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New library system to improve information discovery and research experiences

June 29, 2018

As part of its continuing transformation into a model library that ensures access to information, shapes future scholarship and inspires self-directed learning, the Drexel University Libraries is modernizing its automated systems to improve information discovery and research experiences. Drexel students, faculty and staff will be able to explore the first components of the new system in mid-August.

This new library system will utilize three simple yet powerful solutions from Ex Libris, a ProQuest Company: the Alma library services platform, Summon search tool, and the upcoming Esploro research services platform. The Libraries is replacing its existing Millennium library management system with the Alma platform, while continuing the Summon search tool for discovery of authoritative information resources. The Libraries will also lead Drexel as an early adopter of Esploro, testing this innovative research services platform and influencing Ex Libris’ development of it prior to general release next year.

Following the implementation of the new system, the Drexel community can expect more efficient discovery experiences that allow information seekers to find, access and share authoritative information resources—from books and journal articles to Drexel-generated research data and dissertations—faster and more conveniently than before.

“This system will allow us to realize our vision of simplifying discovery of trusted information resources by enabling search experiences that integrate relevant information, regardless of format or where they are held or deposited,” said Danuta A. Nitecki, Dean of Libraries. “It’s no longer enough for libraries to maintain a catalog of the resources they license or purchase. Today, we seek to connect researchers and learners—within both Drexel and the global community—to Drexel-generated research data and published outputs, theses and dissertations, as well as the resources we license and purchase. We aim far beyond building one local collection—rather, we are building a system to ensure that Drexel faculty, students and staff have quicker and more comprehensive access to authoritative content selected to support Drexel’s many academic tasks.”

Summon: Exposing Drexel’s Available Resources

The Libraries is replacing its online library catalog with Summon, a powerful yet simple search tool that will improve access to all electronic and print resources librarians select for relevant use in teaching, learning and research at Drexel.

The Libraries currently offers Summon for discovery of journal articles as well as print and electronic books, but not for other resources such as databases, data sets, streamed videos, and archived photographs. Following this change, Summon will be used to search all the Libraries’ physical collections and licensed electronic information resources.  

“Drexel students, researchers, faculty and staff will only need to search in one place,” explained Beth Ten Have, Director for Library Academic Partnerships at Drexel. “Information seeking will look largely the same, but Summon offers a much more robust, sophisticated search function. They can use a much wider range of attributes, like publication year, language, type of resource or format to limit search results. This tool is intended to more effectively enable all members of the Drexel community to access the information they seek by finding, then connecting directly to the content, all in one place.”

Alma: Simplifying Drexel Libraries Workflows

The first step towards making this improvement occurred in fall 2017 when the Libraries subscribed to the innovative, cloud-based Alma Library Services Platform.

This platform will replace the Libraries’ long-standing management system, Millennium, which has been in use since 1998. Millennium—a system originally created to manage and organize a library’s print holdings– has become less effective in allowing the Drexel Libraries’ staff to manage efficiently electronic resources and databases, metadata descriptions, discovery, circulation, reserves, and resource-sharing services. Alma’s advanced analytics will also enable the Libraries to make better-informed, evidence-based decisions about expenditures for licensing and purchasing information resources in support of the University’s curriculum.

“The Drexel community won’t see major changes with the implementation of Alma,” said John Wiggins, Drexel Libraries’ Director for Library Services & Quality Improvement. “Alma will support all our internal processes, giving staff advanced, cutting-edge tools to manage all our acquisitions, purchasing and inventory control functions to better support teaching, learning, and research.”

Ann Yurcaba, Drexel Libraries’ Director of Administrative Services and the project manager of the Ex Libris implementation is also enthusiastic about its impact on improved productivity and personal development opportunities for staff. “By introducing a fully cloud-based system, we anticipate fewer requirements for staff to manage equipment and software and instruct use of automated search tools. This will enable staff to expand and apply their knowledge in designing new tools and exploring innovative ways to inspire more self-directed and information savvy habits for relying on information while at Drexel and beyond.”

Esploro: Maximizing Impact of Drexel Research

The Drexel Libraries also looks forward to leading a campus-wide partnership with Ex Libris to finalize the Esploro library research services platform through participation in its Early Adopter program. Drexel will be among a handful of research institutions that will field test a pilot version of the platform and influence the company’s completion of it for general release in about a year. We anticipate the research service platform will help researchers easily identify relevant grant funding opportunities and streamline the capture, management, and dissemination of their research output and data.

Esploro will also broaden the impact of Drexel’s research output and maximize the efficiency of managing research data and publications for global discovery and access. The solution offers a single platform that will be able to showcase all Drexel research assets, including publications, data sets, and creative works, with integrated search and display. The platform will deliver this improved visibility through the introduction of automatic identification of research assets, wherever they are held, and by capturing related metadata. A test version of Esploro will be available to Drexel in the coming months.

A Next-Generation Integrated Library System for This Generation’s Research Experiences

Today, people have no problem finding information through a Google search, but those seeking trusted sources most relevant to their query may have problems finding authoritative information quickly. The Libraries will leverage Ex Libris’ state-of-the-art system platform and search tools along with librarians’ expertise in vetting information resources for its clients’ academic use. The results will enable today’s dragons to effectively and with less effort navigate scholarship, improve staff workflows and productivity, and expand global access to Drexel research assets—further transforming a truly modern library.

For more information, contact the Libraries at

About Ex Libris
Ex Libris, a ProQuest company, is a leading global provider of cloud-based solutions for higher education. Offering SaaS solutions for the management and discovery of the full spectrum of library and scholarly materials, as well as mobile campus solutions driving student engagement and success, Ex Libris serves thousands of customers in 90 countries. For more information about Ex Libris, visit