Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Salem Press Library Blog Awards 2012 - Best Academic Library Blog


I am proud and honoured to receive the 2012 Salem Press Library Blog Award - Best Academic Library Blog!

Time flies and more than three years have passed since I decided to first blog on a whim. Compared to the earlier years where ideas and blog posts flowed so fast I could barely set them down fast enough, I was struggling a bit this year to come up with good posts so I was pleasantly surprised to be listed as a finalist  (my first time ever!).

A glance at the nominees showed I was in very good company including heavy weights and long time bloggers like Stephen's Lighthouse , iLibrarian , Librarian by Day (eventual winner in Public Library category), David Lee KingBlue Skunk BlogDaring LibrarianAll These Birds with Teeth Agnostic, Maybe etc. 

In particular in my category among other strong nominees like Bibliographic Wilderness (a top notch blog on cataloguing/semantic web/Systems), Scholarly Open Access (of Beall’s List of Predatory Open-Access Publishers fame)Spurious Tuples (hello fellow LSWer!)Waki Librarian (great coverage of conference sessions) there was also Sue Polanka's No Shelf Required which probably needs no introduction as *the* place to keep update about ebooks in libraries and eventually placed second. 

Amazing company to be in. For a full list of nominees, winners and runnerups see http://salempress.com/Store/blogs/2012_blogs.htm . Congrats to everyone and thank you for those who nominated and/or voted for me.

The description above about me is a bit too kind particularly the bit about how my blog helps others to "replicate his successes at our own libraries". I am not sure if I have that many successes to replicate. :)

Seriously, no one library has a monopoly on innovation and successes, and in fact a common theme in many of my blog posts is to collect the different examples of creative ideas/implementations on a given topic (e.g mobile, discovery tools, social media uses etc) and put them in one convenient place, for my own future reference if I ever need to do the same projects and I am gratified to see that this seems useful to many readers as well.

I am constantly amazed to find for pretty much any topic I can think of researching, I will find several libraries are usually ahead of me, already having implemented interesting ideas for me to learn from.

In particular recently I have learnt and drawn inspiration from the work of Dave Pattern of University HuddersfieldMatthew Reidsma of Grand Valley State University ,  Ken Varnum of University of Michigan Library , discussions with the gang at LSW and of course my Personal Learning Network on Twitter. etc

This blog couldn't exist without the collective energy, passion and creativity of  librarians around the world for me to tap on and if I have ever highlighted any of your work or ideas, or benefited from your insight, thank you.

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... xxx.summon.serialssolutions.com. 

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 http://www.ecu.edu/lib/ 1ne Search
Oregon State University http://osulibrary.oregonstate.edu/ 1Search
Arizona State University http://lib.asu.edu/ Library One Search
Edith Cowan University http://www.ecu.edu.au/centres/library-services/overview Library OneSearch
American University -- Cairo http://library.aucegypt.edu/ Library OneSearch
Oakland University http://library.oakland.edu/ Library OneSearch
James Cook University. http://www-public.jcu.edu.au/libcomp/index.htm One Search
University of Arkansas http://ualr.edu/library/ One Search
University of Manitoba http://umanitoba.ca/libraries/ One Stop Search
University of Florida. http://www.uflib.ufl.edu/ OneSearch
Stevens Institute of Technology http://www.stevens.edu/library/ OneSearch
University of Houston http://info.lib.uh.edu/ 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 http://newman.baruch.cuny.edu/ Bearcat Search
Columbia University http://library.columbia.edu/ ClioSearch
Kyushu University http://www.lib.kyushu-u.ac.jp/?skinid=7/ Cute.Search
Eastern Michigan University http://www.emich.edu/library/ Esearch
Simon Fraser University http://www.lib.sfu.ca/ Fast Search
Sheffield Hallam University http://library.shu.ac.uk/ Library Gateway/ Library Search
Arizona State University http://lib.asu.edu/ Library One Search
Edith Cowan University http://www.ecu.edu.au/centres/library-services/overview Library OneSearch
American University -- Cairo http://library.aucegypt.edu/ Library OneSearch
Oakland University http://library.oakland.edu/ Library OneSearch
University of Waikato http://www.waikato.ac.nz/library/ Library Search
University of Dundee http://www.dundee.ac.uk/library/ Library Search
University of London -- Royal Holloway http://www.rhul.ac.uk/library/home.aspx Library Search (beta)
Griffith University http://www.griffith.edu.au/library LibrarySearch
Vancouver Island University http://www.viu.ca/library/ LibrarySearch
Lincoln University http://library.lincoln.ac.nz/ LibrarySearch
University of Houston-Downtown http://www.uhd.edu/library/ LibSearch
Pennsylvania State University http://www.libraries.psu.edu/psul/home.html? Lion Search
University of Canterbury http://library.canterbury.ac.nz/ MultiSearch
Western Michigan University http://www.wmich.edu/library/ Power Search
University of Missouri http://library.umkc.edu/ RooSearch
Rollins College http://www.rollins.edu/library/ R-Search
Princeton University http://library.princeton.edu/ SearchIt@PUL Article+
 Erasmus University http://www.eur.nl/ub/english/ sEURch (Summon)
Australian National University http://anulib.anu.edu.au/ SuperSearch
Wellesley College http://new.wellesley.edu/lts 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 http://library.miami.edu/ Article+
University of Michigan http://www.lib.umich.edu/ ArticlePlus
University of North Carolina  http://www.lib.unc.edu/ Articles+
Glasgow Caledonian University http://www.gcu.ac.uk/library/ Discover
Vassar College http://library.vassar.edu/ Discover
Saint Joseph's University http://staging.sju.edu/resources/libraries/drexel/  Discover!
California State University -- Chico http://www.csuchico.edu/library/ 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 http://library.murdoch.edu.au/ Findit
Eindhoven University of Technology http://w3.tue.nl/en/services/library/ Focus
Texas Christian University http://library.tcu.edu/ Frog Scholar powered by Summon
University of Pittsburgh http://www.library.pitt.edu/ PittCat+
Queensland University of Technology http://www.library.qut.edu.au/ Quick Find 
University of Southern California http://www.usc.edu/libraries/ Quick Search
College of William and Mary http://www.swem.wm.edu/ Quick Search
University of Texas -- San Antonio http://lib.utsa.edu/ Quick Search
University of Alaska Anchorage  http://www.consortiumlibrary.org/ 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.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Of library conferences - CONSAL XV & IATUL2012

I recently had the opportunity to attend two library conferences in June back to back, a first for me.


First off I was invited to CONSAL XV (CONGRESS OF SOUTH EAST ASIAN LIBRARIANS), a regional conference in Bali, Indonesia from 28 May 2012 to June 1 2012

I am still new to library conferences (you can count on one hand the number I have been to) so it was yet another great learning experience.

As a regional southeast asian librarian conference, CONSAL had a different feel from ALA Annual that I attended last year or the smaller scale LAS (Library Association of Singapore) Seminars .

First off, English was just one of the languages used, a lot of talks were in Indonesian as well as English, after sitting through the opening ceremony speech where part of it was in Indonesian, I only caught on later there were translation headsets one could get to get real-time translations in English or Indonesian!

Translation booth

Translator headset

The other major difference was that it was a regional grouping conference hence there was a distinct SEA Games feel or if you preference Olympics Game feel .... Besides the fact that 10 country flags of ASEAN were on the stage at all times the closing ceremony involved a procession like this... (see picture below)

Closing Ceremony

Spot the flags on the stage

The conference theme was Heritage and Digital Preservation, which wasn't really my area, though I did manage to catch a few interesting talks on institutional repositories, Information Literacy in Universities in South East Asia and social media. Looks like moodle is catching on.... But as I learned before, it's not the sessions that matter but who you talk to at conferences... more about that later...

Bali was truly beautiful though,the last time I was here was more than 20 years ago as a kid. The welcome and farewell dinners were held at amazing locations...

Welcome Dinner by the Kuta beach

Torch by the beach that reminded me a lot of survivor

Farewell Dinner

After the farewell dinner, I was introduced to a tradition in CONSAL where librarians from each country had to perform usually a national dance of some sort. The delegate from Myanmar (Burma) who was the sole representative did a sole rendition of their national anthem. Others from Thailand, Vietnam etc were so polished and professional, that a Indonesian Librarian sitting next to me asked me if the performer was really a librarian. (I have no clue) :)

Sorry for the poor picture. I think this was Cambodia

On the last day, I went on a tour of Bali, here are some selected pictures showing our beautiful Bali is (excuse my lousy photography on a iphone). 

Lunch continued the pattern of being held at amazing locations. Lunch was had overlooking this.

This opportunity to visit Bali, talk to librarians in the region was fantastic. Talking to Indonesian, Thai etc librarians was an interesting experience. Almost to a man they initially assumed I was from the National Library Board of Singapore (NLB), a common enough mistake particularly since NLB staff were out in force in Bali, partly I suspect to promote IFLA which is going to be held in 2013. (I believe Singapore had the fourth biggest contingent at Bali with 40? people.)

