WorldCat Quality Assurance Testing

Over the past year-plus, my library has been prepping a launch of WorldCat Local to serve as our new, single-search tool for library resources. Now that my colleagues in Metadata, Serials and E-Resources has done their work to prep WCL’s back-end, my team and I have launched a one-month Quality Assurance test.

Using Zoho as our testing platform, my team created four modules that aimed to:

  • test the out-of-the-box features of WorldCat Local
  • test the accuracy of our work in the Knowledge Base (to bring up full-text access, etc.)
  • provide an introduction to WCL features to staff and launch an internal conversation about WCL impact on our work
  • identify short-term and long-term fixes that will be carried out on our current configuration and metadata

The data we’re analyzing can be analyzed from a few perspectives:

  • Format specific failure rates
  • Basic vs. Advanced search failure rates
  • Database specific failure rates
  • Feature specific failure rates

We’re currently in the fourth week of our testing, but already we’ve identified a number of issues, some of which we have already resolved. Some of which we will take care of right after testing ends. In fact, I’m already seeing value in running a follow-up test right after we make some tweaks to the WCL service configuration that will likely fix the issue staff have seen in the testing. We can then compare the same searches pre and post-tweak.

I’m personally excited about the move from our ridiculously siloed approach to resource discovery (you know, the way libraries traditionally have had a bizillion different platforms that just boggle all but the most savvy reference librarians). Our new vision is to provide a single search box to get at our resources that will be approachable and logical to most users. Yes, certain researchers will still need the specific database tool, but for 90-95% of our users, WCL will probably suffice.

Actually, I think this will only get better over time. I was at an OCLC meeting in Chicago yesterday, and was happy to hear about how libraries currently using WCL are using it’s features to improve the relevancy and value of the library catalog…and getting up to speed with contemporary user expectations (that is the Google way).

We hope to put together a formal report by the end of March and then run a few more test before launching WCL with our new portal next Fall.



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