Issue 15, 2011-10-31

Editorial Introduction

This Hallowe’en finds our contributors working away like (benign) mad scientists, assembling and deploying their creations to bring services and information in novel ways to their patrons and staff, approaching their work with a vital sprit of invention and discovery.

by Tod A. Olson

Welcome to the 15th issue of Code4Lib Journal. As our Hallowe’en publication date draws near, our contributors are busily providing treats to their users. They have been working away like (benign) mad scientists, assembling and deploying their creations to bring services and information in novel ways to their patrons and staff, approaching their work with a vital sprit of invention and discovery. It is this spirit that pushes the bounds of convention and expectation, expanding the role of library IT. Once we were confined to catalog databases, straining against disk space and fixed record lengths. Now we find that digitization, online journals, real-time dynamic information, and arguably ubiquitous computing are all ours. We have claimed them. What next shall we add to our domain?

To help users select controlled vocabulary terms for web pages, Shun Nagaya, Yutaka Hayashi, Shuhei Otani and Keizo Itabashi offer up “Controlled Terms or Free Terms? A JavaScript Library to Utilize Subject Headings and Thesauri on the Web.” SPARQL queries are executed against the user’s choice of controlled vocabularies to return possible suggestions.

After years of experience, Pamela C. Buzzard and Travis S. Teetor treat us to “Best Practices for a University Laptop Lending Program,” where they detail their practices of storing and circulating hundreds of equipment items. The authors explain how they deal with physical damage and purge unwanted bits from disk while patrons still have unfettered administrative access to devices.

When digitizing hand-drafted paper documents such as the Frederick Douglass diary, there remains no good way to automatically extract the text. This leads Andrew S.I.D. Lang and Joshua Rio-Ross down the path of “Using Amazon Mechanical Turk to Transcribe Historical Handwritten Documents.” Wherein unseen (human) agents are enlisted to transcribe the documents and even perform quality control, with a brief exploration of ethical concerns.

In “Lessons in Public Touchscreen Development,” Andreas K. Orphanides guides us through developing and deploying a touchscreen kiosk. In this masquerade, a humble browser is transformed to lure in patrons with the promise of real-time library information. But how to protect the desktop from access by probing fingers? Our chronicler then risks his sanity poring over logs and heat maps hoping to perfect his creation.

You will be familiar with the sense of panic and dread that looms when technology goes awry, the technology staff are all out on call, and the victim is left alone, in the dark and without assistance. Think back to that last system upgrade that was afflicted by gremlins, or perhaps more dire demonic influences. Keith Kelley, Karlis Kaugars and Scott Garrison conjure a talisman against such evil in the form of “An Android/LAMP Mobile In/Out Board Based on Wi-Fi Fingerprinting.” They provide introduction to the arcana of WiFi fingerprinting and show how to exorcise those phantoms which misdirect and try to obscure IT staff during a crisis.

Budget horrors recently lead the Colorado Association of Libraries to the near demise of their quarterly journal. In “Open Access Publishing with Drupal,” our protagonist Nina McHale employs a collection of Drupal modules to effect re-animation—the unsung E-Journals module acting as the journal’s beating heart.

And finally, please join me in welcoming Ed Summers, a well-respected member of the Code4Lib community, to the Journal. Ed joins the Editorial Committee in courting madness to bring you another issue of … Code4Lib Journal.

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