The ILS Brick Wall

Nicole Engard last month posted about The State of our ILS, describing the systems as: I’d say it’s a like the crazy cousin you have to deal with because he’s family! It doesn’t fit, we are a very open IT environment, we have applications all over that need to talk to each other nicely and […] » about 300 words

The URLs From My Portland Talk

Following Edward Tufte’s advice, I’ve been wanting to offer a presentation without slides for a long time now; I finally got my chance in Portland. The downside is that now I don’t have anything to offer as a takeaway memory aid for my talk. My speaking notes are too abstract to offer for public consumption, […] » about 800 words

Presentation: Designing an OPAC for Web 2.0

| <a href="">IUG 2006 presentation</a>: <a href="">Designing an OPAC for Web 2.0</a> (also <a href="">available as a PDF</a> with space for notes) This is an update of <a href="">my ALA Midwinter presentation</a>. » about 400 words

And We’re Discarding This?

I read <a href="" title="Photo Sharing">enough of this to get a good laugh</a>, but not enough to understand if it was serious or not. Some of it reads like satire, but other parts as are dry as, well, they're dry (who really needs a simile anyway, they're just dry, okay?). » about 100 words

Linkability Fertilizes Online Communities

It’s hard to know how Fuzzyfruit found the WPopac catalog page for A Baby Sister for Frances (though it is ranked fifth in a Google search for the title), but what matters is that she did find it, and she was able to link to it by simply copying the URL from her browser’s location bar.

The link appears among her comments in the discussion about her post on an early letter she’d written to her mom. Fuzzyfruit’s comment spawned more comments about the book from Sarahq and Coffeechica.

We talk here and there about how “libraries build community,” but how does that work in the online world? How do our systems support or inhibit community discussions online?

Q: Why Do Some Things Suck?

A: Because we compare them to the wrong things. I’m in training today for a piece of software used in libraries. It’s the second of three days of training and things aren’t going well. Some stuff doesn’t work, some things don’t work the first (second, third…ninth) time, and other things just don’t make sense. At […] » about 600 words

WPopac Gets Googled

A discussion on Web4Lib last month raised the issue of Google indexing our library catalogs. My answer spoke of the huge number of searches being done in search engines every day and the way that people increasingly expect that anything worth finding can be found in Google. There were doubts about the effectiveness of such […] » about 800 words

Higher Ed Blog Con (and other things I should have posted about last month)

I meant to post about this weeks ago, but HigherEd BlogCon has now come and gone. It had sections on teaching, libraries, CRM, and web development. (Aside: why must we call it “admissions, alumni relations, and communications & marketing” instead of the easier to swallow “CRM”?) The “events” are over, but everything is online, and […] » about 200 words

Boolean Searching in WPopac

WPopac takes advantage of MySQL’s indexing and relevance-ranked searching (go ahead, try it), including boolean searching (on MySQL versions > 4.x). Here are some details and examples taken wholesale from the MySQL manual: + A leading plus sign indicates that this word must be present in each result returned.  – A leading minus sign indicates […] » about 500 words

Shifting Borders

My first reaction to the notion of librarians running reading groups in Second Life was a question of whether this was akin to putting a reference desk in a bar.

My second reaction was a question of how our systems will support these extra-library interactions. Can people quickly and easily trade URLs to access the library materials they’re talking about? Will library systems ever be as easy to use as the game/social environments we’re trying to use them in?

My third reaction is a question of politics. The movement of people online doesn’t respect geographical borders, nor those of gerrymandered political districts. Libraries may serve online users, and some of them will be successful, but our funding models are for local libraries that serve geographically constrained communities.

Don’t Think You Use Web 2.0? Think Again

It can be hard for library folk to imagine that the web development world might be as divided about the meaning and value of “Web 2.0” as the library world is about “Library 2.0,” but we/they are. Take Jeffrey Zeldman’s anti-Web 2.0, anti-AJAX post, for instance. Zeldman’s a smart guy, and he’s not entirely off-base, […] » about 400 words

Information Behavior

| It was more than a year ago that <a href="" title="Lorcan Dempsey's weblog: Eat your spinach, it's good for you ...">Lorcan Dempsey</a> pointed out this bit from <a href="">The Chronicle</a>: <blockquote>Librarians should not assume that college students welcome their help in doing research online. The typical freshman assumes that she is already an expert user of the Internet, and her daily experience leads her to believe that she can get what she wants online without having to undergo a training program. Indeed, if she were to use her library's Web site, with its dozens of user interfaces, search protocols, and limitations, she might with some justification conclude that it is the library, not her, that needs help understanding the nature of electronic information retrieval.</blockquote> » about 300 words

Door of Mystery

| I found myself <a href="">wandering about</a> <a href=",+Boston+MA+02116&ll=42.349252,-71.078281&spn=0.016556,0.054073">Boston</a> <a href="">Public Library</a> for longer than I expected Friday. Part of it was the <a href="">map exhibit</a> and part of it was the <a href="">architecture</a> (and simply a place to relax for a bit). Amusingly, stairs and stairways seem <a href="">filled with drama</a> at BPL, and if the guard hadn't just warned me about taking flash photos, I might have tried to sneak a peak behind that door. » about 100 words

Questions Are All Around Us

<a href="">These pictures are mostly foolish</a>, but here's a small point: none of us had ever seen a cop pull over a cab -- certainly not a cab with passengers -- before this, so we were all rather curious about why. <a href=",+ma&ll=42.372947,-71.094954&spn=0.004137,0.013518">In front of us</a> stood a question, an example of the many questions we all encounter every day, and it's the kind of question that few of us would ever suggest going to the library to answer. » about 200 words

Speaking My Language

| I loved <a href="">this quote</a> from Dave Young <a href="">when I first found it</a>, and I love it more now: <blockquote>Talk to the customer in the language of the customer about what matters to the customer. Bad advertising is about you, your company, your product or your service. Good advertising is about the customer, and how your product or service will change their world.</blockquote> Read that again, but replace the relevant bits with “user” or “patron” and “your library” or “your databases.” The point of all this in a post from Jessamyn about <a href="" title="understanding what users understand">understanding what users understand</a>. » about 300 words

Wyoming Libraries Marketing Campaign

| I have mixed feelings about the value of advertising -- it's worth pointing out that <a href="">according to John Battelle</a>, Google never ran an ad anywhere prior to going public -- but I still enjoy seeing things like this <a href="">Wyoming Libraries campaign</a>. <a href="">Jill Stover quotes</a> Wyoming Libraries' Tina Lackey with the news that “Wyoming's libraries are as expansive as the state, and as close as down the street.” I'm just hoping that A, the horse is real; and B, they auction it off. See, I have these silly ideas about doing a cross-country road trip with it. » about 100 words

Native To Web & The Future Of Web Apps

Yahoo's Tom Coats was of seven star speakers at <a href="">Carson Workshops</a>' <a href="">Future of Web Apps Summit</a> last month. As usual, <a href="">Ryan Eby</a> was pretty quick to point out <a href="">his slides</a> to me, mostly by way of pointing out <a href="" title="Tom's Future of Web Apps, Translated for Product Managers (by Jeremy Zawodny)">Jeremy Zawodny's translation</a> of them. » about 500 words

Homeland Security: Now Policing Porn?

The Washington Post reports two men in uniforms bearing “Homeland Security” insignia walked into a Bethesda library in early February, announced that viewing of internet pornography was forbidden, and began questioning patrons. The men asked one library user to step outside just before a librarian intervened. Then…

the two men [and the librarian] went into the library’s work area to discuss the matter. A police officer arrived. In the end, no one had to step outside except the uniformed men.

As it turns out, the men were legitimate homeland security officers, members of the county’s force, though it seems nobody was quite clear about why they were there.

Montgomery County’s chief administrative officer, Bruce Romer, issued a statement calling the incident “unfortunate” and “regrettable” — two words that bureaucrats often deploy when things have gone awry. He said the officers had been reassigned to other duties.

Thing is, regardless of your feelings about porn, please tell me how it relates to homeland security? Perhaps they’ve given up policing copyright?

The code4lib Journal(s) I Should’ve Kept

<a href="">code4lib</a> was less than a month ago, but already I've forgotten some details. That's why I'm glad to have notes from Ed Summers (<a href="">day one</a>, <a href="">two, and three</a>), <a href="">Art Rhyno</a>, <a href="">Tom Hickey</a>, <a href="">Karen Coombs</a>, and <a href="">Ryan Eby</a>. » about 100 words

Talking ‘Bout Library 2.0

Users want a rich pool from which to search, simplicity, and satisfaction. One does not have to take a 50-minute instruction session to order from Amazon. Why should libraries continue to be so difficult for our users to master?

— from page 8 of the The University of California Libraries Bibliographic Services Task Force Final Report. I find a new gem every time I look at it.

Standards Cage Match

I prefaced my point about how the standards we choose in libraries isolate us from the larger stream of progress driving development outside libraries with the note that I was sure to get hanged for it. It’s true. I commented that there were over 140,00 registered Amazon API developers and 365 public OpenSearch targets (hey […] » about 1000 words

About My code4lib Presentation

As with all my other presentations, the my slides tell less than half the story, but I’ve posted them anyway. I’m told the audio was recorded, and there’s a chance that will help explain all this, but until then you’ll have to piece this all together from my previous writings, what little I’m about to […] » about 300 words

You Mean Other Businesses Handle Acquisitions Too?

Art Rhyno confused my by calling it ERP, but he just rocked his code4lib presentation and I realized he’s talking about the same thing that’s been itching me: libraries are not unique, but our software and standards are unnecessarily so.

In my introduction of WPopac I made the point that I didn’t want to replace the ILS — certainly not the acquisitions management functions or other business processes. Art today explained that he wouldn’t want to have to develop or support those features either, but that we don’t need to. He reminded us that other people have to buy stuff too, and that buying books really isn’t so different from buying plumbing supplies or toys.

The market segment is called ERP, enterprise resource planning, and Art pointed out a few open source solutions. I’m waiting for his slides to go online, and I’m hoping we hear more about this.

Instant Messenger Or Virtual Reference?

I noted Aaron Schmidt‘s points on IM in libraries previously, but what I didn’t say then was how certain I was that popular instant messaging clients like AOL Instant Messenger or Yahoo!’s or Google’s are far superior to the so-called virtual reference products. Why? They’re free, our patrons are comfortable with them, and they work […] » about 400 words

WPopac: An OPAC 2.0 Testbed

First things first, this thing probably needs a better name, but I’m not up to the task. Got ideas? Post in the comments. For the rest of this, let’s just pretend it’s an interview. What is WPopac? It’s an OPAC — a library catalog, for my readers outside libraries — inside the framework of WordPress, […] » about 1000 words