Thursday, January 19, 2017

Ex Libris at ALA Midwinter


ALA Midwinter in Atlanta is here! Don't miss the presentations on Alma, Primo & Summon, and Leganto. This year we're talking about openness and collaboration, history and innovation, and the challenges of higher education.


Saturday, January 21
Your Connected Library: Openness, Integrations, and Knowledge-Sharing
8:30 - 10:00 AM | Georgia World Congress Center | Room A315
Increasingly, libraries are looking for open solutions to customize day-to day-workflows and to collaborate with peer institutions. Open solutions have been especially influential in the realm of discovery. Join this session to learn about current open source projects, plans to enhance and extend existing APIs, and other Ex Libris supported initiatives.

Sunday, January 22
Where They Are Now: A Conversation with Alma Early Adopters
10:30 - 11:30 AM | Georgia World Congress Center | Room B207
Join an open conversation with the Alma Early Adopters, some of the first libraries to make the transition to a unified library service platform. The panel discussion will provide an update on how the libraries are operating today, features that have been developed since go-live, and the Early Adopters' ideas for future development based on their experience with the rapidly innovating Alma platform.

Sunday, January 22
50 Shades of Collaboration: From Ad-Hoc to Consortial Benefits in a Library Service Platform
3:00 - 4:00 PM | Georgia World Congress Center | Room B215
Almost all institutions today are participating in some form of collaborative work; from ad-hoc purchasing/buying clubs and resource-sharing networks to a more defined consortium, working in partnership with cataloging, licensing, etc. Join this session to more about the opportunities available within Ex Libris Alma to facilitate resource sharing, centralized acquisitions, cross-institutional reporting and more for individual institutions as well as members of a consortium.

Primo & Summon

Saturday, January 21
Accelerating Innovation: A Summon and Primo Special Report
10:30 - 11:30 AM | Marriott Marquis Atlanta | Room A703
Over the past year, ProQuest and Ex Libris have come together to accelerate the innovation of advanced discovery services through Summon and Primo. This session will review how we have seized the opportunity to combine product strengths, resources, and visions to improve discovery and what that means for the future of libraries.


Saturday, January 21
Challenges and Opportunities in Providing Course Content within Changing Instructor and Student Behaviors

3:00 - 4:00 PM | Georgia World Congress Center | Room B203
Teaching and learning is a core mission of higher education institutions, but the pushes and pulls of online learning, creative digital tools and escalating costs of education are carving out a new unfamiliar landscape for most. This session explores real world examples to discover both successes and failures in navigating and providing value in this new world of course content.

And be sure to visit us at Booth #1310 to learn about the latest features and development!

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Library’s Role in a “Post-truth,” “Fake News” Era


This post was originally published on the ProQuest Blog.

The Oxford Dictionaries 2016 word of the year: post-truth.
Amazing that even one or two years ago, phrases like post-truth and “fake news” were essentially unknown in popular usage. 
But there is plenty of precedent:
- As far back as 1992, according to Christian Science Monitor, the first known use of “post-truth” appeared in a Nation article about the Iran-Contra scandal. 
- Certainly Google and Wikipedia, with their random and sometimes unverified results, have been a bane of librarians, educators and students for well over a decade. (In fact, notes The Verge, “the first Google search result for election results for several hours [post-election] was a tiny conspiracy blog that wrongly showed Trump winning the popular vote.”)
- Ten years ago, “Colbert Report” star Stephen Colbert coined the word “truthiness,” understood as “believing something that feels true, even if it isn't supported by fact."
- Clickbait, with its provocative and misleading headlines, has driven countless users to suspect sites over the years. 
- Then with the rise of social media came the inevitable viral spam and hoaxes.
But this past year has ramped up the concept of post-truth/fake news dramatically, with awareness driven by Brexit and the U.S. presidential election. According to the Pew Research Center, by 2016 some 62 percent of adults got their news from social media, compared to 49 percent reporting on a slightly different version of the question in 2012.
Facebook, Twitter and Reddit are the most-cited platforms for such users, and the majority of  them “stumble” upon the posts while they’re doing other things on the sites.
“The issue is that legitimate news stories get mixed in with everything else on your Facebook ‘news’ feed,” says c/net. “That includes stories from websites that are posing as news sources to harvest your clicks. What's more, even if you click a link to a well-researched Wall Street Journal story, Facebook could show you related stories from sites that don't meet those same standards.” (Facebook announced a crackdown on fake news in November 2016, with efforts including third-party verification and making it easier to report false news.) 

