A Digital Scratchpad by Gabriel J. Gardner

The new technology permits us to do exciting things with tracking software. Wave of the future, Dude. 100% electronic.

Have you heard? There’s a war on. The target? IP-based, proxy-enabled, authenticated access to the commercially-owned scholarly literature. The combatants? The largest and most powerful scholarly publishers vs. the librarians and our user base.

As reported by Times Higher Education and Coda, The Scholarly Networks Security Initiative (SNSI) sponsored a webinar in which Corey Roach, CISO for University of Utah, floated the idea of installing a plug-in to library proxy servers, or a subsidized low-cost proxy, for additional data collection. (To be clear he did not advocate for sharing this information with publishers, only that it be collected and retained by libraries for user behavior analysis.) Examples of the data collected in library logs (as distinguished from publisher logs) via the proposal are:

  • timestamps
  • extensive browser information
  • username
  • account Information
  • customer IP
  • URLs requested
  • 2-factor device information
  • geographic Location
  • user behavior
  • biometric data
  • threat correlation

I question whether such rich personally identifiably information (PII) is required to prevent illicit account access. If it is collected at all, there are more than enough data points here (obviously excluding username and account information) to deanonymize individuals and reveal exactly what they looked at and when so it should not be kept on hand too long for later analysis.

Another related, though separate endeavor is GetFTR which aims to bypass proxies (and thereby potential library oversight of use) entirely. There is soo much which could be written about both these efforts and this post only scratches the surface of some of the complex issues and relationships affect by them.

The first thing I was curious about was, who is bankrolling these efforts? They list the backers on their websites but I always find it interesting as to who is willing to fund the coders and infrastructure. I looked up both GetFTR and SNSI in the IRS Tax Exempt database as well as the EU Find a Company portal and did not find any results. So I decided to do a little more digging matching WHOIS data in the hopes that something might pop out, nothing interesting came of this so I put it at the very bottom.

They’re gonna kill that poor proxy server…

A simple matrix can help visualize the main players behind the efforts to ‘improve’ authentication and security.

Part of SNSI
Part of GetFTRYesAmerican Chemical Society Publications (ACS)
Springer Nature
Taylor & Francis
Digital Science
Researcher (Blenheim Chalcot)
Third Iron
NoAmerican Institute of Physics (AIP)
American Medical Association (AMA)
American Physical Society (APS)
American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Institute of Physics (IOP)
International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM)
International Water Association Publishing (IWA)
Macmillan Learning
The Optical Society (OSA)
Any/all other publishers and supporting firms.
Accurate as of 2020-11-16.

It should come as no surprise that Elsevier, Springer Nature, ACS, and Wiley - which previous research has shown are the publishers producing the most research downloaded in the USA from Sci-Hub - are supporting both efforts. Taylor & Francis presumably feels sufficiently threatened such that they are along for the ride.

And a lotta strands of GetFTR to keep in my head, man.

I think it is important to conceptually separate GetFTR from the obviously problematic snooping proposed by SNSI. It would be theoretically possible for GetFTR to dramatically improve the user experience while not resulting in additional data collection about users.

But… as Philipp Zumstein pointed out on Twitter, there are already some ways to improve the linking “problems” and user experience that GetFTR is working on. The fact that they are instead building something new gives them opportunities to control and collect data on usage patterns and users.

Given the corporate players involved here, I am not optimistic. However, I can also see large gains in usability if GetFTR works as advertised. In an ideal world, the usability/privacy tradeoff would be minimal; but as we are reminded on a daily basis, Dr. Pangloss was not a reliable guide.
For now, I have “registered my interest” with the group and am waiting to see how things are fleshed out.

If the plan gets too complex something always goes wrong: O’Reilly / Safari

O’Reilly a few years ago introduced a new type of authentication based on user email and they tried to default to it as part of a platform migration. We informed them that we wanted to continue using EZproxy, which they continue to support but have made it very cumbersome. As it currently stands, our users are presented with a different login experience depending upon how they enter the platform. While O’Reilly representatives have not been unresponsive, they clearly want users to authenticate with their “patron validation” method which collects user emails, rather than the shared-secret/proxy which is technically supported but only triggered when users enter from our alphabetical database list.

If the plan gets too complex something always goes wrong: Fitch Solutions

This provider ended support for proxy access. However, we achieved a slight simplification of the login experience for users that still satisfied our policy obligations through a back and forth conversation about the user variables we as IdP would release to the vendor. It was not a pleasant experience but a tolerable one. If vendors recognize and work with university SSO systems but do not require PII, improvements to user workflow and access are possible. To be clear, what O’Reilly and Fitch have done by moving away from IP access is not GetFTR, which is still in pilot phase.

But fighting alone is very different from fighting together.

How might librarians push back against (likely) excessive data collection by SNSI or GetFTR-using platforms? I can think of three tools at our disposal, though the discussion below is not meant to be exhaustive. I cover them in order of their possible strength/severity, in actuality the textual support they provide for pushback against vendors will vary.

I want a fucking lawyer, man.

Might State laws might have any clauses that could resist a publisher data grab? In California there are two relevant sections which covers library privacy GOV § 6267 and GOV § 6254 (j). GOV § 6254 (j) is no help as it specifically refers to “records kept for the purpose of identifying the borrower of items”, which is not the case with authentication data as in most cases it is not being used to ‘borrow’ anything. GOV § 6267 however could be interpreted in interesting ways. I reproduce the relevant clauses here with my own emphasis.

All patron use records of any library which is in whole or in part supported by public funds shall remain confidential and shall not be disclosed by a public agency, or private actor that maintains or stores patron use records on behalf of a public agency, to any person, local agency, or state agency except as follows:

(a) By a person acting within the scope of his or her duties within the administration of the library.

(b) By a person authorized, in writing, by the individual to whom the records pertain, to inspect the records.

(c) By order of the appropriate superior court.

As used in this section, the term “* * * patron use records” includes the following:

(1) Any written or electronic record, that is used to identify the patron, including, but not limited to, a patron’s name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address, that a library patron provides in order to become eligible to borrow or use books and other materials.

(2) Any written record or electronic transaction that identifies a patron’s borrowing information or use of library information resources, including, but not limited to, database search records, borrowing records, class records, and any other personally identifiable uses of library resources information requests, or inquiries.

This section shall not apply to statistical reports of patron use nor to records of fines collected by the library.

I am not well versed in the law, nor am I aware of any litigation involving § 6267 but it seems to me that a straightforward interpretation of this is that any personally identifiable information collected by vendors is subject to this law and thus must remain confidential. But confidential does not mean that vendors can’t use that PII for their own internal purposes, which is what some in the library community are worried about.

Ultimately, I did not invoke either of these sections in negotiations with O’Reilly or Fitch as there was a more clear and less legalistic option, university policy, detailed below.

The ALA has put together a page of the various state library legislative codes. http://www.ala.org/advocacy/privacy/statelaws Since these don’t change often, I assume it is up to date (unlike some other ALA pages) should any readers want to check how things might shake out in a non-California jurisdiction.

Also, I have yet to take a deep dive into the newly effective California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, but perhaps that will be useful going forward. Unfortunately, most jurisdictions are not as proactive about privacy as California so they will have to avail themselves of the other tactics listed here.

But your university– they run stuff, they–

CalState Long Beach, like virtually all universities - I should hope - has internal policies governing the release of information. Presently, the Information Classification Standard delineates three types of data: confidential, internal, and public.


There is a subheading in this section for Library Patron Information. I include it here in full.

Library database for faculty, staff, students and community borrowers which may contain:

  • Home address
  • Home phone
  • Social Security Numbers

Note the word may. That might lead us to think that this would be a clause that could be liberally interpreted in negotiations with vendors but unfortunately the items explicitly listed as Public (below) make it clear that this section is about shielding employees’ personal and home information, not any data they might generate in the course of their remunerated activities as employees.

As a creature of the state, a lot of institutional information (which vendors no doubt would like to have and incorporate into their models of user behavior) is, and should be public, such as:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Title
  • Department
  • Etc.

Internal information is where things get interesting.

There are a number of demographic characteristics/variables in this category which firms would love to hoover up and feed into whatever models they run on data about their users. Users might voluntarily disclose this information, e.g. by uploading a photograph of themselves to a profile on a vendor platform site. But the policy says this is information which must be protected. The implication being that this information is not of the Public category and that the University (thus library) should not routinely disclose it. Importantly, there is a subheading in this section for Library Circulation Information.

Information which links a library patron with a specific subject the patron has accessed or requested

That was the (in my opinion) the crucial piece of documentation that I provided to the Fitch Solutions staff which helped us carry the day and minimize data exchange and harvesting.

Say what you want about local library policies dude, at least they’re an ethos.

At present, we don’t have any in-house policies specific to authentication. Though I am open to such a move, my feeling is that the stronger play here for us is to continue to use the University policies (and applicable CA laws) in order to push back against overcollection of user data by publishers. A local library-specific policy is surely better than nothing in the absence of such a university policy, but when faculty in need of a specific resource such as a future SNSI-GetFTR-enabled ACS Digital Library come knocking, my suspicion is that some libraries will yield to the demands and implement the publisher’s preferred authentication mechanism. We can’t all be Jenica Rogers.

On can we? A coordinated effort on the part of libraries around the world to draft and enact clear in-house policies that reject SNSI-supported spyware (or anything similar) might just work. The ACS-RELX-SpringNature-T&F-Wiley-leviathan does not conceal its views and aims; neither should we. They want to collect “information about them as a student or an employee” and change contract language in order to “ensure attribute release compliance.” They tremble at the threat that piracy poses and, as pointed out by Sam Popowich, are working to convince everyone that “security and vendor profits should trump user privacy.” The stakes are high.


This post originally listed American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) as a supporter of GetFTR. Angela Cochran, ASCO’s VP of Publishing, who served on the GetFTR advisory board has clarified this via correspondence with me. The ASCO is not a participating partner in GetFTR. I regret the error.

WHOIS Signatures

Here are the relevant WHOIS data for each site. Both use the privacy options their hosting providers offer to not reveal important information. In the end, comparison of WHOIS data did not reveal anything interesting.


Domain Profile
Registrant Org Domain Proxy Service. LCN.com Limited
Registrant Country gb
Registrar Register SPA
IANA ID: 168
URL: http://we.register.it/
Whois Server: whois.register.it
(p) 395520021555
Registrar Status clientDeleteProhibited, clientTransferProhibited, clientUpdateProhibited
Dates 245 days old
Created on 2020-03-16
Expires on 2021-03-16
Updated on 2020-09-23
Name Servers BRAD.NS.CLOUDFLARE.COM (has 18,590,729 domains)
PAM.NS.CLOUDFLARE.COM (has 18,590,729 domains)

Tech Contact —
IP Address - 73 other sites hosted on this server

IP Location United States Of America - California - San Francisco - Cloudflare Inc.
ASN United States Of America AS13335 CLOUDFLARENET, US (registered Jul 14, 2010)
Domain Status Registered And Active Website
IP History 14 changes on 14 unique IP addresses over 15 years
Hosting History 9 changes on 6 unique name servers over 7 years

Website Title 500 SSL negotiation failed:
Response Code 500

Whois Record ( last updated on 2020-11-16 )

Domain Name: SNSI.INFO Registry Domain ID: D503300001183540550-LRMS Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.register.it Registrar URL: http://we.register.it/ Updated Date: 2020-09-23T07:14:11Z Creation Date: 2020-03-16T12:23:58Z Registry Expiry Date: 2021-03-16T12:23:58Z Registrar Registration Expiration Date: Registrar: Register SPA Registrar IANA ID: 168 Registrar Abuse Contact Email: Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +39.5520021555 Reseller: Domain Status: clientDeleteProhibited https://icann.org/epp#clientDeleteProhibited Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited https://icann.org/epp#clientTransferProhibited Domain Status: clientUpdateProhibited https://icann.org/epp#clientUpdateProhibited Registrant Organization: Domain Proxy Service. LCN.com Limited Registrant State/Province: Worcestershire Registrant Country: GB Name Server: BRAD.NS.CLOUDFLARE.COM Name Server: PAM.NS.CLOUDFLARE.COM DNSSEC: unsigned URL of the ICANN Whois Inaccuracy Complaint Form: https://www.icann.org/wicf/

The Registrar of Record identified in this output may have an RDDS service that can be queried
for additional information on how to contact the Registrant, Admin, or Tech contact of the
queried domain name.


Domain Profile
Registrant On behalf of getfulltextresearch.com owner
Registrant Org Whois Privacy Service
Registrant Country us
Registrar Amazon Registrar, Inc.
IANA ID: 468
URL: https://registrar.amazon.com,http://registrar.amazon.com
Whois Server: whois.registrar.amazon.com
(p) 12067406200
Registrar Status ok, renewPeriod
Dates 446 days old
Created on 2019-08-28
Expires on 2021-08-28
Updated on 2020-07-24
Name Servers NS-1001.AWSDNS-61.NET (has 39,473 domains)
NS-1171.AWSDNS-18.ORG (has 35,686 domains)
NS-143.AWSDNS-17.COM (has 17,174 domains)
NS-1760.AWSDNS-28.CO.UK (has 304 domains)

Tech Contact On behalf of getfulltextresearch.com technical contact

Whois Privacy Service
P.O. Box 81226,
Seattle, WA, 98108-1226, us
(p) 12065771368 IP Address - 13 other sites hosted on this server

IP Location United Kingdom Of Great Britain And Northern Ireland - England - London - Google Llc
ASN United Kingdom Of Great Britain And Northern Ireland AS15169 GOOGLE, US (registered Mar 30, 2000)
Domain Status Registered And Active Website
IP History 1 change on 1 unique IP addresses over 1 years
Registrar History 1 registrar
Hosting History 2 changes on 3 unique name servers over 1 year

Website Title 500 SSL negotiation failed:
Response Code 500

Whois Record ( last updated on 2020-11-16 )

Domain Name: getfulltextresearch.com Registry Domain ID: 2427634873_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.registrar.amazon.com Registrar URL: https://registrar.amazon.com Updated Date: 2020-07-24T22:01:02.974Z Creation Date: 2019-08-28T12:53:20Z Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2021-08-28T12:53:20Z Registrar: Amazon Registrar, Inc. Registrar IANA ID: 468 Registrar Abuse Contact Email: Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +1.2067406200 Reseller: Domain Status: renewPeriod https://icann.org/epp#renewPeriod Domain Status: ok https://icann.org/epp#ok Registry Registrant ID: Registrant Name: On behalf of getfulltextresearch.com owner Registrant Organization: Whois Privacy Service Registrant Street: P.O. Box 81226 Registrant City: Seattle Registrant State/Province: WA Registrant Postal Code: 98108-1226 Registrant Country: US Registrant Phone: +1.2065771368 Registrant Phone Ext: Registrant Fax: Registrant Fax Ext: Registrant Email: .whoisprivacyservice.org Registry Admin ID: Admin Name: On behalf of getfulltextresearch.com administrative contact Admin Organization: Whois Privacy Service Admin Street: P.O. Box 81226 Admin City: Seattle Admin State/Province: WA Admin Postal Code: 98108-1226 Admin Country: US Admin Phone: +1.2065771368 Admin Phone Ext: Admin Fax: Admin Fax Ext: Admin Email: .whoisprivacyservice.org Registry Tech ID: Tech Name: On behalf of getfulltextresearch.com technical contact Tech Organization: Whois Privacy Service Tech Street: P.O. Box 81226 Tech City: Seattle Tech State/Province: WA Tech Postal Code: 98108-1226 Tech Country: US Tech Phone: +1.2065771368 Tech Phone Ext: Tech Fax: Tech Fax Ext: Tech Email: .whoisprivacyservice.org Name Server: ns-1001.awsdns-61.net Name Server: ns-1171.awsdns-18.org Name Server: ns-143.awsdns-17.com Name Server: ns-1760.awsdns-28.co.uk DNSSEC: unsigned URL of the ICANN WHOIS Data Problem Reporting System: http://wdprs.internic.net/

For more information on Whois status codes, please visit

Other WHOIS Lookups

Notably, the main corporate firm players themselves do not use privacy services for their domains.

WHOIS via DomainTools.com, Whois.com
Registrant Organization: John Wiley & Sons, Inc

Taylor & Francis
WHOIS via DomainTools.com, Whois.com
Registrar: Safenames Ltd
Registrant Organisation: Taylor and Francis

Springer Nature
WHOIS via DomainTools.com, Whois.com
Registrar: Eurodns S.A.
Registrant Organization: Springer Nature B.V.

WHOIS via DomainTools.com, Whois.com
Registrar: Safenames Ltd
Registrant Organisation: Elsevier B.V.

WHOIS via DomainTools.com, Whois.com
Registrar: Network Solutions, LLC
Registrant Organization: American Chemical Society

Notes from SCIL Works 2020

Long Beach, CA

January 17, 2020



This was the first SCIL event I have attended. Previous events have either been an inconvenient locations or times. The title of the event was Disaster Planning: Bouncing Back from Instructional Fails and all the presentations were along the lines of adversity overcome and tips for how other might avoid or adapt to the highlighted ‘fail’ scenarios. Things proceeded quickly and all of the presenters were engaging; I learned a fair amount given that the whole thing was only 3 hours long. My notes are below.

For more information about SCILworks in general, see: http://www.carl-acrl.org/ig/scil/scilworks/index.html

Opening remarks from Judith Opdahl, SCIL Chair & Kelly Janousek, CARL President

CARL is a great deal financially compared with other professional associations and the professional development opportunities offered.

Blackout: Surviving an instructional apocalypse

Kelli Hines & Ruth Harris

They had a 6-hr long workshop (lecture and interaction) scheduled and the power went out 1 hour into the session. The power was out long enough that the professor cancelled the rest of the class.

Fortunately, the session was already ‘flipped’ somewhat and the students were extrinsically motivated to learn since they needed this information to pass an important quiz for a grade. But the power outage meant they never got to the hands on experience. What to do? Somehow condense hours of practice and Q&A into a short instructional video that would go out to students after the cancelled class.

How they solved for the missing experience:

  • Made screencasts, using Jing (now SnagIt), for the databases that were difficult to search.
  • Was information available via the flipped slides? If so, no need to make a video.
  • Promoted consultations and contact information
  • Graded the assignment more leniently (pass/fail)
  • Emailed assignment feedback to all students so everyone understood why the wrong answers were wrong

General framework for how to approach prioritizing content given time or delivery constraints: need, nice, nuts.

