Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Summon and the new ProQuest non-issue

A little bit of traffic on the Summonclients list this morning about what might be the affect on Summon of switching over to the new ProQuest interface. Which made me wonder just how broadly people have grasped that Summon is not a federated search engine. It does not search other databases in real time.

If there were any Summon problems at all with the new ProQuest they would either be:
  1. A new record export/import issue between Proquest and Serials Solutions (given they are the same company it's no stretch to imagine that these were, or would be, sorted quickly) - which in any case would not affect Summon's functionality, just its currency.
  2. Linking to full text on ProQuest via OpenURL might fail.  Which isn't a Summon issue but a link resolver issue, and again, if you were using SS's 360 Link you'd expect that to already be sorted. The whole point of using the the OpenURL protocol is so that any citation source can be linked to the relevant target regardless of platform.
 The second point also highlights a mindset I've noticed among professionals of thinking that your link resolver is part of your discovery tool.  To an end user it probably appears it is, but in terms of diagnosing the source of a problem I think it's crucial that librarians understand the linkages between data sources and the applications that sit on top of them.

That understanding isn't just crucial to problem diagnosis, it's imperative to see possibilities for creating new services to fill specific needs. For me librarians are the drivers for identifying client needs. I'm blessed with a group of colleagues who don't accept the status quo and will say 'why can't it do this?'

That attitude meshes so well with the Summon rapid development model.  Which again impressed me this week by solving the 'author ordering' issue, which I'd reported maybe 6 weeks earlier. I assume a whole bunch of other institutions reported the same issue, which pushed it to the top of the development queue.  And we didn't have to wait for the next version to be rolled out third quarter of next year.  So far I'm liking the 21st Century.