The view from the reference desk

Can librarians effectively counter fake news? Any attempt is certainly a challenge. 
“We’re just inundated with so much information it becomes just more difficult to parse out where the quality information is.” That quote, from University of Illinois Professor Nicole A. Cooke, is part of an interview in The Verge
“We used to talk to students about ‘How does the website look? Does it look like you could have done it on your laptop or does it look like there’s a corporation behind it?’ ...But these new sites are so savvy, the interfaces can be really slick, and they can look a lot like what we consider to be reputable sources.”
The “Annoyed Librarian” of Library Journal’s blog says that theoretically, “librarians could have a role to play in the battle against fake news. Libraries in the mass certainly have the resources to fact-check anything, and they could bombard Facebook. Except of course they would only be seen by people who already agree with them, which is part of the complaint against Facebook.” 

Taking steps

A new ProQuest survey of 200+ librarians reveals the goals and challenges of their information literacy efforts. Download the white paper
In a learning environment where, as a Stanford University study revealed, 82 percent of middle-schoolers “could not distinguish between an ad labeled ‘sponsored content’ and a real news story,” librarians can take steps to help foster information literacy.
- Prof. Nicole Cooke: “When you see a very salacious headline or something that’s challenging, sometimes the inclination is to forward it without checking. You have to ask: does this appear in multiple places or did you only see it on Facebook?”
- Georgina Cronin, University of Cambridge Research & Support Librarian and author of “Cardies & Tweed” blog: “If you’re not an outreach type person then hook your users up with someone who is. ...Lead by example by sharing good resources on social media accounts and by running effective teaching sessions on literacy, social media use and critical thinking, and build up the skills of your communities.”

Steps to better research 

For students doing assignments or general patrons looking for information, the library is still a “safe place” to gather facts that lead to informed conclusions.
- On open web searches, even such simple sources as the site’s About Us and Privacy Policy page, clear dates on posted articles or author credentials that are easy to track contributes to confidence in the content as trustworthy. 
- Providing vetted content to aid with critical thinking can start at the middle-school level with products like ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher (a Library Journal winner and CODiE finalist), which presents balanced pro/con arguments from global sources.
- ProQuest’s Research Companion, an award-winning cloud-based information literacy solution for researchers and educators, is aligned to both to ACRL Information Literacy and Common Core English Language Arts standards.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Serendipitous Discovery: 3 Important Ways to Expand Your Research


Anyone who has worked on a research project knows how valuable it is to find unexpected material related to your topic. There are numerous ways to do this.

  1. In the world of serendipitous discovery, citations— in particular, who cited a work and who is
    cited by another work— provide a defined track for expanding your research. Following this string of citations—the citation trail— can lead you to discover new books and articles you were not aware of, enriching your research and sometimes leading you in new directions.

  2. Browsing  the library bookshelf is a great way
    to find material that shares similar topics with the book you started with. The works that have been classified as close to your book in topic will likely sit next to it on the real or virtual shelf. In the electronic world, browsing through a virtual book shelf provides the same experience and will allow you to find works you might not have found with a search query.

  3. Progress in research is a community endeavor, and using community knowledge enables you to find interesting material for your topic that you yourself may not have known to look for.
    This is exactly what a
    recommender system provides. It looks at material that has been used together by the wider community and creates recommendations based on that information. This is a wider range than what you will find in a citation trail, but equally important for enriching your research.

At Ex Libris, serendipitous discovery is our passion. To see five ways you can use Ex Libris discovery services to enhance your serendipitous discovery, click here.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Thirty Years of Ex Libris – Personal Recollections

Barbara Rad-El, Senior Librarian, Ex Libris

This year Ex Libris is celebrating its 30th anniversary. This remarkable milestone caused me to stop, pause, and think about my own personal journey with this amazing company.

