Library Services Platform Migration
University Libraries underwent a major system migration that caused some library systems to be offline from June 24th until June 29th, 2021. This change replaced an aging system, address algorithmic bias in resource discovery, and generate cost savings by moving to open-source software.
The University Libraries changed our main inventory, checkout, and materials ordering software. This software is the backbone of the library, where library faculty and staff manage all of our collections. However, this is also the software our users search for books, CDs, DVDs, and other physical items (formerly known as the Library Catalog). This migration will move us to a more modern software that will result in cost savings, increase workflow efficiencies, reduce bias in search results, and allow us to move to an open-source platform.
When is it Happening?
Phase one of the migration was completed in January 2021. Phase two was complete at the end of June 2021.
How Does This Affect Library Services?
The first time you log into the new Library Search you are going to be presented with a screen asking you to consent to data collection. This screen tells you that our vendor, EBSCO, needs to collect and store some user data while using our system to provide access to the system's full functionality. Before they can do that they need you to permit them to do so. This is a common practice for web-based systems and our previous systems were collecting similar data. Notifying you is to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Our new system collects a limited amount of information and much of it is immediately anonymized. The new system is collecting the following pieces of data:
- GVSU Username - to ensure you are an authorized user of the system our vendor must collect your username. They also need this information to associate any items or searches that you want to save with your account.
- Anonymized Search data - The vendor collects search data which is anonymized and presented to the library in an aggregate form to help us make informed decisions based on collection usage.
- Personally Identifiable Information - EBSCO also provides hosting services for the side of the system that manages our material checkouts, user requests, and fines. When you use those services the system stores the necessary data to associate you with the items you are using or requesting. Once those items are returned all data that would associate your use with that item is removed. The only time we can see what items you have used is when those items are currently checked out to you or are on hold for you. In addition, the University Libraries keeps your email and local or office address on file so we can send notices and materials to you.
You can choose to opt out of the data collection and still use most of our services. You will still be able to search and use online content, search for physical books, and check materials out of the library. If you opt out, you will not be able to place requests, renew books online, save searches, or save items as those tasks would require the vendor to store your information. To check out physical material you would need to go to the library, pull the materials yourself, and check them out at the Service Desk.
Why Did We Make This Decision?
There were multiple factors that played into this decision:
Aging system: The Libraries had been using the same library services platform since 2008. While there have been minor upgrades to the system during this time, it became outdated and the company that provides the system hasn't kept up with the evolving needs of libraries as more and more resources move online.
Increase Efficiencies: The Libraries’ software only supports the management of physical resources. This required us to use additional, separate software to manage our online collections. The new software allows us to manage both print and online resources within one system. This greatly simplifies our work to make our online collections available to you.
Bias in Resource Discovery: Our previous Library Search software exhibited troubling issues in some search results. Research by our librarians uncovered patterns of bias in some results that amplified systemic racial, gender, sexual orientation, and religious biases. We attempted to work with ProQuest, the company that created the software, to address these issues but were not satisfied with their response. For more information on these issues, see Algorithmic Bias in Library Discovery, or Masked by Trust: Bias in Library Discovery by Matthew Reidsma, Web Services Librarian.
Cost: This migration allows us to cancel the software we used to manage our online collections. In addition, the new software is open source, with libraries around the world (including GVSU) contributing to creating, maintaining, and improving the software. Because the source of the software is open, there is no software licensing cost for us to pay. By moving to a comprehensive open source solution, we can redirect the significant cost savings into our collections and other services.
We want to hear from you if you have any questions or concerns. You can submit questions or report any problems to our support team using our Report A Problem form. You can also email Patrick Roth, Head of Systems and Discovery, at [email protected].
You can also contact your liaison librarian with questions about the System Migration: