ER&L Conference 2016: In the Nutshell

I am grateful to my director and manager for giving me the opportunity to attend ER&L (Electronic Resources and Libraries)  2016 in Austin, Texas from April 3 – 6 2016.  The conference was held at the AT&T Executive Education & Conference Center, University of Texas at Austin.


This conference has been going on since 2006. And it has a strong following ever since.  More information about ER&L can be found here.  Quick stats:

Conference Tracks:

“Common job titles of the 3,500+ in person and virtual attendees over the past 5 years are” ( :



I enjoyed the 2016 conference tremendously.  Having attended the 10th year anniversary in 2015, I was looking forward to the 2016 event.  One of my concern though was the weather.  It was freezing cold in 2015, but it turned out that the weather (2016) was much, way much, better. Thank God.

I wanted to gain as much knowledge as I possible could.  On top of that, I looked forward to network with my other counterparts in the same field: Electronic Resources Management among others.  Took the opportunity to attend 2 workshops:

  • Understanding and using altmetrics for impact assessment: an interactive overview by Robin Champieux (Oregon Health & Science Uni) and Stacy Konkiel (Altmetric).
  • EZProxy: Assessment and Administration Techniques and Tips by Shannon Fox-Teichmann (Austin College Abell Library Center) and Glenn Bunton (Uni of South Carolina Libraries)

Below are some of the interesting sessions that I attended during the conference:

  • Keynote Session
  • Case Studies from the Cloud: Technical Perspectives on Hosting Discovery Systems
  • Size does(n’t) matter: Growing your career in a wildly different organization
  • Separate, but equal: The role of choice in the future of discovery evaluations
  • Assessing Major organizational change: The effects on the use of Library resources and services
  • Maximizing management:  Getting more out of your e-resource management strategy
  • Integrating discovery and database A-Z lists with libguides
  • How I implemented a data-driven approach to electronic resource management on a shoestring budget with very limited staff
  • Access Denied!

There were lots of other valuable sessions too.  However, I wasn’t able to attend them as they were held concurrently with the ones that I attended.  Sacrifices had to be made.  Fortunately,  the conference organizers recorded all the sessions and uploaded them online (You need to pay to watch them online).  This allowed me to view them at a later time.

** A little background:  prior to this conference, I was involved in some major projects in my library.  They were, among others:

  • Implementing our new Discovery Services Layer – Summon (now in the final phases of the project)
  • Completed the EJournal Management System: We moved from Innovative CASE to Proquest 360 Core
  • Migrated LibGuides v1 to Libuides v2
  • Deployed LibAnswers as our new online reference platform.  We now have our FAQ website as well as a back-end ticketing system that stores, tracks and manage all questions received via email or widget.

At the end of the conference,  some of the following questions lingered in my mind:

  • How can Summon best integrate with LibGuides AZ database listings.  Presently I set the database titles in the best bets options in Summon so that the relevant databases are retrieved in the search results.  It would be better if these results can be culled directly from libguides.
  • Think through the possible starting points of entry/access to the library resources; for example: Would our users start searching using:
    • Google
    • Google Scholar
    • Direct access to these electronic databases
    • Our E-Resources Portal aka Proquest 360 Core public interface
    • Library website
    • LibGuides
    • FAQ site
    • and the list goes on
  • Can library be proactive so that wherever the user starts with, they will always end up with the information that they need (and they want to get there within a few clicks, 3 clicks max 🙂 )
  • How can we make it easy for our users to search on any device: PC, Tablet, Mobile devices, etc

On another note, I met some wonderful people over there.  Enjoyed the open discussions with them.  I would definitely recommend those who are into electronic resources management to attend this conference at least once.  I’m pretty sure that they won’t be disappointed.




ERL16: Session Takeaway: Case Studies

Case Studies:  Technical Perspectives on Hosting Discovery Systems


Ron Burns, VP Global Software Services, EBSCO
Michael Kucsak, Director of Library Systems and Technology, University of North Florida
Jon Ritterbush, E-Resources & Serials Librarian, Univ. of Nebraska – Kearney

Michael started off the session.  His topic:  Cloud Customization: Uni of North Florida’s Implementation

  • Gave an overview of the university as well as the library’s systems and technology department org chart
  • Showed UNF online catalog: their branding schema: OneSearch.  Briefly touched on their logos, color schemes, style and subtlety
  • Explained the custom content providers in OneSearch
  • Widget:  ILS_Based Interlibrary Loan
  • Ulrichsweb: customized integration
  • OneSearch and BlackBoard – Collaboration between Library and ITS.
  • Opportunities:  Vendor collaborations, multi-tenancy, patron portal
    Boopsie, Springshare, Shibboleth, Canvas, BePress

Jon briefed the audience about:

  • Uni of Nebraska-Kearney
  • Showed via screen capture: EDS
  • Widget sidebar
  • Content from Credo, Worldcat etc (API Code)
  • Insert instructional of promotional images
  • “Ask a Librarian” Chat Widget
  • Text a Call ## – Link added to catalog records
  • Database Recommender placard
  • Shorten Link option

Ron (Ebsco) touched on Cloud concepts and definitions.  He showed the audience EbscoAdmin features and explained the advantages that cloud technologies and discovery have for libraries.  Areas:

  • User experience and expectations
  • APPS
  • API Interoperability
  • Open Source

Ron also showed the audience Ebsco Apps and Cloud services that could be added to enhance discovery layer.  Eg:  Ask a Librarian, Book Carousel, Citation Resolver, Credo Reference Search, ILL Form, Plum Group Widget, OCLC Nearby and Affiliated Libraries, MeSH suggestions, Save pdf to my cloud, Wikipedia, Twitter etc

Notes taken from presentation slides.

I had an interest in this as our library will soon be launching the new discovery interface.  Wanted to compare and contrast the features that other discovery services are offering.  Incorporate them (especially the relevant ones) into the new discovery interface wherever possible.  There are several potential features that we could implement while there are some that have already been ‘installed’.

Why did you tear my boarding pass?

DXB – JED:  I approached Emirates boarding desk in Dubai Airport and presented my boarding pass. The lady took one glance at me, smiled and tore it up.  I was aghast.  Was about to question her … just then saw her punched a few keys into the computer, looked up at me and smiled.  “Sir, we’re upgrading you to Business Class”.  OMG.  I thanked her, smiled gleefully and proceeded to the departure lounge.  Thank you, Emirates.


ER&L 2016 Take away: Keynote session

Time Management

Keynote session:  Finding Time: From Industrial Mythology to Chronemic Literacy
Presenter: Prof Dawna Ballard.
Keyword: Chronemics:  “study of the role of time in communication”

Prof Ballard touched on the myths and realities of time management:

  • Myth 1: Better time management skills + tools will make you more productive
    Reality:  Time management not related to productivity. Pick the tool that fits your personality.
  • Myth 2:  If you love what you’re doing, it doesn’t feel like work 🙂 (BS)
    Reality:  Be wary of any language that tries to mask work as something else.
  • Myth 3:  Focusing on work-life balance will lead to greater well-being.
    Reality:  Focusing on balance can create unending frustration.
  • Consider Alignment:  Be mindful of our alignment

(notes from slides)

There have been lots of discussion on work-life balance.  Personally, I felt that it’s difficult to maintain the exact same balance.  Most likely, when you focus too much on one area, the other tends to get neglected.  We need constant check and balance in our life.  (My wife tends to check on me often 🙂 esp if I’m spending too much time in the office).  Esp during peak season, the workload can get pretty heavy and that’s when you tent to get sucked into work.  All of us will have to figure out how best we can manage our time between work and life.

Kevin Cruse, in his book, 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management, mentioned about focusing on the minutes in a day.  (Wanna make a guess how minutes there are in a day?).  He suggested to do away with post-it pads and concentrate on putting important tasks on a calendar (such as Outlook calendar).  I’m guilty, at one stage, of using too many post-it pads. There were yellow ones, green ones etc all over my computer screen.  And when that’s not enough, I started pasting them on my desk as well 🙂  I have to admit that weekly calendar blocking does help me focus on my important tasks for the week as well as to reduce any unwanted disturbances.

