Code4Lib Scholarships

It’s that time of year again! I got to attend my first Code4Lib conference because of this awesome scholarship so I always like to promote it so that others can benefit.

There are two scholarships for the 2009 Code4Lib conference.

  • Brown University / Code4lib Gender Diversity Scholarship ($1000)
  • Brown University/ Code4lib Minority Scholarship ($1000)

Learn more here.

Code4Lib Programs Chosen

The voting is over and the results arrived in my email this weekend:

Thanks to all who submitted presentation-proposals for the 2009 code4lib conference. This year, like last, we’ll have 22 presentations. Below is an alphabetical list of the 22 presentations which got the most votes; we’ll post a schedule shortly.

To those attending the conference who want to share interesting work and thoughts, know that lightning-talks (short, five-minute talks) are a valued core part of this conference. Sign-up sheets for these will be available at the conference.

– A modern open webservice-based GIS infrastructure
– A new frontier – the Open Library Environment (OLE)
– A New Platform for Open Data – Introducing ‡ Web Services
– Blacklight as a unified discovery platform
– Complete faceting
– djatoka for dummies
– Extending biblios, the open source web based metadata editor
– Freebasing for Fun and Enhancement
– FreeCite – An Open Source Free-Text Citation Parser
– Great facets, like your relevance, but can I have links to Amazon and Google Book Search?
– How Anarchivist Got His Groove Back 2: DVCS, Archival Description, and Workflow Integration
– LibX 2.0
– Like a can opener for your data silo: simple access through AtomPub and Jangle
– LuSql: (Quickly and easily) Getting your data from your DBMS into Lucene
– Open Up Your Repository With a SWORD!
– RESTafarian-ism at the NLA
– The Dashboard Initiative
– The Open Platform Strategy: what it means for library developers
– The Rising Sun: Making the most of Solr power
– Visualizing Media Archives: A Case Study
– What We Talk About When We Talk About FRBR
– Why libraries should embrace Linked Data

More conference info coming soon.

See you all there!!

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New Library 2.0 Gang Podcast

I posted about the new Library 2.0 Gang Podcast a little while ago only to find that I had jumped the gun. Now it is really really available – so check it out – subscribe – and listen often :)

You can listen to it via Library Journal or the new Library 2.0 Gang page hosted by Talis.

In this issue, we spoke with Aaron Swartz about the Open Library and other Code4Lib conference topics. You can check out my blog post summarizing what Aaron spoke about at the conference if you want more information.

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More about the Open Library

I recently spoke with Aaron Swartz and other Library 2.0 Gang members about the Open Library and other Code4Lib conference topics.

You can listen to it via Library Journal or the new Library 2.0 Gang page hosted by Talis.

You can check out my blog post summarizing what Aaron spoke about at the conference if you want more information.

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Code4Lib: Zotero

Trevor Owens talked to us about Zotero. The slides are already online and the video should be there soon.


What is it?

Zotero is a Firefox add on that lets you:

  • store items and take notes
  • bring in attachments
  • drag and drop into the collection and tag things if you want
  • archive entire webpages and highlight text and add sticky notes
Zotero Icon

Pages that support Zotero have an icon that appears in the address bar in Firefox (like the RSS icon)

State of the Community

  • Hundreds of thousands of users
  • 2288 discussion on Zotero forums
  • 23 language locals all user contributed
  • 80k views on quick start guide last month

Get Involved

  • Make your tools play nice with Zotero (just a note – Koha does)
  • Make your campus a Zotero campus — offer support and promote Zotero among students
  • Get your hands dirty and extend Zotero
  • Get things to work with Zotero by having them generate COinS
  • See who’s recommending Zotero and tell people about it!!

Stats from the Room – and the Future

Trevor asked us a few questions to see how many people were aware of/using Zotero:

  • How many people here have used Zotero – almost all hands
  • How many are in institutions where Zotero is supported – not many hands at all
  • How many are in institutions where other management tool is supported – lots of hands

After these results, Trevor stated: “Okay, this has to change!” He’d love to see more academic institutions using Zotero, the future of the tool hopefully includes moving from being just a client side app in your browser to being an entire suite of tools. They’d love to have a reliable set of syncing plugins for tools like, and plugins for MS Word and Open Office.

He pointed out the SIMILE page at MIT, a project that

seeks to enhance inter-operability among digital assets, schemata/vocabularies/ontologies, metadata, and services. A key challenge is that the collections which must inter-operate are often distributed across individual, community, and institutional stores. We seek to be able to provide end-user services by drawing upon the assets, schemata/ vocabularies/ ontologies, and metadata held in such stores.

Zotero Commons

Lastly, he mentioned that Zotero will be introducing something in collaboration with the Internet Archive entitled, Zotero Commons, in the opes of encouraging a new type of openness.

More can be found about this at Dan Cohen’s blog:

I’m pleased to announce a major alliance between the Zotero project at the Center for History and New Media and the Internet Archive. It’s really a match made in heaven—a project to provide free and open source software and services for scholars joining together with the leading open library. The vision and support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has made this possible, as they have made possible the major expansion of the Zotero project over the last year.


I have to admit that I don’t use Zotero that much – I have it installed, but never took the time to explore it. My cousin swears by it and can’t live without it – and others have said the same thing – maybe I should start poking at it. Trevor’s presentation was great and taught me a lot and made me want to learn more about Zotero and how I can use it to my advantage.

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Code4Lib 2008: VuFind

In Andrew Nagy’s presentation From Idea to Open Source, he took us through the process of creating VuFind, an open-source OPAC replacement/Library portal.

At Villanova, they wanted to develop a portal for library patrons that would let people search the catalog, the article databases and digital library all in one – and keep it separate from the ILS. The goal was one single interface for all library resources in order to minimize the learning curve associated with having many different interfaces.

After doing some asking around, they quickly found that many other academic libraries were having the same problem – so the question became – why don’t we do it together? Why not make this an open-source project so that others can participate and benefit from the work of others?

The Goal

At Villanova, they wanted to build a system that would work with any ILS (including Koha & Evergreen – which Andrew called “our open source cousins”) and needs to work on a variety of platforms (Linux, Windows, etc).

The goal was not to replace the ILS, keep the ILS to do what it does best – but change the web app our patrons use so that it better meets their needs and expectations. VuFind uses the ILS to pull live holdings data from and either harvest bib data (if the ILS doesn’t provide direct database access) or query existing index (mostly used on the open-source ILSes which provide a way to let you in to search directly).

By having this top layer in addition to your ILS, you can easily change ILSes in the future without disrupting your patrons or changing the way they’re used to working. All this, just by separating the OPAC from the ILS.

Making it Open Source

The next step is to take this open source and share it – Villanova is not the marketplace to sell/support software. Andrew made a call to the audience to help build a collaborative community around VuFind so that this project can take off and be successful. Since other institutions are interested in it it would be a shame for Villanova to keep it to themselves – this is why open source is the next logical stop for the project.

In order to do this decisions have to be made, the right tools need to chosen. Some options were Sourceforge and Google Code. Right now, the VuFind team chose Sourceforge – they don’t find that it has all of the tools they need, but it was a good first step in making the project shareable.

The future vision includes having a local SVN or CVS and using a tool like JIRA, TRAC, Bugzilla, etc. These options lead to true freedom, but require a hosting institution.

Positives of Open-sourcing

  • collaborative code sharing
  • idea sharing
  • university gets national attention (good for the university – and shows the directors that it’s worth spending time on)

Negatives of Open-sourcing

  • mailing list support – requires time that you may not have
  • facilitate communication – also takes time
  • possibility of people not have things unanswered due to time constraints
  • time involved with marketing – getting the word out (the true success of an open-source project is word of mouth) – requires traveling and schmoozing
  • project switching is expensive (we all have other jobs – jumping from our primary roles to assist in VuFind is time-consuming & thus expensive)

Where VuFind is now

Most importantly, we need easy ways to install the software. Everyone knows about the famous WordPress 1 minute install – this should be the goal. The product requires easy install and integration, strong user interface and strong functionality before it will be widely adopted (I’d argue that the interface is pretty strong already – just a few more tweaks and it’s there).

When open-sourcing a project you need a roadmap for organization, to keep the process agile and to communicate with the community so they know what you’re doing from time to time. The start to this is the VuFind site and Sourceforge, but as Andrew said, not everything needed can be found in Sourceforge.


I’ve seen Andrew talk a few times about VuFind and I think this was the best of all of the talks I saw. It showed me how I can help, it showed me that there is a plan and a pretty mapped out one for VuFind. I see this as a viable option for librarians looking for a way to to integrate searching of all of their collections in one easy to use, clean, interface.

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