Library Technology Guides

Documents, Databases, News, and Commentary

Library Technology Guides provides comprehensive and objective information surrounding the many different types of technology products and services used by libraries. It covers the organizations that develop and support library-oriented software and systems. The site offers extensive databases and document repositories to assist libraries as they consider new systems and is an essential resource for professionals in the field to stay current with new developments and trends. Relevent news items are posted daily on Twitter:

GuidePosts

Perspective and commentary by Marshall Breeding

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APIs Unify Library Services

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In my Systems Librarian column for the April 2014 issue of Computers in Libraries I address the topic of application programming interfaces (APIs) and how they can be used to extend an application or to assist in making connections with external systems. The availability of APIs has become increasingly important to libraries as they seek to be do more with their strategic applications than possible through the built-in user interfaces. This column is meant to be a basic introduction to the topic and to spark ideas on how libraries can improve their services by taking advantage of APIs.

Computers in Libraries April 2014

Most libraries today rely on many different software applications and content services to support their internal operations and their services to patrons. Smaller libraries may deal with a handfiil of these platforms, while larger ones tend to be involved with dozens or hundreds, often with overlapping spheres of functionality or data. Such a matrix of interrelated products and services brings considerable complexity as libraries manage each separately, while attempting to fit them into a coherent technology strategy. In dealing with these multiple and diverse services, libraries benefit from any technologies or mechanisms that can be used to make them work together effectively and to exploit their capabilities to meet local concerns. One of these mechanisms comes in the form of APIs. The increasing availability of APIs among the major applications used by libraries represents an important advancement in technology with many potential benefits. continue reading...

(The full text of my Systems Librarian columns are available on Library Technology Guides 90 days following thier original publication in Computers in Libraries magazine.)

Oct 10, 2014 03:10:02

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New Resource available in Library Technology Guides: ILS implementations by Carnegie Classification

One of the key components of Library Technology Guides is the libraries.org (formerly lib-web-cats) directory of libraries that provides details about libraries and the major technology products they use. This resource can be used to identify and assess the adoption patterns of systems used among any given group of libraries. The advanced search provides the ability to select libraries according to geographic categories, collection size, library type, and other factors. I had previously created specialized reports for groups of particular interest such as the members of the Association of Research Libraries, the Urban Libraries Council, and the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries.

An additional tool is now available that produces reports of academic libraries in the United States and their automation systems according to the Carnegie Classification Levels of their parent institutions. This capability was made possible through the extension of the data elements for of the entries for academic libraries in the United States.

By default, the initial report shown corresponds to the Doctoral/Research Universities-Extensive (classification level 15). A drop-down list allows you to select any of the other classification reports.

The reports derived from some of the classification groups will include libraries where the ILS used is missing. Most of these represent libraries that were newly added to the libraries.org database. Any help in identifying the automation systems used in this libraries will be appreciated.

The data for the academic libraries was enhanced by loading selected data elements from the 2012 data set available from the National Center for Educational Statistics. This process involved creating a delimited file with the data, matching existing records based on the NCES institutional identifier that was already present on most of the entries for academic libraries in the United States.

Record elements loaded included:

UNITIDUnique NCES identifier used as the match point
INSTNMInstitution Name
ADDRAddress, used if a new record needs to be created
CITYCity, used if a new record needs to be created
STABBRState, used if a new record needs to be created
ZIPPostal Code. used if a new record needs to be created
WEBADDRURL for institution web site
SECTORdescribes whether the institution is public or private, for-profit or non-profit.
CARNEGIE2000 Carnegie Classification
BRANCHES Number of branch and independent libraries (exclude main or central library)
EXTOTTotal expenditures
EXCOMPExpenditures for computer hardware and software
EXCUSERExpenditures for current serial subscriptions
EXELSERExpenditures for electronic serials
EXBKSExpenditures for books, serial backfiles and other materials
EXELBKSExpenditures for electronic Books, electronic serial backfiles and other electronic materials
COLBKSHBooks, serial backfiles and other paper materials
CRGENGeneral circulation transactions
ICLEVELLevel of Institution
FTEUSED Fall Collection full-time equivalent student enrollment

These additional data elements display on each entry and some have been enabled as search terms. The selection according to Carnegie Classification is the most interesting example. In the future I will enable selection by for-profit / non-profit and private vs. public institutions, once data for other records beyond the academic libraries in the United States is more fully populated.

