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Primo Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about Primo at Illinois

Do you have other questions about Primo?  Please send them to Jenny Emanuel.  This FAQ will be updated as we get more questions and we have more information during implementation.

Introducting Primo | Content | Interface Issues | Searching Primo | Implementing Primo

Introducing Primo

Why Primo?

Web-scale discovery systems, like Primo are becoming more and more commonplace in academic libraries; many of our peer institutions have already implemented such systems.  User studies also show that library users are interested in being able to get different types of library materials from within one interface, which web-scale discovery systems attempt to do as seamlessly as possible.  For these reasons, a small group within the library has been looking at these systems for several years.

We did look at other products, including EBSCO's Discovery Service (EDS), Proquest/Serials Solutions' Summon, and OCLC's WorlCat Local to see which would best fit in our environment and infrastructure.  They all had pluses and minuses and often gave preferential treatment to each vendor's resources.  We went with Primo because it best integrated a large number of resources we have from multiple vendors under one interface.

Primo allows us to integrate resources and services that may not be included within it in much the same way we currently do with Easy Search, using an API.  It also allows us to integrate our various digital collections into it.

What's the difference between Primo & Primo Central?

We're actually purchasing two products, and you may hear both terms.  Primo is the interface through which you search for content.  Primo Central is the actual content.  So Primo Central is comprised of all of the records for specific articles from various sources (databases, journals, etc.). 

What are we calling Primo?

So far, just Primo. But do you have a good name we should consider?  Let us know!

What other institutions have Primo?

Lots!  Northern Illinois, Purdue, and Iowa to name a few.  We're working on a list of additional institutions.

Is there a shorter URL for Primo?

You can use this url:  But do not link to that URL from a webpage--it will slow thing down.  Just use it when you need something short for an email or chat.


What resources will be in Primo Central?

There is a long list, available here.  Many scholarly publishers have their content in Primo as do resources from CrossRef.  Other major vendors with materials indexed in Primo Central (or coming soon) include ACS, Alexander Street Press, ABC-CLIO,Brill, East View, Emerald, Gale, IEEE, JSTOR, ScienceDirect, and Web Of Science.  We're working on a list of what is in Primo and what is not.  Unfortunately, this is a complicated process--some things in Primo differ from the actual resources in terms of coverage and content.

When we add additional resources to our collection, if they are available in Primo Central, we will turn them on.

Primo has our catalog information, but not iShare holdings.

Currently, Primo contains some of our digital collections.  We are working on having materials from archives and IDEALs as well.

What isn't in Primo Central?

Proquest titles such as Historical Newspapers and Digital Dissertations are not in Primo because they are only in their product, Summon.  Only some of EBSCO's databases have content in Primo, which is determined by which are included in the EBSCO API--here's a full list.  However, ExLibris has agreements with many of the journals within EBSCO databases, so approximately 70% of EBSCO database content is in Primo Central by means of other vendors.  If you're interested in how ExLibris offers content from an EBSCO database via other means, let us know, and we'll give you a list.

What's up with EBSCO?

You must be logged in to view results from EBSCO, and then you only get results from selected databases.  The results are not combined with other Primo Central results.  We hope that the next version of Primo (probably January 2013) will no longer require a login and will combine results.  We know that Primo prompts you to log in even after you're logged in.  We're working on this, but this will go away with the new version.

Why are there no HathiTrust records?

We had them in there, but there were serious deduplication problems.  You'd search for something, and HathiTrust items will clog up the results list.  So we took Hathi records out of Primo and put them in our custom tile instead.  We're looking at ways in improve this.

Now that we have Primo and it has our database content, can I cancel some databases?

Please, no!  If we discontinue a resource, then we are contractually obliged to remove it from Primo as well.

What should I do about my resources not being in Primo?

Whenever you get a chance to talk to a vendor, please encourage them to work with ExLibris to put their content into Primo.  The vendors have to do this, and it is up to us to encourage them to do so.

Interface Issues

Is there a facet for E-Books?

We are looking into this and it is high on our implementation list.

Can we set up an alert to find out when something is returned to the library?

Not right now, but we'll request this feature.

Can items that are not circulating have a message that they are not requestable?

We have this same problem with Voyager, which is where the data comes from.  At this time, we do not think there is a way around this.

Why does it say "View Online" and then only show table of contents or cover art?

We think this is an issue with the 856 field being incorrectly coded.  We're working on a batch fix for these items.

