Tag Archives: databases

Wrangling Primo Resource Recommender #anzreg2018

Resource wrangling : An implementation of Primo Resource Recommender service at State Library Victoria
Marcus Ferguson, SLV

Principles: find best way to present recommendations; control number of resources recommended; clearly identify subscription vs free. Include: databases, websites, research guides, custom types (collection pages, exhibition pages), ‘more to explore’ (originally things like library hours, now repurposed libguides for subjects) 488 resources – with 10,500+ tags. Maintaining this either through Back Office or spreadsheet upload was going to be difficult.

Built a spreadsheet with columns: list of keywords; database1..database5; website1..website3 etc; with dropdown menus to populate these. But then need to convert this. VLOOKUP wouldn’t work so needed custom function. Found a VBA function via Google. This operates on a new sheet to create a list of databases and all the tags used by it, plus a list of ‘other tags’ added manually for each one. Final sheet pulls it all together into the format Primo expects.

Finally also assigned icons to improve visual effect – found from vendor branding pages; website; or social media. Looks bad if a resource has none, so assign a default logo in that case.

Subscription database use ‘Login to access’ as URL text; free ones have title as URL text.

Added rr_database_icon_check as a keyword so can search for Primo for all of these and check that they’re still valid – mostly they’re pretty stable. If that changes, will grab them and store locally.

Final step is VBA macro to save export version and backup.

Looking forward: – need to assess impact of the May release “tag enrichment”; extend spreadsheet to include research guides; apply additional error checking; investigate ways to allow other librarians to work with the tags while managing change control.

Opening up licensing agreements – Annette Keogh #open17

Opening up licensing agreements: How to interpret and how to convey terms to our users
So much of our lives and access seems seamless, but so much of this relies on small print. While we may be a bit easygoing in our personal lives we need to be a bit more rigorous when it comes to our patrons’ lives.
What to look out for:
  • are authorised users specified?
    • eg current employees/contractors/students? retired faculty? alumni? visitors? walk-ins?
    • Are definitions clear?
  • are permitted uses specified?
    • coursepacks and reserves (print and electronic); linking (just like to see it clearly specified); interlibrary loan; scholarly sharing (lets an individual with authorised access to email an article to a colleague)
    • To a certain extent don’t mind if something’s permitted or prohibited as long as it’s clear!
  • liability – you don’t want to be legally liable for anything your users do!
    • Companies used to working with business may have a liability clause.
    • But prefer “Licensor shall indemnify and hold harmless the Licensee and an Authorized Users for any losses […] which arise from any third party claim […]”
    • AMA account shut down for 48 hours because user’s account was hacked. License says saying we’ll ‘take reasonable steps’ – but AMA reserve right to suspend access to the database. Prefer the database to notify the organisation so we’ve got time to suspend the individual’s account. Need to take account of timezones.
  • accessible formats for users with disabilities?
    • Most have a stipulation that you can’t change the content/form but like to see an exception to change into audio or Braille
  • access if you suspend/terminate?
    • Renewal – be careful of automatic renewal clauses with a notice period that’s earlier than when they typically send renewal notices….
    • Post-termination perpetual access – archival copy or access on server – ‘reasonable cost-based fee’ may want more details

If something’s not working for you, negotiate. Use the CEIRC Licences – Model Clauses page on CAUL’s site. LIBLICENSE has a good set of model licenses too.

Have 1000s of licenses; 34,000 students. How to communicate these? One vendor suggested a handout…. PreviouslyĀ  faculty member wanting to use in a course pack would contact their subject librarian, who’d consult the confusing spreadsheet, consult the e-resource librarian, then go back to the faculty member and say ‘no’.

Now putting these into Alma at the collection level so they can display in the catalogue at the title level. (35 of the most common ones done, 1000 to go šŸ™‚ )

On the Humanities and the Innovation Adoption Curve

I’ve been catching up on my reading and am currently up to:

Herrera, G. (2011). Google Scholar Users and User Behaviors: An Exploratory Study. College & Research Libraries, 72(4), 316-330.

which looks at usage data about Google Scholar cunningly culled from link resolver logs. There’s some really interesting stuff, but something they quote in their conclusion made my mind go off on a tangent:

On the other hand, the 2009 Ithaka faculty survey concluded that humanists “have been later and slower to change in many ways than their peers in the sciences, to be sure.” –Schonfeld and Housewright, “Faculty Survey 2009,” 34.

Which is an observation that comes up time and again, and often it’s implied that this is because the humanities are inherently conservative. But is that really the case? Correlation doesn’t mean causation.

Could it instead be simply that new technologies are designed by computer scientists for computer scientists? Engineering and physical sciences work similarly enough that they can adapt their usage pretty easily. But the humanities — a few of us have been doing some mini sessions on scholarly ebooks for faculty, and what we’re hearing from faculty is that in the humanities they have completely different kinds of texts which need to be used in completely different kinds of ways, and these ways are not supported by the technology.

So I rather suspect that it’s rather less to do with the people than commonly implied, and rather more to do with systematic bias in the technology.

Links of interest 21/1/2011

Library instruction
I’ve recently been pondering the idea of database searches as an experiment – hypothesis, experiment, evaluate, modify the hypothesis and try again. This might make a useful way to introduce sci/tech students in particular to the idea that you’re not going to necessarily get your best results from your first search; I’ll have to see how they receive it when I’ve actually got a class to test it on.

Incorporating Failure Into Library Instruction (from ACRLog) discusses the pedagogy of learning by failure and talks about times when it’s more or less suitable for library instruction.

Anne Pemberton’s super-awesome paper From friending to research: Using Facebook as a teaching tool (January 2011, College & Research Libraries News, vol. 72 no. 1 28-30) discusses Facebook as a useful teaching metaphor for databases.

Don’t Make It Easy For Them (from ACRLog) – with caveats in the comments that I think are at least as important as the main post.

Heads they win, tales we lose: Discovery tools will never deliver on their promise – and don’t miss the comment thread at the bottom of the page, which segues into the dilemma of increasingly expensive journal bundles and possible (vs viable) solutions.

Research data
There’s a whole D-Lib Magazine issue devoted to this topic this month.

Web services
The Web Is a Customer Service Medium discusses the idea that “the fundamental question of the web” is “Why wasn’t I consulted?” – that is, each medium has its niche of what it’s good at and why people use it, and webpages need to consider how to answer this question.

Library Day in the Life
Round 6 begins next week, in which librarians from all walks of librarianship share a day (or week) in the life.

Links of interest 20/10/2010

QR Codes
(What’s a QR Code? See QR Codes: An Overview.)

Google has launched goo.gl, a URL shortening service (like tinyurl.com, bit.ly, etc) which as a bonus gives you a QR code: eg http://goo.gl/Xxyl links to this blog and http://goo.gl/Xxyl.qr gives you a pretty QR code you can paste onto a poster. Shortly thereafter, bit.ly joined in the fun.

On the downside I recall reading (somewhere on the internet; it sounded plausible at the time) that, cool as QR codes sound, since they’re mostly being used by advertisers, actual real people aren’t really all that keen on using them.[citation needed] On the upside, I’ve also heard anecdotes from people who do use them. And in any case they don’t cost any money and almost zero time.

Library tutorials

Open Access

Links of interest 26/8/10

Scandal du jour (aka the power of social media)
JSTOR’s new interface made searches default to covering their entire database – so results might include articles students didn’t have access to on JSTOR and which wouldn’t even be linked via OpenURL to the library’s subscription in another database. (Meredith Farkas describes the problems neatly.) Librarians complained loudly on blogs, JSTOR’s Facebook page, and elsewhere, and a day later JSTOR has announced that they’ll change the default while they continue work on OpenURL.

WolframAlpha has added widgets that focus on a specific kind of data and can be embedded into a webpage by copying and pasting the code. Categories cover all kinds of subject areas – some widgets might be relevant in a subject guide. (You’d need to add a new rich text box, then select the plain text editor and copy/paste in the embed code from WolframAlpha.)

Librarian as resource
University of Michigan Library’s search results now bring back subject librarians as well as relevant databases, catalogue items, subject guides, institutional repository hits, and external websites. Their blog about this links to some examples.

eBooks and compatibility
Jason Griffey writes a clear explanation about why ebook filetypes and digital rights management means that purchasing an ebook doesn’t mean you can read it on any old e-reader.

Library instruction
Cooke, R., Rosenthal, D. Students Use More Books After Library Instruction: An Analysis of Undergraduate Paper Citations College and Research Libraries (preprint)

“In Fall 2008, students from first-year Composition I and upper level classes at Florida Gulf Coast University participated in a citation analysis study. The citation pages of their research papers revealed that the students used more books, more types of sources, and more overall sources when a librarian provided instruction. When these results were compared to those produced by students in upper level classes (all of whom received instruction), it was discovered that as the class level increased, the number of citations and the percentage of scholarly citations generally increased and there was a high preference for books from all disciplines, especially history.”

(They compared classes which received library instruction with identical classes which didn’t.)

Links of interest 11/8/10 – open access, accessibility, statistics and more

Open Access


  • Char Booth writes about e-texts and library accessibility including a great quote that “ebooks were created by the blind, then made inaccessible by the sighted.”
  • NZETC has just posted about the 1064 works in DAISY format available in their collection for people with print-related disabilities. (DAISY = “Digital Accessible Information SYstem”)

Library statistics


  • The first year of research on the Researchers of Tomorrow (pdf) study finds that “in broad approaches to informationā€seeking and use of research resources, there are no marked differences between Generation Y doctoral students and those in older age groups. Nor are there marked differences in these behaviours between doctoral students of any age in different years of their study. The most significant differences revealed in the data are between subject disciplines of study irrespective of age or year of study.”
  • Assessments of Information Literacy collects links to infolit tests, assessments, rubrics and tutorials available online.
  • Christina Pikas lists a Rundown of the new [database etc] interfaces this summer. There were some surprises, including a ScienceDirect/Scopus merger apparently due August 28…

[Edited 12/8 to fix broken links]

Mobile vs Smartphones & other links of interest 14/4/10

Mobile vs Smartphones
Roy Tennant suggests not making any more mobile websites as research suggests more people (in the US) are getting smartphones that can support anything a normal web-browser can support. (Though I don’t know of any smartphone that supports a 1024×768 screensize…) Smartphone applications seem to be trending instead. The iLibrarian rounds up her Top 30 Library iPhone Apps (part 2 and part 3). Why an application when you’ve already got a website? Phil Windley points out that “If my bank can get me to download an app, then they have a permanent space on my app list.” The trade-off is that whereas a website should work on any browser, smartphone apps often need to be in proprietary formats (the Librarian in Black particularly complains about Apple’s iPhone in this respect).

Web 2.0
Common Craft has a 3-minute video explaining “Cloud Computing in Plain English“.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries and Brown University Library provide a “dashboard” of widgets on their websites displaying current statistics about library usage.

View from the top šŸ™‚
The University Librarian at McMaster University Library blogs results from their laptop survey. Apparently laptop circulation now accounts for about a third of their total circulation stats; their survey looks into how students are using the laptops.

The Director of Librarys at the State University of New York at Potsdam blogs about “What I’ve Learned” in the first 10 months of her job there.

Scandal of the week…
Barbara Fister summarises recent discussion about EBSCO as the “New Evil Empire” in her Library Journal article “Big vendor frustrations, disempowered librarians, and the ends of empire“.

Alice for the iPad – one of the ways technology can enhance the book.

Links of interest 2/2/10

Not a chain of convenience stores – this Foursquare is a website/application that lets you use your cellphone etc to “check in” when you reach locations like cafes, movie theatres, libraries, etc. At its worst this floods your friends with endless notifications: “Now I’m at the dairy! Now I’m at home! Now I’m at the busstop! Now I’m at work! Now…!” But at best you walk into your favourite cafe and:

  • read tips from other customers about what to order or avoid;
  • win a prize from the cafe itself;
  • discover that your friend is in the area and arrange for them to meet you for a quick cuppa.

Some recent blogposts discussing the value of Foursquare for libraries (read the comments as well!) include:

Publishing scandals du jour
EBSCO buys up exclusive electronic access to a number of popular periodicals which will be removed from other databases that used to provide them. Reactions:

During negotiations between Amazon and “big 6” publisher Macmillan over pricing of ebooks, Amazon removed all Macmillan titles (electronic and print) from its database. Reactions:

In case you’re curious about non-Amazon options, there’s a number of online bookstores in New Zealand and I’ve recently discovered The Book Depository in the UK with free international shipping.

Bookcovers in LibGuides
Springshare have announced a partnership with Syndetics so we can now use Syndetics bookcover images in our LibGuides. This is just like using the images from Amazon before – when adding a featured book just insert ISBN, click icon, and voila a cover image – but click the “S” (Syndetics) icon instead of the Amazon icon. An added advantage is that Syndetics works with ISBN-13 as well as ISBN-10 (Amazon is limited to ISBN-10).

European theses
The DART-Europe E-theses Portal gathers and provides “access to 123327 full-text research theses from 210 universities sourced from 16 European countries”.

Links of Interest 20/10/2009

A map of LIANZA09 participants – purple for attendees, pink/orange for invited speakers, yellow for vendors.

Widgets and other neat free stuff
Gale Widgets aren’t new but are nicer than ever. If I understand correctly, the PowerSearch widget searches across all Gale databases subscribed to by one’s institution. To create a widget use our location ID “canterbury” – the javascript code provided can then be pasted into LibGuides. (New box -> Rich text -> Add text -> plain text editor -> paste)

SpringShare gives instructions for adding WolframAlpha’s improved search widget to LibGuides.

Elsevier provides all their journal covers free. (“These cover images may be used in systems in which Elsevier material is offered to end users. Unauthorized use and/or modification of these images is strictly prohibited.”) Perhaps could be used in a future generation of our catalogue to complement book cover images? If you just want a single image to promote a journal on LibGuides, replace the number in this link with your journal’s issn: http://www1.elsevier.com/inca/covers/store/issn/00016918.gif

Plates from Buller’s Birds (digitised on a Creative Commons license).

Text message reference
Penny Dugmore writes about Unitec’s launch of a text reference service, and Elyssa Kroski’s Library Journal column on Text Message Reference: Is It Effective?. Oh, and just in: a summary about a recent presentation on text reference, with stats on libraries offering it and more links.

Library humour
A library-themed filk of Gilbert and Sullivan’s I’ve got a little list.

Range guide humour (alas, it’s harder to get this effect with LC…)