Wednesday, February 8, 2012

VALA 2012 Day 1 Summon Camp and China Academy of Science

Summon Camp

My first summon camp!  Effectively a user group meeting. John Law first gave an overview of recent and soon to be released developments and then the format was for attendees to identify particular aspects of Summon, or areas they wanted to see developed, and then with a show of hands these were narrowed to six topics, and we dissected those in three smaller groups - covering 2 topics each and reporting back to the larger group.

What I found particularly useful was hearing about other institution's experiences with Summon - drawing up wish lists for the Summon development team was almost secondary.

My group dealt with analytics and usability testing.  We were keen to see statistics that gave us a greater understanding of how Summon was used - an average of 4.5 searches per visit doesn't really tell us if they are using the facets and filters, the advanced search, or even if they try 4 keyword searches and give up - we don't even get a sense of click throughs to full text.  We floated the idea of randomly recording occasionally session to get a sense of their behaviour to identify if there techniques we should be promoting to improve search success rate. Cathy Slaven (QUT)  floated the idea of a Heat Map to get a visualised sense of the most clicked screen real estate.

Some people have done usability testing and there were common themes (too many hits - no one complains about that in Google) lack of success for known item searches (I don't understand this) and linking problems.  One interesting finding was that the database recommender is a blindspot for students - apparently it makes librarians feel good but is ignored by our clients.

One university offered an innovate enticement to participate in a Summon survey: Fine Forgiveness - we all thought that was pretty clever.

Common across our institutions was the lack of requirements for reporting on Summon.  We were unique in that we had actually used the statistics to show our business managers the extent of the Singapore campus' use of eresources.

We also seemed unique in the lack of resistance from liaison and IL librarians to recommending Summon to students (oddly even when there is no marketing from the Library students still like it and use it.

Scrolling through my notes I see that John has said that Summon will default to 'Keep search refinements' in the next release (very soon!). They also working on the display of reference items (from Credo for example), and allowing us to 'spotlight' local collections.

eMpowering e-Science, eMpowering libraries

Xiaolin Zhang

National Science Library, Chinese Academy of Sciences

The sheer scale of the CAS is overwhelming - over 100 institutes with 45000 research staff and 55000 post grads, half of whom are doctoral students.  The Academy has directed it's library be actively involved in the research process - so they have moved to a very client focused model - to the point where outposted librarians advocate on behalf of their researchers.

They are focusing on knowledge and meta knowledge over data and metadata, Zhang is the first person I've heard talk about 'Knowledge as a Service' or Kaas.  He covered some of the tools available us all now 'SALT' (semantically annotated LaTeX - be nice to me and I might tell you what Latex is), CiteSpace, Incite and a bunch of others I was too slow to write down. What he was saying was there was definitely a role for libraries and librarians in the big data world, but it wasn't what we traditionally do it, there are some new skills we need, and some old ones we need to refine.  (This was to be echoed in several later presentations).

A question from the floor asked how library staff had managed the transition to the new roles - my recollection is his answer was that basically that this was the job and if they wanted to be paid well they had best do it well - but that might be blur caused by a sea of tweets and my tired eyes. With that I'm signing off for tonight.


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