I joined Ex Libris in 1991. At that time there were actually two companies – Aleph Yissum, located at the Hebrew University, which developed the Aleph software, and Ex Libris, which marketed it. These two companies merged a few years later.

Many of my activities in those early years involved travelling abroad to demonstrate Aleph to various university libraries. What did this mean in those pre-Internet days? I travelled with the Aleph software copied onto a disk (at first a Digital TK50 disk with a stunning 94mb of memory…) and had to first install it on one of the university’s computers before I could start my presentation. If I ran into difficulties I would then have to phone the head office, to get the help of our brilliant programmer, Yohanan Spruch, who was always able to visualize what I had done wrong, and would always help me eventually get it right.

Some years passed and the computer revolution was well under way. Aleph was ported from VAX/VMS to UNIX. Eventually I found myself travelling with a small UNIX machine (no more of those tricky installations); we progressed from Aleph 200, to Aleph 300, and then to Aleph 500, with a new graphic user interface, client server—all the buzz words. For me this meant that I could travel with two laptops—one a server, and the other the client. (Not much room for personal hand luggage with those two…)

Thinking back over those years, I remember a few landmarks – the first Aleph System Seminar in Israel in 1992 with 40 participants; the first American Aleph Users meeting (no name for the group at that time) held in a hotel suite at an ALA in San Antonio with about 8-10 participants; how the user groups ICAU and NAAUG and SMUG (!) grew into IGeLU and ELUNA with hundreds of members.

As Ex Libris grew, we developed additional products: SFX, MetaLib, Verde, Primo, and now of course Alma. Who in those far off days could have envisioned the changes in the computer world? If the word ‘cloud’ was mentioned – it was just about the weather; SaaS – you did mean ‘sassy’, right?

I am still with Ex Libris, now a devotee of Alma as I was (and still am) a devotee of Aleph. I am sure that the company will continue to grow and expand, with the vision that it has so ably demonstrated for all the many long years of its existence.

What memories do you have from the past 30 years with Ex Libris? Let us know in the comments below!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Best of 2016: Top 10 Ex Libris Blog Posts

As we turn the page to 2017, here’s a look back at the blog posts that generated the most interest during the past year. Thanks for following us!

In a series of posts early in 2016, we discussed the fundamental principles of UX design and how to apply them to library services. In this summary blog post we presented how Ex Libris put this approach into action in the new Primo user interface. See it here >>

One of the topics that drew the most attention in 2016 was the concept of exploring library collections through serendipitous discovery. In this blog we present five smart exploration tools that will provide your patrons with an opportunity for fresh encounters with information and spark new research directions. Explore here >>

Library spaces are evolving, and patrons’ expectations from the library are constantly growing. So how can librarians keep up? One of the ways librarians can get more done and cope with users’ needs is to gain the “freedom to move” – to leave their desks and do their jobs wherever they’re needed. Read about the Alma Mobile app >>

Many libraries using Ex Libris Primo are taking advantage of its flexible customization capabilities. They are tailoring the Primo interface and services to suit the goals of their specific institutions, as well as the needs and expectations of their users. In this post we look at how New Zealand’s Lincoln University enhanced their Primo using Google Street View. Take a Tour >>

What are some of the creative ideas libraries can adopt to attract students and increase usage of their services? Pokémon Go is only one of the ideas in this blog post… Check out the rest of the ideas here >>

Early in 2016 Ex Libris launched the Linked Data Collaboration Program, aimed at defining the most valuable Linked Open Data capabilities in the fields of library resource management and discovery. To date, this program holds over 40 customers that help us shape the LoD roadmap of Alma, Primo, and Summon. See a review of the program here >>

In another post dealing with serendipitous discovery, we introduced a recent addition to Primo exploration services – the citation trail. The citation trail tool allows you to explore a topic and collect material by following a chain of articles that cite each other, greatly expanding your research. Cite this! >>

Reading lists are essential to teaching and learning. But with the huge amount of resources at their disposal, how can instructors create richer and more effective lists? And how can students easily access those materials, and explore beyond the main references? Modern reading list tools can help. Introducing Leganto, the Ex Libris reading list solution. Read here >>

Applying the essential UX design principles to your discovery service is almost as important as including all the resources your users will need for their searches. So what’s the path to getting there? In this blog post we present our five UX design principles and how to implement them. Read here >>

Another successful blog series we ran this year was the “Developer’s Toolbox” – a look into some of the innovative ideas and product extensions that are shared by the Ex Libris customer community and the Ex Libris R&D team. Check out the first post of this series >>

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Library’s Buzz – December 2016

Dani Guzman, Product Marketing Director, Ex Libris

We decided to use the last Buzz of 2016 to celebrate our favorite professional – the librarian. An interesting new study shows how librarians are perceived by the public, while an active Twitter feed gives librarians a chance to present themselves as they really are. Looking into 2017 and beyond, we’ve also seen what the librarian of the future might look like, as well as how libraries themselves will have to adapt to a changing world. Finally, we highlight one interesting, but difficult, long-term library project that we hope might yet overcome some of its greatest challenges in 2017.

A survey prepared and carried out by the Maine State Library shows that the public finds librarians to be among the most trustworthy professionals today, second only to nurses. The study also broke down the survey data by demographics, including such aspects as income and education. Yet, the results were pretty consistent – people trust librarians. Read more of the stats here >>>

While trustworthiness is surely a positive trait for people to associate with librarians, Vable, a brand awareness management company, noted that librarian is “a varied and often misunderstood profession.”  Taking notice of the #iamalibrarian hashtag, Vable blogger Pip Christie says the Twitter feed provides a window into the true lives of librarians. Through a series of tweets, Christie presents who librarians are, what they do, common misconceptions, and their “zest for learning….” Find out who says “#iamalibrarian” here >>>

The prestigious London School of Economics has published a brief, but perceptive, article exploring how the role of librarians is perceived today and how it should change in the future. The authors suggest that research librarians will need to leverage new data science and digital skills in a more collaborative environment. Doing so, the authors write, will mean librarians “can truly change how they are perceived: from an overhead service to research co-investigators.” How? Read on for some answers>>>

Looking a bit more broadly into the future, Steven Bell of the Library Journal write that libraries will need to (once again) adapt to meet the needs of a new generation. He draws some conclusions for libraries and librarians based on an American study of 1,007 students ages 11–17 (known as “Generation Z”) and their teachers.  But don’t worry, Bell says, it will probably be “less than cataclysmic.” Read about how much less here >>>

If things need to change in the library of the future, then The Library Lab blog has a suggestion of what might be a good place to start. Anneli Friberg, of Linköping University Library, writes that user experience and usability have become recognized as important for the modern library. However, she explains, any adaptation of physical spaces and services needs to be based on systematically gaining data on how library patrons actually interact with your library. Read here about how they did it at Linköping University in Sweden >>>

Not every forward-thinking library project is a success – at least not in the timeframe expected. One very ambitious and high-profile library project has not seen much progress since it was announced in 2010 – the effort to catalogue all public Twitter tweets in the Library of Congress. Both Twitter and the US government were on board, but little did they know the pace of both tweets and technology would far outstrip the national library’s capabilities. Will the Twitterverse be catalogued in 2017? Time will tell. Read more here >>>

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Primo Hackathon: Our Community at Work


We are always proud of our community, and never prouder than when we can share the results of a community initiative where Primo users help each other. Last week was the Primo Hackathon, sponsored by ELUNA and IGeLU, where over 300 Primo users learned how best to customize the new Primo UI with the Primo open discovery framework, shared best practices, and created some customizations of their own.

The Primo open discovery framework makes the new UI particularly open to customization and enhancement, but it's important to share best practices. That's what our Primo community is for, and that's what the hackathon was about.

If you missed it, have no fear! The playlist including every day of the hackathon is up on YouTube! You can also watch each video at the links below:

Day 1: HTML and CSS Working with the open discovery framework to customize the CSS.
Day 2: Basic Javascript Intro to JavaScript customization and design recommendations for new UI features.
Day 3: Service Pages Customizing the service page and extending the application.
Day 4: Primo Roadmap and Lightning Talk Primo roadmap and Q&A.

In addition, Primo users shared about 45 files, available to everyone who signed up for the hackathon through Slack here.

Enjoy the videos, and keep hacking!