Getting Started with Drupal

Getting Started with Drupal (a.k.a. Drupal4LITA Bootcamp)
Preconference, June 27th, 2008
Anaheim Public Library

Cary Gordon of the Cherry Hill Company, a vendor specializing in support of open source software, gave an extremely detailed introduction to Drupal 6.2, the latest version of the open source content management system. The attendees came from a variety of library types, including academic, public, and special, and with a variety of experience levels with the system.

Flash drives with the XAMPP server/database combination pre-installed were distributed along with the components for a Drupal installation.

The morning focused on setting up Apache, the MySQL database, some PHP settings, and a basic install of Drupal. The afternoon covered modules (the building blocks of a Drupal site), user permissions, basic content creation, and an introduction to Drupal’s specialized vocabulary: nodes, taxonomies, menus, blocks. The program concluded with an excellent list of Drupal-related resources available on the web.

The location, the computer lab in the Children’s section of the Anaheim Public Library, added a nice light-hearted touch. Library staff, particularly Thomas Edelblute, were unfailingly cheerful and helpful. ALA’s catering arrangements, among other things handled personally by Melissa Prentice of the LITA office, were excellent and welcome.

Powerpoint slides for Gordon’s workshop, with configuration instructions and lots of screenshots. Watch that site (and this one) for updates and more information.

Building and supporting Koha

Building and Support Koha, an open-source ILS
Saturday June 28th, 2008, 10:30-12:00
Hyatt Regency Orange County

John Houser, Senior Technology Consultant for PALINET, and Johsua Ferraro, CEO of Liblime, set out to answer common questions about open-source ILS systems with a focus on Liblime’s support for Koha. The format was an interview, and the resulting questions and answers were recorded. Watch for a link to the podcast version here.

Representative questions and answers follow, but these are only samples of an extremely rich discussion of general and very specific technical details.

Don’t necessarily plan to save lots of money on an open-source ILS, as planning to contribute to development efforts has many advantages–primarily that you get to set the priorities for new features in the ILS. A representative of a Koha library in the audience pointedly disagreed, stressing that in his case there were significant cost savings.

How does Liblime makes money if the software is free?
By supplying services related to installation, migration, and ongoing support of Koha and Evergreen systems.

How hard is migration?
Migration is hard from any ILS to any other ILS, and Koha is not an exception. But it’s not necessary to have your own staff to do the hard parts.

How does support for an open-source ILS differ from commercial ILS support?

There is no vendor lock-in. Libraries could contract with any vendor to support the system, which is based on widely used web technologies like MySQL and PHP.

How supportive of new users is the Koha community?
Open-source software communities can sometimes be hard for new users to approach, but Koha’s tends to be fairly friendly and helpful, and Liblime staff contribute to it.

The session was lively, and included a lot of audience participation. There were about twenty questions and comments from the audience.

How does custom work for a particularly library get accepted into the project as a whole?
Koha is a smaller project than something like Firefox, and is fairly open to outside input. New code is reviewed and tested.

Will there be support for Vufind?
PALINET will support Vufind from version 1.0

Why should I join the WALDO consortium in migrating to Koha?
Your library peers are setting the specifications and helping to build the system you’ll be using.

What support is there for reporting and statistics?
There are built-in reporting modules, but because the software is built on MySQL almost any report-writing software will work with Koha. And direct access to library data is never a problem.

There were also questions about the cataloging and acquisitions modules, system requirements, API’s for scripting, ERM, digital library software, and many other topics.

Open Source Legal Issues

Monday, June 30th, 2008
Hyatt Regency Orange County

Walt Scacchi of UC-Irvine stepped in as a last-minute replacement speaker for Karen Sandler of the Software Freedom Law Center and gave a talk entitled “Research Results for Free/Open Source Software Development: Best Practices for Libraries? (and some legal issues too)” based on his empirical research on open-source project processes, practices, and community development
The talk was rich in details on who open-source developers are and what they do. Using the current stats at Sourceforge as a starting point, he estimated approximately 180,000 current open-source software projects, of which approximately 18,000 (10%) are currently being succesfully developed. The largest area of open-source development is in games, in large part driven by the fact that the very successful Sony game systems are built using open-source software.

Open-source developers tend to use the tools they build, which is not necessarily the case for commercial developers. About 1% of open-source software users are developers. Two-thirds of developers contribute to more than one project, 5% to more than ten.

