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My ALA started on Friday with an all-day ProQuest User Group meeting. This was the first time ProQuest had done one of these and it was really, really useful. Their goal was to hear from librarians about a variety of issues and to update us on what is coming with ProQuest products. I spent the first breakout period in a session about eBooks. Leslie Lee, the new product developer (among many other things) for the Ebrary/EBL product led the session. He asked really good questions of the group about the level of comfort with ebooks from our various constituencies, how we budget for ebooks, what our thoughts were about different pricing models (like platform fees vs. higher per-title prices), and what the one thing we would want from a new platform. The discussion was wide ranging and covered things like how we need to rethink departmental-specific budgets, the need for better ways to get books on mobile devices, and the rich data ebooks can give us about our users and their habits. The second and third sessions I went to were both about Summon. The first one was about the new features upcoming in the next big iteration of Summon. These features are really exciting and include bringing background/reference content to the user in a separate panel on the results page, morecustomizability, spotlighting content by format (think Google Images, News, etc), automated query expansion (if you search ‘heart attack’ it will also search ‘myocardial infarction’ as well) and some others. I can’t wait to see the new features in action. We will get access to a test site in mid July and then will go live at some point before January 31st 2014. Then we broke out into discussion tables. I joined a table that looked at the way libraries are managing Summon after the implementation is over. It was clear that we had more questions than answers. Who is ultimately responsible for keeping up with changes/features in Summon? A single person – a team – an advisory group?? how are decisions made about how to configure new features, etc. Vote? Benign dictatorship? It dawned on me that we probably need to give more deliberate attention to Summon to be sure it is as good as we can make it for our users. I’ll get a group together later in the summer to discuss all these new features and how we want to handle them.
All in all it was a very useful meeting. ProQuest very intentionally did a lot of listening and not any selling of their products. They really wanted to hear what we like, don’t like and what we feel is missing the landscapes of products they provide.
My Saturday was filled mostly with committee meetings for the Law and Political Science Section. I am the outgoing chair of the Marta Lange awards committee (our luncheon is tomorrow) and a member of the 2014 Program Planning Committee for the Las Vegas conference. We decided that our program in Las Vegas will be about water issues in the Southwest. Should be really good. I hit the exhibits – found out that the NY Times now has site licenses for libraries and got a good look at the new Statistical Datasets product. Will go back tomorrow for more vendor floor schmoozing.