This week I’ve taken the step to move a bit more of our library traffic to HTTPS, ensuring that our patron’s visits to our website are sent with encryption. The most recent update is that Summon now sends users to the catalog over HTTPS. And in a few weeks, users routed to the link resolver for articles will also be sent over HTTPS. (It takes a few indexing cycles for the link resolver change to catch up.)
Kudos to Springshare for the latest update to LibAnswers, which drives the GVSU Self-help site. Patron information is now stored encrypted. This is great, because the site has been storing email addresses and SMS numbers of patrons who need help.
Yesterday Institutional Marketing made a change to our website that will help support our users’ privacy. All traffic to the library website (and sub-websites) at gvsu.edu/library will now use HTTPS, which means that traffic from our servers to our users’ computers is now encrypted, rather than being sent in plain text. HTTPS isn’t necessarily a privacy solution, but, as the Library Digital Privacy Pledge states, it is a prerequisite for digital privacy. Since the third article of the ALA Code of Ethics is protecting user privacy, this helps us take the first step to implement a way for our users to conduct research that is immune from eavesdropping.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
This morning the ProQuest/Ex Libris juggurnaut launched a new real-time status tool for Summon, our discovery layer. I know that the ERMS team and I will be monitoring this status tool closely, but wanted to let everyone know about it in case you wanted to subscribe to keep up-to-date on Summon issues, releases, and down times.
A few years ago, Eric Hellman wrote a great piece about library catalog privacy leakage. He showed that because library catalogs transmit data over HTTP connections (rather than over secure, encrypted HTTPS connections), anyone in between the user’s computer and the OPAC server can intercept information about the book record that user was looking at. For his example of the New York Public Library, that included automatically sharing the user’s data with the following for-profit companies:
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.
Today I made a few changes to our online tools that make it easier for our users to get material we don’t own. It’s long been hard to direct users who are looking for books we don’t have to MeLCat, our Michigan consortial catalog, and to Document Delivery (Interlibrary Loan). While the catalog has a button to search for items in MeLCat, and the copy for failed searches prompts to search MeLCat, there hasn’t ever been anything stopping folks from manually requesting items from Document Delivery when they could have gotten them much faster through MeLCat. (MeLCat also saves us money, so there is an internal motivation to make this change, too).
Summon’s Topic Explorer shows relevant reference material in the right-hand pane to users doing broad searches. The location of this content is getting more useful as Google adds more and more features to it’s Knowledge Graph, which shows relevant information (including reference content, store hours and traffic, content from Gmail and calendar and more). In the past, the right-hand side of a page was largely ignored by users, since it was the home of banner ads and other useless bits of content (and it still is in many places). But Google’s push to take back the right side pane means our users are more and more likely to see content there, especially when searching. So it’s never more important that we get things like Topic Explorer right.
Last week Bob reported a broken catalog search in LibGuides. The search still worked, but it was limiting to the Annis Water Resource Institute. When Patrick looked at the URL, he realized that the link was limiting the scope of the search to Annis, by prefacing the search query request with ~S17. (17 is the value of Annis in the scope field in Sierra.) If you wonder why anyone would scope a catalog search to a place with hardly any holdings, you should know that when we added a few scopes a year or so ago, Sierrra changed the “All holdings” scope from ~S17 to ~S19. (Why they don’t make ~S1 the All holdings scope is beyond me. Making it the last scope means that every time we add a scope the All Holdings scope will change.)
The past few weeks we’ve had a lot of issues with the tools the library builds to improve our user’s experiences using our various tools: custom styles and scripts for the OPAC, our discovery layer, course reserve, interlibrary loan, the link resolver, and more. Kyle, Mary, Patrick, and I want to thank you for all the reporting you’ve done to let us know when problems arise. Here’s where we stand now in our push to improve the performance of our tools.
The past few weeks we’ve been experiencing a lot of sluggishness of the library online tools. As I’ve written about before, this is because our servers are the computer equivalent of a bologna sandwich. We thought we had the issues resolved, but we’ve continued receiving reports of problems and downtime. I’ve been spending most of my time the past few weeks trying to solve this, and wanted to update you on what I’ve done so far.
