Meet University of Manitoba Libraries

Posted by | June 24, 2013 | Stories | No Comments

University of Manitoba

Noting the Differences in Discovery Layer Offerings, Canadian Research Library Opts for Greater Flexibility, Control and Efficiency with Ex Libris Primo

Known as a leader in innovation, the University of Manitoba Libraries (a member of the Association of Research Libraries) was early to adopt discovery in 2009 with their implementation of Serials Solutions’ Summon. The staff anticipated that the discovery platform would help them gain new efficiencies while delivering ease of use and increased end user satisfaction. However, only with the transition to Primo in 2012 was the promise of efficiencies realized along with some other benefits they hadn’t expected in terms of user satisfaction and customizability.

The University of Manitoba, home to 19 libraries serving over 29,000 students, maintaining over two million book volumes and 60,000 e-Journal titles, implemented Primo in only six weeks. This allowed users and librarians to quickly enjoy the system’s flexibility, speed, and intuitive approach to search and discovery.

Prior to the transition, staff time at the Libraries was wasted on repetitive and inefficient processes. Because the discovery knowledgebase was different from the Libraries’ ERMS and the OpenURL resolver, it took over one week per month to update holdings in their various systems. “If you think about our 90,000 different links, we had to turn all of those on – twice,” confesses Jen Funk, Access Specialist at the Libraries. “When we purchased Summon, the vendor promised us that they were working on a batch loading system to work with our link resolver. Three years later that never happened.” With Primo, everything is automated, So now Library staff now receive monthly emails from Primo listing packages updated by the system, reducing the time spent from one week per month to one hour. This capability translates into three additional months per year that can be dedicated to new initiatives.

In addition to freeing up staff resources, the Libraries also receive significantly fewer complaints from patrons since launching Primo. “We’ve found that we’ve had far fewer problems reported with Primo,” reflects Lisa O’Hara, Head of Discovery and Delivery Services. “Now, when we receive feedback about Primo, it’s usually limited to things that we can fix ourselves in SFX or with one of our catalogers, which means in real time. Before, we often had to wait for someone on the vendor side to fix it which could be frustrating.”
The increase in user satisfaction also stems from patrons finding what they need more quickly. The Libraries’ ongoing usability testing suggests that students are finding relevant resources noticeably faster. “Our students are so fast at finding what they want in Primo that we had to redefine our timing parameters. In our earlier usability studies, students were successful if they found their materials in under a minute, but now they are finding what they need in seconds,” boasts O’Hara.

So what’s the future for Primo at University of Manitoba? First, they plan to customize the discovery system in a way which was not available in their previous system. Libraries typically customize the advanced search options, add facets and modify their order on the screen, and adjust the ranking boost factors of their local collections. According to O’Hara, the best part of Primo is that both students and staff are happy with the system, as evidenced by feedback she received from her University Librarian after the implementation. “For the very first time, when she searched for Library Journal it came up first in the results set. She was happier.”

To see the University of Manitoba’s implementation of Primo, visit their library website at

About May Michaely

May is a Customer Development Associate for Ex Libris North America based in Boston, MA. She's responsible for customer interviews, public relations, and community building via social media.

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