Palos Verdes Library District (http://www.pvld.org/) working with the development team at YourLibrarySite.com (a website development initiative offered by CraftySpace CMS) announces the launch of SOPAC (social online catalog) integrated into a new Drupal version 6 website. This launch is one of the first public library adoptions of SOPAC outside of Darien Library in CT, where John Blyberg first developed this open source technology.
Commenting on the project, David Campbell, PVLD's Manager Digital Library Services said, "It brings a uniformity between the look of our website and our catalog. We can finally sign in with usernames and passwords like the real world (instead of library card numbers). SOPAC gave us faceting and filtered search results... and even though we had ratings and reviews before, this system is a lot better... with an improved interface design too."
PVLD first began working with YourLibrarySite.com to develop a Drupal version 4.7 website, which launched in 2007. Discussions about the SOPAC integration began well over a year ago. "We knew when we started that being first was going to take longer. However, we like being an industry leader. A lot of people, a lot of libraries, are sitting on the fence with regard to technology ... I want to be an example saying yes, a library can do it, we can innovate and don't have to go with the old solutions," said Campbell. "There was no question about working with YourLibrarySite on this project since they are the industry leaders as far as SOPAC and Drupal for Libraries is concerned. Communication from YourLibrarySite was free of tech jargon and understandable. Barbara (the Project Manager) was good at getting back with quick answers. It was great."
"We were pleased to continue our relationship with PVLD, porting the original Drupal 4.7 website we developed to version 6, adding SOPAC functionality as the online presentation layer for their iii 2007 ILS, and of course customizing Drupal and SOPAC to meet PVLD's specific needs" said Joseph Muennich, CraftySpace partner and senior project director.
Custom development for the SOPAC integration included the creation of a flexible search widget that allows the developer to construct search strings used for searches across the website and PVLD's pre-existing WordPress blogs, as well as catalog searches. This search widget works for any URL-driven database searches. YourLibrarySite engineered the ability to pull in titles of recent WordPress blog posts onto the home page using RSS feeds. Drupal iframe functionality was improved to pull Google search results inside the website interface.
YourLibrarySite developed a number of SOPAC-specific upgrades for the PVLD project, including support for multi-branch holds, incorporating the ability to select a home branch for any account, which then is the default for all holds - and the ability to choose non-default branch when placing a hold. An optional display of reader's checkout history was added, allowing users to turn checkout logging on or off. When it's on, they can view their history. Search speed optimization, which includes multithreaded search requests for quicker response was developed. This optimization can be fine-tuned to accommodate varying response times from different ILS installations. Additionally, "Download" links for audio books in the catalog were added.
When asked about advice to other libraries considering major website upgrades, David Campbell offered, "You need to plan, stay disciplined and use restraint. Best not to listen to staff too much. If you want a perfect site you'll stay in beta forever. You need to have a clear project plan and a clear vision of how you want things to look in the end. You should stop looking at just library websites as examples of what to build - we were looking at sites like Amazon and eBay for our inspiration. Libraries have a tendency to copy other libraries - we should be looking at what is possible, not just what has already been done."
"We will be posting case studies of the PVLD project to our website in the near future, and we welcome interested librarians to contact us for an in-depth walk-through of SOPAC and Drupal capabilities," said Muennich. The new PVLD SOPAC can be viewed at http://www.pvld.org/ - search the catalog directly using the search widget in the global website header or perform faceted searches from http://www.pvld.org/catalog (select "Advanced Search").
CraftySpace CMS created YourLibrarySite to provide website packages and web development services to Public, Academic, and Special libraries. YourLibrarySite uses the Drupal open source CMS platform and is a well-established participant in the Drupal open source community. YourLibrarySite also actively works with John Blyberg and Thesocialopac.net (http://thesocialopac.net/), in implementing SOPAC 2 community-driven online catalog systems. Please visit www.yourlibrarysite.com.