Finding out about Serial Solutions

As part of the project to analyse new library software, we attended a Serials Solutions presentation.

Library software companies are preparing updates to their old fashioned systems, bringing them into line with the new concept of library systems.

It is no longer enough to have a good ILS with lots of features.

This may have been the priority in the past, but now the focus has to be on the users.

Google is easy, you enter a few words in the search box and get the results. Libraries need to work on that and provide more valuable information. If they don’t, users will never use them.

We already know about Serial Solutions’ Summon, which is the discovery tool used by the UOC’s Library. We have already talked about it here on the blog.


The number of installations of Summon is increasing every day thanks to a good marketing campaign and its adaptability in comparison with current library systems.

Another of the products that they have launched is Counter, a powerful tool to analyse the use of the resources offered in Summon. Analysing this data was a tough task for librarians who had to spend lots of time organizing the information.

But, are there plans to develop an ILS? Everybody has heard the rumour that Serials Solutions are developing an ILS called Intota.

During the presentation, Serial Solutions staff stated that they were focusing on all their efforts on Summon, which is understandable as it is the market leader.

However, they are working on developing Intota and have started with Intota Assessment. As far as I understand, it is a complement to Counter, helping analyse the collection of books and serials and letting those responsible use this information to make decisions about collection development.

They gave us information on the development of Intota, saying that it will be step by step. They are to develop different parts of the software, letting libraries work with their own ILS and Intota simultaneously until development is completed.

That is hard to understand, but from the point of view of the company, aware of the fact that the ILS market is full of alternatives, spending efforts to develop a competitive system is a lost war.

Serial Solutions are focusing on what they know. They are experts in electronic resources management. This is what sets them apart, alongside having a discovery tool as powerful as theirs.

We’ll have to see how the market plays out and if their strategy works as they’ve planned.


Citing is easy with WorldCat

It is taken as read that faculty, researchers and doctoral students must know how to properly cite any source of information they consult and use in their knowledge creation process, and that they must know how to produce the bibliographies that have to accompany their research work and scientific articles.

They normally use the most common bibliographic reference managers (Mendeley, RefWorks, Zotero, etc.), which make this laborious part of their academic and research work much easier.

A bibliographic reference manager is software that, once installed and registered on, lets users create their own bibliographic database, storing the reference data of articles, books or web pages consulted for their subsequent entering as citations in any text.

These bibliographic reference managers let users export the citations used in the text as a bibliography in a wide variety of the most common bibliographic formats (ISO 690,  APA, Chicago, Vancouver, MLA, etc.).

Degree students, however, do not normally use bibliographic reference managers. Likewise, they are not well versed in the criteria for citing documents or the correct presentation of bibliographies, despite the efforts of library and language services at universities and their providing guides, manuals and all kinds of resources to help them learn how to cite correctly and produce bibliographies in accordance with basic criteria and standards such as ISO 690:2010.

Students are often unaware of a very useful resource for citing documents correctly in any of the most commonly used bibliographic styles: WorldCat. It is the online catalogue from the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) and thought to be the largest Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) in the world with a bibliographic collection covering more than 10,000 public and private libraries from around the globe.

When citing a document in a given bibliographic style, users can search for it in WorldCat. In the document’s bibliographic record, they simply need to click on the option to “Cite/Export” at the top right. Just one click provides access to the bibliographic citation in the most common standards (APA, Harvard, Chicago, MLA, Turabian).


This quick and simple way of citing sources and producing properly formatted bibliographies should make life easy for students.

Budget restrictions are affecting both Universities and Libraries, so University Libraries are in a quite vulnerable position. Consequently, we’re obliged to take advantage of free tools and resources if we want to innovate. With this in mind, and with the idea of opening the events programmed for the Open Access Week in the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) and coordinated by the UOC Virtual Library to the world, we planned to live stream  the main event, the workshop “Open Acess, repositories and copyleft workshop”. Once we realised that we didn’t have enough budget for live streaming with the Audiovisual Service of the University, we decided to test a free live streaming tool for video.

There are some online tools for video streaming, the most widely used are: Bambuser, Livestream, Ustream and Justin.tv. Most of them have free and premium accounts. With a free account you can stream from your 3G phone or your computer, but probably you can’t connect a camera or stream in HD quality and your account will not be ad-free. For more information on these services you can have a look at this interesting article and this comparison both published in the Streaming media magazine.

In this case, we decided to test Bambuser because of the facility of use and due to knowing the experience of the People Witness network within the social movements in Spain. Besides, there are several online tutorials and a really efficient customer service.

Steps to follow

First of all, you need to create an account by signing up in Bambuser and filling in the form.


In the next step, it’s strongly recommended to connect Bambuser with your Facebook and/or Twitter accounts for a wider diffusion, this way your broadcasts will be automatically posted in your social networks. Following other users with similar interests is a good way of starting a network or community of interest in this platform.

 Afterwards, you can choose your setup options for broadcasting: smartphone or webcam. You can change this setting at any time to broadcast both ways. In the UOC Library, as we need this account for broadcasting events, talks, workshops… we’re going to use a webcam for assuring a better quality.

In our case we created a corporative account and our user is UOCbiblioteca.


Your Bambuser account with your live broadcasts can be embedded in your website or blog just by copying the html code which appers in your channel homepage under the “Embed code” section. This way the last streaming will be shown on your website, as you can see bellow.


If otherwise you just want to integrate a particular broadcast, once you’re in the broadcast screen click on the Share button and copy and paste the html code in your website.


Good practices

The use of hastags makes it easier to monitor broadcasts on a specific subject in the social networks and to collect all of them with free online tools, as Rebelmouse for example. 


More information

A more detailed tutorial on How to stream, as well as links to other ones, can be found at the People Witness wiki, collaboratively collected and curated by the participants in the People Witness project.

Digital collections at university libraries are increasingly important, and only more so at the UOC’s Virtual Library (VL). Digital content is playing an increasingly vital role, as it aids accessibility to and consultation of resources by the whole of the community, regardless of where they might be. For some time now, at the UOC VL we’ve been working with a number of electronic resource management tools (Metalib and SFX) and we incorporated our first discovery tool, Summon, in April 2012.


Summon: UOC library discovery tool

During this first 18 months since the introduction of Summon, we wanted to carry out special monitoring of the use made of the digital collection by our users. We wanted to identify whether there had been an increase, or not, in the use of the digital collection since the introduction of the new search tools and whether there had been a change in the way it was used.

The main aim was to ascertain whether the introduction of Summon had led to a change in the way people were consulting our digital content. It is here where the graphical visualization that we have been using takes centre stage.

To visualize the usage data, we first used a line graph. At first glance, the highlight was the fact that people still used Metalib far more than Summon.

Graph 1: Line graph

Graph 1: line graph of visits in Summon and Metalib

Using a bar graph only further stressed this trend of Metalib over Summon. It seemed that our hopes of a change in the search habits of our users were far from being realized.

Graph 2: bar graph

Graph 2: bar graph of visits in Summon and Metalib

There was something in the way we were visualizing the data that was distorting how we were interpreting the data however. It was then that we used a combination of bar charts (this time placing them one top of each other) and line graphs. This immediately changed the way we perceived the data. Placing the bars one on top the other showed us that (despite Metalib still being used a lot by our users) use of the Summon discovery tool was steadily rising throughout the year, even though the number of total visits was going down.

Our perception of the data changes greatly depending on how it is visualized graphically.

Graph 3: Combined graph

Graph 3: Combined graph of visits in Summon and Metalib

The move from a tool that has been incorporated into the VL for the last five years, as is the case with Metalib, to a new tool, Summon, requires a period of adaptation for users, but, as we can see, use of Summon is going up and gradually gaining ground on Metalib.

We should bear in mind that this data corresponds to a period of time when there was direct access to Metalib from the classrooms and when Summon was still not the Library’s main search engine, instead having to be accessed from a specific section of our old website.

With the new design for our website, Summon is given a unique position at the top of the page and becomes the main point of access to the Library’s contents.


Summon at the new library website

 It will be interesting to keep a close eye on the evolution of use of these tools from the new Library portal.


Get Social!

Several times we are being talking in this blog about how libraries embrace social tools to improve the relationship with users and to offer better and new services.

A quick view to our tag Library 2.0 shows different posts about how libraries go social.

Today the UOC Virtual Library starts using Twitter as a tool to promote their services and collections and to present the librarians that work on.

There is lots of guidelines, explained experiences, advice or tips about how to use social networks on academics and in libraries too.

Allan Johnson, on his post ‘Using Twitter for Curated Academic Content’ proposes a workflow for a curated content on twitter.

In his own words: “It goes like this.  Throughout the week I scan through the content that comes through to my RSS reader (I happen to use NewsRack).  The content is a mixture of my main interests: academia, of course, but also fashion, design, media, culture, theatre, and architecture.  If I can read the post in less than 2 minutes (that magical cutoff point for GTDers) then I have a read, and tweet it if I think it is worthwhile.  But if it will take longer than 2 minutes, I send it straight to Pocket, a read-it-later app which links directly with NewsRack.”

Allan Johnson Curated Content Workflow

Allan Johnson’s Curated Content Workflow

And also interesting is his preferences on how to face the tweeting style solution that Academic Community managers face when start to use twitter:

Allan Johnson says:

“I am a big fan of the ‘whole-person’ style of tweeting, with a mixture of general chatter (e.g. “it’s Thai for dinner!”) and valuable curated content (e.g. “great article at http://…”).”

To resolve how to manage a library twitter account in terms of style of tweeting is not easy. We decided not to be stuck in one position, we decided to see what our users (and listeners) like or ask for.

LSE Impact on Social Sciences blog has some guides on how to use Twitter in research and also in teaching, and lots of interesting posts (mostly from guest bloggers) that explore Academics 2.0 as a subject.

On this blog can be found a guide to using Twitter in university research, teaching, and impact activities that I thing will be useful to us. Is a guide for academics and researches but is can be a good starting point for librarians…I don’t know why they always forget librarians! ;)

3 tweeting styles are identified in this guide, and a table analyses pros and cons.

Substantive updates style, strongly formal and corporate is the most comfortable zone if, as a library, you want to talk to the world but is so impersonal in a conversational network as is twitter.

In a Conversational style content is ‘eclectic, drawing on professional interests but also on personal life, commenting on current events, etc. and so covers diverse topics’ is purely Twitter but with eclectic contents many followers may not value many of the tweets

A middle ground style sounds perfect to me… but is a challenge to find the equilibrium and is not a formula there… how many conversational to be engaging? How many substantive to inform properly?

To resolve how to manage a library twitter account in terms of style of tweeting is not easy. We decided not to be stick in one position, we decided to see what our users (and listeners) like or ask for.

 Welcome @UOCbiblioteca!

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