Friday, June 29, 2007

Customized New Arrivals

We've just made the New Arrivals! area of our website even better. Now you can customize the list of new items that you see according to various criteria. You can toggle to see or hide item details. And best of all, you can subscribe to any customized search you can think of:

Want to track our new videos? No problem. Just select "Videos" from the "Material Type" and you'll see a list of our newest movie acquisitions.

Or maybe you're only interested in foreign films. In that case just specify 'foreign' in the "Call number contains" field. (It helps to know our cataloging system, so if you're trying to figure out how to run a particular search, don't hesitate to ask a librarian.)

Each search creates a distinctive URL (web address) that you can bookmark for future reference. When you return to a search later, you'll see the newest items that fit the criteria. Just for instance, you can see our latest dramatic films by going to:

If you use RSS, you can click on the RSS link to subscribe to any search you wish. You'll be alerted whenever we have new items that meet your search criteria.

Gotta love it!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

New Movies!

Patrons often ask if we have a list of our recent movie acquisitions. Until now, some of our staff have been creating this kind of thing more or less by hand. As of today, however, you can see a listing of new movies on our website.

What's more, you can subscribe to updates through RSS, so that you won't have to remember to keep checking back.

There will be a short lag—no more than a week—between the time items are processed and their appearance on the website or in the RSS feed.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

New Arrivals

We've just added a list of new arrivals to our website. You can view it by going to:
We'll be updating it every week or so. At present the list is not sortable; it's just everything that was added to our catalog over the past month. We hope in the near future to offer specialized lists for movies, mysteries, kids' books, etc.

You may also notice that we've added an RSS feed for the list. With RSS, "the information comes to you rather than the other way round." The quote is from the Classroom 2.0 blog where you will find a quick introduction to what RSS is and how you can use it.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

What are Your Favorites?

Our catalog just got a whole lot better, and now you can get in on the action by sharing a list of your favorites with other patrons. Here's how it works:

When you're logged into the catalog, go to the "Resource Lists" area by clicking the link in the left-hand navigation. (Click here to see other posts in the blog about resource lists.) There you will see a summary of your lists. By default you should already have a list called "My Personal List."

Notice that there are two tabs on the right at the top of the summary—one for "My Lists" and one for "Public Lists." Clicking on the "Public Lists" tab will take you to a summary of lists that users of our catalog have decided to share with everyone. There are a couple of lists already there that staffers have built, but now we've opened it up so that all registered patrons can publicize lists.

Here's how to create a public list.
  1. Click on the "Add List" button in the upper right-hand corner of the "My Lists" summary box.

  2. Create a name for the list. "Favorites" for example.
  3. Check the box to make the list public.
  4. Optionally, you can provide a description of the list, like: "Great movies for kids" or "Mysteries I loved."
  5. Click save.

Your list will now show up in the summary of "My Lists." The green check-mark will indicate to you that the list is public. For other users of the catalog, but not for you, your list will show up under "Public Lists." Please note that you will be identified by your full name as the owner of the list. You can delete a list at any time by clicking on the trash can.

You can now browse the catalog to add books to your list. Here's how:
  1. On any page that lists items from our catalog you will find a drop-down box labeled "Selected List."
  2. Choose the list you want to add to from the drop-down list.
  3. Then click on the "Add to this List" button for the appropriate item. (If the item is already in the list, the button will read: "In This List.")

We're looking forward to seeing what people like!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

New This Week

Hot on the heels of the new movies list, we have decided to add another public list that will show all new titles added over the past week. See the previous post for instructions about how to find all the public lists in our catalog, or just click here to go straight to "New This Week".

New Acquisitions

Many of you have expressed interest in lists of our new movies, our new mystery books, etc. We have some printed lists in the respective areas on the first floor, but it would be desirable to automate the process as much as possible and to make the lists available via the web as well as in print.

It turns out that our catalog's "resource lists" (described in a previous post) give us some of that functionality.

You can see a list of new movies I put together by clicking here. Or you can always navigate to our public lists from our catalog by clicking "Resource Lists" on the left and then, on the far right, clicking the "Public Lists" tab. You should see a couple options including one for new movies. Click "View" to see the items. You can then click "Details" for more information, including availability.

Right now the process is rather clumsy and laborious, but we'll keep working on improving it, automating it, making it more flexible.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

More fun with LibraryThing

I can't resist showing off just one of the 'fun things' you can do with LibraryThing that I was alluding to yesterday.

If you're cataloging books on LibraryThing, you can get the service to generate a snippet of code for you that you can drop into a blog or most any other web page that you have authorship rights on. The bit of code will pull information out of your account and display it on the target page, as in the case above, where I have instructed LibraryThing to display twenty random book covers from a collection I put together for a 2007 "Youth in Literature" assignment at the morgan school.

Clicking on a book cover will take you to Amazon. It's a great tool for personal book sharing, but it's less useful to the library because there's no legitimate way to redirect the links to our own catalog.

If you care to see the whole collection on LibraryThing, just click here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

From LibraryThing to our Catalog

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I really like the personal-list feature of our new catalog. It's particularly convenient to have a list that links right into our catalog so you can check call numbers and availability. On the other hand, our lists are also limited in an important way: There's no way to add items that we don't own. Depending on how you want to use your list, this might be a serious drawback. In addition, there's no way for you currently to share or publish your list, or to browse other patrons' lists.

Enter LibraryThing.

LibraryThing is a fantastic online service that allows you to catalog your entire library on the web. As with our catalog's personal lists, you will be able to access your LibraryThing collection from any computer connected to the internet. You can organize your collection, let friends and/or strangers browse it, see what other people are reading, read and publish reviews, get recommendations for similar items, participate in book discussions (sometimes even with the author!), and more. Adding books to your collection is as easy as typing in a title or an ISBN number.

What's more, LibraryThing just got better for patrons of Henry Carter Hull. Here's how: I've added the formula for finding a book in our catalog to LibraryThing's database. Once you have a LibraryThing account, you will be able to arrange to have a link to our catalog show up on your book pages. If you find a book you're interested in, you can search for it on our catalog with the click of a mouse.

  • Unlike our catalog's lists which are equally good for all kinds of materials, LibraryThing is primarily about books.
  • Your first 200 books on LibraryThing are free, but after that there is a small fee.
  • If your primary interest is in reading other people's reviews, you might prefer GoodReads, a service I hope to discuss in the near future.

For now, though, I'll just show you how to sign up for LibraryThing and set up the link to our catalog.

  • Point your browser to:

  • Choose a username and password. (That's really all there is to signing up. You don't even need to answer a confirmatory email.)

  • Next you'll need to find a book. You can find books in a variety of ways. Let's say you were looking at my collection—my username is 'kwilibrary'—and you found something you liked. You simply click on the book cover and then choose "View" to go to the main page for that work:

  • In a box on the left you'll now see "FIND AT..." followed by a series of links. At this point, our link will not yet show up in your list.

  • On the next, very large page, scroll down on the right to "United States : Public Libraries" and click the word "Add" to the right of our name.

  • Our name should now appear in the "your links" box in the upper right hand corner of that very page. You can move our name up in your list by clicking the green arrows. May as well put us at the top, no?

  • When you go back to the main page for the book, the box on the left should now look like this:

  • Click that link and "pop," you'll see the results from our catalog. From now on, whenever you're looking at the page for a book, our link will be there on the left. You won't ever have to go through adding it again. Just click on our name to see if we have the book and whether it's available.
That's some serious web magic. There's lots of other stuff you can do with LibraryThing, but I'll leave some of the fun of exploring to you.