Still talking to them, drove home the point that NLB truly is a trend setter in the region and perhaps in the world, as many of the librarians in the region told me they made frequent trips to Singapore to learn from the National and Public Libraries here and to attend courses held by NLB.

I am embarrassed to confess that I didn't bring enough name cards and ended up with a bunch of name cards from other librarians that I am going to go through later to make contact via email.

Why I attended CONSAL

Truthfully, I did not expect to attend CONSAL at all, but I was informed a few weeks before that I was one of the final nominees for the CONSAL Outstanding librarian award and as such could attend CONSALXV in Bali as a guest of the organizer!

Why the surprise? Oh sure, I was told I was nominated for the award earlier this year and dutifully filled up the form (though I considered rejecting it) and even shot a simple video as instructed with the help of my colleague but I never expected it to get anywhere.

It was truly an honour to be even nominated , particularly when I looked up the records of past nominees and winners, I was stunned to see that most have long illustrious careers and substantial accomplishments. So I really didn't expect for the nomination to be accepted much less win anything.

As such I was really happy to receive the CONSAL silver merit award, which is truly unexpected and perhaps even undeserved because I don't think I have contributed that much to South East Asian Libraries really.

The award came with a small cash prize as well as conference fee and accommodation at Discovery Kartika Plaza Hotel.


The visit to Bali ended June 1 2012, Friday. But the adventure wasn't over yet!

Upon touch down in Singapore at noon on Friday , I was off to NTU (Nanyang Technological University) to do a dry run for a "Social Media Forum" I was moderating as part of IATUL 2012  conference. (International Association of Technological University Libraries)

Why I attended IATUL 2012

Again I initially didn't expect to attend this but I was truly fortunate to have my conference fees waived by the chair of IATUL 2012,  Choy Fatt Cheong (also University Librarian, Nanyang Technological University Library) in return for the job of moderating the social media forum (more on that later).

After meeting on Saturday two other colleagues of mine to prepare for the presentation of the paper   "Check-ins … not just for books! - NUS Libraries’ experience with Foursquare" , it was off to yet another conference beginning on Sunday with a reception at the Pod In NLB.

Me and my colleagues after presenting our paper, courtesy of rambling librarian

I won't talk much about the organization of the conference, suffice to say it was extremely well organized, everything ran like clockwork, great food and performances at the welcome and farewell dinners etc. Anyway this blog post here by "The Naked Librarian" describes it in detail and as you will see there are plenty of other channels with ample coverage with tons of photos and videos.

From my point of view I was more curious of the organizer's attempts to do what basically amounts to an amplified conference.  A Facebook page was created, as well as a Twitter account . Guest bloggers like The Naked Librarian and the Rambling Librarian were invited to help blog, live-tweet.

Presenters were asked for their social media accounts and encouraged to create about.me accounts tagged with #itaul2012.

Before each presentations, the audience was reminded to tweet to specific hash tags which was supposed to be pulled into individual pages setup for each presentation on the wordpress platform.
A twitter fountain was created and displayed on a large flat screen  dubbed "Giant ipad"

Livestreaming of keynotes and selected sessions were made available online. I understand also slides will be made available on a slideshare account I think.

I suppose given that the theme of this conference is "Library strategies for new generation of users" this focus on social media is fitting. 

The rambling librarian  created a twitter list of those of us who were tweeting but there were maybe only a dozen of us tweeting. I metup with @lgreenpd and  @morfaine both I believe from Curtins University, @betabib from Chalmers Library, @betabib in particular gave me some food for thought about branding of Summon during a talk at the reception on Sunday and I also learned a lot from his talk about the trends at Chalmers Library and the pros and cons of a library services platform. 

Lastly I also met up with @libraryfuture who was one of the keynotes speakers. There were many interesting talks at IATUL 2012 , including Beyond Boolean, towards thinking: discovery systems and information literacy but the one in my book that was heads and shoulders over the rest was the final keynote by Susan Gibbons, currently University Librarian, Yale University.

I've read about her work at University of Rochester but nothing beats watches the presentation live as she presented on her work there.

The social media forum that I was moderating was another first for me. Prior to this, I was on the panel once only and had no moderation experience previously. The panel/forum had a interesting twist in that the panelists were not librarians. We had a professor , a student, a education technologist and a staff  (not a librarian) working with the Singapore Memory Project at NLB and the idea was that after a week of hearing academic librarians present, we would let our users talk instead on three issues relating to social media.