  • Need to know
    • Won’t pass class if they don’t know it
    • Will it cause patients harm if they don’t know it
    • Was information foundational for another class?
  • Nice to know
    • Will save them time
    • Will make student searches more robust
    • more…
  • Nuts to know
    • Too complicated to explain via the information
    • Librarian-level knowledge e.g. controlled vocabulary
    • Skill will be seldom used
    • Specific resources not frequently used

Could this class be turned into a video series instead of such a long workshop?

Possibly. But they were offered a 6hr block so they took it.

How much engagement did you have with the content after the fact?

They could tell there were some students who did not watch the videos.

Did they get feedback from the professor about whether the students were at a perceived deficit?

A later professor did note a deficient understanding of PICO concepts. Student feedback included many negative comments.

Please, I can assure you that The Onion is not a trustworthy source: What to do when active learning backfires

Faith Bradham & Laura Luiz

Fail 1: Too many questions during self-guided activities
Not enough time to get to all the content.

Solution 1: let students use each other as resources before they come to you. Pair or group them to evaluate resources, then have them share; peer learning.

Fail 2: Bias instruction gone wrong
A student appeared to actually believe that The Onion was not satire. Student became very frustrated.

Solution 2: Frame discussion around scholarly research.
Be clear that opinion and bias are different things. Stress that we all have opinions and are human, don’t attack students. Use yourself as an example, but keep your political views out of it.
Context is important, explain how The Onion etc. is perfectly fine to read, as long as you are reading it for entertainment, not to inform yourself.

Fail 3: students love choosing sensitive topics for student-led activities
Drawback of student input is that you loose some control. For a mind map activity, they’ve seen students pick very obscure or controversial examples.

Solution 3: Politely reject topics that can derail the activity. To make the classroom inclusive, some topics are better than others. Ask students to define their topic prior to starting the mind map activity.
Have a back-up topic just in case!

Fail 4: Activities that require prior knowledge from students

Solution 4: carefully consider what prior knowledge is needed
Budget time to explain concepts, don’t overschedule. One-shots make activities with prior knowledge difficult, but these activities can be very useful in scaffolded scenarios.


What is the most important thing you’ve learned?

Bias is incredibly important and also difficult to teach. E.g. loaded language is something that their students need to know but may not get outside of their library instruction.

Did the examples here come from the for-credit course of the one-shots?

The one-shots.

If the students learned The Onion isn’t real, isn’t that not a fail but a success?

Feedback from students is generally positive. The framing of discussions and making sure students don’t feel attacked is important.

What are good resources for thinking about bias and loaded language?

  • Discussion of bias is framed around: “What is your favorite sports team?” If you had to write a paper about how bad they are, would you be tempted to pull some punches?
  • Show headline examples of bias.
  • Snopes.
  • Media Bias Fact Check.

Remix the worksheet: Creative ideas for analog instruction

Carolyn Caffrey Gardner

Why use analog activities? At CSUDH they try to resist database demos, they also had very slow computers which their campus IT had made into virtual machines which took a long time to start up. Analog activities lend themselves to andragogy - problem centered and self directed learning. (Analog also allows you deal with classroom situations where computers are limited or malfunctioning.)

Analog Examples:

  • Whiteboard walks
    • Supplies needed: big pieces of paper or whiteboard, markers, prompts
    • Tip: make sure you have enough prompts, make the questions open-ended
  • Conceptual mapping
    • Supplies needed: paper maps or items to sort or items to map
    • Tip: some concepts that are obvious to librarians may require more time to map for novices
    • Tip: count your supplies because students walk off with them
  • source analysis
    • Supplies needed: physical sources to analyze, post-its, highlighters
    • Tip: this definitely cannot be done well with less than 20 minutes. Some students really go to town and may need to be shepherded along.

Various people shared prompts that they use.

☇ Round: Grading déjà vu

Kelli Hines & Ruth Harris

Presenters accidentally loaded assignments in the LMS from wrong year, graded, them, and emailed them to the wrong students. This was not only a big fail, but also a FERPA violation.

What they learned:

  • Don’t use email! To comply with FERPA, grades must be returned to students in a secure manner.
  • Get a copy of the class roster and check against it.
  • Change the cases (the ordering) of questions from semester to semester - helps prevent cheating and can help you avoid mistakes as well.

☇ Round: Serious fail: How a fail led to a Title IX Talk

Michelle DeMars

Presenter had what started out as a normal one-shot; 170 students. In the course of doing a “what barriers are there to you using the library?” activity things got out of hand. In small groups she uses post-it notes, but to adapt to 170 students she did this activity on Padlet. Students posted harassing language and clearly violated Title IX but submissions were anonymous.

She had a conversation with the professor about the class behavior, he lectured class about Title IX.

Now, when she uses Padlet, she places a lot of restrictions on student input to avoid repeats of this behavior. Now the professor regularly advises students on Title IX at the beginning of the semester.

Tessa Withorn

CSUDH uses LibWizard for general tutorials and course-integrated tutorials.
Looking at statistics, she saw that there were some tutorials that had a high failure rate (students didn’t get good grades on the embedded quizzes) so she revisited them.

In LibWizard the <iframe> elements have to load via HTTPS. But their university had expired SSL certificates, breaking the tutorials. Tip: contact Springshare support, they are often understanding.

One tutorial question was just too difficult and resulted in a lot of students using the chat with a librarian feature. Student feedback was used to adjust revisions of the tutorial and come up with new content.

LibWizard does not have a robust spell or grammar check, so write in another editor and paste into LibWizard. This also backs up your content in a platform that is probably more robust.


How is ADA compliance for LibWizard?

Meets most of their needs, but you must caption any video content you use.

☇ Round: We don’t have that…

Lucy Bellamy

Specialized programs, like at Gnomon, require very niche collections. But the school was trying to get a BA offering accredited. So she was faced with more expanding the collection and new students needing items not in the collection.

Library Extension (LE) tool. She worked with IT to have this installed on all the computers and offered classes on this - basically outsourcing a lot of users to the public library system.

Closing remarks by Judith Opdahl & Mary Michelle Moore

Big thanks to Michelle DeMars for handling logistics of this event.

SCIL is looking to add people to the Board.

Next SCIL event is at the CARL conference in Costa Mesa.

Where are all the UC Libraries ILL requests post-cancellation?

Another Open Access Week has come and gone. Here at Long Beach, it triggered some interesting in-house conversations pertaining to the CSU system’s potential cancellation of Elsevier’s ScienceDirect subscription. Much of that was speculative and, so far, not particularly data driven as to the impacts on our campus. We will work out some figures eventually of course. But it got me thinking about a recent presentation by Günter Waibel from the California Digital Library at FORCE11 2019. Specifically, tweets from this presentation, as I was not able to attend.

So what gives? An estimated demand for Elsevier ILLs of 20,785 based on pre-cancellation usage and a realized ILL demand of 4,238 request for Elsevier content is a large discrepancy. There are several possibilities, which aren’t mutually exclusive.

  • Faculty aren’t reading Elsevier content post-cancellation
    • No interest, or solidarity motives
    • They get by with legally available summaries and abstracts (I’d like to believe this does not happen but given that Letrud K, & Hernes S (2019) showed in an analysis of ‘affirmative citation bias’ that indeed many things that are cited are not read in their entirety, I find it plausible.)
  • They somehow substitute other articles for the desired Elsevier content (Thinking about this is difficult because we typically model each article as a unique good which has typically been monopolized by a publisher.)
    • See the abstract theory immediately above
    • They engage in satisficing behavior and therefore read/cite more non-Elsevier content as substitution sources
  • Faculty are reading Elsevier content at similar rates post-cancellation as they were pre-cancellation, via non-library extra-legal means
    • Email
    • Social media
    • Sci-Hub

These are all empirical hypotheses, with varying degrees of difficulty involved in determining what actually is happening. I’m willing to be persuaded about any one of these possibilities, but they got me thinking about the survey that John Travis from Science ran in 2016 about Sci-Hub.

On the social media theory, I note that Reddit’s r/Scholar board did experience a large spike in membership growth post-cancellation but the date 2019-06-12 (502) didn’t correspond to any UC system press releases posted on the web, perhaps it was a day an email circulated? I don’t know. Also, it appears that the metrics site that I use for this count had some problems with their daily count data for much of 2018. So perhaps that spike was related to that stagnation. The total subscriber count did experience an increase in the trend line during 2018, so I am hesitant to rule this out entirely but I would look for the big increase in 2019 if it came from UC faculty. (Or perhaps those who moved to r/Scholar are all very proactive and wanted to get acquainted with the norms of the board prior to losing library access?)

Daily Subscriber Growth

Reddit Metrics data for r/Scholar daily

Total Subscribers

Reddit Metrics data for r/Scholar total

Data for r/Scholar pulled from Reddit Metrics

As for Twitter and #IcanhazPDF, there are a scant number of tweets in 2019 mentioning the UC system and using the hashtag. I do not find that to be indicative of a groundswell of attention to that informal network from people at the UCs.

So, assuming the folks in the UC system are still reading Elsevier content at all, this leaves us with email and Sci-Hub. The email hypothesis is pretty difficult to investigate and Sci-Hub is super easy to use, so my bet is that folks are using it. (Also worth noting is that Sci-Hub was explicitly mentioned in the UC’s Alternative Access to Elsevier Articles documentation.) Along those lines, I think that the data from John Travis’ survey in Science can illuminate this a bit until someone does either traffic analysis (presumably with IP data supplied by Alexandra Elbakyan) or citation analysis of publications coming from UC scholars comparing pre- and post- cancellation rates of citing paywalled Elsevier articles. John kindly provided me with the raw data in 2016 which I used a bit of in my own research. Below I present my number crunching and note the highlights in the wrap up section.


Are there any noteworthy correlations between the variables in the data? This was the first question I asked myself up on seeing that Science had run the survey and the reason I asked John for the raw data.

The data was a mix of nominal and ordinal variables (with one string) which I imported into SPSS for analysis. Checking for normality in SPSS revealed that a majority of the variables failed the test, so running the usual statistics on the data set was not going to work. After spending some time on Wikipedia and the Stats section of Stack Overflow, I determined that Kendall’s Tau was a conservative measure of correlation to proceed with.

Below, we can see the answer to my initial question: not really. The only thing that jumps out is a weak positive correlation of .314 between “Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?” (ordinal: Never = 0, A few times = 1, Daily or weekly = 2) and “Have you obtained a pirated journal article, through Sci-Hub or other means, despite having access to it in some manner via a university library or institutional subscription?” (nominal: No = 0, Yes = 1). That rather lackluster finding was not particularly interesting, so I decided to dig deeper and look at the crosstabs, which are farther below. Perhaps the most interesting finding other than the headline ones pointed out by Science, was that there was not even a weak correlation between age and any of the other variables. A priori I didn’t expect any strong relationships here but the absence of even weak correlation between “Do you think it is wrong to download pirated papers?” and age and “Do you think SciHub will disrupt the traditional science publishing industry?” and age surprised me.


Below I present all the cross tabulations that I ran. Most did not strike me as particularly noteworthy, which is why I only presented a few of them in the presentation I did about guerrilla access for UC Riverside in 2016. But in case others want to dig in here or build on this, I have included tables for all of the variables crossed against “Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?” and “What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?”.

Do you think it is wrong to download pirated papers? * Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often? Crosstabulation

Do you think it is wrong to download pirated papers? * Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often? Crosstabulation
 Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?Total
NeverA few timesDaily or weekly
Do you think it is wrong to download pirated papers?NoCount3742321025389490
% within Do you think it is wrong to download pirated papers?39.4%33.8%26.7%100.0%
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?84.5%89.3%91.4%87.9%
% of Total34.6%29.7%23.5%87.9%
% within Do you think it is wrong to download pirated papers?52.6%29.2%18.2%100.0%
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?15.5%10.7%8.6%12.1%
% of Total6.4%3.5%2.2%12.1%
% within Do you think it is wrong to download pirated papers?41.0%33.3%25.7%100.0%
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%
% of Total41.0%33.3%25.7%100.0%

Have you used other repositories of pirated journal articles, or used the twitter hashtag #IcanhazPDF to obtain a paper. * Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often? Crosstabulation

Have you used other repositories of pirated journal articles, or used the twitter hashtag #IcanhazPDF to obtain a paper. * Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often? Crosstabulation
 Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?Total
NeverA few timesDaily or weekly
Have you used other repositories of pirated journal articles, or used the twitter hashtag #IcanhazPDF to obtain a paper.NoCount3301243818167555
% within Have you used other repositories of pirated journal articles, or used the twitter hashtag #IcanhazPDF to obtain a paper.43.7%32.3%24.0%100.0%
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?74.4%67.9%65.9%70.1%
% of Total30.6%22.6%16.8%70.1%
% within Have you used other repositories of pirated journal articles, or used the twitter hashtag #IcanhazPDF to obtain a paper.31.4%37.1%31.5%100.0%
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?17.2%25.1%27.8%22.5%
% of Total7.1%8.4%7.1%22.5%
Not applicableCount373250174797
% within Have you used other repositories of pirated journal articles, or used the twitter hashtag #IcanhazPDF to obtain a paper.46.8%31.4%21.8%100.0%
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?8.4%7.0%6.3%7.4%
% of Total3.5%2.3%1.6%7.4%
% within Have you used other repositories of pirated journal articles, or used the twitter hashtag #IcanhazPDF to obtain a paper.41.1%33.3%25.6%100.0%
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%
% of Total41.1%33.3%25.6%100.0%

Have you obtained a pirated journal article, through Sci-Hub or other means, despite having access to it in some manner via a university library or institutional subscription? * Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often? Crosstabulation

Have you obtained a pirated journal article, through Sci-Hub or other means, despite having access to it in some manner via a university library or institutional subscription? * Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often? Crosstabulation
 Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?Total
NeverA few timesDaily or weekly
Have you obtained a pirated journal article, through Sci-Hub or other means, despite having access to it in some manner via a university library or institutional subscription?NoCount3605197212056782
% within Have you obtained a pirated journal article, through Sci-Hub or other means, despite having access to it in some manner via a university library or institutional subscription?53.2%29.1%17.8%100.0%
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?81.9%55.1%43.7%63.1%
% of Total33.6%18.4%11.2%63.1%
% within Have you obtained a pirated journal article, through Sci-Hub or other means, despite having access to it in some manner via a university library or institutional subscription?20.2%40.6%39.2%100.0%
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?18.1%44.9%56.3%36.9%
% of Total7.4%15.0%14.5%36.9%
% within Have you obtained a pirated journal article, through Sci-Hub or other means, despite having access to it in some manner via a university library or institutional subscription?41.0%33.3%25.7%100.0%
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%
% of Total41.0%33.3%25.7%100.0%

What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories? * Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often? Crosstabulation

What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories? * Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often? Crosstabulation
 Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?Total
NeverA few timesDaily or weekly
What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?Other (please specify)Count528198155881
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?59.9%22.5%17.6%100.0%
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?15.0%5.5%5.6%8.9%
% of Total5.4%2.0%1.6%8.9%
I don’t have any access to the papersCount1348204316405031
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?26.8%40.6%32.6%100.0%
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?38.3%57.1%59.2%51.0%
% of Total13.7%20.7%16.6%51.0%
Convenience--It’s easier to use than the authentication systems provided by the publishers or my librariesCount4886405401668
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?29.3%38.4%32.4%100.0%
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?13.9%17.9%19.5%16.9%
% of Total4.9%6.5%5.5%16.9%
I object to the profits publishers make off academicsCount11517004352286
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?50.3%30.6%19.0%100.0%
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?32.7%19.5%15.7%23.2%
% of Total11.7%7.1%4.4%23.2%
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?35.6%36.3%28.1%100.0%
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%
% of Total35.6%36.3%28.1%100.0%

Do you think SciHub will disrupt the traditional science publishing industry? * Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often? Crosstabulation

Do you think SciHub will disrupt the traditional science publishing industry? * Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often? Crosstabulation
 Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?Total
NeverA few timesDaily or weekly
Do you think SciHub will disrupt the traditional science publishing industry?NoCount1484139711664047
% within Do you think SciHub will disrupt the traditional science publishing industry?36.7%34.5%28.8%100.0%
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?34.0%39.0%42.4%37.8%
% of Total13.9%13.1%10.9%37.8%
% within Do you think SciHub will disrupt the traditional science publishing industry?43.3%32.8%23.9%100.0%
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?66.0%61.0%57.6%62.2%
% of Total26.9%20.4%14.8%62.2%
% within Do you think SciHub will disrupt the traditional science publishing industry?40.8%33.5%25.7%100.0%
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%
% of Total40.8%33.5%25.7%100.0%

How old are you? * Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often? Crosstabulation

How old are you? * Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often? Crosstabulation
 Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?Total
NeverA few timesDaily or weekly
How old are you?25 and underCount10969577622815
% within How old are you?38.9%34.0%27.1%100.0%
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?24.9%26.6%27.5%26.1%
% of Total10.2%8.9%7.1%26.1%
% within How old are you?35.9%34.6%29.4%100.0%
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?40.8%48.2%53.1%46.4%
% of Total16.7%16.1%13.7%46.4%
% within How old are you?47.8%32.3%19.9%100.0%
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?22.9%18.9%15.1%19.5%
% of Total9.4%6.3%3.9%19.5%
51 or olderCount502226120848
% within How old are you?59.2%26.7%14.2%100.0%
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?11.4%6.3%4.3%7.9%
% of Total4.7%2.1%1.1%7.9%
% within How old are you?40.9%33.4%25.7%100.0%
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%
% of Total40.9%33.4%25.7%100.0%

Do you think it is wrong to download pirated papers? * What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories? Crosstabulation

