Summon: Training the trainer

Over a month ago Rebecca Price from Proquest delivered some training for our librarians entitled ‘train the trainer’ which was a useful overview on how Summon works and how to introduce it to students.

Unfortunately not all our librarians were able to attend this session so I have been delivering this session to a few groups of librarian adapting the content to reflect our own experience and instance of summon. (see below for presentation slides)

From meetings and discussions it was clear that having an overview on how Summon worked gave more confidence in the system and helped discussion on its use and potential issues, in hindsight I think it would have been useful to have this training very early on in the implementation process.

It has also been interesting to see how many changes and improvements have been made to Summon in the last year, with increased content, improved auto-complete etc. I am encouraged by this pace of change and am looking forward to see how summon develops and meets expectations.

Train the trainer

I start with an overview of why we have Summon and a key driver is to improve student experience, at the moment all we provide our students with is lists of databases and therefore they need to have a good idea about what it is they want and which database would contain that information before they even start their search.

I then talk about how Summon indexes a multitude of information, from ejournals, newspapers, ebooks etc. I think its important to highlight the range & variety of sources as this in turn effects the results list. Its also helpful to explain the record they see in the results list is the summon master record which is crafted from duplicate resources.

Talking of what Summon covers always leads to the inevitable question about what it doesn’t cover. While the majority of our full text online journals, ebooks and records from our library catalogue are covered we do have a number of A&I databases, directories, industry standard resources which are not covered, a list of which we will be making available to staff & students. We are also discovering that in some cases not the full breadth of the database is covered or we are not able to link directly to article level.

I follow with doing a search on summon, reminding staff that boolean operators will work if typed into the search box. On seeing the vast number of results I can then talk about the importance of using the refine features in the left hand column to narrow down results. I think this is a useful opportunity to show the one of the 7 lenses in information literacy, evaluate. I often choose to refine by Subject Terms in order to highlight the include and exclude option, which add in the NOT and OR operators. I also like to remind people that some of those refine options are dynamic and depend on the results retrieved.

I round up the presentation noting issues that have been raised over the last few months as we have been working with system and highlighting what we can do to resolve or accommodate these issues.

I think Summon is not the answer to everything and the key is using it in the correct context, we are retaining all our current routes therefore if someone is looking for a specific book from our library, they can continue to use the catalogue. It is clear that dependant on the subject area and the faculty it may be useful starting point for 1st years while for others it may make more use to introduce it at a later point in their studies. Summon is a valuable first step in the research process, a useful starting point.

We are now much clearer about what is not covered by Summon & therefore in some subject areas we may stick to our current routes and continue to direct staff and students to specific databases, for example with Law.

We are still working on the authentication and look to be running a mixed economy of EZproxy and AthensDA which is not our ideal as there is still opportunity for our staff and students to encounter a log in challenge.

I think this year will be extremely useful in understanding more about Summon and more about the expectations from our staff and students all of which will help in our development and presentation of the service. While working towards the implementation date of next month it is also clear that this is only the start of the process, this is not a conversation that will be ending any time soon


Summon – Content

One of the issues that has always been a priority for me when looking at resource discovery tools was content.

In order for the service to be successful we need to ensure that relevant appropriate content has been indexed and so far in testing I am encouraged with  the results we have seen.

In the first stage of implementing Summon the main content to be indexed is

We have hopes for adding local collections in the second stage.

With  the library catalogue in order to ensure the data is being surfaced in Summon we purchased ‘Capita connect’ and are now working on mapping the data and tweaking the display.

With our electronic resources (approx 100) , once we identified the ones we currently are unable to index (approx 10) , we have then been working through the list and adding to Summon. In some cases its simply a matter of locating it in the knowledge base and switching it on while in others we are having to check our holdings, import data, troubleshoot queries etc.

Summon – Communication

At the end of last year the library and CICT began a project to implement Summon, a resource discovery tool. Summon will allow our staff and students to easily search across the library’s collections from one single search box.

searching summon

searching summon

We hope to update this blog with news and developments. We also have a number of groups set up to communicate progress and issues wider.

Project group – members of the elibrary team meet regularly with a project manager from CICT to monitor how the project is going and if we are meeting proposed deadlines. Summary highlight reports are sent out regularly to senior colleagues.

Technical implementation group – Mark, Robin, Chris, Trudi and myself meet monthly to work on adding the appropriate collections to Summon.

User champion group – a group is being set up to include members of the library, academics, students and reseacher’s who will help champion and promote the service to their peers

Library Summon user group – a group was set up with representation from all the teams within the library to help the technical implementation team and also to provide an opportunity for feedback from the library.

The types of issues we will be discussing are

  • Testing the service – trying out lots of different searches, thinking of user cases
  • Authentication – making sure access of and off campus works well
  • Marketing – promoting and marketing the service

We hope that communication via these groups and this blog will provide a good overview for those interested in this project as well as providing plenty of opportunity for feedback for all key stakeholders.

Let us know what you think.

Capita briefing

I attended a Capita Briefing event last week in London which provided a good overview of current & future developments of its services. Its always interesting to hear from the company and see what direction they are heading as well as getting the opportunity to feedback.

I was particularly interested to hear about their developments regarding a mobile version of the library management system, Alto, which they are currently calling iLMS. The aim is to provide a ‘lite’ version of the LMS, a web interface, on devices such as a tablet, laptop etc. For example a scenario could be changing a borrowers details  or even issuing an item while out on the library floor via a tablet. At a time when many libraries are looking at moving away from being behind a desk and  finding ways to bring services and information to the user at point of need, this looks like it could be a very helpful service. An area which I think would really benefit from a mobile LMS is  stock management, it would be great if a mobile LMS and RFID could be integrated so stock changes could be made at the shelves. I really liked the idea of focusing on some of the key functions of the modules with the LMS and decoupling them from the client based LMS to provide a web interface opens up some great potential.

