Tag Archives: catalogue

New workflows and skill sets in Alma #vala14 #s42

Melissa Parent and Lesa Maclean Go with the flow: discovering new workflows and skill sets in Alma

Fully hosted. Not a “library management system” but a “library services platform”. LMSs are built around a catalogue with holdings – description and access for physical resources, not good at dealing with electronic resources. LSP – new info architecture unifying resources management, print and electronic resources and workflows in one place, all systems in one system. [Yebbut I’m still tagging this with LMS though. As described really this just sounds like it’s not a *bad* library management system. I mean, it may do things really really differently it’s still a system that manages library stuff.]

Before Alma had Voyager LMS, SFX link resolver plus central knowledge base, Verde ERMS to do admin work of acquisitions, licenses, trials, relationships between eresources etc. Voyager and SFX tied into Primo discovery layer. Alma (also tied into Primo) unifies resource management – print and eresources together – description, access and management all in one place.

Ebook workflows: under Voyager took 17 steps to get ebooks from ordering to access. Had to edit data in extra steps with MarcEdit; activate in a separate SFX workflow; enter relationships and license associations in Verde. Under Alma it’s 7 steps: data automatically edited with normalisation rules at point of import; ebooks automatically activated in Primo; relationships/license associations automatically created. Idea of automation and human intervention on exceptions only.

Sounds wonderful and is wonderful but complex and powerful and takes time to get used to.

(LMS about managing bib records; Alma about managing actual resource.)

metadata management Institution zone Community zone
populated with eresources that can all share
inventory ebook connected into the institution zone by an “intellectual entity” ebook

By activating something in the Community Zone it pulls it into Primo discovery – but still being managed by Ex Libris, linked to Community Zone intellectual entity. So get a read-only copy of shonky Community Zone record. But can create a local copy of the record and unlink the bad record. Inventory is responsibility of vendor, but associated with our good bibliographic record.

Wonderful but complex for staff. People used to dealing with print-only now dealing with print and electronic. Dealing with both records and inventory, distributed across different layers and different zones. This can lead to confusion about what Alma is and uncertainty about when they see something in Alma is it normal (just new) or is something wrong?

Eg user encountered 7 duplicates on inventory ISBN search but didn’t recognise this as an issue.
Eg user loaded same file twice. Recognised it so went into problem-solving mode and deleted acquisitions info, inventory, bibs – but didn’t recognise that Alma should have just noticed the matches.

Next steps
Innovation requires collective effort – need to get everyone on board. Need more training and orientation. Need to look at the print/electronic division of knowledge – old division of tasks between staff doesn’t work with new technology.

Q: Monash – share your feelings, challenges, ideas. Do you have a feeling of how many records you’re likely to modify from Community Zone and how many to live with?
A: No systematic plan at the moment, just ad hoc. What about at Monash?
Q: Don’t know, probably quite a lot.

Q [me]: Can you feed back modified records to Community Zone for benefit of other libraries?
A: Not yet but Community Zone still in development and working group in place – not sure if they’ll develop in this way though.

Q: Were the changes as big in other teams as for you?
A: Circulation staff had things to sort through.

Q: How does this work with suppliers? Some libraries using suppliers like YBP to activate ebooks. Do you maintain traditional relationships or work on platforms?
A: Never thought of this, discussion hasn’t come up. What’s happening at Adelaide?
Q: Currently go to platform but not sure how it relates to sources like ebrary.

7: colour and technology #blogjune

Isaac Newton claimed there were seven colours in the rainbow. Personally I count six – there’s barely room for blue and purple, let alone indigo and violet, and Newton only went for seven because it’s a nice mystical number. But the association’s there.

I long felt that our catalogues should allow users to search by the colour of a book. After all, that’s one of the major pieces of metadata they remember. “Hi, I want to borrow the green thermodynamics book,” they’ll say. I’ve never quite understood why we painstakingly catalogue ix, 165 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. and don’t add #0033cc to the end. (Or, for that matter, why size and number of pages and presence/absence of illustrations aren’t searchable fields: it’d be handy to be able to search for a book on geraniums with more than 200 pages and col. ill.)

Some years back I saw a prototype of a library catalogue that did allow searching by colour; if I recall correctly, it took the cover images from [some source] and averaged the hex values. I don’t recall whether it let you search by picking a spot on a colour wheel or if that part was just my invention and it only let you choose from a list of colours.

In any case, this never got picked up on. At the time I saw two reasons, but I think now there are three:

  • Technology hadn’t advanced far enough: That is, while it was technically possible it wasn’t technically easy. Most libraries at the time didn’t have cover images in their catalogues. Vast amounts of metadata would have had to be added, and custom code would have had to be integrated into at least the public search interface of the library management system.
  • The customer isn’t always right: As often as not, “the orange risk management book” turns out to be black. Even when new editions and rebinding battered copies isn’t in play.
  • Technology has advanced too far: Who on earth is going to remember what colour their ebook cover is? Well, some and sometimes, but colour is a much less pertinent detail in the electronic context. And there are a lot of other ways to search now too, from all those “refine” options to full-text searching (a boon for all those “I photocopied this page and now I can’t remember where it’s from” questions).

