“MayoSearch” 20th Anniversary 1993-2013

January 31, 2013 at 11:12 am

2013 marks the 20th anniversary of Mayo’s integrated library system which initially included a suite of databases from Ovid Technologies, Inc. (previously known as CD Plus Technologies; Ovid is now owned by Wolters Kluwer Health) called “MayoSearch” and the Micromedex drug information system. For a limited period of time Aries’ Knowledge Finder (an Ovid competitor) was also offered. Together MayoSearch and Micromedex formed one phase of a larger multi-year project called the Mayo Integrated Library System (MILS) which recognized the importance to Mayo Clinic of providing networked access to library resources and integrating these resources into developing systems such as the electronic medical record. The scope of MILS which included a library management system and online catalog also helped define the scope of Library resources and systems into the future. A current systems diagram of MILS on the Mayo intranet is available and various system components are listed and defined in “Knowledge Informatics: Library Systems that Support Mayo Clinic Success”.

Golden Gopher Gopher Protocol for Distribution:  The electronic resources and distribution software were located on servers at Mayo Clinic Research Computing Facility data centers at the three group practice sites. The Gopher protocol was client/server software was developed in 1991 at the University of Minnesota. The implementation of MayoSearch also included the distribution of approximately 250 personal, department-based, and library-based workstations to the three practice sites for access to the resources since Mayo Clinic at the time was primarily a main-frame based organization, although the ERIS (Electronic Results Inquiry System) project had begun and also required workstations.  Gopher provided an efficient and scalable platform for a large organization to distribute electronic resources and utilized a hierarchy or taxonomy to identify and label the available resources (which ultimately required a “Mayo Gopher Committee” to adjudicate hierarchy listing issues and conflicts). Library staff worked with Research Computing Center staff and Information Services staff at all three campuses to create the system and processes to distribute library resources electronically to workstations for the first time at Mayo Clinic. Implementation of Ovid and Micromedex spurred significantly higher usage of these systems which drove a demand for library instruction programs. In response library staff developed training programs which firmly established end-user library instruction as a core service. Ultimately, the HTML protocol and the Web replaced Gopher as the dominant distribution system.  Following the introduction of web browsers and their commercialization with the introduction of Netscape in 1995, the Library developed one the first websites at Mayo for the distribution of electronic resources.

Dollar Initial Rationale = Budget: While the distribution of networked electronic resources and integration with other systems were important considerations, one of the main considerations for development of the early system was the spiraling cost of providing unlimited access for a growing number of Mayo Clinic end-users via BRS/Colleague subscriptions paid for by the institution. MILS with MayoSearch and Micromedex as core services represented an enterprise solution and fixed cost alternative which could be overseen more effectively and which could be accurately budgeted on an annual basis. The 1995 post implementation review of MayoSearch and Micromedex report stated that “These systems have made profound differences in the way public services in our libraries are provided and how medical and scientific literature is accessed throughout the institution…The total online hours logged in August 1993 (804 hours) reflects institutional subscription usage before the availability of MayoSearch. The total online hours logged in September 1994 (2,244) reflects MayoSearch usage.  MayoSearch enjoys far greater usage at much less cost than the BRS Colleague strategy.”

The term “MayoSearch” was retired some years ago but the early MILS efforts with MayoSearch and Micromedex led to the development of the Library intranet portal as an institutional hub and launch pad for databases, knowledge informatics systems, and fulltext resources of value to the institution in all subject domains. High usage of these systems (approximately 16,000,000 in 2012) reflects ongoing high value of these networked resources for employees and students. 

 Submitted by,
J. Michael Homan
Director of Libraries

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