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

national library week revisited

I meant to write more than I did last week, since there are so many things going on with libraries right now. However, I had a full week at work which included a day-long symposium and a several day-long conference. Oh, and I was quoted in a recent article in the Lexington Herald-Leader. ACRL has … Continue reading “national library week revisited”

I meant to write more than I did last week, since there are so many things going on with libraries right now. However, I had a full week at work which included a day-long symposium and a several day-long conference. Oh, and I was quoted in a recent article in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

ACRL has some information and links about scholarly communication.

My favorite panel at ACRL was on developing home-grown systems to keep track of the library’s electronic resources. One of the presenters, Adam Chandler, has co-created a web hub for “developing administrative metadata for electronic resource management”. In other words, it’s a collaboration of library techies from all over trying to create a standard for electronic resource management. What’s even more cool is that Norm Medeiros of Haverford College has offered to make their Electronic Resources Tracking System (ERTS) database structure available for free to anyone who wants it. The catch is that there is absolutely no tech support.

It is disheartening to have been in the midst of all this fabulous library technology while at the same time Iraq’s National Library and National Museum were looted and burned.

ALA changed the design of their website last week and has really ticked off quite a number of folks. Jessamyn West has commented on it frequently over the past week, and Karen G. Schneider sent a well-articulated complaint to the ALA Council. No word on whether ALA will modify the site. It looks to me like they are leaning heavily on FrontPage and ColdFusion.