Mashup Applications

So I’m sitting in the presentation about Flickr & Libraries and I realize I wanted to see John Blyberg’s talk on mashups – so I run to the other side of the conference center and sit down right in front. Of course I missed the introduction – so I had to jump in in the middle.

The main reason I wanted to see John was because of his PatREST application.

PatREST (Patron REST) is an XML specification developed at the Ann Arbor District Library for the purpose of providing a simple and easy method of accessing various data and methods. The PatREST service is intended to be used by both professional and amateur programmers as it's data objects are clean, simple and intuitive. The idea behind having a simple interface to online library services is to bring library-oriented development tools into the hands of non-librarians–the library users themselves.

I had skimmed some of the documentation in the past and wasn’t sure I really understood. So John shows us all of the neat things he’s been able to do – like his award winning Google widgets, most popular books in the catalog and the card catalog images.

Then he tells us that you need III’s XMLOPAC “feature” to use this class – and they’re no longer selling it!!

So, my disappointment aside – Why should we create applications like this for our patrons?

  1. Creates a sense of stewardship. It lets the patrons feel like they’re a part of the library and makes them more likely to become library advocates. Also you’re tapping into a community of knowledge you wouldn’t normally have access to. John urges us all to get our our Super Patron – just so long as we don’t take his.
  2. It encourages innovation (and isn’t that what this whole conference has been about so far?)
  3. It has the potential to benefit other libraries – applications that wouldn’t otherwise be developed can be shared across boundaries.
  4. It solicits high quality feedback – when the users feel like you’re listening and care about their input they’re going to give you more valuable information
  5. Most importantly – it’s a promotable service – you’re offering a service to your patrons to let them have access to your data and mash it up the way that bast suits them.

John was followed by Chris Deweese who told us about Google Map Mashups – I was a little disappointed that he didn’t have more time, but he did make me feel like it might be pretty darn easy to add a Google Map to our library’s site – so that’s something I’m going to add to the mile long list I have of projects for the Intranet & library website.

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1 Comment

  1. Our REST implementation (inspired by John’s early work on PatREST) has been running for 9 months now and has been really popular:

    One of the best things has been that we’ve been able to quickly create personalised OPACs for our visually impaired students:

    I’m also fairly confident that the REST interface will be used by some of our Computing students as part of their projects and studies this year, which is really exciting!


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