eReference Platforms – The good and bad features

I spent Monday with several librarians in a discussion on the future eReference platform.  I’m referring to products like Credo, GVRL, Sage Reference Online, Oxford Scholarship Online, etc.  Our discussion revolved around platform features, good features and not so good features.  I’m going to list some highlights of the discussion below, but would really like to have input from others about features you and your end users want and expect.

Do Features:

  • Allow library branding with logos and links to the library home page and help pages
  • Did you mean…spelling suggestions
  • Faceted searching
  • Group entries from the same reference title together so that the results list is not cluttered with the same book
  • Interconnectivity – provide an option to search journal/database collections from the interface, this is convenient for researchers who use an eReference product to get the big picture and then want to narrow in on a topic
  • Offer multiple pricing options, one size does not fit all.  Title by title, subscription, collections, pay per view (by article or book), patron initiated purchasing
  • Cite this source options for popular style guides
  • Search widgets to embed on web pages, course management systems, emails, etc.
  • Export citations to a variety of citation management systems, including Zotero
  • Make sure the reference librarians know what features are in the administrative area of the interface.  Many times the electronic resources librarian knows this, but reference folks may not.  Sometimes there are gems of info in there
  • Self-service options – email, download, export
  • investigate more interactive features including audio and video clips (see don’t features)

Don’t Features:

  • advertise on the search pages
  • display content that the library did not purchase
  • put dictionaries and directories in the same platform as the A to Z subject encyclopedias, the one line entries clutter the search results
  • don’t waste the effort of providing user logins to save/comment on items, the group didn’t feel that students would take the time to do this
  • don’t add audio and video clips for the sake of adding, make sure the content is vetted, just like the text