80% of open-source developers say they contribute to projects to learn new tools, new skills, or new software. Most also build because it is fun.

Most open-source developers spend far more time reading online documentation and interacting with other developers than they do writing code. This means the community aspect of open-source software is actually more important than the code, which is contrary to the usual opinion of programmers as anti-social. The social aspect of open-source development, including developing one’s reputation and future job prospects, but also collaborating with other like-minded programmers, is critical to the success of a project.

Open-source developers tend to subsidize their own work by contributing (obviously) time, but also equipment, server space, money, and many other things to their projects. This makes commercial software company comparisons of “total cost of ownership” suspect.

Scacchi described software as literature, and referred to the many thousands of developers as readers of it. Then pointedly asked whether libraries are building collections of it. There was silence in the room, but iBiblio, hosted by the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, is actually doing this and hosts one of the largest open-source software libraries.

He also described the confusing array of open-source licensing arrangements and the problems conflicting licenses can cause. A good source of basic advice on these issues can be found in the Software Freedom Law Center’s Legal Issues Primer for Open Source and Free Software Projects.

Small projects tend to fail unless they can forge alliances with other, similar projects. A large project, or a cooperating cluster of projects, can generate the critical mass necessary for success. The question to ask about a project is whether it could or would continue if its current main developer left. He pointed to the example of the Linux kernel, the heart of the operating system, to which the original creator, Linus Torvalds, contributes less than 1% of the code. A sustainable project generates code and a community.

Powerpoint slides for Scacchi’s talk.

Open Source Systems IG Meeting

LITA Open Source Systems IG business meeting
Midwinter, 2008
January 14th
Marriott Philadelphia

Present were representatives of the National Archives of Canada, Liblime, Rowan University, Index Data, the Texas State Library, City College of San Francisco, Georgetown’s Law Library, Texas Wesleyan, the Massachussetts Trial Court Law Library, Florida State University, Wayne State University, Minnesota’s CLIC consortium, PALINET, Eastern Michigan University, and Wofford College.

Who’s Using What

Open-source content management systems were the most commonly used type of software, with Plone and Drupal coming up most frequently. About half of those present were at some level of consideration or implementation of an open-source ILS, with Evergreen and Koha being most mentioned, though there was also discussion of VuFind, Blacklight, and the eXtensible Catalog project; several had been to the Next Gen Catalog IG meeting the previous day where several of these projects were discussed. DLXS (digital library image management), WordPress (blogging), Moodle (courseware), and MediaWiki were also mentioned.

There was a lively discussion of programs planned for Annual in Anaheim.

Getting Started With Drupal (preconference). Cary Gordon, the speaker, was present by phone from the sunny West Coast.
Building and Supporting Koha, an open-source ILS. Speakers: John Houser of PALINET (present) and Joshua Ferraro of Liblime.
Legal Issues for Developing Open Source Systems for Libraries. Speaker from the Software Freedom Law Center.

The first-time chair got a lot of excellent advice on running successful programs, which he will try to honor in implementing them.

George Harmon of Florida State University volunteered to be co-chair between Annual in DC and Midwinter, and was duly elected. He will become chair at Annual in Anaheim.

A long-time member brought a couple of boxes of Linux live cd’s, the current version of Freespire. They were gobbled up enthusiastically.

The group decided to make use of ALA’s Online Communities and the LITA wiki to communicate about programs and other subjects between conferences.

The meeting flowed quite naturally into a discussion of practical issues with open-source in libraries, including the common perceptions that using open-source requires in-house expertise, and that commercial support is not available. Neither is necessarily true, as there are hosted services and a small but growing list of companies specializing in support of open-source library operations. Lots of those present were interested in the actual process of acquiring and migrating to an open-source ILS. The consensus was that open-source migrations are about the same as commercial migrations, but that there are some significant differences in the initial review and selection process. Specifically, assessing the health of a company and an open-source project are different things. Also, the usual RFP approach is to list features and see which service matches them–which doesn’t include the option to build the feature or have it built, as is possible with an open-source project. It is additionally entirely possible that the selection process will include dealing with the project, the support vendor, and possibly a developer of additional features. This creates a “gap of information” between the usual commercial process and what’s possible with open-source. Filling that gap is an additional part of the selection process, as is addressing the tendency to be skeptical of open-source and to have blind faith in products one pays for. Many of the concerns about open-source also apply to commercial vendors.

