Discovery Notes: OCLC’s new Discovery blog


Image from “Discovery Notes: The relevance questions” by Jay Holloway, Product Analyst, WorldCat Discovery

Although I have taken another long hiatus from posting the latest Discovery news from the UD Library, you now have another option! In response to feedback various institutions passed along during the WMS Global Community & User Group Meeting in Dublin, OH held this past September, OCLC’s Cathy King has created a Discovery-specific blog, Discovery Notes, to give us an opportunity to look inside the issues from the backend. This new blog is housed in the OCLC Community Center  and will have approximately two posts a month. So far it has featured articles from Cathy and members of the Discovery product team. Recent articles include a discussion of WorldCat Discovery’s roadmap and focus areas and an October 25th article by Jay Holloway dissected the “relevance question.”

Remember, you must log in to the OCLC Community Center to view this new blog. Make sure the sign up for the automatic OCLC News emails to get an alert when each new article is released!


Happy WMS Anniversary to the UD Library!

Many thanks go out to OCLC’s Cathy King for her recent conference call with our Discovery Task Force!

Also, we want to extend our thanks to OCLC’s Mary Sauer-Games and Scott Livingston for coming out for a daylong site visit to have an in-depth discussion with us about WMS. Tomorrow (June 9) marks our 2nd anniversary of being the first ARL library to go live with WMS. Thank you for the cakes, Mary and Scott!


“My Lists” Tips

“Personal Lists” or “My Lists” are a feature that many WorldCat-savvy users have taken advantage of over the years to organize past research and to share searches with classes or collaborators. As WorldCat Local users shift to using WorldCat Discovery, what will become of these lists? Unfortunately, these lists remain a big concern for the UD Library as they still lack important functionalities that users have grown dependent on in Local. Whether you are a heavy or an occasional user of WorldCat lists, you will want to be aware of how the future shift to Discovery will affect your workflow.

Top 4 Concerns

  1. Item limits per list
    Current status: Local = no limit VS. Discovery = 100 items
  2. Exporting your existing WorldCat lists
    Please keep in mind that your Local lists will not automatically be transferred to Discovery!! Exporting your lists from Local and importing them into Discovery is possible, but there are definite limitations. I will touch on this process in a future post.
  3. Exporting to RefWorks
    The UD Library supports RefWorks as its citation tool. Unfortunately, attempting to export temporary lists to RefWorks using Discovery is currently resulting in an error (single items do work). Exporting permanent lists is not an option. OCLC is working on this problem using a UD login, and I will hopefully revisit the solution in a future post.
  4. Call #’s
    Before you head to the stacks with your mobile device, you might want to still have that sticky note as a back-up with call numbers. Keep in mind that once you create a permanent list in Discovery the call numbers are no longer visible in the list view.

Adding additional functionalities and fixing bugs within Discovery’s “personal lists” are high on our library’s lists of concerns, especially as we encourage our users to print less and rely on citation tools. Stay tuned for future posts with updates on fixes or ways to easily work around the tool’s limitations. In the meantime, please feel free to email me with questions at

Discovery Usability Testing

As librarians, we often have a very different view of our online catalog than our users. The UD Library hasn’t performed any usability testing for WorldCat Discovery Services yet, but the efforts other institutions have put in to collect user input has been extremely useful, and I wanted highlight them here. If your library is currently using WorldCat Local, and you want to see some detailed usability testing, check out what the University of North Carolina — Charlotte (UNCC) and the PALNI (Private Academic Library Network of Indiana) have done to keep track of how their users are navigating their resources. These two documents were shared via the OCLC Community Center. Although every library will have different needs, these two reports are extremely helpful to those of us who have not had a chance to run our own usability testing. Many thanks go to Rachael Winterling at UNCC and Eric Bradley, Ruth Szpunar, and Megan West of PALNI.

