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Prism release 30th May 2019

We’re pleased to announce that the version of Prism that has been in preview recently has now been released to the live service.

This release contains:

  • Summon integration – option to display a limit by library location facet

Details are described in the release notice

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions please get in touch. You can comment on the Prism blog, and suggest and discuss additional features in Prism Ideas or contact our support teams.

Prism release preview 23rd May 2019

We’re pleased to announce that the next release of Prism is now available for preview.
This release includes:

  • Summon integration – option to display a limit by library location facet

Summon integration – option to display a limit by library location facet

In this release, it is now possible to display a new facet for Summon: Library Location. This allows the end user to limit the display to titles where there is at least one item at the selected location. The facet is enabled through the Admin console in the Facets section.

Making the most of your preview

Please check the preview version as early as possible to become familiar with the new functionality and to ensure that your tenancy still behaves as expected in terms of functionalities, including extensions, and styling.

To preview this release, please precede your tenancy URL with ‘demo.’, like this:{your tenancy name}. If you have your own host name, you’ll need to use instead.

Release to the live service

The release of Prism to the live service will be on Thursday 30th May 2019.

Comments and contact

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions please get in touch. You can comment here on the Prism blog, on the Prism forum or Prism Ideas or contact our support or sales admin teams directly.

Prism Release Preview 7th February 2014

We’re pleased to announce that the next release of Prism is now available for preview, with associated features in a new release of the Admin Console.

This release includes:

  • Autocomplete search suggestions
  • Date range widget for Published Year facet
  • Reviews
  • Indicate reserved loans
  • Web pages in search results
  • Upload images for items without standard numbers
  • Improvements to Spelling Suggestions (Did you mean …)
  • Other inclusions



As you enter text into the search box, Prism provides a list of suggested searches based on the information that is being entered.  This reduces the amount of typing required and will return results more quickly. Prism suggests titles,  Autocompleteauthors, subjects, nature of contents and genres, with the data coming directly from your catalogue content. On selecting a suggestion the search is submitted.


The autocomplete option is available to view in your sandbox tenancy at{your catalogue name}-sandbox.  On go live we will enable this feature across the customer base over a period of one month.  If you would like to be one of the first customers to have this feature enabled in your catalogue please open a support case.


Date range widget for Published Year facet

The Year Published facet now gives a visual representation of the spread of  Published year sliderpublication dates in your results together with a slider tool allowing you to easily select a date range. In the mobile interface this is replaced by drop-down lists of ‘From’ and ‘To’ years.





Users can now review items in the catalogue, which can be moderated by library staff. This feature is turned off by default, but can be easily enabled in the Admin Console.  Under the Community Features section there is an ‘Enable reviews’ check box. Your existing moderation settings will apply to reviews.

There is  a new User Content Moderation (Reviews) section in the Admin Console, following the same pattern as the moderation sections for Lists and Tags.

The Community Contributions panel in the Item Detail page lists up to three recent reviews, together with a link to browse all reviews available.  In this area, you can add or edit your own review and set or amend your individual rating (if ratings are enabled in the catalogue). You also have the ability to log in to report a review as inappropriate.

System text is configurable.


Indicate reserved loans

In the list of loans, within the My Account area, Prism now displays an indicator when the item is reserved by another user. Should a user click on thIndicate reserved loansis indicator, an information message is displayed.

The text of this message is configurable.



Web pages in search results

You are now able to add your own URL content to Prism, and have these pages Web page results highlighted to a borrower when searching for matching keywords. This could be used to enable users to find the Library Opening Hours page or the Library Charges page by searching in Prism.

The Admin Console has a new section, ‘Pages’, allowing you to specify page URLs and associate query terms with them. You can also give them a title and description: the title provides the link text in the search result, and the description displays below it. During the preview period this feature will be enabled within your Prism sandbox. Once Prism has been released to the live service you will be able to enable this feature in your Prism catalogue through the Admin Console.


Upload images for items without standard numbers

A new section in the Admin Console allows you to upload images to display in Prism. This is for items that don’t currently have an image and where the record does not have any standard identifiers such as ISBN, ISSN or EAN. This will be useful for older material and for equipment such as cameras and laptops.

To upload an image you need to specify the item unique identifier, then browse and select the image from your computer file system. Prism automatically re-sizes the image to each of the three widths used in Prism, preserving the aspect ratio. Please bear in mind that image file size will affect upload time. It is advisable to ensure your image height is between 1 and 2 times the width for an effective display in Prism. Please ensure that you have the right to use any image that you upload.


