Drupal & Summon: Keeping Article Discovery in the Library

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How building a Drupal module to bring Summon's article discovery system into our web site increased article searching, decreased direct database use, and maintained context for the library's patrons.

How building a Drupal module to bring Summon's article discovery system into our web site increased article searching, decreased direct database use, and maintained context for the library's patrons.

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  • BackgroundExperience with Summon & DrupalWhat we didWhyImpacts
  • Sandbox projects can be contributed to anyone; low-use modules optimal for this. Explicitly “experimental”. Lower barrier to sharing
  • Why do this when the Summon interface is, frankly, pretty good?
  • Metalib (in blue), ArticlesPlus (in red)
  • Metalib/ArticlesPlus (in blue), ArticlesPlus (in red)
  • Article searches look different from catalog & site searches


  • 1. Drupal & SummonKeeping Article Discovery in the Library
    Ken Varnum
    30 September 2011
    LITA National Forum
  • 2. About the Library Site
    Launched 2 years ago
    Running on Drupal 6 & Solr
    Integrates discovery across
    Catalog (our books, ebooks including HathiTrust)
    Web content (stuff in Drupal)
    Databases & Journals (metadata level)
  • 3. Where We Were
    Had Ex Libris’s Metalib federated search
    Used X-Server (XML interface) to pull results into site
    Decent results but
    Did I say slow?
  • 4. What We Did
    MLibrary signed up with Summon in July 2010
    Launched our interface 9/27/2010
    As with Summon’s hosted tool, anyone can search through our interface
    Full text links are OpenURLs
    UM authentication (off campus) / IP recognition (on campus) to get full text
  • 5. About the Module
    Developed by Albert Bertram at UM Library
    Requires Summon API key to run
    Development time about 10 weeks
    Had experimented with Summon API for another search project
    Built code from scratch as a Drupal module
  • 6. What It Does
    Replicates most functionality of Summon’s hosted site
    One-click links to full text (where available)
    360 Link is resolver
    Each citation has a permalink for bookmarking/sharing
  • 7. Module Status
    Available as Drupal sandbox projecthttp://bit.ly/articlediscovery
    “Real” modules must be reviewed & approved by Drupal gatekeepers
    Can be slow
    Iterative process
    Minimal benefit (for us)
  • 8. Module Contribution
    Use GIT to download/update
    Or download manually and install or upgrade
    Anyone can download & install
    Drupal 6
    phpapi client library rovidedby Serials Solutions
    A couple pear packages
    Summon API key
  • 9. Search Results
    Summon Native
    Summon @ MLibrary (API)
  • 10. Item Displays
    Single Item in Summon
    Single Item in API
  • 11. Why Do It This Way?
    Information world is a scary place (esp. for undergrads)
    Provide as few starting points as possible
    Keep users 'at home' as long as possible
    Provide access to help as much as possible
    Keep article discovery, catalog discovery, etc. in one context
  • 12. Being in the Flow
    Lorcan Dempsey defines “being in the flow” as:
    the library needs to be in the user environment and not expect the user to find their way to the library environment
    integration of library resources should not be seen as an end in itself but as a means to better integration with the user environment, with workflow.
    “In the flow”, 6/24/2005http://orweblog.oclc.org/archives/000688.html
    Image courtesy of M.H Stephens
  • 13. Staying in Our Own Flow
    We *want* to be where the users are
    But we need to start be being where we are.
    We’re not always sure where “there” is
    Our users’ flow often involves the library, so we also try to add extra value there
    Provide auxiliary services within the local context
    Not discourage users from going elsewhere, but providing reasons to stay
  • 14. Flowing
    Keep discovery in the library.
    Send users to destination when they’ve found what they want
    In practice:
    LibGuide discovery in search & browse
    Database, journal, & catalog discovery in our site
    Integrate article discovery into site
    Subject specialists integrated into search & browse
    Provide other services around article discovery
    Opportunity to learn about our user’s needs and behaviors
  • 15. Drawbacks
    Functionality of Summon’s native interface does not wholly show in API (they have some very talented coders)
    Data does
    Need to do extra work on our side to, for example, display Web of Science Citation Counts, or LibGuide author photos
    API not 100% documented
    We’re now “help desk” for other libraries
  • 16. Effects
    Eliminated Ex Libris’ Metalib & SFX
    Changes to external database usage
    Database discovery now in-site
    Allows additional services
    Problem reporting & response
  • 17.
  • 18.
  • 19. How It’s Being Used
  • 20. Failure Reporting
    Failure reporting
    Ask for feedback at point of full-text click
    Capture permalink, on- or off-campus status
    Ask for symptoms and email for follow-up
    Questions pass through ask-a-librarian service
    Rapid updates to our holdings inSummon/360 Link
  • 21.
  • 22. Failure Report by Data Source
    423 reportsApril-September 2011
  • 23. Add-On Services
    Custom searches
    Failure reporting
  • 24. Where Next?
    Continue to build services around discovery
    Bring scoped searches to specific courses
    Launch sharing of frequently used & saved resources among students in a class
    Continue to study search & browse usage
  • 25. Q&A
    Ken Varnum
    Web Systems Manager
    University of Michigan Library