Resource Discovery is a topic the elibrary team have been following for a few years so it was interesting to hear about Capita’s augmented search, which allows other collections to be searched alongside Prism 3 (the library catalogue).  I personally see this as providing a similar service to Summon (more on that to come) which we are in the process of implementing. I am however interested to see how this develops especially with regards to the potential integration of the library catalogue services and other collections. Alongside ‘augmented search’ Capita continue to develop Prism 3 and one of their latest features is the idea of ‘community collaboration’ allowing students to tag items, rate books, create wish lists, write reviews etc. I think the idea of ‘community collaboration’ is very timely as we are constantly looking for new ways to communicate and engage with our students, although I can also see the potential for problems in terms of the validity of the recommendations etc. I would however be delighted if our students invested the time in providing critical feedback on our collections.

I am very interested in how resource discovery will develop, I can see potential in providing a customised search ie searching across a borrowers wish list & reading lists for items, although then this does begin to sound like the ‘Google search, plus your world’ feature which has a number of flaws having just read Phil Bradleys blog post on it.

I have also always been interested in exploiting any qualitative and quantitative data gathered on user search behaviour, ie search logs etc and whether this could help improve subsequent searches.

Capita have also recently commissioned some research on – what students want and what they do with the data – and will be sharing their findings which I am looking forward to reading.

It was a useful day with interesting people and I even managed to catch a glimpse of the changing of the guard having got a little lost on the way to the venue.

For further details on Capita

JISC Conference 2010


Fiery-blooms at Kew 2009

The theme for the jisc conference this year was  ‘Technology: at the heart of education and research’ and links to presentations and more is available in the Virtual Goody Bag

The keynote speaker Martin Bean set the tone of the day with an enthusiastic, dynamic talk on the ‘learning journey’. Even though I wasn’t completely convinced of everything he said I was encouraged by his visionary outlook and he reminded me of the value of education.

He saw a clear place for libraries  but with a move from helping students retreive information to helping students make sense of the information and saw ‘trusted content’ as key. Personally I have always seen part of the information retreival process as identifying the trusted content first. I look forward to the day when we can spend less time showing staff and students how to access the content easily and have less authentications problems to resolve.

The 3 parallel sessions I attended were focused on collections and discovery. In the morning I went to the session on ‘Navigating the UK’s libraries, museums and archives: A vision for resource discovery’. Their vision was ‘UK students and researchers will have easy, flexible access to content and services through a collaborative, aggregated and integrated resource discovery and delivery framework which is comprehensive, open and sustainable’

I think this is an exciting vision although the complexity of the landscape is a worry. During other sessions in the day I learnt more about  new collections being built and developed. As the landscape continues to grow and become more complex I was left wondering how this vision to provide easy flexible access is achievable. I am also not completley sure what place ‘resource discovery solutions’ have in this landscape as they build their large indexes of aggregated data. I am however looking forward to seeing this develop and there are looking at some quick wins in this area which was encouraging to hear.

Another trend I noticed from the sessions I attended was the importance of showing value, an outcome of the current political and economic climate. Alongside showing value was also the need to be flexible and find sustainable business models, as talked about in the session ‘Business models for sustaining digital resources’. It was interesting to hear how the National Archives are generating £7m of income. The growing trend in interest in family history has been effectively targeted by the National Archives to help generate income . The, an archive of french TV & radio are also looking at monetizing their collection, through DVD sales although do also provide free access to their content as well.

The final session I attended was ‘Community collections and the power of the crowd’. It was fascinating to hear about how networks and communities are creating such valuable  & exciting resources.  Oxford were able to show the difference in cost in creating a crowdsources collection the ‘Great War Archive’ compared to the cost of a professoinal sourced collection ‘First World War Poetry Archive’ and not unsurprisingly it was much cheaper to crowdsource, £3.50 per image as opposed to £40. They encouraged people to submit their own scans & set up roadshows for people to bring along items to digitise. While this approach was experimental they were pleased with its success and are now providing a resource for others to do something similar, RunCoCo. It is interesting to see how these collections fit in & compare with more established publisher colletions.

Over lunch I also had the opportunity to hear about some work Mimas had done to get feedback from users. They were able to get some good qualititative and quantative data in a short period and to use to show their value. I was especially interested to hear what feedback there got from academics and researchers on their use of Zetoc, COPAC and Archives Hub and was encouraged to hear how much value they place on these services. I think this helped confirm my belief in them as a trusted source and a reason to recomend them

I enjoyed the day and the highlight for me was the opportuntity to meet more professional staff whose enthusiasm and vision make be have confidence in the future of education and the role of technology

Google Vs Resource Discovery Tools

Here is a video link which Andrew Sayer first mentioned to me recently:

I think it  illustrates the perception that many students have that their starting point for any search should be Google. Yet we can provide (perhaps) a better way to search for any given topic on campus by using our own resource discovery tools. It’s a very cleverly crafted video and gets the message across perfectly.

Resource discovery: demonstration by ExLibris

would you buy a used resource discovery tool from this man?The first of our Autumn series of presentations is happening in the Training Room, City North on Friday 9th October 2009, at 10.30am when ExLibris will be showing Metalib (federated search) and Primo (next-generation discovery tool).

Here is a list of Primo sites, as supplied by Robert Bley of ExLibris.  For Metalib sites see Aston Guest Login to MetaLib and Coventry Metalib.

We hope you can come along, and we’d welcome your comments after the event.

image credit: Adolph B. Rice Studio