Issue 2, 2008-03-24
It is a pleasure and an honor to be able to introduce this, the second issue of Code4Lib Journal. Code4Lib is much more than a journal. It is a thriving community.
This article reviews available cost-effective options libraries have for updating and maintaining pathfinders such as subject guides and course pages. The paper discusses many of the available options, from the standpoint of a mid-sized academic library which is evaluating alternatives to static-HTML subject guides. Static HTML guides, while useful, have proven difficult and time-consuming to maintain. The article includes a discussion of open source database-driven solutions (such as SubjectsPlus, LibData, Research Guide, and Library Course Builder), Wikis, and social tagging sites like del.icio.us. This article discusses both the functionality and the relative strengths and weaknessess of each of these options.
The management and display of hours of operation on a library website can be needlessly complicated. One relatively simple solution is to manage the library hours in Google Calendar, and then use the Google API to extract this data for use on the public website. This article outlines how the Ithaca College Library used Google Calendar, PHP and MySQL to manage and report against our library's operational hours. Example code is included.
Reusing metadata generated through years of cataloging practice is a natural and pragmatic way of leveraging an institution’s investment in describing its resources. Using Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), the Biodiversity Heritage Library generates new interfaces for browsing and navigating books in a digital library. LCSH are grouped into tag clouds and plotted on interactive maps using methods available within the Google Maps Application Programming Interface (API). Code examples are included, and issues related to these interfaces and the underlying LCSH data are examined.
This paper discusses an approach and set of tools for translating bibliographic metadata from one format to another. A computational model is proposed to formalize the notion of a ‘crosswalk’. The translation process separates semantics from syntax, and specifies a crosswalk as machine executable translation files which are focused on assertions of element equivalence and are closely associated with the underlying intellectual analysis of metadata translation. A data model developed by the authors called Morfrom serves as an internal generic metadata format. Translation logic is written in an XML scripting language designed by the authors called the Semantic Equivalence Expression Language (Seel). These techniques have been built into an OCLC software toolkit to manage large and diverse collections of metadata records, called the Crosswalk Web Service.
Using the “net send” command, native to Windows XP, librarians at the University of California, Riverside created a “help button” for the reference desk. The simple script file sends a message to librarians’ workstations in their offices and logs the date and time of use. This paper describes that program.
This article describes how we dramatically increased access to our content through the use of sitemap files and sets of browsable links. Digital libraries, when characterized by search and retrieval capabilities, are normally part of the Deep Web, inaccessible to general web crawlers and hence to generalized search engines such as Google. Yet the primary goals of digital libraries include enhancing accessibility, expanding one’s audience to the general public, and promoting the library. Leveraging the capabilities of popular search engines is a potentially powerful and low-cost method of meeting these goals. An overview is provided of the problem, the solutions being developed, as well as an exploration of the current methods of remediation and their applicability to two other search engines, Yahoo! and Ask. A selection of methods is implemented for a dynamically-delivered database of 1081 finding aids (in the form of Encoded Archival Description). Access statistics (ruling out crawlers) already indicate a remarkable increase in user and hit counts as a result.
At the University of Rochester's River Campus Libraries we have included users in technology development with great success. "Participatory design" entails collaboration among designers, developers, and users from the earliest stages of conception through to implementation of websites and other technology. Using participatory methods, a project to redesign the library website began with workshops to identify user needs and preferences. The results of these workshops led to the identification of key tasks for the main page. They also generated a hierarchy of tasks for sub-pages and rich information about how students and faculty members use current websites in their work. In our article, we explain our reasons for running participatory design workshops, describe our methods, review participants and recruitment, and summarize key findings. We also include information about our local implementation and general conclusions about the value of design workshops for website design and development.
This article discusses the experiences over the past year at Laurentian University in deploying a Linux live CD solution to create customized kiosk browsers on ‘quick lookup’ laptops. This provides security, reliability, ease of use, and improved response time compared to other options. We explain why we chose this solution, reveal techniques we used to achieve some of our goals, and reflect on possible future iterations of this project.
The ICAP publishing system is an open source custom content management system that enables librarians to easily and quickly create and manage library help pages for course assignments (ICAPs), without requiring knowledge of HTML or other web technologies. The system’s unique features include an emphasis on collaboration and content reuse and an easy-to-use interface that includes in-line help, simple forms and drag and drop functionality. The system generates dynamic, attractive course assignment pages that blend Web 2.0 features with traditional library resources, and makes the pages easier to find by providing a central web page for the course assignment pages. As of December 2007, the code is available as free, open-source software under the GNU General Public License.
Some simple modifications to VuFind, an open source library resource portal, improve the retrieval of both lists of works and information about authors from Wikipedia. These modifications begin to address ways that current “next-generation” catalogs fail to fully harness all of the bibliographic tools available for indexing and presenting author information. Simple methods such as those described in this article, which make use of full headings for authors, can offer marked improvements to these systems.
This article contains three reports relating to Code4LibCon 2008 — the third annual Code4Lib conference in Portland, Oregon (February 25-28, 2008). The first describes the birth of the conference and introduces the 2008 OSU / Code4Lib scholarship recipients. The latter two parts, written by the scholarship recipients, outline the things they saw and learned at the conference.