PALNI WorldCat Discovery Usability Report, Oct 2015-Jan 2016
(Released February 24, 2016)
Eric Bradley, Ruth Szpunar, and Megan West
19 pages

WorldCat Discovery Usability Report (University of North Carolina, Charlotte)
Compiled by Rachael Winterling, Usability Coordinator
65 pages

Although we are postponing our shift this summer yet again, we are still continuing discussions within our Discovery Task Force and are comparing priorities with our fellow WMS libraries to hopefully influence OCLC’s Discovery timeline. Please feel free to contact me (or the WMS Community Leadership Team directly–still trying to locate a good link for you!) about having your library’s voice heard. It requires a login, but if you have access, make sure you take advantage of OCLC’s Community Center for WorldCat Discovery:

Spring 2016 Update

After a long break, I have had questions about where the UD Library stands in terms of shifting from WorldCat Local to WorldCat Discovery Services. As mentioned in my November post, the UD Library decided not to make the shift over the 2015/2016 winter break. The monthly release notes for Discovery have actually been quite sparse over the past several months (compared to what they were previously), and we only saw two new features added for April 2016: feedback link and updates to personal lists (why do the call numbers disappear in permanent lists?!). OCLC is moving in the right direction with the monthly release notes, but changes are very slow-coming, and the promised parity with WorldCat Local in summer 2015 left many features behind. We are concerned that Discovery will still lack many features we need by the time the fall 2016 semester rolls around.

So where do we stand now as the first ARL library to implement WMS? Once again, we have decided to wait. Discovery has a definite benefit of being mobile friendly, and we are DEFINITELY seeing a rise in mobile traffic. That said, why would we surrender the current perks of Local over Discovery when we can enjoy this period of using both? We look forward to working with Cathy King and the WMS Community Leadership Team through 2016, and Discovery is still definitely in our future!

Our library logo in Local and Discovery is currently “broken” while we work on investing in a secure server, but here is one sample of what we are considering for the future look:




Where are we now?

Although I have fallen behind in posts, our WDS Taskforce is still hard at work communicating our most urgent WDS concerns to our OCLC representatives. Just a quick shout-out to Alison Little for her patience and persistence as we load her up with information from our end. For those of you who were surprised or confused by my last post, John McCullough did, in fact, leave OCLC, but he is back! He won’t be working on the WDS side in the same way, but welcome back, John.

So where are we in our transition talk? Unfortunately, we still have a lot of urgent concerns that we hope will be addressed before we have to make the shift. The WDS Taskforce met throughout the fall semester and considered both our concerns with the functionalities of the new interface and the positive changes OCLC has made in developing the product. Our most urgent concerns include limitations associated with course reserves management and the discoverability of our unique special collections materials. With so many international researchers depending on our materials, we want them to be able to locate valuable information for items worth upwards of $500K! Searching is definitely getting better, but we are hoping for consistency and dependability.

Although OCLC has made some great changes over the past few months, especially with personal lists, there are still many shortcomings, and we aren’t yet convinced. Not to be too snarky, but where are the call numbers in our permanent lists?? We are still very baffled by these lists…

Screenshot 2015-11-16 15.22.27

Sample permanent personal list — Click to zoom

With no sunset date for WCL, as long as it is meeting our needs better than WDS, we are not rushing to push away our life raft just yet. Having two options for searching our catalog will help familiarize our OCLC-reluctant/OPAC-deprived patrons with WCL and gradually help them shift to the new interface.

The Taskforce’s recommendation to postpose the UD Library’s transition from WorldCat Local to WorldCat Discovery Services was recently accepted by Gregg Silvis, Associate University Librarian for Informational Technology and Digital Initiatives, and our team is gearing up for another semester of testing and digesting the upcoming release notes. We will have our next transition recommendation at the end of spring semester 2016.

For those libraries who are using WDS as your sole public online catalog, I would love to hear the stories of how you have marketed/eased the transition (! Or you can vent…whichever you prefer!


So long, John!

There has been quite a gap in my posts, but I have not disappeared. Some of our WDS concerns have been knocked off our list, but there is still a lot left to be done. We are moving forward as always.

One thing we have become very accustomed to is change. Once again, change is in the air, and hopefully it is for the best. I was very sad to learn of the departure of John McCullough during the WDS Advisory Committee meeting last week. Obviously WDS isn’t a perfect tool, but he has done so much to mold it into what it is today. If you can still hear us, John: COURSE RESERVES! John was very responsive to our emails and calls and chats during WebEx meetings…even in person… and our library is extremely grateful for his special attention over the past couple of years. He took all of our complaining with grace and humor, and we had a much more pleasant experience as WDS became as better tool.

