Matthew Reidsma

Work Notes

Updates from the GVSU Libraries’ Web Team.
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Feedback needed for UX and Discovery aspects of cloud-based LMSs

Some of you may have heard about the Shared Cloud-based Request for Proposals group that a few of us in TIS have been working on for the past few months. I’m servings as the chair of the User Experience and Discovery subgroup as we write the RFP, and my group and I have created a draft of the questions we’re planning on asking the vendors related to how our users will interact with the system. We’ve tried to cover the usual aspects of usability, functionality, and customizations, while also pushing the vendors to account for data security and user privacy. I’d love to get your feedback on the draft so far, letting me know if we’ve missed something or whether something we’ve written isn’t clear. While I’ve sent the draft to the steering committee for the RFP, we haven’t heard much feedback and we want to make sure we’re not missing anything.

Here’s our current working draft. I’m going to send a revised version to the executive committee on May 9th, so please send along your feedback before then. As always, I’m happy to answer any other questions you might have!


  1. Describe how your solution will provide library users with an intuitive interface that searches disparate resource silos (e.g., local returnable and/or digital collections, vendor-supplied electronic resources, manuscripts and archival material, etc.); enables users to create searches in their own words; retrieves relevant items available to them regardless of format or physical location; and displays, organizes, and limits search results in an understandable manner.
  2. Describe how your solution will enable users to control the scope of or refine the search by criteria such as availability, location, creation or publication date, version, resource type, or format, as well as whether the item is available electronically or not.
  3. Describe how your solution’s user interface communicates the difference between content available full text (electronic or print) and unavailable full text (electronic or print).
  4. Describe how your system indicates to users when items are subject to embargo and may not have full text available?
  5. Describe how your system will pass searches on to other search platforms, like MeLCat or WorldCat. How does the system or user decide which system to send searches to? What controls do we have to dictate how searches are routed? How does this work?
  6. Describe how your solution will facilitate both known-item searches and open-ended searches (including authors, titles, subject terms, or other identifying information) using an intuitive interface. How do you handle searches with a specific scope, such as the library’s archives, or a specific collection?
  7. Describe how your solution displays holdings for multi-volume or serials holdings. Do libraries have the ability to customize how these holdings are displayed?
  8. Describe how your solution displays FRBRized results to users, if available.
  9. Describe how your solution will facilitate expert/advanced searching features for researchers who require more control in formulating search statements and handling results. How do you handle Boolean searching?
  10. Describe how your solution will enable users to change search terms without losing selected search parameters and limits.
  11. Describe how your solution integrates eBook discovery into search results. How are these titles accessed from the discovery system?
  12. Do you provide a listing of those databases, publishers, open access repositories, and other data sources that are indexed by the discovery system and the level of indexing, e.g. metadata or full text?
  13. What level of control will each campus have over the indexing of local catalog and digital collection records? Can individual libraries customize searches with custom scopes such as searching journal titles, reference books, or new books?
  14. Describe how your system interacts with records and finding aids created by systems such as ArchivesSpace and Archon. Can these records be imported or harvested into the system?
  15. Describe how your solution recommends subjects or other terminology, alternate titles, spelling corrections, and other ways to help user identify and use alternate search strategies.
  16. Describe how your solution manages and enables users to locate course reserve materials. How do you handle print reserves? How about electronic reserves?
  17. How does your solution expose library resources to the web?
  18. Does your solution indicate which materials are part of a Patron- or Demand-Driven acquisition program through the discovery interface? How are those indicated?
  19. What supplemental and contextual information will your solution provide about items such as book covers, tables of content, indexes, reviews, and other content previews that enrich the user’s understanding of the nature and content of items and collections? Do these features require additional services from you or another provider?
  20. What user data collected through the discovery interface do you share with third-parties?

