Matthew Reidsma

Work Notes

Updates from the GVSU Libraries’ Web Team.
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Call Number Browse in the Catalog

This afternoon I pushed out a small change to the Library catalog that brings back the ability to see items that would be nearby on the shelf. Now, in both the keyword search results screen and the bibliographic records screens, call numbers are links. Clicking the call number link will bring you to an LC Call number browse screen for nearby items.

Animation of a call number browse

On the technical side, this ended up being easier in the end than I thought. I started by writing a script to build a URL for the call number browse, because Sierra was generating a call number search but only if we had a text (or image) link in the call number availability line using the ICON_NEARBY preference. But each time I tried to create a URL, I ended up with a browse location about 100 items away from where I should have been. I still don’t know why that is, and I can look at the URLs my script generated and they are identical to the URLs coming from Sierra, so there’s some other server-side shenanigans happening that I don’t know about.

After hitting my head against the wall with that for a while, I had Patrick pull up the Sierra documentation. (For some reason, I get server errors on all my computers and even my personal iPad when I try to go to CSDirect. Go figure.) The ICON_NEARBY option, which controls the display on the browse nearby links, will automatically link the call numbers if you remove anything setting a textual link. This meant that all I had to do was change the setting in Sierra, and then update my jQuery scripts to pull the .html() of the call number field instead of the .text(). No ridiculous script building a call number link from scratch! Now we have call number browse back. (It’s still ugly, but one thing at a time.)

Let me know if you have any questions!

Accessible Search Forms in LibGuides

This morning I added a new page to the Web Content Guides, based on something I’ve been working on in LibGuides: accessible HTML code for all of our common search tools!

You can find the guide at or from the Web Content Guides homepage. So far I have HTML for the Catalog, Summon, and the Journal Finder that you can copy and paste into your guides. This HTML has labels for all form elements. I’ve been working on updating all the forms in LibGuides to meet accessibility requirements, and wanted to make sure that you all had access to accessible code going forward if you want to add new searches to your guides.

To make things even easier, you can visit the Mappable Forms tab to find dedicated search boxes with each search that you can just map to you guides. If you don’t want to add any explanatory text within the same box as your search, this is the best option. Just add a new box, click “Reuse Box,” and then search for the “Search Forms” guide. Select the box you want under the Mappable Boxes heading and you’ll have a search tool working on your page that you don’t have to maintain or tinker with. Easy peasy.

Screenshot of cloning a form in LibGuides

Let me know if you have any questions!

Summon Updates, 12/15/2016

Today ProQuest is pushing out a big update to Summon, our discovery layer. Below is a summary of the changes (with some slight commentary from me). You can read the detailed release notes on ProQuest’s site. In the new year, KARMS and I will be looking over the new options available for recommending items, and we’ll be reaching out to folks in R&I and UX to help us improve our users’ search experience. If you have any questions, let me know!

Coming December 15, 2016
ProQuest is making the following changes to improve performance and usability with Summon 2.0:

Query Expansions

We have added new Library of Congress Subject Headings to query expansions so that “variants” (as specified by the LCSH) are now used to expand queries. For example, a search for “bionanotechnology” is now expanded to include results for “nanobiotechnology” since “bionanotechnology” is a variant of “nanobiotechnology”. Or “science of language” is now expanded to include results for “linguistics” since “science of language” is a variant of “linguistics.”

Another new feature included in this release is the “context-sensitive” expansion feature. LCSH uses the notion of “qualifying terms” indicated in parentheses. For example, “optimization (linguistics)” is defined as a variant term for the heading “optimality theory” with the qualifying term “linguistics”. This means the term “optimization” used in the context of “linguistics” is a variant for the heading “optimality theory”. The new feature looks for both the variant term “optimization” and the qualifying term “linguistics”, and it does the expansion only if both terms are present in the query.


  • optimization >> no expansion
  • optimization engineering >> no expansion
  • optimization linguistics >> search expanded to include results for “optimality theory”
  • linguistics optimization >> search expanded to include results for “optimality theory”

Database Recommender Improvements

Any databases you have rights to will be made available for recommendation by default. (Previously only databases that were included in the Summon index were available for recommendation.)

Topic Explorer Relevance Improvements

  • Better handling of close matches for longer phrases, to eliminate false matches; for example: Previously the topic “stress in the workplace” would trigger a match for a search for either “_______ in the workplace” or “stress in the ______”, so that “lunch in the workplace” or “stress in the joints” would result in the matching topic “stress in the workplace”; phrase matching (having 3 words in order) would trigger the match despite the disconnect. Now we have balanced phrase matching with better term matching, so that the above examples no longer return the topic, but the following do: stress in the workplace, stress and workplace, stress from the workplace, and stress in a workplace

I’m especially excited about this fix, and I’ll be doing a lot of testing to see how well it works. Earlier this year I published a lengthy analysis of the effectiveness of Topic Explorer, and one of the biggest problems I encountered was the “Mad Lib” search query - where you can put any subject into a phrase and return the same Topic Explorer result (for instance, “women in the workplace” returned “stress in the workplace.”) Brent and the Summon team worked really hard on this fix, and it was an especially tricky problem to solve. I’m really excited that ProQuest took these issues seriously and worked so hard on a fix.


We will be replacing our current reporting system with Oracle Business Intelligence (OBI). In addition to the launch of the initial dashboard, which includes reporting equivalent to our current set of reports, this release lays the groundwork for expanded reporting of events throughout the Summon interface.

For us, we’re hoping this means more accurate Summon search statistics. Ive been maintaining our own software to get accurate and useful stats out of Summon, but I hope this new analytics tool will make my software unnecessary.

Relevance Improvements: Subject Term Boost

We are publishing a new relevance algorithm with Subject Terms having a higher influence in relevance. Previously subject terms were given similar treatment to other metadata found within the record; now subject terms are given a boost more similar to how Title or Author are treated.

The boost should only apply when query terms match specific subject terms and not when subject terms are found in other fields in the record. When searching on “computational linguistics,” the title “foundations of Computational linguistics” shouldn’t be affected, since “computational linguistics” is not a subject term for this item. However, the title “Readings in Machine Translations” should get a boost since computational linguistics is a subject term in that record. Also, the title “Japanese Computational Linguistics” should get a boost because it also has computational linguistics as a subject term.

Note: Because relevance ranking is a complex calculation of multiple factors, actual influence of subject terms will be determined by the search parameters at the time of execution. Also, you may not be able to recreate these exact examples in your instance of Summon due to differences in the search configuration at the time of searching, including differences in content rights, configuration, and facets applied, for example.

Bug Fixes

Beyond the fixes and improvements listed above, we have also made the following changes to improve performance and usability with Summon 2.0:

  • Addressed issues that were causing the Summon search box generated by the Summon widget to disappear
  • Addressed issues with text appearing out of margin in the new Summon results page preview pane
  • Removed “Indian” as a language option in Advanced Search Language dropdown
  • Corrected issues with the MLA Citation format

Web Content Style Guide and Upcoming Workshops

Over the past year, I’ve been auditing the content on all of our websites, including LibGuides, to make sure that the content was correct and up-to-date as well as accessible for all our users. (Mary M helped me on the home stretch as we finished fixing over 1000 broken links in LibGuides last year, for instance.) Since we have so many content creators now, I realized that we needed some easily accessible and scannable guidelines for creating useful, accessible content.

My colleague Suzanne Chapman created a wonderful Content Style Guide for the University of Illinois Library, and released it under a Creative Commons license, so I reworked it to fit in with how we do things here at GVSU. You can find it at (The GVSU guide is built in LibGuides 2.0, and is sharable, so if you’re from another library you can clone it to your own installation by searching Community Guides from the New Guide dialog.)

Rather than just dump this resource on you, I’ll also be offering some workshops in the new year where I will go over how to use the guide and how to plan for, maintain, and retire content. Invitations went out early today to all the registered content creators at the library, and the times are:

  • Thursday, January 5, 2017, 1-2:30pm in LIB 002
  • Wednesday, January 11, 2017, 10-11:30am in LIB 002
  • Thursday, January 12, 2017, 1-2:30pm in DEV 114A
  • Tuesday, January 17, 2017, 10-11:30am in DEV 114A

There are a few other useful reference guides available for our web processes, too, including print and web quality logos, our version control workflow, and our programming style guide. You can find all of the guides at

Slight change to 360 Link

Last week, Gayle was reading over something I’d written about the redesign of our link resolver, and she mentioned that students don’t always see the additional results that are hidden in an accordion if the “best bet” link fails to work. She described how students would click on the big blue button and would not end up on the full text of the article they wanted. Most would understand to go back to the tab with the link resolver, but often, she said, students would not see that they had more options for the full text, and she would have to show them how to click the “Show more results” link.

I realized that any user who goes back to the link resolver page after clicking the “best bet” link probably needs to see the other results, and so I made a very small change to the code so that once you click on a link, the link resolver shows all possible results for you, without a user having to open up the accordian. Here’s a gif below to show how that works:

Animation showing additional results once a link has been clicked

I just added 2 lines for code, for those who are curious. You can see the changes on Github.

LibGuides Subject Listing Tweak

This afternoon while waiting for Springshare to respond to a support ticket, I finally wrote a little script to fix one of my pet peeves about the LibGuides homepage list. When there is only one subject guide for a given subject, users still have to click on the subject name and then see the single guide appear below the heading, and then click again on the guide list. I’ve always thought that if there was only one guide, then the heading should just take you right to that guide. So, I wrote a script that does just that.

