7 Open Source Library Software to Consider…07.22.09

22 07 2009

Here is an excerpt from a very useful post by Brett Bonfield on In the Library With a Lead Pipe titled W-E-B-S-I-T-E, Find Out What It Means To Me:

It’s interesting how many people don’t really understand the concept of open source. People often describe freeware as open source, or they’ll describe free web-based applications as open source, or applications with APIs that allow for mashups. There are articles all the time, on some of the most popular websites, that recommend free software but don’t distinguish programs the authors gives away for free from software that is actually open source.

For a program to be open source, it has to meet two basic qualifications

  1. The author has to provide full access to its source code
  2. The software has to be accompanied by a license that protects the contributions and rights of the community…

In my opinion, there are seven open source software projects worth considering

There’s some apples-and-oranges going on here, in that some of these packages are just components of a website and require other software in order to do everything a library website needs to do (such as inventory management). Other packages cover the entire process…”

Palos Verdes Library District Begins Using SOPAC2…07.16.08

16 07 2009

SOPACJohn Blyberg reports today that the Palos Verdes Library District has launched his SOPAC2 (social OPAC)  software for their online catalog.  Blyberg received the 2009 LITA Brett Butler Award for his work on the SOPAC during the ALA 2009 annual conference in Chicago.

Lone Wolf Librarian Cataloging Project Status Report…07.02.09

2 07 2009


This post is mainly for posterity to help record the progress I have made on the cataloging front.. The content below was taken from the homepage of our special library’s Atriuum OPAC and explains to our staff/patrons the status, condition, and use of our library resources. 


Any staff member with permission can access this online catalog via a web browser from any location in the world with a computer and an internet connection.

Using the catalog “search” feature at the top of this page, you can perform a “simple” SEARCH for any of the library resources for which bibliographic records have been entered into the Atriuum database software. The pull-down menus to the right of the search box above, can also be used to LIMIT a search by 1) author, title, subject heading, call number, ISBN or series title or 2) by one of 41 material format types [complete list available upon request], i.e., HB (hardback book), PB (paperback book), BKL (booklet), CAS (audio cassette), VHS (VHS video cassette), DVD (digital video disk), 3/4″ V (3/4″ video), MAS (master), etc.

The “combo” and “expert” links can also be used for more complex searches. The combo search option is a simple form of the expert search. You are given search fields for Title, Author, and Subject. Search terms can be entered in any or all of these fields. Expert search allows you to enter search criteria for up to three different types of data and ALSO to limit the search by joining that data to “BOOLEAN” search operators (search limiting words “and”, “or”, & “and not”—SEE A “BOOLEAN” SEARCH: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vube-ZcJFk4).

Note that the “my items” link on the left is currently not operational. Using the “my items” link, “patrons” will be able to log in to view their checked out items, reserve shelf, and items reserved.

Using the “bibliography” link on the left, patrons can save favorite or interesting item records for future reference.

The actual process of descriptive and subject CATALOGING of the library materials (using Dewey decimal classification and Library of Congress subject headings) at the main library and the main library off-Site location began August 25, 2006. In April 2007, cataloging began at 2 of the 4 out of state, long-term, storage facility units.

As more bibliographic records are entered into the system, the online catalog will become an increasingly valuable and useful tool for searching for and accessing the library and archive resources. As of July 2, 2009, library holding records for 17,069 physical items have been entered into the catalog database. Cataloging continues and our collections grow daily.

Contact the librarian if you are looking for ELECTRONIC files, such as MS Word or PDF documents of  program, meeting, conference or product TRANSCRIPTS, which are organized in sub-folders in the “TRANSCRIPTS” folder (6,027 files to date) on the department server and CANNOT be searched using this catalog.

There are various relevant links in the left column, including many to the online catalogs of relevant college/university libraries as well as the online catalogs of a few archival centers which may augment your research activities.

“Library Websites for Mobile Devices”…06.20.09

30 06 2009


Here is an excerpt from the Centered Librarian‘s post Library Websites for Mobile Devices which is worth reading completely:

“The Mobile Libraries Blog has an executive summary of the University of Cambridge’s M-Libraries: Information Use On The Move report from the Arcadia Programme. While there’s a substantial list of ways to integrate mobile devices with libraries to better serve patrons, one of the simplest things – ‘Ensuring that the library website is accessible and will resize to smaller screens…to be ready for increasing numbers of netbook users and mobile internet users in the next few years’ – may be the most difficult thing for some institutions. The difficulty is not technical, but a combination of internal politics and marketing…”

Social Library Catalogs – “No Longer an Inventory But a Community”…06.26.09

26 06 2009

Here is an excerpt from a great posting by Laurel TarulliThe Cataloging Librarian, Collections Access Librarian at Halifax Public Libraries, yesterday titled Library Catalogues are no longer an inventory but a place, and a community :

“…Social catalogues will play a vital role in promoting RA services in the future. It’s already happening. I believe that the future of the library catalogues will rest on whether we can become a place, rather than an inventory.

When we talk about RA services, we emphasize that true RA work cannot be accomplished without the trust of our readers. What about our silent reader? Our remote readers? What about our avid readers who wish they were librarians and want to share their reading suggestions? You won’t find these readers in the library asking our RAs for help, but you will find them in the library catalogue – at least, that’s where they should be. Right now, they are using social cataloguing sites like LibraryThing. But, I believe they are just waiting for us to catch up and when we do, what’s coming will be amazing.

When I presented at the pre-conference, I emphasized the movement toward social features in our library catalogues and the new face of the library catalogue. Much of what I discussed already exists to some extent, but much of what I discussed is what’s coming, or should be coming soon. There are so many ways we can explore social technology to create a community of trust among our readers through the library catalogue. That trust will bring RA work into our readers’ homes…”

View more documents from Laurel Tarulli.

“9 Ways People Respond to Your Content Online”…06.04.09

4 06 2009

Thanks to iLibrarian by Ellyssa for pointing out Life Beyond Code blog post 9 Ways People Respond to Your Content Online with this great graphic:


“…So, here are the nine ways your audience will respond to your online content:

  1. Spam: If your content does not provide a reasonable ROII (return-on-investment for an interaction) for the reader or is self-serving or simply useless, the reader will mark it as spam. Posting something that may be assessed, as “spam” is the fastest way to losing credibility.
  2. Skip: The reader makes an assessment that he or she won’t lose much by reading it. In this case, the reader has not written you off yet but if you consistently create content that is worth “skipping,” the reader might write you off.
  3. Scan: The reader thinks there are only a few parts that are of relevance and wants to get right to the core of the content and skip the rest.
  4. Stop: The reader is touched by the article and stops to think about the article, it’s relevance and what it means to him or her personally and professionally.
  5. Save: The content is so good that the reader might want to re-visit this multiple times.
  6. Shift: The article is transformational. The reader is so deeply affected (in a positive way) by the article that it shifts some of their values and beliefs. In other words, this piece of writing will transform the reader and make him or her grow.
  7. Send: The content is not only useful to the reader but also to one or more people in the reader’s network. The reader simply emails the article or a link to it to people that he or she cares.
  8. Spread: The reader finds the article fascinating enough to spread it to anyone and everyone via a blog, twitter or the social networks that he or she belongs.
  9. Subscribe: This is the ultimate expression of engagement and a vote of confidence that you will continue to provide great content. When the reader wants to continue listening to your thoughts, he or she will subscribe…”

“Implementing a Next Gen OPAC”…05.17.09

17 05 2009
Implementing a Next Gen OPAC
  with Jeff Wisniewski  
Technology, Social Networking
Audio Conference
  Tuesday, May 19, 2009
1:00 pm ET
One Hour
  Member: $54.00
Non-Member: $74.00
Interested in wading into the next generation OPAC waters? From selection to implementation to federated search integration to evaluation, learn valuable information on the state of the market and get tips on everything from integrating cool free content to promoting your new system to ways to insure your implementation runs smoothly. Find out what you should know, what your vendors aren’t telling you, and get insights into all that is Next Gen OPAC.

The Benefits

  • Learn about the next generation OPAC marketplace
  • Get insight into how to select, implement, and promote a new system easily and effectively
  • Take away valuable tips on everything from how to compare products to enhancing your new catalog with free content

Who Should Participate
Any staff interested in this exploding area of library technology will benefit from this session. If your library is thinking about investigating this landscape or is in the process of selecting or implementing one of these tools then this program will be of particular use.

Key Topics You Will Explore

  • What current products can, and can’t, do
  • How to implement a next gen OPAC with a minimum of time and effort
  • How to promote and encourage buy-in from both staff and users
  • Ways to enhance your catalog data and to make your content mixable and movable

Jeff Wisniewski
Jeff Wisniewski received his MLS from the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences. He is the Web Services Librarian for the University Library System at the University of Pittsburgh, where he maintains the Library System’s public Web site, staff intranet, coordinates technical support for Pitt’s University-wide ETD program, and project manages new technology initiatives.

Developed for the Education Institute by Darlene Fichter’s Northern Lights Internet Solutions, Inc., in Saskatchewan

Library Catalog OPAC “Juice Project”…04.09.09

9 04 2009

defaultlogoThe Juice Project

Here is an excerpt of a post titled Juice Up Your OPAC bt Richard Wallis on the Panlibus blog today about adding “juice” to your library catalog’s OPAC which I find very interesting and potentially helpful:

“…The Juice Project is an open source initiative, which I launched at the recent Code4lib conference, with the specific objectives of making it easy to create extensions for web interfaces such as OPACs and then make it even easier to share those extensions in an open community of those who want to enhance their interfaces but do not have the skill or experience to do so.

Open and easy are two key facets of the approach used for this project.  JavaScript code gurus may find the way Juice is implemented a little over complex, but it is that approach which should make it simple for the non-gurus to adopt and use.

Duke_icons_screenshotThe design of the extension framework, which is Juice, separates the extension itself from the code that interfaces to a particular web application.  The result being that an extension created to be used on say a VuFind OPAC can be re used to extend a Talis, or a Horizon, or any other OPAC or indeed any other suitable interface.

Obviously if you are going to make changes to your interface, you need some ability to access and change the mark-up that creates the web pages.  Many libraries have staff that are capable and confident enough to make a simple change to an interface – adding a link to another site in the footer, changing a bit of text on the home page etc.  Juice is targeted at exactly those staff.  On the Juice Project site there are simple ‘How-to’ documents, that step you through how to add the couple of lines of code to introduce Juice in to your interface, and then how to copy & paste examples into your version of Juice to add shared extensions…

So, calling all those that want to add value to library and other web interfaces, take a look at and join the Juice Project.   It is early days and we haven’t as yet got many interface types identified and supportable in Juice, but the more that join in and share what they know the sooner we will be able to share the innovation between all libraries.”

Read the Latest Edition of The International Survey of Library Automation…04.05.09

5 04 2009


(Image:  ihome.ust.hk/…/diploma/libauto/libauto.html)

Here is Marshall Breedings 2009 summary of his latests “International Survey of Library Automation “…regarding the perceptions of libraries toward their automation systems, the organizations that provide support, and the quality of support they receive. It also aims to gauge interest in open source library automation systems”…


Most Positive Perceptions

Polaris emerged this year as the ILS product with the highest positive ratings in the categories of product and company satisfaction. Libraries using AGent VERSO from Auto-Graphics gave the highest rankings for customer support and loyalty to the company for future business. Library.Solution from The Library Corporation received highly positive marks from its customer libraries in all categories. Libraries using Polaris, AGent VERSO, and Library.Solution showed the least interest in open source ILS products. These three companies received extremely high satisfaction ratings from their libraries, with average scores separated by very thin margins.

Negative Perceptions

The survey results reveal high levels of dissatisfaction by libraries running legacy ILS products. Athena and Winnebago Spectrum, both systems acquired by Follett Software Company that will not receive ongoing development, received the lowest ILS satisfaction scores and indicated the least likelihood that they would purchase an ILS in the future from this company. Libraries using Dynix gave low marks regarding their satisfaction with the product (5.14) and for SirsiDynix as a company (4.81), but rated support more moderately (5.76). Horizon libraries gave SirsiDynix very low marks as a company (4.32) but registered moderate satisfaction for the product itself (5.68).

The number of negative comments provided on the survey forms overwhelmingly exceeded positive ones.

ILS Satisfaction

Polaris ranked as the product that received the highest score in response to the question probing satisfaction with the library’s Integrated Library System with a median rating of 7.73. Fifty-one libraries using Polaris responded to this question. Last year a total of 59 responders rated Polaris 7.78, reflecting remarkable consistency across the two years. AGent VERSO earned second highest marks in this category (7.26), with Library.Solution from The Library Corporation only a fraction lower (7.20). Millennium from Innovative Interfaces, Inc. also attracted highly positive ratings (7.09).

Company Satisfaction

Polaris Library Systems also won the highest score for company satisfaction (7.76) with Auto-Graphics (7.68) and The Library Corporation (7.33) only slightly less favored. Libraries using Millennium gave Innovative Interfaces solidly positive ratings (6.44), though a notch below the top three companies. Libraries using legacy products not surprisingly noted their vendors as least satisfactory, including those using Athena (3.92), Horizon (4.32), Winnebago Spectrum (4.52), and Dynix (4.81). The middle tier of company satisfaction included those using Koha supported by LibLime (5.84), Virtua from VTLS (5.79), Voyager (5.59) and ALEPH 500 (5.20) from Ex Libris, and Unicorn from SirsiDynix (5.05).

Satisfaction with Customer Support

Libraries using AGent VERSO rated Auto-Graphics as the company providing the most satisfactory support (7.81). Polaris (7.41) and The Library Corporation (7.07) also earned highly positive ratings for customer support, just below that of Auto-Graphics. Innovative received strong marks in this category (6.46), though again just a notch below the top tier. Users of Athena (3.63) and Winnebago Spectrum (4.57) gave Follett low ratings for support.

Company Loyalty

In response to the question probing the likelihood that the library would purchase future ILS products from their current vendor, Auto-Graphics received the highest marks for customer loyalty (7.64) only slightly edging above The Library Corporation (7.50) and Polaris Library Systems (7.33). Libraries using Millennium gave mixed results, but overall indicated strong loyalty to Innovative Interfaces, Inc. (6.54). Libraries using Athena (4.32), Winnebago Spectrum (3.95), and Horizon (4.37) seem on average not inclined to purchase their next system from their incumbent vendors.

Open Source Perceptions

It’s not surprising that the libraries already using an open source ILS registered the strongest interest in future consideration of an open source ILS, with Koha as supported by LibLime toping the list (8.05). Other than these open source true believers, libraries running proprietary systems submitted responses reflecting much lower interest, with even those most dissatisfied with their current product such as Winnebago Spectrum (4.95) indicated relatively weak interest. We also observe that libraries most satisfied with their current situation, including Polaris (2.29), AGent VERSO (2.63), Library.Solution (3.00) showed little interest in open source alternatives…”

OPAC Stats Showing the Impact of Adding a Recommendation: “People Who Borrowed This, Also Borrowed…” Feature…03.29.09

29 03 2009


The Self-Plagarism is Style blog  inThe impact of book suggestions/recommendations? has some interesting multi-year statistical results to share on the impact of a “People Who Borrowed This, Also Borrowed…” OPAC feature:

“…I thought it would be interested to dig into the circulation data to see if there was any indication that our book recommendation/suggestion services (i.e. “people who borrowed this, also borrowed…” and “we think you might be interested in…”) have had any impact on borrowing…

You can see that from 2000 to 2005, borrowing seems to have limited to a range of around 65,000 titles (probably driven primarily by reading lists). At the end of 2005, we introduced the “people who borrowed this, also borrowed…” suggestions and then, in early 2006, we added personalised “we think you might be interested in…” suggestions for users who’ve logged into the OPAC.

Hand on heart, I can say for sure that the suggestions/recommendations are wholly responsible for the sudden and continuing increase in the range of stock being borrowed, but they certainly seem to be having an impact.

Hand-in-hand with that increase, we’ve also seen a decrease in the number of times books are getting renewed (even though we’ve made renewing much easier than before, via self-issue, telephone renewals, and pre-overdue reminders). Rather than hanging onto a book and repeatedly renewing it, our students seem to be exploring our stock more widely and seeking out other titles to borrow…”

Facebook App for Library Catalog…03.27.09

27 03 2009


David Lee King’s post today highlight’s the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library‘s new Facebook application for their library catalog:

“My way cool web team recently built a Facebook app for our library catalog! If you’re interested in trying it out, simply search for tscpl catalog in Facebook and our app will appear

More Facebook app screenshots:

“LibraryThing for Libraries”…03.25.09

25 03 2009


LibraryThing has been around for quite a while though I haven’t heard much about the “LibraryThing for Libraries” addition that can be added to your ILS OPAC so I thought I would include here some information about it from the source.

Here are some basics from the LibraryThing for Libraries FAQ page:

“…What’s the difference between LibraryThing and LibraryThing for Libraries?

LibraryThing is the main site, meant for all people to come and share their books. Learn more about LibraryThing here.

