Summon: reading up on discovery

I recently asked our newest member of the elibrary team, currently filling in as Serials Librarian (Maternity Cover), to have a play with Summon. Being a conscientious information profession she did a little research and hightlighted the following sources as most helpful in giving her a better understanding of resource discovery.

I remember finding the following 2 diagrams from proquest (in the summon user guide on the client centre) particularly helpful in understanding how summon works

So what resources helped you to understand how Summon/resource discovery works?


Summon: the word is out

Summon is due to be launched at the beginning of September, earlier this week we spotted the first announcement by the university’s marketing department in a regular staff newsletter called Did you know?

Summer Conference – Professional staff

It was the Professionals Summer Conference yesterday and in the morning we had an external speaker, Peter Sylvester, come along to talk to us about communication & networking, in the afternoon we heard about the STAARS project & worked in groups looking at more local communication issues.

We did a number of activities in the morning which helped us consider how we communicate, the first was to talk about Who, What, How & Why we did what we did. This highlighted the need to start with the information most relevant to the person you are talking with & therefore ‘Why’ we do what we do was the most useful starting point as opposed to who we are. A recurrent theme was that at a fundamental level working in a university means the work we do enables skilled graduates to enrich society.

Hearing teams describe what they do highlighted the amount of overlap & inter-dependencies we have within L&LR supporting the need for effective communication.

We also completed a personality test based on DISC (Moutlton Marston) behaviours identifying our own behaviour style. I have a dominate style meaning I have a  tendancy to be task driven & quick to make decisions. The group was then divided by their styles & we were tasked with discussing how best to communicate with the different groups.

I find it helpful to acknowledge that we all have different styles & approaches and therefore need to adapt our communication appropriately to get a message across effectively, although admittedly in real life other pressures & drivers sometimes means I am not as successful as I would like to be.

In the afternoon we had the opportunity to hear from the Centre of Academic Success on the STAARS project which involves working directly with students to identify whether the services they offered were relevant & how best to market them.  Wal (CAS) & a student delivered an interesting presentation on the process they went through and the value of having student input into the service.

We were also given the opportunity to think about the challenges currently facing HE and then in particular BCU and it’s staff and students. This was an useful excersise in highlighting how much the environment has changed & priorities shifted. Some of the challenges we discussed was value for money and trying to do more for less, although appreciated there would be a breaking point and also speed of change especially in technology. I found it useful food for thought with regards to the mornings discussion on the value of working in a university in terms of being part of the process of enriching society.

The day ended with us working in groups looking at a couple of scenario’s and discussing how to resolve any issues and who to communicate with which provided the opportunity to focus on how we communicate internally.

These are my thoughts of the day, anyone want to share how they found it?

Searching Summon : a pilot in the faculty of Health

There has been some interesting blog posts recently about the relationship of Boolean and other techniques to discovery tools recently (see for example Library search tools. Could we make them harder to use?) and being involved in a couple of recent pilot sessions in our faculty of Health reminded me of this debate.

One of my teaching colleagues commented ‘You wouldn’t use it [Summon] if someone’s life was at risk’ – true, but there again would you really trust a database front-end to give you what you want? What with the amount of ill-matched content, paywalls to negotiate, openURLs to fail, links aggregated from a third party, relying on eresources to try and save a life would be a risky strategy to say the least – whatever the platform.  But confidence in retrieval is just what, say, a student nurse in our Defence School of Health Care Studies might require.

The pilot sessions we conducted so far bought the expected rash of error messages: a realization that Nexis UK content doesn’t work (all of it – so we have temporarily switched it off), a problem with the Nursing times through Ovid (why did the Nursing Times not have full-text article links but others did – was it because it was weekly?), a ‘Page not found’ for a one journal. We realized for example that an ‘Author’ limiters on the left-hand side only appeared where we had loaded a related MARC record into Summon, and they did not seem to appear with to other resources. The session also gave me a chance to study the Summon interface close up, including what looked like a fairly decent attempt to break it: !

Summon search log

Looking in the Summon search logs shows a variety of terms entered, many of them keywords aimed a particular specialism :for example one entry shows the search ‘foreign accent syndrome‘.

