In a few weeks, Google Chrome will release version 61 of its web browser, which will flag all sites that have forms that load over an insecure HTTP connection as “Insecure” sites. What kind of site has a form and probably loads over HTTP, you ask? Nearly every library webpage ever! Luckily, Mary Morgan and I have been scrambling for the past month to make sure we’re ready when Chrome updates. (All of the other browsers will follow suit shortly, plus pover 60% of our users are on Chrome.) All of our online services (except for ScholarWorks, which is hosted and out of our control) not support HTTPS. Many also force HTTPS connections, but not all our services currently allow us to do that (*cough* Summon and The Catalog *cough*).
Last week we updated LibGuides, the Knowledge Base, and LibChat to all use HTTPS. Those were the final services to move over, but we now have another project to undertake: most of the images that LibGuides owners have added over the near decade that we’ve had LibGuides are set up to load over HTTP, which makes browsers unhappy (and is a security vulnerability). And so, we have to fix them. Tessa, our superstar student in System and Technology, will be helping me manually fix all the images on the 337 pages that have been identified as having problems. (Let’s be honest: she will fix most of them. Send her chocolate!)
Going forward, all images you add to your site, including thumbnail images for books or links, must be loaded over HTTPS. There are two ways to do this:
https:” at the beginning, and see whether the image loads. If it does, great! You have a working HTTPS URL. If not, then go to step 2.
//” with no http or https in front of it, but that’s fine. It will load with whatever protocol the page loads with, which will be HTTPS.)
At long last, we’ve finally switched one of our most used tools, LibGuides, over to HTTPS. This is especially important as Chrome is releasing a new version of its browser next month that will flag every webpage loaded without HTTPS (i.e. every library webpage ever) that also has a form as “Insecure.” (Over 60% of our users use Chrome, and all other browsers will follow suit.) We’ve worked hard to earn our users’ trust, so we don’t want a browser update to undo that.
Thankfully, Springshare has been working hard to support HTTPS on all their tools. We’ll be moving LibAnswers (the Knowledge Base and Chat) over soon, as well. The only tool we aren’t able to move over now is ScholarWorks because HTTPS is not supported. (It seems that bepress has been distracted from supporting their product lately.) So, after October 15th, anyone visiting ScholarWorks in Chrome will see a warning in their browser that the site is not secure. This is especially disappointing since ScholarWorks is our most visited online tool at the library and directly represents the work of our faculty and students.
We’re not completely done with LibGuides yet, though. All the images that have been added using “http” instead of “https” will still trigger security warnings in all browsers, so Tessa and I will be working on updating all of these images.
For LibGuides creators going forward: do not link your images to a server that does not have https in the URL. Instead, download the image, upload it into LibGuides, and link from there. (This also means it won’t be one of the dozen broken images we have to fix every week.) Let me know if you have any questions!
This week I’ve made some small (but hopefully effective) changes to the user interface of the Instructor side of our Course Reserves website. Todd, Brian, Kristin, Mary Morgan, and I have been working to improve the workflow of faculty adding items to Course Reserves over the past few months, and we’ve made some headway with other user interface changes as well as the addition of a whole category of help topics for faculty.
Todd has reported several instances of faculty creating new classes when they meant to copy items from a previous course. Ares, the software behind Course Reserves, doesn’t make this especially easy, so I changed a few things in the user interface to make it a bit more intuitive.
First, I added a “Clone course” link to each class in an instructor’s list. This way an instructor doesn’t need to select a course to get the course menu before cloning. I also updated the help entry on cloning to match this new workflow, although the old way still works for folks who are used to it. (For the curious, here’s the jQuery function that adds the new links.)
Next, I added an alert at the top of the “Add a New Class” form letting faculty know that they can copy a previous course to the new semester.
In the coming weeks, I’ll also be modifying the “Add New Class” button and link to help direct faculty to either cloning an existing course or to creating a new one from scratch. Since this isn’t an operation that happens frequently, an extra step in the workflow shouldn’t be too troublesome, especially when the alternative might be support phone calls to Course Reserve and waiting days for the team to manually copy your items over.
Last, I wanted to make sure that faculty to easily access the new help content for adding items and courses. I haven’t crunched numbers, but Todd and Brian have said that the small changes we made in how we communicate Course Reserve instructions has led a lot more folks to manage their courses from the website, but that will mean a lot of new questions as people explore these workflows for the first time. Having help front and center is essential to making this transition, and we hope that a prominent “Get Help” menu will be the first step in integrating this help.
In the next few weeks I’ll also be working on a few other changes to Course Reserve:
In October or November we’ll be conducting our first faculty usability test of Course Reserve, to see where else we can improve. If you know of anyone who is interested in participating, let me know!
