Tagging in Koha 3.6


This is the start of a series of videos I’m doing for you to share with your patrons. I have hopefully made these videos generic enough to work for any of your libraries.

This video will show your patrons how to add tags via the Koha OPAC.

As always, if you have an idea for a video, please just let me know and I’ll add it to my list of things to record.

What’s new in Ubuntu?


Lifehacker has a nice summary of the features in the newest release of Ubuntu.

Among the new features:

  • Webapps On Your Desktop
  • Online Search and File Previews in the Dash
  • A New Photo Lens in the Dash
  • Ubuntu One Adds File Sharing, a Mac Client
  • No More Unity 2D for Low Power Devices

If you haven’t checked it out recently look at this email I got from a librarian several months ago:

The hard drive on one of our reference desk PCs died today.  I threw in a new one, but I didn’t feel like spending the day sitting through Windows updates, so I loaded Ubuntu 11.04 on it instead.  The install, as I’m sure you know, only took about 15 minutes.  Now, before I add my next point, keep in mind that I manage a staff whose average age is about 63.  No joke.  Most of them have been working at my facility longer than I’ve been alive.  Still, once I had Ubuntu up and running, they were literally fighting over who got to use the new operating system.  They loved it that much.

Now I agree, Linux kicks butt.  I use it about 80% of the time.  Typing to you on Mint right now!  However, I never expected novice users to take to it so quickly.  Please, next time you do an open source webinar, impress on your attendees that libraries aren’t sacrificing a thing by switching over to open source software.  If anything, open source operating systems and applications can be far more user friendly for the novice user than Windows will ever be…

If you want to try Ubuntu but don’t want to change operating systems install VirtualBox first and create an Ubuntu virtual machine.

WordPress Plugins


In preparation for a workshop I’m doing with Polly Farrington at Internet Librarian I’ve been creating a bibliography of WordPress plugins. Here’s what I have so far:

Check out the updated list on Zotero and feel free to add your own must have plugins to the comments here.

Usability and User Testing


Most of you know that I teach WordPress classes for libraries. One of the things that I always have trouble with is teaching plugins. There are so many different plugins out there and they all work differently. Some you install and that’s it, some you install and have to set up, some have their own control panel and others put their menus under Settings or Tools. It’s hard to explain to newbies why things aren’t standardized in any way and that’s why this post at Smashing Magazine caught my attention.

The average website has over five plugins installed (according to PressTrends) and often a theme options panel. For a great experience to continue throughout the website as people actually experience it, we need to establish strong standards for the rest of the community to follow.

I am calling all WordPress plugin developers and themers. You don’t need to guess what your users might want or how they will experience your product. Just watch them. We know it: if we focus on usability, stability and then value, we can make products that users will line up for.

To the core WordPress team and the community at large: Let’s get together and create WordPress human interface guidelines for those who contribute by providing plugins and themes for the world to use. Apple gave us a rock and upon it built a foundation that few can deny. Google finally got around to it with Ice Cream Sandwich, and I expect to see drastic improvement in the wild west that is the Android application landscape. Help us help WordPress.

This doesn’t go just for WordPress though – this goes for our own library websites and our OPACs. How many of you do user tests? Tests where you actually watch the patrons/users try and find things on your website or in your catalog? I’m guessing not many. Most of us think it’s too costly or maybe takes too much time, but if you just reached out to your patrons you might find that you’re wrong. The cost might be some chocolate or a small gift card and as for the time it will be well spent.

For some pointers, read the entire post over at Smashing Magazine and do some research on how others go about usability testing, I can tell you from personal experience that you’ll be surprised how helpful it will be!

CA Law to Produce Open Source Textbooks

Open Source Logo

This from Ars Technica: Two bills were signed in to law in California recently. One to create the textbooks and the other to establish a California Digital Open Source Library to host them.

According to a legislative summary, the textbook bill would “require the California Open Education Resources Council to determine a list of 50 lower division courses in the public postsecondary segments for which high-quality, affordable, digital open source textbooks and related materials would be developed or acquired.” The council is to solicit bids to produce these textbooks in 2013. The bill makes clear that the council has the option to use “existing high-quality digital open source textbooks and related materials” if those materials fit the requirements.

Evaluating Open Source

Open Source Logo

There are many guides out there on evaluating open source. I also have my own opinions on the matter. This guide from OStatic though is pretty thorough and worth adding to your resources on the topic of evaluating open source.

One of the best benefits to open source software is how it can fill in the gaps when developing applications. At times it makes sense to look around and see if anyone else has already solved the problem you are looking at, especially if it is a common feature. Unfortunately, not all open source projects are built the same, and deciding to adopt someone else’s code into your project must be carefully considered. Here are seven steps to starting a successful long-term relationship with an open source project.