The Library 2.0 Idea Generator

There’s an ancient Japanese proverb which translates roughly as:

“If you put an infinite number of programming monkeys into a room, one of them will write a Library 2.0 Idea Generator”

So… tonight, Matthew, I am going to be that programming monkey and I proudly unveil the…

If you get any particularly juicy ideas, please post them as comments — here’s a “starter for 10“:

hack OCLC using LibraryThing

[update] I’ve added the ability to save your favourite ideas to the Library 2.0 Whiteboard
[update] To complement the Idea Generator, I’ve hacked together…

DUG/HUG 2006 – Day Three

A little later than planned (due to a mislaid memory stick containing the final Powerpoint!), here’s a link to the “Free Software” presentation:
…and here are the photos from the end of day two and from the award ceremony on day three:
Grace Bays also emailed her photos through to me, so I’ve added them to the conference wiki:
…if you have any photos you’d like adding to the wiki, please feel free to email them to me: d.c.pattern[at]
A big thank you to everyone who came along to the sessions I presented in — I’m sure you were all sick to death of the sight of me by Friday, but I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to share some of the things we’ve been doing at Huddersfield!
Also, many thanks to David Bigwood, Michael J Giarlo, Luke the Librarian, and Susan Johns-Smith for their Library 2.0 examples.  I just managed to squeeze the Web/Library 2.0 presentation into 45 minutes but, given the chance, I could have happily gone on for another 45.  However, that would have meant missing Professor Bruce Royan’s excellent keynote speech “The Library, The Web, and the Warp Factor“.
Finally, another big thank you to everyone at Lincoln for making us feel so welcome, to the DUG/HUG team for all of the hard work they put into organising the event, and to the staff at SirsiDynix — I can’t wait for the conference next year!

white dog poo?

Sarah Houghton (aka LibrarianInBlack) has blogged that has a new natural language “Web Answers” feature which lets you pose life’s great unanswerables – e.g.:

(I should point out that Sarah didn’t pose that exact question, but it’s one that’s been niggling at the back of my mind for years!)
After reverse engineering the new feature, it looks like they’re using Ajax and XML – e.g.:

Some of you will already know that we’ve been using on our OPAC to provide serendipity keyword suggestions, so I’ll have a go incorporating the “Web Answers” output into those suggestions too.

DUG/HUG 2006 – Day Two

The only problem with offering to do presentations is that they don’t leave you any time to blog about the actual event itself!!!
For those who prefer an electronic version, here are the 3 presentations I gave today:

If you have any questions or comments, you can always use this blog or you can email me at:

  • d.c.pattern [at]

….right — got to dash off to get ready for the conference meal!!!

DUG/HUG 2006 – Day One

It’s 01:02am and I just spent the last 30 minutes writing up an in-depth blog entry for day one… by the time I submitted it, the University of Lincoln network has timed my web connection out and refused to reload the page containing the text I’d just typed.
I honestly don’t have the energy to type it all out again, so here’s the O’Reilly “DUG/HUG Day One In a Nutshell” edition:
AM: no training sessions, so went to castle.
PM: Welcome speeches, Peter Gethin’s speech, my presentation about HIP tweaks (big thank you to everyone who came along — hope you found it interesting/useful!), evening meal, and lots of good networking!
…so tired, Homer need sleep now!

DUG/HUG Day Minus One

Martin and myself travelled down to Lincoln yesterday (via Sheffield) on a train that seemed to stop at everywhere else in the UK — what is about a 1 hour drive from Huddersfield to Lincoln is a good 2Β½ to 3 hour train ride along bumpy winding country tracks.
No sooner had we checked in, we were back at “the shed” — one of two pubs within a stagger from the conference venue:

Yep, your eyes aren’t deceiving you – that’s David “Mr CODI” Schuster sampling the best that “the shed” has to offer!
After popping into another pub, we joined Jim Fraser (from Angus Council) and headed off for a curry at the Royal Tandoori (118 High Street). A fantastic curry, loads of chapatis, a cup of coffee, a complimentary glass of brandy, and all for less than a tenner each… life is good! πŸ™‚
There’s a few more pictures here, including some shots of the “Glory Hole”.

looking for Library 2.0!