You may have noticed some sluggishness on the library’s online systems last week. LibGuides, Summon, the Database A-Z list, 360Link, and the catalog were all having trouble loading the files I’ve created to customize and improve the vendor user interfaces. These files are all hosted on a virtual server which we rent from Dreamhost, a commercial hosting company. The library doesn’t have any actual web servers on campus to support the work of our team, and so we’ve been hosting our tools off-site for a few years. Unfortunately, the number of customizations and tools that we’ve built to make our users’ experience of the library better was too much for our servers, and we were experiencing repeated server crashes from the demand. The digital displays throughout the Mary Idema Pew library, the statistics gathering tools used by UX and that run automatically in the background letting us know how folks use our spaces, the customization scripts that modify almost a dozen commercial tools as well as our home-grown applications like the status app were causing our lone production server to run out of memory regularly.
Just before the break, Mary M and I were planning on switching the workflow for users who request items from the ASRS. The old reasons for having different workflows no longer applied, and it was more important to us now to have a consistent experience for our users, regardless of where the item they needed was housed. Once we got back from the holiday break, we got to work on making the changes.
As we get ready to head into the long break, I wanted to give you all a heads-up to a change Mary M. and I will be making to the OPAC when we get back. Specifically, we’ll be changing the workflow for users requesting items from the ASRS.
It’s been a gloomy and rainy few days through Exam Cram, so rather than an update about computer code, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite photos of the Mary I library I took coming in to work over the past year. Enjoy!
Every year we have problems communicating our exam cram hours especially at Mary I. Some days we are open 24 hours, others we are open all day but then we close at midnight, or maybe 2am. (And if we’re open all day but close at 2am, do we say that this 2am is on the day we were open or the following day?)
A few days ago, I rewrote the Computer Availability map . (The code is available on Github.) Over the summer, Institutional Marketing and IT made some changes and audited the system that gives us the data we use to build the map, so we needed to make a few changes to reflect those differences. In addition, I brought the public view of the map up into the new CMS4 template, so that it matches all of our other sites. The map is linked again from the Services Page, under the Technology heading. (Or you can find it at gvsu.edu/library/computers).
This week I did a little work on the OPAC login screen, which I will push live on Monday. We’ve long had the issue of having users choose between 2 different login screens, although the vast majority (well over 99% of active users) need the GVSU login. I designed a new login screen that defaults to asking for GVSU credentials, but allows Visitors or Alumni to switch to the alternate login method. The original screen and redesigned screen are below:
For the past few years, whenever Community Read gets into full swing, we get reports of the same issue in the catalog, specifically with the record for the Community read book. Whenever a record has more than 10 holdings, Sierra displays the first 10 but then adds a button to let users see the complete list of items. The first 10 work great, and my scritps that reformat the availability table work fine on them. However, when you get to the full list, there is no request button. It appears you can’t request any of the additional items! (You can, because despite having a request button at each holding, Sierra makes you choose the item you’d like later, something I have not dealt with yet.) Well, today I had an idea of how we might fix this issue.
As many of you might remember, we’ve been having a load of trouble with the hours module since we moved over to the new version of the webteam’s CMS this fall. At the heart of the problems is the difference between what people mean when they say “today,” and what computers mean by “today.” Since the Mary Idema Pew Library is open until 2am most nights, we consider 2am to be part of the previous day’s operating hours. For us, that’s not hard to grasp. If we say that Monday’s hours are from 7:30am until 2am, we know that if it’s 1:30am on Tuesday, Monday’s hours still apply.
I just learned today that MeLCat and the MeL Databases will be migrating to a new server later this year, and there will be some downtime for these services. This usually means that a service is unavailable from midnight until 2am on a weekend, but in this case, MeLCat will be down for a while:
Well, it was a long day but the major parts of the catalog have been moved over and tweaked (even the nasty Advanced Search page). Illiad and Ares have moved over to the new template. And I even found a bit of time to redo the Library Labs page to highlight some of the cool tools we have available.
I’ve spent the past few days working on the catalog redesign, and thought I’d show you the most important pages. As always, let me know what you think! (The catalog will get switched over on Tuesday next week). Astute observers (I’m looking at Debbie here) will likely notice that I still haven’t changed the ASRS label that we ran usability tests on last spring. That’s because we still haven’t decided what to switch it to! However, the code is in place once we get the best combination on nouns and verbs to make a quick switch.
This morning I finished the new template for 360link, our link resolver. Since 360link takes 24 hours to push updates live, the new link resolver will be live next Tuesday, 8/25. Let me know if you have any questions!