Chris Strauber

All Your LITA (supplement)

I have created a public Google Calendar of LITA events at Annual. It is based on the scheduling info Aaron posted a link to last week. This version renders a little more clearly on my phone, but you might like to import it or subscribe to it in a variety of ways.

Here is the HTML version

Here is the Ical version (this imports nicely into Outlook 2003, and should work on Outlook 2007 and most every other desktop calendar app)

Here is the (wonky but workable) XML version for your RSS reader

Open Source Systems IG meeting – ALA Midwinter

Open Source Systems Interest Group meeting
Sunday, January 21, 2007, 4-6pm

The group reviewed the list of programs planned for Annual in DC

Evergreen, the Georgia PINES consortium’s open ILS program
Automating metadata creation with open source software. Patrick Yott from Brown.
The next-generation public library website with Drupal. John Blyberg from the Ann Arbor District Library.
Sakai collaboration and learning environment. Joseph Harden from the University of Michigan.
A preconference on using Dotproject for project management, rescheduled because of Katrina.

Jennifer Bowen from the University of Rochester reported on the status of the Extensible Catalog project (XC) and the grant associated with it.

The idea is to create an open source user interface for library catalogs which would work with the library’s ILS system rather than replacing it. The Mellon Foundation grant for 2006-2007 was designed to allow the group to create a project plan, determine requirements, plan the architecture, and explore currently available technologies. The group is developing partnerships with other libraries to create a community of support, with the idea of getting early adopters using each major ILS system–and there is lots of interest in this. There should be news about the renewal of the grant for the next phase by Annual.

There is a working prototype with a faceted browsing interface built on lucene, which the developers have begged her to stop demonstrating.

There was some discussion of creating a Linux distribution with a library focus, and how that might be done. One suggestion was rPath’s rBuilder, which allows you to select packages and create a customized operating system based on Linux. Simon Spero from UNC-Chapel Hill and iBiblio said that hosting, and possibly some processing power, would be available to do that.

Spero also discussed his Fred 2.0 (PDF description) project to harvest Library of Congress authority records, a little about his methods, and a good deal about the legalities involved. There was a collective groan of recognition when he described the difficulty of getting an Innovative catalog to export records in a form he could use. The data will be used for research, but also to provide an authority file to match social networking tags against. This prompted a lively discussion about how it might be useful to others as well.

One of the traditions of the IG is a trip around the room to discuss what kinds of open source attendees are using.

Michigan State is using Drupal as an intranet, as is Washington State; UNC-Chapel Hill is a LAMP shop for web services, using Joomla and other OS stuff, as well as running iBiblio, a major repository for Linux and open data of all types; the University of Washington is exploring the idea of open source for desktop computers; American University is using Dotproject, Greenstone, and an open source tech support referral system; Eastern Illinois University is using the Prospero document delivery system; the University of Hawaii is using Plone for an intranet; the State Library of Washington is using WordPress; the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana runs its help desk on Drupal.

–Chris Strauber, co-chair

Top Tech Trends (Good Parts version)

You should really listen to the podcasts. There are things I won’t be able to do in words. Like give you the experience of Karen Schneider singing her recruiting song. Or summarize Clifford Lynch (can anyone do that?).

So, for the time-pressed, here is a summary of the Top Tech Trends discussion at ALA Midwinter, in the fabulous Spanish Ballroom of the Fairmont Olympic in Seattle.
Present were: Jennifer Ward (the committee chair), Maurice York, Clifford Lynch, Marshall Breeding, and Karen Schneider. Absent speakers were: Roy Tennant, Sarah Houghton-Jan, Eric Lease-Morgan, and Thomas Dowling.

There was much discussion of possible alternatives to the traditional OPAC.
Tennant and Houghton-Jan mentioned OCLC and some version of Worldcat as a potential OPAC for consortia. Schneider questioned the assumption that our primary finding aid should be a locally tweaked dataset, and Breeding commented that the trend is toward national or international aggregations of that data. Pace commented that OCLC’s Pica, in Europe at least, is an ILS for all intents and purposes.