The real  challenge that Summon brings with it is to traditional information literacy : an academic commented that it was ‘easy to use’ but would be great for undergraduates, who maybe come straight from searching Google but without any of the skills, rather than later years where searching habits need to be more refined. Summon is dynamic, but buries its structure : whereas CINAHL, for example, can be overtly complex but requires more methodical searching.

For example I compared the above two searches for this query ‘foreign accent syndrome : on CINAHL Ft on Summon

One thing that immediately stuck me was that the traditional skills of thinking’ about the ‘context’ of the keywords you use still applies, in fact they become even more important with Summon. Another was that the differences are not necessarily about Boolean logic (pace @daveyp and @carolgauld) – both sets of terms are ANDed by default. The differences seem to me to be the level of information that is fed back to the searcher , rather than the technique themselves.

One interface gives you large number of quick results but then requires you to filter, searching across all resources – the other filters first and makes you structure your search. Here I am reminded that we have set up most of our native databases to default to Advanced rather than Basic – did we consult we any students to do this? Did we offer any options? –  the Basic Search screen in CINAHL for example, is more ‘googlised’ and closer to Summon’s Basic search.

It would be helpful in my view if Summon unpacked some of its ‘magic box’ – and gave your more feedback as you search (here I think an option to get the instant numbers of searches that you get back from each term as you go along might be useful, to show the results set from each interaction). It doesn’t do itself any favours in the ‘Advanced screen either’ : do students really need a search using an ISBN or ISBN box right up there as a priority? The crucial point however is that the student is more on their own (as they would be with Google), gets results back quicker (even though they have to trim them down more – as with Google). They are using a search engine for *library stuff* that is closer to what they have may have used before they came here.

We are hoping to get more in-depth results from library colleagues in Health who have circulated some student questionnaires so it should make for some fascinating reading…

Summer Conference – staff training

Last week the library held a Summer Conference for all staff within Library & Learning Resources. It was a busy day with talks from the current Vice Chancellor, Judith and Health & Safety, the highlight of the day for me was the ‘Roadshow’ where various teams across L&LR set up a stands showing aspects of each teams work.

It was interesting to see the variety of presentation techniques used and the impressive amount of creativity within the room. Many teams used games and quizzes to engage with the audience and present specific issues. A great example of this was the Millennium Point stand where staff where given the Tower of Hanoi puzzle which cleverly illustrates the difficulties they face with their current stock move.

During the roadshow staff were put into groups and asked to spend 10 mins at each stand, therefore presentations were being done back to back for over an hour. I thought the collection management team’s  fun video with large flashcards detailing the type of work they do, in the style of Bob Dylan’s ‘Don’t Look Back’ was a great way to combat presenters fatigue.

The elibrary team put together a presentation using Prezi, showing the different work done by team members including a short animation. On the day we encouraged staff to leave comments on post it notes on what they thought the elibrary team did, any questions, suggestions and comments. There was also a short quiz where the group were tasked with deciding which section of the team a certain activity took place, if the activity was allocated to the right section the letters in red would spell out Well Done. I thought the elibrary team did a great job in presenting the varied areas of work which we are involved with.

It has also been interesting reading the comments from the post it notes and we will be following up on any questions and areas where we need to tell people more about, such as Summon. There was also an interest in the software used to create the presenation, Prezi.

Click on the image below for a link to our presentation, do watch to the end for our little animation

Mind the Gap

Recently,  I travelled to London for the CILIP Executive Briefing on eCopyright for Libraries and Archives  (#ecopy 12).  Arriving at Marlyebone station at the height of rush hour,  I passed on the walking map being offered to the public and made a beeline to the Bakerloo line.

Due to frequent disruptions on the line and sardine-packed trains, I abandoned the Underground and headed for the nearest taxi to take me to the CILIP headquarters.

It was a journey worth making.

Nick Poole from the Collections Trust opened the day with a keynote speech which gave a complex overview of what is happening in Europe and, ultimately, the UK.

He suggested that a lot of debate about copyright isn’t about copyright at all but about “bigger issues of democracy and economic development, many of which are brought into the focus of technology.” In essence, the discussion is about contract law (licensing) and civil rights.

ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Act) has been signed by the EU but not yet ratified. Not surprisingly, opponents to ACTA  have organised themselves via social networks (like the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) opponents in the US).  In it’s current form, ACTA may not see the light of day.

Also on the subject of Europe, we also heard from Georgia Angelaki, Business and Policy Coordinator, about  the Europeana project. More about this project in a future post.

Back to the UK,  Naomi Korn, gave an excellent presentation on the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property (IP). She suggested that not all of the Hargreaves, recommendations will be adopted (for example data & text mining). It is also realistic to expect that contract law will continue to override education exceptions.

Ben White, Head of IP at the British Library,  spoke about the definitions and issues regarding “orphan” works.  These are works that are still in copyright, but whose owners cannot be traced or contacted if they have been identified. The EU draft directive is under review and might not be implemented in its current form, if at all.

Emily Goodhand brought to life several points about EU directives and UK case law, explaining how the legal system works.  The devil is in the detail, particularly when it comes to big questions for the courts, such as what does “communication to the public” really mean? Where does infringement happen (jurisdiction/territory), and how temporary is “temporary?”

We also heard from Heather Caven, Head of Collections Management and Resource Planning and Roxanne Peters, Project Manager: Rights Management, about rights management and how they have adopted a holistic approach at the V&A.  They stressed the importance of clear IP strategies and guidelines to ensure that your rights management  doesn’t end up resembling the Winchester Mystery House.  This 160  room house was constructed with 147 builders and 0 Architects. Needless to say, there were many doors leading to nowhere and skylights on the floors.

Lastly, Sarah Fahmy from the Strategic Content Alliance, communicated to us the importance of sustainability, especially after the economic crisis.  One of the case studies was the Southhampton Library Digitisation Unit. Initially, it was set up with the purpose of providing a mass digitisation service to external clients. However, over time the changing market led to a change in its business model.  The service dedicated itself to meeting institutional needs.

Reflecting on all the presentations from that day,  I still feel uncertain about the effectiveness of the Hargreaves review in closing the gap between the rightsholders /publishers of content and those  who wish to repurpose it for educational, library, and archival purposes.

Descending back into the Underground’s claustrophobic depths, it amazed me how a complex transport system originally built by the Victorians continues to operate in the 21st century,  for better or worse (in my case).  I also agree that copyright  is a  symptom of a  bigger problem.  This challenge is the massive gap between using technology to support innovation and the law which hasn’t kept up at  the same pace.

Yes I do mind the gap, and will continue for some time in the future to watch my step.  On the ground, it still remains a question of risk management.Image

Copyright: © Thinkstock

Copyright, London and Wombles

written copyright symbol

They are giving away walking maps at Euston for the Olympics. Most punters chose the underground. I am not a Womble, so I walked to the venue for CILIP’s Executive Briefing; eCopyright for Libraries and Archives. 
It was worth getting wet.

There are few things as complex as the current UK copyright landscape and
Nick Poole’s keynote presentation confirmed this. Commenting upon recent UK and EU issues, he stated that there was no certainty in any proposed recommendations. This included the government commissioned Hargreaves Review of IP and Growth. Lobbying and responding to any calls for evidence was advocated to protect the positions of both libraries and archives.
Maybe I am part of an underground movement after all? 

This stance was also championed by
Naomi Korn in her more in depth look at Hargreaves. She talked about the speed of technological change in comparison to that of legislative; the nebulosity of the proposed Digital Copyright Exchange; that there were over 50 million orphan works across sectors and there will be no safeguards to educational exceptions whilst they are not protected by legal measures.

Ben White, Head of Intellectual Property at the British Library concentrated on orphan works. Here there is still discussion to be had about the definition and understanding of the issues surrounding these types of work. We will hopefully see a White Paper this year.

Emily Goodhand gave us an IP Case Law Update. This is always useful for interpreting fair dealing. We were given an overview of the UK legal system and she commented upon the recent NLA v Meltwater/PRCA case where as little as 11 words mattered when it came to a claim regarding copyright.

Georgia Angelaki, Business and Policy Development Coordinator, Europeana talked about the importance of standards and the project’s approach to open content licensing.