We will miss John and wish him all the best as he moves on to bigger and better things. In the meantime, we look forward to welcoming the new Senior Project Manager Cathy King on 9/14:

Best of luck, John!

Welcome, Cathy!


Adapting to responsive design

Screenshot 2015-07-02 16.00.28

The UD Library’s mobile website — Click to Zoom

In the summer of 2014, the University of Delaware (UD) Library adopted a new mobile version of the Library website. No matter what the device, our website now adapts to balance both the look and functionality of the full website. Whether a student has a small-screened iPhone, a Nexus 7, an 11″ MacBook Air, or a 30″ monitor, he or she can search the catalog, reserve study rooms, check library hours, read recent news, and ask for help from a librarian. Check out the full mobile version of the Library’s main page to the right, and compare it to the Library’s larger version: (if you are on a computer, that is).

Like many people, I carry my smartphone with me everywhere, and I find that I am depending on it more and more for tasks that I previously only completed on a computer. It’s my GPS, camera, encyclopedia, mp3 player, audiobook, tv, fitness tracker, airplane boarding pass, shopping center, credit card, a portal to my friends…oh, and it’s my phone. It’s also how I’ve started searching our Library’s online catalog.

I know this mobile-friendly feature doesn’t appeal to everyone, but its existence may be of interest to everyone. UD Library’s mobile website, a prime example of what is known as responsive design, is certainly not the first of its kind, and it’s definitely not the last. As the Library prepares for the transition to WorldCat Discovery Services (WDS) from WorldCat Local (WCL), the prevalence of mobile devices and the mobile-friendliness of web interfaces should certainly be on the forefront of our minds.

If you’ve ever searched WCL using your smartphone, you probably didn’t willingly do it again. The main search screen is perfectly usable and straightforward on a full-sized computer screen. When you open the same screen on a mobile device, however, it is an exact replica of what you see on a larger screen…at least the top left corner of it. A large portion of the website can only be viewed by zooming in and out and swiping left and right with the tips of fingers. With such a mobile-friendly library website, the WCL interface can be a shocking shift into an unresponsive environment. It can also be a deterrent for users who rely on the convenience of smartphones to perform all of their basic daily tasks.

As more of our users are spotted carrying smartphones around like lifelines (I am guilty of this, too), the responsive design of the WDS interface becomes very appealing. Although the mobile WDS has a slightly different look, the text is easier to read, buttons are larger, and menus are used in lieu of a large, cluttered screen. If you happen to be on your own smartphone, you can experience the full range of functionalities available. For those of you who prefer to go old school with a computer, you can easily reduce your browser window to the smallest size to emulate how each interface responds:

Screenshot 2015-07-02 16.24.43

Mobile view of WorldCat Local — Click to visit live website

Screenshot 2015-07-02 16.24.00

Mobile view of WorldCat Discovery  — Click to visit live website














I encourage you to explore each mobile interface as you perform your own searches, and take note of where this feature falls in your list of priorities. How important is responsive design to your library? If our users are adapting to new technology, shouldn’t we provide a service that adapts to their technology?

Although WDS still has a long way to go with many features (i.e. Course Reserves), kudos to OCLC on this excellent design enhancement! Keep it up, and we’ll obviously keep asking for more.

We’re right!

I learned a lot of wonderful information during OCLC’s 2015 East Coast Users Group Meeting last week, but I feel compelled to report back one tiny bit of information before anything else. Remember the previous post on acronyms and the confusion they create? WorldCat Discovery Services started as WDS for our library last year, and I have recently seen both OCLC webinars and monthly release notes refer to the same service as WCD. Although the new acronym echoes that of its older sibling, WDS is the acronym we have grown accustomed to, and a switch now could set us back in our efforts to integrate the new service into our everyday lives.

During the meeting last week, I decided to ask during my presentation if we are wrong. Did we adopt the wrong acronym? Are we going to have to retrain our Library staff to adapt to a new acronym when they have already adapted to WMS and WCL (the other W’s) over the past year? When speaking about WorldCat Discovery Services, I even find myself stumbling. What do I say? Consistency is key, but if I am encouraging my colleagues to attend webinars, office hours, and other events, I want them to understand the current acronyms used by OCLC and other users. So what is the “right” acronym?