Do you think it is wrong to download pirated papers? * What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories? Crosstabulation
 What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?Total
Other (please specify)I don’t have any access to the papersConvenience--It’s easier to use than the authentication systems provided by the publishers or my librariesI object to the profits publishers make off academics
Do you think it is wrong to download pirated papers?NoCount6804454148521778796
% within Do you think it is wrong to download pirated papers?7.7%50.6%16.9%24.7%100.0%
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?77.7%88.8%89.3%95.4%89.4%
% of Total6.9%45.3%15.1%22.1%89.4%
% within Do you think it is wrong to download pirated papers?18.7%54.1%17.1%10.1%100.0%
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?22.3%11.2%10.7%4.6%10.6%
% of Total2.0%5.7%1.8%1.1%10.6%
% within Do you think it is wrong to download pirated papers?8.9%51.0%16.9%23.2%100.0%
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%
% of Total8.9%51.0%16.9%23.2%100.0%

Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often? * What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories? Crosstabulation

Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often? * What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories? Crosstabulation
 What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?Total
Other (please specify)I don’t have any access to the papersConvenience--It’s easier to use than the authentication systems provided by the publishers or my librariesI object to the profits publishers make off academics
Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?NeverCount528134848811513515
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?15.0%38.3%13.9%32.7%100.0%
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?59.9%26.8%29.3%50.3%35.6%
% of Total5.4%13.7%4.9%11.7%35.6%
A few timesCount19820436407003581
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?5.5%57.1%17.9%19.5%100.0%
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?22.5%40.6%38.4%30.6%36.3%
% of Total2.0%20.7%6.5%7.1%36.3%
Daily or weeklyCount15516405404352770
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?5.6%59.2%19.5%15.7%100.0%
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?17.6%32.6%32.4%19.0%28.1%
% of Total1.6%16.6%5.5%4.4%28.1%
% within Have you used Sci-Hub, and if so, how often?8.9%51.0%16.9%23.2%100.0%
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%
% of Total8.9%51.0%16.9%23.2%100.0%

Have you used other repositories of pirated journal articles, or used the twitter hashtag #IcanhazPDF to obtain a paper. * What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories? Crosstabulation

Have you used other repositories of pirated journal articles, or used the twitter hashtag #IcanhazPDF to obtain a paper. * What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories? Crosstabulation
 What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?Total
Other (please specify)I don’t have any access to the papersConvenience--It’s easier to use than the authentication systems provided by the publishers or my librariesI object to the profits publishers make off academics
Have you used other repositories of pirated journal articles, or used the twitter hashtag #IcanhazPDF to obtain a paper.NoCount6693372105515756671
% within Have you used other repositories of pirated journal articles, or used the twitter hashtag #IcanhazPDF to obtain a paper.10.0%50.5%15.8%23.6%100.0%
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?76.5%67.3%63.4%69.0%67.9%
% of Total6.8%34.3%10.7%16.0%67.9%
% within Have you used other repositories of pirated journal articles, or used the twitter hashtag #IcanhazPDF to obtain a paper.5.3%54.1%19.7%20.9%100.0%
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?14.6%26.0%28.6%22.0%24.5%
% of Total1.3%13.2%4.8%5.1%24.5%
Not applicableCount77337133205752
% within Have you used other repositories of pirated journal articles, or used the twitter hashtag #IcanhazPDF to obtain a paper.10.2%44.8%17.7%27.3%100.0%
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?8.8%6.7%8.0%9.0%7.7%
% of Total0.8%3.4%1.4%2.1%7.7%
% within Have you used other repositories of pirated journal articles, or used the twitter hashtag #IcanhazPDF to obtain a paper.8.9%51.0%16.9%23.2%100.0%
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%
% of Total8.9%51.0%16.9%23.2%100.0%

Have you obtained a pirated journal article, through Sci-Hub or other means, despite having access to it in some manner via a university library or institutional subscription? * What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories? Crosstabulation

Have you obtained a pirated journal article, through Sci-Hub or other means, despite having access to it in some manner via a university library or institutional subscription? * What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories? Crosstabulation
 What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?Total
Other (please specify)I don’t have any access to the papersConvenience--It’s easier to use than the authentication systems provided by the publishers or my librariesI object to the profits publishers make off academics
Have you obtained a pirated journal article, through Sci-Hub or other means, despite having access to it in some manner via a university library or institutional subscription?NoCount656360231513125885
% within Have you obtained a pirated journal article, through Sci-Hub or other means, despite having access to it in some manner via a university library or institutional subscription?11.1%61.2%5.4%22.3%100.0%
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?74.7%71.9%19.0%57.9%60.0%
% of Total6.7%36.7%3.2%13.4%60.0%
% within Have you obtained a pirated journal article, through Sci-Hub or other means, despite having access to it in some manner via a university library or institutional subscription?5.7%35.9%34.2%24.3%100.0%
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?25.3%28.1%81.0%42.1%40.0%
% of Total2.3%14.4%13.7%9.7%40.0%
% within Have you obtained a pirated journal article, through Sci-Hub or other means, despite having access to it in some manner via a university library or institutional subscription?8.9%51.1%16.9%23.1%100.0%
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%
% of Total8.9%51.1%16.9%23.1%100.0%

Do you think SciHub will disrupt the traditional science publishing industry? * What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories? Crosstabulation

Do you think SciHub will disrupt the traditional science publishing industry? * What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories? Crosstabulation
 What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?Total
Other (please specify)I don’t have any access to the papersConvenience--It’s easier to use than the authentication systems provided by the publishers or my librariesI object to the profits publishers make off academics
Do you think SciHub will disrupt the traditional science publishing industry?NoCount30121646396493753
% within Do you think SciHub will disrupt the traditional science publishing industry?8.0%57.7%17.0%17.3%100.0%
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?34.7%43.3%38.7%28.5%38.3%
% of Total3.1%22.1%6.5%6.6%38.3%
% within Do you think SciHub will disrupt the traditional science publishing industry?9.4%46.9%16.8%26.9%100.0%
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?65.3%56.7%61.3%71.5%61.7%
% of Total5.8%29.0%10.3%16.6%61.7%
% within Do you think SciHub will disrupt the traditional science publishing industry?8.8%51.1%16.9%23.2%100.0%
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%
% of Total8.8%51.1%16.9%23.2%100.0%

How old are you? * What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories? Crosstabulation

How old are you? * What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories? Crosstabulation
 What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?Total
Other (please specify)I don’t have any access to the papersConvenience--It’s easier to use than the authentication systems provided by the publishers or my librariesI object to the profits publishers make off academics
How old are you?25 and underCount18113245355752615
% within How old are you?6.9%50.6%20.5%22.0%100.0%
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?20.8%26.3%32.3%25.2%26.6%
% of Total1.8%13.5%5.4%5.8%26.6%
% within How old are you?7.2%54.0%16.4%22.4%100.0%
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?38.5%50.1%46.0%45.8%47.4%
% of Total3.4%25.6%7.7%10.6%47.4%
% within How old are you?11.6%47.5%15.3%25.6%100.0%
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?24.9%17.7%17.3%21.0%19.1%
% of Total2.2%9.1%2.9%4.9%19.1%
51 or olderCount13829373182686
% within How old are you?20.1%42.7%10.6%26.5%100.0%
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?15.8%5.8%4.4%8.0%7.0%
% of Total1.4%3.0%0.7%1.9%7.0%
% within How old are you?8.9%51.1%16.8%23.2%100.0%
% within What’s the primary reason you use Sci-Hub or other pirated article repositories?100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%
% of Total8.9%51.1%16.8%23.2%100.0%

Wrap up

The first thing to say is that obviously the Science survey and UC faculty are two different populations and so we shouldn’t extrapolate the findings from the one to the other. With that said, my instinct is to assume that the dedicated Sci-Hub users motivated by distaste of commercial publishers were probably already using it prior to the Elsevier cancellation (and these people are real though small in number as Carolyn Gardner and I demonstrated here ). So, knowing that there weren’t any strong correlates of Sci-Hub use within the survey, and with the additional assumption that the dedicated scholcommies were already users, it seems the place to look in the crosstabs is at the ‘I don’t have any access to the papers’ and the ‘Convenience–It’s easier to use than the authentication systems provided by the publishers or my libraries’ responses. With cancellation, UC Faculty (and possibly CSU Faculty soon) are de facto dropped into the ‘I don’t have any access to the papers’ category - the overwhelming reason for people to use Sci-Hub. The ‘Convenience–It’s easier to use than the authentication systems provided by the publishers or my libraries’ question did not address ILL so we actually should not use it to inform speculation about the discrepancy in the UC ILL figures. (Though in unpublished raw data from the paper with Carolyn Gardner linked above it was very clear that some scholars are unhappy with the ILL systems their libraries provide.)

Since we can apparently rule out a big surge in social media providing access post-cancellation, and since the UC ILL figures are much lower than anticipated, if UC faculty are continuing to cite Elsevier publications in their work (a fact which remains to be demonstrated), there seem to be only 2 possibilities:

  • They somehow “substitute” for the desired Elsevier content
  • They are using Sci-Hub

I’m hoping that someone will do empirical work on citation patters of UC faculty post-cancellation. I think we could learn a lot about both the role libraries can play in a world where Sci-Hub exists and the information seeking and use behavior of scholars under a known constraint of not having easy access to content from the world’s largest scientific publisher.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I did not compliment the many people from the UC system and CDL who produced the Negotiating with scholarly journal publishers toolkit. I know that several people in the CSU Libraries are poring over it right now. Kudos!

Gabriel Gardner’s notes from LibIT/STIM Day at the CSU ULMS Summer Meeting


Christina Hennesey welcome

172 people attending CSU Palooza at some point over the 3 days.

CSUN Dean Opening Remarks

Mark Stover so proud that CSUN hosting first Palooza that is not at the CO. Hopes that this will become a regular thing where we can all share our practices together.
He has long recognized the importance of technology to library work and believes it will continue to be essential and ubiquitous. Librarians simply cannot afford to let their technological literacy deteriorate or stagnate.
Noted that the ‘serials crisis’ has been going on for 30 years, still a crises, no end in sight except for more widespread adoption of Open access and more sustainable infrastructure for publishing.

Deans’ Panel

Karen Schneider, Patrick Newel, Emily Bonney, Rod Rodriguez
Where does money come from? Multiple sources, every campus does it differently
Money solves almost all problems, but funding is political and all politics is local. Very important for library to library to play politics.
Every librarian is an ambassador for the library on campus - how you behave and are perceived by peers on campus can directly impact funding.
Partnerships - on campus, out of silos if necessary - are crucial. Stamping your foot and pouting does not work, some Deans know from experience. Bring solutions to campus, not demands. Every entity on campus ‘demands’, not every one brings solutions and partnerships.
At Fullerton library budget has been cut or stayed flat every year for 15 years.
Communication is essential, the library and our budget should not be a black box. Costs of operation when transparent can help convince others on campus of problems and situation.
Cultivating relationships with the Academic Senate and ASI is important - show our relevance.
Frame around the students - they are the #1 priority.


  • At Chico are student lending fees separate from tuition, some campuses don’t get student success fee money
  • how does centralized vs. in house library IT affect how you allocate time and money? At Fullerton they have a ‘library IT team’ that is part of central IT and reports to IT but consults with library dean - means library resources aren’t devoted to IP personnel. Stanislaus has centralized IT and 2 dedicated local people which they need for survival since service from central IT is not very fast. At Chico library reported to IT, makes it difficult to do NEW projects since IT don’t have library mindset and aren’t interested in learning on their own what library does and needs. When PeopleSoft came to Fresno many years ago, the PROVOST and IT wanted PeopleSoft to run the catalog - IT people think because they know computers they can do almost all library stuff, very hubristic.
  • Comment from East Bay that they have long had a hostile relationship with IT which keeps trying to take over work done by their library.
  • With new EO 1071, many new programs coming down waterfall but not necessarily funded appropriately. It is important for libraries to insert themselves into new program committees so that they can raise concerns. What we in the CSU need is to do a study about what programs/majors are offered at majority of CSU campuses and to have ECC funding align with the programs offered.
  • Do any libraries get funding from extended Ed to offset costs of dealing with their patrons? At Fullerton and Sonoma: Yes.
  • Any conversations going about system-wide support for OA? UC faculty don’t have to worry about funding to make their articles OA, we in the CSU need a centralized system like theirs. But there is a HUGE tension between asking for more funding for electronic resources while simultaneously asking for money to work on a different publishing model: Nascent discussion at COLD.

Building a dynamic website events display using LibCal RSS/XML and the Drupal 8 Aggregator

11:15 AM
Christian Ward
Known issues: many but they are documented online
In Drupal 7 there was a great ‘feeds’ module that worked great. In Drupal 8 a lot of those features are native, but not as robust. You have an RSS/Atom feed somewhere that you want to bring in to Drupal.
LibCal RSS, SacState recently started using LibCal to manage events. One single point of entry for public events that gets pushed out to external systems - signs, website, etc.
Drupal 8 Issues: doesn’t delete items before updating, only looks for new, results in phantom items that can’t be managed, deletion based on pubDate, if pubDate is null date epoch returned, no way to configure namespace fields
LibCal RSS issues: does not provide either feed or item level pubDate, all the good important metadata is put into namespace fields
Community suggestions to fix these issues:
import XML feed via the migrate module (very complicated setup)
Final solution: create a intermediate custom script that formats LibCal RSS feed
Drupal points to intermediate custom script, script harvests LibCal RSS
Data is refreshed every time Aggregator chron runs

Step 1: install and configure feed PHP script to a directory that Drupal can access, modify libcal-feed.php to point to LibCal RSS
Step 2: point the Drupal Aggregator to the intermediate libcal-feed.php script URL,
Step 3: create and configure view

View block Aggregator feed items; add feed item fields Title and Description; add filter (posted >= 12 hrs); add sort (posted on asc); make sure there is a null results display so that when there are no events in the RSS feed it doesn’t break display of Drupal page
Next Steps

  • Not great that the intermediate script has to use an intermediate application server
  • Ideally would be a Drupal module, living with the Drupal environment
    Need to address web accessibility standards to add Aria-label for duplicate event titles (so that screen reader understands they are unique items)
    Christian will share libcal-feed.php code on request.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) & Digital Initiatives

1:00 PM
Elizabeth Altman
CSUN used to have file and print server with extra drive hosted locally
They hosted special collections (SC/A) digital objects (and other things)
It was so full that backup was impossible, various problems with versioning and workflows
AWS cloud is hosted, resilient, backed up
Challenge: needed to move to AWS and preserve SC/A processing existing workflows as much as possible and work with existing campus tools
New hosting system needed to be: inexpensive, secure, automated, sustainable, distributed control
AWS components used: amazon glacier, cloudberry backup (3rd party product) S3 storage buckets, storage gateway, lambda, CloudWatch events, local Windows server for automated backup jobs
New preservation copy workflow: saved to a particular drive, Cloudberry backup running on local Windows server automatically pushes things saved to AWS Glacier
Lambda rules are needed to clear cache and reinstate components of S3 buckets
Now paying ~$30/month to store 7 terabytes, much cheaper than doing it locally.
Much more automation than previous local systems
S3 buckets and Amazon Glacier file size limit is 5TB no problem with that
Unexpected cost: private cloud, need to maintain connections between various components is $74/month
New challenges:
Workflows must be rigorously defined and followed
Nontrivial learning curve to AWS and other software
Items preserved are high quality -files- not the Description metadata associated with those files. development would be required to preserve files and metadata simultaneously using this system
Other problem: Library made deal and contract with AWS first, then CSUN campus inked a deal and forced library onto their contract and systems, which required setting up things all over again.

Innovative Use of Assistive Technology to serve users with/without disabilities

2:00 PM
Wei Ma and Cristina Springfield
What things are covered by AT? we should not just account for the ‘traditional’ ones but also hidden ones like cognitive learning
“Access is Love” a recommended project (social media hashtag #accessislove)
How should we think about disabilities: previously a medical definition, we should adopt a cultural definition
Goal #1: compliance, that which is legally obligated
Traditional service model: a specialized office takes the lead that has the equipment, faculty not widely trained, focus is on compliance
Goal #2: expand access so accessibility is possible anytime anywhere (as much as possible)
Barriers: administrative burden, stigma, costs born by students to obtain formal disabled status, historically disability work has been divorced from other ‘diversity’ work on campuses
Goal #3: serve those not typically targeted by traditional disability service model
Many things originally implemented as so called ‘accommodations’ actually benefit everyone e.g. automatic door openers, wheelchair ramps, gender neutral bathrooms
Work on this at DH: they didn’t have in the library specialized knowledge or funding for this so… they collaborated with university IT and campus student disability services center - got grant to purchase special hardware and software. SDRC didn’t have space for hardware so library housed it with SDRC paying for license fees and providing training on the software; campus IT installs software and hardware
Now at DH lib they have a wonderful room that can meet almost any student needs but students need to physically go visit it. Not ideal they wanted to get it out to everyone
Project 1: text-to-speech they got a web-based software for this and are promoting it heavily
Project 2: speech-to-text windows 10 and MacOS X have built in speech recognition features, DH put up a LibAnswers FAQ on how students can use those, Google also has a cloud Speech-to-text. So, no purchase by library necessary but they promote helpful ubiquitous features students might not know about.
Made a LibGuide for all disability services on campus with very detailed instructions on how to use each product
They are also doing a big social media push for all their accessibility offerings
Further ideas: integrate into infolit instruction? insert a text-to-speech button on ereserves
Q&A Reflection/Share Out
What about ATI? Whole CSU is supposed to move to that. Every campus will have a steering committee or individual ‘champion’, every library needs to work on this. ATI requirements are more strict than 508 rules.

NOTE: LibCal event registration form contains a WebAIM error, empty button, need to report to Springshare https://csulb.libcal.com/event/5638031
LibAnswers homepage (and individual FAQ entries) has 4 empty link errors, need to investigate: https://csulb.libanswers.com/
4 errors on the Primo Advanced Search page

Data Visualizations: How to Communicate you Library’s Data

3:15 PM
Jenny Wong-Welch
What is it: an umbrella term including graphs, charts, mindmaps, etc.
Uses: instruction - mindmaps; digital humanities - metadata tags; marketing the library, our spaces, our resources, our services; assessment - heatmaps, charts to understand usage patterns
Use data viz in your own research: collection analysis, citation analysis, space usage,
It can take a lot of work to make a pretty picture: very messy process:
Acquire: we have mountains of data though it is often in various areas and hard to get and aggregate together

NOTE: could add a ‘data/statistics’ type tag to the LibGuides A-Z filter list

Examine: understand the data you have, qualitative v quantitative
Parse and Filter: almost all data will require some filtering to produce a visualization that makes sense, document all steps
Basic Traditional Tools:

  • excel
  • openrefine
  • Python/R

Data mining models:

  • association
  • clustering
  • classification
  • regression

Format/process: in SDSUs makerspace they put all documentation in GitHub
3 stages of understanding: Perceiving, interpreting, comprehending
Don’t lie with data: many things can’t be compared truthfully in graphs
Context behind data is crucial
Certain types of data lend themselves to certain types of visualization

Fancier Tools:

Meeting recap

4:15 PM

  • STIM Ron Rodriguez from Stanislaus income Chair, there are 2 openings
  • Schol Comm, new committee, Patrick Newell Chair, Mark Stover vice chair, goals: make a copyright first responders curriculum, make a guide to centralize information for CSU about scholcomm, run various surveys to gauge interest in possible initiatives, need to discuss researcher profile systems in conjunction with STIM and various campus ORSP offices,
  • ScholarWorks Kevin Cloud: move from Multiple instance approach with D-Space to single instance approach for all 23 campuses on Hyrax/Samvera, there are now SW interest groups of volunteers who are working on issues identified by a COLD report about repository needs

ULMS Summer Meeting


Welcome from Mark Stover

9:45 AM
Today is the biggest crowd yet. We have such a wealth of knowledge in the system and events like this let us share it. Hopefully everyone will come away with important information today.
The behind the scenes work that people here do is essential, though we often do not get the praise and attention that others in the library do. Mark wants everyone to know they are valued! Various housekeeping notes.

John Wenzler CSUEB, chair of the COLD ULMS steering committee; thanks to the steering committee and Brandon Dudley who organized this event and made COLD aware of the importance of these events. We need to use this opportunity to build connections across campuses.

Discovery Committee meeting

10:00 AM
We need to find a new chair - Ryan Schwab stepping down to move to UCSC. Andrew Carlos fell on this sword.

NOTE: need to email out the ELUNA presentation about Primo Analytics problems to the list because this was a Disco task force item to be done

Task force discussion - DW says we probably don’t need a discovery person on the norm rules task force; discussion
At Sac State Christian has set up Google site search to track every individual Primo search

NOTE: I am Vice Chair (by default since the other members are cycling off after this year)

We need CSU discovery drop in sessions where campuses that need help can come
Christian suggests we need a way for programmers to work together on technical issues that doesn’t place more burden on Dave and Zach. Need more of an open sharing environment - have a feature on Confluence where anyone can suggest features? Have a disco forum about ‘the lay of the land’ and how people can contribute (github pull requests, etc.)

If You Build it, Will They Come? Natural Experiments with Springshare’s Proactive Chat Reference

11:30 AM
Me, Joanna Kimmitt, Mike DeMars
My presentation about our and Dominguez Hills’ experience with pop-up chat.
Unfortunately (fortunately?) I forgot to hit the record button so it is lost to the sands of time.

Primo Usability With Diverse Populations in Mind

1:45 PM
Andrew Carlos & Lee Adams
When you look up ‘EDI’ in LISTA you don’t get things about diversity. A lot of the conversation about equity in libraries does not permeate the literature, it takes place in blogs, live presentations, etc.
Word choice is very important when thinking about this population and how they will relate to library systems, go for lowest common denominator universal understanding as much as possible
Lots of Primo UX literature is focused on Classic UI, need more studies on NUI
At East Bay they did 2 focus groups, got IRB, 7 students each group, incentivized with pizza and battery pack, recorded the focus groups then had them professionally transcribed - only after trying to use automation transcription which failed
Expect students to flake out and not attend testing sessions they signed up for…
Zoom sessions had a lot of background noise - making transcription expensive
Poll of librarians shows that we think the students think it is more intimidating than they actually do. They seem to just use it!
Need to test Primo with JAWS, supposedly hard to stop reader at search box
English as second language speakers report that lots of jargon in Primo is not easily understandable

CSU GetIt Menu Update

3:15 PM
David Walker & Zach Williams
David & Zach’s plans to fix default GetIt and ViewIt menus
Some central package changes coming before the beginning of Fall semester:

  • moving the sendTo menu
  • removing the full record sidebar jump links

NOTE: I need to setup authentication in sandbox
change owner profile to your campus
then setup login profiles - an local ALMA Internal profile will be easy to setup and allow testing.

Wrap-up speech cancelled so we could get on the road

Notes from Ex Libris Users of North America 2019

Atlanta, GA


From Tuesday April 30 through Saturday May 4, I attended the 2019 meeting and conference of Ex Libris Users of North America (ELUNA), which was held at the Hilton Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. I did so in order to present on some co-authored scholarship that I have been directing with some other colleagues in the CSU and to ensure that I was aware of the most up-to-date information about the Primo discovery software. Below are my session notes, which are of varying length depending upon how informative I found each session. ELUNA is (theoretically) organized in ‘tracks’ so that sessions pertaining to the same or similar products are spread out over the course of each day and that people interested in only one aspect of Ex Libris’ products, such as Primo, can absorb all the relevant content; however the scheduling of the Primo track was definitely sub-optimal this year so I was forced to make some hard choices about which sessions to attend. Fortunately, I was able to download all the relevant slideshow files for later review. They are located at: X:\Gabriel\ELUNA2019\ELUNA_Primo_Content\

If you are interested, find my (often cryptic) notes below with the detailed session descriptions. Let me know if you have any questions.



Nice aquarium, larger than ours in Long Beach, at least prior to the recent renovations there. My co-presenters and I had not had the opportunity to practice our presentation prior to the conference so after hitting the open bar we went over our slides.



Opening session focused on big data and AI and how it is spreading rapidly and being adopted by some libraries already. Nothing groundbreaking but everyone should be paying attention to this trend.


They think Alma has collected enough data that they can now use it to improve the product based on user behavior. To that end they have introduced an artificial intelligence assistant called “Dara”. More on that later.

Lots of hype about 4th industrial revolution, shout-outs to campuses that are full stack Ex Libris product users. Announced new “provider zone”, similar to Community Zone, where publishers can improve their metadata in the Central Index and for basic bib records.

Pledges to increase transparency in their R&D process. They have hired 20 new people in their “customer success” department - handling library reported problems. On average 30% of every new software release of Alma and Primo are improvements that come from the Ex Libris Idea Exchange. It really is important for people to vote on there. https://ideas.exlibrisgroup.com/

Coming soon: “App Center” a collection of extensions and on-platform apps that can be easily added to Alma/Primo, easier implementation that the existing Developers Network. Introduced yet another new product in their never-ending quest to monopolize all things related to libraries: Rialto, which basically does the same things as GOBI.


AI, Google, has deep learning image searching that can basically fine pictures of anything in anything now, neat for art but bad way to go about data analysis.

Big data is actually a giant mess; lots of implicit bias in data collection that can be very hard to detect if you didn’t collect the data, which is the situation libraries are in almost all the time. So many algorithms have high false positives and high false negative rates but we often focus on the accuracy and have a false sense of how well things based on big data work.

Garbage in, garbage out you can’t mine gold out of crappy data - e.g. Primo Analytics sign-in data is a binary variable when actually people will do things in a session before they sign in so calculations based on this will be inaccurate.

Data collection should be intentional - we need this for X purpose, don’t try to hoover up everything because you will probably do it poorly and won’t be able to get the insights that you want.

We should apply GDPR to everyone. Personally identifiable information is a hot potato, risky in case of hack, we should collect with DATA MINIMIZATION in mind. In line with GDPR, we must be transparent - need a privacy policy that can be easily found which lists all the data collected. As libraries we should be better than Silicon Valley et al.

No amount of data will get you out of talking to people - data never speak for themselves. Self-reported data is well known to be somewhat or very inaccurate, so you can’t rely on that just alone. You MUST use mixed methods to accurately understand the world. A la Marie Kondo, ask: does this data spark insight? If it doesn’t and contains possible PII then get rid of it.

Talking to people can be hard what does she recommend? - Guerilla usability testing, mini-ethnographic observation, pop-up focus groups.


What is value stream? A term from lean methodology, a focus on creating more “value” with same or fewer resources. The value stream represents all the things we do to create value for our uses.

At Loyola Chicago they have 1 instance of Alma/Primo but 4 libraries /campuses, requires a lot of coordination and training.
They did a user roles (i.e. permissions) project to help staff understand their roles in serving end users. Determined the types of profiles they needed to create based on position descriptions then delete all current roles and reassign them based on their analysis of the workflows and position descriptions. This project has streamlined onboarding of new staff which happened recently for them and they also discovered that there was a lot of role/permission misalignment in many existing staff capabilities.

Note: Role Area and Role Parameter is not queryable in Alma Analytics

The dilemma: have lots of very specific profiles? Or fewer but more inclusive and capable profiles? They went with the latter option. Is it actually necessary to tailor permissions so granularly and securely? They think risk of giving a couple people additional capabilities as part of a role template outweighs the granular adjustment of permissions for each person. Pretty disappointed in this session since it was billed as having relevance to Primo but didn’t.


  • Did they get any pushback from staff who now had more permissions and capabilities about how since they had more abilities now they might be asked to do more work, possibly outside their job description? Not yet. They have very collaborative environment and staff are not afraid to talk to management.


My session. It was well-attended.


ExL advice for maintaining eresources. Need to monitor listservs, check knowledge center when there is an issue, review configuration options, and share information widely internally. Use the proper escalation path (found in the slides) to bump salesforce cases up if not getting support needed.
Noted that the resource recommender has many open fields for customization - you can recommend basically anything, we don’t use this at LB nearly as much as we could. Noted that the bX recommendation system uses global data from all Primo users, no data source customization.

All workflows should be documented in case someone is hit by a bus or leaves - note: I have not done this at CSULB.


Dara is an AI designed to help libraries find better workflows that might not be obvious to them.
Yet another new product is on the way! - unnamed but is about resource sharing and apparently will compete with ILLiad/Tipasa.

Big deal the Summon Index and Primo Central Index will be merging. This will affect amount of content available to us and material types. Details here: https://knowledge.exlibrisgroup.com/Primo/Knowledge_Articles/The_Ex_Libris_Central_Discovery_Index_(CDI)_%E2%80%93_An_Overview We will be getting moved to the new metadata stream in the first half of 2020.


All public facing LibApps products can integrate with Alma/Primo in some fashion.

How to get Libgudies into Primo - DO NOT use the method recommended by Northwestern librarians on the Ex Libris developers network - instead do Libguides > tools > data export > use the OAI link. With the LG OAI link, go to PBO and use the OAI splitter, use pipes to pull the content, three pipes: full harvest, delete, and update. Use the scheduler to run them automatically. Some normalization may be required.
Recommended to hide display of publication date of all LA content in Primo since it grabs the originally published date, not the most recent updated date.

If you assign different dc.type values to the LG content e.g. course guide or research guide, then that is what displays as “material type” in Primo.

Other method to get LG content into Primo is recourse recommender. Can do either of these for e-reserves, can do it for the databases A-Z records.

Libanswers doesn’t have OAI support but does have an API. Lots of libraries are using a dedicated Libanswers queue to handle primo problems reports, contact Ryan McNally at Northeastern University for details.

LibInsight is COUNTER5 and SUSHUI compliant, can ingest Alma circ and e-resource usage data.



With APIs there is actually no reason to use webforms to talk to ILLiad anymore. They are using the TAGS section in Primo to build their customization, TAGS is a Primo directive that appears on every type ad view of primo pages.

Design principles: if you make requesting easier people will do it more, all the data needed to plac requests is in Primo already, needs to meet accessibility requirements, keeping users in the same application simplifies cognitive load and UX. They knew from google analytics that after people placed requests on the ILLiad form, they usually don’t go back to Primo. But they want people to stay on primo and continue to discover things. impressive demo

From UX studies we know that motion on a page equates to work happening for end users so they wanted something to refresh.
They have a script that populates a database table in between Primo and ILLiad so that requests from Primo go to the intermediate table then later get sent to ILLiad at 5 minute intervals. This allows for requests to be placed from Primo even if ILLiad is down/offline. The end user always sees a message that the request is placed (the request will actually be placed a bit later) unless the intermediate database goes down which it hasn’t.

Since implementing this new system, their ILLiad requests have increased 130%. They now have a little problem with being overloaded with returns but that is a good problem to have.

The code cannot accommodate multi-volume items, they have not figured a way to deal with that.


  • Do all requests go into ILLiad? Yes.
  • What about new users getting ILLiad accounts? They have a patron load into ILLiad
  • Is their ILLiad locally hosted or cloud and does it matter? It doesn’t matter as long as the ILLiad version has the API.
  • Can this system accommodate users who aren’t in the LDAP/SSO system? NO, to use this, everyone must be in one centralized authentication system.
  • How long do they keep the data in that middle level database table? They clear it out at the beginning of every semester.
  • Where do patrons go to manage the requests? Right now they have to go into ILLiad to cancel requests. But there is a plugin developed by Orbis Cascade (MyILL) that lets the MyAccount area in Primo talk to ILLiad and that is the next step in this project.


Last year ELUNA 2018 people at WSU noted there were some errors in the Zero search results stuff from primo analytics. These presenters pressed on and did literature review and dove into data to categorize zero search results.

They found that they were getting a lot of database name searches in primo so they turned on the resource recommender.

There are searches that show up in the PA that look good, was PCI down? Was Alma offline? No way to know given the PA data because there aren’t full timestamps, only Date indicator.

Many libraries have reported that when they moved from old primo to NUI the numbers (raw number) of zero search results counts decline dramatically - no one has been able to really explain this, Ex Libris has been asked and don’t have an explanation. At UCO they saw big drop moving to NUI and even further decline in number of zero search results queries after turning on the resource recommender.

Categories of zero search hits:

  • Boolean errors
  • spelling/typographical errors
  • nonsense queries
  • library services queries

Came up with the idea of using JavaScript to reformat queries so that they would get results e.g. if someone searched a DOI URL, strip out everything but the actual DOI. Code used is up online. With their new JS implementation - which is on their homepage, not inside Primo - they did see a further decline in number of zero search results. Future plans: parse ISBNs, handle punctuation, implement within Primo proper.


We are definitely in a hype cycle for AI now. What even is AI? Machine learning at present. How can machine learning be brought into libraries? The standards for content delivery are set by silicon valley/amazon etc. now. We might not like it but that is just the world we live in now and libraries need to keep up.

ExL ran a survey about tech adoption and found customers are already thinking very forwardly, though a minority thought machine learning would be implemented in their library in next 10 years. Big data - one of the big benefits of moving to the cloud is that ExL can aggregate libraries data and mine it for insights across all their customers, which was previously siloed and stored locally. ExL anonymizes all data but even so, there are clear trends that can be seen, already using this stuff to power the bX recommender - see ExL whitepaper: http://pages.exlibrisgroup.com/alma-ai-whitepaper-download

New AI tool is Dara, Data Analysis Recommendation Assistant to speed up work in Alma and reduce repetitive tasks. DARA is not trying to do anything that couldn’t already be done by people manually already, but it lowers the bar, it brings superuser knowledge to anyone and does it with much fewer clicks. Through machine learning deduping, DARA can tell when certain libraries are not doing things as efficiently as other libraries.

note make sure we are doing ‘real time acquisitions’

DARAs recommendations are available in Alma in a task list format, they will only display to users who have the permissions/roles levels high enough to actually implement the recommendation change. Coming DARA recommendations: if no item available - prompt for a resource sharing request, cataloging - locate “high quality” records for copy cataloging, generate high demand lists automatically.
ExL admits it still has a long way to go. Nothing that they are doing is “AI” yet, just machine learning for deduplication purposes and basic statistics and logic to determine applicability of recommendations.


  • Will they be charging more for Alma AI? No, it will all be bundled in.
  • Will they do AI stuff in Primo? DARA stuff just applies to Alma, Esploro, Rialto and the behind the scenes products, there are machine learning improvements planned for Primo once the new Central Discovery Index goes into production to create relationships between records.


At CU boulder they took away the ‘discipline’ facets in summon since they had UX testing that showed people got them confused with subject headings, now just use LCSH. Comparing OBI (default ExL Analytics) with Google analytics, there are pretty big discrepancies… which to trust? As percentages there aren’t big differences in facet usage compared with on campus or off campus indicating that the librarians aren’t really skewing the data at CU. ‘More” is the 3rd most used facet. They can see that there is a 3 step UX problem where people select a facet but then don’t click on Apply.

At UMich they just use Summon for article discovery. Changed from “Facets” to “filters” supported by much anecdotal evidence and some studies. They use Google analytics too to track. Order of filter groups: pub date, format, subject, language - based on frequency of usage. Not taking into account advanced search Boolean and pre-filtering, only 3.4% of searches in the article discovery area used filters of any kind - very low compared to other places reportedly. Philosophical questions: is filter use good or bad? If relevancy ranking was amazing then filters would be unnecessary except for the most broad searches.

At Yale they use Blacklight powered by Summon API. They have an intermediate bento result for the initial query then people need to make an additional click in order to see more than the select results that appear in the bento. They also use Google Analytics. They implemented a pre-filter of applying scholarly to all article searches (need to actively take off the filter after searching in order to see non-peer-reviewed content) did this change behavior and how people used facets? Since they use the API, they can’t tell from the OBI stats, and there was no data in GA to support the idea that this pre-filter change affected facet usage. It appears that people will basically use whatever.


Naked sales pitch for various products. Barf.


Did not attend.


1st determine how the IR can export metadata. Create scope - should be “collection”. Use PBO views wizard to add scope to the appropriate view.
Create norm rules - def use a template e.g. dublin core. Create pipe, deploy all.
Check results, look at the status and view the output even if it didn’t get flagged for errors. After you get the data harvested and normed correctly, then schedule the pipe to pull regularly from the IR.

Various crosswalks between metadata standards may be required - these can be solved by norm rules. Making norm rules is an iterative process, just keep tweaking - harvesting publishing etc. - until you get it right. See presentation slides for nitty gritty details.

Pro tip - norm things in appropriate case (upper/lower). The error messages are notoriously not helpful… good luck! Getting IR data into Primo usually exposes problems with the IR data - take this as an opportunity to improve things in the IR!


  • Where are the norm rule templates? There are some included in the OOTB PBO
  • When should we reharvest? Only if you need to pull in everything again, normal pipe will do the work most of the time.