I think it’s interesting how technological changes make some things possible and others redundant.

Links of Interest 26/8/09

University of Otago Law Library has a new blog to go with their new library.

Massey University Library have added book ratings to their catalogue – when logged in, your ratings show in yellow; when logged out, average ratings show in blue.

Westlaw have annoyed librarians everywhere with an ad that “Are you on a first name basis with the librarian? If so, chances are, you’re spending too much time at the library. What you need is fast, reliable research you can access right in your office. And all it takes is West®.” They have since apologised.

Useful sites
A Digital Outrigger is a blog covering issues in digital libraries and usability – it posts regular link roundups and is well tagged to allow focusing on specific areas of interest.

The JISC Academic Database Assessment Tool lets you compare journal title lists, databases, and ebook platforms.

Heard of Project Gutenberg but don’t have time to read all its books? Now Project Twutenberg aims to convert each of these books into a 140-character summary.

Food for thought
After a presentation on Digital Reference, some librarians have started talking about the emerging trend towards the real-time web and the real-time library. David Lee King points out, “remove all the 2.0, digital, online stuff from this idea, and we’re simply talking about the real, physical, day-to-day experience of a normal (yet very good) library. Emerging online services are working to make this normal, active experience we have at the physical library the same when we’re online.

Links of interest 3/6/09

Gateway to Scientific Data from the Canadian government.

Emerald Management Reviews Citations of Excellence Top 50 papers

The first time Europeana (a digital library funded by the European Commission) launched so many people visited that it promptly crashed. This time it seems to be stable and is very nice to browse.

Musopen “is an online music library of copyright free (public domain) music.” (Project Gutenberg and Mutopia also have sheet music; Gutenberg also has music recordings, moving pictures, etc.)

Have you ever used Tinyurl to make a short link for a long url? Now Krunchd gives you a short link for a collection of urls.

David Lee King writes about embedding a link to their virtual reference in their HIP catalogue (including on their Search Results page).

Stephen Abram writes about how phrasing on signage can increase compliance.

Non-English blog roundup #11 – the sharing edition

“Non-English” seems to have turned into French, probably mostly because that’s the language I read best. Must remedy this. In any case, today I’ve got a collection of blog posts sharing data:

The Assessment Librarian was thinking about computer posts in his library dedicated to catalogue research only and wondered how much use these got compared to computers available for any purpose. Data collected over two weeks showed:

  • Arts and Sciences branch
    • Catalogue-only – 12% usage
    • ‘Open’ computers – 51% usage
  • Law and economy branch
    • Catalogue-only – 7% usage
    • ‘Open’ computers – 65% usage

He concludes that, while it’s not straight-forward to analyse the results, it’s worth considering whether there are other possible uses for their catalogue-only computer stations.

Inspired by this post, Des Bibliotheques 2.0:

And De Tout Sur Rien has decided “I will no longer participate in projects in which the publication of my contributions in a digital format and under Creative Commons license […] is not planned from the beginning,” and calls for colleagues and/or readers to make the same decision.

Non-English blog roundup #8

Jeroen van Beijnen (Dutch) links to Idée Labs (English), which is playing with image recognition and visual search software. One of their neat tools is Multicolr, which searches among 10 million Flickr images for those with the colour(s) you select.
[Now, if you combined this functionality with book cover images in the catalogue… I do have to admit that my scheme to take over the world and add cover colour as a MARC field to improve searchability has a subtle yet important flaw: people aren’t necessarily any more accurate in their memory of what a book looks like than in what it’s called, who it’s by, or what the course code is that it’s a textbook for.]

Bibliobsession talks about an idea for an express computer station where readers can scan in a book’s barcode and find reviews of its contents (French): “It’s never been as easy to get hold of a book. On the other hand, it’s never been as difficult to make choices among the abundance of titles. Note that this doesn’t mean that libraries no longer have the function of providing access, but simply that this can no longer be our main raison d’etre.”

Non-English blog roundup #7

Bambou (French) reports back from the 1st Congress of the International Francophone Association of Librarians and Documentalists held in Montreal in August. Part 1 covers the success of the conference (280 attendees) and part 2 is a review of the National Library and Archives of Quebec where the conference was held (62 opening hours a week; 2000 comfortable seats; film and music rooms, services for people with disabilities, distance services, federated genealogy search engine, collection for new arrivals, etc; but on the downside strict lending rules, busy webpage, austere catalogue.)

Marlène Delhaye writes (French) “I love LISTA (Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts) (English), saying “I think it’s a shame that it’s not promoted more”.

Álvaro Cabezas writes (Spanish) about reference management software, “one of the star products in the academic community”. “The market offers various tools, both proprietary and open-source software, free or paying, desktop or […] online”. He links to a Wikipedia article comparing the various tools (English) – comparisons include operating system support, import/export formats, citation styles, database connectivity, and more.

Lionel Dujol writes Some noise in our libraries! (French) inspired by the start of Marc Maisonneuve’s book “Le catalogue de la bibliothèque à l’heure du web 2.0” (The library catalogue in the time of web 2.0). He (or Maisonneuve) riffs off the concept of librarians trying to keep libraries quiet and trying to keep search results free of ‘noise’: “A new-generation opac must be able to give our users results, no matter the request and no matter the noise. For a user can always adapt to noise, but not to silence, Maisonneuve emphasises.”

Linked from the same post is a document of requirements for the modern website of the modern library of our (modern) dreams (French) found on the French Bibliopedia. “The idea of this page is to gather everything that we expect today from a library on the web.” It includes sections covering:

  • general recommendations
  • the catalogue
  • the user account
  • social networking
  • editing / CMS abilities

and additional ideas for user service.

Social MARC

Roy Tennant writes that “Tags, ratings, and reviews should help enrich the whole, not one particular library catalog.

The problem is (after convincing TPTB that tags etc really do enrich the catalogue) how to get the data from one library to another. We’re not really set up to share metadata like this with each other. –Uh, no, wait a minute. Isn’t sharing metadata what copy-cataloguing is all about?

What if we simply (went through a huge bureaucratic decision-making process and) created some new MARC fields for tags, ratings, and reviews?

Then it’d be (a programming nightmare to allow customers to update these MARC fields and then to allow libraries to update to and from the network, but otherwise) dead simple to share tags, ratings and reviews with other libraries through the standard metadata-sharing networks.

Exploiting library catalogue data

At some point I’ll catch up from when I was down with a nasty cold and do a proper non-English blog roundup installment. In the meantime this leaped out at me:

Marlen’s Corner (French) quotes from a survey about catalogue use (also French) saying approximately: “[…] we must say that the quality of library data is their advantage compared to other data sources. The problem currently doesn’t come from these latter, but rather from the lack of exploitation of the library data’s potential by search engines, and from the lack of visibility that the interfaces give them.”

Every now and then I talk about how I want a catalogue that lets users search by colour. There’s just that tiny detail that we’d first need to catalogue the colour of a million-odd existing volumes and redesign the search interface… But seriously, we catalogue books with all sorts of obscure information — by size, for example. Why do we do that? More to the point, since we do do that, why don’t we exploit the fact that the information’s there: why can’t users search by size? Why can’t we limit our searches by “has illustrations”, “has colour illustrations”, “includes maps”?

(Is there any catalogue that can do any of this?)

Non-English blog roundup #3

Via betabib (Swedish), RSS4Lib has a list of library web pages that list experimental, beta, or trial web tools and services.

Thomas on Vagabondages (French) discusses CollegeDegree’s “25 social networking tools”; I was particularly interested by Daft Doggy, of which Thomas says “If I’ve understood correctly, Daft Doggy is an application which lets you record a session in a web-browswer and then… replay the [web-surfing] visit, modify it, and add commentary.”
Thomas also quotes Fred Cavassa who says, “Have you noticed that the term ‘web 2.0’ is no longer fashionable? […] Now we speak of social media.

Dominique, bibl. prof. (French) links to her presentation from the ASTED/CBPQ colloquium about profession wikis in libraries: the example of the University of Quebec network (powerpoint).

Via Deakialli, Desde los Zancos 2.0 interviews Dídac Margaix Arnal (Spanish). To a question about promoting collaborative library 2.0 technologies faced with hesitant managers, Dídac suggests talking about:

  1. personal experience – how web 2.0 tools have helped you professionally;
  2. experiences of other libraries;
  3. the fact that the tools are free; and especially
  4. “we have to assume that Web 2.0 is the form in which digital natives communicate, relate to each other, inform themselves, compare information, etc. If we want to converse with them, we’ll have to use these tools […]”

Bibliobsession 2.0 (French) talks about the idea of using Cover Flow for catalogue displays. There are tools for creating coverflow displays: “for the English-speaking library geeks, this post on The Corkboard presents other technical possibilities to do the same thing, and there also exists Protoflow to do the same thing.”

Marlène’s Corner (French) reports the launch of Hypothèses.org, “a blog platform destined to lodge journal blogs […] As for the journals, the blogs will be subjected to a selection process […]” The posts aren’t intended to replace articles, but to accompany and facilitate the publishing process.