Several panelists mentioned the Evergreen open source ILS project in Georgia, which has been the live ILS for a 250-library consortium since September 2006. That is, a large consortium of public libraries is using a software platform they designed themselves and intend to help other libraries install and support. Breeding commented that this changes the game: For the first time there is a viable non-commercial option if commercial ILS systems continue to stagnate. (Promotional note: come see the program on Evergreen at Annual in DC, sponsored by the Open Source Systems Interest Group–CS, co-chair)

Lynch also wondered whether we were clear enough about what we wanted from a new ILS to get a really good product from anyone; and Pace commented that some of our ILS vendors spent themselves into oblivion building the features we said we wanted. And on open source, Schneider reminded the audience that “free ILS” was like “free kittens” rather than like “free beer”, but she and Breeding agreed that part of the consideration was strategic — that is, what other kinds of things a “free” ILS would make possible.

A second trend was consolidation of ILS and publishing companies. Breeding commented that the new owners of traditional ILS vendors tend to be private equity companies, which may result in a more long-term view of things — and hopefully better products. Pace commented that the scale of media company mergers dwarfs that of ILS vendors, mentioning that Ovid had recently laid off a large number of people because of extremely expensive fluctuations in exchange rates.

What I’ll call online outreach was a third topic of discussion. Houghton-Jan mentioned social networking sites as being where our users are at the moment, and that reaching out to them there was not essentially different from the other kinds of outreach we do. Lynch was interested in the still unclear possibilities for Second Life, where there is a lot of experimentation in new media going on, as well as what may be the development of a standard platform for virtual worlds. This prompted a lively discussion about when libraries should jump on this kind of bandwagon, with references to courseware and Facebook. The consensus was that if most of our patrons are there we should probably be, too, but Lynch commented that lots of undergraduates spend lots of time in bars and there is probably no good reason to set up library kiosks there.

(Though Pace suggested moving the bar into the library….)

Several panelists mentioned portable devices for Internet access and other computing, like Apple’s newly announced iPhone. Schneider intoned that she had not “drunk the iKoolaid and was iBored,” but thought that the fanatical loyalty of users to the iPod held out some hope for getting users to love our quirky services. Lynch and Pace commented that the excitement about the iPhone partly spoke to how bad cellphone interfaces currently are. Lease-Morgan’s question about how 24/7 access to the Internet changes library services is probably the critical one here. (Sadly, it was a rhetorical question).

RDA, the move toward modernizing cataloging standards, was much discussed, and much skepticism was expressed. There were several references to Coyle and Hillman’s article in D-Lib, which suggests that the fundamental assumptions of RDA are flawed and inappropriate for the current information environment. Pace described RDA as on the rails and headed for the station, but starting from the wrong place–description rather than access.

Other random items:

Lynch saw the problem of large scale management of data, research and otherwise, to be a major looming concern and opportunity to build new relationships for libraries. He also thought that anyone who says we know what the interface for 5 million online books looks like is lying. (Pace commented that Google is pointedly not answering that question).

When asked what new technology would bring users into the library, Schneider responded “Meetware”. Meaning that personal interactions with staff, happy users, and word of mouth are the way to go. Pace said that his favorite form of marketing was “awesome services, collections, and technologies,”.

And with some reluctance I feel obligated to mention that Houghton-Jan did, in fact, get the committee chair to say “stinky-poo” twice, while reading her trends item on OPAC interfaces. And now I’ve fed it to a thousand RSS readers. Curse you, LiB!

It was a very long, detailed session and a spirited conversation. Very much worth your investment in the easily digestible series of podcasts.

Audiobook 3.0 (Was Ebook 3.0) Question & Answer (2 of 2)


Q: What kinds of libraries do audience members work at?
(About half and half public and academic libraries, with a few school and special)

Q to panel: How do you make your money? The service? The device?

Potash: We’re a solutions provider. Libraries came to us and said this is what we want–as much popular stuff as possible. We want to control presentation and use. Two revenue models: system fees for integration with ILS and Marc records; partnerships with publishers to resell material (digital costs are lower than print); can also provide a digital repository with no content. Like a digital vending machine you can set up exactly how you want. 9000 audio books from many publishers, many in foreign languages.

Celeste: We make things and sell them. Licensing content and reselling it in a new form. Or working with the publisher to distribute their content. Business model uncomplicated, too. Tech support on the product gets done by Playaway, not the library.