User/System Interaction

  1. Describe how your solution will enable users to discover the availability, status, and location of specific resources. How does your system define “available”?
  2. Describe how your solution connects users with full text from the discovery interface.
  3. How will your solution enable users to borrow or request tangible items from their own institution’s collections, from other institutions in the consortium, or from other libraries outside the consortium?
  4. Currently, each institution within the consortium manages its own electronic resources and frequently these resources are not available to users at other institutions. Similarly, items in digital repositories maybe be subject to access restrictions imposed by the creator or the holding institution. How will your solution clearly expose the resources a user has the right to access and connect users with the appropriate electronic or digital resource? How might this experience differ if a user is on or off-campus?
  5. Describe how your solution will enable users to access their own accounts in order to view, renew, and track requested or checked out tangible items from local or consortial library collections.
  6. Does your solution make use of existing login credentials? (e.g. LDAP, Microsoft Active Directory, etc.) Do these credentials give users access to all of your systems features, or must they create supplementary accounts for some features (e.g. citation manager, eBook reading shelf, etc.)
  7. Do you store user passwords? If so, please describe how they are stored (e.g. salted and hashed, plain text, etc.) How do you send usernames and passwords during login (e.g. HTTP vs. HTTPS)? [Cross-ref with Systems group on privacy and encryption]
  8. Does your solution require the use of JavaScript, cookies, or Java? Do you store authentication information in cookies?
  9. How will your solution enable users to create and save, print, share, or export single items or lists of items to citation management, word processing or other productivity software?
  10. Does your solution offer usable permalinks for each record? Please share an example of a permalink from your system.
  11. Describe the help available to users from within your solution’s interface. How will you respond to users who contact you directly for assistance?
  12. Describe how your solution might enable users to set and receive alerts and notifications about the status of specific items or categories of items available to them through an intuitive interface.
  13. Describe how users can be notified of new content items in the index (new articles published in journals, new content added to the index).
  14. Describe how users might interact with the solution through tagging, recommending, or writing reviews of resources.
  15. Describe how your solution handles non-English languages, and the input and retrieval of records with special characters.
  16. Describe how your system handles sessions and session time-outs. Can the time-out length be customized? When a search times out, is the user also logged out from the session?
  17. Describe the extent to which the solution has been designed to comply with laws and regulations governing the storage and use of “protected” user data. Examples of such laws and regulations include: Michigan Library Privacy Act, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS). Describe what patron data are exposed in which components of the user interface. Describe how personal information about the patron such as address can be hidden in contexts such as a checkout desk from users.
  18. Does your system allow HTTPS connections by default? Is it possible to redirect all users to an HTTPS connection in all parts of your service?
  19. Please provide a link for your product’s user-facing Terms of Service and Privacy policy. Are these easy for users to find? Are they written in plain English? If not, please explain why.
  20. Do you have a formal policy in place for reporting data breaches of patron data if and when they occur?

Interface Design and Integration

We envision a shared solution whose end-user interface should be Section 508 compliant, accessible from multiple devices, and subject to periodic, structured evaluation. The solution also should allow libraries and individual library users to integrate external systems and services such as electronic resource vendors, web content management systems, learning management systems, and chat reference.

  1. Describe how your solution will be accessible to users with disabilities. Please be specific, regarding the use of ARIA roles, WCAG AA or AAA requirements, and how you test for accessibility with assistive devices, including keyboard navigation and screen readers. Identify any areas of functionality that, owing to the complexity of the interface or for other reasons, are less effectively used with assistive technologies.  
  2. With the current proliferation of browsers and devices, the user experience should be platform agnostic so that it works regardless of mode of access. Describe how your end-user interface will meet those user needs. Are all functions available to all users, regardless of device used to access?
  3. How is user feedback obtained and used to drive system/interface changes? What is your release cycle for system fixes, changes, etc.? How do you get feedback from both end users and library staff? How do you weigh this feedback?
  4. Describe how you will approach evaluating and improving the usability and accessibility of your solution.
  5. Describe how your solution will enable interoperability with local online reference services, social networks, external subject guides, and other electronic services for communication between library users and staff.
  6. Describe how your solution integrates with third party library services platforms (Illiad, LibGuides) and third-party Campus LMS platforms (Blackboard, Canvas, etc.). Which systems are supported and to what degree?
  7. Describe how your solution integrates with campus financial records software, like Banner, etc. What integrations are supported?
  8. What user or usage data do you share with third party platforms? Do users have the ability to opt-out of sharing data with third parties where possible (e.g. Syndetics, analytics tracking, etc.)
  9. Describe the branding and customization options that will be available to libraries at the local level, including capabilities for setting default options. Do you allow libraries to customize the HTML templates? The CSS? Can libraries add their own JavaScript?
  10. APIs (application programming interfaces) frequently are used by individuals and institutions to fill gaps where local service demands are not met by the solution or provider. Describe the APIs you make available to users of your solution. What are your use policies for the API? Can end users access your API, or just the library?
  11. Describe your company’s policies on backing up, recovering, and purging user supplied data. For example, how might you handle a user who has accidentally deleted a resource list created in your solution? One who no longer wants information they contributed to be available through the solution?


  1. Describe how user activity within your solution is logged and what access and through what interfaces customer application administrators can view and query the logs. Describe which activities are logged, what controls over levels of logging are supported, and what information about the activity and the user is captured in logs.
  2. Describe how your solution captures search queries. What counts as a new query? What counts as a query refinement? How does your solution determine that?
  3. Describe how your solution interacts with third-party analytics platforms. What analytics providers does your system work with? How will third-party analytics platforms work for individual campuses? (i.e., how will one campus see analytics related to their visitors but not other campuses’ visitors).