Sunday, June 17, 2012

Branding library discovery services - what are libraries doing?

When a libraries purchases a library service whether it is a next generation catalogue system, a web scale discovery system or a link resolver , one decision that has to be made is to decide whether to "rebrand" the service. For example many libraries are using the III's next generation catalogue "Encore" or SerialsSolutions Discovery System "Summon". How many of these libraries have chosen to rebrand the system Summon and call it something else?

To find out, I went to Library Technology Guides Libwebcats , did an advanced search (free registration needed) for libraries  using Summon. This yielded me about 227 results.

I ignored examples that landed me on non-English sites and duplicate sites (I count institutes with multiple libraries as one). In many sites, I couldn't find any mention of Summon on the front page, this could be because they no longer used Summon, or was still in beta testing and not yet pushed out to users?

In a few examples such as California State University Libraries, I couldn't tell for sure if they were using APIs to do something with Summon, though in others like Royal Holloway University of London,   Dartmouth College,  Villanova UniversityUniversity of Michigan , State University of New York at Buffalo, Simon Fraser University North Carolina State University it seems they are.

Libraries retaining the name Summon

In many cases it was obvious that the library has chosen to embrace the original brand name Summon. This can be done in many ways.

The most obvious way that the library shows it embraces the original name is to not only put the name on the front page but also include the logo.

I see about 11 examples where the Summon logo is on the front page of the library site.

More subtle examples would be libraries naming the tab or box Summon, including Summon in the search field or even button name, adding a "What is Summon link?"or in cases of libraries not having a search box on the main page, a link text that says Summon.

University of Regina, Tab name is Summon

University of Cincinnati, Summon in search field 

University of Tasmania, What is Summon? link

 Lebanon Valley College, Button Name is Summon

Staffordshire University, radio button is Summon

Cornell University, Tooltip says Summon

Middlesex University, Link text to Summon (no search box on main page)

How many libraries are retaining the name Summon?

Overall how many libraries retain the brand name Summon?

I count 56 out of 130 examples or 43% , where the word Summon appears on the home page of the library. This includes examples like University of Victoria which uses Summon@UVC Libraries , Missouri Southern State University which uses Summon@MSU, York College of Pennsylvani which uses YCP Summon and University of Missouri - Columbia which uses Summon@MU

This probably underestimates the actual number of libraries using the name Summon, because in some cases like the Florida State University Library  while the home page does not mention Summon (or any other brand name for that matters), if you go into the help file by clicking on "more information" it does mention Summon.

I believe seeing if Summon is mentioned on the library main page is a fair (though not infallible) way of quickly seeing if the library is intending to use Summon for marketing purposes, since you probably won't put it in such a prominent spot if you don't intend it to be known as Summon.

Do note that even for libraries who do choose to brand Summon as something else, you can still usually see the word "powered by Summon" on the results page and the URL still includes... 

University of Houston, brands Summon as OneSearch but search results still shows Summon

My understanding is that unless you use the Summon API to create your own interface, you can't really change the URL though, so the presence of such details does not mean the library has chosen *not* to brand Summon something else. 

Libraries rebranding Summon with their own name

While I found 43% of libraries were most probably using the Summon name, this did not mean the remaining 57% definitely chose a alternative name. Why?

While it  was relatively easy to confirm if a library was definitely using Summon as the name for marketing it was harder to determine if they chose something else. In some cases is relatively clear cut but in others all you get is a generic tab that says "Everything" or "Find articles, books and more" or even a button or tab name that says "Quick Search", that it's hard for me to determine if the library has shown a brand name or if it's just a generic description.

Of course some libraries are still using Summon in beta and may not have decided on a name yet, but my sample includes only a small handful of examples where libraries use the word beta and another handful where Summon isn't the default  (more on this in future post) so I would say most have quite established use.

Examples of libraries where I couldn't figure out the brand name

Brown University, unclear what name is used for Summon

In the case of Brown University Library, it's unclear to me at a first glance what if anything Summon will be called. Even clicking on the ? icon next to it pulls up a help page that talks about "New Library Search Service" , though further down it mentions use VuFind and Summon. 

Duke University Library is anotther example, where the tab name is ALL and clicking "About ALL" link just describes what it does but does not give any name to the service.

Perhaps for some libraries they think there is no need (or no need yet?) to give another specific name to Summon beyond calling it the library search? 

