public service announcement: update your plugins and your About/FAQ pages

Charles Ainsworth playing cards inside cabin at 60 Above on Sulphur Creek, Yukon Territory

I am tidying up here because it is just starting to feel like Autumn and I was looking at a friend’s website and realizing that not only was their About page out of date, it had them living in the wrong country. Now, for a lot of people a personal website is basically just that, personal. For me since I sometimes solicit or receive work through librarian.net I figured I’d maybe do a little tidying, look professional, that sort of thing. So I updated my about page, am reading through the FAQ, made sure WordPress was up to date and updated my plugins. I also disabled the theme switcher which was a fun thing when I wanted to have four different looking versions of this site, but I’m not feeling that way any more. Apologies to people who enjoyed the other themes. Next on the to do list is getting my Talks page a little more streamlined. I don’t think it has to be an eight year list of talks I’ve given and it’s not really sending the message I want.

So, just a little inward-facing user experience stuff and a reminder that to many people our web presence is an awful lot of what they know about us. May want to make sure it’s looking okay. Otherwise I’m trying to relax in the spirit of the Virgo Month of Leisure and get ready for my teaching and drop-in time to start which is happening next week. The cooler winds are starting to blow in and I am ready to start hunkering down.

a few late summer links

I’ve been scooting around a little bit lately and here are some things that have been crossing my virtual desk. I’ve also dealt with two wordpress issues [a hack! and an outdated sidebar navigation element] and I’ve upgraded to the latest version of WordPress. If you’re on a Summer schedule, I’d suggest upgrading before things get hectic.

Website 2.0 – why a cms is in your future

I spent Friday at the NELA-ITS CMS Day. I gave the keynote in the morning, just talking about what CMSes are and why they’re useful with a little overview of a few, and then hung out to see other librarians talk about how they’re using their CMSes. It was a great day. We had a wonderful, if chilly, room at the lovely Portsmouth Public Library and I learned a lot about how some New England area libraries are running their library websites with Drupal, Joomla, Plone and WordPress.

Having the actual people behind these websites talking about what worked and what didn’t work — and people were very candid about what was good and bad about these CMSes — made for a fascinating day of show and tell. Add to this the fact that all the software demonstrated was free and open source and I really think we sent people away with some great ideas on how to save money and still deliver good web content. Not having the chilling effect of a vendor’s stink-eye [or lawsuit threat] was also delightful. I’m now done with public speaking stuff until October I believe. Glad to end this season on such an up note. Thanks to NELA-ITS and Brian Herzog for coming up with the idea in the first place. Notes for my talks — links to slides and a page of links to what i was talking about, are here: Website 2.0! why there is a CMS in your future. Thanks to everyone for showing up. Here are the links to other people’s presentations and websites.

MyKLOW gets websites to libraries that need them

“The My Kansas Library on the Web project is an attempt to allow small public libraries across the state have access to high end web-based tools to facilitate easy web development.

Translation: It’s a way to make your library’s website all that it can be and more by giving you easy to use tools that are accessible from ANYWHERE there is an Internet connection.” Smart project and attractive and easy-to-use site from the Kansas Regional Library Systems and the State Library of Kansas.

WordPress 2.6 open for business

Hi — I just upgraded my WordPress install and along with it, removed some old crusty plugins that I don’t think I was using anymore. If you come across something that is broken or working worse than it was this morning, please drop me a line or a comment and let me know. Thank you.

woodshedding in libraryland

Summertime is the time I usually have off from travel and even from a lot of local library work. While I’m waiting for one of the teeny libraries I work with to give me a contract — helping with automation and ILL, check me out a real librarian — I’ve been doing a lot of reading and that thing we call “keeping current.” I will spare you the sad story of my recent hard drive crash, but suffice to say that recreating my digital life from scratch is TONS easier than it would have been a few years ago. That said, it’s not easy. I realized at some point that when I talk about woodshedding, people don’t always know what I mean so I will point you to the Urban Dictionary definition. That’s me, minus the weed and the banjo.

I think it’s hard, in our profession to both do our jobs and learn about doing our jobs. Unlike many jobs I’ve had — tech support being a notable one — working at a library is not always a great way to learn about working at a library. It’s a great way to learn to do your job, engage with your community and your content, and deliver the best services you can, but it’s not easy to meet other librarians, learn about the way they do their librarianing other places and share ideas. The web helps us with that. I think people like me who travel and tell stories about libraries in other places also help.

This is all just a long winded way of talking about WordPress, actually. Laura Crossett has put together a few little communities for librarians interested in learning about WordPress for libraries. While WP is blogging software, you can actually use it to simply run a small website. We use it for the Vermont Library Association and it’s allowed more members more access to content creation which I think has been very helpful. Here are the places she has created, if you’re WordPress curious, check them out.

Please consider checking them out and adding your knowledge, or experimenting with WordPress if you’re looking for a basic content management system or blogging tool for your library.

wordpress 2.5 upgrade complete

Hi. I’ve just updated to WordPress 2.5 and while I find the admin interface horrible, the web site seems to look okay. This upgrade fixes some pretty nasty vulnerabilities that the 2.3-ish version of WordPress had. Do yourself a favor and take the time to update. If you notice anything gone kablooey about the blog post-update, please leave a comment here or drop me an email. Thanks!

librarian.net is rocking wordpress 2.3

Hi. I upgraded to WordPress 2.3 today because I just noticed a bug in the tagging plug-in I was using which means that any time I approved a comment for a particular post, the tags associated with that post vanished. Pretty weird huh? WordPress 2.3 has native tag support which means no more wonky plugin/WP interactions. It also has — hidden in the manage > import > section — a tag importer that will either import your tags from popular tag plugins or import your categories as tags. This is all good news. I managed to do the entire thing in about 20 minutes including adding tags to my current template, adding the tag cloud, downloading new versions of a few other plug-ins, and re-doing the little hacks I always make to my WordPress install including a custom stylesheet, removal of all the extra cruft from the dashboard, and pulling in a del.icio.us feed of the “addme” tag into my now blank dashboard area. Here are a few links that were helpful to me in doing this upgrade

see it’s in the URL

I changed my permalink structure a bit here. URLs to individual posts now contain the post number and the post title. They will also work with just the post number, so old URLs will work fine. I’m expecting it to function with no problems at all, but I’ve been wrong before. If you notice anything squirrely, put a note in the comments or email me. Thanks.

a few from the mailbag

There has been a definite drop-of fin email since I decided to get rid of the mailform and just post my email address which is a definite shame. However, I don’t get a lot of mail, so having to wade through hundreds of spam emails per day just to read a note or two was not worth my while. In any case, people still send me inteersting stuff, here is a sampling of what I’ve liked recently.