Monday, March 11, 2013

4 ways to bring users to your library resources from Wikipedia

Surveys of both phd students in the UK as well as researchers in US not to mention ordinary users has shown that increasingly, the academic library site is declining in importance as a starting point for searching.

Besides Google, the main site they go to is Wikipedia, either by going there direct or via google because it ranks highly in Google for most topics. There is even a name for it called GWR or Google > Wikipedia > References , the process where people Google, click on a wikipedia result and look at the references.

I won't go through all the debates about Wikipedia by librarians though Wikipedia is not wicked is probably the most spirited defense of the "pro side" of the matter, but suffice to say librarians should look for ways to enable users to somehow get from wikipedia pages to library resources more easily.

But how? What follows are 4 ways I know that allow users to link back to library resources easily, using

1. BookMarklet

2. Libx browser extension

3. Wikipedia "book sources"

4. Wikipedia "Library resource box"

If you have no time, I highly recommend you look at the 4th method. It is a must read.

1. Bookmarklet

I suppose if you read this blog , you know what a bookmarklet is, but in case you don't it's just a simple bookmark, with some javascript that when pressed will carry out a simple action.

Barbara Arnett and Valerie Forrestal way back in 2010 in Bridging the gap from Wikipedia to scholarly sources: a simple library bookmarklet showed us how to create a bookmarklet that did the following when clicked on a wikipedia page.

1. It would take the wikipedia title

2. Throw it into a search (you can edit it first) and that would bring the user to the library's search - in this case Ebsco Discovery Service.

Here's it in action

Obviously it's trivial to change this to Summon or whatever search you want. But that's not all, cleverly they built-in Google analytics, so you can keep track of usage/clicks of the bookmarklet.

A trick they helped me adapt for our highly popular proxy bookmarklet. So now,` I can tell how popular it is.

This is a nifty trick that was adapted by other libraries including MLibrary, there are some doubts about whether people would bother to setup a bookmarklet or remember to use it. But that's the beauty of this bookmarklet, you don't guess, the analytics are there.

I currently don't use this bookmarklet and in the past I would probably say no-one would use bookmarklets but a niche audience, but looking at the heavy usage of our proxy bookmarklet (possibly subject of another future conference so I won't say much except to say it's insanely high),  I wouldn't rule out the possibility of this bookmarklet been used.

2. LibX browser plugin

So maybe bookmarklets are hard to remember but what about browser plugins? Libx by  Annette Bailey and Godmar Back of Virginia Tech  is probably the most famous one of them all.

It's a free service that any library can setup and gives you a host of functionality that makes it easy to go from any webpage to library resources.

Among my favourites are hot-linking of ISBN/ISSN/DOI/PMID (basically it converts such strings to clickable library searches), appending of ezproxy on pages or links, support of COINS, link resolvers, xisbns etc.

The latest version even integrates with Summon so you can mouse over unique identifers and check availability.

Watch the screencast here

In short, it allows users to interact with library resources using multiple methods even if they are not on the library page.

Most of these features work on all web pages and are independent of Wikipedia, but the support of COINS means there is some Wikipedia support. COINS without getting too technical, is a way to markup citation data in html so tools like Libx and Zotero can understand or parse the citation and use it to connect to full-text via your link resolver.

Or rather there *was* support, as of Nov 2012 COINS support was sadly removed 

3. Wikipedia "book sources"

Either method above relies on users on installing something but most users will not. How about something built-in to wikipedia?

There's apparently some feature called "Book sources" in Wikipedia .

It says

"This page links to catalogs of libraries, booksellers, and other book sources where you will be able to search for the book withISBN. If you arrived at this page by clicking an ISBN number link in a Wikipedia page, then the links below (those labeled "find this book") search for the specific book using that ISBN number."

Confused? Here's how it works. Go to say the Wikipedia article Eulerian path

You will see the following

Now click on the isbn and it brings you to the page that says Book sources , this page in particular

If you jump to the section on Singapore you see

Click on it  and you guessed it, a ISBN search in your catalogue. In this case, it works nicely as we have it.


I only realised there was such a feature when I was looking at referrers to our catalogue and noticed a fair amount of them from Wikipedia.

Some were ordinary links in the "external links" page but some were isbn links.

This is a nice fairly obscure feature but really isn't very convenient to use if you ask me.

4. Wikipedia "Library resource box"

All the things I mention above are not new. But this last one is new. Rather then explain, let me just show you the Wikipedia article I inserted the library resource box. In this case this is the Wikipedia article Japanese occupation of Singapore .

At the bottom of the page in external links section you see this including the box I added.

It you click on "resources in your library", and this is the first time doing it you will be brought to a library selection page.

Obviously you pick the library you are with, or better yet "set a preferred library for future searches" and when you click it will use the Wikipedia title to do a search in the library you selected.

In this case is our Summon search.

As you can see it's a very nice search result, showing off the strength of our collection including local theses, books etc.

In fact what it uses to search is sometimes much more complicated than just using the Wikipedia title. For example, you can override the search to use a Library of congress heading search instead of the Wikipedia title by adding

|lcheading=xxxxxxx .

You can see this in effect here

Other times it does the closest mapping to a file of LCSH kept in the system etc. It also can use viaf , I believe and if all else fails it just uses the Wikipedia title for a general keyword search. I am not sure if I got the explanation 100% correct, but I think you get the idea.

It also can do something special if the article on Wikipedia is on a person. Below shows the one I inserted on the Wikipedia article Goh Keng Swee . 

You will see because I changed the options there is now a "About Goh Keng Swee" as well as a "By Goh Keng Swee".

If you click on the links below the two, you of course get different results.

The above is a link "about" him. It's a normal keyword search. Note the search uses a LCSH even though the Wikipedia title isn't that exactly and I didn't override the title search manually with a specific LCSH, this is some automapping mechanism I think.

The one below shows the results after clicking "by" him which obviously does a author search.

Personally I think this is a wonderful idea. The author of this system, John Mark Ockerbloom in my opinion has hit on a great idea. You can see the blog post where he sets out the idea here. Specific instructions on adding the library resource box are here.

But how do you get your library into a list of libraries that appears when you click on the link? You simply request it and John will add it. He has been very quick to add libraries (most libraries use standard systems, eg, we use Summon which is used by over 500 libraries) and has also kindly and patiently answered all my questions about this great idea.

The great thing about this is that once I add the box in an article, all libraries in the system benefit. Right now, we are the only Singapore Library available in the list but it's trivial for John to add other Singapore libraries such as the National Library Board's etc and we all benefit!

I've added a little under 100 articles on mostly Singapore topics. I was cautious as well checking if the search would give reasonable results. Part of my strategy has been to look at the most common searches in Summon, Google the same keywords see which Wikipedia articles appear and add the library resource box on those articles. 

Of course this resource box compliments the strategy of inserting direct links from open access/free resources or libguides into wikipedia and using the google site operator I can see this is a pretty popular strategy by some libraries. But in some cases you might have not really have something unique to link to, or many have lots of interesting items and is too much effort to include them properly in the article.

I intend to add more as time permits and obviously I am studying our summon logs to see how much traffic is driven to Summon this way (hopefully not too much by this blog post). The skeptic in me wonders if people will click on such links, as it is usually placed in the last section? Or even in short articles, would they want to click to search the library? 

Only time will tell.

Note: I just finished blogging this, and noticed that the comments to the blog post pretty much encapsulate this blog post including the first 3 ideas , but I hope this was still useful.

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