LibraryThing for Libraries is a product, built by us at LibraryThing, for public, academic and special libraries with existing library systems (ILS/OPACs).

What does LibraryThing for Libraries do:

LTFL has two awesome OPAC-boosting products:

Catalog Enhancements package

This provides more valuable data for each book, and more points for searching. All of the search information – recommended titles, similar editions, tag search results – relate back to what can be found in your OPAC.

  • Book recommendations. High-quality “recommended” or “similar” books, like reader’s advisory that points to books available in your library.
  • Tag-based discovery. Tag clouds for books, and tag-based search and discovery, drawn from the 41 million tags added by LibraryThing members.
  • Other editions and translations. Provides links to bib pages of other editions and translations of a work that can be found an your library. (This works much like the FRBR model.)

Reviews Enhancement package

  • Patron reviews. Let your patrons rate and review right in your catalog.
  • Already full. Comes with over 200,000 high-quality reviews from LibraryThing.com.
  • Widgets. Patrons can show off reviews and their library with library-branded “blog widgets” and a Facebook application.

You can choose to moderate reviews, and create multiple moderator accounts for other staff…

How does LibraryThing for Libraries work with my OPAC?

LibraryThing for Libraries adds information to your catalog with a few lines of HTML. Installation is extremely easy to add to your OPAC/ILS. Read more in the technical FAQ.

Will LTFL work with my OPAC?

LTFL will work with every major OPAC/ILS, and most of the minor ones too. See the list of libraries using LTFL here...

Can I see a live example of LibraryThing for Libraries in an OPAC?

The Danbury library in Danbury CT has become the first library in the world to put LibraryThing for Libraries on its live catalog. Play with their catalog(complete with LibraryThing for Libraries’s other editions and translations, similar books, and tags and tag browser), and read our blog post.

Other libraries that have gone live with LibraryThing for Libraries:

The Bedford Public Library (catalog) in Bedford TX (blog post).

Waterford Institute of Technology (catalog) in Waterford in south east Ireland (blog post).

Deschutes Public Library (catalog) of Deschutes County in Oregon (blog post).

Is there a list of all libraries participating in the LibraryThing for Libraries?

Yes! Go check it out...”

Coming April 1, 2009 Library Automation Systems Marketplace Report…03.23.09

23 03 2009

Marshall Breeding posted the following on Library Technology Guides about the release of his latest automation report in Gathering library automation Data which is excerpted here:

“I’ve recently finished my eighth version of the ‘Automation Systems Marketplace which will appear in the April 1 issue of Library Journal. This article provides a great opportunity for me to get detailed data from the companies involved in the library automation industry regarding their activities over the last year. Each year companies respond to a survey where they are asked to respond to specific questions regarding the numbers of systems sold, the personnel employed, and the like. In general, the companies involved cooperate very nicely in responding with information that seems accurate and complete.

In addition to the self-reported information provided by the companies involved in the industry, I aim to gather data from other perspectives. The “Perceptions 2008: An international Survey of Library Automation” aims to gather information from the libraries’ perspective. While the data from this survey isn’t comprehensive, it has been helpful in identifying or confirming broad trends…”


Image: “…the history of mergers and acquisitions in the library automation industry”

Marshall Breeding

Jean and Alexander Heard LibraryVanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Copyright 2007

Mobile Orange County Florida Library System Catalog Access…03.20.09

20 03 2009

Thanks to The Distant Librarian for pointing out this video about accessing the Orange County Florida Library System’s catalog on the iPhone:

How to Use QR Codes in the Library OPAC…03.20.09

20 03 2009


As a follow-up on the subject of QR Codes in recent posts, I am posting here comments from a solicitation by Dave Pattern‘s question “Just wondering if anyone out there is already experimenting with QR Codes in their OPAC?” from his posting March 10, 2009 “QR Codes in the OPAC?“:

  1. On March 10th, 2009, Owen Stephens said:

    I don’t see a problem using QR codes for this from a technical point of view – but in truth a button saying ‘text me this’ would surely be more desirable and less hassle from the users point of view?

  2. On March 10th, 2009, Owen Stephens said:

    If you do want to embed QR codes though, you could have a look athttp://ouseful.wordpress.com/2008/10/25/printing-out-online-course-materials-with-embedded-movie-links/ – Tony Hirst uses http://qrcode.kaywa.com/ to generate QR codes and embed them – it looks like it would be relatively easy to do this as Kaywa allows you to produce an image based on a URL containing the text you want to be encoded in the QR – in this case the location details.

  3. On March 10th, 2009, Roger said:

    Have you seen http://dokodare.kaywa.com ?

  4. On March 10th, 2009, Dave Pattern said:

    Cheers for the comments, Owen!

    SMS texting from the OPAC has been on my list of “things to do” for a while, so maybe soon. However, adding a QR code to the OPAC took about 3 minutes of coding whereas I expect doing SMS will take 3 days of coding :-D

    Surprisingly, looking through the server logs and discounting the testing a couple of my colleagues did today, it seems we had 2 people use the QR codes this afternoon before I blogged about it.

  5. On March 11th, 2009, Eletcric Aye said:

    Hi Dave,

    I looked at these a few months ago…xml book / reading lists?

    I can see it being used as a course resource at the point of matriculation, i.e. the entire Library induction being housed / referenced on one code perhaps…or incorporated on Student Smartcards.

    I have no doubt you’ll have the OPAC running off one by the end of the week.

    Systems Admin Tickly Arm Syndrome reaching near dangerous levels of late..


  6. On March 11th, 2009, Olivier said:

    Huddersfield does.


  7. On March 11th, 2009, Peter Murray said:

    Cool — I just looked into QR Codes and installed an app on my phone. I suppose the question now is: what’s the uptake of QR Codes in the U.S.? I haven’t seen them in the wild here, and I had to go to a company in Taiwan to get an app for my phone.

  8. On March 12th, 2009, Paul S. said:

    I do like the idea of QR codes (irrationally, because I don’t even own a camera phone) far out of proportion with their probable usefulness… because they’re just so incredibly “Tomorrow’s World”, aren’t they?

  9. On March 13th, 2009, Ian G said:

    Only other example I have seen is Bath.

  10. On March 13th, 2009, QR-Code in Bibliothek « Zukunftswerkstatt 2009 said:

    [...] Kollege Dave Pattern stellte sich auf seinem Blog die Frage, ob irgendwelche Bibliothek schon ausprobiert hat QR-Code in OPAC einzusetzen. [...]

  11. On March 18th, 2009, Matthew Phillips said:

    I quite like the idea, but I think I would prefer just text: a few words from title/author and the call number. I see this being useful for users tracking down the books on the shelf: it’s amazing how many try to avoid writing shelfmarks down.

    One aspect is usage. How can you measure how many people are taking photos of your QR codes? If you’re linking to the catalogue with the QR code, perhaps you can include a tracer in the URL to be picked up in your logs. If you do this, please let us know how popular it is.

  12. On March 18th, 2009, Dave Pattern said:

    Hi Matthew

    That’s pretty much what we’re thinking doing — the user scans the QR code and gets something like:

    Advanced Chemistry – Floor 3, 341.345GER

    At the moment we’re encoding a URL, so we’re able to track usage (which is something we couldn’t do with encoding text unless the user needed to click on something to display the QR code?)

FREE Webinar Reminder-Next Generation Library Catalogs…03.02.09

2 03 2009


(Image: © 2008 SLS Library Technology Group)

Here is a reminder about an interesting FREE webinar over at OPAL (Online Programming for All Libraries) taken from their schedule page:

Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time, 1:00 Central, noon Mountain, 11:00 a.m. Pacific, and 7:00 p.m. GMT:

    ALA Connections Salon: The Next Generation Library Catalogs, with Special Guest Marshall Breeding   Marshall Breeding has been studying, tracking, and writing about the online library catalog industry for years. Join us for an informal conversation about the promise, trends, and challenges of next generation library catalogs. 

    Host: American Library Association 

    Location: ALA OPAL 100 Room

FREE Webinar on OPAL – “The Next Generation Library Catalogs, with Special Guest Marshall Breeding”…02.20.09

20 02 2009

This from an email notice today from OPAL (Online Programming for All Libraries):

Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time, 1:00 Central, noon Mountain, 11:00 a.m. Pacific, and 7:00 p.m. GMT:

    ALA Connections Salon: The Next Generation Library Catalogs, with Special Guest Marshall Breeding 

    Marshall Breeding has been studying, tracking, and writing about the online library catalog industry for years. Join us for an informal conversation about the promise, trends, and challenges of next generation library catalogs. 

    Host: American Library Association 

    Location: ALA OPAL 100 Room

“Extending the OPAC”…02.10.09

10 02 2009

Richard Wallis’ post on the Panlibus blog called Extending the OPAC  here is a subject of interest to me because of my limited technological expertise and the limitations of my organization’s current ILS OPAC. I will look forward to his future posts.

“Every library’s needs are different when it comes to what they want to display to users in their OPAC – beyond the basic bibliographic information that is.  Although I must admit that I’ve been a few mind numbing meetings over the years about the ‘most appropriate’ way to display a record on screen.

Scattered around the web you will find many examples of how OPACs have been extended to enable the user link in to other services such as Amazon, or AbeBoooks, or LibraryThing, or Google Scholar, or Yahoo images, or Google Book Search, or del.icio.us, or … [insert you favourite 3rd party service here].  For most developers in the library code community, adding these extensions to their OPAC is a comparatively simple exercise

I believe that in the wider world, most of the folks responsible for an individual library’s OPAC would not consider themselves as coders, and would at most only be comfortable copying and pasting small bits of html in to their interface.  So how do they get these features in to their systems.  It is unlikely that you would get much help from the system vendors, as it would be difficult for them to build a product roadmap around the ever changing multiplicity of extensions and combinations of thereof.  The coding community are good at sharing code with other coders, but not necessarily in a form that is either consistent between extensions or OPACs.

I’m working on a way that will hopefully make it easy for innovators to share what they are doing not only with others in their community, but most importantly with those less code-aware OPAC managers, who may even be using different systems. 


The screen shot above shows Google Book Search preview service embedded in a Talis Prism OPAC.  What is not obvious is the simple way that it was added.  I will be going more in to depth on this open source sharing approach to OPAC extension at Code4Lib 2009 at the end of the month...”

Another Mobile Library Catalog…01.12.09

12 01 2009

David Booker posted on The Centered Librarian about his library’s mobile search catalog today [http://centeredlibrarian.blogspot.com/LINCCWeb Mobile Catalog Search: 

“…LINCCWeb – the Library Information Network for Community Colleges here in Florida and is a service of CCLA. Among many things, we provide electronic access to our colleges’ library catalogs and have recently added mobile capability to that service. Check it out here: mobile.linccweb.org. And, check out some of our other cool tools here “

What You Should Be Able to Do on a Library Website…01.04.09

4 01 2009

Here is an excerpt from some good thoughts http://www.davidleeking.com/2009/01/04/doing-stuff-at-the-librarys-website/  from David Lee King on what you should be able to do on a library website:

“Here’s something to ponder, next time you’re looking for something to ponder. What can you actually DO at your website? Can you do most of the the real “stuff” that your library offers as activities?

‘Well duh David, of course we can – we have a catalog…’ you might say. Hmm…

If I walk into a library today, here are some things I can do there:

  • check out a book
  • read a book or magazine
  • take notes and do research
  • put a public PC on reserve for later
  • pester the reference librarian with questions
  • check stuff out when I’m done
  • attend a training session or a fun program

Just a normal day at the library, right? How about at your library’s website? If your website is a ‘traditional’ library website, there’s not much actual stuff to do. A traditional website exists mainly to point you to ‘the real thing’ – the actual building and the catalog (in many cases anyway – not everyone is automated, yet!).

Anyone see a problem with that? The library can be much larger than its physical building, and considerably extend its reach without the building as the main focal point for library services…

Does your organization primarily exist in the brick and mortar world? And don’t tell me ‘well, yeah David, we have a website.’ That’s not good enough anymore. What can you actually DO at your website?

Yes, in the library world, you probably have a library catalog in place, and some databases. Maybe an ‘email a question’ service (‘We’ll get back to you within 48 hours (excluding holidays and weekends)’ – quote from a library’s Ask a Librarian service).

But what else? Can you browse your collection? Probably not. Can you subscribe to feeds, so you can get updates whenever a page is updated with new info? Maybe. Can you instantly contact a librarian to ask your burning question or get clarification through IM, chat, email, or Twitter? Probably not.

What if I want to start a conversation or attend a program? Can I do that at your digital branch?

Why not?”

Easy Check to See If Your Library’s Website/OPAC Mobile Friendly?…12.31.08

31 12 2008

This useful information is from ITART and Michael Sauers [http://www.nebraskalibraries.org/ITART/]:

image“I surf the web all the time on mobile devices wether that be my personal Motorola Q smartphone or the Commission’s iPod Touch. Some sites work well, some don’t. Ever wonder how well yours will do? Just head on over to the W3C mobileOK Checker, enter your site’s URL, and get a report. The report is code-centric so knowledge of XHTML and CSS will help you understand the results.”

“How Easy is Your Catalog to Search?”…12.19.08

19 12 2008

Here is an excerpt of a helpful post about considering the user’s catalog search from the Remixing Libraries blog entitled “How easy is your catalogue to search?” [http://librarymix.blogspot.com/2008/12/how-easy-is-your-catalogue-to-search.html]:

“…Recently, however, there have been more attempts to provide a coherent – and contextual – approach to the OPAC. Let’s face facts: No one reads help pages or FAQs. It’s true – check your own web logs. So how do you help your users to get the most out of their search (and most importantly, not just walk away)? Here’s some ideas.

Little and Often 
Ok – so the big chunks of help don’t work but there’s nothing wrong with a nudge in the right direction. Check out any popular website and you’ll see succinct clues to how and why results appear as they do. The best trick I’ve found is to try and write a short sentence to explain a function and then cut it down to half the time. 
Reuse! Reuse! Reuse!
Take a look at the University of Huddersfield Catalogue (the work of Dave Pattern) – data’s been pulled from search and usage logs to create neat little features like the Tag Cloud on the front page and the Amazon-style ‘other people also searched with’ feature on the results page.
Don’t Fight Google
It’s done. People expect your search box to work like Google. In fact, not just like Google butbetter than Google. We can moan about the ‘dumbing down’ of researchers but as soon as people see that empty white box they expect to stick a string of (misspelled) keywords into it and get a result they like within the first page of hits. The sooner we learn to work within these parameters, and not fight them, the sooner we can build better mechanisms for search.And don’t even think about making the default search anything except keyword.
Know Your Data (& Fix Your Indexing)
In any kind of searching consistency is everything so we all need a firm grip on our data. A beautifully constructed catalogue record is one thing but if your search parameters and indexing are so complicated that complex combinations are required to achieve useful search results perhaps it’s time to reflect on the value of that data. A few coherent indexes with consistent data will always beat a hundred ‘correct’ ones.
Accept the Complexity 
Sometimes, however the gap between user expectations and the data is just too vast. Say, for example, that you’re predominantly a science library but you’ve also got a small audio collection – how do you provide a straightforward service to your 90% of science users but also support the 10% of audiophiles? Sometimes it comes down to accepting that you’re going to hit issues and making innovative use of zero results pages, 404s, ‘Email a Librarian’ functions and hey – maybe even a live ‘search help’ facility…”

Floor Plan Maps in Library OPACs…11.20.08

20 11 2008

Here is an interesting use of the OPAC in helping patrons find materials in the physical plant of the library as noted by The Ubiquitous Librarian today [http://theubiquitouslibrarian.typepad.com/the_ubiquitous_librarian/]:

“…I discovered a very cool finding aid to help users locate items in the stacks.

Check it out. Go to FSU’s Library site  and search for something.  Cloning is always my default keyword.

You’ll see something like this:


When you click on “map” you get this:
It’s a great concept. Maybe all the catalogs are doing this these days—I have not been following the talk about 2.0 OPACs but this helps with a common challenge: finding books in the stacks. So I commend FSU for this. However, I tried to use their “texting” feature and after 2 hours it still has not arrived.  

So on a hunch I looked at several other Florida universities since I know they use the same catalog. Here are more examples of map/floor plan layouts that are linked out via the catalog: UFUSFFGCU,FAUUNFUWFUCF

You’ll find a lot of variation, but… FSU trumps them all with their low-tech image simply because it provides an indication of where the book can be found.  99% of the time I side with form over function, but this is one of those rare cases where 1% wins out. I like their map because it shows me where about on the floor I can find the book.”

Official Release of Latest Version Social OPAC–SOPAC 2.0…09.26.08

26 09 2008

John Blyberg posted [http://www.blyberg.net/2008/09/25/sopac-2-released-thesocialopacnet-launched/] that he has released the latest version of his social OPAC called SOPAC 2.0:

“So, I may have been a little ambitious when I thought I could get SOPAC2, Locum, and Insurge released within a week of launching the new darienlibrary.org.  But I can now finally say that SOPAC2 is officially released and a new project website launched.

You can visit the new site and download the software at TheSocialOPAC.net.

The purpose of the site is to help a build a community of developers and users around the SOPAC project suite.  It will undoubtably grow over time as the software does.  We have big plans for SOPAC and invite you all to join the community.”

SOPAC 2.0 Open Source Social OPAC for Any ILS Released…09.01.08

1 09 2008

Meredith Farkas posted today [http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/2008/09/01/sopac-20-at-darien-public-library/] the following regarding Blyberg’s new release of a social OPAC that can be used with any OPAC:

“Run, don’t walk to check out the Darien Public Library’s awesome new Drupal-based website along with the John Blyberg-designed new-and-improved SOPAC 2.0. I, for one, am totally impressed with the site and the catalog. One of the biggest things about SOPAC 2.0 (short for Social OPAC) is that its component parts are going to be released as open source software, meaning that other libraries can also capitalize on John’s terrific achievement! It also was designed to work with any ILS, not just Innovative’s. In doing this, John has made a significant contribution not only to his own library, but to the profession. Too many library administrators only think about the welfare of their own library, so good for the folks at Darien for supporting John’s larger vision for SOPAC 2.0. Go John and go Darien PL!!!

Interested in learning more about SOPAC 2.0? Check out this new Talking with Talis podcast with John himself. There’s also a brief article on SOPAC 2.0 in Library Journal.”

Update on the Legality of Using Book Cover Images in OPACs…08.14.08

14 08 2008

Mary Minow writes today on the Law Librarian blog an interesting post titled “Book jackets – can libraries put pictures of book covers on the websites”[http://blog.librarylaw.com/librarylaw/2008/08/book-jackets--.html] which will continue the dialog on the matter:

Peter Hirtle and I have tried to analyze this over a couple of years and may write an article some day – so readers, feel free to weigh in. Meanwhile, Peter tells me that LJannounced that a million book covers are now available for download and display in library OPACs via LibraryThing.  I expect libraries will be delighted to try this service.

But who actually owns the copyright to the book covers? Likely the book publisher, though it could be an artist who designed the cover.  The question then is whether or not there is an exception in copyright law that allows libraries and others to scan and post images of the covers.

LibraryThing states: ‘Publishers and authors want libraries and bookstores to show their covers. Under U.S. law showing covers to show off books for sale, rental or commentary falls under Fair Use in most circumstances. (We are not lawyers and make no warrant that your use will be legal.)’

Minow take: I’m not aware of a court case that supports this statement, but readers please add comments if you are.  It seems that Fair Use would need to be evaluated on a case by case basis. Questions should be asked such as: what is the library’s purpose in posting the scan? OPAC? Reading program? Posters? How creative is the cover? Did the cover have its own copyright or is it a small part of a much larger copyrighted work (i.e. the book)?

However, there’s another copyright exception that could be useful here — the “useful article” provision at 17 USC 113(c) which states:

In the case of a work lawfully reproduced in useful articles that have been offered for sale or other distribution to the public, copyright does not include any right to prevent the making, distribution, or display of pictures or photographs of such articles in connection with advertisements or commentaries related to the distribution or display of such articles, or in connection with news reports.

and 17 USC 101 defines ‘useful article’ as:

A “useful article” is an article having an intrinsic utilitarian function that is not merely to portray the appearance of the article or to convey information. An article that is normally a part of a useful article is considered a ‘useful article’

Assuming the books are ‘useful articles’ it seems that Sect. 113 is more helpful than Fair Use. It seems that a strong argument can be made that with today’s enhanced online catalogs that include book reviews, the commentary criteria is met. For items that do not have reviews attached, there is still a possible argument that the pictures are used to help advertise the book. 

This assumes that ‘advertise’ can be used in a broad, nonprofit sense – to promote checkouts of the book, rather than sales…”

I have scanned images and “borrowed” them for our library’s OPAC.  Although we are a non-profit, special library where only staff use our OPAC and collections, this is a concern.

Tags and Using Wordle to create tag cloud art…06.18.08

18 06 2008

A website called Wordle (http://wordle.net/ ) describes itself as “…a toy for generating ‘word clouds’ from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends…” It is an interesting visual which shows the potential power of using tags.

Tags are not used in our catalog using Atriuum.  This may be something that comes in a future release.  Currently, there is not enough use of our OPAC and/or knowledge of tags and their use by our in-house patrons to have a need for them.  However, this is the way things are proceeding.  There are OPAC add-on products available from various ILS vendors now, i.e. AquaBrowser (http://www.aquabrowser.com/).


Auto-Graphics ILS Webinar participation…06.17.08

17 06 2008

In my continuing efforts to keep abreast of our ILS software options for the future, I will be participating in an “AGent Verso” ILS webinar Thursday if I can fit it into my schedule and no emergencies arise.  Auto-Graphics (http://www4.auto-graphics.com/) describes their product:

“…AGent VERSO™ is a complete, 100% web-based, integrated library management system (ILS), designed to help libraries of all sizes efficiently and effectively manage their resources while significantly improving patron information and service delivery. Through a single, comprehensive staff interface libraries can effectively manage all their resources through a variety of integrated modules – including circulation, cataloging, serials, acquisitions, a MARC resource and digital content management- combined with an intuitive, easy to use OPAC…”

We’ll see how it turns out! 

Auto-Graphics Webinar Series – Integrated Library System
Session Name: AGent VERSO™, Connecting library resources with people everywhere
Session Type: Webinar
Date: June 19, 2008
Time: 10-11 am (Pacific Time)
Fee: No Charge

ILS Configuration/Cataloging plan…05.30.08

30 05 2008

1. ILS vendor training/documentation

Along with our ILS software and maintenance agreement purchase, I also decided to purchase a 6-hour block of on-line training.  On-site training was available but appeared cost-prohibitive and unnecessary.  This evaluation was correct in hindsight as I only availed myself of about 3 hours of training and was then off and running configuring and tweaking the software to our needs.  I also was able to download, print, and use a “quick start guide” and a full “users guide” which proved helpful at times after training was over and at various times since then.

2. Configuration of web-based Atriuum ILS from Book Systems, Inc.

The following are areas of the ILS software that needed review and thought for its configuration.  This was particularly difficult since no guidelines or input about the general direction of the library and its use or future use was provided by management.  Some decisions made requried modifications at a later time due to insufficient information at the outset.  The negative ramifications of other decisions make me wish that I had known more about the collections and possible/actual use beforehand because some functions are limited now.

Without going into too much explanation, the following are major areas that required configuration decisions without any guidance from management: 

Catalog Administration:


Item Circulation Class


Item Report Class

Physical Location

Age Groups

Catalog Settings


Material Types

Quick Cataloging (Z39.50) Settings

Study Programs



Library Administration:


Barcode Info

Barcode Location Codes


E-Mail Settings

Library Settings

Machine Settings

User Defined Fields

Worker Records

Worker Settings

Worker Settings Defaults




ComPeer Setup

Custom OPAC Links

Edit Visual Search

Library Information

Media Icons

News And Messages

OPAC Settings

Theme Editor


Note: If you visit “My Atriuum OPAC” (see links column), you will notice the homepage has a significant amount of information, however, not as much as I would choose due to size limitations in the software’s OPAC template.  I would have preferred to place there or elsewhere more bibliographic instruction for my current and future patrons.  Future releases of the software, covered by the maintenance agreement, may allow increased size contraints.




Patron Circulation Class

Patron Report Class



Patron Settings

3. Additional Book Systems, Inc. Z39.50 software called “eZcat” was also purchased and configured for our particular application.  eZcat expedites cataloging by searching for and obtaining free MARC 21 records.

4. After reviewing options, I decided to use the DDC system along with LCSH.  DDC schedules, specific DDC shedules for our main subject, and the 5-volume LCSH 5th edition was purchased.  LC websites for the LC Catalog and LC Authorities are used frequently to aid in cataloging as well.

5. OCLC cutter number generating software (free download) was selected and downloaded to my desktop to expedite the creation of consistent author and title cutter numbers.  This really saves a great deal of time and you can’t beat the price.

In my next post, I will continue discussing the creation of policies and procedures. 

Back from the long Memorial Day weekend…05.27.08

27 05 2008


Well, I’m glad to be back from the long weekend off and ready to dive back into my daily work.  I have a little sunburn from spending time in our swimming pool for the first time this year.

We left off on the post from Friday about the laborious, lengthy, and frustrating ILS selection, approval, and installation process.  To reiterate, I was the only one remotely familiar with ILS packages.  Neither those in the approval process from my IT Dept. nor those in the the Accounting Dept. had a clue as to what the software does or why I needed it.

The first choice I made for our ILS was made primarily because of an extremely low cost and because the vendor was local.  The software selection was submitted to the IT Dept. for review.  However, there was no response for several weeks despite many attempts to get some input on their review progress.  Finally, I was asked to discuss my software needs with them.  During this initial meeting, I clarified the necessity of the software for my position and explained what I wanted to accomplish with it.  The chosen ILS was rejected for several reasons, primarily because our IT Dept. had decided to deal exclusively with Microsoft products and the database for the ILS used a proprietary software unique to the vendor.

It was back to the drawing board in the ILS review process after the first selection was rejected but at least I finally had some minimum criteria that would hopefully please the IT Dept. and the first hurdle to approval for purchase.  I still had no stated budget limitations. However, through my initial conversation with IT Dept. personnel bringing up the matter as a side issue, I was led to believe that the cost would have to be from the low end of the spectrum available that would minimally meet our needs.

Further research led me to the second selection, a relatively new software from Book Systems, Inc.  Their web-based ILS, Atriuum [for more on Atriuum, check out my links list at the right], seemed to fit our needs at the time, would be sufficient as the library resources expanded as projected, and was at a price which hopefully was in the acceptable range.  The software is most generally used by school districts and small public libraries and includes some features not relevant to our needs.

I went though another protracted process of having the software and its specifications from the vendor carefully evaluated for compatibility with our hardware and software environment in addition to seemingly arbitrary preferences.  Eventually, the software was approved by the IT Dept. to proceed to the approval for purchase process by the Accounting Dept. [I had negotiated the cost down from the vendor's initial proposal prior to submission for purchase but this information will remain confidential.]

After a couple of months, I was informed that the Accounting Dept. had approved the ILS purchase and the appropriate requisition order was generated.  The vendor was given the order which included, the ILS software, installation help for placement on a server in-house, an annual maintenance agreement, barcode scanning equipment and labeling supplies, and an on-line training package.  At this point in time, I had been in the librarian position for 6 months and had completed as much of the physical inventory as possible locally.

A twist on this story came when the IT Dept. announced after the order had been placed that their staff member who reviewed he software had not noticed that the database software the ILS uses is not supported by our current servers so it was not compatible to our hardware/software environment according to their standards.  To avoid problems internally and externally in addition to not further hindering the needed software installation, the IT Dept. decided it would rapidly get approval to purchase a unique Apache server to satisfy the needs of the ILS.

Atriuum was installed about 6 weeks after the software was purchased and available.  Training online from Book Systems, Inc. followed shortly thereafter and cataloging began although it took about another 6 weeks for the IT Dept. to get the OPAC online.

Next time I will discuss my initial trip to our out of state storage areas for a cursory review of the scope and condition of the collections off-site.

BTW, I have been playing with the font in this post trying to get it to match previous posts but have been unsuccessful so far.  It appears correct in the posting area but changes after posting. 

More tomorrow…. I am hoping that my running dialog is understandable and somewhat sequential.


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