Hygge in the Library

I was introduced to a new word “hygge” via Blinklist today.  I wanted to discover more about hygge and started googling it as well as reading online articles about this new term.  What I got from Oxford online dictionary, the word ‘hygge’ means “A quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture)”  (URL:  https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/hygge)

Several interesting articles on hygge:

At that moment, I wondered whether there are any Hygge spots in the library.  Places where our community can just unwind, huddle-up, or touch base with one another.

I ventured in the library locating every nook and cranny for Hygge spots – somewhere users can sit down and huddle, catch up or touch base with one another. Here are some of the spots that I got:

Not sure whether it’s correct to say this, but here goes: “Happy Hygge-ing” 🙂



Ramadan – Kaust 2017

Alhamdulillah, today mark the first day (27 May 2017) of the blessed month of Ramadan.  This is the month where Muslims all over the world observe ‘fasting’ or ‘sawm.’  Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from dawn till dusk.  Muslims also abstain from sexual activities.  “Those who are sick, elderly, or on a journey, and women who are pregnant or nursing are permitted to break the fast and make up an equal number of days later in the year.”  (http://www.islamicity.org/10254/about-fasting/, Accessed on 27 May 2017).  In addition to that, “avoiding immoral behavior (for example backbiting) and anger and showing compassion is part of the requirements of the fasting.”  (http://www.islamicity.org/10254/about-fasting/, Accessed on 27 May 2017).

Some useful sites on Ramadan:

Over here, there are some things to note:

  • Working hours are shortened for Muslim employees
  • Operating hours for shopping malls, banks, offices (some) and shops are changed; some would start around 2 pm; others would start around 5 pm.  All of them would be closed for prayer times, iftar (breaking of fast) and would open after isya and Taraweeh prayers ( around 1030pm) and would continue until the wee early morning hours (around 3 am) the next day.
  • Isya’ and Taraweeh prayers start 2 hours after the breaking fast.

Information about Ramadan is shared throughout our campus community.   For non-Muslim and first-timers experiencing Ramadan here, a number of talks, activities and information sessions are conducted to inform them about the meaning of Ramadan and what do Muslims do during this blessed month.  Community areas are open till early morning.  A whole range of activities is organized for the family and individuals living on campus.  Our community is also treated to a whole range of Ramadan treats and not forgetting the Arabic coffee.

We have spent close to 8 years over here.  There are many beautiful things that we have experienced during Ramadan.  The spirit of hospitality and generosity are prevalent.  During this time,  neighbors exchange food just before Iftar.  (Community spirit).  Being an international community,  we got to taste the different kind of food from all around the world.

It is also a time to increase our spiritual activities and to get closeness to God.  Our Grand Mosque on campus is always a hustle and bustle of activity during this month as congregational prayers plus the Qiyam (early morning prayers) are conducted.  Muslims would also spend time in the mosque reading the Holy Quran.  (especially during the last 10 days of Ramadan).  Muslims also visit the 2 holy cities of Makkah and Madinah during this time.

Even then, we still miss Ramadan back home in Singapore.  We miss going to the food bazaar to buy food for breaking fast,  miss breaking fast with family and Singaporean friends (though we occasionally meet with friends over here for Iftar) and the Taraweeh prayers at our local mosques (plus attending the nightly Ramadan sermons that constantly remind us of life as a true believer).






Top 5 services deployed by Library Websites

From my comparative study on benchmarked library websites (2015) which was conducted together with my colleague, the Senior Subject Specialist, we noted that the top 5 services deployed the library websites were:

  1. User Services: Checking how items that have been borrowed, reserved status and so forth.
  2. Reference/Research Services: Asking a librarian question, live chat services.
  3. ILL/Document Delivery Request.
  4. New materials recommendations
  5. Library alerts, News, and Events.


Top 3 Social Media tools deployed:

  1. Facebook
  2. Twitter
  3. Youtube

Digressing a bit: Social media is another avenue apart from the library websites where our users can also do stuff that is available on library websites.  We have already had library alerts and news announced on Facebook and Twitter.  We have seen library videos on how to borrow books in the library and so forth.  LibAnswers (online reference services) can be activated in Facebook and Twitter as well.  Users do not need to visit library websites anymore to get information.   On top of that, I had listened to a talk by one of the library directors that mentioned the low rates of library website visitations.

  • Should we worry that library websites are no longer the main source to get information?
  • How much of an impact have those services had on our users?
  • How do we measure the success rate of each visitation? How do we define success?

These are just some of the questions swirling in my head …

Below is the list of benchmarked library web sites that we had used:



See how easy it is to keep track of things

In my line of work, there are just too many things to keep track.  Among them are meetings, project datelines, notes, troubleshooting issues, expiration dates of e-resources, renewal dates, license agreements, metadata issues, access questions, ebook/e-journal requests,   … the list keeps going on.

How do I keep track of all these?  One of the first methods that I used was noting down in a little notebook followed by pasting 3M post-its on my table, computer screens, coffee mugs … and anything else that I can use to stick those post-its.  I would not say that writing down and post-its are not productive/efficient.  They do. But as the list keeps growing at an alarming rate, I realized that I needed something more dynamic and robust to keep track the various projects, tasks routines as well as other miscellaneous stuff.

I tried to use different notebooks for various projects, daily routines and the like but it would be too troublesome and I could build a big library keeping all those notebooks. (I’d rather keep one journal to note down the daily happenings in my life).  I needed something that could allow me to see everything on one page at a single glance.   That’s when I discovered the following 3 cloud services while trawling the internet for answers.

  • Evernote

    How this tool has helped me:

    • Keep all my critical notes by different category.  I can easily organize all my notes under different headers.   For example, I could slot several notes on electronic resources such as important IP ranges, Proxy information, useful tips and so forth under Electronic Resources.
    • Organize all my ideas, thoughts and suggestions in a single place.  These items could be stuff to write about any potential conference(s), training topics, improving workflows/procedures or even paper for submission to journal(s).
    • Import any significant Outlook emails into Evernote for future references.  So instead of searching/browsing those emails in Outlook, I can extract them into Evernote and save them under different headings.
    • Keep interesting presentation slides and make side notes on them.
    • Clip interesting articles on the Internet and convert them into Evernote notes.  I can then read these articles at a later time.
    • More info can be found here.
  • Trello

    (I got to know this while on a study visit to Duke University. I met the Head of the Acquisitions team who showed me how easy it was to track their purchases using Trello).  How this tool has helped me:

    • Organize different tasks for separate projects under one roof.  I can create multiple ‘boards’ to store various functions.  I can then monitor the progress of each of these tasks.
    • Control tasks that I have delegated to other team members.  I can track and check if there is a backlog.
    • Attaching file from DropBox or other places to the task(s) that I have created.  In this way, I do not have to toggle the different apps while looking for some information.
    • Create checklists and due dates for various tasks.
    • Import Outlook emails and embed them into a task.
    • Check this site for a tour of Trello.
  • DropBox

    • Save my documents (pdf, ppt, doc, Xls and much more) in the cloud.  I can retrieve them later wherever I am (need Internet connection).
    • Save the space on my laptop/desktop
    • Access on different mobile devices.
    • Info on Dropbox.

What about you? What tool(s) work for you and what doesn’t?

Growing banana without going “bananas.”

I’m not into Gardening that much.  About 3 years back, I grew a little banana plant in my backyard.  Tried to see how far it would go.  Did the usual stuff, watering and fertilizing the plant.  A few days back, I saw this:

Anyway, I did some research on the best time to pluck the banana from the tree.  Got to the following links.  Anybody out there has other information on this.  (Not the alternative facts please …)

I’m wondering when I should pluck those bananas. Won’t want to do it prematurely 🙂

From Millennium ERM to Proquest 360 Resource Manager: Our library’s Journey


I’ve just completed the slides for the Electronic Resources Management Systems ERMS project.  Highlighted the library’s journey to the new ERMS – Proquest 360 Resource Manager.  I recalled the 3 phases that the project went thru.  Each of them posed challenges and issues that the project team had to face head on.  Endured late but not sleepless nights.  Discussions, disagreements, and compromise.  Yes, it was hard work; at times it can be nerve-wracking but all in all, it was an enriching experience.

Do you have a Flowchart?

Lessons learned:

  • Awareness of the available ERMS in the open market. Products are constantly changing and companies merge. Staying on top of things are advantageous as the library can re-position itself in the case of any advancements/product / company mergers
  • Match the ERMS features against the team’s ERMS wish list. Before embarking on the ERMS project, conduct a study of the strengths and weaknesses of the present system. Identify what can be improved and what are the missing ‘pieces’ that should be evident in the new ERMS
  • Contact peers on their experience on using the ERMS products. Most if not all of
    E-Resources Librarians are willing to share information and knowledge. Compare notes. Sometimes, what works for them may NOT work for us.
  • Keep communication open. Ensure that library management and project team are updated on the project progress.
  • There may be hiccups/challenges along the way. Stay focus and keep calm.

Looking for more adventures on this road …..

Sundays are important …


Why? Well, the library gets the most number of questions via LibAnswers on Sundays especially between 9am- 12pm.  Most questions that the library received revolved around the electronic resources issues as well as circulation issues.

Drilling down further the e-resources issues: they are mostly related to access issues such as broken links, site maintenance, links that went to a different location altogether etc etc.

With all these data, what can the library do to improve their services:

I thought of the following:

  • Knowledge audit of library staff on Reference services. Assist those that need further help by sending them for courses/webinars/conferences.
  • Mentorship for new library staff to understand the importance of Reference work
  • Create more LibGuides to address the frequently asked questions
  • Implement other avenues of submitting questions such as social media: Twitter and Facebook

More can be found in my slides here.

Drones in my Library?

Wouldn’t it be awesome to have drones who can ‘deliver’ print books to our users on campus?  And even program the drones to collect them (books) when the due date is up.  Perhaps, the drones can even double-up as ‘security’ to patrol the library and identify any shenanigans 🙂  Reminded me of Skynet and the Terminator movies.

Thinking along that line, I decided to Google for more information and found interesting sites on the same topic:

If this is implemented here,  it would be a major milestone in the history of the library.  Then again, what would become of librarians if more and more of such drones, gadgets and AI technology are introduced?  My guess is ….


Get a ticket, wait in line and we’ll resolve your E-Resources Issue

Just completed my first draft of my paper entitled: An Exploratory study on the use of LibAnswers to Resolve, Track and Monitor Electronic Resources Issues: The KAUST Library experience.  Researched on the most common questions related to E-Resources as well as making recommendations for service improvement in this area.


What I found:

  • 32% of the submitted questions are related to electronic resources issue
    • Access issues (17%)
    • Link issues (4%)
    • New e-resource title recommendations (3%)
  • Peak Months:  August – Oct as well as Jan – March
  • Most questions were asked on Sundays and Wednesdays
  • Daily Peak timings:  10am – 12pm and 2pm – 4pm.

Drill Down on Access Issues:

  • Denied access to e-resource
  • Setting up / Registration issues
  • Downloading e-journal articles / ebook chapters
  • Excessive Downloading
  • Broken Links

Turnaround time to resolve the e-resource questions:  Approx 12 hours

For further discussion(s)/suggestions:

  • To have a consistent / controlled vocabulary in tagging the questions
  • User Empowerment to resolve straightforward issues themselves.  We are creating a libguide to address this.
  • Social media integration
  • Implementing Libanswers’ Ref Analytics feature
  • Regular sharing sessions with library staff
  • Knowledge audit of library staff understanding of electronic resources

The article can be found here.

State of American Libraries 2017

The report is out.   Interesting quote from the Academic Libraries section:


Source:  americanlibrariesmagazine.org, April 2017, Special Report, Page 6


3 Lessons that I learned from Summon Implementation (Web discovery layer)


It’s almost been a year since we roll-out our library’s web discovery layer known as KORAL: KAUST Online Resources Access Layer (powered by Proquest Summon).  [Check out my earlier post on our journey to implement Summon. ]

What are the 3 main lessons that I learned?


(1) Management buy-in: It’s imperative to obtain management buy-in and support; without which,  things may go bumpy.  With management support, resources may be spared to aid your cause; tasks delegation made easier and fund(s) may be released to boost your project success chances.

(2) Testing(s) and Engaging the User community: I have always believed in engaging our user when implementing any public-facing interface projects.  At the end of the day, our users are the ones who will ultimately use the interface/system.  They are not at all dumb as some of us would think.  By getting their feedback, we are made to see things in a different light; some of which are those that we least expected.  Examples of some of  these user engagement activities are:

  • UX: Usability testing(s)
  • Focus Group interviews
  • One to One interviews
  • Card sorting exercises
  • Online surveys
  • Informal chats

(3) Communication: Whether you are communicating to team members, communicating upwards to library management or communicating to the users, there has to be openness and transparency.   We have to be receptive to the feedback; some may be stinging to the ears BUT if it is for the common good, then we have to put our egos aside.  At the same time, if it’s necessary to deliver some negative news, then we have to inform that as well.  However,  when dealing with negative news, there has to be tactfulness and sensitivity involved.  Not many could react well to negative information.   Most importantly, communication is always a 2-way ‘street’.  Be prepared to take as much as you are ready to give.

These are the main ones among the others that I have learned during the project implementation.

Most common inquiries received in our library’s Inbox


Our library uses LibAnswers to track and monitor all our library inquiries.  Inquiries received range from directional questions to complex ones such as access issues. Here are my findings on the most common questions received in the first quarter of 2017 (Jan – March 2017):

  • electronic resources questions
  • circulation and access questions


A quick breakdown of electronic resources issues:

  • access issues due to broken links, unsubscribed e-resources, outages, saving / downloading issues
  • linking issues related to link resolver services



On another note, circulation/access questions cover:

  • Users’ Log-in issues in the classic catalog
  • Missing books
  • Inability to locate print copies of book on the library shelves



These questions bring up further discussions on

  • library’s strategies on countering or empowering our users to resolve these issues,
  • training gaps of our internal library staff
  • improving our FAQs public interface

Stay tuned for more updates.