Issue 5, 2008-12-15

Editorial Introduction – Issue 5

Welcome to the 5th issue of the Code4Lib Journal. We’ve come a long way in just over a year! We hope you take a few minutes to celebrate those accomplishments with us as you explore issue 5 and read about the innovations, ideas, and experiences shared there. Let’s learn from each other.

By Emily Lynema
Coordinating Editor, Issue 5

Celebrating a Year

This 5th issue of the Code4Lib Journal celebrates our first full year of publication. I think I can speak for the entire Editorial Committee when I say we are very excited to see that the Journal is still going strong a year later.

What have we accomplished in a year?

It has been a busy year for the Code4Lib Journal. For starters, we’ve done a lot of talking. Google Groups tells me we’ve sent 3,758 message covering 865 topics on the private c4lj-articles email list alone [1]. While some are the inevitable email spam, it’s still a lot of words. But we’ve done more than just talk; all this discussion has led to the publication of 44 articles, editorials, and columns authored by about 75 different community members (give or take a few) across 5 issues. Overall, we’ve responded to about twice that many proposals. We’re happy to see so much community interest in publishing in our venue. In conjunction with the fantastic work of our authors, all this has been accomplished by a fairly small group of people. We currently have an Editorial Committee of 12, having gained 3 additional hands while only saying farewell to 1 in the past year. Many thanks go out to Eric Lease Morgan for his year of service with the Journal, especially his masterful coordination of issue 2.

And we have a few readers, as well! Google Analytics claims that journal.code4lib.org has seen 58,316 visits in the past year, unsurprisingly spiking with the release of each new issue. The most visited article so far? Free and Open Source Options for Creating Database-Driven Subject Guides, co-authored by the Editorial Committee’s very own Edward Corrado. The most common referrers pointing folks into the pages of the Code4Lib Journal are code4lib.org, google.com, and bloglines.com. However, we still see about 40% of direct incoming traffic and another 25% coming from search engines.

In fact, the Code4Lib Journal content is starting to pop up in more and more places. The Journal has been added to the Directory of Open Access Journals, where we upload article metadata for each issue. In fact, the DOAJ is actually the 4th most frequent referrer to the Journal site. We have established CC-BY licensing for all article content to make it more freely re-usable. Representatives from the Editorial Committee are currently working with EBSCO to determine if our full-text content can be included in the Library, Information Science, and Technology Abstracts database. And if you use SFX as a link resolver, you’ll find the Code4Lib Journal has been added to its knowledgebase.

We’re doing whatever needs to happen to get the work done. 9 wiki pages, 8 WordPress pages, 4 WordPress custom plugins, 3 Google Groups pages, 3 Google Docs spreadsheets, 2 WordPress templates, and 2 email lists later we’re still having fun.

What more do we want?

From the beginning, we have maintained that the Code4Lib Journal is all about you, the readers. We envisioned a journal that lowered barriers to publication, focused on practical, useful, applicable content, and encouraged an open conversation with readers. This desire for an open conversation is one of the major reasons we chose WordPress as a publishing platform for the Journal.

5 issues later, we hope that we’ve succeeded in lowering barriers to publication and we’re pretty sure we’ve provided some interesting and practical articles to the community. But we’re still hoping to see these accomplishments provide a platform for an ongoing and open conversation about problems and solutions, questions and answers, ideas and projects. Out of 44 published articles, we’ve only seen 37 (non-spam) comments. I encourage all of you, our readers, to consider joining the dialogue by posting comments on the articles you read with questions, opinions, and ideas. Oh, and you should feel encouraged to submit proposals, too!

Libraries, Technology, and Everything Else

As saddened as I am by the possibility that I won’t be able to attend this year’s annual Code4Lib conference, it makes me more appreciative of the fact that I can still contribute to this vibrant community through the Journal, the email list, and the IRC channel. Time and again, I’ve turned to the helping hands there to discuss ideas and to point me towards technologies and tools that I can employ in my workplace. As libraries around the country face budget cuts and freezes, it’s increasingly important to maintain a cohesive, helpful virtual community. Sharing ideas and expertise can help us solve problems cheaper and faster; an excellent option as many face a short-term future with limited staff and resources.

In the midst of an economic crisis, the show must go on for libraries. Innovation remains important as an increasingly diverse array of resources becomes available and our patrons attempt to navigate a sea of confusing options among which the library probably doesn’t even appear on the first page. Libraries must effectively choose and use technology to help reach these patrons. This means we have to find new ways to do many things; new ways to reach out into our patrons’ spaces, new ways to support their preferred style of doing business, new ways to make our systems and metadata flex for better finding and discovering, new ways to send our data out into the web and bring the web back into our local systems, new ways to be more intuitive and more responsive. It’s a lot of new. Fortunately, it’s not the first time that libraries have faced change. Librarians working with technology are not working alone. And we continue to see growth and innovation in the tools available, including a surge in free and open source technologies [2].

Issue 5

The 5th issue of the Code4Lib Journal continues to contribute to this community of sharing and helping. It features 10 articles focusing on new ideas and tools, how to information, and sharing of experience gained over time.

New ideas and tools

Ilana Kingsley and Mark Morlino describe the process of creating a DVD browser for patrons by mashing up data from the library catalog, IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, and FreeCovers.net and integrating it into a customized Drupal module. Jill Strass shares how the folks at St. Olaf College used an Excel workbook to wrangle together scanned newspaper images and individual file names to create a browsable, searchable collection in CONTENTdm without requiring manual cataloging. Wayne Graham discusses creating a library Facebook application using Facebook Athenaeum to reach out to patrons who use this social networking tool frequently. Cody Hanson, Shane Nackerud, and Kristi Jensen demonstrate how the University of Minnesota Libraries have taken advantage of enterprise “affinity strings” generated by PeopleSoft to provide customized library resource pages within the campus portal and to gather more targeted usage statistics for electronic resources. Chris Catalfo of LibLime introduces the Code4Lib community to ‡biblios, an open source cataloging editor that is currently integrated with the Koha ILS.

How to

Noel Peden describes the process perfected over the past 2 Code4Lib conferences to capture presentations and make them available online for those unable to attend.

Sharing experience

Henrik Lindström and Martin Malmsten from the National Library of Sweden share how their team integrated user-centered design processes and agile development methodologies to create a new, adaptable, patron-focused search for the Swedish National Union Catalogue. Dianne Dietrich, Jennifer Doty, Jen Green and Nicole Scholtz suggest a set of guidelines to use when thinking about terminating vs. reviving digital projects created by your predecessors. Kelley McGrath and Lynne Bisko describe in detail the outcome of their attempts to automatically extract work-level data from MARC bibliographic records for moving images. Dale Askey provides a rousing editorial on why libraries struggle to effectively share the light-weight “doodads and widgets” we use to glue our web sites together and how we might overcome these tendencies.

We hope that you enjoy issue 5!

Notes

[1] Note that all numbers in this introduction are slightly estimated so as to provide the spirit of the past year without worrying too greatly about 100% accuracy.

[2] I’ve provided a link to the Project page of oss4lib as a place to get started. I’m sure there are many other relevant open source tools available. Please feel free to add links to other individual projects or project aggregator pages as comments.

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