Animation of the script in action

The code is available up on Github, and I did end up setting a short timeout before it loads so that the LibGuides AJAX has a chance to build the page template. Other than that, you can drop it in your own LibGuides installation. Let me know if you have any questions!

Summon Customizations are Back

A few weeks ago, ProQuest updated the user interface of Summon, our discovery tool. Since we had mad many customizations to Summon, I’ve spent the past few weeks rewriting all of these GVSU-specific features for the new interface. Late last week, the new code went live, and you should now see the GVSU Library chat button, improved styling on the header, on the ‘clear filters’ link, as well as on the ook detail page request buttons, among other tweaks. If you find anything else that needs updating, or if you have any questions, please let us know!

Summon user interface update

Next week Wednesday, August 24th, ProQuest will be launching a “refreshed” user interface for Summon, our discovery layer. Since I have made a lot of customizations to Summon, and since those modifications will likely need to be rewritten for the new interface, we will be removing our Summon customizations Today, Friday, August 19th. No functional change to Summon will happen, although some design elements and labeling will change.

After the update goes through, I’ll begin work on rewriting our customizations for the new interface. It will likely take a week or two to get everything back, so there will be small changes throughout the first week of classes as I bring our customizations back up. I apologize for the inconvenience this will cause during early instruction sessions, but ProQuest did not give us access to the new code before making the changes live.

For those of you who missed the Summon update webinar last week, you can watch a recording of the session at If you’d just like to see the visuals of the changes, there is a “cheat sheet” available from ProQuest. If you are updating your LibGuides or instruction plans, and intend to use screenshots, you may want to wait until I let you know that the new customizations are back, or make notes of where you may need to replace screenshots in the next few weeks.

Illiad Account Reminder

Shortly after I started at GVSU Libraries, Vicki mentioned to me that there was a real issue every semester with Illiad users who had moved or changed phone numbers not updating their information. Most students assume that updating their address and phone number in Banner is enough to trickle throughout the University system, but unfortunately, some of our systems are little islands of their own, including Illiad. We’d bounced around a few ideas here and there in the past (including one really complex system I dreamed up while driving through the Smoky Mountains after a conversation with Jason Griffey), but I finally realized recently that it might just be a nudge that could help deal with these issues. Most of the time a users GVSU email doesn’t change, but for distance students who get books mailed to them, updating their address can mean the difference between receiving their book and having it vanish into the ether.

So yesterday, I made a little adjustment to our Illiad customization JavaScript that inserts a reminder banner on Illiad. It’s big enough to be noticeable and irritating enough that users will want to do something to make it go away. They can either click to “Review your account” and make sure everything is up-to-date, or they can say “No thanks.” Either way, the banner will disappear for 6 months, thanks to a simple cookie set by the script.

Reminder banner in Illiad

The code to add it is available on Github. I’ll be checking in with Vicki to see how many issues Document Delivery has with out-of-date information after this Fall, and maybe this low-commitment solution will be enough!

(PS Document Delivery is getting a server upgrade right now until 4pm, so you probably won’t see it until OCLC finishes and Illiad is back online.)

New Summon UI Coming August 24th

ProQuest is releasing a slightly new user interface to the Summon 2.0 service on August 24th. Mostly this involves some cleanup of the header, facet, and right-side panels. Below is an email I received this morning from the product manager outlining some of these changes, as well as scheduling webinars to learn more about the updates. I am going to register for the webinar on Tuesday, August 9th, and will reserve a room if anyone wants to join me. Please keep an eye out for an invitation I’ll send out later today. You are welcome to register for any of the other sessions on your own.

One note: these changes will require me to rewrite many of our Summon interface modifications. I will be on vacation when these changes go through, but will work to address the updates when I return the following week. If, after the changes you see something that isn’t working as you expected it to, please use the Problem Report Form rather than emailing me, and someone in ERMS or Systems and Technology will address it right away. (I will not check my email until August 29th.)

Here are more details. Please let me or ERMS know if you have any questions, and we’ll do our best to get answers from ProQuest.

To increase your familiarity with these UI changes I want to show you a current version of the new UI for Summon 2.0 prior some of our minor tweaks. I also encourage you to review a very brief overview document, produced earlier this month, that highlights a couple of mockups that we were working with and details the more significant usability improvements. The majority of changes that will be in place are visible in this document, with only a few minor adjustments based on user feedback and development requirements.

New Summon UI sample

Over the coming weeks we will host Summon Quarterly Update webinars which provide you an opportunity to gain more visibility into these UI improvements. Beyond previewing the UI changes, we’ll also review what we are working on through the rest of the year as we march forward to finish items slated for our December release. Of course, I’ll also answer any questions that you have. Dates and times for the sessions are:

In the event that you can’t attend the sessions we’ll make recordings available to you and post them in the Support Center.

As we move forward to code complete we are also in the midst of creating more support and documentation for you to better understand the nature of this release.