It was a good idea but in my opinion it increased the difficulty level for a newbie moderator like myself.

I was clearly nervous and despite plenty of preparation by reading about the art of moderation, plenty of dry runs and learning about the panelists beforehand, I think I didn't do too well. Though thankfully the panelists helped me out by being articulate and eager to share their views despite my clumsy attempts to guide the conversation.

On the plus side, some tweets mentioned that this session was the most engaging yet, basically because there was two way interaction between the panelists on stage and librarians in the audience throughout the session.  Particularly when one of the panelists asked why libraries didn't have amazon like recommender systems. :)


I am truly fortunate to be given a opportunity to attend both IATUL2012 and CONSAL XV thanks to the organizers of both conferences for giving me the opportunity to attend.

It was a crazy two weeks, and while I enjoy attending conferences there can be such a thing as too much of a good thing. I am glad to be back at work, preparing for the new term to start.

On another note, I just noticed this blog was selected as a nominee for the Salem Library Blog Awards 2012 under "INDEPENDENT BLOG: Academic".

The choices for my category are


    Bibliographic Wilderness
    Scholarly Open Access
    Spurious Tuples
    Musings About Librarianship (this blog!)
    Waki Librarian
    No Shelf Required®

In 2010, my blog was nominated but didn't get to the finals to be voted on, so this is the furthest I have reached. Again this is unexpected since I think the quality of my blog posts have dropped since 2010 , as I am running out of inspiration to blog original content resulting in subpar posts like this one! :)

I suspect No Shelf Required which is *the* blog to read on ebooks for libraries is going to win this without breaking a sweat, but if you like to make it a tougher fight you can vote for me. :)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

More places to get your librarianship questions answered

Librarians today are a fortunate bunch, we trade ideas and advice from librarians thousands of miles away as easily as from someone in the same city using the internet and social media. As a result, new and good ideas flow very quickly these days. All it takes is one Librarian to tweet or post on a mailing list say a script he came up with that allows you to customize Summon and within days, libraries around the world would have copied this innovation.

No longer do you need to attend library conferences in person to get infected by new ideas or to leave your question unanswered because your organization lacks people with the right expertise.
Still is this scenario I painted really true? Does information, innovation in libraries and change occur faster today compared to say 20 years ago? Perhaps one day I will collect some data to try to support this hypothesis. 

In any case, I wrote Where do you get your library news? Evaluating library channels back in 2011 and it is time I updated it for 2012.

1. Facebook groups

I wrote about the "library related people" facebook group   I created in Nov 2010 when the new facebook group option was turned on.

It began as a social experiment and I am gratified to note that the group just exceeded 1,000 members today! 

Still this isn't the biggest Facebook group by librarians. 

According to their own description,  Facebook Group ALA Think Tank  is "facebook's largest active group of info-sharing for librarians". More about ALA Think Tank. As I write this it exceeds 1,400 members.so they may well be right.

Started by the controversial librarian JP Porcaro who was recently named LJ mover & shaker 2012, it is an extremely active Facebook group.

While you don't have a ALA member to join, due to the name understandably the group is mostly consisting of American librarians and less international in nature than the library related people facebook group.

Either group doesn't really have any specific theme beyond the fact it must be library related so pretty much everything goes from asking questions, sharing articles or comments. For most facebook groups you have to be either invited by facebook friends who are already members or you can apply and a moderator of the group will approve.

2, Linked-in Group

I don't really use Linkedin groups much but this network is very much viable in professional circles.

The largest library related Linked-in Group I know of is This Week in Libraries currently with 1,500 members.

Started by Erik Boekesteijn almost a year ago.

3. Stack Exchange

Q&A sites for librarians to ask their librarian peers aren't new. eg. Libcatcode . This is different in that this is on the well known stack exchange network platform which is popular with coders to ask programming related questions.

Now there is one for libraries as the Libraries and Information Science has gone beta at time for writing.

I haven't really tried stack exchange network but it is obviously very well designed for asking and answers Q&A with a incentive based system to encourage answering. I did a little experiment asking the same question to the facebook groups , linked-in groups and stack exchange and the last actually gave the best answers.

There are quite a few rules about the type and phrasing of questions you can put in, which gives it to me a Wikipedia like vibes which can be off-putting to new comers. 


There are plenty of librarian groups springing up all the time. What are the value propositions of joining yet another? This is something you have to decide by yourself. Factors such as size of group, diversity of group and possibility of getting questions answered should be considered.

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