Today I finished redesigning the LibGuides templates for the new CMS migration. I’ve taken some screen shots of what all of the various pages will look like once we go live next week Monday (8/24). Here are the most common ones. As always, let me know if you have any questions.
One of the tools I’ve never redesigned is the journal finder. For this switch to the new Template, I had planned to do the journal finder after all of the other systems were in place. However, I went in today to do some testing for when I get ready to make changes and discovered that I couldn’t roll back to the old, non-redesigned version!
This morning Jeff asked me for a report on the past year’s worth of Summon interactions. When we moved to Summon 2.0, I started tracking all of our events in Google Analytics, rather than in our home-grown statistics tracker. Looking over the report was quite interesting, so I thought I would share it with you all. You’ll see some entries that look awfully similar, (contentType vs ContentType) because sometimes the Summon interface is inconsistent with how the code displays the different features. Anyway, this PDF report shows the top 50 events in Summon over the past year. (There were a total of 368,918) The #1 event, “page”, is triggered whenever someone scrolls to the bottom of the page to load more results. Let me know if you have any questions or want to see more details about a particular result.
This summer we were lucky to have Kathy Kosinski, a student at the University of Michigan’s iSchool, intern with us to work on the creation of a new knowledge base/self-help system for our users. Kathy spent 9 weeks combing through our data, talking with librarians and staff, writing copius amounts of documentation, and even playing a practical joke on me. It was great to work with her, and she’ll be missed. When she graduates in 2016, any library would be lucky to hire her.
Jeff has already removed the databases (and RefWorks) that we are canceling from the Database A-Z list, but there were still a number of links in unpublished guides and elsewhere that had never been mapped to the official Database A-Z list. I’ve now removed all link assets in LibGuides that point folks to the canceled databases and RefWorks. I did, however, leave all of the training documents and handouts for RefWorks workshops and the like, so be sure to double check your own guides if you publish a long-dormant guide this Fall!
Yesterday I made some changes to the way the 856 field links appeared in the catalog. Ben pointed out to me that journal records often have a lot of 856 links, so the page ended up looking like a stack of blue bricks scrolling on forever! I changed the styles a bit and made the first link the blue block, and then made the rest of the links appear to be a list underneath, sort of how the link resolver results are styled. Since Jeff’s team ranks the database links in the OPAC, this made perfect sense. The first link probably is the best!
A while back, Vicki pointed out that our redesigned Illiad home page hid some helpful microcopy if a patron didn’t have any active requests. In the articles and books tables, we had notes explaining that articles are available for 14 days after they are received, and that renewed books won’t show back up in your account until the renewal is processed (due to OCLC’s wonky renewal process). When I cleaned up the home page for folks with no active requests, I inadvertently hid those little help messages, which led to some patron confusion.
Yesterday I got a few reports that Summon is putting two request buttons on our book detail pages, each with different functionality. One requests the book from the catalog. The other places an ILL request. The problem is that they LOOK IDENTICAL and the HAVE THE SAME LABEL.
A few months ago, I worked with Todd to make the Course Reserve home screens for Instructors and students easier to use, especially at the beginning of a semester when no classes are attached to a user’s account. Patty and Todd were working with an instructor yesterday who found that our redesigned home screen didn’t allow instructors to view their classes from past semesters. So, I added that button back in:
This summer, our UX Intern, Kathy, has been working on getting the GVSU Knowledge Base off the ground. For the first stage of her project, she analyzed our library’s interaction data for the past year, looking for patterns of common questions or problems so we could provide better help and support. I asked her to write up a summary of her findings along with the categorized data to share, since this kind of information is most useful when everyone has access to it. Let us know if you have any questions!
Last week, our UX intern Kathy asked me about the message the OPAC shows when a renewal fails. She had uncovered a lot of questions around renewals, particularly from chat, were the item wasn’t able to be renewed because it had been recalled or the user had already reached the renewal limit. I did some testing this morning, and discovered that the OPAC did show an “error” message, but it was hidden from the patron. Of course, even when I make this “error” message visible, it isn’t super useful. Can you find it below?