New records were created if they didn't already exist in the libraries.org database. Data were merged if a unique match was identified.

The NCES data on expenditures reported for each library provides some insight into technology budgets for each library or across categories of libraries. The reports calculate the aggregate and average total expenditures and those directed to technology. This data enables the calculation of the average percentage allocated to technology for each classification level.

The NCES data set of 4,262 libraries included 1,622 that were not previously represented in libraries.org. A few of these were smaller academic libraries that I had not previously come across, but the majority were those associated with for-profit educational institutions that I had intentionally not included since few of these offer traditional libraries. The addition of these libraries will enable some interesting comparisons.

The match and overlay of a data set such as this naturally requires a bit of clean up. Some duplicate records were created. I have identified and merged those that I initially identified and will fix others as I make a more systematic sweep of this section of the database.

The ILS Reports by Carnegie Classifications is based on the basic classifications published in 2000 that were included in the NCES data set. Work is underway to load the basic classifications published in 2010 that the Carnegie Foundation makes available.

Aug 13, 2014 10:25:57

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Library Technology Guides redesign

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Over the last few weeks I have been working on making some long overdue updates to the Library Technology Guides site. Changes target design, organization, and technical implementation. While I have continuously added new content to the site, there has been little time for reworking the design, which had been in place for almost a decade. The new design should improve its usability, especially for new visitors.

A number of improvements were made to the technical infrastructure for the site. Library Technology Guides is based on a content management system that I developed in perl. This project has also involved programming some new capabilities into that underlying platform in addition to moving the site to a new server environment.

I hope that these improvements will not only make the site a bit more attractive, but that they will also result in better usability and faster performance. Some of the major changes include:

  • Server replacement. The site now runs on a substantially faster server which should boost overall performance.
  • The server operating system is now Microsoft Windows 2008 R2.
  • Other upgraded components include MySQL, MySQL ODBC Connector, and ImageMagick.
  • The primary url for the site is now librarytechnology.org instead of the previous www.librarytechnology.org.
  • The site now implements HTML5
  • Layout managed through CSS, with tables used only for forms.
  • A new navigational menu has been implemented to replace the list of links that were previously offered through a column on the left side of the page. The new navigation provides significant improvement in browsing to content on the site. The menus were created using the Superfish jQuery plug-in. Additional improvements using jQuery will be phased in over time.
  • The database of libraries on the site is now called "libraries.org" instead of lib-web-cats. The former name was always a bit cumbersome. I have acquired the libraires.org domain, which redirects to librarytechnology.org/libraries.
  • Directory entries in libraries.org have been enhanced with schema.org microdata. Google's rich snippet validation tool shows the structured data exposed.
  • The basic search page for libraries.org has been redesigned.
    • The initial search performs a general keyword query spanning multiple fields.
    • Checkbox selections provide a convent way to search by specific library types. By default school libraries are deselected, since the very large number of these in the database which easily overwhelm results.
    • A panel of additional search options (Type, City, County, State, Country) is hidden by default, but can be opened by clicking on the +.
    • The advanced search, which provides query options for almost all fields, such as by the technology products implemented, continues to be available to registered members.
    • The persistent link for library entries now follows the form: librarytechnology.org/libraries/library.pl?id=1.
    • The previous link format will be redirected.
  • Member login process has been improved. Passwords are now stored as a salted hash, consistent with standard practice.
  • Pages related to login and password maintenance are now secure and encrypted.
  • Session processing has been improved for better performance and lower resource use.
  • Changes in content and organization include:

Jul 26, 2014 15:10:28

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Caveat and Credit

Library Technology Guides was created and is edited by Marshall Breeding. He is solely responsible for all content on this site, and for any errors it may contain. Please notify him if you find any errors or omissions.

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