Harrison: OCLC is a membership, non-profit org. Subscriptions by libraries. And licensing agreements with publishers. Access is part of what is provided.

Q to Potash: Relationship with Creative (what kind of players). How are people listening to your content? A: We’ll offer the whole Creative line, including a high end video player and low-end 256 mb zen nano pluses. A: Usage. A million audiobook downloads so far, many thousands per month. Design based on libraries saying over and over that patrons want to listen in cars. Easiest solution: download and burn a standard CD (not all suppliers were willing to do this). 1/3 listen on PCs or notebooks, 1/3 on portable player, 1/3 burning to CD. Publisher sets permissions and libraries select what to buy.

Q: What would you have to do to get that on an iPod? Potash: Apple needs to license FairPlay DRM. (I am unable to represent how artfully he expressed the idea that it is technically very feasible to create iPod content employing a standard CD…without in any way endorsing it or associating his company with it).

Q: From a consumer perspective it’s Publisher Rights Management. Consumers who want to will evade the DRM. This sets up a leapfrog effect. Do you see any way around this? (Panel clears its collective throat).

Harrison: Subscription DRM model is content goes out and “comes back”, i.e., expires–which is the library model. The trick is to get users, publishers, and libraries comfortable with a solution.

Potash: There are industry standards efforts to make it possible to interoperate DRM schemes. (Mention of French DRM legislation, which would have required open DRM). There is some consumer pressure now. This is not a unique problem: see Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD formats. Any CD plays anywhere. With audiobooks you have to check and see. Industry standards may fix this. Not there yet.

Q: On devices. Where are the publishers on this? Are publishers unhappy with Playaway? Celeste: It’s similar to a book: you have bought one object which also is better branded than a digital file. On DRM: ours is plastic. Apple is the leader because the customer needed the content and a way to play it: a closed solution. Without iTunes the iPod would not be as popular. You need content and player, a simple solution. “The content is the hero.” The player is nothing without content.

Q: On Playaway. What’s it’s battery life? It runs on a AAA battery and has a headphone jack. It’s a flash-based player. Re-usable by vendor. Pretty durable.

Q: From Ipsen: On batteries. Have you had request for a rechargable battery? Celeste: It’s simpler this way. And nobody has complained that it needs a battery.

Q: For Potash, on partnership with Creative. Doesn’t that acknowledge that you need a device? No. A million downloads without a device tied to it–people have devices that can play this stuff.

Q: What about video? Are you positioning yourself to do video in the future?

Potash: The most important personal device to work with is the cell phone. Newer phones with screens will work with the download service. This is the platform for multimedia. Dial into the library and resume listening to where you were via an 800 number.

Harrison: Agrees. You have to expand the media options. OCLC wants to work on the content libraries have in their collections and bring that into netLibrary. Speech transcripts, historical photographs, anything. Bring it all into a single unified experience.

Celeste: Patents pending on audio and video. How to make it simple. Working with Texas Instruments, the producer of 60% of cellphone chips. My fifteen year old son lives in a different world than I do. But physical books are not going away. The physical experience of a book is part of the experience: and likewise with other kinds of content. Make it simple and immediately accessible.

Q: For Celeste. What kinds of partnerships and how will it affect us? Many kinds of relationships. Whatever works for you–we won’t force you to work with us in a particular way.

Q: What about netflix model for Playaway? Celeste: Sure. We’re learning about how things circulate from our library partners.

Q from Ipsen: Demographics. 44 and older. Are there urban vs. rural differences, large vs. small libraries? Potash: Very popular. The #1 county in Ohio was Holmes County, which is mostly Amish. You can’t stereotype. Adoption is broad-based rural and urban. In Hawaii ILL is by boat–immediacy is important to service. Folks in Cincinnati drove to Cleveland to get library cards so they could download this stuff–it’s 250 miles. Harrison: Agreed. Very broad-based. Not segmentable.

Q: on non-fiction, will breakdown into units continue?

Potash: possible to download only one chapter, or to flip through a table of contents. Popular for Bibles and foreign language learning materials. Working with publishers to make audio searchable. Harrison: Audio full text searching will be available in future. Average time in an ebook is 5-8 minutes; we don’t know for audio.