Improvements to Spelling Suggestions (Did you mean …)

In response to feedback the recent spelling suggestions feature has been refined to give better suggestions and eliminate the less useful ones.


Other inclusions

  • Display Current Frequency. This displays some helpful extra data in the item detail page for serials, with the default label ‘Current frequency’. The information comes from field 310 in the MARC record.
  • Paging on tag pages. Paging is now included on results for a tag, so that all items with that tag can now be viewed.
  • Error when signed in user submits feedback – fixed. A user who has signed in to Prism can submit feedback without getting an error.


Making the most of your preview

This release is now available for you to preview. Please do make the most of this opportunity to gain familiarity with the new features and ensure that your tenancy still behaves as expected.

If you identify any issues with your styling please raise a Support case.

As with every release, please also ensure that your extensions continue to work correctly.

To preview this release, please precede your tenancy URL with ‘demo.’, like this:{your tenancy name}. If you have your own host name, you’ll need to use instead.

The preview will run for two weeks before release to the live service.


Release to the live service

The release to the live service will be on Monday 24th February 2014.


Comments and contact

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions please get in touch. You can comment here on the Prism blog, on the Prism forum and Prism Ideas or contact your Account Manager or the Prism team directly.


Watch the latest Prism Development Update webinar

If you were unable to attend the Prism Development Update webinar on Monday 3rd February or would like to review what we covered then you can catch up on latest developments by watching the recording of the webinar below or by downloading the video.

Highlights include:

  • Prism Roadmap run-through
  • Forthcoming release
    • Spelling Suggestions improvements
    • Year Published facet range slider tool
    • Autocomplete in search
    • Reviews from users
    • Upload item images for material with no standard identifier
    • Reserved loan indicator


Prism EDS Integration

EDS Integration

We have recently released a new feature in Prism for libraries that use EBSCO data via EDS (EBSCO Discovery Service). The integration allows your users to search the EDS data from within the Prism search interface, by allowing users to select the resource they’d like to search:

Index selection dropdown

Your users can then easily navigate around a whole host of resources from one place. For those of you who have been using the Connect for EBSCO licence for a while (which allows Prism data to be surfaced in EDS), all you need do is contact us to take advantage of this additional integration, as there is no additional charge. Please raise a support call to ask us to enable this:

Search of library catalogue

A search of the library catalogue

Discovery service results

The same query searching EDS

This type of integration will be the same for CALM and any other external data sets you would like us to integrate with.

If you don’t already have the Connect for EBSCO licence, please contact

Prism Release Preview – July 2011

We’re pleased to announce that the latest version of Prism has been released for everyone to preview; this release has the following changes:

Improved display of formats in initial results display for Semantic Data Model records

The Semantic Data Model title work, launched last month, makes some changes to the way we extract data from the 245 field; part of this was dropping subfield $h from the display in favour of more descriptive terms found elsewhere in a record. We’ve tweaked the search results page, as originally discussed on the blog a few weeks ago, to draw more attention to the format by making it bold and displaying the most specific term, e.g. “eBook” rather than “Book, eBook, Eletronic Resource”. The end result is a more consistent experience – borrowers only need to look in a single place as they scan the page and the terminology used is the same from record to record. We’ve made  a few other tweaks to the appearance of this page to make the layout more consistent as well. As with other Semantic Data Model features, you’ll need to be on the new version of marcgrab to see these changes.

The revised format display

Support for Audio Visual (non-ISBN) cover images

To support the upcoming switch to BDS for Prism enrichments, we’ve enabled cover images for non-ISBN records; this will show, subject to coverage, images for records that have an EAN or UPC catalogued in the 024 field. These images will start displaying once we complete the transition in the coming weeks and we’ll put out a notice when this happens. Customers with Syndetics enrichments can also benefit from this development; please raise a service request and we will make the required configuration changes to your tenancy.

Addition of two new theme fragments

A common request we receive is for more control over the “My Account” login page, so we’ve added a new theme fragment which allows you to insert content in the same way as the homepage and header fragments. We’re releasing a small update to the Admin Console early this week which will pick up a file named “login.html” that you upload to your theme and insert it into your tenancy.

Another page we’re enabling further customisation of is the no results screen. Uploading a file called “noresults.html” to your tenancy theme will include it below the existing content. This fragment is treated a bit differently to others as it allows you to access the search query and insert it into your custom content, for example in a link to another search system such as Copac, the British Library or Google Books. As with the login fragment, this also relies on the Admin Console release this week.

No results fragment linking to Copac, The British Library and Google Books

No results fragment linking to Copac, The British Library and Google Books

Taking advantage of this new functionality is easy, just insert the following snippet anywhere in the fragment:

{{ query }}

If you’d like to provide links to prepared searches on other discovery interfaces you’ll need to change that slightly and “url encode” it; this makes sure it’s properly formatted for use in a hyperlink:

{{ query|url_encode }}

The full example in the screenshot above is:

<p>You can also try your search for "{{ query }}" on some other catalogues:</p>
<li><a href="{{ query|url_encode }}">Search for "{{ query }}" on COPAC</a></li>
<li><a href="{{ query|url_encode }}&fn=search&tab=local_tab&">Search for "{{ query }}" on the British Library OPAC</a></li>
<li><a href="{{ query|url_encode }}">Search for "{{ query }}" on Google Books</a>

We’re planning on releasing these changes to the live service within the next week, so would really appreciate everyone trying these new features on their tenancy. As usual, you can preview this release by prepending your tenancy name with “demo/”, for example:


If you have any comments, questions or suggestions please get in touch; you can comment here, on the forums and Prism Ideas or contact your account manager or the Prism team directly.

Prism 3 Release, 15 June 2010

We’re pleased to announce that the recent Prism 3 release preview has been released to the live Prism 3 environment. For further details on what has changed, please refer to the release preview blog post.

This release enables us to widen availability of the Admin Console, please contact support and raise a service request if you would like us to set up credentials for you.

Keep up with the latest Talis Prism 3 news and developments on the Talis Prism 3 website and blog.

Prism 3 Performance Update – June 2010

An ongoing development theme, running in tandem with our other efforts, is a continual focus on improving performance in Prism 3. To validate this work, we have monitoring set up for several tenancies.

I’ve extracted logs from two tenancies and put together charts showing the marked improvement in response times over the last 12 months. The three lines on the chart show the average response time in seconds for the catalogue landing page (home), a search against the catalogue (search) and displaying an item/work (item):

Performance trend for a public tenancy

Public tenancy (click to enlarge)

Performance trend for an academic tenancy

Academic tenancy (click to enlarge)

It’s great to see that all three are loading in under half a second, making the experience for your end users much snappier. This isn’t to say that our work in this area is done – there are more tweaks we are planning to put in place in Prism 3, and the underlying platform it runs upon. Thanks to the “Software as a Service” model used for Prism 3, we can roll out these improvements as soon as they are ready.

The application is just part of the picture though; if you’ve created your own theming/styling for Prism 3, ensuring this is suitably optimised will also improve the performance for your end users. Much of the perceived slowness in a website is actually waiting for items to render once they’ve been downloaded, and you can do a lot to improve this. Properly optimising a design is a lengthy topic, which is covered in far more detail elsewhere (e.g. the Yahoo Performance Rules), but here are some quick tips:

  • Make sure you optimise images and choose the right formats. Use a program like Adobe Fireworks to compress images; if you have a photo on your catalogue home, you can usually compress it by about 85% with no loss of detail. For logos, avoid JPEGs, use PNG and set it to the exact colour-palette to keep the filesize down
  • If you use a series of backgrounds or icons, consider using CSS Sprites to combine them into one image file. This will reduce the overall number of requests for a page and speed up its delivery
  • Put Javascript as close to the bottom of the page as possible (in Prism 3 this means the end of your footer fragment). Since Javascript is interpreted by the browser as soon as it loads, large scripts in the head of a document can cause a delay before a page renders properly
  • Combine scripts into one file; as with images, loading lots of small pieces has more overhead than one larger file
  • Minify CSS and Javascript, tools like the YUI Compressor can cut the filesize and hence the time taken to download these elements
  • Make sure you remove styles only used in development, or which use hooks deprecated from the Prism 3 interface (such as the old availability layout)

If you’d like to discuss this, or any other issue, please either leave a comment here, or email

Highland Libraries Facebook Prism search

Highland Libraries has a vibrant Facebook page and we were delighted to see that it now includes a search box to search their Talis Prism 3 catalogue. Highland Libraries has been offering Prism 3 alongside their Prism 2.1 catalogue since early March.

Embedding the Prism search box in any site is simply

a matter of pasting some code into the site page. You can find all you need in a Developer Documentation topic in the Prism Forum.

We’d love to hear from other libraries who have done this or who have extended their Talis Prism 3 catalogue in other ways.

Semantic Data Model Update – Format

You’ve heard us talking a lot about the Semantic Data Model (I provided a brief summary during the last Webinar, and it’s been covered in some detail on the blog posting back in January). What is it going to mean over the next few months for your Prism 3 catalogue though?

The need to move away from a field based record representation to one made up of links between different entities is very important for improving the user experience in Prism 3. Moving towards a linked data model gives us several benefits:

  • your catalogue will become more browsable through the introduction of dedicated pages for authors, subjects, artists, and more
  • Prism 3 will also function as an API, allowing other applications or your extensions to tap into and use your data in new ways
  • we can weave information from other sources into the item display, augmenting the excellent data already present in your catalogue.

The most important thing to note is that we aren’t “going dark” for an extended period, to emerge with the new data model as a finished item; we’re going to be tackling the task in a series of small, gradual steps. Throughout the next two quarters we’re aiming to provide regular releases when we finish each section, adding value straight away. The first area of data that we’re tackling is format.


The MARC 21 specification offers a rich framework for describing the format of resources that we can mine to get better context for the items in your catalogue; this also underpins other work we want to implement, such as tailoring display of items to the demands of their media; by identifying “what” an item is, we can display context-sensitive enrichment. With CDs this could mean showing track listings fetched from MusicBrainz, and perhaps a short audio preview; with books, a synopsis would be more suitable (from the MARC record, or fetched from an external resource such as LibraryThing); for films, cast and production lists.

In the work on format, we’re modelling both the form of content, such as dictionary, thesis, film, or poetry, and the carrier format such as Large print, CD or DVD. The model will enable the display of meaningful and specific terms to users in both descriptions and navigation options, such as E-book, DVD, VHS and Blu-ray.

This is dependent on the data, of course. Format information will be extracted from all the relevant standard places in your MARC records and mapped into the data model. Some of the key parts of the MARC record for this include the Type of record and the Bibliographic level (Leader/06 and 07), control fields 007, 008 and 006, as well as data fields such as 300 and some notes.


If an item is classed as a book, the most important field we’ll be looking at is 008. We’ll look at form of item (position 23) for some more specific book types, such as large print or online. The nature of contents and biography data elements (positions 24-27, 34) will provide some of the finer grained formats like biography, dictionary, encyclopaedia and thesis. Literary form (position 33) will allow broader categorisation of material into groups such as fiction, non-fiction, short stories and poetry.

Field 007 also becomes important when dealing with items for readers with visual impairments, such as Braille or large print, so we’ll be looking there for these specific formats too.

With all formats we’ll be looking out for the new “online” form of item (position 23) to help us with identifying online resources and allowing for easy faceting of searches for online-only material.


For serials, we’ll once again look at the 008. The type of continuing resource (position 21) will help us identify items as newspaper, periodical or database resources. The form of original item (position 22) and form of item (position 23) will be used to flag information like if the item is microfilm, newspaper, large print or Braille. We’ll also be using information available in the 008 position 25-27 to identify formats such as comics/graphic novels.

Visual Material

Visual material is more complex: we’re dealing with many carriers (with a fast pace of change), and the various types of content that can be delivered on them.

The 007 field will be our primary reference: videorecording format (position 04) provides the carrier (DVD, Blu-ray etc.), which will be supported by checks elsewhere such as 538 $a for specific values. By looking at this data element we can separate DVDs, Blu-rays and VHS videos in the faceted search, which is important if a user doesn’t have a particular player and wishes to filter out certain formats.

Audio Recordings

MARC 21 has some very fine-grained types for sound recordings and music, however, identifying the carrier can be a little tricky because the material designation in 007 contains broad categories.  CD’s for example aren’t listed so we need to look at 007 position 03 to see a speed of 1.4m/s and position 06 for a diameter of 12cm; we’ll also look  at 500 $a and 300 $a. For musical recordings, we’ll be looking in 008 to get the different forms of composition (position 18-19). Position 30-31 will give the work types for literary recordings such as Drama, History, Comedy and Lectures.

Notated Music

Following on from music classification in audio recordings, items that are notated music will have specific data added to our model as well. Format of music (008 position 20) is the primary data element we’ll look at, followed by music parts (position 21) to describe what is included in the score. Target audience and transposition/arrangement (positions 22 and 33) will also be useful when looked at together, for example deriving that a score is a simplified arrangement for younger musicians.

Everything Else

We’ve discussed some formats in detail, but of course there are others, such as maps and computer files. We’ll apply a similar methodology to extracting as much other format information as possible from your records.

We’d love to hear if you have any comments or suggestions on our general approach; if you’d like to give us feedback you can either do it via email to or by posting a comment here on the blog.