Monday, February 25, 2008
I am often asked how and why my library is using web 2.0. My reasons are a little different than some. My main reason for using web 2.0 technologies is that they enable me to do cool things for free or almost free! This series will explain how I am doing that step by step.

Today I want to talk about how we are using and FeedDigest and Delicious JSON Feeds as a "content management system" for our webpage.

Background: Our website consists of 136 static webpages. We have a "eJournals" page with an alphabetical list of our subscribed journals and 12 additional pages for "eJournals by subject." This same model is used for Databases, and individual subject guides. Imagine if you will a time when we cancel a subscription. I have to manually (I use Dreamweaver) remove that link on
several different pages. It is easy to make a mistake and degrade the integrity of the whole website. This is un-searchable. All these pages are static lists.

The situation would be wonderfully solved through the purchase of a nice database-driven content management system right? Ok, now picture a situation where (a) there is very, very little money and (b) staff is at a minimum - one person per "department". Costly or time consuming solutions (like a sys admin for a content management system) are not possible.

Enter web 2.0. We decided to use, everyone's favorite social bookmarking site, to manage our electronic resources. Sounds too simple right? Delicious is for personal "favs," right? Well what is an electronic resource really?

An Electronic Resource consists of:
  • A name
  • A URL
  • A description
  • Dates of coverage
  • Publisher
  • Access type (subscription or open access?)
  • Subject coverage

There are other ways to describe an electronic resource covered in much detail in the MARC record, of course. However, no one uses the catalog. No one. Seriously. People don't want to search a catalog - and if they for some reason is to look for a book. I know there are differing opinions on making the catalog
The Resource Location, and some of them very good. I welcome comments below. I am personally of the opinion that if a catalog doesn't function exactly like Google - no better yet in Google - then we are wasting our breath. That argument aside, I believe that the breakdown above captures the essential description of an electronic resource from a patron perspective (of course I'm still looking for a staff-side ERMS solution that is free :) ).

So we bookmarked our electronic resources in Delicious and added tags corresponding to 4 pre-determined bundles. "Bundles" in Delicious are ways of grouping tags...for us MLISers that means they are facets that our subject terms are arranged in to increase browsability. Our bundles:
  • Browse_*Subject* - your average subject categorization - we loosely use the NASA Thesaurus although we aren't slaves to it since tagging allows an unlimited amount of subjects per item unlike MARC. Delicious uses a space to seperate terms, hence the '_' and we wanted Subject to be the first facet or bundle in alphabetical order so we added the '**' to force that.
  • Browse_Access - This is where we say if it is subscription (and thus only NASA can view it) or OpenAccess and Full-text. We originally had full-text, bibliographic, bib+abstract, etc. We decided to drop this since from a patron perspective it is either full-text or not. We can use the description (below) for more detail if necessary.
  • Browse_Type - This is the format of the resource: Journal, Database, ProfOrg, etc. as well as content types: Image, Map, PDF, etc.
  • Browse_Affiliation - This allows us to include "publisher" if important as well as other relevant affiliation information. What I mean by this is we continued to see this from a user perspective. Patrons don't get "Elsevier" this means nothing to them. At the same time, due to where we are, an affiliation like "ConstellationProj" has much relevance. It was continually difficult not to slip into using this for OUR benefit. We had to be vigilant to make this a patron-focused tagging.
Besides the facets (bundles) and tags we also had the Title and Description in Delicious to utilize. We used the Title for both the name of the resource and the coverage, if applicable, and the description for a simple "what is it" and/or access guidelines if needed. So, for example one of our Journal entries looks like this:
  1. Science Online (1997, v.275-)
    Science is a leading journal of original scientific research, global news, and commentary.
    to Journal Subscription Science MultiSubject NEW ... saved by 130 other people
    ... 34 mins ago

We also used the dummy tag "NEW" so that each bookmark would be reviewed at a higher level before the NEW tag was removed. We haven't went live with this yet so this method worked. In the future we can use NEW for a designated period of time to sort our resources by "What's New" which will be nice for an RSS feed.

When all is said and done we can sort our list by "Journal" and see all the eJournals we subscribe to (plus some OA) on Delicious. Here is our list (in progress).

Ok, that is the basic strategy we used to organize our resources via Delicious. Now what?

Now we wanted to integrate this information into our website. (We will use Delicious as a resource in and of itself but that will take some promotion and education to our user base so we are putting that in a phase 2.) We use two methods to do this:
  1. Delicious RSS + FeedDigest - Delicious is wonderful enough to provide an RSS feed for nearly every page of your Delicious account. So, when I visit I can get an RSS feed for this at the bottom of the page. This needs some processing:
    1. You could load this feed directly onto your page; however, it is a little limiting in layout and it will not default to alpha sort. To give us more control we use FeedDigest. FeedDigest is a great service for aggregating and publishing RSS feeds from several other fields. We have used this on our website for some time to combine feeds from several different journals in a feed and provide it as a "What's New in " feed. These customized news feeds have been hugely popular. In this case we are using FeedDigest for the control it allows. Check out FeedDigest for more information it is definitely worth its modest annual price.
    2. FeedDigest provides several types of code - we go with javascript that looks like this :

    3. Now each time someone visits our webpage the page will query FeedDigest which will in turn query Delicious for any changes made to our Journal entries. When a journal is canceled we need only remove it from Delicious and voila!
  2. Delicious JSON - To handle subject sorting we use Delicious a little more apparently (the above use is completely transparent - no one would even know you are using Delicious unless you tell them). Delicious has JSON feeds - learn more about Delicious and JSON here.
    1. Delicious gives you the code below for your tags. We tweaked the code to show only Journals by adding /Journal to the JSON string and to the output script. The final script is:

    2. Embedding this code in our webpage creates a subject browse feature that takes users right to Delicious.

Here is a screenshot of our results:

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posted by Paige Lucas-Stannard at 8:30 AM | 1 comments
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