Jason A. Clark
Head, Library Informatics & Computing
Montana State University
Head, Collection Development
Montana State University
Today’s learners operate in digital environments which can be largely navigated with no human intervention. At the same time, libraries spend millions and millions of dollars to provide access to content which our users may never know are available to them. Through the SESMO (Search Engine & Social Media Optimization) Database Project, Montana State University Library applied search engine optimization, linked data, and social media optimization techniques to all of the library’s subscribed databases (e.g. Academic Search Complete, Web of Knowledge, PsycInfo). Our research shows that SESMO creates significant return-on-investment with substantial increased traffic to our paid resources by our users as evidenced through Google Analytics. This project offers a standard and innovative practice for other libraries to employ in surfacing their paid databases to users through the open web. We have based our research on Roger Schonfeld’s Ithaka S+R report, “Meeting Researchers Where They Start,” which points out that the “library is not the starting point” and even further that “the proxy server is not the answer.” This project meets our scholars where they start (in commercial search engines, like Google) and increases the likelihood that they will discover, access, and share our subscribed resources. The SESMO Database Project advances the deployment and stewardship of networked information resources by improving the chances of discoverability through unmediated general web searching. Returns include demonstrated library value through database recommendations, connecting researchers to subject librarians, and increased visitation to our library’s paid databases with growth in organic search referrals, impressions, and click-through rates. In this session, we provide a snapshot of SESMO and its application, including steps involved in presenting library subscribed databases as a findable, machine-readable collection, the methods of promotion for these items, and the ways in which this activity reaches new, and disintermediated researchers. These lessons have broad adaptability to any library seeking to connect commercial resources to today’s learners in a digital environment.
Project base URL:
Example item with linked data and social media/search engine optimization: