Snappy new term for RSS aggregators.

Karen asks, “How long before major browsers integrate aggregators? (And when are we going to find better names for these tools?)”

1. I wondered if Mozilla might be developing something like this, so I took a look at their website. Turns out that someone has created an RSS reader plugin for Firebird. There are also Aggreg8 and NewsMonster for both Firebird and Mozilla. It looks like there are several other plugins being developed, as well.

2. I offer the term feeders. It’s short, snappy, and to the point. Of course, it will only work if other people use it. If you like the term, I suggest you start referring to your RSS aggregator as a feeder.

never underestimate the librarian

Librarians are more than what they appear to be.

The title for this entry came from a blog entry that was posted yesterday by a user on xanga. My friend Bonster sent the link to me today. The rest of the entry is a rather amusing interaction between a patron and the librarian at the circulation desk.

West v. Ranganathan

Jessamyn West has more links in her Google/dmoz directory than Ranganathan himself. Is this sick and wrong?

Jessamyn West pointed out today that she has her own Google/dmoz category. Not only that, but she has more links in her category than Ranganathan. There’s something seriously wrong with the world when one innovative, blogging, rarin’ librarian can have more links in a web directory than one of the most important theorists on classification and indexing.

Incidentally, two of the Ranganathan links are duplicates and at least one is a 404. I think I might volunteer to edit that category just to clean up the mess that is in there at the moment.

Kentucky Libraries article

I submitted my first article to Kentucky Libraries yesterday. Normally, it would be a given that all submissions are printed, but for the past few issues, they’ve had more submissions than they’ve had room for them. I had a collegue look it over and made suggestions before I submitted the article, and they thought it was well-written. I suppose I’ll find out in the next few weeks.

Lexington area BookCrosser recomended reading

At last week’s Meetup of the Lexington area BookCrossers, one of our agenda items was to share five of our favorite books as recommended reading. I took notes, and the following is the collective list we created:

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
Citizenship Papers by Wendell Berry
Clay’s Quilt by Silas House
Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table by Ruth Reichl
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond
He, She and It by Marge Piercy
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
The Human Stain by Philip Roth
I’d Rather Laugh : How to Be Happy Even When Life Has Other Plans for You by Linda Richman
Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
A Thread That Runs So True: A Mountain School Teacher Tells His Story by Jesse Stuart
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Truman by David McCullough
Walking Home: A Woman’s Pilgrimage on the Appalachian Trail by Kelly Winters

rss for opacs

Anna gets semi-techie about RSS and OPACs.

Yesterday, I was thinking some more about uses for RSS with library OPACs. The idea of having an RSS feed for new books continues to nag me, but without more technical knowledge, I know this is something that I couldn’t make work. Then something clicked, and I called up our library systems administrator to ask him a few questions. As I suspected, our new books list in the OPAC is a text file that is generated by a script that searches the catalog database once a week. I began to ponder what it would take to convert that flat file into XML, and if would it be possible to automate that process.

I grabbed a copy of the flat file from the server and took a look at it, just to see what was there. First off, I realized that there was quite a bit of extraneous information that will need to be stripped out. That could be done easily by hand with a few search & replace commands and some spreadsheet manipulation. So, the easy way out would be to do it all by hand every week. Here* is what I was able to do after some trial and error, working with books added in the previous week.

A harder route would be to put together a program that would take the cleaned up but still raw text file and convert each line into <item> entries, with appropriate fields for <title> (book title), <description> (publication information & location), <category> (collection), etc. This new XML file would replace the old one every week. If I knew any Perl or ColdFusion, I’m certain that I could whip something up fairly quickly.

The ideal option would be to write a program that goes into the catalog daily and pulls out information about new books added and generates the XML file from that. I suspect that it would work similarly to Michael Doran‘s New Books List program, but would go that extra step of converting the information in to RSS-friendly XML.

If anyone knows of some helper programs or if someone out there in library land is developing a program like this, please let me know.

* File is now missing. I think I may have delete it by accident. 1/13/05

bloodsuckers respond

Response to Elsevier’s spin doctor.

“It’s also unfortunate that they’re coming up now, when budgets are under pressure,” he said. “But not all universities are poor, and these certainly aren’t.”
–Eric Merkel-Sobotta, global director for corporate communications at Elsevier

Open Access News pointed to this article in Monday’s issue of Information World Review where the above quote came from. Merkel-Sobotta is referring to the decisions made by some major US higher education institutions to cancel Elsevier journal titles for 2004. He also downplayed what he called hype over these cancellations, saying that “The vast majority of this is about getting rid of duplicates, moving from paper to electronic editions only.” Mmm-hmm. Right. If you tell yourself that often enough, Eric, you might actually come to believe it.

My institution has had serious budget cuts for the past two years, and we’ve slashed our print subscriptions down to under 2,000 titles and reduced our book budget as far as it can go. When I looked into the pricing of online v. print subscriptions from Elsevier, there was no savings to go online only. They tout that on their website, but when we got into negotiations with them, we discovered that the online discount is almost exactly the amount they tack on for an electronic access fee. With our budget in shreds, we had no choice but to cancel some of our most expensive and under-used journal titles. Coincidentally, many of those happen to be Elsevier titles.

I think what ticks me off most about the above quote is the assumption that if a university has money, it would want to throw a disproportionate amount of it at one publisher. Any serious look at library literature on the topic of Elsevier and subscription pricing would reveal that more money goes to that publisher than any of its competitors. I applaud institutions like Cornell University and the University of California for standing up and saying to the Dutch Pirates, “No more!”

the giver

I read The Giver last night.

Things have gotten a bit busy around here, obviously. I promise to start posting more regularly once I get caught up.

I read The Giver last night. Several friends have recommended it to me in the past, and so I finally got around to reading it. There are elements of a typical teen novel in this book, but there are enough adult concepts to make it interesting. Is utopia worth the price of love and choice?