This morning we went live with our new LibGudies Database A-Z list. I discovered that a lot of database links in LibGuides are still pointing to the old Database list, so I’ve had Institutional Marketing keep those links active until I can fix all the links in LibGuides. (So far I’ve remapped 318 by hand.) It’ll take me a few weeks, but by the end we should have most of the links mapped over.
For various reasons, we haven’t run a usability test in quite a while. But this morning we had 2 students come in to run our new LibGuides Database A-Z page through the paces. I also had them work through some scenarios on retrieving books while looking at paper wireframes, to better understand how to display location information for items in the retrieval system.
Last week I updated the Course Reserve home screen for faculty to help them get their classes set up when they were presented with a blank screen. Today I did the same for students. Here’s the before and after:
Todd came to me today about an issue he’s had in [Course Reserves](https://gvsu.edu/library/ereserve]. When a faculty member logs in and doesn’t have any classes entered in Ares, they just get a screen with a few empty tables, and often aren’t sure what to do. A few years back we had a similar problem with Document Delivery, so Todd and I agreed to try the same fix on Course Reserves. I found a much easier way to do this, and so I spent a few minutes making the changes this afternoon. Now, instead of empty tables, users with no classes will be prompted to add their classes, along with a brief description of Course Reserve and some other options (for the folks who prefer to have our staff fill in the information for them). Here’s the new page:
A few weeks ago, Vicki tipped me off to some very confusing screens in Illiad that I’d missed when I did the last content audit of that system. When a user had problems with their account, they would see either a “blocked” screen or a “disavowed” screen. (Yes, Illiad tells people they are disavowed.) The only information the user had to go on besides these rather dramatic sounding judgments was to call the Document Delivery office between 8-5, Monday through Friday.
Last week, 2 new things appeared in the GVSU web universe! After two long years of planning and work and then replanning and more work and doing a little more planning and some more work, the Special Collections and University Archives site has been redesigned! Nancy and Annie have worked hard on getting content into the new site, and it looks great. Max was a big help, too, as we worked out the technical details, but he went to work somewhere else before we could launch the site. Anyway, have a browse through these unique collections, and let us know what you think!
Exam Cram is almost done, and we’re winding down another semester. This is usually the time for us Web folks to update things and make changes, scrambling to improve things before the Winter semester gets in gear. But this year will be a little slower. No major changes, save one: we’ll be switching the service that we use to provide live chat from libraryh3lp to Springshare’s LibChat.
Because sometimes the homepage ad for database trials doesn’t appear, I had Institutional Marketing add a banner to the Database table directing folks to the Database trials. If you need an easy way to direct folks, just send them to the Databases page and tell them to click the button in the yellow box.
Sometimes the best searches require that you use specific keywords in specific tools. We have a way to create scoped searches when the scopes are for things like location, content types, or language, but no good way to allow a patron to enter some keywords while also scoping a search to a specific keyword. That was the problem Elizabeth came to me with, since she needed a way to scope catalog searches to atlases. The best way to find atlases in the catalog was with the keyword “atlas” plus whatever additional keywords make sense. So I wrote a little script that checks a submitted form for a specific keyword (in this case, “atlas”) and if it doesn’t find it, appends it to the rest of the keywords. Here it is in action:
Today I removed the real-time technology lending screen from the website. The only way we had to get that data was to load the records in the catalog and scrape the data off the page, then display it in the table for users. This was slow and prone to break, and recently it has broken so often that I can’t keep up with fixing it. After Patrick and I checked the usage, we noticed that the page had only been viewed 120 times this year. That includes, of course, all the times I loaded it while testing. (For reference, there have been over 250,000 pageviews of other pages that aren’t search tools, so real-time technology availability is about 0.048% of all visits.)
Bob and Lindy reported an issue to me last week about the new LibGuides homepage list that because really clear when they were doing instruction sessions. When a user expanded a subject in the LibGuides list, the saw not only links to the relevant guides, but also a blue box with a link to the “Subject” landing page and the subject expert. It turns out that folks really want to click the links in the blue box, rather than the links to the guides. Bob and Lindy asked me to hide the links, and I have. We’ve never had them before, and I’m not convinced they serve out patrons. If you think they need to be reinstated with some better usability cues, let me know and we can bring it to the LibGuides committee.
