Round-up of #anzreg2019 sessions

ANZREG = the Australia / New Zealand Ex Libris User Group (the acronym is historic). This covers topics related to Alma, Primo, Leganto, Esploro, etc etc.

I was (not heavily) involved in organising the conference, and moderated the developers’ day, and my main takeaway from this is that if you have the option to pay $$$ for AV support during a conference, pay it: it’s worth every single cent to have someone there who’s responsible for the mics and livestreaming and remote presentations, and let you focus on the people and timekeeping and stuff.

Day 1

  • I made a terrible strategic decision not to liveblog the keynote “Libraries at the Edge of Reality”. Keynotes are often hard to liveblog and this would have been too but I regret not writing down the first point of Jeff Brand’s “Manifesto for Civilising Digitalisation”. It was – after talking about the respect people have for physical libraries and other spaces; about the grief people feel when eg Notre Dame burnt because they’ve got an emotional connection to it – about making a virtual/digital space that would deserve that same feeling and respect. It left me wondering what kind of website does this? The closest I can think of is Wikipedia maybe?
  • Predicting Student Success with Leganto – library joined an Ex Libris pilot project to see if it’d be possible to predict student success/failure based on reading list interactions. Some limited success but lots of false positives/false negatives. Would need lots more data, and lots of discretion if planning any intervention based on the results.
  • Understanding user behaviour and motivations – turned on “expand my results” by default and got a large increase in interloan requests, especially from first-time users/undergraduates. Big usability improvement.
  • Aligning project milestones to development schedules – introduced Leganto in multiphase project, making various bugfix/enhancement requests along the way
  • Exploring Esploro – had a very unintegrated repository/CRIS system built on manual processes. Esploro eliminates much of this double-handling, has automagic harvesting etc. Researcher still needs to upload full-text themselves but system sends emails.
  • A national library perspective on Almalots of original cataloguing which Alma isn’t strong in. Numerous challenges around this and born-digital items; various workarounds found. Make heavy use of templates.
  • “It should just work”: access to library resources – sponsor presentation on LibKey products which is essentially a redesigned link resolver plugin thing. Possibly a bit heavy reliance on DOIs and PDFs which limits how often it’ll be successful but it’s early days for the product and they seem keen to expand the cases where it’ll work.
  • A briefing from Ex Libris – upcoming improvements to MetaData Editor, CDI, COUNTER 5, Provider Zone content loading, next gen resource sharing, next gen analytics

Day 2

  • “Primo is broken, can you fix it?” – linking issues from Primo. Lots to do with EBSCOhost (partly including a move from EZproxy to SSO for authentication). Also discussed the infamous “No full text error” problem which Ex Libris apparently says is in development.
  • What do users want from Primo?  – very detailed talk on getting evidence on how users use Primo, and what improvements to make as a result. Includes links to survey kits and dataset of analytics.
  • Achieving self-management using Leganto  – Very successful implementation. Started with a small pilot project which helped finetune how they sold it, built their own confidence, and created champions among their userbase. But ultimately seems like their faculty just really like the product (even if they’re not yet using all the functionality). Library is retaining some functions in their control eg rollover.
  • Creating actionable data using Alma Analytics – using various dashboard visualisations to inform a large weeding project. Will share reports in community area.
  • Central Discovery Index – update on CDI from the libraries testing it. Testing only partway through. Some issues found, Ex Libris investigating these. Switchover is planned by July for all customers.

Developers’ Day

  • Primo Workflow Testing with Cypress – I’ve long liked the idea of automated testing, but figured I didn’t have the skills to set it up. With Cypress, which uses JavaScript… I just might. The time is another matter but I think I want to explore it as it could be useful for a lot more systems than just Primo, and give us early warning when things break (instead of us finding out days later when someone gets around to using and/or reporting it).
  • Using APIs to enhance the user experience – using the APIs to create their own user interface over the top of their various Ex Libris products for consistency, usability, robustness (by caching so it covers downtime better). Big investment of time! But makes sense in their context.
  • Harnessing Alma Analytics and R/RShiny for Insights – RShiny for interactive visualisation. Learning curve but powerful (and free!) Their talk showed some cool use cases.
  • You are what you count – another really detailed talk, basic theme being to be strategic about what you count – make metrics fit your strategy, not dictate it.
  • The fight against academic piracy – Splunk with EZproxy data to automate blocking users who fit a pattern of excessive/abnormal downloads. Some false positives but easily resolved and generally results in positive and constructive conversations.
  • rss2oai for harvesting WordPress into Primo – this was my talk, slides not yet live and I obviously didn’t liveblog 🙂 but the code is at At the last minute this morning I realised that I hadn’t included a section on what it actually looks like for users as a result, so hurriedly edited that in; during the session someone asked if we had analytics on how it was used which is another massive oversight I should rectify sometime When I Have Time (and can overcome my hatred of Google Analytics).

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