CIL2008: Open Source Solutions to Offer Superior Service

Amy De Groff, Head of Library Technology Services talked to us about using open source at the Howard County Public Library. Amy started by telling us that she was not going to convince us that open source is a good thing – the other speakers had already done enough of that.

Amy’s library will be entirely open source by September – which is pretty darn awesome!! With open source software there is nothing you can’t do. That said, she reminded us that open source deployment is going to create emotional turmoil – but what change doesn’t?

Before going on, Amy warned us that she was going to talk about dirty underside of our profession and that it may cause discomfort. The truth is that as information professionals we must know it all and that it’s always been this way – and this is the wrong way to think about things.

The library profession can learn from the open source community and the open source community will benefit from the library profession’s commitment and standards of service.

People ask her how she did it – how she changed the library over to open source – her answer of “we just did” didn’t seem like enough for many librarians – but it was good enough for me! The fact is that we spend way too much time debating and meeting and discussing – and not enough time doing! Good job Amy for “just doing!”

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CIL2008: LibX

Kyrille Goldbeck and Dr. Godmar Back of Virginia Tech talked to us about LibX. I (probably like you) have heard of this tool before – but I had no idea how cool and powerful it was!!

LibX was originally developed as a way for patrons to take the library with them on the web as a sort of a “virtual librarian” that guides user to library resources while they use the web. LibX is a Firefox tool and an IE plugin (view screenshots and screencasts via the LibX site).

This handy tool adds a toolbar to your browser where you can search the catalog for your institution. It even lets you add additional lines for advanced searching and choose the fields you’d like to search. When you perform a search, it opens the results in a new tab/window – so that you don’t lose the page you were on. Another (seemingly simple – yet often overlooked) awesome feature is that the search terms you entered in your toolbar come down into the catalog interface so you can alter/re-run the search.

In addition to allowing catalog searches via the toolbar, LibX also integrates itself into various websites. When on each book page has a LibX link to the library catalog (this uses xISBN) that searches for any edition of the book you’re viewing.

You can also highlight the book title or ISBN and right click to see search options in the catalog (and LibX knows which you’re highlighting – title or ISBN and runs the right search).

Next, if you have the tool installed and you visit Barnes & Noble’s site, you’ll see that the ISBN is linked (the dashed underline means that the page has been altered by an external app). If you click that link you’ll be brought into the catalog with results for an ISBN search.

But that’s not all! LibX also searches for articles! You can choose to search Google Scholar and then on the results page the links automatically reformat to go to the library’s databases (if the articles are available) with openresolver links. This works both on and off campus. If you’re off campus, you can reload the page using EZproxy and access the resources from home.

And as if that isn’t enough!! We’re always told to check the references in the articles we’re reading – well LibX makes this super easy! You just open up the PDF file and drag a reference onto the Google Scholar button on the toolbar. A new tab will open with the results!!

How is it that I went through library school without realizing how handy this tool was???

If you’re wondering how you can get this for your institution, it’s actually pretty easy!

Originally, institutions had to contact Virginia Tech to ask them to create the toolbar for them – but now you can use LibX Editions and create your own toolbar in minutes. Keep in mind that some manual customization will be required to make this toolbar meet your library’s needs.

That said, Editions has had a great impact on the usage of LibX. This tool allows anyone to build a LibX edition, share it, copy it, modify it and distribute it. All in the spirit of open source!


I wish I was still in school so I could use this tool all of the time – for now I’ll have to settle for using it when researching blog posts :)

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CIL2008: Open Source Applications

Glen Horton talked to us about how libraries can give back to open source.

Libraries and open source are fundamentally related – both …

  • believe that information should be freely accessible to everyone
  • we like to give away stuff
  • we benefits from generosity of others (part Glen is going to talk about)
  • are about communities
  • make the world a better place

One of the ways libraries can give back is to create open source software. In a lot of the cases of open source projects they could have been kept in the libraries that developed them but instead they opened them up to share with others.

If you’re asking, “but Glen .. what if we don’t have a developer?” – you can give back in many other ways.

Teach open source software like this video on edubuntu for libraries.

Computers in Libraries

You could document open source – like I’ve been doing for the last few months. Don’t assume that you’re the only one that can benefit from it – share what you write just in case there are others like you out there.

You can debug open source by reporting bugs to authors and on support forums. You can identify usability issues or if something isn’t working quite right – instead of dealing with these things (which we’re all used to doing) you can share it with the community to make the product that much better.