I’m giving a presentation about Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 later on this week at the DUG/HUG (UK) Conference 2006 and I’m wanting to demo some of the great things libraries have done with Library 2.0 and Web 2.0.  In particular, I’ve got one slide that has two spare bullet points of space left and I can’t decide what to put there…
Here’s what I’ve got already:

  • Westmont Public Library – publicises new books using Flickr
  • University of Connecticut – staff documentation & info stored in a wiki
  • Ball State University – recruiting students via weblogs
  • Dowling College Library – podcasts of library and local information
  • Birkbeck College Library – RSS feed of library news
  • Plymouth State University – Casey Bisson’s Weblog OPAC
  • ?
  • ?

I’ve no idea if anyone will read this blog post in time, but if you can come up with one or two more great examples of libraries doin’ it for themselves, please post a reply! You’ve got exactly 12 hours before I need to finalise the presentation and get the handouts printed — the clock is ticking!
I reserve the right to cherry pick two of the best responses (that’s assuming I get any!) and in return you’ll get to have your name in lights …well, projected on a screen during the presentation πŸ˜€
Cheers in advance πŸ™‚

OPAC keyword email alerts

One of the medical conditions I suffer from is the common “not-enough-hours-in-the-day-itus” — bits of software and new stuff gets prototyped or developed to the proof-of-concept stage, and then put to one side when something more important comes up.
This is something I originally coded in January 2006, briefly blogged about in mid February, then got slightly miffed when Hennepin County Library went live with something similar, and finally almost managed to forget all about it!
Anyway, I’ve dusted off the code and plugged it into ye olde OPACeth.  All I can do now is sit back and see if anyone will actually use it!
Continue reading “OPAC keyword email alerts”

The Two Towers and Faceted Browsing in the OPAC

…well, the first is definitely a tower but I’m not so sure about the other one. Not only that, but I should really have posted this entry over a month ago.
Anyway, to get to the point — on my birthday (at the start of June), Bryony and I went for a walk over to Hinchcliffe’s Farm Shop. En route, we got some great views of Victoria Tower, atop Castle Hill:

Here you can see the shadow cast by the tower on Google Maps:

The second tower we found (if that’s what it is) sticks out like a sore thumb — it’s in the middle of some nearby woods and we have no idea what it is or what it was used for. Here’s how it appears on Google Maps:

You can see from the shadow that it rises high above the tree tops. Here’s what it looks like from the base, looking up:

I suppose it could be a chimney, but there were no signs of holes or doors in the base of the structure — it just rises straight up from the ground. Maybe it’s a secret missile silo?
If you look at the Google Map, you’ll find there’s a former wool mill complex to the north. This is now home to the Yorkshire Technology & Office Park, which happens to be where View-Based Systems Ltd (VBS) is located.
VBS was set up by the late Dr Steven Pollitt — if you’ve never heard of Stephen, then you might want to track down the two Endeca patents on the USPTO site, as they both cite his pioneering research into faceted browsing which was carried out at the University of Huddersfield. You can see some of the history on the VBS web site.
One of my colleagues, Dr Amanda Tinker, worked closely with Steven and they both gave a presentation at the CILIP Umbrella 2003 event on this very day 3 years ago. In fact, had things gone to plan, then Huddersfield could have launched an OPAC with facetted browsing (based on Dewey) 3 or 4 years ago.
Sadly things didn’t go to plan, and facetted browsing wasn’t quite as cool back then as it is now. Whenever I look at North Carolina’s OPAC, I feel a mixture of envy tinged with dischuffedness† that Huddersfield didn’t get to launch a faceted OPAC several years ago and snatch all the fame, kudos, brownie points, and glory πŸ˜‰
Anyway, facetted searching is a hot topic again in 2006 and I’m looking forward to a meeting on the 17th with Howard Lockwood of VBS to discuss a possible collaboration project. All I can say at the moment is “watch this space” πŸ™‚
Still, none of this explains what the second tower is for. If you have any ideas, please feel free to post a comment!

dischuffedness: noun

the state of not being chuffed about something