Issue 3, 2008-06-23

Editorial Introduction – Issue 3

Ron Peterson

Code4Lib Journal seeks to share ideas for solving issues and, hopefully, inspire new ideas.

Alternative Solutions for Off-Campus Authentication

Rebekah Kilzer, Elizabeth L. Black and James Muir

The Ohio State University Libraries created scripts to overcome the local limitations of the proxy server and to offer resource connections at the point of need. All libraries struggle to provide seamless authentication for access to paid resources, such as research databases and electronic journals. In order to obtain access to this content, the libraries must sign contracts promising to limit access to these resources to their user community. The challenge then comes in balancing the patron’s need for easy access to these rich data sources from any computer and the vendors’ desire to protect their assets.

Distributed Version Control and Library Metadata

Galen M. Charlton

Distributed version control systems (DVCSs) are effective tools for managing source code and other artifacts produced by software projects with multiple contributors. This article describes DVCSs and compares them with traditional centralized version control systems, then describes extending the DVCS model to improve the exchange of library metadata.

The Planets Testbed: Science for Digital Preservation

Brian Aitken (HATII), Petra Helwig (NANETH), Andrew Jackson (BL), Andrew Lindley (ARC), Eleonora Nicchiarelli (ONB), Seamus Ross (HATII)

The preservation of digital objects requires specific software tools or services. These can be characterisation tools that abstract the essential characteristics of a digital object from a file, migration tools that convert digital objects to different formats, or emulation tools that render digital objects in their original context on a new infrastructure. Until recently digital preservation has been characterised by practices and processes that could best be described as more art and craft than science. The Planets Testbed provides a controlled environment where preservation tools can be tested and evaluated, and where experiment results can be empirically compared. This paper presents an overview of the Testbed application, an analysis of the experiment methodology and a description of the Testbed's web service approach.

Bringing Sheet Music to Life: My Experiences with OMR

Andrew Bullen

This article describes the process of digitizing sheet music celebrating Pullman porters and rail travel from the 1870s-1920s. The process involves 1) digitizing sheet music, 2) running the digitized sheet music through an Optical Musical Recognition (OMR) software package, 3)cleaning up the resulting file, 4) converting it into an .mp3/MIDI file, and 5) tweaking it to use the voices/instruments of a music editing software program. The pros and cons of some popular OMR programs are discussed.

Building an Archival Collections Portal

Terry Catapano, Joanna DiPasquale, and Stuart Marquis

Columbia University Libraries has developed the Archival Collections Portal, a unified search system helping users discover archival resources in a streamlined way. We combined the power of Lucene and Solr to search XML, parse JSON objects, create EAD-compliant documents, and deliver results in an easy-to-use interface. By reusing MARC records and employing new search engine features and techniques, we are able to bring important and hard-to-find collections to researchers and archivists. The canonical home page of the Portal is http://www.columbia.edu/library/archival/.

Developing an Academic Image Collection with Flickr

Jeremy McWilliams

A group at Lewis & Clark College in Portland are in the process of developing an educational collection of contemporary ceramics images using the photo sharing site Flickr as a back end. This article discusses the evolution of the project, Flickr machine tags, and the concept of Flickr as an application database layer. The article includes code samples for creating and querying machine tags using the Flickr API.

Making Patron Data Work Harder: User Search Terms as Access Points?

Jason A. Clark

Montana State University (MSU) Libraries are experimenting with re-using patron-generated data to create browseable access points for the Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) collection. A beta QueryCatcher module logs recent search terms and the number of associated hits. These terms are used to create browseable lists and tagclouds which enhance access to the ETD collection. Gathering and reusing information about user behavior is an emerging trend in web application development. This article outlines MSU Libraries’ reasoning for moving towards a user-generated model and provides a complete walkthrough of the steps in building the application and example code.

Collecting Virtual Reference Statistics with an IM Chat-Bot

Mason R.K. Hall

A perennial problem in libraries is capturing accurate statistics. This article addresses this problem with the creative use of Web 2.0 tools: Meebo and AOL Instant Messenger. It describes the development and implementation of an instant messaging “stat-bot” that prompts staff to record virtual reference statistics via IM. Step-by-step guidelines and the Perl script are provided.

WordPress as a Content Management System for a Library Web Site: How to Create a Dynamically Generated Subject Guide

Joshua Dodson

This article explains a method of generating dynamic subject guides through the WordPress content management system. This method includes the use of the Exec-PHP WordPress plugin and additional PHP code to create a new category-based loop within the preexisting WordPress loop. Example code and screenshots are provided.