Q: In rural areas, lots of customers on dialup. How do you serve these folks? Harrison: Two different encoding rates for smaller file sizes. Also caching to let download managers work. Potash: 11-12 hours is 200 megabytes. This makes being able to download a 10-15 mb piece.

Q: Have you thought about Bittorrent or P2P? Potash: We’re not having speed problems.

Q: Are there any studies on audiobooks and accident rate? (laughter). Potash: You may accidentally learn something. Cellphones are probably more dangerous.

Ipsen: Devices are very personal and many people have specific devices for specific purposes. One unified device may not be a solution: some people may not want audio on their cellphones. Libraries may need to be flexible about means and methods.

Audiobook 3.0 (Was Ebook 3.0): The Converging of the Mobile Lifestyle Platform (1 of 2)

Audiobook 3.0: the converging of the mobile lifestyle media platform
Monday June 26 8-noon
Christopher Celeste, CEO PlayAway
Steve Potash, CEO Overdrive
Gillian Harrison, OCLC/NetLibrary

Intro by Eric Ipsen, ETIG (Emerging Technology Interest Group) chair

(about 50 people at start, growing to capacity as the session went on)

Background: Ebook 3.0 was the former title of this session. Sony was very interested in coming and didn’t want to upset ALA, but are very concerned to get the rollout of their new ebook reader right for an important audience. Each of the presenters here does both ebooks and audio books.

Goal: a conversation, not a vendor forum. Encouragement to ask tough questions (and for panelists not to be defensive)

Steve Potash, Overdrive CEO (Cleveland OH)

Digital book publishing for twenty years. Downloadable audio books.
Software company. Originally diskettes, then CD-ROMs. Some evolution since then.
Digital warehousing service for 500 publishers.
Ebooks in multi formats, much foreign lang, from 500 publishers. Ebook, audio, music, etc.
NY Public Library has a link to eCollection catalog. Music, audio books, ebooks (PDF

Open Source Programs for the Reference Librarian

Open Source Programs for the Reference Librarian: When Your Budget is More Limited Than Your Vision
LITA Open Source Systems Interest Group
Sunday June 25 8:30-10

Speakers (in order):
Ranti Junus, Michigan State
Teria Curry, Johns Hopkins
Kirsten Allen, American University
Mary Evangeline, Univ. of Arizona
George Harmon, Florida State

(note: editorial parentheticals are by the scribe. Otherwise this is a loose paraphrase)

(About 100 chairs. Two-thirds full at start of session).

(A festive mood on the panel; much good-natured laughter. Remarkable for 8:30am).

Intro by Gwendolyn Reece, chair of OSSIG

Definition of open source software: freely available computer programs. Usually monetarily free also, but not necessarily. The freedom is the freedom to make copies and to make changes to improve the program or make it do exactly what you want. Open source programs are collaboratively developed and tested in a process very much like peer review for academics. However, it can require an investment in staff time and learning to get it working.

Invitation to OSSIG meeting, Monday at 1:30 at the Loews in the Beauregard room.


iVia, an open source software package for building virtual libraries. Developed by the University of California’s INFOMINE project and available for download at

The result as it appears to be in use at INFOMINE and at Michigan State University, is an almost infinitely configurable database of resources of all types. It could be an e-journal portal, but it could also integrate librarian-generated electronic materials like course/subject guides with content automatically generated by a web crawler which is part of the package.
System requirements: Linux/Unix (best with Debian, but also SUSE and Redhat). Apache and MySQL.

Installation scripts make the install process relatively painless.

Records can be manually created, or automatically generated by crawler. The crawler can also add metadata as it goes. Possible to have an expert point the crawler at a web resource and crawl that specifically.

Search and browse features very customizable. Allows for a great deal of precision. Appears to allow a wide variety of content (maps, grey lit, datasets, journals, other)
Can handle OAI and MARC content.

Extensive documentation at This is required reading!

LibX Firefox extension

Created by Virginia Tech libraries. Available at
(An extension is an add-on to the Firefox web browser, which is also free and open source and available at
The hosting necessary to make the extension work can be done locally, or can be hosted on the LibX server–which has the advantage of automatically handling updates and such.
The extension itself is a program which students will have to download and install on their computers. (In response to a question it appears that many libraries offer Firefox on their public PCs already; the extension could be pre-installed there)
What it does: creates a toolbar which can include direct searching of the library catalog, and a means to connect to the library’s OpenURL resolver. With a look and feel customized for your library.

