[Web4lib] Mobile Access: Brief Reviews: EBSCOhost Mobile and Summon Mobile from Serials Solutions
McKiernan, Gerard [LIB]
gerrymck at iastate.edu
Wed Nov 11 17:41:39 EST 2009
Posted On Behalf Of Gary Price >>>
Mobile Access: Brief Reviews: EBSCOhost Mobile and Summon Mobile from
By Gary Price, Senior Editor
As we mentioned last week,
ls-solutions-will-offer-mobile-interfaces/> both EBSCOhost and Summon
for Serial Solutions have officially been released. We've had only a
short time to use both and for the most part were very impressed. Let's
review each news release and share a few comments. Btw, we used the
Safari browser on an iPhone 3G to visit these mobile sites.
After a Click Much More
IMPORTANT: The news release is a bit misleading. To use Summon for
mobile you do NOT have to download any app or software to your
>From the News Release
... [users] simply key a term in the Summon search box and instantly
retrieve relevant results that span the gamut from print to digital.
It's the latest innovation from the rapidly-developing and pioneering
service, which is the first and only available web-scale technology that
enables single searchbox access to the breadth of the library's content
- from books and videos to e-resources at the article leve
This is where it gets a little tricky. Summon is an information
"discovery" service and accessing the actual content (full text articles
for example, on a mobile device, can only take place IF the underlying
database is outputting it's content for mobile devices or in some cases,
users don't mind moving around the screen to see the material. If that's
not possible (or you don't want to do it), users can select results and
then mail them back to themselves (or anyone else for that matter).
Later, when their using a "regular" web browser, they can then get the
links and and access the material be it a full article or a book
citation from that particular library.
Interested in taking a look at Summon Mobile with the caveat that you
can only see results pages, not the actual content?
Head to the following URL from Grand Valley State University in
The URL will work on a non-mobile browser and it's worth a look to see
what the full Summon service looks like but it's not the mobile version
we're talking about today. Remember, you'll be able to view the
citations but to get to the actual content you'll need a Grand Valley
The mobile version has the "Google-like" search box on its home page.
It's simple and clean. Enter your search terms and hit go.
Here's where Summon Mobile needs a bit more work (and they are aware of
it). All of the results for the search "Michigan" only contain a one
word and that word is Michigan. Not very helpful. Summon needs to extend
the entry title information beyond one or two words. Obviously, if you
enter more terms you'll get more precise results but many users still
only use one or two terms. Even when doing a know-item search it's
possible to run into problems. No matter what type of search you're
doing, you have to click again to see the full title, the source, and if
available, an abstract.
You're also able to click the plus button the sign next to each result
listing and save it to a folder you can send to yourself later.
Also, on the mobile home page take note of the "Refine Search" button
near the top of the page. Click here and your provided with numerous
options to "refine" your search results including to full text only
material; content type; language, library location, and subject terms.
If searchers use this feature is very useful. We ran a known item search
for the book by JFK, "Profiles in Courage" and first came up with
numerous journal articles. Refining to only books returned only 15
results and we then would have to to go through each one to find the
actual book. The search "Profiles in Courage Kennedy" got results down
to seven but again, we needed to check each result for the actual book.
It would also be helpful to be able to see the limits you've selected as
you look at your results perhaps directly below the search box. It's
great to see that Summon does offer a spell check feature since mobile
typing can often be a challenge.
Overall. Summon Mobile is off to a solid start and with a few tweaks it
will become even more useful. However, don't forget that the underlying
content (e.g. full text articles) can only be able to be read in a
mobile-friendly environment if the underlying database is offering it's
content in a mobile-friendly format. However, with a little persistence,
and some scrolling around the page you might be able to get to some
material even if the underlying database is not serving content that
works with mobile browsers.
Today, also marks the official release of EBSCOhost Mobile with the
publication of this news release.
Fast Facts from the Release:
+ All databases and services currently available on the EBSCOhost
platform will be available via EBSCOhost Mobile.
+ Many of the existing EBSCOhost features such as search modes, limiting
to full text, date ranges, peer-reviewed content or by publication are
available. Users will also be able to search images from their mobile
+ The result list is scrollable and available data includes citations,
Image Quick View(tm) and access to full text article.
+ The interface has been designed with a lower resolution, simplifying
the interface by removing folders and some other more advanced features
for increased speed and user convenience.
+ In addition to providing access to smartphone users, EBSCOhost Mobile
will also work on desktops helping libraries with low bandwidths since
it uses only a fraction of the bytes compared to a traditional EBSCOhost
search. EBSCOhost Mobile will also open up access to research databases
to researchers in remote locations who are only able to access via
We've been using EBSCOhost Mobile with the Academic Search Complete
along with three other databases and we are impressed.
Like we mentioned in our Summon overview, the home page is clean and
offers the single search box look. Here users can select from the
databases that their libraries make available and also click to use an
image database (if available). Another link takes you to a full page of
search options (even with our bad eyes we found then very easy to read),
and even a page of filed codes for the most sophisticated of mobile
Results pages are straightforward with each showing entry showing
title/source article, a relevancy ranking, and links to access the
article either as text document or a PDF file. Of course, what formats
are available depends on several factors including the arrangements
EBSCO has with each publisher. You can also mail 10 results (the number
on a results page) to yourself or anyone else. It would be useful it
users could pick and choose which results to send.
An actual listing for an article provides an "envelope" icon to mail the
article, links to the versions of the article that are available (text
or PDF for the most part) and other bibliographic info including
hypertext subject headings. Very impressive. You'll even find drop down
menu to mechanically translate the page.
One thing we did find missing was a spell check. We searched for Obamma,
Eengland, Booston and at no time did we see a spelling correction.
One very mpressive debut from EBSCO. We hope subsequent releases
continue to increase the usability of this product.
One final time, let's be clear. EBSCOhost and Summon are two different
types of products. One is an information discovery service (Summon)
while EBSCOhost offers full text content. directly from its own
database. It will interesting to see if library's using Summon Mobile
and have EBSCOhost subscriptions will be able to link to EBSCOhost
Mobile for their mobile users.
Finally, the big question is who is going to use these resources. This
is what Gerry McKiernan pondered last week when he said to LJ:
"At this point [mobile-specific searches] are supplemental, or impulse,
such that if you're on the road and you want to search a particular
resource ... you could do that," he said. But, he added, "The mobile
phone is becoming an all-in-one tool for a variety of functions," and as
that happens, users will come to expect some kind of mobile interface to
the tools they're grown accustomed to using.
I agree with Gerry 100% and will go a bit further to say after spending
some time with both of these services (especially EBSCOhost, at this
point) I am more sure than ever that a mobile device (from an eBook
reader to a Palm Pre to a Droid to a iPhone) can be powerful research
tools in their own right. Perhaps the most important issue is how much
promotion/marketing will EBSCO and the libraries that use EBSCO give to
the new mobile interface? Like we always say, people can't use what they
don't know about.
Postscript: Here are Two Screenshots of the EBSCOhost Mobile Interface 1
le1.jpg> ||| 2
Postscript 2: Gerry McKiernan Has Posted, "How To Configure The
it with your systems librarian.
[ http://bit.ly/3GpX6w ]
Science and Technology Librarian
Iowa State University Library
Ames IA 50011
gerrymck at iastate.edu
There Is No Answer, Only Solutions / Olde Irish Saying
The Future Is Already Here, It's Just Not Evenly Distributed Attributed
To William Gibson, SciFi Author / Coined 'Cyberspacery
More information about the Web4lib