California is the state with the most Ex Libris customers and we also serve the most students – both of these “mosts” by quite a lot compared with other states. This is a very recent development, was not the case 2 years ago. If we can get our act together we would have massive voting clout in the NERS and Idea Exchange processes on issues that affect all of us. (It is not obvious that there are CA-specific issues around which to rally though…)



Consider how librarians think vs. how undergrads think about various scenarios - we are very different and it can be hard to “unlearn/unknow” things.

Lots of literature and experience supports the assertion that undergrads use of online search tools is almost entirely driven by class assignments. More and more the expectation is one of efficiency, undergrad don’t think they have the time to take deep dives, when you add in library anxiety to this mix there are reasons for a pessimistic outlook. Good news is that there is research demonstrating that if students can find things in the library that meet their needs, they do prefer these sources over others.

Recommended strategies:

  • teach them when to use discovery and when to use specialized databases
  • in instructional sessions have students compare search tools
  • have students compare google/bing to discovery - internal ExL research and other shows that basically no one uses facets (filters) unless they are taught to do so, after which they use them a lot
  • activity: have students imagine they have to make a search engine then brainstorm how relevancy ranking works
  • activity: evaluation jigsaw to discuss results found in discovery
  • explore critical information literacy
  • do citation trail activities to have students understand citation and intellectual debts


Always good to seek more input - physical wayfinding signage is incredibly important, not all fixes are catalog-based.

Problems with OOTB RTA display: library name is superfluous if you aren’t in a consortia, in Primo classic there is no physical location information in the brief display. At Lawrence they have very idiosyncratic physical layout of collections. Just displaying the floor number (which our Long Beach NUI primo locations do) is a huge improvement.

They had nice existing floor plan maps posted in spots physically around the library and PDFS of them online. The maps were sufficiently detailed already based on blueprints.

Library name is a required parameter in the PNX and RTA data so if you don’t want it to show to end user need to use simple display:none CSS

In the PBO, the “map” parameter is designed to accept a URL (though this is not obvious from the directions and documentation) and what displays to the end users in Primo is ‘Locate’. At Lawrence they had various location cleanup things they needed to do as part of this project - not applicable to Long Beach. Configuration in Alma: https://knowledge.exlibrisgroup.com/Alma/Product_Documentation/010Alma_Online_Help_(English)/060Alma-Primo_Integration/060Configuring_Alma_Delivery_System/205Configuring_the_Template_for_the_Location_Map_Link


Nothing of consequence was asked nor were any answers more than vague corporate-speak.


UT Dallas had many problems with their migration. They discovered a lot of problems with their MARC/bibs after migration - many small and detailed fixes required.
Basically the message here is that MARC record quality still matters a lot, only so much can be fixed by changing the normalization rules if the underlying data is inaccurate or incomplete. We ignore and underfund cataloging at our own peril.


Their fulfillment unit wanted a “one-button” request solution, they tried to get ExL to do this in development to no avail.
To get an approximation of a one-stop shop they hid all request options in Primo via CSS and then force all request traffic through ILLiad and they put a request link of every physical resource (some links show up where they don’t want them but this is the only way to get the one stop shop they want).
There were various metadata problems that they “solved” using a man in the middle script that lives on their servers and corrects known problems and cross-references for more metadata to enrich the request before it gets sent to ILLiad.

Various changes in Alma and Primo coupled with move to NUI meant that they needed to revisit their script and talk to all staff involved to see what people still wanted. They ended up rewriting the man in the middle script, see slides for details.

Unfortunately, we can’t do this at LB because it would cut out CSU+ and Link+.


Most usability studies on Primo are about the Classic UI, in the very few NUI studies none of them mention Primo Analytics. At NDSU and Loyola Chicago they have just focused on basic counts and usage since that is what is easiest to get out of PA.

Note: single letter searches that show up in the PA queries list come from the journal A-Z list - very few know this.

Recommend that resource recommender tags be updated to reflect most popular queries that might not be showing the desired results. At Loyola they have triggers for the most used newspapers and journals to point users to the databases that have the most either recent or comprehensive content. Maintenance of the resource recommender is a group effort - the experience of R&I librarians who work with the students explains a lot of the queries, need to revisit the triggers periodically, they meet quarterly at Loyola.

Loyola had Classic UI and analytics data from before move to new Primo so they compared classic and NUI post-switch to see how the NUI affects behavior. No big changes…

Usability testing supplements PA data and helps you understand it better but it sometimes doesn’t tell the same “story” as the data.

They use Newspapers Search and in their usability tests no one could correctly search it - Newspapers search analytics will be available at end of May.

Problems with PA:

  • inflated popular search totals; SF case 00552481
  • inconsistent user group categorization, SF case 00628836;
  • inconsistent action totals based on where the date column is included in the query/report

Side note: what the fuck, how much are we paying for this?

  • University of New South Wales in AUS has over 20 open cases with ExL about problems in PA.

Supposedly ExL is going to make PA a focus area of development - bottom line is that it needs to be better.


Business report: ELUNA has grown tremendously in the past 5 years, this has created unique challenges for the org and steering committee. ELUNA has revised and clarified their mission statement slightly. 2018 financial summary - ending the year with $315k in the bank. Majority of income comes from the conference, majority of expenditures are on the conference.

Added over 200 libraries from 2018 to 2019.

Next year: Los Angeles! (Looks like U$C has their greased palms all over this because no one from the CalState LA basin campuses knew about it.) May 6 - 8

CARLDIG-S 2018 Fall Program, Travel Report

Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles


On Friday December 7, 2018 I traveled to the William H. Hannon Library on the campus of Loyola Marymount University to attend the fall program of CARLDIG-S: Recapturing Reference: Making Research Relevant for Today’s Student. Michelle DeMars and George Martinez traveled with me.

The purpose of this travel was to present about our pop-up chat widget experience at CSULB. There has been some exploration of this type of proactive chat in the LIS literature, we thought our experience with the flood of traffic it generated would be helpful for other librarians in the southern California area to hear about. The full schedule is below. Some of the presentations were lackluster but I did enjoy the presentation about chat transcript analysis by Alexander Justice.

Meals were included with registration and the food, catered by LMU, was satisfactory. This outing was beneficial on the professional networking front as I was able to meet in person a couple librarians who I had only previously known over email and to forge stronger connections to some who I had met previously at ACRL or via personal pathways that my spouse traveled when she worked at USC.

Order of Events

Recapturing Reference: Making Research Relevant for Today’s Student

A Professional Development Opportunity Hosted by CARLDIG-South

News Media Literacy Gallery Walk
Suzanne Maguire, Mt. San Antonio College

Reimagining Reference Services Using Student Reference Staff

Annie Pho, Antonia Osuna-Gardia, Wynn Tranfield, Diana King, & Miki Goral, UCLA

Data Literacy and Reference Services: Core Competencies for Supporting Undergraduate Students

Nicole Helregel, University of California, Irvine

Meet Me at the Main Services Desk: How The Claremont Colleges Library moved from drop-in reference hours to scheduled research appointments

Charlotte Brun and Kirsten Hansen, Claremont Colleges Library

Using Text Analysis of Online Reference Transcripts to Recapture Reference

Alexander Justice, Loyola Marymount University

In Your Face: Our Experience with Proactive Chat Reference

Michelle DeMars, George Martinez, Joseph Aubele, & Gabriel Gardner, California State University, Long Beach

Shamelessly Integrating Google into Reference Practice (Poster)

Maggie Clarke, California State University, Dominguez Hills

Discovery: Using Star Trek to Teach Students How Libraries Structure Access to Scholarly Journal Articles (Poster)

Laura Wimberley, California State University, Northridge

When and Where
Friday, December 7, 2018
Loyola Marymount University
William H. Hannon Library, Von der Ahe Suite
1 LMU Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90045

Parking is $12.50 and attendees are encouraged to park in Drollinger Parking Plaza. Directions and parking instructions can be located at https://library.lmu.edu/directions&parking/

Program Schedule

  • 8:45am-9:30am: Registration and continental breakfast
  • 9:30am-12:30pm: Presentations
  • 12:30pm-1:00pm: Lunch
  • 1:00pm-1:45pm: Panel Discussion

CSU ULMS Summer Meeting 2018




This day was six hours of analytics training led by Megan Drake from Ex Libris. There were many breaks and opportunities to socialize with staff and faculty from our other system campuses. We covered introductory topics for our Institution Zone, advanced topics (sadly there was no “intermediate” between introductory and advanced), and Network Zone analytics.
I learned quite a bit, as I’m sure the other people from our campus did. We are all better informed and able to do more reporting and structuring than we were prior to this day of training. The software still has some quirks and mysteries which elude me but we will now make much more progress on transparent data for librarians to use in their collection analyses.


This day offered five different tracks depending upon functional area: fulfillment, resource sharing, resource management, acquisition/electronic resources, and discovery. I spent all day in the discovery track. The following individuals presented or emceed: David Walker [CO], David Palmquist [Fullerton], Nikki Demoville [SLO], Christian Ward [SacState], Megan Drake [ExL], Mike DeMars [Fullerton], and Zachary Williams [Pomona].
Some content was familiar to me but I learned some new things. Perhaps most importantly, this meeting provided a gathering were people could meet and share their problems with Primo in a low pressure atmosphere. All the campuses have the same basic setup and problems while the differences we have provide inspiration to (possibly) improve and food for thought.

  • There’s no technical impediment to bringing in e-reserves information to Primo via an automated method. This would reduce the work time that staff do creating dummy records in Alma for the links to e-reserves. The drawback is that the metadata using this automated method is very sparse. You can see the XML here: http://csulb.libguides.com/oai.php?verb=ListRecords&metadataPrefix=oai_dc&set=er_courses
  • I got some ideas from Christian and Zachary about enhancements to our No Results page. Specifically pushing people who land on that page out to WorldCat or Google Scholar.
  • The results of a new round of usability testing at 5 campuses were presented. We are already following the best practices they identified with a couple exceptions, which I’ll be fixing shortly.
  • “Library Search” the first element in the Primo header links will be changed to “New Search” to more accurately reflect what happens when you click it.
  • Testing showed that people really had problems finding the ‘Expand my results’ checkbox to toggle on Primo Central Index. We already have PCI turned on for the EVERYTHING search. But I left it off by default for the ARTICLES search. After seeing the results of the test, I’ll will turn PCI on by default in ARTICLES.

Notes from Ex Libris Users of North America 2018

Spokane, WA


Reception at Gonzaga
Spent most of this time catching up with people from the UMN system.


Opening keynote

Notable figures: DevDay was the largest ever and filled up in 4 days, clearly a big demand for this.
Over 1k attendees this year, bigger than ever.

All the conference planning is done in-house, by the volunteer committee of librarians - this is getting harder as the conference gets bigger.

Marshall Breeding

Very objective - does not endorse Ex Libris products

General trend across all academic libraries - more electronic than print collections. Discoverability is increasingly complex and more of it happens outside of the library as people seem to accept what Google Scholar or whatever serves them. Big trend is for libraries to get into data management/research data repositories as universities compete for grant funding and more mandates.

In his own career, he’s seen big separation between the tech needs of academic and public libraries - more specialization in vendor products, less products that are used by both public and academic libraries. He coined “library services platform” - to mean modern ILS with API and standards support and interoperability. Modern ILSs with API support are more complex and robust than any previous library software and so they take a big business investment to make. Thus it is no surprise that there aren’t many competitors. Need big up front investment to program and then to maintain. An open source LSP would be difficult to get off ground.

He has seen huge consolidation in the industry - bad for libraries when it comes to RFPs but theoretically each firm has more development support. Seeing more vertical consolidation/integration i.e. Ex Libris bought by ProQuest. Matti Shem Tov, former CEO of Ex Libris now CEO of ProQuest.

Resource management and discovery products are basically mature. New areas are where library software can help their universities support the research and funding agenda.

He is seeing that Alma/Primo seems to be capturing the “high end” of the market - bigger universities. OCLC WOrldShare Management is getting the “bottom end” with their growth coming from libraries at smaller institutions.

Library Automation Perception Survey - Responses for ALma show good overall satisfaction, but lower ratings for handling of PRINT materials, even below OCLC WorldShare. Discovery is getting harder than ever - publishers report that there is a decline in access coming from link resolvers.


  • will open source have a role in the future?; yes. koha and similar systems, Folio, are holding their market share. they are a huge disadvantage when it comes to discovery since there’s a lot of economic value in the private closed metadata indexes like Summon/Primo Central Index
  • will artificial intelligence help with indexing?: to a point, right now it isn’t taking off widely, we are early in the game; likely more AI indexing in the future
  • how will library software be used by campuses in the future? we don’t know, but are seeing this trend already. of course it would be absurd to think that the LIS would be primary software. but with APIs we are seeing more integration of systems across universities than ever.

Ex Libris Exec time

Eric Ex Libris NA president

Noted that ExL basically never sunsets any product - not sure if he’s happy about that or what. Quoting someone else “in order to change, we must change”. Encourages everyone to read the NMC 2017 Horizons report and the EDUCAUSE 2018 Top IT Issues report.

Bar ExL President

He says they want libraries to succeed, if libraries fail, ExLibris fails.
Company values: continuous innovation, openness, service excellence, community collaboration

Offering products to put ‘libraries at the heart of teaching and learning’: Leganto, RefWorks, Pivot, Esploro, campusM. Moving towards being a “higher ed cloud platform”. ExL doesn’t want to do everything, they want to do things well and let their systems work with other vendors. In 2017 they passed the point where more than 50% of all traffic to ALMA comes from APIs, now only 40% of ALMA interaction is done by staff users.

They are complying with GDPR and have posted their data policies and privacy.

Dvir Hoffman

In 2018 they are planning to make separate “requestable for resource sharing” policies for physical and digital items.


Ongoing accessibility and UI improvements to Primo are needed and are ongoing. Launching Primo Studio to allow for drag and drop updating of primo CSS/HTML/JS customizations.
Committed to keeping both Summon and Primo as products. They are duplicating the summon ability to do ‘deep search’ of newspapers in Primo and PCI.

1:30 Discovery Panel

Consortial environments pose unique problems, mainly of governance and consensus building.
Discovery layers expose bad bib records. PNX norm rules can be used to impact discovery by pre-pending appending information to the MARC
Primo VE eliminates the need to publish from Alma to Primo.


New School has customized ‘Ares’. Guelph has added, via JS injection, instructions on how to use Boolean. Lots of Primo libraries are using StackMap.

2:30 discovery panel 2

How do they deal with local content?

Guelf does ‘force blending’ to boost local content. Dutch library puts their local content as default search, expand more clicks to get PCI
Mannheim library. Every 5 years they do a survey about library satisfaction, overall people are satisfied, saw increase in satisfaction as result of moving to new UI. Guelph uses GA in PRIMO to see which areas of page are being clicked on. Coupled with usability testing. People there didn’t use TAGS very often.

There are a lot of blind spots in PCI subject availability. Guelph looks at PCI when examining new e-resource purchases, availability there tips the balance in a product’s favor.

Primo Analytics:

Mannheim just uses the OOTB. Guelph uses GA and is looking into HOTJAR. Lots of summon libraries using GA.

All these libraries using the new Resource Recommender. The Primo user community was very upset with the initial move to cloud hosted Primo. But they’ve all come around and collaborate more now. The NERS enhancement process has been working well.
All that is lacking for big Primo customizations is knowledge of AngularJS coding and time.

3:45 Alma Analytics Dashboards

Dashboards can be created for all librarians that will give them all the information they need without them having to write analytics reports. Problem with using dashboards designed by others is that often we are all using Alma differently - OOTB dashboards will need revision.


  • IPEDS Data
  • Weeding criteria, can export to excel a list of all titles matching

General pointers:

  • columns are collapsible
  • Analyses need to be created before you make the dashboards
  • Inline prompts should not be used in Dashboards - there is a different ‘dashboard prompt’.
  • the ‘lifecycle’ filter will pull out deleted records - which Alma holds on to
  • To make filters respond to prompts set the operator to ‘is prompted’
  • prompts must be made in the same subject areas - cross subject analyses are not possible
  • just right-click on any column with numerical values there’s a ‘show column total’ option - you don’t need to do that in Excel or write additional calculation in your reports
  • Need admin analytics role to show dashboards to non-admin alma users
  • dashboard display is not individualized by user ID, can only be set to display for particular ROLES
  • dashboards are inherently public, can’t control who looks at them - assuming users have permissions

There will be a PDF walkthrough in the conference repository

4:45 Resource discovery in the academic ecosystem

ExL does research regularly on how people use their products. They see wide variation between users and products, should think about all of this in terms of system “flows” and how traffic goes from one to another. Students, instructors, “in depth researches” all use the tools differently.

User stories : the default OOTB search results are based on usability testing of the ranking and boosting algorithms. Single sign on is essential, one that carries over the login from all the sites used.

Some power users have browser plugins but most people don’t. They see some of traffic coming from LMSs - so students are working off of reading lists. This requires education of faculty.

Bento boxes - seem bad based on what they’ve heard from users. If you have to teach people to use a system you’re already at a disadvantage compared with things that are much more commercially tested.

ExL takes privacy seriously complying in GDPR and all that, making any personalization opt in only and working at aggregate levels. Without making individual users profiles, they can still do content relations - this item often viewed before/after/with these items. This is better than nothing.


9:00 Primo Product Update

Yuval Kiselstein

The ‘Collections’ discovery feature - made with a few use cases but users have expanded.

Newspaper search coming: they’ve had a lot of requests over the years to separate out Newspapers from all other content. Newspapers search: new landing page, feature specific newspapers, highlight newspapers. Scoped search options. They are adding many more newspaper index coverage options. The normal Primo results will not have newspapers in them if Newspaper Search scope is turned on. Instead there is a link to the newspaper scope in the Primo filters area.

New Open access indicator icon will be rolled out soon.

Current big project is “exposing” primo data to the web using the schema.org framework. This will allow more linked data possibilities.

General search improvements: adjusted algorithm to favor works by an author over works about an author. AND and & are now treated the same. Planned search improvements: get a handle on book reviews.

Really pushing the use of Syndetics to enrich the catalog records. They have internal data sources showing that users spend more time on each record page when Syndetics is used.

