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Concordia and university libraries across Quebec launch a unified search function and catalogue

Beginning this summer, the Sofia Discovery tool will offer faculty and students new efficient and user-friendly features
July 15, 2020
By Leslie Goldstein

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Accessing the research materials faculty and students need just got easier. Starting today, Concordia Library, in partnership with the Bureau de coopération interuniversitaire (BCI) and 17 other Quebec universities, is implementing a Shared Services Platform (SSP).

The SSP is now officially known as the Sofia Discovery tool. The name Sofia comes from the Greek word “σοφία” — meaning wisdom. It evokes the idea of knowledge and encapsulates the essence of the new search tool and unified catalogue that will be used by the library consortium of the BCI partnership.

The Sofia Discovery tool will provide Concordia Library users with access to more than 20 million items from the 18 partner institutions and will replace its current catalogue, CLUES.

It is an implementation of WorldShare Management Services, a cloud-based platform managed by the global library cooperative OCLC. It will serve as a single portal for searching, accessing and requesting material from the member universities.

The initiative was formally unveiled on October 11, 2019. Now the Partenariat des bibliothèques universitaires québécoises has created three new digital platforms that will allow faculty and students to access academic materials in both French and English from across the province.

All Quebec universities are joining the new system, including the Montreal-based institutions often used by the Concordia community: McGill University, Université de Montréal and Université du Québec à Montréal. A complete list of the participating universities is available online.

3 different platforms each serve a specific purpose

Library users will have access to three distinct platforms:

  • The Géoindex platform is a collection of geospatial datasets, including topographical maps and aerial photos from both past and present.
  • The Dataverse is a free repository software for the dissemination and preservation of small- to medium-sized datasets for all disciplines.
  • And at the heart of the system is the Sofia Discovery tool, a consolidated interface and database that will allow faculty and students to search all of the materials in the 18 collections more quickly, from wherever they are.

As Guylaine Beaudry, Concordia’s vice-provost of digital strategy and university librarian, explains, “Right now there are ways of finding the material you want, of course, but this system will make it much easier and save you a lot of time.”

The Sofia Discovery tool provides the following new features that will benefit all Concordians and enrich their library user experience:

Simplified research

While the consolidated interface of the Sofia Discovery tool is shared by the 18 institutions, the library users’ search results will indicate which of the universities have the same items in their collections and if they are available for loan. Users will immediately know what items are available at the Concordia Library and where else they can find them within the library consortium of the BCI partnership.

These search results also extend to other libraries in Quebec and Canada as well as internationally.

Bilingual platform

The consolidated interface of the Sofia Discovery tool will be available in French and English. Users will be able to choose the language.

Amnesty of library fines

Since the closure of the Concordia Library on March 13, no new fines have been accrued on user accounts for borrowed items. The Library is also forgiving fines accrued before this date.

With the migration to the Sofia Discovery tool this summer, any existing fines for items borrowed from the Concordia Library — with the exception of equipment — will not be transferred to the new system.

Automatic renewal of loans

The process of renewing items on loan will be more streamlined with the Sofia Discovery tool and will allow users to borrow a larger quantity of items. Library users will now be able to borrow up to 100 print items for a 30-day period. These will be renewed automatically by the system as long as they have not been reserved or recalled by another user and the account is in good standing.

Concordia Library’s website and explore the new Sofia Discovery tool.



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