Category Archives: presentations

Dave Pattern – Riding the Summon Hype Cycle

You can watch the video recording of this presentation here.

This was a slightly tongue-in-cheek presentation themed around applying the Gartner Hype Cycle to the various phases of delivering a discovery service, based on experiences at Huddersfield and from discussions with numerous librarians over the last 3 years.

Technology Trigger

The federated search product we had at Huddersfield was failing to meet the needs of our users and was widely disliked for being slow, clunky and unreliable. Increasingly we were seeing traffic to library e-resources being driven from Google Scholar and, anecdotally, students were telling us that their lecturers were advising them to use Google Scholar as the library provided service were too difficult to use. Although we could point to growing evidence that Scholar was an imperfect solution (e.g. partial or unknown coverage of resources), the reality was we simply couldn’t compete on ease of use.

We knew we’d have to make a radical change to improve the situation…

Peak of Inflated Expectations

As we started to look around for ways of improving e-resource provision, we saw an early version of Summon during March/April 2009 and it convinced us that we could potentially deliver a Scholar-like experience for our users. After going out to tender, we selected Summon and began implementation during late 2009.

I should point out here that I’m not implying Summon is a hyped product, but simply that our expectations are often set a little too high (“yay, shiny new toy!”).

Trough of Disillusionment

Matt Borg explored this topic during his session, but one of the issues around implementing Summon is the need to understand that it was designed from day one as a tool to support the information seeking behaviours of students and researchers. To paraphrase a comment Matt made at the 2012 MmIT Conference

The trouble with Summon is that students don’t need to be taught how to use it, but librarians do

That isn’t an easy pill to swallow and I suspect is one of the reasons why some libraries choose to implement alternative discovery service products that behave more like a traditional library database.

During the “disillusionment” phase, it’s common to become fixated on issues such as:

  • title coverage of specific journal platforms and concerns over missing content — the “EBSCO problem” was an topic raised in both of the afternoon breakout sessions and the issue isn’t specific to just Summon (see Orbis Cascade Alliance)
  • a desire to apply familiar advanced searching techniques, as used with other databases, to Summon
  • the realisation that students will still need to be taught how to use the native interfaces of certain subject specific databases
  • OpenURL is an imperfect linking solution, so article level linking to a small number of journal platforms can be hit and miss
  • if you haven’t previously implemented a next generation OPAC, it’s likely that errors in cataloguing will be exposed for the first time

The end result is that it’s common for libraries to take a cautious approach to launching their discovery product. At Huddersfield, we launched Summon as a “beta” service in January 2010 and ran it in parallel with Metalib until July 2010.

Slope of Enlightenment / Plateau of Productivity

For me, this is what the two #SummonIL events have been about — an opportunity to share best practice and to discuss how Summon has altered the approach to teaching. The common refrain from presenters at both events is that Summon frees up time to concentrate on the delivery of information literacy.

Emma Coonan (University of Cambridge) – Before and after Summon


You can watch the video recording of this presentation here.

Emma kicks off with @emergencypuppy!

Emma says we need to move from “finding” to “decoding”.

Sessions keyed around phases of research.

Emma covering how the sessions have changed from pre to post Summon. Previously, issues around describing the relationship between the various library silos.

With Summon, emphasis on:
* understanding reading lists
* how to critically evaluate the list

Pre-Summon, Emma has “the most depressing hand out in the world”!

Post-Summon, Emma can concentrate on what the various resource formats available actually are. She’s moved away from the “find it here” mentality.

Eleanor Johnston – Summon and IL in relation to Step Up to HE at Staffordshire University


You can watch the video recording of this presentation here.

Step Up to HE is a well embedded pre-enrolment course at the university.

The course helps students feel confident that they’re up to taking a full university course.

Info Lit and Step Up sessions
1) finding info – intro to library resources, terminology, peer-review, etc
2) evaluating info – using pedagogical approach devised by Anthony Beal (Jisc) @redsontour
3) using info – referencing, organising saved references, exporting, etc

The future…
* looking forward to Summon 2.0!
* develop material for shorter sessions, online quizzes

J. Adam Edwards (Middlesex University) – Teaching computer science students, using games, etc


You can watch the video recordings of Adam’s presentation here and his lightning session here.

Like Sandy from SHU, Adam covers a variety of subject areas.

Summon has been a huge enabler for Middlesex and has freed time up to do other things during teaching sessions.

* sessions aren’t always embedded in teaching
* teaching opportunities can be inconsistent
* teaching can sometimes be repetive
* timing of sessions can be bad
* lack of info skills — computing students don’t always know how to search!
* teaching methods and “death by Powerpoint”

Librarians and teaching…
* we spend too much time being generic
* tool based and didatic
* can be uninspiring
* too much content

Going forward!
* less is more — quality not quantity
* don’t try to clone students into mini-librarians!
* learning by doing
* learners, not the taught

* fun
* quick
* simple
* easy

Before Summon…
* separate training for different databases
* things get missed
* dull and confusing
* no time for Kleine topics

With Summon…
* lots of time saved during teaching
* have a go approach
* inspires confidence
* “Summon is better than Google because…”

From here…
* rolling out the new info lit framework
* developing activities
* improving attendance
* revalidation

Summing up…
* the changes have worked!
* teaching is much more fun!
* Summon saves time!

Michael Latham & Mike Ewen – Summon at the University of Hull


You can watch the video recording of this presentation here.

Hull launched Summon in September 2012, managed by a project team made of up library staff, with a subgroup covering promotion and usability.

Hull went for a soft launch and promoted it heavily during the academic year and were keen to get word of mouth.

Front line staff were given demonstrations and training.

Info Lit delivery was initially cautious, due to staff still getting familiar with Summon. Summon initially presented as an additional service during inductions, including a brief demonstration.

Feedback collected by online surveys, focus groups and usability testing. Survey also provided an opportunity to promote Summon to those who hadn’t used it yet.

Focus groups and usability testing showed that students found Summon very easy to use without much in the way of training.

Mike showing off a word cloud from the survey comments, with words like “library”, “easy” and “ease” standing out.

Negative issues about doing a soft launch included lack of brand awareness.

Mike now talking about 2013/14 promotion…

* much higher exposure for Summon
* lots more promotional materials
* mail shots to academics and workshops
* strong focus on info lit teaching for 1st yr students
* drop in sessions
* teaching on postgrad modules
* LibGuides, with Summon heavily promoted
* important to also promote native database interfaces too!

Hull are looking to find the sweet spot between Summon and other search resources.

Sandy Buchanan – Using Summon with Engineering and Maths students


You can watch the video recording of this presentation here.

Sandy covers an eclectic range of subjects at Sheffield Hallam (SHU), with each usergroup having different needs and requirements.

SHU library home page has the Summon search box and links to LibGuides subject guides.

I’ll add a link in here to Sandy’s slides, but he’s covering how teaching is tailored to the different subject areas, e.g. Art & Design students are much more “hands on” and like to handle materials.

Sandy’s looking forward to the Topic Explorer pane in Summon 2.0 and the move to discipline facets.

Summon requires very little teaching, even to supposedly “non-techie” groups of students. Sandy has found that students share and help each other.

Journals dominate the results and provides an excellent opportunity to introduce them to 1st yr students, even though they maybe won’t really need them until 2nd or 3rd yr.

Summon provides a great introduction to other databases and provides a good way of highlighting the strengths and weaknesses.

Sarah Brain – Impact of Summon at UWE


You can watch the video recording of this presentation here.

UWE have branded Summon as “Library Search” and have embedded it prominently on their library home page.

UWE have excluded book reviews and newspapers by default, and moved A&I without subscriptions to beyond the collection. The database list highlights which databases are covered by Summon.


* UWE have implemented a new information literacy framework
* UWE tend not to demonstrate Summon during 1st year inductions and instead just let them loose on Library Search
* UWE have more time to cover critical evaluation of resources


(will add this later as WordPress failed to update and lost my edits!)


Matt Borg – Cultural Changes

You can watch the video recording of this presentation here.

Matt awarded some chocolate to the delegates who travelled the furthest!

Sheffield Hallam (SHU) had a 4 month beta period Summon.

SHU thought a lot about the discovery journey students take.

Prior to Summon, SHU had to teach students umpteen different interfaces — they were expert tools for expert searchers!

Librarians love to help, but we need to stop helping so much!

Initial feedback from some librarians was that they had issues with Summon, but this was down to their use of hyper-stylised searches rather than Google style searches used by students.

SHU have hidden their OPAC and Summon is the primary search interface.

Matt says we need to move to intuitive interfaces and feels that Summon helps that process.

“Librarianship should be about everything for everyone, but sadly there is sometimes an arrogance that seems creates barriers”