Heather Caven and Roxanne Peters outlined  a more efficient and holistic approach to rights management at the V&A. This is an attempt to mitigate clearance of rights processes.  In the past it has taken 35 working days to clear 1150 rights for 850 posters (the example that they used). They emphasised the need to be proactive, get senior level championship and match your work practice to the policy of the institution.
What is the copyright policy of your institution?

Sustainability of digital resources was the topic presented by Sarah Fahmy from The Strategic Content Alliance. The key to which is the IP that you own.

Did I say that it was a packed day?

On my return walk to Euston, a man flew past me holding onto a map the size of a small car. The latter must have got caught on the wind.  A walking map perhaps?  A sticking plaster approach to a much larger problem?  Not exactly fit for purpose much the same as current copyright policy.  At Euston, a man on his phone told a caller that he was at King’s Cross; evidently he was as bemused as I. Even so, I hope to do the right thing when it comes to clearing rights.

Just like Orinoco in fact, maybe I am a Womble after all…. now where did I put that felt hat?

Summon: Feedback from testing

The feedback on Summon after a little testing was generally positive although we did identify a few issues.

Using Summon to locate a book was mainly effective while the results list was much larger that in comparison to just the catalogue, generally the book they were looking for was on the front page. It was noted that the results list were not always displayed logically as the latest edition was not at the top of the list. Some searches, such as ‘Great Gatsby’ were less successful as the results list was overwhelmed with journal articles but this could be corrected by using the refine to ‘item in library catalogue’

Using Summon to locate a journal article with a partial reference was universally agreed to be much quicker however there were a number of dead links within our results, for example we found a number of articles on the Ebsco platform where the linking was not working as expected.

Using Summon for subject searches was positive in terms of generating plenty of results however there was frustration in only being able to use one limiter at a time & also not having as much flexibility to refine results as the native interface.

A clear advantage to Summon was that it saves time and is a less complicated search process. Without Summon searches would have had to be run in a number of places. Summon also provided an ample results set although this was not always a positive factor.

Comments from the survey supported these opinions, the staff liked the speed of search, the simple layout and the wide coverage. They were however disappointed with not being able to link through to content easily, the overwhelming number of results and the duplication in the results list. A ‘clear search’ function would also be useful.

They could however see the value in Summon when dealing with subject search queries or trying to find an article with partial details.

In general they found Summon easy to search and navigate.

Areas which we need to gain a better understanding of and address if possible are

  • Results not being effectively de-duplicated
  • Results where the link provided does not take them to the correct resource
  • The ‘Language’ refine showing incorrect results

Personally having now had the opportunity to run a range of searches I am now more interested in the level of indexing and linking provided per resource as I feel this will have an impact on whether or not we continue to include it in our Summon instance.

SSUGUK : conversations about content, and a community of users

Several of us attended a useful SerialsSolutions User Group day hosted by University of Surrey, the first part of which was setting out the scope of such a usergroup, raising product issues & also the developments and product enhancements planned by SerialsSolutions.


The session was hosted by Dave Pattern who took us through in the morning session the different ways in which we could share solutions and raise issues to the company including the Summon Community wiki, and the LISSERSOLUK mailing list. It was good to see a full complement of Serials Solutions representatives there who listened to points that were made from the floor about a number of issues : how do you reduce the number of newspaper articles and book reviews cluttering up Summon (the response came that can pre-set these in a widget – personally I think there should be an admin setting that should last for the whole of your Summon session not just your landing page, but at least we got the issue raised), an issue with linking through to EBSCO databases (due to be addressed in the next release of Summon).

Other themes included how to use EZProxy (some insititutions run it through Shibboleth which gives a cleaner authentication, we don’t as we currently only have an old version of AthensDA), and the perennial problem of working out what content we have and how to switch it on in the Client Center. An easy example (close to our hearts) is MINTEL for example. It’s great that MINTEL reports can be surfaced in Summon, but in order to work out what to best switch on in the knowledge base we have to know (from the rep) which library codes apply to our subscription (otherwise we get the whole package of reports which we don’t subscribe to).

Switching on content in Summon would be easy if the publishing market was neatly packaged, but it is a complex landscape, as Liam Earney outlined in the afternoon when he went through the challenge facing KB+, now in Phase One of its life cycle. As an institution that only has one NESLi2 deal at the moment though, this first phase might seem irrevelant to colleagues here – but any work that shows that publishers (and subscription agents) need to put their house in order when providing us with content, (and ourselves when we buy that content & consequently legitimize it).

However I think that the issues start to kick in when we move outside the deals/packages, and start wading through the undergrowth of individual titles. For example we have to set up access to Practical Diabetes International – because it seems recent content has not been loaded onto Swetswise  and we needed an alternative access point. Searching for that title on SerialsSolutions’ Client Center gave 48 places where that title is published, with 45 relating to Wiley. Which one to switch on?

The fun starts with holdings : if I ignore 7 or so backfiles, there are 36 places where holdings dates start in 2000 as a default. A quick look in Wiley’s admin area says ‘Holdings Report – Under Construction’ – so no help there. So I go back to the Client Center, ignore any journal bundles and look for Practical Diabetes International in something called ‘Wiley-Blackwell Journals (Frontfile Content)’ that sounds non-bundled. Out of the 1961 titles in this particular group, I find the right journal, tell it that we ‘subscribe to only some of the titles in this database’, check the start date on Wileys’ pages (which is 1996, different from Swets), and add it to our collection.

The point of this is that switching content on in a resource discovery tool like Summon means getting to grips with which collections you have. At both macro and micro level. It was good to see SerialSolutions engaging with the issue of content, but I did notice that a lot of their development talk was on 360 Resource-Manager – a product which we don’t have. However the day was a great way to discover that we weren’t the only ones struggling with content issues, and I felt that at least those conversations had begun.

The Library Services Platform; a step change in Library Automation

I was in Sheffield recently for a conference run by MMIT; the CILIP special interest group for Multi Media & IT in Libraries. The theme for the day was “Reduced budgets – increased impact” and the event featured a couple of keynote speakers, a selection of workshops,  a set of 5 minute “fixes”, a Q&A session with the speakers and presenters, and an interactive voting session during which we used some rather slick technology to vote in real-time on thoughts about the future of MMIT. It was a packed day with a lot going on and in this post I’m going to focus on the main keynote presentation, delivered by Marshall Breeding, who recently left his post as Director for Innovative Technology & Research at Vanderbilt University in Nashville to concentrate on writing and speaking.

“Paradigm Shift: a Slate of New Automation Platforms Address Current and Future Library Realities”; was the somewhat daunting title for a fascinating insight into the present and future of Library management systems. It’s now clear that current Library automation products are out of line with current realities because what we are doing in Libraries is changing so rapidly; influenced most notably by the shift from print to electronic formats, and the expectation of Library users for more engaging interfaces to resources and services, delivered via the web to a variety of platforms and devices.

What we currently have is effectively a historical accident; a collection of separate systems that don’t work well together and are inefficient. The current Library Management Systems are good at dealing with tangible assets, but much less so at managing digital resources, so to handle these we need separate Electronic Resource Management systems for our subscription resources, Digital Asset Management systems for our own digital content, Link Resolvers, Discovery Layers and so on. What’s really needed now is a new, more flexible model to provide comprehensive resource management.

Marshall has coined the term “Library Services Platform” to describe the systems currently under development that will automate the Library’s internal operations, manage collections, fulfill requests and deliver services. Marshall predicts that they will be subscription based, hosted and managed remotely by the vendors and delivered to us as Software as a Service. SaaS enables the idea of Data as a Service, so these systems will be based around what Marshall called a “knowledgebase architecture”; a highly scaleable globally shared model through which we can use our combined efforts to build large scale systems around collaborative knowledge bases. They will support new and existing metadata structures, and, crucially, have open APIs that we will be able to exploit to do more with our data.

Marshall suggested that we are now in the early phase of a 10 year cycle that will see our existing legacy products gradually being replaced by these emerging Library Services Platforms. There are already early examples available now, or due to be launched shortly; look out for Worldshare from OCLC, Alma from ExLibris, Intota from Serials Solutions, and Sierra from Innovative. The Open Source version to keep an eye on is Kuali from Kuali OLE.