Information Literacy and Summon

Looks like the SummonIL event in the UK yesterday was a great day, with lots of ideas, experiences and approaches being shared. Head on over to http://summonil2012.wordpress.com/ for the live blogged posts from the day. Looks like there’s plans afoot for more content over the next while. Great idea.

You might know my views on the whole area of IL and discovery services. We’ve just launched Summon in our library, so September 2012 is going to be a really interesting time for us.

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2 Comments on “Information Literacy and Summon”

  1. Michelle says:

    I like the screenshot Alan – fame at last :) I came across a very comprehensive evaluation of Summon a while back (http://www.dartmouth.edu/~library/admin/docs/Summon_Report.pdf). It compares the feedback of students, faculty and library staff and notes:
    “It is interesting to compare the library staff survey results with the undergraduate student
    survey results… with undergraduate students holding a stronger positive view than library staff”

    Is this because library staff have a better understanding of more complex ‘flaws’ (.e.g poor metadata etc.) and that undergrads are just happy to find a resource that is easy to use and good enough? And maybe the latter is in fact good enough for many users and what they *really* want, in spite of what we may think is better? After all one of the student comments suggested “the ability to search based on the length of the article (if you want a really long article or one that’s short and to the point)” as one of the desired future features :) Many undergrad students will want, and thus be motivated by, being able to quickly and easily find enough (hopefully short!) articles to get a good grade on an essay or exam. In this context, discovery services can provide a level/kind of service that is exactly what a lot of people want. The more comprehensive and sophisticated searching options of individual databases are still there for those users who want and need more (grad students, researchers, faculty), but just because this may be theoretically ‘better’, does not mean it is for everyone and trying to force this on those who simply don’t see a need for it will be hard to sell. From using it myself, I find the often vast number of subject facets presented in the refining options a little frustrating though I must admit.

    • alancarbery says:

      Michelle, I think you’re hitting the nail on the head. Summon isn’t perfect; neither are any of the others. Heck, we KNOW google isn’t perfect. But the point is, it appeals to students. Students couldn’t give a hoot what’s going on in the background. All a student wants is the paper for their assignment, or where ever the underlying information need stems from.

      Summon (and other web-scale discovery tools) is our closest Google experience for library research that also helps make our collections a little bit more discoverable and exposed. What we do with it, as providers, teachers, etc, is completely up to us.

      I think what we need to remember every so often, is that we should be viewing our services and resources like users, not librarians. There is a huge difference there.


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