2008 National Forum: A Homegrown CMS

With all the commerical and open source content management systems on the market, why would a library still choose to build their own? In 2006, the University of Houston Libraries did just that. Rachel Vacek discussed their rationale and effort in Putting the Library Website in Their Hands: The Advantages and Challenges of a Homegrown Content Management System. (Note: Rachel indicated her slides will be available on rachelvacek.com, but were not there as of this writing, or I didn’t go deep enough into her site.) UHL chose to develop their own CMS primarily because they wanted a system based on their vision of what a CMS is and should do, rather than modifying someone else’s. UHL feels that the CMS should be a growing and changing system. They felt that by building their own system their staff would be able to fix problems and incorporate customer feedback more quickly. They felt that by building their…


Weiling Liu, Building Collaborative Web Applications with Drupal

Weiling Liu, University of Louisville (Kentucky) Session summary: An excellent demonstration of the modular and flexible nature of Drupal, an open-source web content management system. Drupal has featured prominently in library conferences recently; however, one of the strengths of Liu’s presentation was in the two project examples she used: managing news and events web content that comes from a variety of library staff; and creating a library conference application that collected conference proposals, turned the accepted proposals into a conference schedule, and provided a place to link to conference presentations after the conference. Also useful are her “Lessons Learned the Hard Way” (near the end of this post). Liu began by describing Drupal and showing examples of Kentucky-area library sites that use Drupal. She then described two projects that used Drupal to solve what were complicated projects with poor workflows: enabling library staff to post content about library news and…


Next Generation Catalog Interest Group Meeting

Monday, June 30th, 2008 Anaheim Convention Center Sharon M. Shafer, Vice Chair, welcomed everyone to the 3rd meeting of the Next Generation Catalog Interest Group. The program panelists included Karen G. Schneider, Equinox Software, Sara Davidson, University of California, Merced, and Amy Kautzman, University of California, Davis, “Running a Free and Open Source Software ILS does Not Equate to a Tightrope Act with No Net” Karen G. Schneider began her talk with a definition of open source software from Wikipedia. Karen explained that open source software is free to use, free to download, and free to modify. Support is also available from the open source community or from a vendor. Karen further stated that “development” happens out in the “wild,” occurring on IRC, listservs, etc. It is important that development no longer take place in silos. With open source software problems can be quickly resolved. There is no need to…


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….

General information

LITA Top Technology Trends

This is going to have to be more of an experiential post than a factual one, I’m afraid… I attended the Top Tech Trends session and it held my attention throughout the whole thing – everything did. From the larger than life images of Karen Coombs and Sarah Houghton-Jan on one screen that flanked the live panel to the scrolling meebo chat room on the other screen, there was a lot to pay attention to! Karen and Sarah have already written up their trends on this very blog, so I see no point in duplicating their efforts – they can say it much better than I can anyway!


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. Cost 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…


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…