OCLC Resource Sharing Breakthroughs Inaugural Conference 2017

03/29/2017 Professional Development Blog document delivery ILL ILLiad

On March 14-16, Erika and Terry attended the first inaugural OCLC Resource Sharing Breakthroughs Conference in Virginia Beach.

This was an interesting conference for quite a few reasons. Traditionally the “International ILLiad Conference,” OCLC’s licensing of ILLiad has morphed this conference into the “OCLC Resource Sharing” conference. (This may be the last time that the conference is held in Virginia–it was sold out months in advance.)

Tipasa Tuesday
The atmosphere was electric as OCLC kicked off their conference with a day that focused on their new cloud product Tipasa, a product so new in its development that it may be years before it’s ready for libraries our size. There were some tense moments in the ballroom of over 400 attendees from 43 states, DC, and Canada.

Tipasa is still in its early days, as was evident in the presentation. It’s a multi-year project with many phases. Tipasa is cloud-based and can run from any browser. OCLC is in the early stages of development. They are conducting interviews and site visits; conducting usability testing; and working with early adopters. Currently there are over 1,200 libraries worldwide that use ILLiad, and 62% of these are medium to large academic libraries that have done a lot of customization of ILLiad to take advantage of its ability to unmediate processes, among other things. The time frame for beginning to transition these libraries is 2018, but this may be optimistic. Only 75 libraries have volunteered to be early adopter libraries—these are very small libraries that have done no ILLiad customization and don’t work with other systems. OCLC is still in the early days of Phase 1. OCLC has begun to work with Rapid, upon whom we rely to do our consortial borrowing; however, they have only worked on the non-returnables piece. IDS, another of our significant consortium partners, is somewhere on the horizon but not yet on the roadmap. There are benefits to the new product, such as dual Spanish-English language capability, the ability to embed a chat widget, and the fact that it is mobile friendly. At this point, the system is still entirely mediated, with no routing; metrics are very limited; there are limited notification templates; and there is no NCIP integration. The BLC Resource Sharing COI will most likely be coordinating a letter to OCLC concerning functionality.

Keynote Storytelling
The keynote speaker was Todd Babiak, an inspirational speaker from Canada who spoke about the Story Engine. He talked about the importance of having a story. The use of a master story informs your brand, and to your brain, the story and the brand are the same. He advised us to return to our libraries and begin to investigate our stories. What is our story? What makes our library special? Don’t do focus groups; do individual interviews. Draw examples from patrons and staff about what makes us different. A common theme will emerge: the one problem only we can solve. That’s your story.

Ask Atlas
Ask Atlas was a session that focused on ILLiad processing tips by Atlas staff, including an interesting way to obtain robust ILLiad metrics. There was more news on the OCLC ILL cost calculator by Dennis Massie. We have reached out to him to express interest in early adoption of the calculator and he told us to expect a call soon. There are many issues in having an open calculator, including security, but there is also other sensitive information to consider, such as salaries. He referenced the most recent cost study by Leon and Kress, and we were part of that study.

Harness Your Resources
Erika and Terry presented the poster, “Harness Your Resources: Doing More with Less.” We presented on what we did to streamline and centralize our resource sharing operations and how we use systems like RapidILL and IDS Project to add efficiencies. We heard from many people who were interested in what we did–it’s a hot topic.

Assessment Plans and Interlibrary Loan
This session discussed options for using LibQual survey data in interlibrary loan strategic planning. Recommendations on how to use the data and align it to library and institutional missions were offered and examples given. One such example was using a positive comment such as, “I love the ILL paging service,” and exploring why that service is loved. By conducting additional inquiries, it could be possible to determine how much time a paging service saves faculty and researchers, and that time savings could be measured and translated into cost savings.

Library Information and Resource Sharing: Transforming Services and Collections
This session was presented by the authors of the book, “Library Information and Resource Sharing: Transforming Services and Collections.” Discussion was about connecting various library functions and collaborations to focus on user needs. This included advocating for information sharing in all forms. This could include sharing the expertise of one library’s staff with another library, such as Columbia and Cornell collaborating to share a subject specialist.

What They Teach You at Harvard: Resource Sharing Centralization and Workflow Enhancements
This talk mirrored much of what Erika and Terry presented in their poster session. Leila Smith, Associate Director of Access Services at Harvard Library, reviewed Harvard library’s centralization from 15 sites to 5. This involved consolidating OCLC symbols and absorbing workflows. Taking on more work was necessary because of staff departures and was possible by enhancing their workflows and implementing tools such as RapidILL and IDS Project to reduce mediated processing.

The Transformation of Academic Library Collecting: A Symposium Inspired by Dan C. Hazen

10/31/2016 Professional Development Blog

On October 20th and 21st, I attended “The Transformation of Academic Library Collecting: A Symposium Inspired by Dan C. Hazen,” which was sponsored by Harvard University and was held in Cambridge, MA. This post is a short summary of highlights from the event.

A prevailing theme at the symposium was the concept of collective collections and the implications of this concept on managing research libraries’ collections. As Lorcan Dempsey (Chief Strategist and VP, Membership & Research, OCLC) discussed, libraries are transitioning from a “print logic” (which bases value attributions on locally assembled print collections) to a “network logic” (which bases value attributions on the library’s ability to meet a variety of research and learning needs through networks of libraries and affiliated organizations working in concert).  Many interesting points were made at the symposium as the presenters and attendees grappled with the implications of the network logic. What follows is a listing that should give you a sense of some of the key issues related to collective collections and the network logic discussed at the meeting:

  • Dempsey drew a distinction between two categories of collections:
    • Outside-In collections: those knowledge resources that the library purchases from vendors and then makes accessible to its researchers.
    • Inside-Out collections: those knowledge resources that the library facilitates the creation of through a suite of services in support of scholarship and then enables publication, discoverability, and curation.
  • Outside-In collections have traditionally been at the core of library identities, but, increasing, these collections are being framed as just one service of several.
  • Reflecting the transition to collections as services, major publishers like Elsevier are shifting strategies from publication and delivery of content to enabling researchers to be more productive (through platforms such as Mendeley and SSRN) and then enabling for the assessment of this productivity (through products such as Pure and SciVal).
  • There was discussion of how best to “right-scale” collective collection management; in other words, how do we partner at the right scales. Also, how do we develop and deploy methodologies for decision-making at scale.
  • There was discussion of the need to develop more positions focused on collective collections over local collections: Galadriel Chilton’s position of Ivy Plus Libraries Director of Collection Initiatives was cited as an example the type of position that we need more of.
  • As the network logic expands, overlap between libraries’ general collections should decrease as different libraries can focus their collections in more specialized areas; also, special collections should become “specialer.”
  • There is a dialectical relationship between technology and user behaviors: there is a constant interplay of reconfigurations between the tools and the behaviors that surround those tools.
  • Library are working toward collectivity in a context of “radical scatter” – information is diffuse, disorganized, difficult to discover.
  • Libraries are still burdened by a print logic: there is a lingering desire for comprehensiveness and libraries still boast of the size of their collections even as this measure of value decreases in relevance. There is a focus on competition in collections among libraries when there needs to be a focus on partnership.
  • Transition from a print logic to a network logic will depend on uptake both from our user communities and from library personnel. Galadriel Chilton argued that, to facilitate this update, we need to incorporate the network logic into pre-existing narratives of meaning about collections.
  • Usage patterns at Yale University provide strong evidence for the growth of the network logic: Use of local collections is down by 33 percent over the past 15 years. Concurrently, there has been a 144 percent increase in resource sharing. The collective collection (primarily facilitated by Borrow Direct – resource sharing among the ivies) is overtaking the value of Yale’s local collections.
  • Discussions of initiatives for collective collections should include a business plan – a way to make the initiative sustainable longterm.

Concurrent with the discussions surrounding collective collections, there were a number of other interesting points made at the symposium:

  1. Tom Hyry (Harvard University) discussed how the paths of special collections and general collections are converging. Associated with this, there is a need to develop a holistic view of collections that will expand capacity and facilitate open conversation between the traditional disparate areas of special collections and technical services.
  2. Jane Kamensky (Harvard University) discussed how memory as captured in archives and special collections is gendered. Typically, donations of personal papers come through a person’s daughter – the person in the family that traditionally saves, annotates, and organizes family letters. This “hidden labor” behind collections has important implications regarding how we should think about our collections.
  3. Bethany Nowviskie (University of Virginia) discussed the concept of “speculative collections.” Using the artistic movement of Afrofuturism as her point of departure, she argued that the ways in which libraries organize, present, and make collections discoverable memorializes a linear view of history and does not foreground the possibilities that collections offer as problem-solving tools that are oriented towards the future and enable the envisioning of new possibilities. Libraries need to work collaboratively with their communities to develop new ways of designing information architectures that reflect an orientation towards change rather than immutability. Nowviskie cited Blacklight as a platform that suggests ways facilitate this new sort of information architecture.

Finally, the symposium contained remembrances of Dan Hazen (1947-2015) a leader in the field of collection development and a distinguished Latin Americanist at Harvard University. The symposium was inspired by Hazen’s forwarding think regarding collections and his enthusiasm for partnerships. Nearly every presentation at the symposium made reference to Hazen’s leadership in collection development and many cited his publications.

IDS Project Conference 2016

10/10/2016 Professional Development Blog Conference IDS Project Conference

In July, Joe Natale and Terry Palacios-Baughman attended the IDS Project Conference 2016 in Albany, NY. Terry attended the pre-conference and the regular conference, the regular conference as a grateful recipient of an IDS scholarship.

At preconference, Terry attended “IDS Logic Rule Creation.” This was a hands-on workshop that provided the basic concepts of how to create logic rules for streamlining ILLiad workflows. Logic rules included ways to change a status or run a query behind the scenes. Knowing what logic rules are possible and how they are created enables ILL staff to propose them to IDS who ultimately implements them.

The second pre-conference session was “Modifying ILLiad Webpages.” Here we were shown examples of more robust ILLiad pages and instructed on how to make the changes. Terry brought back her new knowledge and with Joe’s previous knowledge, they worked on improvements. The changes can be seen when you log into your My ILLiad page and include new tables of useful information on the main menu page.

To start off the regular conference, the keynote speaker was Dorothea Salo. She spoke of how we can influence change and are greater catalysts than we think we are.

In “Meet the new ILLiad Server Addons” we learned that with ILLiad’s last upgrade, addons are easier to install and modify. We were shown some of the new features and provided with the background of how to use them.

The IDS Project update session provided a review of IDS Logic Services including the standard number extractor service coming this fall to ILLiad. Logic will also be featuring dynamic due dates for lending that take into account consortial loan periods and custom reasons for cancellation. The PubMed API will allows ILLiad borrowers to check multiple document providers at once!

Joe attended a session on the state of interlibrary services in Cuba. This presentation offered a history of the service from the Revolution to the present. Card catalogs are alive and well and there is very little web presence.

Additional sessions that we attended included Managing Purging and Delinking, Lending Availability Services, and Massachusetts Library Delivery. We also learned that Atlas will be rolling out the capacity for ILLiad to store credit card information.

During the poster session, Terry presented a series of posters titled “Job Aid Applications.” The posters illustrated using job aids in ILL workflows to develop efficient, confident and independent staff.

The IDS Project gives genuine meaning to the term “resource sharing” and we walked out of many sessions with a sense of awe at the genius that abounds from the IDS project team.

 

Hispanic Heritage Month Resources

09/23/2016

National Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15 – October 15. Take a look at our research guide for some background on this celebration, together with some suggested resources to learn more. 

IFLA World Congress 2016

09/12/2016 Professional Development Blog Conference

On August 14-19, Michael Rodriguez attended the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA)’s 2016 World Library and Information Congress in Columbus, Ohio. Michael’s attendance was supported by a $1,000 fellowship grant he was awarded by the American Library Association (ALA) and the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Michael, meaning me, wishes to thank IMLS, ALA, and UConn for making his attendance possible.

Michael in front of WorldCat
Michael + EFF sticker + OCLC tour earbuds, posing in front of the WorldCat servers.

Highlights included a tour of OCLC Headquarters, where Michael got to take a picture with WorldCat; a three-hour program on information privacy and security; and opportunities to engage with and learn from more than four thousand librarians of all types who traveled from as far afield as Uganda, Costa Rica, Egypt, and Italy. Takeaways included the need for better data security and privacy, which should inform licensing and website practices, plus the reconfiguration of print collections. Most of the papers presented at IFLA are available open access under a CC BY license. Michael and many other attendees live-tweeted sessions using the very active Congress hashtag: #wlic2016.

Print collections reconfiguration

One IFLA panel tackled “collections reconfiguration” (thorny issue, elegant word choice). Concordia University Libraries worked to dedupe print monographs published after 1950 (a date chosen to avoid discarding rare editions) and achieved a 10% print reduction by deduping alone. Concordia also had a collection development statement – not a detailed policy, but a statement of principles – approved by the University Senate, which presenter Meredith Griffin noted gave the library leverage in working with faculty to reduce the print collections footprint.

Meanwhile, California State University at Fullerton struggled to achieve faculty buy-in for reducing print collections. As presenters J. Michael DeMars and Ann Roll explained, in a black comedy worthy of Samuel Beckett, the library’s interim dean mandated that faculty be allowed to review and opt for retention at the item level of each and every print monograph slated for deselection. Naturally, one single professor opted to retain 1716 out of 1744 monographs in the initial pilot. Next time around, the librarians required faculty to input their reasons for retention, prompting retention requests to fall to 1816 out of 30,844 monographs, though “keep this important book” was copied and pasted hundreds of times into the retention form anyway. Interestingly, 12 percent of retention requests were from librarians, making the library the third largest departmental source of retention requests.

Think Cal State had it tough? Coleen Hoelscher had to weed the Marian Library’s rampantly overgrown special collections pertaining to Mary, at a theological institution focused on the study of Mary, with colleagues who were members of religious orders. Resistance was considerable.

Information security and privacy

Next up were invited speakers who addressed information security and patron privacy in our digital age. Polly Thistlethwaite of CUNY Graduate Center talked purging ILL data from ILLiad in collaboration with OCLC – a project recently featured in the Guardian. Talks from David Greene of Electronic Frontier Foundation, Alison Macrina of Library Freedom Project, and Jamie LaRue of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom each emphasized the importance of using HTTPS encryption protocols on library websites and eresources, even on those webpages that do not involve the transmission of social security or credit card numbers. Why? Because anyone with simple monitoring tools can squat on an unsecured network and see every interaction users have with a website. What’s more, on HTTP sites none of the data is encrypted in transmission, so nefarious third parties can intercept, track, and even modify the data during transmission without users realizing it. Given librarians’ emphasis on patron privacy, unsecure web services are problematic.

Reflecting these concerns, the White House ordered all federal government websites to implement HTTPS by the end of 2016, stating that “all browser activity should be considered private and sensitive.” At IFLA, Google’s copyright senior counsel, Fred Von Lohmann, reminded us that Google penalizes unsecure HTTP websites by ranking them lower in search results. Starting in January 2017, Google Chrome will flag HTTP websites as “not secure.”

Later, I looked up Marshall Breeding’s Library Technology Reports on library systems and services. This year, Breeding established that 85% of ARL libraries encrypt neither their websites nor their discovery searches or catalogs (pp. 30-33), a situation that Breeding calls “nothing short of alarming” given how highly libraries value patron privacy and how encryption for all parts of all web services is fast becoming an industry standard.

To remedy this situation, presenter Alison Macrina gave a shoutout to the Digital Privacy Pledge, by which libraries and library-associated signatories vow to implement HTTPS on their own web properties and to cease using unencrypted vendor services. Twenty organizations, notably UC Davis and DPLA as well as providers like JSTOR, have onboarded thus far. Macrina also cited free tools such as Privacy Badger, HTTPS Everywhere, KeePassX, and PIA that people can use to understand risks and transmit data securely. Meanwhile, EFF explains what librarians need to know about HTTPS.

Michael is now a member and proud wearer of an EFF lapel pin.

Level A update – Almost Complete

09/06/2016 Babbidge Building Blog

I just got word that the technicians working on the compact shelving on Level A have just finished. That means for the first time in Homer Babbidge history, we have 3 sections of working compact shelving. The refurbished (old) compact shelving has been released and can be used by library staff and patrons. Please note that my students are working furiously to reshelve all of the bottom shelf books that had to be moved due to the refurbishing project. We are about 1/3 of the way through.

One other small detail to note is that the label holders for the stacks are still back ordered. They will be installed as soon as they come in.

Ivies Plus Discovery Day

08/05/2016 Professional Development Blog Conference discovery

On July 25, Michael Rodriguez and Janice Christopher attended the Ivies Plus Discovery Day at MIT. (The Ivies Plus group comprises Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Penn, Princeton, and Yale.) Attendees included user experience designers, developers, catalogers, systems librarians, electronic resource managers, and others, demonstrating the broad scope of library areas impacted by discovery layers.

MIT Beaver With Human
Michael holds up his comically large and wrinkled MIT beaver t-shirt, which he won at Discovery Day by knowing the origins of “grok.”

Chris Bourg, director of the MIT Libraries, delivered the opening keynote on making serendipity cool again. Bourg took as her inspiration Roy Tennant’s observation that “only librarians like to search, everyone else likes to find . . . and lots of folks like to discover.” Bourg’s theme was the desire for serendipity, how a task force at MIT is hearing from faculty about how they want an online discovery environment that transcend physical browsing, how they want to make “happy and unexpected discoveries,” to learn things that they didn’t know that they didn’t know. Such a discovery experience requires a different kind of searching from the 2-D linear searching that libraries, Amazon, and even Google offer—it would be a 3-D, associative search that resembles neural networks and mirrors how humans actually think. The first librarian to champion this was Muriel Cooper from MIT, back in 1994. MIT is working with a start-up called Yewno (not out to users yet) that will potentially deliver this type of discovery, or at least a basic flavor of it. Yewno succeeds Stanford University’s old Grokker discovery tool. Bourg wrote up her talk on her blog. Or search Twitter for the hashtag #iviesdiscovery.

After an update on the Open Discovery Initiative, we were treated to round-robin demos of the “state of discovery” at each of the Ivies Plus schools. These demos had a couple of interesting trends. First, Blacklight, the open-source discovery layer, was heavily represented as a layer on top of traditional ILSs, along with next-gen discovery (Summon, Primo, EDS) – most sites had multiple interfaces. Sometimes the next-gen discovery was used just for articles retrieval. Second, the “bento box” display is popular – it takes the unified search results offered by the discovery interface and re-silos it into books, articles, videos, etc.

The libraries are doing interesting discovery customizations. Harvard has integrated its archives and finding aides into Primo and is working to customize Primo into its sole discovery interface for images—a project requiring them to build new scopes and create grid displays. Princeton’s Blacklight integrates alternative scripts like Chinese and Arabic into item heading displays, so users can read right to left in the original script. Brown is trying to move discovery away from Conway’s Law—the concept that organizations end up designing systems that mirror the communication structures of those organizations. Harvard is shifting from a projects-based, one-and-done model toward a model of continuous improvement. There was a fascinating conversation about the degree to which libraries should prioritize discovery versus access – making happy and unexpected discoveries versus being confident that the links will take us to where we need to go.

What emerged in the Q&A at the end of the keynote, and the ODI update, and the discovery demos, and the reason there were so many different flavors of library staff represented in the room, was that making any of these discovery platforms look simple on the front end requires a lot of heavy lifting on the back end. In the course of one major web redesign project, for example, Yale hired four dedicated personnel. Grace is achieved through collaborative programming, configuration, metadata, knowledge base management, user experience, and more.

Level A Update

07/22/2016 Babbidge Building Blog

Here’s the latest update on the Level A mobile stacks.

1st. The new moveable stacks are almost complete. In fact, we are starting to shelve books on them for the next part of the project. They move effortlessly and they look nice.

2nd. The technicians have started working on our old, existing moveable stacks. They have started to remove the end panels, motors and wiring from the stacks on the left as you enter the stacks from the elevators. This means that the stacks and the material within the stacks on the left side, are now completely inaccessible.level A 4Level A 6level A 7

ELUNA 2016

07/07/2016 Professional Development Blog Alma Conference ELUNA ExLibris Primo

In May 2016, seven UConn Library staff attended the ExLibris Users of North America (ELUNA) Annual Conference, along with Technical Seminar training, in Oklahoma City. More recently, we held a roundtable conversation to share what we learned with all staff. This blog post records some of what we learned.

Big thanks to Sheryl Bai and Janice Christopher for contributing to this post, and to Tim Dannay, Joelle Thomas, Claudia Lopes, and Elisabeth Umpleby for being such phenomenal conference buddies and colleagues.

If anyone would like the PowerPoints or other information, Michael is happy to help.

Michael Rodriguez (Electronic Resources Librarian, UConn Storrs)

Developing A-Z Database Lists

East Tennessee State University’s Jacob Kindle and Clemon Travis delivered an extraordinary presentation on the Primo X-Services API. They used this API to build an A-Z database list native to Alma/Primo, eliminating the redundancy of maintaining separate lists in the catalog, website, and LibGuides. They began by creating an Alma electronic collection and cataloging each database, plus developing normalization rules, scoping, PNX display, facets, and code table changes. They customized the API-generated interface using CSS and JSON. Results are impressive. Before she found new pastures, Joelle Thomas and I became excited at the prospect of using the Primo API to replace the obsolescent Research Database Locator, used by Storrs and the regional campuses.

Troubleshooting Access

Michael and Sheryl attended a highly informative session by the University of Minnesota’s Sunshine Carter and Stacie Traill on “Troubleshooting Electronic Access Issues in an Alma / Primo Central Environment.” One of the very first Alma and Primo Central customers, U of Minnesota shared workflows, tools, and staff training approaches for diagnosing and resolving e-resource issues. All their materials are available open access. Michael and Tim were particularly intrigued by browser extensions and bookmarklets such as Live HTTP Headers and UResolver Debug View. Michael attended another helpful related session, “Picking Apart the Alma Link Resolver” by Rose Krause and Andrea Eickholt of Eastern Washington University, along with a Technical Seminar training session on troubleshooting e-resource access in Alma/Primo. Following the conference, the Storrs-based Licensing & Acquisitions unit members shared and tested techniques for troubleshooting electronic resource access.

Migrating Ezproxy

An odd man out at ELUNA was Texas Tech University’s talk on migrating from self-hosted to OCLC-hosted Ezproxy. As UConn is planning a similar migration, Michael made a point of attending this talk. Texas Tech migrated in July 2015, but it was not till December that the final kinks were worked out of their hosted solution. Justin Daniel and Lynne Edgar cited the ultimate benefits of migration but advised organizations planning the move to deep dive into their Ezproxy authentication methods, SSL certificates, mobile device compatibility, and other seemingly straightforward elements that may create unexpected complications. Most of the specific problems encountered by Texas Tech emanated from poor communication and lack of in-house expertise. The presentation was helpful in illustrating what not to do for a successful Ezproxy migration – and Sheryl, who also attended the session, concurs with this assessment. TTU’s experience is written up in the Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship.

Leaning into the New Primo UI

Among ELUNA’s highlights was the demoing of the new Primo user interface. The new UI features mobile responsive design and boasts a modern look and feel. Thanks to Joelle, UConn’s partially functional beta instance is already online. There is also a sandbox instance. Neither beta version is available for public consumption for months to come, but feel free to click around.

Developing Professionals

Also at ELUNA, Michael Rodriguez and Janice Christopher volunteered to serve on the 2016 conference planning committee for the ExLibris Northeast Users Group (ENUG). This regional library conference will take place on October 27-28 in SUNY New Paltz, New York. Proposals are due by July 20. Janice, who also presented at this year’s ELUNA, comments that ENUG is a friendly, useful gathering of library users of ExLibris products. She encourages UConn librarians to consider submitting a presentation proposal or two.

Janice Christopher (Systems Librarian, UConn Storrs)

Intensifying Analytics

Analytics is the place. I attended several sessions on Alma and Primo Analytics between the Tech Seminar (M-T) and ELUNA (W-F). I had several “Aha!” moments: Use the key values to sort dates; “prompted” doesn’t mean what it did in Voyager; use the report description field to provide detailed description, requester, date, purpose; use the Oracle BI Search feature to find reports (good motivation for good metadata); % and _ are wildcards (multiple- and single-character respectively); how to replace text; the MINUS query; etc. Also found out that ExL has a small group dedicated to creating out of the box Analytics reports and dashboards in all areas, and those would be good to look at and use as-is or modified. Good job to those of you forging ahead with Analytics, but we’re only scratching the surface. And now Primo has its own Analytics and is in the process of growing. (N.B. Greenglass? All the circulation data came out of Voyager—15 years’ worth.)

Crowning APIs

The APIs are the other place. After attending an excellent session from the ExL VP for Development, I have a much better sense of what the APIs can be used for and what you can achieve with them: as he said, “You used to query the database with SQL, now you use the APIs.” The cool and scary additional thing, though, is you can use the APIs to change data. (With great care and after sufficient testing, of course.) One issue, as was pointed out on the Alma list last week, is that ExL is segregating a certain amount of capability in the APIs, but using them requires programming skills that not all libraries have. We have them, but can’t wait for a sprint to complete projects. Hence, I will be trying to pick up some programming skills…

Meeting Shareholders

ExLibris plenaries are like shareholders’ meetings. I have no idea why this had not occurred to me before; I’ve attended enough of the darn things. At ELUNA, ExLibris management does a lot of talking: Wednesday morning, two-thirds of Thursday morning, and early Thursday afternoon. Recaps of the last year, the roadmap for the next year, reports from Next-Gen Systems, Operations (the Cloud, basically), strategic directions from the resident Big Thinker, all that sort of stuff. They didn’t mention this past year’s revenues (the previous year’s were $100 million), but did talk a lot about joining with ProQuest. It does help deal with ExL if you think of yourself sitting there as one shareholder, owning one share. Some institutions may have a pile of shares. Sometimes you magically find a number of shares under a mattress. ELUNA is the shares multiplier – it is the users’ group, and as such tries to influence ExL’s direction, with varying degrees of success. I do have to give ExL management credit for taking open questions from the floor at the annual Q&A—not many companies do that.

Sheryl Bai (Systems Librarian, UConn Health)

Integrating ILLiad and Alma

UConn Health is currently implementing ILLiad and an ILL staff mentioned this program to Sheryl. Presented by Northwestern University’s Alice Trippit and Kurt Munson, the session focused on integrating the ILL functionalities of Alma and ILLiad, with Alma handling the borrowing and lending and ILLiad handling the notices to patrons. The ILLiad Addon sends four NCIP messages from ILLiad to Alma. It handles creating incoming borrowing request item records and the associated patron hold, deleting the record when borrowing item is returned, outgoing lending requests are moved to the Resource Sharing Library and returned lending items are restored to their permanent location. The presenters provided screenshots showing how to configure Alma for this optimization.

Troubleshooting Access

Like Michael, Sheryl highlighted the University of Minnesota’s “Troubleshooting Electronic Access Issues in an Alma/ Primo Central Environment.” Presenters provided helpful toolkits, flowcharts, schedules, and guidelines.

Transitioning Authentication

“Transitioning from PDS to SAML in Alma/Primo,” delivered by ExLibris rep Andrew Walsh, was a Tech Seminar session introducing SAML (Secure Single Sign-On Protocol) to replace the currently used PDS user authentication method. SAML is the most standard and secure framework for authentication and authorization for web application. PDS provides an Active-Passive solution for authentication while SAML provides an Active-Active solution. The new Primo-SAML Authentication method supports LDAP, and SAML authentication and can handle cascading and parallel configuration using Primo Authentication Manager. The presenter showed how to configure Alma/Primo. With ExL support, customers should be able to implement SAML themselves.

Babbidge Construction is moving along

07/06/2016 Babbidge Building Blog

Construction on Level 4 and Level A is moving along. Everyday the workers are building out the new spaces making them ready for the start of the Fall semester. The Humanities Institute is really starting to take shape as the workers are renovating the Research Carrels, turning them into offices and new walls are going up in the space. The Level A mobile stacks are starting to take shape as the workers install the new carriages complete with book shelves. The space is really beginning to transform.

Level A 3 Level A 2