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Database Customization and Administration Principles for UC Libraries

Increasingly, database providers are offering options to customize the database presentation, either by the user or by the subscriber/customer. User customization options are less prevalent, although CDL’s experience with offering Profile options may inform vendors’ development of this type of feature. Customization options for the subscriber have implications for teaching, documentation, and customer support. The following principles are for handling customization of the database interface. The actual implementation of customization options is often tied to the administration of accounts, so there are also principles to guide this aspect. These principles and procedures apply only to resources licensed by UC libraries.

Database Interface Customization

Customization may arise in different ways:

  • Customization a vendor agrees to make to their standard options as a result of licensing negotiations at the local or systemwide levels;
  • Customization by decisions at the local or systemwide levels regarding the standard options that a vendor offers;
  • Occasionally, it may be possible for UC to customize through local or systemwide programming.

1. Focus on general improvements to the vendor site

UC should focus on general improvements to vendor interfaces through the Resource Liaisons program and the use of agreed upon criteria such as the Resource Selection/Evaluation Criteriaand the CDL’s Technical Requirements for Vendors documents rather than use vendor customization options. The goal is to provide the best version for all users by encouraging vendors to provide a better default user interface. This approach also means that customization options do not have to be addressed for documentation, training, and support.The reasons for this approach include the following:

  1. Documentation-Vendor created documentation or training materials, e.g., handout, tutorials, etc. can be used “as is.”
  2. Economy of scale-UC generated documentation or training materials can be shared among campuses.
  3. Uniformity-UC faculty, students, and staff will see the same options on all UC campuses.
  4. Support-CDL Helpline staff see the same interface the user sees and can provide user support.
  5. Backup-if you have a problem, others in UC may be able to help troubleshoot.
  6. Leverage with vendor-UC campuses speak with one voice when asking for vendor changes.
  7. Portability of skills-when users leave UC, the interfaces they are used to using will be the same as the default interface the vendor presents.

2. If customization is done, apply the same options for all campuses

If the reasons for using customization options are compelling and lead to an immediate improvement in the interface or take advantage of features that are of interest to the UC community in particular, the same options should be applied for all campuses. The reasons for this approach include the following:

  1. More services-Users can access services customized for UC by CDL, e.g., Request, links to Electronic Content; or services customized by vendor, etc.
  2. Focused development-Campuses and CDL can share the costs for developing services and focus the savings in other areas.

3. Process for determining customization options.

This process applies only to resources licensed by UC libraries, not to any other licenses that may exist on a campus.

    1. The Resource Liaison will evaluate the customization options to determine if they provide better service, and will assess the possibility for achieving the same results through general improvement of the interface. If a Resource Liaison has not yet been appointed and there is some urgency to make customization decisions, CDL will consult the Users Council.
    2. If the Resource Liaison recommends using customization options, he/she will make a recommendation for which options to use and which choices to implement. The Resource Liaison will share this recommendation with the appropriate bibliographer/selector groups and the Users Council for reaction. If possible, a test version of the database using the customization options should be available.
    3. The Resource Liaison will evaluate comments received and determine whether to implement or revise the customization options recommendation.

The Resource Liaison will also receive comments from any vendor-provided training as well as on an ongoing basis as library staff and users become familiar with the resource. The Resource Liaison may recommend changes to customization options based on these experiences.

  • The Resource Liaison will convey the customization choices to CDL’s Digital Library Services staff through the RLREPORT-L listserv. CDL staff will implement the changes (see Account Administration).
  • The Resource Liaison will publicize changes to the UC libraries via CDLInfo, to bibliographer groups or the general reference listserv, or other appropriate communication channels.


4. Account Administration

Vendors have problems dealing with CDL UC-wide accounts and campus-based accounts on same system and would like a single point of contact. Also, to best achieve the benefits of consistency across campuses where possible. During the A&I Transition, the Transition Steering Committee recommended that CDL be authorized to administer customization options for both CDL and campus library licenses. CDL’ s Digital Library Services group will work with campus Account Administrators (see Appendix II) to handle the initial set-up and ongoing changes. Account administration does not include any purchasing functions.


Appendix I – Vendor Customization Options

Items that appear in most Administrative modules, e.g., OCLC, CSA, Ovid

The following items often appear and are handled via OpenURL/link resolver rather than the vendor’s method:

  • Links to holdings 
  • Links to full text
  • Links to ILL (the vendor option is usually an email address link)

Items that appear for some vendors, e.g., Gale, Ovid

  • Default settings for search/display
  • Customer defined links

Appendix II- Campus Account Administrators for Database Customization

In some cases, the contact person is not the actual account administrator but can determine who the appropriate person is for a given resource.

Campus Name Contact Info
UCB Lydia Petersen
UCD Lisa Spagnolo, Karin Chacon
UCI Jharina Pascual
UCLA Courtney Hoffner
UCM Susan Mikkelsen
UCR Susan Trujillo, Carla Arbagey
UCSB Lorna Lueck
UCSC Sue Perry
UCSD Stacy Nelson
UCSF Julia Kochi