On Monday we migrated to LibInsight, the replacement tool for LibAnalytics. I’ve sat down with most of you to make sure bookmarks and such were updated, and I’ve likely explained some of the new features of the tool. Right now, all of the data we have in LibInsight has been manually recorded (Instruction statistics, reference consultations, desk questions, tours, etc.) In the future we hope to collect and share more data, such as database usage, search tool usage, and so on. Having this data in one place will help folks make better decisions about collection development, and also help with our public data sharing initiatives (like the Library by the Numbers page) by automatically sharing relevant and up-to-date data. (The LBTN page is already a year and a half out of date at least.)
Check out my previous post on LINK for relevant links to common data entry forms. (I am redirecting our LibAnalytics site to LibInight, but just to the LibInight homepage.)
This morning we updated our eJournal Portal to version 2.0. If you use the Find Journals tool on our website, you’ll now see a more modern look and feel to the search results, as well as some new indicators that can be useful to novice and experienced researchers, like Open Access badges and Peer Review indicators. The new tool integrates with Ulrich’s for journal information, so you can understand where it gets its information on peer review and such.
The 2.0 tool also allows for a new eBook search platform, but we haven’t turned that on yet. It doesn’t seem to offer much more than what we would get in the catalog or Summon, but I’m always looking for volunteers to test these things out to see if they would provide improvements for our users. Drop me a line if you’re interested!
Mary and I have also worked with IT to set up all of our Springshare tools to work with our institutional login, so you don’t have to worry about what your LibGuides or LibInsight (or LibChat, LibAnswers, LibStaffer, LibWizard, LibCal, or LibWhatever) password is anymore. You can still use your LibApps login, but you also have the option to use your campus ID.
To log in with your GVSU username and password, click the link that says “Log in with your GVSU username and password” to the right of the normal login form (or below it if you’re on a phone or small tablet). That will take you to the GVSU login screen. The best part is that if you’re already logged in to the campus login, you’ll just sail through into LibGuides. So if you’ve already logged in to EZProxy or another tool that uses GVSU’s single sign on, you won’t have to log in to LibApps again.
That’s it for migrations this summer! Stay tuned for more details about projects coming up this Fall.
We’ve been using LibAnalytics for a few years, but Springshare has a new and improved version we decided to upgrade to this summer: LibInsight. LibInsight offers some features not found in the older tool, like automatic harvesting of COUNTER data through the SUSHI protocol (yes, that sentence is a real thing and not something out of an episode of Dr. Who), integration with LibApps, and unlimited datasets.
I’ll be taking over the technical administration of LibInsight, since I already manage all the other Springshare tools. A lot of you are using LibAnalytics to enter data, and many of you come from bookmarks you’ve saved in your browsers to specific data entry forms. All of these URLs will change when we migrate, so we’ll have to do some updating. Here are more details about the upcoming migration:
I had also planned on migrating to 360 Link 2.0 (for the third summer in a row), but frankly, the tool just has too many problems. tl;dr: we’re not migrating to 360 Link 2.0 this year. (We have never planned on using the 360 Link 2.0 sidebar (PDF), which is an absolute mess. Our plan was to use the static pages, which, incidentally, were copied from our 360 Link 1.0 redesign. Go figure.) The accessibility issues alone are enough to shut down the migration. It has enough problems that once again I saw our only solution was to create a script that completely rewrites the entire page to give semantic, accessible HTML as well as an intuitive, flexible design. And since I already have a nicely working script that gives us everything we want, the added features of 360 Link 2.0 (basically, index-enhanced direct-linking) just doesn’t justify the amount of work it would take to get the tool up to snuff for our users. So, we’ll take a look again next year. When I asked last summer about improvements to the non-sidebar pages, I was told that since most customers use the sidebar, they weren’t planning on putting any more resources into the non-sidebar pages. We’ll see if that changes in the future. I sure hope so! (Or not. 360 Link Reset works very well.)
On Wednesday, August 23rd, we’ll be pushing the eJournal Portal 2.0 live. I wrote the other day about the Journal Finder migration and asked for feedback (and included instructions for testing). I’ve heard from a few folks, but fully 33% of the respondents are currently in Australia on sabbatical, so I’m hoping to get a few more Michigan-based folks to take a look.
As always, let me know if you have any questions!
A few of our tools have updates that we’d like to take advantage of, and now that Spring/Summer semester is upon us, we’re preparing to test and roll out these upgrades. The schedule for updates is currently:
I’m still working out the final details and tweaks for some of these updates, but I should have had all the conversations and worked out the various kinks in the migration plans by the days listed above. I will be posting more work notes with these details (and instructions for previewing or testing the upgraded versions) on the dates listed. Today, I will tell you about the Journal Finder update!