In our effort to push folks to new citation managers since we’ll be dropping RefWorks next summer, I turned off the “Export to Refworks” functionality in the link resolver. You can see that the RefWorks icon is no longer at the end of the citation:
The LibGuides Committee and I have been trying to find a way to schedule help sessions, but the beginning of the semester is not the best time to squeeze in more commitments. So, while we wait for our workloads to lighten up, I’ll be checking in with all the LibGuides owners individually to see what kind of help I can give you, one-on-one.
Hello all! This morning we pushed our LibGuides 2.0 site live. It is now available at the good ol’ familiar URL of libguides.gvsu.edu. I’m still poking around looking for issues and broken links, but if you find anything, let me know.
A few weeks ago, folks at the New York Public Library posted a fascinating article on the future of the catalog and the richness of the data stored within. The article was prompted by the nature of the catalog, and a question about its future:
Just a reminder that we are going live with LibGuides 2.0 tomorrow morning. At a few minutes before 9am, EST, I’ll be starting the process to switch our existing LibGuides URLs to point to the new LibGuides 2.0 setup.
We’re all set to go live with LibGuides 2.0 on Wednesday, 8/20. Since this involves changing around where URLs point to (DNS updates), there will be a period of time where LibGuides 1.0 and LibGuides 2.0 will be inaccessible. This could be a few minutes or a few hours. (We have to wait until all the Domain Name Servers get updated with the message so they know where to send you.)
Since our site merged with the campus template 3 or 4 years ago, the largest the site’s content every got was about 1000 pixels wide. The site has been responsive since mid-2011, so it scaled nicely on smaller screens, but no matter how big your screen got, the content area never made it over 1000 pixels.
Kyle and I have had 2 LibGuides 2.0 drop-in sessions so far, and a lot of good questions have come through. We have a bunch more, however. Rather than bombard everyone with email updates on new issues, I’m collating all of the reported issues (either with the system itself or how we use it) in the Library Status App. As I hear back from Springshare with updates, or as I fix things within our control, I’ll be updating things there. Every day as I hear new reports of issues, I’ll be adding them to the app.
Yesterday Springshare migrated our LibGuides 1.0 guides into our new LibGuides 2.0 installation. [UPDATE: Pointed URL to live 2.0 site 8/20] I’ve looked through a lot of guides this morning, and everything looks as it should. If you are a LibGuides owner, please take a moment to look through your guides and make sure everything looks like it should. I’ll be scheduling a bunch of drop-in help sessions over the next few weeks at every campus, and I encourage you to drop by and we can work together to get any anomalies straightened out.
Yesterday I told you about how Flow was coming to Summon, but wasn’t yet available. Well, astute folks have noticed that the “Log in” link is now available in Summon. (I’ve updated that post to reflect the present tense rather than the future tense.)
Recently ProQuest has integrated Summon with ProQuest Flow (formerly Refworks Flow). Flow is a free version of RefWorks that researchers can set up on their own. I wanted to share this video that walks you through how Flow and Summon work together, complete with a lot of marketing-speak and buzz words like “Return on Investment!”
I’m working this week preparing our LibGuides content for migration on July 29th, and that includes combing through stale or low-traffic content, mapping database links from existing guides, and working on making a plan for content that will not migrate to the new system. If you are a LibGuides owner with content that hasn’t been updated or visited in a while, I’ve already sent you a list of content that I’m hoping you can review. By tomorrow, I will get in touch with folks who have content that will not migrate to the new system (usually because the content types are going away) to see if the content needs to be updated after the migration or whether it is no longer needed.
It’s been almost two months since my last monthly project update, so a lot has happened. I know that many of the things I am working on will affect other folks in the library. As much as possible, I’ve already gotten folks who are directly affected involved in the planning and implementation of these, but it’s fair to give everyone a heads-up on things that are in the pipeline.
In less than two weeks, my wife and I will welcome our second child to the world. I’ll be on paternity leave for a bit, and want to make sure you can still have your issues addressed in my absence. Here’s what you need to know:
Debbie spotted something minor in the catalog this week that we thought warranted a quick notice. Traditionally, the MARC 245 field has a subfield $h, which is the “Medium.” This is displayed next to the title in records in the OPAC inside square brackets, like this:
IT has finished updating the Summon building block in Blackboard, and because of some of the issues encountered with the migration, existing Summon search boxes in Blackboard will need to be updated. From Colleen in IT:
I’ve been busy the past few days making some major changes to the catalog. Hopefully, you didn’t notice. You might have seen a few moments here or there where the border disappeared from the public 856 view, or the font size changed in a results page, but most of the work I’ve been doing has been behind the scenes, changing the way the catalog loads the assets that make the page run.