When I click on full text, what happens?

It does a search in SFX looking for the full text--just like when you click on the Discover button.

Searching Primo

Can I use Primo Off Campus?

Yes!  You will not be asked to log in until you get the full text.

What's up with the authentication?

Primo uses the "old" Voyager way of authenticating.  ExLibris is pushing us to connect with VuFind, though that will probably cost us a fee.  Meanwhile, we're leaving that alone because the campus is looking at a new authentication system.  However, we might move to something new once authentication changes across campus settle down.

Can I use Boolean?

Yes, you can!  But it has to be in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS

Is there a way to search by an exact year?

Not now, but the new version of Primo (to be installed before the start of the Spring Semester) does have this as a feature.

Can I truncate searches in Primo?

Yes, Primo can truncate searches, but not on a single character.

How are results ordered (by relevancy)?

You can specify how you want results ordered using the drop down menu on the right side.  ExLibris sent us a document explaining how they rank items--it is a proprietary algorithm--but it was vague and did not help us answer this question.  However, we can tell Primo to give preference or "boost" certain types of resources,and we've specified we want title matching results to display first.

How is popularity decided?

Popularity sorts by pages most viewed.  We're not sure this will be very useful.

Where do the subjects come from?

The subjects come from the source of the item, so subject heading are not consistent throughout Primo.  Not every item has a subject heading.

Can I search for Microfilm/fiche?

We're working on creating facets for these materials formats.  In the meantime, you can search for MFICHE* with any search term.

Can you browse call numbers?

Yes, you can search for a call number stem and add the wild card (*) symbol to the end.

How does Primo deal with Voyager records with large holdings?

Primo will choke if there are more than 800 records, just like Voyager does.

What are Scopes?

Scopes are different collections to search.  They are in the drop down menu next to the search box.  By default, Primo searches all of its contents, but you can limit to just things in the OPAC, just articles, just titles of journals and databases, or digital collections digitized in our library.

Implementing Primo

What is the plan for introducing Primo to the library?

We've released it to the library!  We're hoping to have a soft rollout to the public in January, 2013.  A soft rollout means we'll link to it, but it will not replace Easy Search at that time.

How will the public search Primo?

We're not sure about this yet.  Primo may have its own page, similar to how you search Voyager or VuFind now.  Or we could integrate it into the library homepage like Easy Search is now.  Or it could be one of the targets within Easy Search, just like a database is now.  We're reviewing what other institutions have done, as well as conducting our own user studies on this topic.  If you have a strong opinion about this, like what another school has done, or know of research that may influence our decision, let us know.

Is Primo going to replace Easy Search?

We do not know.  As stated in "How so I search Primo?", it could be integrated into Easy Search, be yet another search interface, or it could replace it.  We're fairly certain it will not replace Easy Search before the next academic year, as we need to use it to see if it is actually a viable replacement or just a complementary product.

Is Primo going to replace Voyager and/or VuFind?

The catalog (both Voyager and VuFind) are not going away, as they are not directly managed by the Library. CARLI does have plans to phase out VuFind in the coming years, but that does not affect Primo.  There is talk about no longer linking to Classic Voyager from the library homepage--most libraries in CARLI are not using Classic Voyager any more, but we'll have to see.

What is the relation of Blacklight planning to Primo?

Blacklight is an open source OPAC (online public access catalog). Blacklight uses Solr to index and search, and it has a highly configurable Ruby on Rails front-end. Blacklight was developed at the University of Virginia Library and is made public under an Apache 2.0 license. Blacklight does many of the same things that Primo does, including search items in the online catalog, filter results by format, dates, or keywords, sort results by relevancy ranking, generate RSS feeds for notification of new materials added, and integrate articles and other digital resources into the user's searches.

Currently, the Library is utilizing Blacklight with the BibLeaves project, which is a web-based tool that searches & discovers bibliographic collections. Eventually, the plan is to add editing capabilities to BibLeaves so that it can be used with the Medusa project (as a hydra head). Right now, Blacklight is not a target for Primo but it could be configured in the future if the Library wants to make it a target, particularly incorporating the Library's digital collections that will use Blacklight in the future for search and discovery.

Other libraries are examining how to make Blacklight a target for web-scale discovery service and also to make the Primo Central index a target within Blacklight's search (see the University of Viriginia Library). We will be watching these sites to see what options we have for the future.