In 2016, ProQuest released the eJournal Portal 2.0, an updated journal search tool that replaced the legacy Journal Finder we’ve been using for years. In the early days, they had quite a few kinks to work out so we didn’t switch right away, but over the past year the tool has been quite stable. I’ve customized the user interface of the tool to match the rest of our site, and have activated a few of the new features that could make things a bit easier for our users:
If any of these features seem useful, let me know! We can talk with Sarah and Jeffrey about how they might be implemented.
You can read more about the eJournal Portal 2.0 on ProQuest/Ex Libris’s website.
Currently we have a page in the CMS that has an embedded search box that takes the user to the Journal Finder. This is because the current default Journal Finder homepage is so dreadful that I couldn’t bear to show it to anyone! (Think multiple search boxes, buttons, and drop down menus, like the love child of Lexis Nexis and Alta Vista circa 1999.) The new Journal Finder homepage isn’t bad, though, and we have the ability to decide what gets added there, if we wish.
The question is, which of the two should be our home page? The old one gives us the ability to customize, but doesn’t offer autocomplete or a dynamic list of browsable subjects. The new homepage makes customization a tad bit more difficult, but offers the benefits of browsable subjects and autocomplete. I’d love to hear your thoughts on which of the two you would prefer.
You can preview the new Journal Finder by installing the bookmarklet below. Drag the button to your browser’s toolbar, and when you are in the existing Journal Finder click the bookmarklet and the page will reload in the new 2.0 interface. From there, you can browse around in the new interface until you close the tab or leave the Journal Finder (but you can always get back by clicking the bookmarklet on a Journal Finder page again.)
I have a little help page on installing bookmarklets, including instructions by browser.
Here’s a ittle animation of the Journal Finder bookmarket in action:
It is slow, but some of this is from using the bookmarklet. Other institutions have said that running the service live made it quite a bit speedier. (Although it will likely stil be slower than the old version, since it is built with a slightly bloated framework (for a tool with such a limited scope, IMO).
If you see anything that isn’t working well, or that has changed for the worse from the previous version, please let me know. (Better yet: use the “report a probem” link at the bottom of the preview page you are on!) I’ll do my best to investigate and figure out what’s happening.
Tomorrow I’ll have details on the new version of 360 Link, and then Thursday look for more details about the LibAnalytics migration! As
The Summon user interface will get an update on July 26th. Below is information about the changes, as well as details on how to preview them. Please let me know if you have any questions.
We are pleased to notify you of an upcoming Summon® release scheduled for Wednesday, July 26. Below you will find highlights of user-facing improvements and bug fixes. These changes are live today in the Summon Preview Environment and will be accessible until July 25. You will find instructions on how to access this preview environment below.
For more details on the enhancements described below you may wish to review our recent Summon Update and Q&A webinar (.pdf or recording). Pay particular attention to slides 21 through 41, which are covered between the 11:00-32:30 portion of the recorded webinar.
- Controlled Vocabularies Search: subject terms are now enabled as search links, in the preview pane and on the catalog details page, enabling users to generate a new search with all elements of the subject term applied
- Expand search results to 1,000: you can configure Summon to generate 1,000 search results for your users, beyond the current 200
- English Search Improvements: improved handling of punctuation and special characters, use of synonyms, and stemming
- Improved Faceting: new enhancements improve usability of the include and exclude functionality in the primary and more facets panes
- Improved Header, Icon and Background Color Support: You can now set custom colors for your icons and background in the header of the results page and set the right hand column background to white; note: you do need to configure these features for them to take effect
- Preview Link Hover: a preview is displayed when the user hovers over the preview icon, eliminating the requirement to click on the link to see the preview
- Permalink placement improvement: permalinks are now both in the preview section and as an icon at the top of the result with a tool tip
Beyond these notable items, we are also making accessibility improvements and numerous fixes.
The preview environment for the July 26 Summon release is available now through July 25.
Please remember that because some of the new functionality require some configuration, particularly the ability to change background and icon colors; you will need to change the configuration options in your Admin Console if you’d like to see these changes in the preview.
You can view your instance of Summon via the following URL: http://gvsu.preprod.summon.serialssolutions.com
Between now and July 25 we would like you to look at both the preview environment itself and provide feedback.
Here’s what you should look for in the preview environment:
- The preview should work. (This is probably my favorite request. Ha! -MR)
- Your preview should include your customizations (logos, link and background colors, etc.).
- The search results on the preview site should be reflective of your configuration for the index in production (rights mirror live site).
- The preview should include link rules so you can test links to content.
- You should be able to see your custom scripts in place.
Newly Indexed Content Highlights
We’ve recently added or updated the following content packages in the Summon Index:
- McGraw-Hill - F.A. Davis PT Collection: Physical therapy resources
- McGraw-Hill - HarrisonMedicina: Clinical medicine resources (Spanish)
- Association for Computing Machinery (ACM): Books
- Elsevier - ClinicalKey ES guides and Techniques: Guides and Techniques currently Fisterra content only (Spanish)
- Chemical Society of Japan: Journals
- SOLIS: Updated for new format (Dublin Core) of research projects from the Federal Republic of Germany, Austria and Switzerland
Springshare released a few updates to LibChat and LibAnswers today, which is the tool we use to power our chat widget with integrated self-help features. Since many of you have LibChat accounts connected to chat widgets on your LibGuides, and others use chat at the UX desk perch, I wanted to share these updates with you.
There are a few other updates, but they’re either not enabled on our system or for administrators. Read the whole update announcement for details.
Yesterday I met with Kristin, Todd, Mary M, and Brian to work on improving faculty workflows in Ares, our Course Reserve software. The Course Reserves team is bogged down with lots and lots of manual requests to enter content and classes, and we need to do something to improve the situation. We did a user journey exercise, which involves walking through every step in a user’s attempts to complete a task, exploring confusing labeling and instructions, and what happens when you click something unexpected. We didn’t get very many post-its up on the board before we were drowing in issues to work on.
The biggest take-away for us is updating all of our instructions across all of our various systems, which still encourage faculty to print out paper forms and turn them in to the Course Reserves folks (!). Back in 2012 I redesigned Ares’ Instructor tools to make it super easy for faculty to add their own courses and items, as well as clone courses for upcoming semesters. But our messaging has lagged behind.
In addition to working on improving our instructions by updating our instructional content to promote the self-service features of Ares, we identified a number of small pain points in the Ares user interface that we addressed to make the process of adding content easier. Yesterday I made the following changes to the website:
(Interested? You can browse the recent changes to the code on our Github page.)
We have some other ideas to improve things for Course Reserve, too, that will be coming in the next few months. Items I’ll be working on are:
There will also be some training sessions and a lot of content updates, so stay tuned for more updates! If you have suggestions from your faculty for Course Reserves, pass them along, I’d love to hear new ideas.
I’ve been noticing some reports lately of folks who thought they had renewed items in the catalog expressing frustration at receiving bills for overdue and lost items (including some very rude messages to our long-suffering UX team). From what I can tell, these folks all clicked the “Renew All” or “Renew Selected” items on the catalog account screen, but failed to notice the second confirmation screen that follows:
(This is what it looks like after I applied a little styling to the confirmation earlier today. Before that it was red text with two identically styled buttons. Thanks, Innovative!)
I’ve always hated that confirmation step. It’s completely unnecessary to confirm that you want to renew a selected group of items. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen if you accidentally renew something you didn’t mean to? Nothing! We have unlimited renewals on most items here, and its not like renewing a book is the same as deleting some crucial data. Deletion is a case where you really need to make sure you’re doing the right thing (although I can tell you from experience not everyone reads those warnings, either!). Once a user clicks Renew All or Renew Selected in our catalog, the items should be renewed.
So, I wrote a little script that looks for that renewal prompt, and puts up a little message for the user saying that renewals are being processed. Then, it submits the confirmation form without any intervention by the user. Voila! You click one of the renewal buttons and your items are renewed for you. (Or it fails and you get a message that you can’t renew the item.)
The code is pretty simple, although it relies on a few things being customized in the patronview_web.html template in Sierra.
I also made some tweaks to the way information is displayed on the list of items you have checked out. It’s mostly adding some space around things and splitting different kinds of information onto separate lines, but I also added code to highlight items that have been successfully renewed:
One other change I made today to the OPAC was to fix yet another silly hard-coded error message encouraging you to “see a librarian” if you can’t log in to your account! I appreciate the folks at Innovative sending folks to librarians for every possible problem they might have. We’re pretty capable folks, but honestly, we’re not always the right choice. So I changed the wording a bit with a single line of code in our already heavily-customized login screen.
Thanks to Lindy for pointing this one out!
I have a few more tweaks to the catalog coming soon, and tomorrow I’ll post an update on a bunch of changes I made earlier today to the Course Reserve interface for faculty.
**UPDATE 5/18/2017 10:00am*: This update has made it harder to see if some of your renewals fail (like MeL items that have reached the renewal limit), as the code was interfering with another function that makes failed renewal messages more visible. I’m working on an update that should go live shortly.
UPDATE 5/18/17 2:10pm I’ve fixed the issue with failed renewal messages not showing up by replacing the unhelpful default message with one that explains to users why a renewal might fail.