Luckily, John McCullough and Andrew Pace were both sitting in the audience. Finally we will have an answer! I get the impression that acronyms might be a touchy subject within the OCLC community, so I’m hoping to see more development on that front in the future. We will revisit this topic again in the future. Whether or not all OCLC webinars and correspondence will conform, John definitely nodded his head and confirmed that the official acronym for WorldCat Discovery Services is WDS. Yayyy!

Unfortunately there is a word of caution. Although it is nice to be right, training awareness will become a very important part of our shift to WDS. WDS, WCD, and Discovery are all synonymous with the same service, and the University of Delaware has an added layer of confusion with our “DELCAT Discovery” branding. Shortening the services to “Local” and “Discovery” when used in the right context can greatly simplify things, but be ready with a clarification which will likely be frequently needed.

Did I mention that we’re right?

And the decision is…

Not yet!

Although WorldCat Discovery Services (WDS) has come a VERY long way since June 2014, the University of Delaware Library has decided not to make the shift to OCLC’s new interface this summer. A lot of effort went into the decision, but all that hard work will not be lost. We will continue using WorldCat Local (WCL) as our primary online catalog. Does this mean we will not make the change? Of course not! Before we transition, a lot of work still remains on our end and on OCLC’s end to make sure our institution’s needs are met.

Where do we go from here?

With a WDS Task force monitoring and communicating monthly updates from OCLC, the UD Library is on the right track for change. Coming next week we will be hosting the first two WDS in-service training sessions, which are open not just to our Reference department but to the entire library staff. These two sessions should give everyone an excellent opportunity to get a hands-on look at the new interface. Most importantly, I hope these sessions will help demystify the multiple terms we use to describe our online catalog: DELCAT Discovery, WorldCat Local, and WorldCat Discovery.

With a large library and institution comes the need for many different types of training. We can’t reach everyone with one method. Needless to say, training sessions will continue throughout the fall and long past our transition to WDS. My goal is to expand out to the public this fall, gain valuable feedback (bad feedback is the best feedback), and let our findings fuel the move forward.

So how are we going to get the word out to the public? Honestly, we’re going to follow the footsteps of many of our smaller counterparts. Since there is no end of life date for WorldCat Local, why not stick with WCL as the main online catalog, and use WCL and WDS in tandem? I think we can all admit than neither product is perfect (what is?). If we as WMS libraries are asking OCLC over and over for more options (!) and WDS provides us with that option, why not take advantage of it? This summer we are finally adding a link to WDS to our Library’s intranet, and this summer we hope to launch the first link on our Library homepage to our beta instance of WDS. This may seem a long time coming, but this is one next step. Now we just have to decide exactly how and where this link will appear…

This blog, of course, will continue for the foreseeable future, but the content is much more interesting with input from my own colleagues and from members from other WMS libraries. I know I have mentioned this in the past, but please feel free to comment and ask about what might be most interesting to you! If I don’t know the answer, I have a plethora of smart, willing colleagues who can help out.

That’s only the start of our plans for now. Communication, training, feedback, transition, and more training. Although our decision is no…it’s no for now. We have every intention of making the shift when the time is right. Our WDS Task force will continue meeting twice a month, and we will reassess this coming November for a (hopeful) transition in January 2016 (UD’s winter session). Worst case scenario at this time is a transition in June 2016. As all academic librarians know, a major change to the library services is best done when the library is in a quiet period, so winter and summer are our only reasonable options. If can’t commit for now, bringing both interfaces to our users will both communicate and prepare.

Stay tuned next week for this problem I am having with my own acronym problem…


  1. I am extremely curious…have you made the plunge and shut off WorldCat Local access entirely?
  2. Do you use WorldCat Local in tandem with WorldCat Discovery? If so, how have your users responded?
  3. Do you feel as though WorldCat Discovery provides all of the functionalities you depend on in WorldCat Local? If not, what are they?

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Molly Olney-Zide can be contacted at

DELCAT Discovery Beta: