Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A personal review of 2014

"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

Somehow though, I doubt successful libraries are all alike except in the most general of ways.

Still, these are some of the changes or trends in librarianship in the year of 2014 that resonated with me or occupied me. A lot of it probably is highly specific to my current institution and environment so your mileage might vary. 


1. Open Access finally takes off in academic libraries

I know many open access advocates and librarians are thinking, this isn't really new. But from my highly localized context, this was the year, my current institution formally created a "Scholarly Communication team" and created outreach teams. I had my first experience presenting on open access to faculty.

In the local (Singapore) context, this was the year with the passing of A*Star mandate for A*star funded research as well as the instruction from National Research Foundation that research institutions should have open access policies to tap on funding, meant finally Singapore is starting to get serious on this. Of course, this is just the beginning.

I also began to see some interest in altmetrics eg Plumx, though it may be still early days.



2. Shifts in mobile 

Yet another year and yet another new iPhone. What was different this year was the upgrade in screen sizes with Iphone 6 and Iphone 6 plus. Measuring 5.5 inch, the iPhone 6 plus is Apple's first venture into "phablet territory". Even the iphone 6 got a size upgrade from 4 inch to 4.7 inch.

I myself upgraded this year from Iphone 4s with a tiny 3.5 inch screen to perhaps currently the best Android smartphone/Phablet, a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 which has a large 5.7 inch screen. Note like most new owners of devices I am obviously biased. 



My Samsung Note 4


I have pretty long fingers, so I adapted to the large screen fast. The current trend is for flagships on Android to become bigger including the Nexus 6 (huge 6 inch screen), so it's clear to me that this will eventually lead to large screens becoming the normal on mobile.

My own experience mirrors most people, who find that after a few days, they just can't go back to smaller screens. Also like many have reported, my usage of  tablets has also fallen, in my case the Nexus 7 (2013) doesn't seem so useful anymore, though admittedly, the new Android Lollipop 5.0 on Nexus 7 did give it a new lease of life.

Looking at my own institutional statistics (sessions on portal, Libguides, Summon etc) for the last 6 months, it's somewhat surprising to me that besides the Iphones, the next most popular phone is the large Samsung Galaxy Note 3

This could be something unique to my situation, or it could be simply because people only bother to use our websites with large screens (there is build-in web responsive design for Summon 2 and Libguides 2 though but the library portal is a mobile page redirect).

Still, I think the upgrading to bigger screen sizes and phablets probably means more online reading and services like Browzine and the new Ebscohost's Flipster, a digital magazine  are going to benefit.

Browzine in particular just launched support for Android smartphones at the end of the year, just in time for our new subscription to Browzine and my new Phablet!



Browzine on Samsung Note 4

I used to be quite "hot" on mobile developments in libraries (refer to blog posts in 2010/2011) but somehow I felt after an initial furry of interest, it pretty much died out at least in academic libraries.

Most of us have mobile library pages, or a native app of sorts, typically from offering like Boopsie or Librarything Mobile. More recently, responsive web design has become popular, with library vendors from Databases, Discovery Services (e.g Summon) and LibGuides moving towards that. Library websites are also slowly moving towards that. 

All this is nice, but still pretty boring really. Still this year some interesting developments. 

Other mobile developments to watch

  • Adding of NFCs to iphone 6 , apple pay etc may make such technologies main stream



3. Upgrades lots of upgrades

This was the year my institution chose to upgrade to the following (some were already available in Aug 2013 but we wisely chose to wait until 2014)


Some upgrades were more major than others (eg 360Link v2 upgrade was relatively minor) but still all could be considered major upgrades with changes to functionality and UI that users would notice straight away.


This year, we finally managed to achieve the popular Bento style search that I have blogged about so much, though we are currently only linking it to the LibGuides v2 search.






From the redesigned Libguides V2 screen (see below), users can search and will see a modified LibGuides v2 search page that shows results from Libguides, Libanswers and Summon!



This helps solve one major issue I noticed in Libguides searches - users tend to search for article titles, books, or very specific search results that are best answered by a search results page from your discovery service. They also sometimes search for policies, opening hours etc. 

All this was achieved by a talented new colleague of mine and he will be doing a guest blog in the new year to explain how it was done.


Conclusion

I had a great 2014 though my blogging rate suffered, hopefully this will change in 2015. Still thank you all loyal blog readers for subscribing to my blog all these years and wish you all a amazing New year to come.




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