Friday, February 20, 2015

Loud and Clear: The ELUNA Primo Summit

At The Summit  Attendees of the ELUNA (Ex Libris Users of North America) Primo Summit in St. Louis, 
Missouri.  Attendees from across the U.S. and Canada were invited to convene to discuss issues and solutions 
related to Primo, the TWU Libraries' discovery and delivery tool for local and remote resources such as 
books, journal articles and digital objects.  Representing TWU was David Schuster, Director of Library 
Information Technology and Technical Support (third row, third from the left).  December 19, 2014.
Editor's Note:  It takes a village.  To the casual observer, the TWU Libraries in Denton and Dallas, and the ARC in Houston, are smoothly running operations in peaceful, organized surroundings. Behind the scenes, though, lies much more--a group of dedicated professionals who, day after day, handle the myriad details involved in serving the information needs of the TWU communities in Denton, Dallas and Houston.

One of those hardworking professionals is David Schuster, Director of Library Information Technology and Technical Support, who recently attended a summit in St. Louis for users of Primo, the libraries' discovery and delivery tool for local and remote resources (such as books, journal articles and digital objects). Primo is a product of Ex Libris, a provider of library automation solutions.   

David describes his experience for us.

What was the summit you attended, and its purpose?
I attended the ELUNA (Ex Libris Users of North America) Primo Summit.  All the attendees invited participated in small and large group discussions, outlining issues and proposing solutions which the Product Working Group (PWG) would gather to produce a final report.  The Primo PWG was charged with developing a brief report/position paper based on the issues and solutions discussed at the summit.  This report was to consist of a clear description of the issue(s), the current impact on the community, and suggested changes or solutions.

The overall goals of the summit were to focus on key problem areas, not every issue, and to draft proposals that the Steering Committee could take to Ex Libris and the International Group of Ex Libris Users (IGeLU) for discussion and integration into the development cycle.  
Who attended?
There were about 30 individuals from across the United States and Canada.  I'm David Schuster from TWU; there were also individuals from Harvard University, the University of Notre Dame, Emory University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Montana, Brigham Young University, and the Université du Québec à Montréal--to name a few.

I understand that it was an honor to be invited.  What can you tell us about that? 
Texas Woman’s University was one of 30 organizations represented.  We have a small library technology staff, yet we were able to discuss issues with individuals whose sole jobs are to manage Primo.  This was quite an honor.  In that setting our voice was as loud as those of larger universities, allowing our users' concerns to be heard.  It was an honor to be selected out of 1,900+ Primo customers worldwide based on our size, expertise and use of the system.

What were some of the highlights of the summit for you?
Seeing concerns of the many being voiced, and having the opportunity to work as a collective group and prioritize those concerns.  Those issues and discussions will go to the Ex Libris corporation, and we hope they will be addressed.  Ex Libris as a company was intentionally not represented at the summit, as we wanted our discussions to be wide open as we addressed the various libraries' concerns.  This encouraged us to be creative as we sought possible solutions.

What were some the biggest takeaways of the summit for you?
I have a better understanding of the complexity of a system in which universities can host themselves, or have the company host. Also of how different organizations are actually using the system, which may not be at all related to standard library resources such as books.  An example is the LDS Church History Library.  They have many electronic documents and print items that are cataloged, but not in a standard library way.  Then there are institutions using Primo to aggregate content from different systems, allowing users to search and gather information in one spot.  An example is the Mountain West Digital Library, where data is harvested from different systems--allowing users to do one search and retrieve the resulting images and items from different organizations.  It’s not about exposing some data, but as much as you have--then letting users evaluate and decide what has value to them.

What else about the summit and your experience there do you think would be of interest to our readers?
The TWU Libraries are progressive.  We are being recognized for our innovation and the way we approach access.  We listen to our users, and because of that we are being recognized in the library community as a change leader and influencer.  As a result, the vendors we work with are listening to us--which ultimately means our users' voice is heard, loud and clear.

~David Schuster with Sandy Cochran

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