May 2022

Scholars Portal Newsletter

In This Issue:

Confused by an acronym? Check out the OCUL Acronym Glossary. If there’s something we’re missing, you can email to suggest an addition!


What’s New at Scholars Portal?

  • Join us in welcoming Alicia Urquidi-Diaz as our new Metadata & Data Services Librarian and Niranjan Bhimavarapu to our Systems Team!
  • Recordings from Scholars Portal Day(s) are available on the Scholars Portal YouTube channel, and slides are available on SpotDocs.
  • The Scholars Portal Annual Report for 2021-2022 is available to download from the OCUL website.
  • This spring we welcome a new partner to RACER interlibrary loan: the Université de l’Ontario Français (UOF).
  • Our Dataverse repository has been selected as a replacement for the back-end software of the ODESI data service. Migration of the ODESI datasets, beginning with the Canadian Public Opinion Polls collection, is now underway.
  • A sub-group of Ask a Librarian coordinators completed a Quality Assessment review of the service, finding that the vast majority of chat interactions meet our service quality standards. The group identified some areas for future training to bring our service quality even higher.
  • Ask a Librarian opened for the summer term on Monday, May 2nd for the following hours: Monday-Thursday 10AM-5PM, Friday 10AM-4PM. There is no service on weekends. The summer schedule will run until Friday, August 12th, with closures for statutory holidays on May 23rd, July 1st, and August 1st.


New Content

New on Scholars Portal Books:

  • Canadian Think Tanks Collection is now live. This collection features over 8000 publications and reports from Canadian think tank organizations such as the C.D. Howe Institute, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards, and the International Institute for Sustainable Development, with metadata provided by a collaborative effort across Ontario university libraries.
  • We have begun loading titles from the Canadian Electronic Library at Des Libris. This collection contains a selection of titles from small Canadian Presses including House of Anansi, Coachhouse, and Dundurn.

New geospatial datasets in Scholars GeoPortal:

  • City of London orthophoto imagery for 2020 and 2021. The City of London Digital Mapping Data Distribution dataset contains very detailed high-resolution orthoimages of the City of London.
  • The 2021 City of Mississauga orthophoto imagery was captured between March and April 2021. The digital mapping data contains very detailed topographic and planning information for Mississauga.

New surveys in ODESI:

  • National Travel Survey 2020: This survey provides statistics on the activities of Canadian residents related to domestic and international tourism.
  • Labour Force Survey (LFS), December 2021 to April 2022: a monthly survey on the labour market activities of Canada’s working population.
  • Reasons for not voting in the federal election: To determine why Canadians did not vote in the September 20, 2021 federal election, Elections Canada commissioned five questions to be added to the October LFS survey.


Spotlight: The True Story behind Carleton’s Texting Success with Ask a Librarian, from Zero to Hero

The spotlight is an opportunity for members of the OCUL community to share how Scholars Portal services fit into their work. This edition’s spotlight was contributed by Aleksandra Blake abd Sherri Sunstrum at the MacOdrum Library, Carleton University.

“Ask a Librarian” plays a vital role as a central communication tool for our library users at Carleton University. Library staff are able to meet our patrons at the point of need; it enhances the user experience and connects students and faculty to Carleton’s resources and services. Carleton has been a member of the chat service since 2017.

In 2019, we participated in a Texting Pilot Project, along with five other libraries, to explore if users would access the service via a medium other than the traditional website. At first, the uptake was slow; however, our colleagues at York University were successful in the first weeks of the pilot project.  As chat coordinators we reached out to our colleagues and inquired about the source of their success.

We brainstormed ideas and came up with our own promotional campaign. The result of that was an increase in information about chat on the library website. The texting phone number was added wherever there was a reference to the Research Help service. In addition to the promotion on the library website, we also did an extensive campaign through social media, library Twitter and Facebook accounts. Even our previous University Librarian Wayne Jones got involved and promoted the service with a video that was distributed and promoted to our community.

In addition, our colleagues from library systems ran tests and analytics and learned that more and more library users visit library websites on mobile devices rather than personal computers (PC). We think that this also contributed to our texting success, since it is easier to access chat via text when you are on the phone rather than PC. It seems that the current generation of students is very tech savvy because it does not appear that there are differences in types of questions we receive either from a PC or a text. They vary from directional to in-depth research. The only thing we had to get used to was the limited characters – a link to a resource has to be sent in its own text in order not to go over 140 characters limit.

This promotional blitz at Carleton was successful. In 2020, we served over twelve hundred patrons via text messages and the trend continued in 2021.Enhanced visibility on our website and promotion through our library management system (LMS), on the library website and social media, our texting service became one of our biggest triumphs. Thank you to all who work and cover chat shifts, obviously the service is a great success because of the people that provide it, and so we feel that Carleton success is a success of all.

This is our story. How we went from Zero to Hero.

Aleksandra Blake and Sherri Sunstrum are subject specialists and Ask coordinators at Carleton University’s MacOdrum Library. You can learn more about this initiative from their Scholars Portal Day presentation.


The Nitty-Gritty

New and improved features:

  • We have updated the interface of the Journals platform to include some improvements in accessibility, including easier access to HTML articles and enabling downloads in EPUB format for those articles, which make up about 20% of our collection. We’d like to thank Ashley Shaw and Mark Weiler from Wilfrid Laurier University for their guidance in this area.
  • We have also introduced a feature linking between retracted articles and their related retraction notices. This is currently live for De Gruyter journals and will be added for other publishers throughout the summer.
  • Work on data mining services for Journals has begun. You can now view all of the metadata and full text extraction, in either json or xml. The next phase is to develop a corpus building system and tutorials on how to use the service.
  • We upgraded all OJS instances to and applied a security patch.
  • Permafrost was upgraded to Archivematica 1.13.2 & all data migrated to the new OLRC2 hardware and software. Approximately 4TB of archival packages were safely moved to new storage, which makes use of DuraCloud for managing archival data.
  • Nearly all of our PDF and EPUB-based books have now been processed for ingestion into the Books TDR for long-term preservation.
  • GeoPortal has been upgraded to enable HTTPS.

Bug fixes:

  • We did a major metadata cleanup on over 1700 problematic records in the Accessible Content ePortal. We identified and removed duplicates, disambiguated metadata for multi-volume monograph sets, and enriched the metadata where necessary.
  • We completed a major cleanup of duplicates on the Journals platform. In particular, we removed preprint articles for which we had a formally published version, and we removed duplicate article metadata for journals that we receive through multiple sources.
  • We fixed several other Journals bugs, including: titles with special characters not displaying in search results, broken table of content files, and problems displaying mathematical formulas.
  • The RACER team fixed several bugs, including: problems with patron expiry dates, problems with non-supplied requests from BCI, and problems communicating with Relais locations.

Many thanks to all those who reported bugs to us or assisted in testing! If you spot any problems, please report them via our built-in feedback forms or to


Your Feedback!

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Scholars Portal is committed to providing all users with equitable access to our consortial services and resources. To provide feedback on the accessibility of this newsletter or to request an alternative format, please contact

Next edition: September 2022

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