Still there are many libraries who believe in branding the Summon Service.

Probably the most popular popular set of brand names resolves around "OneSearch" or variants of. I heard that this was case, but it's good to confirm. Personally, there may be concerns that "onesearch" might mislead users into thinking it really searches everything. Moreover the name Onesearch might be trademarked already.

East Carolina University 1ne Search
Oregon State University 1Search
Arizona State University Library One Search
Edith Cowan University Library OneSearch
American University -- Cairo Library OneSearch
Oakland University Library OneSearch
James Cook University. One Search
University of Arkansas One Search
University of Manitoba One Stop Search
University of Florida. OneSearch
Stevens Institute of Technology OneSearch
University of Houston OneSearch

As expected other popular names includes the word search in them. I can't be 100% sure if the ones that are "Library Search" is a generic description or a name though.

Baruch College Bearcat Search
Columbia University ClioSearch
Kyushu University Cute.Search
Eastern Michigan University Esearch
Simon Fraser University Fast Search
Sheffield Hallam University Library Gateway/ Library Search
Arizona State University Library One Search
Edith Cowan University Library OneSearch
American University -- Cairo Library OneSearch
Oakland University Library OneSearch
University of Waikato Library Search
University of Dundee Library Search
University of London -- Royal Holloway Library Search (beta)
Griffith University LibrarySearch
Vancouver Island University LibrarySearch
Lincoln University LibrarySearch
University of Houston-Downtown LibSearch
Pennsylvania State University Lion Search
University of Canterbury MultiSearch
Western Michigan University Power Search
University of Missouri RooSearch
Rollins College R-Search
Princeton University SearchIt@PUL Article+
 Erasmus University sEURch (Summon)
Australian National University SuperSearch
Wellesley College SuperSearch

The "Article+" and "Discover" variants. Some are obtained from tab name, button name and may be just the generic description not the name.

University of Miami Article+
University of Michigan ArticlePlus
University of North Carolina Articles+
Glasgow Caledonian University Discover
Vassar College Discover
Saint Joseph's University  Discover!
California State University -- Chico Discovery

The rest including "Quick" variants. Some are obtained from tab name, button name and may be just the generic description not the name.

Murdoch University Findit
Eindhoven University of Technology Focus
Texas Christian University Frog Scholar powered by Summon
University of Pittsburgh PittCat+
Queensland University of Technology Quick Find 
University of Southern California Quick Search
College of William and Mary Quick Search
University of Texas -- San Antonio Quick Search
University of Alaska Anchorage Quick search powered by summon

What does it all mean?

Honestly I am not sure. Most of the names chosen are obvious, descriptive. I am a bit surprised that most of the names are of the type Xsearch and also slightly below 50% are retaining Summon.

My impression is that for web opacs or original library catalogues there are a lot more unique individual names e.g "Newton" or "Orbis" , but without doing another comprehensive check I can't confirm this.

But let's take a step back and consider that there are actually 3 options.

a) Retain the brand name Summon
b) Rebrand to something of your choice
c) Neither a or b, just call it something descriptive like library search or "search everything"

a) Reasons for leaving the name as Summon.

1. Inability to change the url which includes the word summon (see above) , unless using API

2. If all libraries retain the brand name Summon, researchers can move from institution to institution and understand what they are using. Similar to how undergraduates world over know what JSTOR is

3. No matter what you brand, nobody cares might as well keep the original name

4. Ability to reuse vendor marketing material (does Summon have any?)

b) Reasons for picking your own name

1. Dislike of the name Summon. What does it mean?

2. If we brand our own name such as "Msearch", we can continue to use that even if years down the road we change the system. (Still I wonder if it's a different system shouldn't you call it something else to avoid confusion?)

c) Not picking a name and leaving it generic or descriptive like "library Search"

1. Why make it difficult for users to use by making them learn a new name particularly if it means nothing to them without learning what it does?

So what is your take on rebranding? What do you call your library's webopac, Discovery platform, next generation catalogue etc? How did you decide what it was to be called?


While doing this survey, I also took note of a couple of other characteristics including whether there was a search box of some kind, if there was, was it a single or multiple independent boxes vs multiple tab box (horizontal vs vertical). Whether each box used had check boxes, radio buttons, drop down menus and whether the Discovery service was the default etc.

More on that in the next blog post.

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