web-scale discovery services: libraries, content providers, and discovery providers. The group released Version 1 of the Recommended Practice (RP) in June 2014 and a revised version in June 2020. The group works toward creating a discovery environment that is well-configured and transparent.

Stanton highlighted the value of the ODI group to libraries, focusing on how it strives to create a discovery environment that makes the process of finding relevant content streamlined and efficient. She also emphasized that the group supports choice, encourages the greatest inclusion of metadata across resources, and limits restrictions on customized linking.

Robert Wainwright Boissy, Director of Account Development at Springer Nature and another NISO ODI Standing Committee member, spoke next. He began by showing an example of an ODI conformance statement. Such statements affirm publishers’ commitments to sharing data in a neutral way by adopting a non-commercial approach to metadata and discovery. He emphasized that all stakeholders have a shared covenant and that there should be no antagonism between groups because everyone wants purchased content to be discovered and used.

Next, Boissy discussed the ODI Library Conformance Checklist, which allows librarians to document their practices related to elements of the discovery. He believes many librarians can benefit from using the checklist, even if they simply read it to better understand what elements they do and do not control and to reflect upon what actions related to discovery they do and do not have time to perform.

Boissy shared how collaboration between libraries, content providers, and discovery providers could improve discovery. The first example was the frustration that comes from correctly identifying and tracking a package of journals or e-books that may have numerous different names. Boissy suggested there could be a standard identifier, similar to an international standard serials number (ISSN) for packages of journals or other electronic resources, though he acknowledged this would not be easy to coordinate. Still, it is something that could be addressed by a task force and integrated into standard reports and electronic resources management systems.

The second example dealt with the myriad different content types that could be included in a single journal: editorials, research highlights, news features, comments, etc. Adding to the complexity, different journals have different names for similar types of content. Collaborative efforts may improve discovery faceting for users or better, more granular COUNTER reporting of these types of articles.

Boissy returned to discussing the benefits of the ODI library checklist for libraries as well as feedback publishers receive from reviewing checklists completed by librarians. Knowing more about how libraries configure their discovery systems is of great interest to publishers, especially because most publishing staff have never configured a discovery system and may not know the configuration options. Instead, their understanding of discovery may be confined to their review of library websites and publicly available discovery interfaces. He noted that some libraries do not make their discovery systems publicly available and suggested this is not good practice because it unnecessarily limits access to information that may be valuable to the wider community. Without a review of the checklists, publishers may also not understand what actions libraries do and do not have time to accomplish. Boissy highlighted some of his favorite items from the ODI checklist for libraries: (3)

Library documents configuration decisions and the reasons behind these decisions (4)

Library regularly evaluates and updates its configurations of discovery services

Library works with the Discovery Service Provider to learn precisely what, if any, adjustments can be made to result in ranking, boosting, and weighting, and seeks clarification if needed

Boissy noted that his job as a liaison to the NISO ODI Standing Committee from the NISO Information & Discovery Interchange Topic Committee is to persuade libraries to fill out the ODI Conformance Checklist and share their results by posting the completed checklist to their websites and sending the URL to NISO. He also shared links to the checklist and information about it.1

Stanton spoke again to give more perspective on the ODI Library Conformance Checklist. She mentioned that filling out the checklist can also aid discovery service providers in making decisions and changes. She shared that many providers, like Atla, often have little experience with discovery and stressed that librarians should advocate for their needs and those of their users. She shared the checklist format and demonstrated how each section corresponds to recommended practices that cover documentation, bibliographic instruction, and engagement in online forums. She reiterated that there is no expectation that librarians do everything on the checklist. She also suggested that completing the checklist could be a good learning experience. For example, at Syracuse University, the library engaged a library school student to coordinate the completion of the checklist, which was a valuable experience for the individual.

Finally, Stanton shared a list of some steps libraries can take to ensure their users’ needs are met. This included actions related to discovery services, like activating free and Open Access (OA) content that they want their community to use and configuring link resolvers to ensure preferred suppliers are prioritized. It also included steps related to content providers, like optimizing the configurations of each content provider. Stanton also encouraged librarians to advocate for discovery services and content providers to conform to standards.

The remainder of the session was used to solicit feedback from librarians and other members of the community about what they would like the NISO ODI committee to know, consider, and address. Presenters asked librarians to share pain points or frustrations associated with resource discovery and all engaged in discussion about transparency, data analytics, relevance ranking, OA discovery, and faceting.

Contributor Notes

Maria Stanton is Director of Production at Atla.

Robert Wainwright Boissy is Director of Account Development at Springer Nature.

Matthew J. Jabaily is Electronic Resources and Serials Librarian at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA.


  1. ODI Conformance Statements are available at: