What’s this I hear about a new Knowledge Base? #PQsummit

Presenter: Yvette Diven, Product Manager Lead, Data Services (ProQuest)

Diven provided a status update and more information on the work to improve the ProQuest knowledge base (KB).  The original KB has been around for more than 15 years —  originally called “Serials Solutions Knowledge Works” — and focused on e-resource metadata (titles, database, provider, dates, etc).  The KB provider is responsible for getting content from providers and cleaning and normalizing the data.  Because the KB is centralized and singular, it services across all products.  That is the benefit.   Some reasons Diven outlined for new approach to building an improved KB include:

  • Scope: now global and more diverse (audio, streaming video, etc)
  • Scale:  cloud-based capabilities
  • Systems: need for speed and efficiency  (time to work with providers and to get systems updated)
  • Services: APIs  and interoperability. BIG PART OF THE NEW KB

Some current efforts in this include addition of OA titles and packages, related titles and formats, A&I coverage information [does this include title level?], more descriptive content, the ability to add and describe more and new content types, inclusion of more information about package changes over time.

Libraries benefit from the ability to have the entire collection centrally supported, follow and manage new and emerging business models (e.g DDA), and can  see and share integrated data from many sources.

It is an evolution, transformation —  not a migration.

Integration of data is enhanced by new “relational” data model that is built on FRBR and RDA, and available to share via API and interoperability.

What it means for library workflows can be more effective assessment through a united view of related resources, more efficient ability to track changes of title and packages over time, and expanded coverage for more effective and automated overlap analysis.

What it means for research is improving discovery though more relational data points that include recommendation, impact, and  additional vocabularies.

Questions from the audience:

Q: Integration of various metadata, RM index separate from Summon, talk more about integration of these two?

A:  The knowledge base is the supporting metadata for the full content that is in Summon.   Summon will be able to gain additional, richer data about the resources it indexes. Availability data does not live in KB, but holdings data is.  The API will work to query availability in ILS.

Q: Talk about preservation data and the ability to add in.

A:  Have the ability to do that, just a matter of getting it in.

Q: Problem with ProQuest support passing the buck to libraries to report to publishers their article link errors or missing titles in packages.

A: Because OpenURL is often the cause, we are working with vendors to implement the new IEDL technology, which is being implemented by other discovery systems.  GALE (number one offender), reports they have implemented.

Q: Is there a continued commitment to fix errors, especially as FRBR may introduce more opportunity for calling things different things and create potential for errors.

A: Provider education is an entire group of staff at ProQuest committed to addressing this.

Q: New content types are great, can you speak more to enhancing the metadata for these, especially classification of streaming content?

A: The structure is now there in the knowledge base, now about getting that from providers.

Q: something more important than streaming metadata?

A: Ebook data quality Goal to have a single knowledge base  without exceptions for MARC (other) records.   (e.g. one of the status fields created in Intota is Subscribed – Local MARC records; would like to stop having to use that).

Q: Timeline for product onboarding?

A: Using new KB currently in Intota. Q1 of next year  planned for Summon, Ejournal platform, and Link.

  • [Followup Q/A asked by this reporter]: The new KB does not and is probably not planned for future to that include onboarding for Client Center RM because of the architecture is not able to support it (swimming pool to tin can problem).


Intota Implementation: User Experiences #PQsummit

Presenter: Sandra Morden, Head, Discovery and Technology Services, Queens University, Ontario, Canada

Presenter: Michael Vandenburg, Associate University Librarian, Queens University

Presenter: Ashley Zmau, E-Resources Librarian, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries: 

Michael Vandenburg and Sandra Modern from Queens University started off this two-part session. Their presentation,  There is no Manual: Challenging traditional workflow processes and developing problem-solving skills, described their migration path to Intota, which occurred during a period of significant change at their institution.  A primary result of that change, structurally, was increasing support for e-resource by combining a team of e-resources and collection development.   Other workflow tactics used along with this restructuring included consolidating subscription vendors and reduce shadow systems.  Intota went live for them in August 2014 without a RFP, more as an upgrade of existing Serials Solution system.  

Morden picked up the presentation at this point describing the Intota interface implementation.  The Intota interface is different, but the underlying features are the same.  [And in this reporter’s humble opinion, that is precisely the problem!]  Morden had hoped the implementation would provide for more directed process, but instead that they were already using the product mostly as expected, but made a few minor adjustments. She suggested that role-based task lists that would be more helpful for connecting staff to the system and workflows of electronic resource.  Lacking this, required different approach to staff training program focused on  understanding the larger concepts and interest in problem-solving skills.  They built on previous training in the use of existing ticketing system, and also built personnel skill in independent problem solving and accountability with a greater understanding of referral.  The training involved a series of workshops with practical exercises.  Overall they were left with questions, like: Is this all there is?  Are there just not there better ways? Looking forward to collaborative futures that will help with consortial partnerships in development.  Morden expressed optimism for what could be to learned from the next presenter, Ashley Zmau, E-Resources Librarian, University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) Libraries.  

Zmau presented an Overview of how Intota can Meet the Needs of your Library Now  which started with an immediate recommendation to begin using a team email account with subscription agents, vendors and publishers in order  to better manage communication and workflows.   This recommendation and the structure of all her recommendations followed what Zmau called operating by the “hit by bus” model.

Highlighting Renewal Details customization, she showed how UTA only used a handful of the many fields available, and took advantage of certain field to code key information (like the Renewal Note field for PO#).  Renewal Checklist is a favorite feature which UTA uses three ways, for Renewal, License and New Order.   These allow her to delegate renewal task to other staff through the use of checks and  the text fields associated with those checks to include staff initials and date.  This helps to troubleshoot problems.  Multiple people updating the checklist at any given time.  [But this reporter has oft complained that this feature still does not include an update trigger that would email the next person to act.]

Use of Collections was another valuable feature. UTA used it for resource for which they partner with their business school. This was important for the various people involved in the renewal, as well as the fact that this particular renewal must be renegotiated annually. 

Zmau offer key tips for developing documentation, including these three necessary components: 1) What, 2) why and 3) where to look.  Having theses components  in all documentation helps develop higher level thinking and independent decision making among staff.  Zmau also recommended including staff in development of menus and menu definition and other documentation. 

My Intota feature is another favorite, especially the My Databases page.  This page includes at a glance renewal dates and quick access icons that save time by requiring less clicks through buried screens.  They allow title list, renewal checklist, contacts, and license data associated with a database to be readily available. Reporting features allow to see the larger overview of where workflows are at any given point.   Management Reports show list of databases with key info.

Zmau noted a number of  alerts that could be assigned to individuals and prepopulated with notification email text . [But this reporter has oft complained that this feature doesn’t allow you to select from preexisting contact list, or assign to different contact based on say, the resource (not the alert), all of which is necessary for these team-based workflows!]

Questions from the audience: 

Q:  What kinds of staff resistance was encountered and how did you address?

A: Less resistance since we had been using Client Center — joked that  biggest difference b/w the two is that  one is blue and one is green. Beta partnership also helped in being able to say what is coming down the development track. 

Q: What would be the ideal “manual” if there was one?

A: Not step by step, more along the lines of best practices.  Remove dependence upon step by step and screen shot approach in order to get to more  self-directed learning expectations [and to keep up with the rate of change!]

A: The ideal system too would enable staff to see what the next logical step is. 

A: Important for any manual to capture local and historic decision context for each resource.

Q: Say more about Drupal database use and its connection of this to ERM?

A: “Database of databases” used, but is actually manually connected to KB, because its information is more public facing than administrative and that this list predated licensing of Client Center/Intota.

A:  First step at UTA was to match these lists against each other. 


Helping Students Get it: Redesigning 360Link #PQsummit

Presenter: Bonnie Imler, Library Director, Penn State University (Altoona)

Presenter: Eddie Neuwrith: Product Manager Lead, Discovery Services, ProQuest

Linking is critical to discovery and has two key components — technology (link reliabilty) and user expectation. Presenters Bonnie Imler (Penn State, Altoona) and Eddie Neuwrith (ProQuest) presented the details of redesign of 360 link based on usuability studies addresing these two components.

Neuwrith started off with reliability, Imler followed with three studies addresing aspects of user expectation, and Neuwrith concluded with feedback received on 360Link 2.0  features.

Neuwrith noted that 360 LInk is still heavily reliant on OpenURL, and likened resolveing these syntax to filling out Mad Libs.  While an endearing metaphor, it remais unhelpful and inefficient for reliabile linking and the ability to help users immediate needs.  IEDL linking is faster and more relaible (near 100%)  and does not requiring the extra work of navigating through the journal and issue from the URL data. 

Imler’s three seprate studies revealed that, where lacking full text, users will print the abstract, click back to results, and give up on the database altogether (and think bad things about the library).  With each extra click, she found, you lose a percentage of your users.  Specific stumbling blocks to delivery these studies found include:

  • font size (many smaller than regular text size), 
  • vague and inconcsistent label across datbases, nothing of which say “article” which users are asked to find, 
  • branding (buttons need to look like button and it can’t look like an ad), 
  • loading (spinning wheel should say “Just wait…”)

360 Sidebar helper frame eliminates the need for users to click, linking directly to full text.  However,  if you don’t want the frame, the landing page is also redesigned for the features Imler addressed.  There is a more obvious, bigger button for Full Text Online.  Other options ( for other database, journal options that users never use) are hidden under an expandable info icon. Report a problem is also more visible.  This has resulted in libraries reporting increased number of requests and ability to provide needed articles.

The features prioritized user experience over more librarian-focused needs.  Specifically addressed in the Q&A, for example, the database ordering in 360 Admin console remains clunky.  But is new admin module is in development the works for all products (not just 360 Link).

Me and E.B.

Me and E.B.

Summary: Trends, Ideas, Looking Ahead #erl14


ER&L 2014 did not disappoint.  The three great keynote speakers offered a good frame for describing the breadth of topic the conference typically offers. Opening keynote, Barbara Fister, reminded us that where the issue of the 90s was ownership to access, today the issue is toll access to open access.  Fister approached her topic by challenging the passive language that predominates library missions and our somewhat hypocritical promotion of “lifelong learning” when it comes to providing access.twittererl14_chris
Fister encouraged us to find more activist methods that connect us and our patrons to the open access and scholarly publishing issues, including devoting portions of budget and staff time to OA projects. (Check.)  Expanding our neighborhood. (Check.) And beyond that, finding and offering solutions to problems. “Do more than negotiate favorable terms; provide alternatives to market driven economy that is eroding our mission.”  Sarah Dutton shared her research and consulting practice in resilience, addressing the negative biological effects of constant disruptive change and the potential solutions that personal practices of resilience can offer.  Soundbites include: “Embrace vulnerability, failure, resilience through connection.  Pay attention to “being” in addition to “doing” in our work” (Durant, Red Sage consulting).  Will maybe begin exploring possibilities for bringing her in for future organizational development related programming in my library.
Finally, Brent Hecht shared some brilliant applications of data mined from open information sources, primarily Wikipedia. With this data he showed how English language bias could be found in Wikipedia and how that led to better shared knowledge applications using alternative data visualization models.  You might check out some of other wiki-applications in the Resources at the end, as well as a great summary of this closing keynote by eclectic librarian, Anna Creech.
The concepts the keynote speakers offered echoed across multiple presentations I attended revealing several trends in each of these areas  and leading to some key ideas for actions, areas to begin looking ahead and keep in mind, and useful resources to refer back to.


Pulling these ideas into areas specific to e-resources, one constant refrain was how to maintain agility and resilience when e-resources continues as an increasing portion of budget and a small portion of organizational staffing resources.  While there is justified need for increased staffing or addressing staffing to e-resources, it remains perhaps most problematic that a majority library workflows remain predominantly centered on print — not just technical services workflows, but also content development and access services.  (ALL SESSIONS, but #erl14humanterms specifically addressing collection development, #nexuserm specifically to Access Services)
    How organizations understand and begin to address this revealed an interesting interplay, debate maybe, between e-resources=”someone(s)” vs. e-resources=”everyone”.  There were many different approaches to workflow and reorganization based on how you conceive of e-resources management in these two ways.  Those who divide by format, aka the e-resources=someone(s), see it as a way to address the problem they see that the continuously changing nature of e-resources requires staff to devote more focused time in e, not divided time in both p and e (MIT).  Alternatively, the everyone does e-resources model argues that it can’t possibly be focused or siloed in this way and requires on-going communication, coordination, check-in, training, and evaluation.  The questions I was left with was, “which one best supports your organizational or staffing strengths?” (ALL SESSIONS, #erl14humanterms specifically “e should be our core”, #nexuserm).
    Both TERMS and NASIG Core Competencies for E-resources [in] Librari[es]  popped up in various context, including addressing organizational analyses of e-resources workflow interdependencies. (#nexuserm, TERMS workshop). Both were also mentioned as a way to advocate for staffing and to frame team development and training (#erl14humanterms).  This lead me to the idea of using TERMS as a workflow checklist, or a documentation tool in my department. But perhaps more broadly, and following the “e-resources everyone” model, why not  make a survey where people can identify whether they feel certain activities/workflows (TERMS) and competencies/skills (NASIG CC for E) fall within their responsibility.
    Workflow analysis and restructuring was prevalent, and approaches had some commonalities such as positions and workflows re-aligning with libraries strategic plans, including many creating digitization programs to manage OA resources and born digital assets.  Key points repeated about these workflow analyses efforts emphasize:
  1. it will take time (years!)
  2. it will be painful
  3. it will require concerted attention to information management.
    Information management also stood out as a critically important goal and ongoing activity in its own right, with repeated emphasis on visualization/process maps, and with common sets of success measures, including:
  1. reduce reliance upon email and human memory,
  2. automate hand-offs and notifications,
  3. promote ease of access to existing documentation,
  4. improve visibility of (and to those responsible within) the entire life cycle. (Duke, MIT, TERMS).
    Related both to information management and shared/open knowledge, using wiki as a conceptual model, specifically for workflow and procedures documentation was mentioned frequently, as were various perspectives on the readiness (or lack of) on the part of new ILS systems to address our key  information management needs.  I still agree with the vendor who said at ALA Midwinter, and I repeated in a session at ER&L: “You can’t tell [vendors] soon enough that you are considering ILS migration”.  However, given all this,  I began to admit to, came a little bit closer to acceptance with (kind of) the point that these new ILS systems are not quite ready for what we really need. But, WTH are we supposed to do in the meantime that is NOT EMAIL!
    Other bits here and there related to nagging e-resources needs to address include: needs in usability, navigation, mobile access, DRM & Licensing, E-books (#nexuserm).  Perpetual access problems to solve, including the problems with providing proof of payment, whether license language should be specific or vague,  and the fact that even new ILS systems still rely on outdated DLF standards, not covering all fields that are needed.


In addition to a few ideas in workflow and information management, I jotted down some other, perhaps less thought-out, ideas to consider working on here at home.
  • Working with external vendors and user services office (in our case the Centers?) to establish training and promotion of e-resources.
  • Establishing paid fellowships/apprenticeships to deal with staffing issues and practical learning opportunities for graduate students. (#erl14humanterms)
  • Standards vs API and open source: should move toward outcomes based partnerships and work. (Playing Nicely)
  • How can we apply “dogfooding” in the library organization: internal customer service as you would external customer service. (Playing Nicely)
  • Access Services is demand driven, E-resources Management is workflow based, challenge or opportunity? (#nexuserm)
  • E-resources troubleshooting as Access Services function, could benefit from merged service desk, merged tracking tools. (#nexuserm)
  • Information Mgmt: consolidate storage places for title list spreadsheets with the licenses (Duke)
    Looking ahead to some specific e-resources trends on a more immediate horizon, I noted some takeaways from the presentation on Streaming Video is an E-resource — both commercial and digitization of local assets.  I also paid attention to a bit I overheard from publishers that the short-term loan model for demand driven acquisition is problematic, unsustainable (#niso #dda). Also, on the more hazy horizon, the concept of how we support OA resources management in our organization came up, and is strategic priority in my library.  But, we still don’t exactly have clear answers.  Jill Emery & Graham Stone, who lead the TERMS project for e-resources management, are building on that approach for a new project, Open Access Workflows in Academic LIbraries (OAWAL) to gather collective techniques and workflow approaches for open access resources management. Other OA projects mentioned for which to keep on the look out include Bluejar (like Knowledge Unlatched, crowd-sourced funding for making books open access) and Pivots (not monographs, but shorter e-bits of content — of interest for online learning).

RESOURCES to Read, Explore

– listen.hatnote.com (Lightening Talk)
– OpenStreetMap, Omnipedia, Atlasisfy (Closing Keynote)
– Catalog 2.0 by Sally Chambers (2013) recommended reading for thinking of transitioning ILS. (Playing Nicely)

#erl14 preflections

Each year the ER&L conference, or Austin, or just time to myself after the busy semester start, or all three bring me to a precipice of reflection, questioning, and, sometimes, a crisis of conscience with my profession. In my first year, this was a great feeling. As a new ERL, I was eager to connect with like minds, and feel both grounded and unbounded in my ideas. Year two was more tumultuous. Upon reflection, I realize I had been much more confused, was going through much more learning and change, and experiencing dead ends and false starts to so many ideas. Frustrated. This year, my third ER&L conference and my first presenting, I’m trying to have a purposefully different experience.

On the plane I was reading a magazine article about Millennials and the changing nature of work and expectations of work. The piece described a series of stories where professionals left their corporate or tech work for completely different professions or activites. Anticipating how ER&L would get me questioning in a similar way, I wondered what it would look like if I wasn’t using my strengths and talents to be an ERL, or a librarian at all for that matter. Just after putting the article down, I got into a conversation with a leadership executive coach in the seat next to me. We talked strengths and he encouraged me to reflect on, make a list even, of the things I want to get out of this conference. Even if it was just one thing. The first one thing that came to mind was simply to remain steady and mindful, let frustration come and go, to learn, observe, and listen, simply. I also plan to take Bonnie’s encouraging advice to ‘expand my neighborhood’. I’ll let you know how it goes, but as I begin day two, so far so good.


lifelong learning, the MLS and beyond

Eastern Orthodox Librarian

lifelong learning, the MLS and beyond


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