Resource recommender: coming improvement will be no longer needing the list of exact match triggers to get a recommendations to show in search results.

Highlight reference entries in search results - no change to records just an emphasized display in primo - at first

They are planning on making more ‘contextual relations’ between books and book reviews - this may eventually show up as a link in the full record for a book. This feature still in research mode, not even alpha development

The developers are very grateful for the customer organizations and voting - community decides development areas and coding priorities

In development:

  • Primo-Zotero integration so that the PNX records can be parsed by Zotero - no need to use the RIS file
  • making new REST APIs.
  • primo open discovery framework - ExL trying to work closely with developer community they are rolling developer publications into the new
  • planned ‘seamless workflow’ between primo and refworks
  • planned closer integration between Leganto and Primo with a one-click-push from primo into Leganto

Primo Studio is a web tool that lets you customize your primo and add development community addons. Right hand side is your primo in sandbox, left side is “playground”: themes with color picker, change images, upload packages. Add and implement ‘AddOns’ from the developer community. No new abilities to customize = but they have made basic customization easier. They are leveraging development work done by libraries and making sharing easier by centralizing it - rather than lots of people writing emails to the listservs. When you move to primo studio, you can upload your current package and begin using studio with your existing configurations.

10:00 How to conduct a usability study

Tennessee Tech wanted to know how students used primo - so they did a big testing project


  • big problem for them was truncated facet labels
  • change ‘scholarly/peer reviewed’ to just ‘peer reviewed’
  • alphabetize the content type facets - big improvement in people using that facet
  • CITATIONS v CITATION - in full record this was confusing: change CITATIONS to CITED BY or WORKS CITED depending on context
  • changed CITATION to CITE THIS
  • changed SEND TO to TOOLS
  • changed ‘full text available’ to ‘full text options’
  • report a problem - they had student users go through the steps to report a problem and found that their form was way too long. hardly anyone ever filled it out. so they wrote a script to ID and LOG the submission url, ip, os and browser information that gets submitted to library but user doesn’t have to enter that information.
  • big confusion about the name of ‘ejournals’ which was their A-Z journal list.
  • they disabled the TAGS feature because that feature adds to the master metadata index for everyone to see.
  • finding about pinning: students didn’t realize they needed to log in for their pins to be saved to their profile. some lost records. Ex Libris says no way now to force Sign In in order to Pin. so they made an Idea Exchange development request - asking for votes

Why do usability studies? Because NO LIBRARY STAFF/FACULTY CAN APPROACH A SYSTEM WITH FRESH EYES They recommended: Usability testing for library web sites book. Methods: using Morea usability software, $2000, records user face and eyes, matches up where they look on screen and shows mouse trail. Got IRB approval. Very scripted tests with a task list, tasks were scored as ‘completed’ or not and time per task recorded. To avoid collecting identifiable behavior data for the test, all the patrons used Primo as a dummy account. They tested 15 students. Recruited students for $5 dollars. Advertised via message alerts on the campus LMSs. Had a moderator work with students, and observer look on the data feed in another room.

Audience recommends Silverback, and Fast Stone.

Yair from ProQuest 1:15

Many boring details and buzzwords about ongoing merger of ExL and PQ. They are merging exlibrs and ProQuest support to align processes between the two customer groups. There are still 2 SF instances but they’re being brought into harmony for a consistent experience in case handling between exl and pq. They had a 40% increase year over year in salesforce cases - this was mainly due to merging of refworks into the same salesforce queue.
About 35% of cases are related to CONTENT, not UI or any bugs.

They’ve rolled out the Ex Libris academy: no charge, video library and quizzes about all recent ex libris products. NOTE: trust.exlibrisgroup.com trust center, look into this.
ProQuest is taking data center capacity seriously, opened 2 brand new summon instances in North America, soon moving to 2 instances of PCI, so there will be redundancy - no more PCI outages. They are or will be complying completely with the EU’s GDPR and also US FedRAMP regulations.

“Content is not king. Content is the kingdom.” ProQuest is committed to bringing new content to Ex Libris - “The ProQuest effect”: many summon databases now in PCI, many new resource collections in the Alma Community Zone. PQ continues to do ongoing content enrichment, right now focusing on Alexander Street Press.

Ex Libris Management Q&A

Q: why is certain functionality restricted to print and not integrated with electronic?
A: …

Q: why is alma knowledge base so far behind in having current content?
A: this is something they’re working on

Q: about GDPR, library would like to anonymize loan data but also allow for opt in
A: anonymization policies must be set at the institution level

Q: question about letting some customers piggy back on other’s cases - linking them. so that the scope of the problem becomes obvious
A: they are limited by the capabilities of Salesforce. they are tagging cases and linking them together within the confines of what salesforce will allow

Q: ex libris and serial solutions continue to be separate in terms of eresources what is being done to integrate them?
A: r&D is merged. management is merged. they are getting round to merging systems at an application level

Q: what are the plans for metadata remediation in the community zone?
A: they can’t apply the same authority control to every record because ex libris is a global company - not all customers want to use LCSH.

Q: accessibility - increasingly important
A: VIPA is something on the website that we can see on the accessibility development roadmap

Q: some products (leganto, esploro) require the use of Alma. are there plans to bundle any other products into ALMA?
A: no. the other products are standalone and have preexisting user communities. no value added from forcing alma

JSTOR DDA in Alma 3:00PM

DDA plans in the past at UMN: DDA plans are work to set up but once you get it in place it is set it and forget it. In 2017 UMN started JSTOR DDA, but JSTOR also offers an EBA plan “evidence based acquisitions”.

JSTOR pros: good content, lots of plan flexibility, JSTOR promised MARC records supplied via OCLC Worldshare
JSTOR cons: no EDI invoicing, no GOBI communication, this was a new program in 2017 so JSTOR was not very helpful with setup
Rather complicated to get JSTOR and GOBI to work together, there is no direct communication, lots of autogenerated emails which require human touch.

JSTOR generates monthly excel reports. UMN sends weekly holdings file to GOBI, all the deduplication is basically done by people on a regular basis. Lots of automation between worldshare collection manager. Titles drop out of the DDA collection in Worldshare and enter the ‘all purchased’ collection after trigger fires. They use a PYTHON script that matches on ISBN to handle invoicing. All ISBN matches get output into an ALMA input profile. Items without matches are put into a separate file and invoiced manually.

Why did they go with JSTOR? A: content is DRM-free, and the profiles were very configurable.
Have they figured out if it is worth all the manual labor? A: No. GOBI and JSTOR ‘may be working on this’, some beginning communication between the firms has taken place.

Perpetual Access “Problem” 4:00

Two types of perpetual access: “perpetual” i.e. ongoing, and post-cancellation access - access to content you paid for after cancelling a product. If you have a perpetual access clause in the license, how do you keep track of it, how do you enforce it? Also, why aren’t you negotiating for perpetual access in all your contracts?

Current practice for lots of libraries anecdotally seems to be assuming that everything will work out fine. There are problems with this:

  • perpetual access may/will cost,
    • pay for hosting fees
    • or one-time fees of them sending you commercial drives
    • or a high quality download which you then need to pay to host
  • costs typically increase as the library has to do more rather than the publisher doing it

Do you really know your PA rights? where is this information?
Knowing all your PA options helps with purchase decisions, cancellation, moves to storage, purge of print, etc. You can store PA license information in ALMA under the Electronic Collections Editor -> general tab. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go down to the title list. So more detailed information is needed.
Most libraries don’t have PA information recorded in a central location, it would require looking at past invoices, past purchase requests, and holdings in Alma.

UMN Plan; devised to look at every license and compile a database (homegrown coding) list and updating the records in Alma. The other thing to keep in mind here is if you have ILL rights for electronic content - you need the ability to loan.
There is a NERS request 5242 about developing this in Alma.
Bottom line is that perpetual access requires work at some point. You either do the work ahead of time, or do it at cancellation and possibly mess up because under pressure or not used to thinking about this.

If we don’t have the old purchase records how can we tell what we’re entitled to? Don’t know - you’d have to work with the vendor for whatever copies they’ll give you.


Springshare integration 9:00

Libinsight can be integrated with Alma.
Most common integration is piping libguides into Summon or Primo.
Libguides into Alma/Primo 2 ways: OAI-PMH harvesting, or Resource recommender. There have been other ways to ingest libguides into Alma in the past. Don’t use those, use OAI-PMH. All libguides have Dublin Core metadata. Get oia_dc URL from the libguides data export.


  • PBO with OAI harvester - 3 pipes
  • also need to add guides as a facet type
  • see slides for details

Also there is a springy techblog post about getting libchat into Primo - compare methods. Colorado school of mines has the chat widget inserted into Primo.
Resource recommender - can do most work in excel and then just upload. Ex libris is making improvements to Primo resource recommendations so might be better to just go this way.

E-reserves: can get OAI link/data for e-reserves, all pushing manually, wouldn’t need to make marc records for the course links. If we get libguides CMS, can add additional Dublin Core fields to the ereserves records.

Can pull in basically any libapps data for display somewhere else using API or OAI-PMH.

  • Libanswers has an API and so can be integrated into Alma. pipe the FAQs into Primo
  • Libcal has an API that can talk to Alma- can handle equipment checkouts via libcal and update to alma patron records
  • Can add Primo data into Libguides searches - under Admin -> Search Source.

ETSU is using APIs and libguides CMS to make a pre-search bento box landing page that they show their new books on the lbiguides - updated regularly using Alma Analytics API. They are also managing their LG AtoZ list in Alma, then exporting it and transforming it via a script, then manually uploading into Libguides. ETSU also reverse engineered the way Primo gets book covers and has a script to use that method for free to pull an image for their new books display.

City College London is injecting FAQs onto certain screens of the Primo v.1 interface.

Northeastern is piping all their ‘report a problems’ into libanswers.

9:55 Intermediate analytics

Ex libris vocabulary is often counterintuitive- you need to learn the vocabulary.
‘yellow boxes’ are numbers that you can do math with, other boxes may require transformation before math can be done.
Prompt tips: search criteria are often super strict - exact match as typed, date and time down to the second, etc. So review documentation if anything seems fishy. Filter options are what you can use to exclude things from a report. ‘edit formula’ - create bins: this lets you organize and will make a ‘none of the above’ box which can catch any errors or anomalies.

Can do all sorts of stuff in analytics without coding or scripting , you just have to learn the system. Use the CAST function to do math with numbers in Analytics that are stored as text. Analytics data into alma has gotten much easier since the May Alma release - just need to specify file path of analytics report that you want the data drawn from.

“how do I do X in OBIEE” (version number) this is what you need to Google for extra help; can’t get results if you google how do i do X in alma analytics. There is a help button in alma analytics, but you need to have a very clear question in order to use it and understand.

11:00 Facilitating Faceting

There are lots of OOTB facets in Primo and they work well but don’t get very granular. Most librarians want to distinguish between books/ebooks, dvds/streaming, audio/streaming. The “configuring resource types in Primo” case study from ExLibris has clear directions - Matthew Warmock email him for copy (ex libris employee).

Can make more NORM RULES to act on any MARC indicator and transform the PNX to use any additional facets you want to come up with, based on your Mapping tables. Very difficult to material type facet for ebooks, because there’s multiple ways to express this in MARC. Suggest MARC 008: 23. Fortunately Exlibris has already filtered books out, so the other norm rule that looks at 008:23 can build on that.

They saw problems with their streaming content being grouped as ‘Other’ material type; had to role back some changes. A lot of things are possible, it really depends on how standardized and quality the underlying MARC records are.

11:55 - Understanding User Behavior on Zero results searches

Their university switched from classic primo to new UI primo, did usability testing and as they moved to new primo, they saw a big drop in the number of zero-result searches in the new UI. Why? it wasn’t because total number of searches declined, so it was related to UI improvements or change in user behavior.

They made a couple ad hoc guesses about why but nothing really made sense. So they ran all queries through the Primo API and compared differences between new and classic Primo. Caveats - there were PCI changes over the time period so the comparison is not scientific, also collections not from PCI have changed (weeding, new books, etc.). What did the data show? Basically 5 categories: user error, true zero, no full text, new records added, primo error.

They used online-utility.org text analyzer to look at the query strings of the zero results queries. Still no obvious reason jumped out, though the biggest category increase was “primo error”. They looked at other libraries experiences via data sharing in zero results, they saw similar patterns. They noted that any time they saw the ‘did you intend to search for’ message that the query was not counted as zero results in primo analytics.

Answer: they found a bug in Primo/primo analytics - apparently many libraries will have had inaccurate zero results queries until exlibrs fixes this.

1:30 Greg Bem potential for equity in Primo

Lots of context about his institution and student population. We need to be clear who our stakeholders are and how they have voice in our services.
This guy is pretty pretentious…

How do you collect feedback on the catalog? It should be clear and low barrier - people should be invited to offer feedback on ANY/EVERY aspect of the catalog - the more we can hear from them the more information we have about their needs. Absolutely must do an accessibility audio of Primo, OOTB it is passable but still some room for improvements - he suggests reaching out to wider campus efforts since it is hard to master this if it isn’t your full time job.

ExLibris VPAT - voluntary product accessibility template

Look at your institutional diversity policies. How can you as a library fit in? Be sure to use this angle in your evaluation reports/documentation.


  • Has he changed Primo as a result of equity issues?
    Not yet. They are currently reviewing accessibility.

Lauren Pressley Keynote

Libraries are liminal spaces. They are thresholds where transformation takes place. This liminality is more now than in the past because of the society and financial pressures on higher education. Liminal in the field as well: debates over value/diversity/neutrality/.

Frameworks for change:

  • Bolman & Deal’s four frames
  • StrenghtsFinder and appreciative inquiry
  • liberating structures; focused on bringing in outside/marginalized voices
  • John Cotter’s 8 Steps of change
  • William Bridges’ transition model - in a responsive frame

The clear library application? “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Keep a marathon perspective - you almost never get to run a sprint.
Change is inherently risky, so we need managers who create a safe feeling among staff so they can change better. Managers need to create space for people to fail gracefully.

Look into using RACI matrix

She recommends reading primarily outside of the library literature LOL.

Closing business meeting

Some product user groups have declined in membership and will be merged.
Slides are on the Sched site, eventually in Eluna document repositories in about 10 days, ex libris slides will be up in the knowledge center.

Got a lot of feedback about the Schaumberg experience people didn’t like venue. Next ELUNA in Atlanta.


General Points

From Wednesday, May 31 to Friday, June 2, I attended the 39th Annual Meeting of the Society for Scholarly Publishing in Boston, MA. My travel there was so that I could present on findings of my co-authored research on the piracy of scholarly materials. I did so as part of a panel that also included the COO of Reprints Desk (a document delivery company) and the CEO of Aytpon (which offers various SAAS platforms to publishers). Below are my session notes, which are of varying length depending upon how informative I found each session.

I found the whole affair fascinating. I was one of about 15 librarians at the whole event which had almost 1000 attendees and exhibitors. Conversations were very business and product-focused; panels mainly consisted of competitors talking about their internal research and how method or technology X might solve problem Y. You might think that would make for a competitive environment, but everyone was very cordial and professional. The entire place was filled with competent and intelligent people trying to deliver good products (so that they can make as much money as possible off us). I spent most of my time eavesdropping. Keep your eyes out for more uses of ‘machine learning’/artificial intelligence in the future; there were lots of people thinking about how these tools can be used in publishing and libraries. The keynotes were very good, and both incredibly pessimistic. Of particular interested to you might be my notes from the plenary New and Noteworthy Products session which made it clear that publishers and their B2B vendors want to collect as much information as they possibly can about users of their services in order to monetize it, a very worrisome development from our perspective. Also of note is the RA21 initiative which is a plot by the major publishers to kill IP authentication and systems like EZproxy. (Elsevier is the initiator of the initiative, that was made absolutely clear in the verbal remarks of the session. It is how they plan to end mass piracy; the large pirate sites all rely on compromised EZproxy servers. Yet the RA21 website shows a diverse group of actors, draw your own conclusions as to how much work those others are doing.)

If you are interested, find my (occasionally cryptic) notes below with links to the detailed session descriptions and let me know if you have any questions. To my knowledge, presenter slides and content will only be available to SSP members, of which I am not one, so my notes may be as good as it gets.



8:30 – 10:00AM


Intro remarks from Todd Carpenter, NISO

  • Trust is essential in scholarly publishing

Hillary Corbett

  • Not all predators are equally bad; there are minor and major infractions
  • But most blacklisting is binary, is it possible to capture the shades of gray? Should we for our faculty?
  • Low quality is not necessarily predators
  • Predators are getting more sophisticated, there are “spoofed” journals
  • Librarians need to educate their faculty but particularly students about predatory/low quality journals because many of them are discoverable via Google and even Google Scholar

Kathleen Berryman, Cabell’s – they are taking up the work Beall did

  • Cables is taking the approach of “any misrepresentations” will de-whitelist a journal
  • How is the whitelist different from Beall’s list?
  • They are working off all “objective” metrics. Any infraction moves a journal from the whitelist to the blacklist. The blacklist tallies the number of infractions
  • They don’t think this will solve the problems, awareness needs to be raised, perhaps penalizing methods developed

Rachel Burley, SpringerNature

  • Some spoofed journals are almost replicating known legitimate journals right down to the same HTML/CSS templates and published version formatting
  • Springer nature is redesigning some of theirs to highlight all the associations with professional and scholarly association affiliations, to bring out the trust factor
  • Promoting the “think, check , submit” meme

David, OUP

  • We think that the authors are the “prey” in the predators metaphor
  • But maybe the authors are complicit? Then the prey are the readers or the tenure and promotion committees
  • Recent study showed that 75 percent of authors in predatory journals are from Asia, or India.
  • Time is researchers’ most precious commodity, if their oversight committees do not care about predatory journals, why wouldn’t they publish there?
  • Conspiracy theorist love low quality journals
  • Universities need to get in board. In India, the University Grants Commission put out a Whitelist that everyone will need to use to get ‘credit’.
    • Q&A Isn’t the price of APCs too high? Can’t blame it all on bad motives, many researchers don’t have funds.

Michael Clark and Jason Price

  • Looked at random sample of 2015 articles indexed in Scopus
  • Searched for them in several places, how many of them could you get to the full text in 3 clicks from where you started searching?
  • (Gold, green, “rogue”, pirated)
  • Rogue I.e. On Researchgate, academia.edu, otherwise indexed via GS not on publishers website
  • Pirated, I.e. Sci-Hub
  • Including rogue methods, 55 percent were available
  • They walked through various search workflows to see which one gets the most content the fastest: sci-hub best, followed by google scholar, not worth it to start search via one of the rogue OA sites
  • Next project: looking at availability of OA materials in library discovery systems
    • Q&A Employee from Annual Reviews talked about how they implemented “subscriber links” in google scholar, in collaboration with Google, to get legal access easier. (Need to look into this.)

Craig, Silverchair

  • How to be a pirate: mass downloading, data breaches, uploading of C protected content, password sharing
  • Why did we get sci-hub? Pricing, availability, convenience?
  • The sci-hub “problem” often falls below the abuse monitoring thresholds, so it is impossible to stop through traditional methods
  • What else? Takedowns, but they should not be automated too much
  • Improving security of EZproxy, required https, OCLC software improvements

Daniel Ayala, ProQuest

  • Some data will always be collected, this doesn’t necessarily mean privacy violations
  • Lots of researchers are very suspicious about data collection, as are librarians
  • Security causes access friction, publishers may want to move beyond IP authentication, if they do so, that enables even more individual data collection
  • Publishers need to be transparent about what they’re doing with the data they have
  • NISO has a framework for privacy
  • Single Sign On is increasing, this is good for both convenience and enabling data collection
  • RA21
  • Maybe blockchain could be an authentication method

Peter Katz, Elsevier

  • Elsevier has constant bot monitoring
  • Now citation managers are allowing people to get bulk downloads for corpus of citations, this gets flagged a lot as malicious. Elsevier wants people to download them individually…. or use their API
  • Chinese ISPs, via VPNs are the main source of Elsevier content theft now.
  • Some sites now sell login credentials, phished
  • Sharing SSO passwords is very dangerous (or getting phished) because it gives access to everything
  • The universities where Elsevier consistently sees bulk content theft, have lax security. The ones with robust security see very little activity that turns out to be malicious.
  • Many publishers are developing bots/algorithms that can “hitch a ride on the search URL” and ID sci-hub traffic (which is below the bulk flagging threshold).
    • Q&A
    • Piracy is a symptom of a failing access or customer service or user experience.
    • 2 factor authentication, if you can force it on people, will solve almost all these “problems”
    • Does Elsevier think they’ll be able to take down Sci-hub? Rep says not within the next 3 years.

12:30 – 1:30PM


  • MIT press is using Yewno
  • Yewno is based on complex systems and linguistics analysis. (Originally developed for “econophysics “ purposes)
  • It is an inference engine
  • “ completely unbiased “ LOL, eyeroll
  • They formed in 2014 and use AI to provide a topical hierarchical map of any document
  • Can ingest any machine readable document, no additional metadata encoding required
  • Provides sub chapter topic breakdowns
  • The concept map can be set to include all the metadata Yewno knows about or only the stuff you have in your catalog
  • MIT press is using this for better discoverability and to determine which books to put in which packages.
  • They have developed many use cases and tested them
  • This tool would be great for collection development
  • Yewno contains comparison features and longitudinal information as well, if the corpus is historical
  • The AI does not use a dictionary!!!!!! Instead it looks at the context in the sentence and groups of sentences. Wow.
  • They have a German version, no plans to go further now.
  • Their main market is B2B, keywords for ecommerce, advertising, publishers. But some libraries are interested in using it in catalogs.

1:30 – 2:00PM


  • PDF was a revolutionary file format for publishers
  • Historically, pdfs were much more downloaded and viewed than HTML
  • Sheridan says HTML is the future! … “the PDF is dead, long live the PDF!”
  • Now they want to do XML-first workflows. Start outline in XML, port to HTML, all edits then take place in WYSIWYG HTML editor that creates XML and can export to PDF once final version is ready. Called ArticleExpress.


  • Talked about the Rockefeller press workflows. Used to use Word and InDesign. Now ArticleExpress. Big time savings, on average 48 hours per article. The word to InDesign conversions also allowed introduction of errors.
  • Lots of workflow details. Publishing is complicated!
  • Cons of the ArticleExpress: old browsers and Safari don’t work. Staff training time.

Kate, AAP

  • American academy of pediatrics is using the ProofExpress feature (a sub feature of article express)
  • Proof express keeps all the edits in one place, so no collating of the edits, no emailing a bunch of pdfs back and forth. Streamlined process. Cost savings of $23k per year.


  • Very complicated material about XML…
  • Sheridan also has a authoring product: author cafe, to cut Word out of the picture entirely. All work done in same cloud environment from start to finish. Huge time savings if users (submitting authors) use it.
    • Q&A, ePub working group has been trying to kill the PDF for years. Next revision of the file format will allow for seamless HTML rendering so this will tie together nicely.

2:30 – 3:30PM


  • Editage company spiel
  • They ran an industry survey, distributed in 5 languages, this is a sneak peek
  • For many geographic areas it is not just publish or perish, but English or perish.
  • These communities need help fitting into the western scholcomm ecosystem.
  • Presenting preliminary results
  • Biggest struggle is “manuscript preparation “, then “responding to reviews comments”
  • Most authors don’t see ethics as a problems, but a lot of journal editors do. Big gap here suggesting authors don’t understand traditional scholcomm ethical norms.
  • When seeking help, most authors just use Google, not the help pages on journals websites… LOL
  • Top 3 priority for authors when selecting journal: high impact factor, have published similar papers, short time to publication
  • Most authors don’t think instructions for authors are “clear and complete”. Need to usability test these.
  • 34 percent of authors understand benefits of OA. (Increased access, citation advantage)
  • When authors contact journals, majority of the time they were not totally satisfied with replies.
  • Asian culture has big barriers to confronting authorities, journals need to reduce barriers to deal with this.
  • Questions about predatory publishers give results that show authors are aware of the problem, education efforts are working.
  • However, lots of confusion about who should be listed as coauthors.
  • What do authors suggest for improvement in publishing? Time to publication, peer review process, reducing bias “perceived anti Asian bias in the subjective comments answers”
  • Key takeaways: there is a lot that is broken. Publishers can’t fix it all. But they can improve directions, improve communication, reduce time to publication. Big pipeline problem, PhD programs are not preparing grads for nuts and bolts of how papers get written and published.


4:00 – 5:00PM


  • Postdoctoral work is basically a jail, low pay, long hours, often not considered employees for fringe benefits purposes
  • Publishing is crucial , it is how people escape the postdoctoral jail
  • There is an arms race here, lots of people competing for 1st or 2nd author in a high impact journal, not many options in each field.
  • Age of (person) at first grant received has increased over the past 30 years.

Read: Zolas et al, 2015 in Science.

  • Most new PhDs will not go into tenure track jobs
  • What are implications for publishing?
  • Number of R&D firms in the US that are publishing has dropped dramatically, only about 10% now.
  • Many firms no longer do basic research, working on applied now.
  • Universities now operate as high end shopping malls, putting up space and branding while a lot of the actual revenue comes from without
  • For many, it isn’t publish or perish, but funding or perish
  • Estimated that PIs spend 42 percent of their time in grant administration/writing
  • The PIs then fill their labs with temporary postdocs or grad students
  • This started in the US but is expanding to other countries rapidly
  • Massive risk aversion. Almost all funding is directed toward “sure bets” .
  • NIH has explicit requirement about continuity of “research direction “. Built in risk and innovation reducer
  • Read “rescuing us biomedical research from its systemic flaws” PNAS
  • Bibliometrics reinforce risk aversion. Novel research is more likely to fail. Hardly anyone publishes negative results.

Reviewers are blinkered by bibliometrics in Nature read this.

  • Highly novel papers are almost always published in low-impact journals.
  • In short, things are disastrous, particularly as we anticipate federal funding declines. State funding of public universities continues to decline. Private foundation funding is increasing but exclusively focused on narrow applied topics - “cure industry”.

Her book How economics shapes science.
She also recommends an NBER book The changing frontier : rethinking science and innovation policy.



9:00 – 10:00AM


  • The “war on science”, e.g. Chris Mooney, rhetoric is overblown. Many republicans support certain science funding, just not the funding democrats always support.
  • Every government policy is a result of money, people, and ideas. What will Trump do?
  • Budget proposal has deep cuts to research funding. This comes not from a thorough analysis of the areas where science funding is wasted, but is an across the board cut.
  • At present, none of the cabinet appointments have any science training or significant attachment to public higher ed.
  • With the exception of NSF, all the agencies are being run by interim admins.
  • Less than 10% of the spots requiring confirmation have been filled. Both Obama and Bush were much farther along at this point. Trump admin seems indifferent to full staffing.
  • Census bureau is not fully staffed or funded, very worrisome since 2020 census is coming up.
  • OSTP funding is actually preserved at Obama level, but trump hasn’t filled leading spots. Unlikely that anyone respectable to scientists will actually take the position, even if nominated.
  • DARPA may get more funding, as may NASA but civilian/domestic science funding will almost certainly fall.
  • The admin has put research funding in a category of programs that “haven’t proven their value “. We need to lobby to correct this.
  • Indirect cost recovery: a proposal we should be scared of. Would cap NIH funding on certain projects. Trump proposal implies that universities are basically making a profit off federal NIH grants.
  • Good news is that the admin is working on a report in “evidence based policy”. We need to watch out for this. Could be good or bad.
  • Pew did a poll about the science march, find support for it was partisan.
  • Republicans “aren’t buying what you’ve been selling” re: the value of most science funding.
    • Q&A
    • What can private citizens do at federal or state level? There are dozens of power centers in DC so your efforts need to be targeted. State research funding is minimal. Perhaps get involved in state redistricting, get more pro-science people elected and in the pipeline.
    • Climate change…
    • What would a recovery look like? We shouldn’t think about science as a unified thing. The funding isn’t unified, the support isn’t. The sky isn’t falling at the same rate for all areas.
    • Can private funding make up the difference? Doubtful. It is increasing but only marginally.
    • Trump admin hasn’t renewed the contracts of the heads of national academy of science. Will we lose a generation of science leaders? These will get filled eventually.


10:30 – 11:30AM


Rep from Springer-Nature

  • There’s now considerable evidence that making the underlying study data available and linking it increases citation rates
  • Funders are increasingly requiring open data, presently 40 major funders require it
  • Journals policies on data sharing are very confused. Very little directions on how the mandates should be fulfilled.
  • Springer nature has looked at the polices of their journals, there are 4 basic categories. Not encouraged, encouraged, required but no directions or clear enforcement, required and compliance monitored
  • Springer Nature made their polices available CC BY
  • They’ve estimated it only takes about 10 minutes for editors to get the data availability statements from the authors into the papers.
  • For long term success, the policies need monitoring .
  • Implementing this is time consuming, need to engage with each journal individually.

Rep from PLoS

  • Open data has many benefits, replication, validation, new interpretation, inclusion in meta studies
  • PLOS has a strong data sharing policy
  • Less than 1 percent of authors are unwilling to share and abide by the policy
  • Authors need to get credit for the data they Share, the data need to be citable, other writers need to cite it. This is an evolving area.
  • Compliance is murky, does the data behind a figure need to be shared? Or all the data that was collected? PLOS wants to err on the later side.

Rep from Harvard Press

  • This is newish, lots of policies still being developed and adopted. Lots of discipline variation.
  • Biomedical community has lead the policy front.
  • Data she’s collected show that authors comply with even the strongest policies.
  • In biomedical area, trend/preference is for the data to be cited with a persistent identifier in the reference list.
  • Harvard Dataverse is an open repository for any journal
  • Publishers and journals need to plug supported repositories, give authors more guidance
  • Ideally the journals tech systems can work with any APIs that repositories have. (Repositories need APIs…)

Rep from Dryad

  • All data in there is from something that has been published.
  • Every item is “light touch” human curated.
  • It is a non profit governed by a board of customers.
  • Open data should be thought of as preservation, not just for reproducibility
  • The best time to get the data into a repository is before the article is actually published.
  • End result is an article and a dataset that link to and cite each other, API allows embargoes
  • Curation involves making sure data is not sensitive or violating IP, that it is in appropriate file format and doesn’t have a virus.
  • Data download is free, the journals pay to have the data in Dryad.


2:00 – 3:00PM


Jessica Polka, ASAPbio

  • Precincts are increasing!!!
  • Researchers are concerned: about getting scooped (not really a valid concern), about presenting unpeer reviewed results (people do this at conferences all the time), preprint will expose potentially misleading information to the general public
  • Most preprints in arXive appear in a peer reviewed journal eventually
  • Transparency about the peer review status of pre prints is essential. No one benefits from conflating preprints with a finalized version.
  • Should preprints be cited? If not, we may be encouraging plagiarism.


  • How does preprints usage differ across disciplines?
  • Broad institute (MIT & Harvard) looked into this
  • Broad office of communication does not publicize preprints or any preliminary results
  • Any intellectual property claims need to be filed before a preprints is made publicly available
  • Big differences among Broad researchers about preprints use, appears to depend on general journal policies for the field (I.e. Whether preprints are allowed in main journals or not)

Rep from Cold Spring Harbor laboratory

  • biorxiv modeled on arxiv
  • All the versions are available, when something is published, it gets linked to the publishers version of record
  • Then water came through the ceiling!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (We moved rooms)
  • Biorxiv is growing exponentially at the moment
  • Even though the papers haven’t gone through peer review, everything that gets uploaded to biorxiv gets viewed by a biologist to verify “fit”.
  • Biorxiv is supported by Chan Zuckerberg foundation
  • They are looking for ways to automate their human upload review and improve the conversion of documents to XML

Rep from PLoS

  • Both Wellcome Trust and CZI are requiring OA deposit and accept preprints.
  • This, along with many preprints servers launching in past 4 years, is big disruptive potential.
  • Preprints accelerate the discovery process and publishing process.
  • PLOS will accept preprints from biorxiv, they also comb over the preprint servers and solicit the authors to publish in PLOS. This is huge, it changes the dynamics between author and publishers
  • Technology interoperability has improved dramatically in past 5 years, this allows rapid conversion of documents. Easy for authors to shift manuscripts around from journal to journal if it is on a preprint server that has an API (and the final publisher can interact with it).
    • Q&A
    • Licensing….. very complicated.
    • The folks at arXive still get “anonymous” comments/reviews via email because they don’t want their criticism to be visible to the authors. Very interesting. Open peer review has a long way to go, not proven model.


4:00 – 5:00PM


Some panelist

  • Metadata needs to be better, richer, more accurate.
  • More and more, people are trying to map interconnections.
  • Lots of publishers “set it and forget it” once they set up a metadata workflow. Metadata2020 is trying to improve this.
  • The entire scholcomm community needs to be on board with this.
  • Automation of this process is key, the volume is simply too large to use people.
  • Finer gained is always better

Lady from ARL

  • Research libraries are reliant on good metadata. Institutions want to know all their research outputs. This is very hard without reliable quality metadata.
  • Researcher affiliation is surprisingly hard, requiring human curation since use of standard controlled vocabulary isn’t widespread
  • Long discussions ensued. One obvious takeaway, everyone needs to use ORCID! Require one for all your PhD students!
  • What are the tradeoffs in having the researchers/depositors put in the metadata at time of submission? Is there a better way?
  • Maybe making metadata enrichment more collaborative can help.
  • What if we used machine learning, AI, to generate the metadata ? What accuracy level would be acceptable in order to accept the richer records? To have a general use AI comb over so much content, the publishers would need to allow it in their licenses.



9:00 – 10:30AM


  • Lots of innovation and disruption in the field
  • Innovation is not a luxury, it is essential to keep customers now
  • Atypon. Seamless individual authentication . Atypons shared WAYF cloud, login once, the participating publishers share user authentication data, so access is seamless across sites and users can be tracked across sites. Will launch late 2017.
  • BenchSci. Trope is that scientists only engage with the literature sporadically in order to keep up to date. Actuality is that many consult it in small doses every week. People are often deluged in content though. Benchsci is an AI product that reads through papers to find biomedical information and allow filtering.
  • Code Ocean. Finding code or algorithms used in research is difficult. Not always available, many languages used, may need debugging. Code ocean hosts code in the cloud, supports all major languages, allows people to run code in the cloud and view in browser. It is a reproducibility platform. Cuts out the GitHub and downloading and other tweaking middlemen processes.
  • Crossref web events. Lots of places in the web refer to scientific information. Crossref and datacite collaborated to develop a tracking mechanism for these references (tweets, Wikipedia, Facebook, blogs, etc.). Not a metrics, no user interface, all the info goes through the API, interpretation of the data is done by the end user, not crossref.
  • Hypothes-is. W3C approved an annotation standard this year. So annotation is coming to the web in a big way, fast. Hypothesis is an nonprofit. Annotation allows all documents to become living, version of record preserved but also able to be continually updated if necessary. Journal clubs are forming using the software, they are also trialing using it for peer review.
  • LibLynx. Identity management, in a world where people use single sign on allows tracking and personalization. Presently, identifying patrons is siloed across many platforms, users can also have access through many IDs. Users have a disconnected access experience, often having to login 2x (library, then platform). By harmonizing ID management, liblynx allows cross site tracking and upselling.
  • NEJM knowledge +. A learning and assessment tool for physicians to pass their board exams. Uses AI to benchmark where people are and only show them relevant content to get them up to the next benchmark level. Originated after detailed consultations with doctors.
  • PSI. Firm that “keeps content safe”. They offer subscription fraud detection services, have recovered over 50 million in damages for their clients in past 10 years. They have a validated database of IP addresses (and API) to ensure that no one is getting unintended access as universities change their IP addresses. They also offer bribery detectors, LOL.
  • RedLink. Had new platform, Remarq. It is their strike back against academia.edu and Researchgate. They embed in existing websites and allow comments and annotation, as well as circulation “sharing”. All of this require only an addition of JavaScript to existing sites. They also offer polling and user interaction detached from an article.
  • SCOPE. Publishers need better metadata to sell their books, in order to do this for the backlist catalog, they have an AI product that generates abstracts and keywords for each chapter which then can go to human curators to verify. “conCise” product name. Several publishers on JSTOR are already use it for chapter abstracts and subject headings
  • Digital science. Dimensions for publishers. There aren’t many accurate leading indicators of use. Dimensions is a knowledge platform that allows tracking and aggregation of funding information, useful for soliciting reviews, IDing conflicts of interest, and scouting new topic areas for sales.
  • UC press, Editoria. Luminos. It is a web based open access workflow management and book development tool. Ingested Word files, then everything else can be done in the platform all the way to the final product. Based on the PubSweet framework. Partnership with Collaborative Knowledge Center.
  • U Michigan Press. Fulcrum. A platform that allows authors to present multimedia content into their work. Ebook don’t allow this (well). Fulcrum is a scalable platform that can allow this and has the player technology embedded in it so meets preservation requirements. Open source.
  • Zapnito. They offer white label “knowledge networks “ and “feeds”. Lots of buzzwords about knowledge frameworks, I’m not really sure what this actually does…. but both SpringerNature and Elsevier are customers.


11:00 – 12:00PM


  • Little solid research on information seeking behavior beyond the STM world. Humanities publishers have a long way to go, need to do more usability testing
  • At EBSCO they moved user research into the product management department out of the quality assurance department. They are working continuously with product owners of ebooks to improve service.
  • Everyone should read “democratization of UX” on medium. We need to go beyond white papers. They are fine but key points need to break out of the paper container into talking points and query-able databases.
  • Instead of general user testing, to make the results widely understood, many are using ‘user personas ‘. Then create testing panels of users that come close to the personas.
  • In order to make research actionable, the research questions need to be actionable. UX testers also need to stay ahead of the user. Henry ford “if I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me ‘a faster horse’.”
  • To make better products, publishers middlemen vendors and libraries must collaborate on user research.


1:30 – 2:30


My panel. Slides not posted online.


2:30 – 3:30


Ralph, ACS

  • RA21
  • Access methods have changed a lot in the past 30 years but not nearly as much as they could have changed.
  • IP authentication was invented in the mid 90s and we’re still using it. Why? There are other ways.
  • Detailed walkthrough of how hard it is to get to an article from off campus.
  • RA21 is joint initiative between NISO and STM to move away from IP authentication
  • Researchers want seamless access from multiple devices
  • IP authentication facilitates piracy (scihub leverages IP authentication). Publishers want to be able to shut out individual users they suspect of piracy, but shutting off an IP address affects hundreds or thousands of people.
  • There is a black market for university login credentials

R. Wenger from MIT

  • Read Roger Schonfeld post on Scholarly Kitchen 2015/11/13
  • IP authentication is an anachronism and “not sustainable” in the long term.
  • Academic libraries and publishers have an opportunity to collaborate on a new system
  • Libraries care about privacy and walk ins, protection of usage data
  • RA21 is going to use a SAML based system, of which shibboleth is one.
  • There is a lot of inertia behind IP authentication in libraries, will need to be overcome
  • Benefits for libraries are: no need to maintain IP ranges, reduced use of proxy servers, identity management likely outsourced to campus IT, granulated user data.
  • rwenger@mit.edu

Chris from Elsevier

  • SAML is a federated identity management technology (shibboleth is one version)
  • RA21 is doing pilot programs right now, 3. They have a privacy preserving WAYF (where are you from) option.
  • How it would work: sign in once using a university email, it gets stored in the browser, good to go forever on that device in that browser (unless delete the cookie). Cookie is privacy preserving by only using the email domain address, so no individual data stored.
  • www.ra21.org
  • OCLC has been involved in the discussions but is not a formal partner.
  • This not “a cross publisher login system”. Rather, users always login in to their institutional SSO and are then directed back to the content.


3:30 – 4:30


Scholarly Kitchen discussions

David Crotty, OUP

  • Why hasn’t scholarly publishing been disrupted already?
  • The number of authors and articles increases every year. But the subscriptions decline almost every year. Thus new growth strategies need to emerge.
  • Publishers are increasingly inserting themselves in every aspect of the research and dissemination process. (Vendor - publisher mergers)

Todd Carpenter, NISO

  • Money is the big problem, states, university, students, everyone is tapped out. Forecast is that resources will only stagnate or decline
  • Have libraries devotions to privacy set them back? How will they deal with the personalization that users “want”?

Bob, American Mathematics Society

  • For most societies, membership is declining, revenue is stagnant or declining
  • They need to demonstrate their value better
  • To outsource or not?
  • There are big questions of scale, societies have trouble competing with the big major publishers. Can they remain independent and in-house?

Kent, Redlink

  • Politics is now greatly affecting the scholcomm ecosystem
  • New UK draft policy would require researchers to show their funded work to government before publication
  • AI may save us. Or it may destroy things.
  • Now that the intermediary institutions are Silicon Valley (not neutral) we need to continually build in skepticism about the algorithms that are determining the results we see.

Notes from Ex Libris Users of North America 2017

Schaumberg, IL


From Tuesday May 9 through Friday May 12, I attended the 2017 meeting and conference of Ex Libris Users of North America (ELUNA), which was held at the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center in Schaumberg, Illinois. I did so at the request of the Dean and Associate Dean in order to ensure that I was armed with the most up-to-date information about the Primo discovery software before our library’s migration to the Alma/Primo system this coming June. Below are my session notes, which are of varying length depending upon how informative I found each session. ELUNA is organized in ‘tracks’ so that sessions pertaining to the same or similar products are spread out over the course of each day and that people interested in only one aspect of Ex Libris’ products, such as Primo, can absorb all the relevant content. The conference was a full service affair with breakfast and lunch provided on premise, quite a welcome change compared to ACRL. I found it to be an education experience and the comradery was quicker to develop compared to other professional events I’ve attended. Not only were all the (non-vendor) attendees working in academic libraries, most of us used (or in our case, will use) the same software on a day-to-day basis; this allowed for conversations to get rather ‘meaty’ in short order.

If you are interested, find my (occasionally cryptic) notes below with links to the detailed (non-plenary) session descriptions and let me know if you have any questions. Presenter slides are supposedly forthcoming but I have not been able to find them yet.


RECEPTION 6:00PM - 10:00PM

This was a nice opportunity to catch up with old friends from the University of Minnesota.



This is the biggest attended ELUNA yet. There is a new ELUNA mailing list domain/website http://exlibrisusers.org

Opening keynote Mary Case, from UI Chicago

  • Cross-institutions collaboration is crucial, it will allow for efficiency and improvement in access to local holdings and non held resources
  • In the past collaboration was state or country based. What if we thought of our community as the world? (ARL, SPARC, CfRL leading examples.) IARLA is a new global entry for library collaboration.
  • How will collection development change as more libraries work together? Distributed print repositories… with responsibility for preservation of their de-duped collections.
  • Data preservation is another area where there are big scale opportunities for collaboration. (Hathi trust, DataONE, DataRefuge, DPN)


Eric Hines, President of ExL North America

  • 2017 is ExL 30th anniversary as a company
  • Nice pictures of ExL old offices in Chicago (1st in USA), Notre Dame was first customer
  • Rattling off bunch of inspirational quotes.
  • 58% of ExL NA employees have an MLS
  • They are grateful for all the suggestions that their users have provided over the years and want to continue to leverage these.

Matti Shem-Tov, CEO of ExL

  • Over 3,000 institutions in NA use either Primo or Summon
  • They started with 55 developers for Alma, now there are over 100 working on it.
  • There are customers in Korea and China using Alma/primo recently now.
  • APIs are big for them, and will continue to be. They want to have a very open customizable system.
  • There are challenges but they are try to integrate a lot of ExL and Proquest products.
  • Working on shared Summon/PCI content.
  • Over 100 customers are using the new Primo UI
  • They’ve opened new data centers in Canada and China to decrease cloud response times. Committed to exceeding the contractual obligations about speed and responsiveness.
  • On the horizon is product development/enhancement about research data services management and better course management interoperability


Strategic plan highlights for 2017

  • What they hear from customers: they want efficiency, value, and new/improved services
  • Based on close work with 8 libraries, they’ve developed the new Alma UI. They are committed to continued enhancement of Alma and the UI
  • They want to do more community based testing, shared test plans, to reduce duplication in testing work across customers.
  • They pay attention to the idea exchange, it is where they get product enhancement ideas
  • In December 2016, they crossed a milestone in APIs, with more transactions in Alma coming from APIs then from humans.
  • The Oracle database is the single most expensive aspect of Alma.
  • They will soon introduce a benchmark feature in Alma analytics to compare your institution to other Alma institutions
  • In 2016 Primo searches increased 30% over 2015.
  • By the end of 2017, the coverage in Summon and PCI should be the same, they’ve been working on this since the Proquest acquisition
  • They are working on rolling the Primo Back Office into Alma so that they can be managed within the same system.
  • Leganto looks pretty cool, they have added many features recently.
  • A Leganto experiment at Vanderbilt resulted in a 52% savings on course materials
  • CampusM is a new mobile platform that consolidates all campus activity updates.


  • The Primo working group (of users) meets monthly. There was also a hack a thon on the new UI.
  • Coming features/work in progress:
  • Linked data, RestfulAPIs in Primo, improved recommendations
  • They are making promotion of OA materials a priority. More indexing, more linking, maybe an additional OA facet filter
  • Customers are encouraged to vote on PCI content additions on the Idea Exchange
  • Trying to get as much multimedia content in PCI as possible, their other main content priority other than OA
  • They do continuous adjustment of the propriety relevance ranking algorithm
  • Summer release of new UI will have brief record (snippets) views using PCI enriched metadata
  • They have started working with an external auditor to make sure that the new UI will meet all governmental accessibility requirements
  • August release will have a “resource recommender” feature when people sign in and view their patron record.
  • Later 2017 release will have additional linked record display fields
  • The unified PBO/Alma release is in beta testing. Production release will be 2018.
  • They are encouraging group hacks and code sharing. They want all users to be able to use locally developed hacks. This is called the “Primo open discovery framework “
  • The Cited By data all comes from CrossRef currently. But they may expand to include other data sources.
  • Q&A about the propriety ranking algorithms and how they test it to make sure it is actually getting better


  • Harvard has had several OPACs. One was AquaBrowser, which people apparently hated due to too much Web 2.0 gimmicks like automatic word clouds. At one point they had 3 OPACs simultaneously.
  • Recommended reading: Katie Sherwin 2016, university websites, top 10 guidelines
  • Harvard is trialing Yewkno , preliminary usability testing is that it is just a gimmick
  • They did a lot of usability testing and user surveys before picking Primo. Results indicated that people wanted single results page with filters rather than “bento” approaches
  • Lots of people wanted the old catalogue
  • Known Primo Gaps: series title linking, Primo just does a keyword search, gets lots of irrelevant results, users are used to being taken to a ‘browse’ feature
  • Harvard old OPAC also used a sorted list of uniform titles, no analog in Primo.
  • Big detriment of Primo is that the linked data is accomplished using keyword searches, rather than taking users to a browse list. At present, no known fix for this.
  • They still have their classic catalog which gets a fair amount of use, steady through the year, unlike Primo which fluctuates with academic calendar. Indications that staff and “real researchers “ still use the old catalog
  • Read: Karen Markey, 1983. Users expected articles to be in the OPACs even then!


At University of Washington, they did 3 separate usability studies to gauge effectiveness of the new UI. Methods: 12 participants, pre post tests, 60 minute sessions, 7 tasks and talk aloud method. Reward: 15$ bookstore gift cards.

Tasks (on old Primo):

  • Known title search, one that was on loan
  • Article subject search, peer reviewed
  • Course reserved materials
  • Known DVD, available
  • Known article from a citation
  • Print journal
  • Open ended search

Big problems ( low success):

  • Print journal volume, book on loan
  • Points of confusion: e-shelf, no one knows what it is, collection facet, ‘send to’ language
  • Old UI required too many clicks! (Between tabs, etc.)

Then ran usability test on new UI. Basically the same methodology

Problems (low task success):

  • Print journal, known DVD,
  • Points of confusion: tweak my results, save query, hard time finding advanced search
  • People very upset that the page refreshed each time a facet was selected
  • Hyperlinks were largely ignored by users, they wanted “buttons”
  • 3rd usability test where they brought in some old participants and new volunteers and had them compare the two UIs
  • Majority preferred new UI on all the aspects compared
  • Everyone is annoyed that Book Reviews come up in front of main items (relevancy ranking problems)

Enhancements needed:

  • Sign in prompt for ‘My Favorites’
  • Sort option for favorites in the new UI
  • Enable libraries to add custom actions to the actions menu
  • Zotero support


  • Tennessee tech adopted new Primo in July 2016, never used classic. Previously used Summon. Boston University adopted new Primo in 2017 after using old Primo since 2011.
  • Config: “new UI enabled” for openurl services page, added call number field to search menu, hid sections on the full display that didn’t make sense to end users. Tennessee tech had some big problems when they went live that required ExL development work. They were an early adopter and guinea pig. These were all resolved eventually. BU had done a bunch of customizing the old UI, which ended up anticipating a lot of the changes in the new UI.
  • Overall usability testing BU did found people were satisfied with the new UI. A lot of the defects they encountered have been fixed in the May 2017 release or will be in the August 2017 one.
  • Main complaint, slower page load time. (Found a statistically significant difference in page load time from old to new UI using Google Analytics data.)
  • BU now collapse a lot of the facets by default, since testing showed lots of people didn’t use them when expanded by default.



  • Since 2008, ExL has been focused on development of products that will allow libraries to focus on areas of real value. Their customers are academic and national libraries and will continue to be. Part of that is focus means focusing on researcher behavior.
  • One area that has changes since 2008 is that funding has increasingly come with strings attached and requirements for data openness and management. Simultaneously people are expected to demonstrate impact: metrics of success.
  • Institutional goals are thus to improve visibility, impact, and compliance. ExL knows this and is working on these areas.
  • There is already a very complicated and robust ecosystem for these areas. The current model is not one that they can easily work in or influence. So they want to “disrupt “ it. Not with a new product but with Alma and PCI
  • Alma is format agnostic so can handle all sorts of metadata. They are continually enriching the PCI/Summon metadata. The disruption comes in the analytical area where they are working on getting good metrics that can intersect with the rich Alma/PCI metadata. (Controlled vocab, Unique ID enrichment, etc.)
  • They are working with development partners already on Alma/PCI starting in July to get these enhancements started. Timeline is that some of the pilot enrichment will be done by end of 2018. General rollout of whatever features are ready in 2019.


Lots of clichés, suits making bad puns. Very boring.


  • At University of Oregon, they have an Evaluation, Assessment, User Experience team. And a Online User Interface team.
  • These teams are trying to be informed by the ACRL infolit framework.
  • These teams are new and there was not a lot of collaboration between these areas historically
  • How can Primo analytics answer questions about library instruction?
  • They interviewed 6 instruction librarians about how they might use the Primo dashboard and came up with tasks to test with undergraduate s
  • Undergrads mainly had questions about search functionality whereas grad students focus more on content
  • Problem identified by both librarians and the undergraduates is prevalence of book reviews
  • Students were recruited guerrilla style with bookstore gift cards a reward (5 students)
  • Tasks: find peer reviewed article about us civil war, how to request a book (paging service), find a sociology related database, get a known title book not held by the library but indexed in PCI, course reserves search.
  • No one could find the article, everyone was able to find a database (libguides 2.0 database list), other tasks had mixed success results mostly 2/5 or 3/5.
  • General findings: students didn’t prefilter (advanced search) or post filter - very discouraging. They did Google style long string searching.
  • They are giving regular Primo analytics dashboard info updates to the reference librarians.
  • Primo dashboard limitations: can’t publish dashboard results to Alma. Reports can be emailed out. At OU they are exporting raw data and creating a dashboard for the librarians in a 3rd party application.
  • Supposedly Alma and Primo analytics will merge, it is on the ExL product development roadmap.
  • Presenters didn’t deliver on the promise of handouts or scripts…


Uninteresting. After 15 minutes, I went to the bar.


  • Sawyer Library, had a popular reserve request feature that they wanted to keep going as they moved to Alma/Primo
  • What does it take to make this work? Set up a norm rule to copy the MMSID to an empty field that gets passed through the open URL, (not all fields get passed so need to be careful), then openurl gets processed through Alma API
  • He also wrote a text a call number feature, uses the same norm rule
  • Emery-Williams on GitHub


  • People might think that the new UI is just customized CSS and HTML of the old one, but that’s wrong. The entire thing has been rebuilt using AngularJS and separated from Alma and old Primo. All Alma data comes from API calls.
  • New May release feature is the session history in the menu bar
  • Right now, cases in sales force will have to be opened for problematic user tags, but this will eventually be able to be controlled via new Alma/Primo BO
  • Coming feature: resource recommendations (login required) that appear right before search results
  • August release will have multiple facet selection without page reloads? Unclear, but they’re working on it.
  • New white paper about Primo Open Discovery Framework. They are trying to make new UI as customizable as possible
  • Royal Danish Library has released a “search tips “ button and Altmetric API integration.
  • The main developer of new UI talked about accessibility issues that they’ve received pushback on from the accessibility working group. Infinite scroll was one problem so they introduced pagination.
  • New UI also loads slower than old UI but they are continually working on this, compressing things, reducing number of API calls, expanding server capacity.
  • The cited by feature is much more prominent in new UI and shows a trail, which it didn’t previously. They plan to introduce a save citation trail feature in 2018.


  • As more collections are books, why can’t we virtually browse them?
  • We can, in old UI, but it requires some work.
  • Need to add a PNX norm rule that deals with AVA tag. This AVA tag is an Alma tag, not Marc.
  • See slides in ELUNA document repository for details.
  • $$I , our institution code - add
  • Int means entity type
  • Mostly this works, but there are problems.
  • Some vendors don’t include call numbers, others include non-call number data in call number MARC fields
  • Ebook cutter numbers vary, some are : e, others eb
  • Duplication if an ebook is available in multiple ebook collections
  • Can’t hover in virtual browse to learn more. Can only determine if item is physical or electronic by clicking on the items
  • New UI, will it work? Yes.


  • Everyone is new! Except for a couple California community colleges using Aleph.
  • UNLV will be coming on Alma/Primo in 2018. They left III’s Link+
  • Several Arizona institutions will be moving to Alma/Primo in 2017, 2018.



Whew… a bit in over my head here. Hopefully someone in the system will learn AngularJS. Or David Walker will save us all? /-: