Woot! Woot!

The press release: Making Libraries Relevant in an Internet-Based Society PSU’s Casey Bisson wins Mellon Award for innovative search software for libraries PLYMOUTH, N.H. — You can’t trip over what’s not there. Every day millions of Internet users search online for information about millions of topics. And none of their search results include resources from […] » about 600 words

Parsing MARC Directory Info

I expected a record that looked like this: LEADER 00000nas 2200000Ia 4500 001 18971047 008 890105c19079999mau u p 0uuua0eng 010 07023955 /rev 040 DLC|cAUG 049 PSMM 050 F41.5|b.A64 090 F41.5|b.A64 110 2 Appalachian Mountain Club 245 14 The A.M.C. White Mountain guide :|ba guide to trails in the mountains of New Hampshire and adjacent parts […] » about 600 words

Presentation: Designing an OPAC for Web 2.0

MAIUG 2006 Philadelphia: Designing an OPAC for Web 2.0 (interactive QuickTime with links or static PDF) Web 2.0 and other “2.0” monikers have become loaded terms. But as we look back at the world wide web of 1996, there can be little doubt that today’s web is better and more useful. Indeed, that seems to […] » about 400 words

Linkability Fertilizes Online Communities Redux

I certainly don’t mean this to be as snarky as it’s about to come out, but I love the fact that Isaak questions my claim that linkability is essential to online discussions (and thus, communities) with a link: Linkability Fertilizes Online Communities I really don’t know how linkability will build communities. But we really need […] » about 300 words

Cataloging Errors

A bibliographic instruction quiz we used to use asked students how many of Dan Brown’s books could be found in our catalog. The idea was that attentive students would dutifully search by author for “brown, dan,” get redirected to “Brown, Dan 1964-,” and find three books. Indeed, the expected answer was “three.”

As it turns out, my library has all four of Dan Brown’s published books, including the missing Digital Fortress. The problem is that three books are cataloged under the more common Brown, Dan 1964-, but Fortress was cataloged under Brown, Danielle.

The problem is that cataloging is imperfect.

Yeah, it takes some marbles to say that, but the fact is that cataloging is a human endeavor. Humans make mistakes. The challenge we face is to build systems that tolerate error, and then make it easy to fix those errors when discovered.

ISBN1013 API Followup

A couple questions about my API to convert 10 digit ISBNs to 13 digits pointed out somethings I failed to mention earlier. First, the API actually works both ways. That is, it identifies and validates both 10 and 13 digit ISBNs on input, and returns both versions in the output. Example: 0811822842 and 978081182284-8. And, […] » about 200 words

Converting Between ISBN-10 and ISBN-13

David Kane asked the web4libbers:

Can anyone tell me what the conversion between ISBN-10 and ISBN-13 is, please. I need to write a little conversion program. Anything in PHP, for example.


“There is already an online converter:;” some pointing at Wikipedia on ISBNs, Bookland, and EANs; John Blyberg’s PHP port of the PERL ISBN-10/13 tool; some explanation that you have to watch the check digit, and discussion about why you’d need to do all this conversion.

Finally, Tim asked:

Someone should offer single and batch converstion as a free API, not an online form and an offer to have a “representive” call you for larger jobs.

Does anyone want that, or shall I?

And I answered: changed:

Same usage as xISBN and thingISBN. Returns empty result on invalid ISBNs.

Based on Blyberg’s code, incorporates some changes, may not be accurate. Poke at it, break it. Report findings, but don’t blame me if it returns incorrect results (I will try to fix the code/service, though).

Geeky extra: anybody know the Lat and Lon to Bookland? I’d really like to put this post on the map.

Library Camp East 2006

LCE2006 was a success. Let me quickly join with the other participants to offer my appreciation to John Blyberg and Alan Grey for all their work planning the event, as well as Darien Public Library director Louise Berry and the rest of the library for hosting the event.

Side note: Darien is a beautiful town, but we all have to learn to pronounce the name like a local.

Michael Golrick and John Blyberg each have a number of photos on Flickr, and I’m jealous of those like Lichen Rancourt who can live-blog events like this. I’m still digesting what I learned, but at least I can wash it down with a sip from my new LCE mug.

Further discussion will continue, as always, in the blogosphere, in the L2 Wiki, and just about anywhere else librarians gather.

In addition to all that material, let me offer some screenshots and notes from my short preface to the discussion about OPACs. (And, I hope my words were clearer than the pictures snapped of me at the time — vis: one and two).

WPopac Reloaded

I’ve re-thought the contents of the record and summary displays in WPopac. After some experimentation and a lot of listening, it became clear that people needed specific information when looking at a search result or a catalog record. So now, when searching for Cantonese slang, for instance, the summary displays show the title, year, format, […] » about 400 words

Stage Two Truth

Arthur Schopenhauer is suggested to have said: Every truth passes through three stages before it is recognized. In the first it is ridiculed, in the second it is violently opposed, in the third is regarded as self-evident. If the reaction to Karen Calhoun‘s report to the Library of Congress on The Changing Nature of the […] » about 300 words

Tags, Folksonomies, And Whose Library Is It Anyway?

I was honored to join the conversation yesterday for the latest Talis Library 2.0 Gang podcast, this one on folksonomies and tags. The MP3 is already posted and, as usual, it makes me wonder if I really sound like that. Still, listen to the other participants, they had some great things to say and made […] » about 600 words

…It’s How You Use It

Not A Pretty Librarian has kicked things off well with a first post titled “It Is Not A Tool,” covering an argument about which has more value to a teenager: a car or a computer.

On one side is the notion that “She can’t drive herself to work with a computer.” While, on the other side is the growing likelihood that she won’t drive to work at all, but instead simply work at whatever computer she has available. But then, this is a teenager, and maybe practical matters like work don’t top the list. And that’s where Not A Pretty Librarian (who are you?) asks:

Can you imagine being nineteen right now without computer access?

Indeed, when college students are spending so much time on AIM and logging into Facebook daily, is a car really as important as a computer in a teenager’s social life? When 89 percent of students start their research in a search engine, isn’t the computer more important than a car to get to the library?

It’s Official

WPopac, a project I started on my nights and weekends, is now officially one of my day-job projects too. We’ve been using our WPopac-based catalog as a prototype since February 2006, but the change not only allocates a portion of my work time specifically to the development of the project, but also reflects the library‘s […] » about 200 words

The Flickr Is A Series Of Tubes

It’s hard to be angry with Flickr about unexpected downtime when they post funny things like this. For my part, this is more than just an excuse to link to DJ Ted Stevens’ Internet Song (yeah, “the internet is a series of tubes”), it’s an excuse to point out how Flickr apparently knows how to […] » about 100 words

OpenSearch In A Nutshell

OpenSearch is a standard way of querying a database for content and returning the results. The official docs note simply: “Any website that has a search feature can make their results available in OpenSearch format,” then adds: “Publishing your search results in OpenSearch™ format will draw more people to your content, by exposing it to […] » about 300 words

NELINET 2006 IT Conference Proposal

I recently submitted my proposal for the 2006 NELINET Information Technology Conference. It’s about WPopac, of course, but the excitement now is that the presentation would be the story of the first library outside PSU to implement it. WPopac is an open source replacement for a library’s online catalog that improves the usability, findability, and […] » about 300 words

Technology Scouts At AALL

I’m honored to join Katie Bauer, of Yale University Library, in a program coordinated by Mary Jane Kelsey, of Yale Law’s Lillian Goldman Library. The full title of our program is Technology Scouts: how to keep your library and ILS current in the IT world (H-4, 4PM Tuesday, room 274). My portion of the presentation […] » about 300 words

The Social Software Over There

Amusing. One one side of the world is Jenny Levine, the original library RSS bigot, pushing libraries to adopt new technologies from the bottom up, and here on the other side of the world is NewsGator offering their products for top-down adoption. Why are law libraries interested in NewsGator? Could it be that social software […] » about 100 words

Context, Language, Systems

“Bagged products” is little better than “cookery.” I’m gonna bet that no customer has ever asked the sales people for “bagged products,” that nobody’s ever checked the yellow pages for “bagged products,” and without context, nobody would come close to answering a question on what the heck “bagged products” are all about. But we do […] » about 300 words

Free Markets, Bad Products, Slow Change Rates

Point A: John Blyberg’s ILS Customer Bill-of-Rights. Point B: Dan Chudnov’s The problem with the “ILS Bill of Rights” Response: John Blyberg’s OPACs in the frying pan, Vendors in the fire While there’s some disagreement between John and Dan, I can’t help but see a strong concordance between their posts: Both are an attempt to […] » about 400 words

The ALA/NO Events I’d Like To See

I’m not going to ALA/NO so I’m hoping those who are will blog it. Two events I’m especially interested in: On Sunday, June 25: Catalog Transformed: From Traditional to Emerging Models of Use This program, co-sponsored by the MARS User Access to Services Committee and RUSA’s Reference Services Section (RSS, formerly MOUSS), deals with changes […] » about 400 words

Squashing Criticism vs. Improving Products

I wrote yesterday of Nicole Engard’s comment that the ILS was about as open and flexible as a brick wall. Today I learned that the vendor of that ILS had tried to squash her public criticism.

Not cool.

It’s pure speculation on my part, but what comes next? Surely no vendor would send Vinny over to bust an uppity biblioblogger’s knee-caps, but might they offer a customer a better deal if they could just help quiet down a critic within the customer’s organization?

Not speculation: how do we feel about vendors that will spend lavish sums of money to court potential customers, but do little to improve the product and regularly refuse suggestions that they open a round-table with technology leaders among their existing client-base?

John Blyberg‘s ILS Customer Bill-of-Rights is especially relevant here, but also, let’s think about our side of the relationship.

update: I keep forgetting to link to this public example of how bad our OPACs/ILSs are. Thanks go to David Walker for making me ROTFL.