some show and tell

Just having one of those days where I am in favor of a picture-based approach to what I’ve been interested in.

awesome box

Press release | official website

raspberry pi running an OPAC

Run your OPAC on a min computer that costs under $50.

Local Tools has software for tool lending libraries

Prefab Library, the library website service

now that’s how you do a FOSS press release

The Howe Library in Hanover NH has just moved their ILS to Evergreen. They sent out a very cool press release. Here is the first paragraph.

In a technology move designed to cut taxpayer costs, Howe Library is pleased to announce it has moved its entire bibliographic catalog and circulation system to Evergreen, an open-source integrated library system used by hundreds of libraries nationwide and in Canada. Moving to Evergreen will save considerable taxpayer dollars, primarily in annual service fees and upgrades.

Talk about upbeat! Instead of saying “Hey we’re going to have some downtime.” or “Here is all the new stuff you need to know.” they focus on the things that will affect everyone, lower fees and stable trusted software. Nice work team. Here’s the press release, now linked on their site.

links about some good and bad things in libraryland

First off, I’d like to point out this question from Ask MetaFilter which asks the age old question “I am trying to automate my small school/church/club library. What software should I use?” I gave a few answers, as did a few other people, but the short answer is “There’s no good tool for this” as near as I can tell. Please let me know if I’m wrong.

A few more links people sent me over the last week or so.

what happens when you don’t get what you pay for

Nicole wonders aloud why people who paid for an Open Source OPAC from LibLime aren’t raising hell when they are instead pressured to accept the closer-source version instead?

So why are these librarians taking it? Why are they being quiet? I don’t have an answer for you – and so I’m hoping someone out there can answer this for me. If you signed a contract for one product and then are told you have to use another – do you just say okay? or do you move on or demand the product you originally wanted. I think that the result of the Queens Library law suit will be very interesting – but I’m shocked that this is the first!! Librarians have been just taking these hits and coming back for more.

Friday afternoon posts about important things

In the habit I seem to be in of writing posts about topics I deeply care about, here is a late Friday post about Open Source library catalogs. I was at an in-service day at the Howe Library in Hanover on Monday talking about Open Source. I gave a version of a talk I gave in Athens GA at the Evergreen conference, back when my OS project was still looking all shiny and before the LibLime implosion (and Nicole’s departure) and before Karen took a cool job on the West Coast. The talk was fun, well-received and then we had lunch together and talked some.

In the course of talking to various librarians, it became clear that there are a lot of separate OS projects going on in New England. There’s the VOKAL project which I’m loosely involved with — and I get to work with Nicole because Bywater has the support contract! — and the VT state librarian has been talking about a statewide catalog. New Hampshire is looking at a similar thing, though I’m not sure how far along they are. And I’ve been talking back and forth with Brian Herzog about the MA Open Source Project. Looks like they’re hiring a coordinator! I only wish I could go to either one of these presentations but I’m off following my own different drummer to the Iowa Library Conference and then to BitNorth in Montreal the following weekend. If anyone goes, please do let me know how it goes. Exciting times.

the first of, I suspect, many ILS lawsuits

“The Queens Borough Public Library, one of the largest and busiest libraries in the United States, has filed a major lawsuit against Sirsi Corporation, which currently does business as SirsiDynix.”

You can read the complaint here. Even though it’s 193 points long, I suggest some browsing. The basic issue is that Queens Borough was looking for an ILS, got bids from both Sirsi and Dynix, chose Dynix and then because of the “merger” actually got Sirsi who were a little jerkish. The library spent a lot of time and money on this process and wound up with the product they had not chosen. I’ll be interested to see where this goes. As someone who is often privy to a lot of “we have been having nearly-legal fights with our ILS vendor” stories, I’m glad to see one break through the light of day. [gwasdin]

dad using his library card

This is the second and last part of the Jessamyn’s Dad’s Library Card story. I went home yesterday. I got a phone call from my Dad.

Dad: So I clicked the link in that email the library sent?
Me: Yeah? Good.
Dad: It connects me to “iBistro on the go…” what is that?
Me: That’s the library’s online catalog. The library is supposed to type their name at the top there but it looks like they didn’t.
Dad: It’s hard to read.
Me: Yeah it sure is isn’t it? [explains how to make font bigger]
Dad: How do I look for a book, do I really have to log in first?
Me: You shouldn’t have to, but maybe, it depends how it’s configured.
Dad: My login number is fourteen digits long! Why is that?
Me: Good question. You can probably set the browser to remember it. Your PIN is probably the last four digits of your phone number
Dad: It is. Why do I have to log in here?
Me: Well you can reserve books and check your account and there are privacy laws about that information.
Dad: Where does this catalog live?
Me: Depends on the library, many libraries run it off of servers in their basement. Some use hosted versions of the catalog. The consortium probably hosts this one.
Dad: And this iBistro thing is something they buy?
Me: Yeah and they pay a lot of money for it.
Dad: It sucks.
Me: Yeah. It’s sort of useful for consortiums [explains consortiums] so libraries can do interlibrary loan and stuff.
Dad: Okay I searched for sailing and I get 1500 hits. How do I search for the most popular books?
Me: I don’t know if you can, you can redo your search and sort by relevance.
Dad: Amazon lets me search by popularity. I like that.
Me: Yeah I do too. Can you sort the search you have?
Dad: No, it says there’s more than 500 records so I can’t search.
Me: You may be able to search by subject heading and get a shorter list.
Dad: Didn’t I do that?
Me: No, you searched by keyword [explains difference] or you can search just the books in your library.
Dad: I’m not already doing that?
Me: No, you’re searching the whole SAILS network.
Dad: How can you tell?
Me: Because on the search page next to where it says library, is says ALL.
Dad: Okay I’ll find my library. There are like 100 libraries on this list!
Me: I know, you can borrow books from any of those libraries.
Dad: I just want to know if there’s a book at my library.
Me: Yeah, that should be easier.
Dad: What are these libraries at the bottom of this list just called zddd and zddddd?
Me: That’s probably some kludge that the libraries are using to put books in a category or location that isn’t available in the regular catalog.
Dad: Okay thanks for the tutorial. I’ll try again tomorrow.
Me: You’re welcome. It’s not you, it’s them.

DC Public Library catalog accessible via iPhone app

Aaron posts about an alternative catalog interface that DC Public Library has created for the iPhone and iPod touch. Nice looking, and with the code “available soon” hopefully replicable by other libraries using SirsiDynix. Go download it and test it out.

Go Darien Library!

I talk a lot about things that work for small libraries with little or no tech staff and almost no budget. Sometimes it’s good to remember that larger libraries with crack staff and bigger budgets can, if they’re lucky, achieve really great things. The Darien Library website/OPAC went live this morning. Go play around with it. I daresay it’s fun. A few more comments from John Blyberg on his blog. Nice job team!

YakPac

I subscribe to the LibLime news blog which is often announcements of libraries that have decided to go with Koha. It’s an interesting blog, I’m always curious who decides to go to the Open Source route. This latest announcement about the Derby Public Library cheered me because not only are they going with Koha, they’re implementing YakPac which is a kid-specific OPAC that still has a huge degree of functionality. I show it off a lot in my 2.0 talks because it’s engaging and entertaining and represents the answer to the question “how far can you go with the OPAC?” without a lot of bells and whistles, just fun easy-to-use design.