Google Scholar (and presumably Microsoft Academic Live) can be included pretty readily.
What this does is to push the library’s services out to where students are already, in their web browser. A downside is that that web browser has to be Firefox. (though it would probably also work in SeaMonkey and Camino, which are also browsers using Mozilla’s code)
It adds a right-click menu which allows a one-click catalog search for whatever is highlighted on whatever web page the student is using (the example was a book title on Amazon).
An “embedded cue” feature puts your library’s icon next to, for example, the title of a book the student is looking at which your library owns. That is, the program is constantly checking to see if it can match what students are looking at with library content.

Advantages: great for digital natives–makes library and “The Internet” the same place. The toolbar is infinitely customizable to suit your particular patrons.
Disadvantages: may be confusing for non digital natives (i.e., old people). Only usable with Firefox at this time, which limits patron choice.

Jabber IM and Gaim

Jabber (htttp:// is an actual chat protocol which uses streaming XML and other Internet communications standards. Can be run on Windows, Mac, or Linux/Unix.

Used by Google Talk, but can communicate with other commercial services like Yahoo and AIM.
You can set up your own server–talk to your IT folks first, as this is not necessarily easy and has some security ramifications! A simpler option is to sign up with a remote provider, of which there are many who provide free accounts.
There are many clients (that is, software you can install on your desktop), of which Exodus is probably the best for Windows.
Possible to have multiple chats going on multiple networks at once.

Gaim is similar to the commercial product Trillian. Both provide one client program which can communicate with all the major IM formats. You can then access all of them at once from one clean, uncluttered, non-commercial interface.
Easy to install. Available from Sourceforge. (there is also a portable version which can be installed on a USB key…or on a desktop where you don’t have permission to install software.
There are plugins which provide almost all of the features of the major IM clients.
There are some bugs, but patches for open source programs often happen almost as quickly as they are discovered.


The wiki software used by Wikipedia. Whatever one’s feelings about Wikipedia, the tools are powerful and useful.

Used at UA to provide training for the complex environment at UA’s Information Commons–24/7, 250 computers, 50+ software programs, 400 databases, 20 students, 15 staff–and constant training needs. The current solution is a static webpage which only one person can work update. This limits how interactive and current it can be.

Wiki software allows updates to be done anywhere or anywhen there’s a web browser. It can be secured to prevent loss of important data by careless editing. As social software it has the potential of allowing students to post their photos and thoughts to share with each other, and to associate the library with that. It could also be used to deliver constantly updated information on events and student life.

Cons: Requires some forethought to set up the right categories, as new pages are harder to create. There is also a real possiblity of information overload if you’re trying to do a wiki and a blog and podcasting (and the rest of your job)…so decide what this can REPLACE.


JabRef is an open source citation manager, similar in concept but not in polish to Refworks–not a replacement yet. But in a year it might be.
Requires Java, which has pros and cons. Can be slow, can be tricky to use. (but ARTstor needs it, too).

Documentation is at Sourceforge, and designed to be used on the web rather than printed.
Uses BibTeX–pronounced “Bib-tech”–a venerable format familiar to folks in the sciences, but also used as an export format by Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic.
No restrictions on how many desktops you can install it on (the beauty of open source is never having to say you’re sorry for making copies)

Recognizes several database export formats: ISI, CSA, INSPEC, JSTOR, MEDLINE, and others.
Recognizes Endnote and RIS formats, so you can move data around.
Doesn’t recognize MARC. Limited Z39.50 support. So far.

Doesn’t print references, but will export them to your clipboard so you can copy and paste into your favorite word processor as RTF or CSV. Works with, a free/open source suite designed to replicate Microsoft Office (available at htttp:// in Windows, Linux, and Mac format)–it will natively export to an OOo database.


Q: What kinds of things are you adding manually to iVia? A: Little. Primarily use crawler, with human direction. Software can be used to integrate, say, subject guides with subscription electronic content.

Q: Does iVia handle Dublin Core metadata? A: Probably.

The presentations will be posted either by LITA’s Online Software Systems Interest Group, or hosted by American University. There may be a brief delay….

Sources on the handout

General Sites (all programs mentioned here are there) (open source software specifically useful for librarians)

Programs mentioned in sessions