#libday8 day 5 — queasy

funny pictures - can we fix it? yes we can!After a late start due to some unexpected things-that-must-be-done-now, I arrived and began to dig into the action items delayed from yesterday. This included responding to OCLC with information about a billing error, filing my notes from the discovery service presentation, and following-up on a related query from a colleague.

Added a new ejournal to our knowledgebase, but the default URL is different from what the publisher gave me. Added the custom URL and a note in Outlook to check on Monday to make sure the OpenURL linking works with the custom URL. Our KB provider does nightly refreshes of profile changes, so things we do behind the scenes aren’t live until the next day.

Unlike most of the reference librarians, there is one in particular who refuses to provide me with descriptions and coverage details of resources that go with their links on our website and LibGuides. I end up searching for descriptions on other library sites, and usually find something that will work. I added two resources for this librarian today, and rather than a simple copy/paste from the email generated by the form that every other librarian is able to send me, I spent about 20 min digging around for the information I needed. If it’s wrong, the only people who will care are the users, since I doubt this librarian even checks this stuff. This was evident because the librarian asked me to add three other resources that are already listed on the website and in LibGuides.

I tried to keep on slogging through, but the waves of nausea I’d been ignoring all morning were becoming harder to ignore. I decided it would be better to ride them at home than trying to work and maybe staying too long. Good thing I did, because the next 12 hours were very unpleasant, and the 12 after that less so. I’m posting this now a day late, and I’m finally starting to feel human again.

So, for library day in the life round eight, I’m signing out with a whimper.

#libday8 day 4 — lies, damn lies, and statistics

How to Lie with Statistics cover
How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff & Irving Geis

My day began with organizing and prioritizing the action items that arrived yesterday when I was swamped with web-scale discovery service presentations. I didn’t get very far when it was time to leave for a meeting about rolling out VuFind locally. Before that meeting, I dropped in to update my boss (and interim University Librarian) on some things that came out of the presentations and subsequent hallway discussions.

At the VuFind meeting, we discussed some tweaks and modifications, and most everyone took on some assignments to revise menu labels, record displays, and search options. I managed to evade an assignment only because these things are more for reference, cataloging, and web services. The serials records look fine and appear accurately in the basic search (from the handful of tests I ran), so I’m not concerned about tweaking anything specifically.

Back at my desk, I started to work on the action items again, but the ongoing conversations about the discovery service presentations distracted me until one of the reference librarians provided me with a clue about the odd COUNTER use stats we’ve received from ProQuest for 2011.

I had given her stats on a resource that was on the CSA platform, but for the 2011 stats I provided what ProQuest gave me, which were dubious in their sudden increase (from 15 in 2010 to 4756 in 2011). She made a comment about how the low stats didn’t surprise her because she hates teaching the Illumina platform. I said it should be on the ProQuest platform now because that’s where the stats came from. She said she’d just checked the links on our website, and they’re still going to Illumina.

This puzzled me, so I pulled the CSA stats from 2011, and indeed, we had only 17 searches for the year for this index. I checked the website and LibGuides links, and we’re still sending users to the Illumnia platform, and not ProQuest. So, I’m not sure where those 4756 searches were coming from, but their source might explain why our total ProQuest stats tripled in 2011. This lead me to check our federated search stats, and while it shows quite a few searches of ProQuest databases (although not this index, as we hadn’t included it), our DB1 report shows zero federated searches and sessions.

I compiled all of this and sent it off to ProQuest customer support. I’m eager to see what their response will be.

This brought me up to my lunch break, which I spent at the gym where one of the trainers forced my compatriots and I to accomplish challenging and strenuous activities for 45 min. After my shower, I returned to the library to lunch at my desk and respond to some crowd-sourced questions from colleagues at other institutions.

I managed to whack down a few email action items before my ER&L co-presenter called to discuss the things we need to do to make sure we’re prepared for the panel session. We’re pulling together seasoned librarians and product representatives from five different electronic resource management systems (four commercial, one open-source) to talk about their experiences working with the products. We hashed out a few things that needed hashing out, and ended the call with more action items on our respective lists.

At that point, I had about 20 min until my next meeting, so I tracked down the head of research and instruction to hash out some details regarding the discovery service presentations that I wanted to make sure she was aware of. I’m glad I did, because she filled in some gaps I had missed, and later she relayed a positive response from one of the librarians that concerned both of us.

The meeting ended early, so I took the opportunity of suddenly unscheduled time in my calendar to start writing down this whole thing. I’d been so busy I hadn’t had time to journal this throughout the day like I’d previously done.

Heard back from ProQuest, and although they haven’t addressed the missing federated search stats from their DB1 report, they explain away the high number of searches in this index as having come from a subject area search or the default search across all databases. There was (and may still be) a problem with defaulting to all databases if the user did not log out before starting a new session, regardless of which database they intended to use. PQ tech support suggested looking at their non-COUNTER report that includes full-text, citation, and abstract views for a more accurate picture of what was used.

For the last stretch of the day, I popped on my headphones, cranked up the progressive house, and tried to power through the rest of the email action items. I didn’t get very far, as the first one required tracking down use stats and generating a report for an upcoming renewal. Eventually, I called it a day and posted this. Yay!

#libday8 day 3 — never-ending powerpoint!

"PowerPoint effects" from Noise To Signal by Rob Cottingham

I had just enough time to log on and clear out the email inbox before the first team of vendor reps arrived to demonstrate their discovery service, and then it was off to the auditorium where I would spend most of the rest of the day.

These presentations are the latest iteration of our years long internal debate over whether or not the current crop of “web-scale discovery services” can fulfill an unmet need for our students (and faculty). We’ve considered several in the past, but could not get sufficient buy-in from the research & instruction librarians to request the funds to pay for them. After a cooling period, and many discussions with key individuals, we sent out an RFI to some targeted companies, and now we’re providing the opportunity for them to give live demonstrations/pitches.

It’s an unusually warm day here in Richmond, and the library’s HVAC — like most large buildings with sections of various ages and walls that didn’t exist when the building was originally designed — isn’t keeping up with the change. So, after a much-needed lunch break, I came back to the warm auditorium for rounds two and three.

I wish I could share my thoughts about the day’s presentations, but I can’t. Ultimately, there were many examples of things done well and things done not so well, both in the products and in the presentations. We know where the bar has been set, so now it’s a matter of matching our expectations to what can be delivered. There is one more presentation to go, and these have been quite valuable for clarifying what is important to us in a discovery service.

After one last pass through the email inbox, bumping most action items to tomorrow, library day in the life round eight day three has ended.

#libday8 day 2 — mushy brain work

Arrived and was greeted with paper renewal notifications covering my keyboard. Set those aside, logged in, and began sorting through the new email that arrived overnight and earlier this morning. Updated my calendar with new meetings/events, as well as the time I’ve blocked out for various tasks for the day.

First thing I tackled was notifications to the subject liasions about upcoming eresource renewals. I’m using the modified annual review checklist and data thinger that I shared about last month, and I’ve received positive responses from the subject liaisons.

At 10, I started my on-call shift for the Main Service Desk. I don’t normally do this, but I’m covering for a reference librarian who has to teach a class this morning. Basically, it means I monitor the IM reference and email, and am available to help at the desk if they need me. It also means I can keep working on whatever I’m working on, unless I get interrupted.

One of the things I’ve been working on lately is retrieving use statistics for calendar year 2011. But, it has been slow going, as I’ve been distracted with other pressing projects that normally would not interrupt this annual Jan/Feb activity. Part of what is taking me longer to prepare the annual review checklist & data for the upcoming renewal is that I have to retrieve the 2011 stats and clean them up, rather than just pulling from the files I have already.

I would like to take a moment here to say that I would almost prefer no use statistics to the ones where they only provide them for a month at a time. This requires running 12 different reports for a year, and 24 if searches and sessions are not in the same report. I say almost, because at least I get something, even if it is a royal pain in the ass to retrieve and exemplifies the short-sightedness of the publisher. I’m looking at trends, not miniscule pieces of data.

My on-call-ness and/or electronic resources librarian-ness kicked in midway through the shift when I was called out to help a student download a book in EBSCOhost. We figured out that he needed an account in EBSCOhost, and also to install Adobe Digital Editions on the lab PC. This worked for now, but I have put in a request that ADE be added to the image for all student lab computers.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women WorldwideFinally wrapped up the renewal stuff plus the associated use statistics stuff in time for my on-call shift to end and my lunch hour to begin. I took the opportunity to enjoy the spring weather by heading off-campus to run some errands. As it happened, I finished listening to an audiobook just as I returned, so I left a short review on GoodReads. The book is Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, and it’s the One Book, One Campus selection at my university this year.

The next 20 min or so consisted of responding to email that had come in over lunch and checking Twitter. I didn’t want to get into much, since I was about to start my one hour shift at the Main Service Desk (actually staffing it this time around).

Desk was pretty slow. I had one question about where to find a book, and a few people looking for specific librarians. My co-consipirator at the desk and I spent some time kvetching about why it is that one of the highest ILL net lenders in the state (us) is still using clunky, out-dated software when even the most podunk libraries have ILLiad now. I looked at the stats from 2011, and ILLiad would have cost us less than a penny per transaction, and saved the user and the ILL staff so much time and lost productivity. My coworker thinks we’ll probably get it in the next year, but still… I can’t believe it’s taking so long!

Now back at my desk, I took a moment to follow up with EBSCOhost tech support regarding a problem we’ve encountered with the “Linked Full Text” in Academic Search Complete. I’d called it in last week and was waiting for a response. They still don’t know what’s broken, and it is still broken. Anyone else having problems with this?

Next I spent some time trying to sort out why in one month we received two invoices followed by two credit memos from the same publisher for the same resources. Turns out the invoices had errors and the credit memos were their way of zeroing out our balance. A simple explanation or note would have saved me a phone call. Ah, the joys of automated billing systems! While I was at it, I sent them a note with updated contact info, as one invoice/credit was addressed to a predecessor of more than six or seven years, and the other addressed to the collection development librarian who will be retiring this summer. Figured I’d get it taken care of now so we don’t miss something in the future.

To wrap up the day, I reviewed the responses to an RFI for discovery services that we sent out last month. We’ll be having demos of three different systems tomorrow, and I wanted to prep some follow-up questions in advance. So. Many. Words. I know I’m going to need a drink or two by the end of the day.

#libday8 day 1

Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman inspires me when I'm feeling less than wonderful.

Yesterday, I accomplished something I didn’t think I could do — I hiked 8.2 miles, with a 1000 ft elevation change throughout. Despite sleeping for about 9.5 hrs, I ended up crashing for a few more hours after I attempted to get up and go to work. Thus, my first “day in the life of” will be a bit shorter than normal.

I arrived shortly before noon. While waiting for my computer to boot up and load all the starting programs, I cracked open a can of Coke Zero and the most recent issue of the Journal of Irreproducible Results.

Once the computer was up and running, I started sorting through the inbox of new messages. I added a few messages to my to-do list, and a few links from colleagues to my to-read list.

We’re having some vendors come in and demonstrate comparable products this week, and one needs to reschedule to next week. This means spending some time coordinating with the person who books the room we planned to use and the person who arranges for catering to bring coffee and tea service.

Once the inbox was properly sorted into tasks, archives, and deletes, I started in on the to-do list. First up is a collection of journals that are changing publishers. I’ve been checking on them in our ERMS for the past three months — ever since the change was announced. None have reflected the change yet, so I’ve bumped the due dates on the tasks for another two weeks.

One of our online resource subscriptions expired today and has not been renewed, so I removed it from LibGuides, suppressed the entry in our website’s A-Z list, and updated the status in our ERMS.

Tomorrow is the last day to download stats from the old WilsonWeb platform. The first thing I did was to check and see what links haven’t already been converted over to the EBSCOhost versions. Frankly, I was kind of surprised to discover how many were left. A few were my errors (forgot to publish the change made on the back-end), but the others I suspect may have gotten lost in the notification shuffle. It took some time to update the remaining ones, and make notes about the changes in our ERMS. I also had to re-order the databases in EBSCOhost, as new ones get added at the end, and this messes up the alphabetical order.

Finally, I went and downloaded last year’s reports as well as January this year from the WilsonWeb platform. Worked on normalizing them for import into our ERMS (I have to do this so the ERMS knows which resources the stats apply to, both for databases and for journals), but didn’t finish before I needed to break for a late lunch.

After a satisfying roasted pork bahn mi and caramel gelato from the campus international cafe, it was back to work. While I was out, more email arrived, requiring replies and such. Then it was back to cleaning up the use reports. This took longer than expected because the database titles were all abbreviated, and the journals had commas and dashes removed.

On Friday, I was asked if I would be interested in contributing a chapter to an eresources toolkit book. I spent some time thinking about it over the weekend, and after reviewing the proposed chapters and consulting with a colleague today, I sent a message to the editor indicating my interest.

After doing that, the only thing remaining on my task list for the day was to review the top candidates for an open position in our customer service department (I’m on the search committee). I decided that my fatigue required some assistance before tackling that, so I took a break to get some coffee and chat with a colleague.

Wrapped things up and prepped this for posting. Thanks for reading, and tune in tomorrow for day two.