Friday, September 2, 2011

Getting our foot in the door to Moodle(Rooms)

My awesome co-worker and frequent co-conspirator Barbara Arnett has whipped up a little library resource search box that can be added to courses in our course management software (we just switched to Moodle.) We're currently working on convincing them to add it to the school's course shell template, so it will appear by default in every single course (where each prof will have the option to remove it, if they so desire.)

We're running into some trouble because we're using MoodleRooms to host the CMS, and apparently they charge extra for this sort of thing, but I have to imagine that this would really be useful for students. In the past, the course shells included a link to the library's homepage, with no explanation of how to use the site once they got there. We never really analyzed click-throughs from Blackboard (our old CMS), but the link was fairly buried (as opposed to having the search box prominently located on the side of every screen, as would be the case in Moodle.)

Is anyone else working on something like this? Did you have any trouble getting your school to add it to the template? Do you think it will increase online resource usage?

SCREENSHOTS (click to embiggen):

library link in Blackboard, located only under "Course Content"

library search box in Moodle, located in right-hand column of every page

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Marketing with donated books

So I had this fun little idea the other day. I tend to stick to reading "classics", because I'm book-snobby like that, but every once in awhile I get talked into reading this-or-that best-seller. Because I hate throwing books away, and anyone who works in libraries knows that donations are not always looked so kindly upon by poor, over-worked, underpaid cataloging and acquisitions librarians, I have a collection of popular reading that I don't really want. Now, I do marketing and outreach for an academic library, but if I was at a public library, I think this would make a fun little promotion:

Hand-write a little note in the front of the book saying something to the effect of: "Enjoy this free book, courtesy of *** Public Library! When you're done reading it, please leave it someplace for someone else to read and enjoy!" Get stickers or stamps made with your website/facebook/twitter/blog on them, and put that under the note. In the back of the book, make a space for people to sign/date/leave a note. Leave the book on a bench outside the library (or even in a public park.)

You can then create a blog, where there's a post for each book, with a little book review. Invite users to post comments about the book, and where they found it/left it. Perhaps even have the sticker/stamp you put in the book say: "Read reviews and track this book's journey here!", with a link to the blog.

If you're worried about your constituents being mad that you're "just giving books away! with taxpayer money!" You can head the blog with a post detailing the program, and explaining it only uses *donated* books.

I don't know if the program would get any traction, but if you've got donated books (or your own unwanted books) laying around, it would be pretty easy to give it a try...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Twitter RSS feed creation cheat sheet

Ok, so apparently Twitter is no longer supporting RSS?
I tried doing an advanced search, and, sure enough, the "Feed for this query" button was gone. Then, when I mentioned it on Twitter, @shelitwits said it was still there for her, and when I checked again, it was back...
So... Yes, perhaps I'm going crazy and I just imagined it went away, but now I'm nervous. For now, search feeds are still working for me, whether the button is there or not, so I created a quick cheat sheet for myself, should I need to create a feed from a Twitter search without the handy button. I figured I'd post it here, for my own, and your, handy reference, should you need it. (Obviously, replace the bold text in the search strings with your own search terms/parameters.)

Hashtag search:

User mention search:

Keyword search: (replace the "+" with OR for searches that return any of the keywords, as opposed to all the keywords.)

Location + keyword search:

You can get the location code from location-tagged tweets in your search results, or from your profile page if you've enabled location-aware tagging on Twitter. You can also change the proximity parameter, set here to pick up tweets within 5 miles.

Also, I know it's redundant having the location & proximity twice, but this is how the feed generator creates the feed. I tried adding it to Google reader with only one or the other, and for me it worked with just the location code part intact, but did not work when I tried it just using the city and state part (which would have made life easier, since you could just plug that info in without having to look up a complicated location code, but hey, that figures, right?!)

Now, I realize that if Twitter completely stops supporting RSS, these feeds will probably no longer work, so let's just hope they don't do that. I tried using an RSS feed creator to make a feed out of the search results page (as recommended by @bibrarian,) but it didn't want to work for me (it said the page couldn't be found...)

I really hope Twitter rescinds its no-RSS stance, because I can't imagine administrating an institutional page without it. If I can't regularly monitor certain searches, that really cuts down on Twitter's usefulness as an outreach tool.


UPDATE: Cynthia at LearningLibTech posted some additional details on creating an RSS feed from a specific user's timeline. Check it out here: (and thanks to Desirae for sharing the link!)

UPDATE2: Thanks to ProfHacker for also linking to this post. I also hope my linking to posts that link to this post doesn't trigger infinite recursion and break the internet.

UPDATE3: the Sociable has created a feed generator for Twitter lists: (Thanks to Paul for sharing the link in the comments!)

UPDATE4: In response to a request by Twitter user @filip_struharik, I figured out how to combine user mention and user searches with hashtag searches. They work as follows:

User mention + hashtag:
User + hashtag:

The difference between the two is that the first feed returns all results where the user @val_forrestal *and* the hashtag library appear. The second returns only results where the user @val_forrestal *uses* the hashtag library in one of her tweets (aka only tweets with the keyword "library" from that specific user's timeline.)

UPDATE5: Here's how to do searches that are restricted to a date or set of dates (or just since or up to a certain date).

...where KEYWORD = your hashtag, and the since/until are your start/end dates. You can leave out the "%23" before KEYWORD if you want it to be a simple keyword search, instead of a hashtag search.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Search Bookmarklet Code Files

In case you've been meaning to play around with creating your own library search bookmarklet, but needed a little "push", I've created a compressed folder of all the code files you'll need to do it, along with a ReadMe.txt with the directions. I tried to make it as simple as possible, so let me know if you try and it it works!

Monday, March 14, 2011

oneSearch bookmarklet @ LibTech 2011

On March 17th (this Thursday,) I'll be presenting at the Library Technology Conference on the oneSearch bookmarklet tool created by Barbara Arnett and I.

Barbara won't be able to make it out to Minnesota (she'll be presenting the bookmarklet to the NJLA 2011 Technology Innovation Award committee,) but because we want to be as practical as possible in our presentations, she put together a quick reference for the three parts of the bookmarklet (you don't actually need the third piece, it just creates a nice button for users to drag and drop into their browser, as opposed to a simple link.)

Below is the code you'd need to get started working on your own browser-based search bookmarklet:

(1)HTML, (2)Javascript & (3)CSS:

1 - HTML to display bookmarlet on your webpage:

(edit this line: {document.body.appendChild(document.createElement('script')).src='';}
so that the red text links to the JavaScript file you place on yo
ur server)

2 - Javascript to sit on your server (sits in search.js, referenced in bookmarklet HTML)

(edit this line: _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-XXXXXXX-1']);
so that the red text reflects your own Google Analytics account number (you can also find this complete code within GA, in actions->edit->check status,)
and this line: var searchString=''+(Ti);
so that the red text reflects your own search URL, which you can get from your catalog, database or federated search vendor)

(Note: if you don't want to use Google Analytics, just remove all the code before the line: var Ti=document.title.replace('- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia','');)

3 - CSS needed for the button:

(You can do this as inline CSS or a separate stylesheet. Just replace the background image with your own image file.)

***OR, if you'd rather just download all the files, edit them, and place move them to the appropriate locations on your server, you can download the file packet (with instructions in a ReadMe.txt file.)***

Presentation slides:

One note: when we developed the bookmarklet, we were beta-testing Ebsco Discovery Service. We have since switched to Serial Solutions' Summon, but while that's being configured, the bookmarklet used our integrated search (also a Serial Solutions product.)

On the down-side, this has caused some inconsistency in our screenshots (the slides feature EDS screenshots, since we don't have full access to Summon yet.) However, this does emphasize the importance of having the full code reside on your server, as we've been able to make the required adjustments to the code without users having to re-install the tool.