“But glen – what if we don’t use open source software?”

You can promote open source – just because you’re not using it internally, doesn’t mean your patrons won’t benefit from it – add links to it from your site. Or pass out CDs or sell flash drives with open source on it. Check out

Open source or die

It’s a strong statement – but it goes back to open source and libraries being linked at the core. Glen points us to the number of sessions on this track (a pretty high number if you look at all of the speakers sharing time slots) and he bets that it’s going to be more next year.

Open Source Desktop

Next up, Julian Clark who uses open source for nearly application on his computer.


  • a lot of people say it’s free – but it’s free as in kittens
  • control and customization
  • security – with os implementation the security is the same as what you’re running on your servers
  • changing marketplace
    • people are becoming less satisfied about what’s being offered
    • windows vista example – people went back to xp because they were unhappy causing ms to keep supporting xp

When is the best time to change?

  • no set formula – every library operates differently
  • a good idea is when you’re ready for a major upgrade (when you buy new desktops or upgrade your ILS)
    • you’re going to have major changes imposed upon you either way
  • another time is when you have reduced funding in your library

To do this…

Assess the hardware

  • full hardware inventory
  • not all hardware will be oss-friendly (wireless connectivity may be an issue)

Assess the software

  • what do you really need/use for productivity?
  • what can’t you live without?
  • think function, not brand (don’t think you need ms word – think you need a word processor)
  • not everything is “ready for prime time”

Assess the organizations

  • who runs IT?
  • expertise on staff?
  • local culture

Where should you start?

  • start with your desktop – what apps do you have on your desktop? What do you use most?
  • keep in mind that there are some apps that may not have a viable os option

Options for support

Third party support

  • can be purchased directly
  • does not always require on-stop shoppings
  • allows for faster initial setup
  • initial setup and maintenance do not need to be very hands on


  • local needs can best be understood
  • better integration with local initiatives
  • wealth of institutional knowledge

Selling it

  • consider your audience
  • quantifiy things
  • re-allocating resource savings
  • be positive

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CIL2008: Open Source Landscape

I love listening to Marshall Breeding present – it always makes me feel better to know that someone can talk faster than me ;) Marshall started his talk by showing us the lib-web-cats advanced search which allows you to search for libraries running specific systems. He did remind us to keep in mind that the systems shown are the ones that have made a commitment to a system (may not be live yet).

Broad Trends

Open source is highly used in the general IT arena with examples like Linux and Apache. If you believe the blogosphere, open source is going up up up – but it’s not necessarily true – Microsoft is also gaining a footing – showing that they are all good options. You need to make your decisions with all the facts in hand.

Open Source

Did you know that your general library infrastructure is open source? z39.50 is open source! And Index Data has been making tools based on this protocol for a long time (the Yaz toolkit is the main z39.50 tool being used).

Other open source options:

  • Federated search – LibraryFind and Masterkey
  • OCLC offers some stuff – typically older stuff that they want other people to take care of now
  • Digital repositories – Fedora, DSpace, and Keystone

Next Marshall listed some open source discovery products – AKA – next gen catalogs:

  • Vufind – based on Apache Solr search toolkit — toolkits make it accessible for relatively small development shops to create this stuff
  • Extensible catalog – University of Rochester and the Melon Foundation
  • fac-back-opac
  • Scriblio – based on WordPress

Open Source in the ILS Arena – Products and Trends

It used to be bold and risky to move to an open source ILS. This move however led to a bunch of projects that are now products. That said, Marshall wants to make sure that people have the best information available to them when they make these decisions – he’s not an open source evangelist he’s a technology evangelist.

3 of the 4 open source ILS that were around in 2002 are now defunct so when Marshall wrote that the open source ILS it was still a distant future – it was true.

… then the world changed

In March 2007 the world had changed, but open source is a minority player. In March 2008 open source is a real option out there, but you need to use the same criteria you use when choosing a closed source system.

Now, April 2008 the open source ILS has launched into the mainstream – there is a lot of room for optimism and there is going to more and more of this over time.

The ILS market is an industry in turmoil with mergers and acquisitions left and right causing disruptions and business decisions to narrow options. This has fueled the open source movement by providing libraries with additional options.

Open Source v. Traditional Licensing

So what side is Marshal on? He says both sides! He wouldn’t want to see a world where one or the other is the only option and thinks they complement the each other. Each library has it’s own personality and can use that in choosing their systems.

Recommendations for making a choice:

  • avoid philosophical preference – make choices as business decisions instead
  • which best supports the missions of libraries
  • which approach helps libraries become better libraries?



  • first open source ILS
  • Koha + Index Data Zebra = Koha Zoom
  • 300+ libraries
  • while there are a lot of small libraries – there are also some biggies signing up now
  • the system has grown up to a level where it can handle these big libraries
  • has the interface we want – facets, clean, book jackets


  • developed by the GA public library system
  • small dev team
  • June 2004 – dev begins
  • September 2005 live production
  • streamlined environment – single shared implementation, all libraries, follow the same policies,
  • one library card
  • by far the most people using it are the GA PINES consortia
  • it’s a big difference between supporting 250+ small libraries and supporting a big library system (so it will make a difference when the Atlanta area switched)
  • has interface we want – facets, clean, book jackets


  • going gangbusters in the public school system
  • created by Media Flex
  • south central org of (school) libraries


  • ILS designed for the developing world
  • originally traditionally licensed, introduced in 2003
  • transition to open source in January 2008
  • 122 installations (India, Syria, Sudan, Cambodia)

Learning Access ILS

  • turnkey open source ILS
  • designed for under-served rural public and tribal libraries
  • defunct?? – has been trying to get in touch with these people – but can’t (email bounces)

There is also lot of commercial involvement these days:

  • Index Data (founded 1994)
  • LibLime (founded 2005)
    • small but growing
    • total of 20 FTP – hiring industry veterans exiting from traditional ILS companies
  • Equinox (founded 2007)
    • contracts to GA PINES library system
  • Care Affiliates (founded 2007)
    • recently formed founded by Carl Grant
  • Media Flex (longstanding company)
  • Duke is working on a proposal to create an open source ILS
  • …there are others afoot


Explosive interest in open source is being driven by the disillusionment with current vendors. Given this, Marshall makes the point that the open source ILS would be where it is if it wasn’t for what was happening on the other end of things. Open source allows for more flexible systems and lower costs (however, Marshall still feels that total cost of ownership is the same between the two over the long haul). With open source libraries are less vulnerable to the mergers and acquisitions that are happening in the proprietary world.

Cost Issues

  • cost shifted – no license fee
  • hardware
  • vendor support
  • hosting
  • conversion
  • local technical support
  • development costs
  • open source vendors should come up with a total cost of ownership report to show us that open source is really cheaper

Open source risk factors

Marshall still thinks that open source is a risky alternative because of a dependency on community organizations and commercial companies to provide development and support services. I’d argue that this is a reason that open source is less risky – with a community of developers and support services you’re more likely to find someone to help you out if your vendor goes under. That said, Marshall admits that the other side is risky too!

All that said the interest in open source (and the market share) is relatively low.


What he’s looking for is a new system (aren’t we all) – built for how libraries are today. This is not an open source system that does what our systems already do today. In short, we have a long way to go on both fronts – both open and closed source.

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CIL2008: WoePac to WowPac

Karen Schneider moderated this very interesting two part session on WoePac to WowPac – a look at OPACs as we know them and would like them to be. As a librarian who has often torn her hair out over the sad state – “or should I say sucky state” of our OPACs she’s the perfect person to be introducing the speakers for this session.

First off, Roy Tennant. Roy started off by saying “I’ve spent the last 10 years trying to kill off the the word OPAC – you can see how successful I’ve been.”

Roy wanted to clarify for us that when he talked about the “OPAC” he’s just talking about the discovery part of our systems – the public interface – not the entire ILS. He introduced us to a few tools that add a new discovery level to our systems that harvests data out of the ILS.

When you’re ready for a change in your library you have a few questions to consider before looking at today’s tools.

  • do you want to replace your ILS or just your public interface?
  • can you consider open source options? (some can’t)
  • do you have the technical expertise to set it up and maintain it locally?
  • are you willing to regularly harvest data from your catalog to power a separate user interface?

Some examples of options available to today’s libraries are:

Koha (example from Athens County Public Library)

  • faceted browse
  • highlighted search words
  • availability information
  • no harvesting of information required – because it’s an ILS

Evergreen (example from Georgia Pines)

  • faceted browse

    • some issues with them – strange terms coming up in the facets
  • no harvesting of information required – because it’s an ILS


  • discovery layer only
  • in development (they haven’t started using it themselves yet)
  • the interface looks really good
  • faceted browse
  • availability info shown (it’s being extracted out of the ILS)

LibraryFind (example from Oregon State University Library)

  • MetaSearch system
  • faceted browse
  • clean interface
  • you’ll see articles interfiled among the books in results
  • you can see databases searched

WorldCat Local (example from University of Washington)

  • local branding
  • local version of
  • articles included from some databases
  • real benefit is that you can search the world – so first it searches the local library and then the consortium and then the rest of the world

Next up Kate Sheehan who was part of the first library to use LibraryThing for Libraries. I like Kate’s definition as a bibliophile/social networking mashup (hope the credit for that doesn’t belong with someone else – if so – I’m sorry).

LibraryThing has a ton of data about books and readers and the readers are not afraid to use it. While LibraryThing is all about users (they want to search and catalog their own way) – LibraryThing for Libraries is all about the masses of data.

Kate showed us the search results for “OPAC sucks” in Google and there were 3 pages of results (I got 10 pages).

To improve a woepac, LibraryThing for Libraries takes all the neat stuff that LibraryThing knows and dumps it into your OPAC – any OPAC because this tool is platform agnostic.

Kate gave us a preview of what this tool does:

  • it shows other editions of the title that the library has
  • shows similar books and it’s really good (once again only based on things in the library)
  • can even add reviews with a Greasemonkey script

Computers in Libraries
Originally uploaded by nengard

So how hard is it to implement? Kate says it’s so easy a monkey could do it – really! It’s just a simple javascript that you copy and paste into your template and you’re done.

LibraryThing bases this stuff on what people have actually read (not what they’ve bought – like Amazon). If there is anything wrong with LibraryThing for Libraries, it’s that it doesn’t work as well with non-isbn books – all of these features are based on comparing ISBNs.

So why do libraries want LibraryThing? Basically, data doesn’t grow on trees and LibraryThing has this wealth of information to share with libraries. This is a pretty simple concept.

This is a great tool – especially for libraries with a lot of ISBN materials.

Next up was, Cindy Trainor with a talk titled: “Are we there yet? Next generation library catalog enhancements: an assessment.” Cindi agree with Marshall Breeding (a summary I haven’t written yet) when he says that these next gene systems aren’t really there yet – there is still a long way to go. For that reason Cindi introduced us to her 4 very best websites using her own totally arbitrary system of rating.

Great websites need to have a combination of these 4 characteristics:

  • content – print, video, audio, etc
  • community – communication – power lies in it’s collectiveness – content created by a community in a community for a community
  • interactivity – a single website that people visit and interact with – searchability included in this
  • interoperability – APIs – things that let us pull data from multiple systems and merge them into one (Z39.50, RSS)

The more of these elements a site has the better it is – in Cindi’s opinion. Of her four best websites, Cindi went into detail about Flickr which scored a 26 on her scale (which had a max of 32 points). Flickr made it onto her top 4 because it met all of the criteria:

  • content (photos)
  • community (giant group of users)
  • interactivity (search, browse, never run into a dead end)
  • interoperability (interface into flickr that lets you go in and do other things with the content – badges, posters, flickr soduko, spell with flickr, flickr mashups)

The other top sites were Amazon scoring 26, Pandora scoring 20 and Wikipedia scoring 21.

So, where are the next gen catalog enhancements on this scale?

When you think about what a legacy OPAC looks like we have come a long way – but we still have a long way to go! Cindi showed us a Voyager OPAC and replaced most of the words with blah blah blah – because this is what our patrons see and Voyager scored a 2 using her fake rating system.

Last up was John Blyberg. John didn’t talk to us about our OPACs per say, but the system redressed.

John started with a quote from Robert Pirsig in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”:

“The overall name of these interrelated structures is system. The motorcycle is a system. A real system …There’s so much talk about the system. And so little understanding. That’s all a motorcycle is, a system of concepts worked out in steel … the motorcycle is primarily a mental phenomenon.”

He feels that we sort of fetishize our OPACs – the WowPac doesn’t exist – the fact that we can’t put it together is not that it’s hard to do – it has more to do with what sits behind the system. Like the motorcycle our systems are a mental phenomenon.

Consider the library work flow as container versus content – the OPAC is container – the content is then the information in the OPAC.

“I really wish we could get rid of the concept of OPAC – because of the system behind them our OPACs seem to get put into these little boxes – what happens to a plant if you put it in a pot that’s too small for it? It withers and dies and this is what’s going on with our OPACs – they’re being impaired by not getting to the content in our systems.” While I may not have gotten the quote exactly right – this is a really good image from John of what our OPACs are doing to our precious data.

John makes another great point that the OPAC really should be spilling out onto our websites and beyond – Facebook and Flickr and such – not just search boxes – but applications that can trigger based on page content. So if you’re on Facebook viewing something about Harry Potter you get a pop up or a column with library data related to the page you’re on.

We need an understanding of how information flows from point a-b – the term systems librarian is going to be obsolete because we’re all going to be systems librarians (in fact at Drexel, systems is a required course – so in their eyes, we already area). Systems does not have to do with technology only – but the system of our library (the processes we follow day to day).

John also reminds us that in today’s information ecology there is no destination = most people are online to experience information.

A great combination of viewpoints all in one place! I’m glad that I stayed in the room all day :)

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CIL2008: Avatars to Advocacy

This year at CIL I got to attend my first ever pre-conference. My session was taught by Helene Blowers and Michael Porter and covered the new paradigm of marketing in libraries.

Helene started the afternoon off by talking about the title of the presentation “From Avatars to Advocacy: Innovation Through Un-Marketing.” The term “Un-marketing” is in the title because we were covering a different view than the traditional view of marketing.

Un-Marketing Pre-Conference

Library Brand

When marketing people think about the library brand, they focus on the logo – but it’s a lot more! If you believe the OCLC Perceptions report, the library brand is all about books, but in reality the library brand is all about community! This is a theme I’ve written about a lot recently. So, as we look forward at where we’re going with marketing we want to focus on that part of our brand.


The old paradigm of marketing focuses on controlling the look and feel of the brand – our fliers all look consistent – our websites match our print materials, etc. In 1957 it was very easy to reach your market because 45% of the audience were watching Lucille Ball … today we have so many mediums and niche markets to reach. For this reason, mass marketing is going away – and it’s being replaced with niche marketing.

The new paradigm is to influence the character and portability of your brand – allow people to take your brand with them and embed it into their own space allow them to contribute and participate. Helene showed us an example from Gmail that I missed. Google allowed people to make their own Gmail videos and then they merged them into one ad for Gmail.

The question for libraries is how you can enable customers to participate in your branding. Helene recommends reading The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual and checking out the website. These talk about how markets are about conversations and brands are about getting people to talk about what you’re doing.

What strategic elements do we need to focus on in order to move our libraries into this model of marketing?

  • Engage – to enable customers to connect with library staff its services with each other in meaningful ways (the switch is to allow them to connect with each other)
  • Enrich – to provide our customers with a rich online experience that enhances their local branch experience and daily lives (let them find communities everywhere – in the library and out of it – and of course those who come and visit the web)
  • Empower – to enable our customers to personalize their library experience allow our community to celebrate themselves (Gmail video celebrates the people using Gmail – not just Gmail itself) – we want our customers to feel good about themselves

Helene shared a great quote with us: “Consumers are beginning in a very real sense to own our brands and participate in their creation….We need to learn to begin to let go” – A. G Lafley, CEO and Chairman of P&G, October 2006. Another book to read on this topic is Rengen: The Rise of the Cultural Consumer – and What It Means to Your Business by Patricia Martin in which the author says “cultural consumers thrive on information and ideas to fuel to their creative self-expression.”

Real Libraries

Next Michael took over to show us a bunch of great examples. He pointed out that we’re seeing a lot of these communication tools being used by institutions – so the institutions start the process and they do more than the user – but this is going to shift more to the users.

I agree with Michael when he says that people will give money to things they love – make them love you and they will participate. Look at what Gmail did – it’s cool to be associated with Gmail and so everyone wanted to participate. Another example of this is the model LibraryThing uses to have people pay for their membership. They give you choices as to what you can pay. So if you really like them you can pay more than they’re asking (which I did). If you put your library out there then they will send it to their friends – the spread of the word of mouth is much more now that we have blogs, social networking and email.

Michael sounds like an evil marketer when he says “get them when they’re kids and teens – never lose a hold on our market” but the truth is that we can do that with a clean conscience because we’re just trying to build up our market. Libraries tend to had a culture of “no” and we have to get out of that or we’re going to go down. This includes allowing kids and teens to participate in marketing our libraries.

Examples of neat marketing tricks:

  • Flickr groups like 365 Library Days Project and libraries and librarians – no one is making money off of it – it’s information so you can use tools like this to repurpose information for your community
  • Meebo-rooms – created 365 Library Days Project room – everyone came to the room and asked what it was about
  • Second Life Library 2.0 – example from libraryland that can be repurposed

One library that is doing neat things is the Santa Clara County Library. Another is Palo Alto City Library which has a good blog and a presence on other social networking sites such as Flickr and Facebook. Others includes Kankakee Public Library and San Mateo County Library – both are using these tools and twisting them to their purposes. Brooklyn College Library has shown real results by using MySpace.

Michael says “I could give a hoot about the brand name – I care about the functionality – the community and content – and if those tools help our users access content through us then they are successful – we just have to use these things to be better at our missions. “It’s not about us!” – it’s about our community. How true and awesome to hear someone else saying this!

Engaging Our Community

“Brands are built on what people are saying about you, not what you’re saying about yourself” – Guy Kawasaki

Helene showed us a bunch of other examples:

  • Hennipin County Library site where they had pictures of people reading Harry Potter when the latest book was released. They used the Flickr API to upload images via their site and featured them on the homepage.
  • Columbus Metro library has a teen gallery – allowing teens to feature their art on the homepage- it’s about letting them use our space to celebrate themselves
  • YouTube & we love our NJ libraries – search for “3 reasons library” – why should libraries be telling you three reasons you should love us? why not have them showcase it for us??
  • The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County used Big Huge Labs to create inspirational posters – used during National Library Week – no “read” posters of celebrities – encouraged patrons to upload their own images and showcase real patrons
  • Denver Public Library last summer encouraged teens to create videos on how they had fun in the library – took a risk by allowing teens to spread the word – winner did a book angel (like snow angel) on a table
  • Louisville Free Public Library – last summer – after the summer reading challenge they gave them winners a sign to take pictures on their lawn – and put the pictures on their homepage

Helene then gave us 8 steps to take back to our libraries in order to better market them:

  • educate – learn about social media
  • experience – participate and join the conversation (can’t just learn from reading books – have to participate in order to understand)
  • envision – develop a 2.0 marketing plan (tie into your mission/vision)
  • engage – create social celebrations (social situations – things that tie into community events)
  • enable – help your library brand and content travel (allow customers to share and repurpose content – widgets)
  • expand – play with multimedia (libraries are very text heavy – move away from it)
  • explore – learn as your go and track success (as you play you’re going to find things that aren’t relevant – but if you don’t try there is no way you’re going to learn)
  • Experiment, Experiment, Experiment


Last note: always remember – the best way to get customer to market our brand is to allow them to promote us (the library) by marketing themselves.

Slides are online and we took photos of our brainstorming session and tagged them cil2008aa and cil2008unmarketing.

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CIL2008: Widgets, Tools, & Doodads for Library Webmasters

First off Darlene Fichter and Frank Cervone are like a stand up comedy act with really neat tools to make our lives easier! I just love attending their presentations each year. So let’s get to the meat (excuse my lack of capitalization):

Firefox Tools:

  • safecache – protects your privacy – defends against cache-based tracking techniques
  • foxmarks – automatically syncs bookmarks with a web version at – works across work and home computers
  • FEBE – firefox environment backup extension – quickly and easily backup your Firefox extensions – easily sync your office and home browsers – also backup things that aren’t extensions

Other web tools:

  • meebo chat widget – topeka & shawnee county public library – on the no results found page
  • LinkBunch – lets you put multiple links in one small link – firefox extension creates a bunch from all your open tabs
  • DocSyncer – automatically finds and syncs your document files to google docs – this means everything! “users are even reporting that launching a document directly from their desktop using DocDyncer is FASTER than launching the doc native in microsoft office” – Frank says yeah right!! – very good and simple to sign up (windows, mac, linux) – problem here is that it is everything!! Doesn’t ask you – just does it
  • twhirl – desktop client for twitter
  • polldaddy – fast and simple way to put a poll on your website

For web development:

  • VisCheck – a computer simulation of the entire process of human vision – way of showing what things look like to someone who is color blind
  • Feng GUI – automatic alternative to eye-tracking – creates heat maps
  • browsershots – creates screenshots in different browsers – open source online service – submit your web address – added to the job queue – distributed to different computers – a bit slow
  • Flickr photo badge – have an account for your library and add photos
  • photoshop expresstutorial
  • add this – forget location: this web distribution – allow people to bookmark things where they want – also gives you button stats
  • Google gadgets – countdown
  • altavista babelfish site translator
  • Google translate my page

Nifty utilities:

  • processtamer – monitors cpu usage of processes – reduces the properties of apps that hog the cpu – windows only
  • file hamster – real time back and archiving of your files while you work – stores notes about the changes that have been made
  • syncback freeware – backup all files anytime with a single click – also allows machine to machine backup via ftp – versioning – scroll down to the bottom where the freeware link is
  • linkextractor – get all links from a page to repurpose
  • moving large files – | | yousendit | mediafire (not necessarily private – don’t require registration) – pando – 1GB peer to peer (disadvantage everyone needs pando)
  • recaptcha – stop spam – this does good for internet archive too – shows a word that was OCRed
  • anonymouse – want to do things privately – check if resources are accessible outside your IP range or not
  • prism – an application that lets users split web applications out of their browser and run them directly on their desktop – from mozilla labs – makes the app look like a client instead of a browser


In true Darlene and Frank fashion they ended by telling us that they didn’t want their talk to be all work and no play. They introduced us to a gag site that we can use to scare our colleagues and friends –

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CIL2008 – Super Searcher

An awesome list of tools from Mary Ellen Bates:

  • – blog of alternative and niche search engines – click the top 100 tab – subscribe to rss feed
  • Keotag – search across web 2.0 sites (technorati, delicious twitter and more)
  • MSN product reviews – search for a specific brand
  • Google’s new n improved timelines – creates a readable page easy to scan and identify trends (find when there was a buzz about a particular topics) – yellow line at the top shows where there was a buzz
  • Watch for blended search results – lower precision results, but more long-tail content, esp. for obscure topics – seeing a lot more other search results (products, directions – what for what else appears at the top of the screen) – look at search results with new eyes
  • searchCrystal – touchy feeling
  • – clustering on demand with a choice of search engines – let’s your determine how the search results are organized – uses different algorithms
  • Loki toolbar – find location-dependent content – based on IP address or nearby wifi signals – tells you where you are not and locates on map – search locally
  • – Firefox fix for Google – nice customization – removes ads – infinite scroll results
  • Google has experimental search – new way to see results – add view:timeline or view:info to your search query and you see things like dates or images or measurements on the pages – more efficient way to find images on a page
  • Searchmash – unbranded Google site – cool interface – why do i care? it’s extremely cool – that’s why! free of ads – lets you see other search indexes on the top right
  • google date-limiting – advanced search screen (remember a date search on the web is never a reliable thing) can also roll your own – add +&as_qdr=dn to the SERP (search results page) URL – where n is the number of days (d15 = 15 days) – items spidered in the last n days
  • – a tool for comparing search results – i prefer more results from Google or Yahoo – trust-o-meter
  • I’d prefer this… – add prefer:word to query – ranks these search results higher – test search “hybrid car prefer:convertible
  • MSN’s misspelling-suggestion engine – lets you find ways to misspell things since things on the web are not always spelled right
  • Ask’s maps – both driving and walking directions – – takes local topography (san fran – hills=bad) into account (i always use this tool when at conferences – to find out how to walk somewhere)
  • – use Exalead’s NEAR/n operator — (solar OR sun) NEAR/3 power
  • use search engines’ quick answer features – Smart Answers – Google’s OneBox – Yahoo’s Shortcuts – MSN’s Instant Answers (at the top of the search results)
  • Gigablast – limit to multiple sites – has all kinds of advanced search features
  • SnapSearch – visual search results – lets you preview the page and lets you interact with the page on the search results screen – based on the Gigablast search engine
  • Pagebull – metasearch tool – entirely visual – no words – all pictures – good if you remember what the page looked liked and can’t remember name
  • – search results deliver small fact-bites – max 30 results – pull factual sentence from the search results
  • TextRunner “information mining” looks for statements like factbites
  • – source for national stats – cool tool for presenting graphical info (also a statemaster)
  • TouchGraph – find relationship among URLs – finds related books in amazon (uses subject terms) – graphical results
  • just a reminder here – check out podcast lectures from yale, princeton, uc berkley, stanford, johns hopkins – all providing lectures online for free
  • Kosmix – a vertical search engine on steroids – more than just websites – trusted sources – other concepts/related concepts – videos – yahoo questions and answers
  • LOUIS – library of unified information sources – searchable documents from congressional reports
  • for the full text of us supreme court cases – incomplete now – but keep an eye on this one –

I know this is a very note-like post – but this presentation lended itself to this style. See Mary Ellen’s list of links.

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CIL2008 – Libraries Solve Problems!

Our first keynote was by Lee Rainie, Director, Pew Internet and American Life Project. As usual, he asked us who’s blogging? He also showed us blog posts about him – from previous years – maybe next year something I’ve said here will be on his presentation :)

Why does he ask this? Because blogging is about community building and communication – this is what makes the internet so different and so wonderful – and this is what the era of user generated content is all about – which is a great intro into what followed.

Stats Review


  • 75% of adults use internet
  • 54% with broadband at home
  • 78% own a cell phone
  • 62% connect to internet wirelessly


  • 0% connect to internet wirelessly
  • 5% with broadband at home
  • 46% of adults use the internet
  • 50% own a cell phone

Wireless connectivity has actually brought back the interest in email – the reports of death of email are premature. Wireless also changes people’s ideas about news – people are much more interested in using the internet to connect to news because it’s quick and up-to-date.

In addition to wireless, pictures are now are as important for communication and community as text is – everyone taking pictures (see Flickr for cil2008). In fact, 33% of online adults have profiles on MySpace and Facebook which is amazing – and means they’re sharing information graphically as well as textually.

Which brings us to the fact that blogging is getting hard to talk about because people aren’t seeing what they’re doing as blogging – like if you post on MySpace and Facebook – they don’t realize that that this is actually a way of blogging

Today’s issues

The question this keynote was addressing was how people get information to help them solve problems, this is not a look at general interest information searches. The audience of this study consisted of approximately 169 million adults that have said that they had to find information related to health issues, government, immigration and education.

In the results, 53% of Americans said that they had been to their local library in the last year. But it’s only once you unpack this information that you get to the really interesting part:

  • 62% from Gen Y
  • 59% from Gen X
  • 57% trailing boomers (43-52)

Younger people are using the library more!!! You know – those kids we keep saying can’t read and that we have to get in the door – they’re already there!! In fact, 60% of online teens use the internet at libraries…

Who turns to libraries for problem solving?

  • Young adults – 18-29 = 21%
  • Older (over 70) = 15%
  • Blacks = 26%
  • Latinos = 22%
  • Lower income < $40,000 = 17%

And the most popular problem-solving searches done at libraries:

  1. decisions related to education or getting training (self or child)
  2. jobs
  3. serious illness
  4. taxes
  5. medicare

Of these people:

  • 69% talked to library staff
  • 68% used computers (38% got one-on-one instruction)

Shows that both technology and computers matter – patrons are using both almost equally!! How awesome is that??

When asked what their future intentions for visiting the library were, 29% said they likely would go to libraries – once again it’s the break down that’s interesting:

  • Less well off – 40%
  • Gen Y – 41%
  • Less educated 41%
  • Latinos – 42%
  • Blacks – 48%

So what are the young people the most likely to come in and come back? Why do they have an affinity for libraries? Lee’s hypothesis is that young people have had the most recent experience with libraries – they’ve done homework there – they’ve been forced to go in – and so they are more aware of how libraries have changed than any other age group – they’ve witnessed the change and they know that we can help – they have had good experiences and they are likely to repeat then.

Lee reminds us that the people who are likely to go to libraries are those who know you and love you best! We just need to educate people on how we’ve changed – put more effort into public education on what you do and how you do it – this could really pay off.

It’s also important to keep in mind that your patrons are happy (and some are zealous) advocates. This being the era of consumer evangelists – some of whom might be influential in your community. Give them the tools necessary (blogs, etc) to share the good news about your library.

Even your “un-patrons” are primed to seek you out. The people who might be more dependent on libraries for help are awake of what you offer and your special skills. Keys for their patronage include awareness of your work, comfort in your environment (embarrassed to look stupid – nervous to ask questions), and mentoring skills (provide tech support and hand holding and get people up to speed).


This is the era of social networks – people rely on these networks more now than they ever have. Libraries should aspire to be a node in people’s social networks – social networks are for learning – social networks are for news and navigation – social networks are for support and problem-solving.

I have to be honest, I was a bit worried that Lee’s talk would be the same one I’ve heard for years here at CIL – but I’m glad I gave it a chance! This was new content and it’s more interesting listening to him talking about it instead of reading the report alone ;)

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