Here are some tools that I use to manage my activities:

  • MS Outlook Calendar
  • Evernote
  • Trello
  • Slack
  • Post-It pads (yeap, old habits die hard 🙂 )
  • MS Sharepoint

All the best in managing your time and achieving work-life balance 🙂

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

ER&L 2016: Exploring UT and surroundings

I had the chance to walk around the sprawling campus of University of Texas, Austin Texas.  It was a Sunday and naturally, the whole campus was quiet.  Admired the majestic clock tower, the lawn and the greenery.  Some pics:

One of the things that caught my eye (below). Esp like the part on “Leadership:  The will to excel with integrity and the spirit that nothing is impossible.”  That can-do spirit’ gung-ho to me 🙂


I went over to the library (Perry Castaneda Library) and saw this that struck me.  Perhaps, this could be done in front of our library.  Come to think of it – may not be feasible due to the sweltering heat in summer.  Still, we can think of something similar that could link back power into the library 🙂   Solar is in abundance back in the Kingdom.  Benefit:  Cut down the consumption of electricity & save cost.

Here are some of the Halls.  Reminded me of the ones I saw in Duke University.

Guadalupe St, Austin, TX, USA.  Loved the wall graffiti.



ER&L 2016 Workshop: Altmetrics

Collected my ER&L 2016 Conference and Workshop pass at the AT&T Center; which was just a stone throw away from my hotel.  Met Sandy, one of the conference comm members.  Exchanged pleasantries and recalled my time during ER&L 2015; which was freezing cold.  The weather now was perfect 🙂

My first workshop for the day “Understanding and Using Altmetrics for Collection Management: An Interactive Overview“.  Presenters: Robin Champieux and Stacy Konkiel. I’m a newbie to this area so I decided to get to know more what altmetrics mean and how it can affect electronic resources collection development.

Areas covered during the workshop:

  • Introduction to altmetrics
  • Altmetrics tools
  • Library’s use of altmetrics
  • How it can enhance collection development
  • Hands-on activities

Big 3 impact metrics:  Citations: Journal Impact Factor, h-index and Usage Statistics.   Some common sources of citations:  Scopus (Elsevier), Web of Science (Thomson Reuters) and Google Scholar.  As for usage stats: there is COUNTER.

(Notes from slides)

What’s Altmetrics:

  • Alternative, more immediate measure of attention (Complement source)
  • From non-traditional sources (Social media etc)
  • Provide a larger context

(Notes from slides)

How can Altmetrics help:

  • Feedback loop for self promotion
  • Evidence for tenure and promotion
  • Evidence for grant application and reporting

(Notes from slides)

Almetric Tools:

(Notes from slides)

Working in a new Graduate Research University in the Kingdom, I pondered upon some questions after the session:

  • How can altmetrics be used in collection development
  • how can almetrics complement the existing metrics
  • How do faculty members think about almetrics
  • What kind of altmetrics data that can help with collection development, exposure, highlight research
  • Importance of feedback from researchers, faculty members and students

Introduced to 2 new tools:

My thanks to Robin and Stacy for providing insights to Altmetrics

I did some research on articles related to Altmetrics, here’re some that I found:


ER&L 2016: The Journey to Austin, Texas

Flight Path:
Home to Airport: 4 hours before flight time
Jed – DXB: 3 hours flight time  (Lay-by 2 hours)
DXB – JFK: 14 hours flight time (Lay-by 4 hours)
JFK – AUS: 3 hours flight time (Destination)

I’ll leave you to do the math on how long I was on the trot ……

AUS: One really tired Electronic Resources Librarian

Arrived in Austin on 2 April after a long flight from Jeddah. The journey was smooth. Passing thru immigration at JFK, NY, was quick and the luggage came thru all the way to Austin.  Checked in at Hampton Inn, near Uni of Texas, Austin.


ER&L: Here I come … **Yawn** (Jet-lagged)