Yesterday two systems went down: the hours page and our production server. The hours page is not allowing us to update the current hours, and as a result, is only showing hours for two locations: Mary I and Steelcase. Institutional Marketing is aware of the problem and working on it. This has been updated
In August, we’ll be switching to the newly rewritten LibGuides 2.0 from Springshare. I’ve been working for a few months with the LibGuides committee on preparing for the transition, which involves two things:
Mary updated the configuration of our EZProxy this week as we worked through the dreaded EZProxy vs. Illiad issue. While I had put a patch in place to hide the error from users, Mary and I kept researching how to keep the problem from happening in the first place. Witt M. on Twitter gave us the suggestion to use the EZProxy “NeverProxy” function for Illiad’s URL, which will tell EZProxy not to every add the proxy URL to our hosted Document Delivery server.
This morning Institutional Marketing and I switched over most of the Summon search boxes to make them work with the 2.0 interface. I still have to do Course Reserve, but I will wrap that up tomorrow. I spent most of Monday on the phone with support, and most of last evening and this morning updating our website once I had figured out what caused the problem. Although it isn’t definitive, I think I discovered what happened (and my suspicions have been confirmed by folks at Summon).
This morning I pushed the newly redesigned “My Account” page in the catalog live. Although I’ve tested it extensively and tried to find all of the hidden messages and functions, the OPAC has a way of showing you special screens depending on which way the wind is blowing. So if you find a screen that looks weird, take a screenshot and send me an email. I’ll do my best to make it better!
Over the next week a lot of this will be getting updates, including Summon and the login screens for Course Reserve and Document Delivery. One other thing that will change is in the catalog: Friday I’ll be updating the catalog’s “My Account” screen to be cleaner and more intuitive.
Today I had to use the advanced search screen in the catalog for something, and I couldn’t stand how nothing lined up with anything else. So I fixed it. Everything is basically in the same place, but it’s just a little cleaner. Let me know what you think!
The library LibGuides Committee1 has been working through the details of implementing LibGuides 2.0, a redesigned and rewritten version of LibGuides. Last week we had several productive meetings to explore different aspects of this transition, and I wanted to give everyone an update on our progress and what to expect.
There are a lot of projects on my plate right now, and many of these projects will affect other folks in the library. As much as possible, I’ve already gotten folks who are directly affected involved in the planning and implementation of these, but it’s fair to give everyone a heads-up on things that are in the pipeline. Since I do an update with my team every week, I thought that once a month or so I’d post those updates here so everyone can get a sense of where I’m at with things.
This collection of work notes is mostly about the changes, successes, and triumphs of my work on the GVSU Libraries web presence. But not everything goes smoothly. Here are a few things I screwed up on this week, how I fixed them, and how I’m trying to prevent things like this in the future:
We’ve updated the purchase request form on the website to be easier to fill out and to provide some simplicity on the back end. You can find the form at https://gvsu.edu/library/purchase or linked off the Services landing page.
Thanks to everyone who came out to the Summon 2.0 feedback sessions over the past month, and to those who send their thoughts via email. Here are some of the findings from the sessions, and a proposal for moving forward:
Last week I rewrote the script that optimizes our link resolver (360Link Reset). The original script was a bit of a Frankenstein, and was hard to customize for other libraries. I made the code a lot faster and less reliant on the jQuery library, and added a bunch of configuration features to make it easier for other libraries to quickly install and customize the script. I also improved the handling of the citation, so that missing elements won’t create phantom punctuation marks.
This morning we held our third usability test of the year. When I was recruiting students, I tried something new. In addition to the three students who have scheduled testing slots, I recruited a backup student who just had to be in the library fir the duration of the tests, just in case someone canceled. Even if the backup was never called to test, she would still get a t-shirt. That was an easy slot to fill, and it proved a valuable change when the first student canceled. For the first time in three years, I didn’t have to run around the library frantically asking students to participate in the test.
I made another small tweak to the “No results” page in the catalog. The first option in the suggested next steps bullet list is “Show similar items.” This is an anchor link that will drop you down the page to the results list that was pushed below the blue “No results” box. Bob Schoofs suggested this, and hopefully this will help balance the need for folks to realize that their exact result wasn’t found while still giving some context for similar titles/authors nearby.
This morning we had another usability test with three students in the Mary Idema Pew Library. We used the same questions as our last test, but this time focused on Summon 2.0 and whether some of our tweaks to the catalog helped users with their difficulties. The questions were:
One quick change from last month’s usability test was to change the label in Summon for the scholarly/Peer-review filter. I’ve made that change, so the filter now is labeled “Peer-reviewed and other scholarly publications” instead of “Limit to scholarly publications, including peer-review.” Hopefully this will be less confusing for patrons. The code to make the change was rather simple, and is available on Github.
This morning I made some minor changes to the catalog keyword search results and record display pages. Since we had mashed together our University web template with the catalog template, some relative font sizes were wreaking havoc with the size of the search boxes and item listings. The bib record search box was so small I could hardly read the ranking selections below the input! So I worked through the identified issues and made things more readable by evening out the font sizes. I also converted the “Search” button to our template, making it blue rather than the browser’s default.
Last week, Rita brought my attention to a bit of crucial information for distance students that did not get migrated from our old distance learning site to the new one: local book dropoff locations. I’ve now added the locations for local book dropoffs for our distance students to the Student Support page under Distance Learning.
The Computer Availability Map has been in use over a year and a half now, but we were just informed by Patty at Frey that CHS 290 only has 12 computers, not the 40+ that the map lists. When I looked into it, I realized that IT has imaged a lot of the computers at CHS as if they were in 290. As a result, we changed the labels on the Computer Availability Map for Frey from “290” and “490” to “2nd Floor” and “4th Floor.” Hopefully the less specific label will make folks a bit more forgiving of the inaccurate numbers.
We’ve had an unusually high number of print journal requests from our ASRS lately. And our patrons all through they were getting a specific article, not a bound journal. Patty and her crack team of students over at Frey did some investigating to see why folks might be ending up requesting journals from the catalog when they intended to get specific articles. Right away they stumbled upon an issue with Summon.
This morning we returned to our monthly schedule of usability tests with three students in the Mary Idema Pew Library. We focused on a few “benchmark” questions aimed at general article searching (find a peer-reviewed article, find sources on a general topic) and a few questions aimed at the redesigned request function in the catalog. The questions were:
Last year was a busy one on the website. I just put together our first website annual report, and I’ll be spending a lot of time digesting the lessons from these numbers over the next year. Despite no major changes to design, content, or information architecture, our visits, unique visitors, and pageviews nearly doubled. Mobile visits nearly quadrupled, and visits to our specialized tools increased on mobile and tablets. So how to account for the dramatic increase in website use? My guess is adding seats in the library. In June we opened a brand new library, with three times as many seats as we had in the old library.
For the past few years, there has been a hidden link on the left hand side of the website that would take you to the LibStats entry screen. Last year, the librarians moved from using LibStats to LibAnalytics, and this week the front desk switched over as well. You’ll still be able to run reports on the data you’ve entered in the past, but we’re retiring LibStats as a data-entry tool.
A while back, my students Jon Earley and Krzysztof Lower and I did a bunch of research into how our students and faculty were using our library hours page. We had seen some interesting trends that made it clear our old page wasn’t working any more, and we weren’t the only library to do so. The University of Minnesota and Johns Hopkins, among others, had recently written about their experience redesigning their hours pages to meet the needs of many users. In our own research, we knew we needed a system that would:
Since we got Millennium (now Sierra), there has been confusion about the request buttons, since items in the Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) had a different button than items in the stacks. While all requestable items have a “Request” button at the top of the screen, only ASRS items have a request button next to the individual items in the holdings list. For any item, a patron clicking the top button will log in with his or her GVSU login, and then place a typical hold on the item. If the item is located in the ASRS, however, the crane never moves. It has to be manually moved by staff once the holds are printed out. The only way to make the crane move is by clicking the Request button next to the individual item in the holding list.
Thanks to everyone that sent along screen shots and comments about the “Make Your Own Catalog Mockup.” There seemed to be universal support for dropping the Summon Search bar in the catalog and adding the website navigation, but the crowd was mixed on the Catalog navigation. I’ve included each screen option below with the catalog navigation both on and off.
At the last R&I meeting, I shared an idea for swapping out the header on the catalog. A lot of folks had extra ideas for things that should be changed sooner rather than later, and I promised to make some mockups. I realized, though, that it might be easier for you guys to play with the catalog pages to make your own mockups, so you can see how things will look (or roughly how they will look) with different elements in place on different screens.
The ASRS is currently down, and we’re working on the problem. (This time the problem isn’t actually Sierra, which I’m having trouble believing.) While we scramble to get the server problems addressed, I added a simple alert to any page in the catalog that has an item in the ASRS:
A few weeks ago, I was patting myself on the back for making an error screen in Sierra’s OPAC better. We clarified the reason a patron might see the error screen, and made it easy to get in touch with us to fix the error. What we found, it seems, is that this page shows up a lot. While we’d only seen one report of this page from a patron in a few years, in the past two weeks, we’ve had half a dozen or more. By giving folks an easy way to get in touch with us, we’re getting more reports.
As I spend more time tinkering with the new Summon interface, I keep thinking about how our discovery service differs from our catalog. Today, while looking for something else, I came across a tool I built a few years ago on my lunch break that makes it easier to compare the two: OPAC Vs. Summon.
Serials Solutions just updated the opt-in dates for Summon 2.0. Instead of January, we now have until August 15th to make sure the new 2.0 interface meets our needs before switching over. Project Manager Andrew Nagy sent this update to me yesterday:
Some issues with lists in Sierra have been fixed, and we finally have an RSS feed for new books at the Mary Idema Pew Library. You can find it at https://library.catalog.gvsu.edu/feeds/newmi.xml. Thanks to Patrick for getting that set up.
Finally we’ve been able to get data about the computers in the public area of the Mary I Atrium into the Computer Availability map. You’ll notice that computers on the Atrium level are now showing up in the availability screens as well (although Macs are still not counted).
One of the most heavily visited pages on the library website is our hours page. A few years ago, I interviewed a bunch of students and found that many of them had a need to know the hours the library was open today. So, I worked with Institutional Marketing to get the current day’s hours for our three most visited locations up on the home page. Page views for our hours page dropped dramatically after the change.
Some of you may know that I look at our feedback from a lot of different places. I have an hour blocked off on my calendar every Monday to read emails, chats, and tweets that came in to the library over the past week. I also read through all of the questions added to LibStats, and poke around on our Google Analytics and our own custom reporting tools for the dozen or so different web tools we have here at the Libraries.
While we were part of the alpha and private beta of Summon’s redesigned discovery tool, Summon 2.0, the final push for 2.0 happened at the same time many of us were moving into our new or renovated spaces. Not a great time for putting a new search tool through the paces!
The IT Help Desk is now set up with laptops and iPads for check out, and the records have been updated in Sierra. That means that the laptop and iPad availability page is now accurate (it said Mary I had 0 laptops for a while).
Since we had several new services launch this fall, I needed a way to free up some space in our navigation under the “Services” heading. Based on conversations with students and some card sorts we did a few years ago, we grouped many of the smaller services that are primarily aimed at students under a “Student Support” page. We heard from a lot of students that they didn’t really know what a lot of these different services were, or whether we could help them. They wanted a single place that was clearly labeled for them (STUDENT support) where they could find a lot of stuff the library can help whtm with. We thought launching the new page at the same time everyone was checking out our new building would help get new folks who haven’t used the library in the past familiar with what we do.
I like hearing from our students and faculty about ways we can improve the library website. On Document Delivery and Course Reserve, we’ve added a feedback tab for folks to report problems and send us ideas and comments. We made a Library Status page so folks could easily report problems or see if a problem they had found had already been reported (or fixed). Feedback coming in through these channels, as well as emails I get from coworkers, are a good starting point for finding issues to work on. But these are just a fraction of the ways our students and faculty talk to us at the library. That’s why once a week (or more), I like to look through tweets and chat logs to look for little pain points that can be fixed.
Some of you may have noticed that strange things appearing on the touch screens in place of the computer availability map. I noticed this morning that the map had a link embedded in it that would allow folks to navigate off of the map page into the greater website, replacing the map with anything else from the website (sometimes with familiar faces.)
Navigation changes have been completed in the /About and /Services areas of the website. All links have been redirected to the new pages (if there are new pages), so folks should still be able to get where they need to go. The biggest changes were as follows: