Drupal and the Semantic Web

The latest issue of Nodalities (.pdf), a publication of the library automation vendor Talis, has an interesting article talking about the way that RDF is baked in to the standard Drupal setup, making it easy for noobs like me to create websites that are semantically rich.

Clark, Lin and Stephane Corlosquet. “Drupal: Semantic Web for the Masses.” Nodalities 10, 2010. Web.

Terms of Service in Plain English

I’ve been fooling around today with the Hunch service and am liking the way that each section of the site’s terms of service is presented in legalese and in plain English. I’m intrigued by this consumer-oriented expert system and have wondered if it could be baked into a library FAQ or knowledgebase (the inspiration for this idea comes Jay Datema’s blog post last year about Hunch).

If you’re on Hunch, feel free to follow me (and I’ll reciprocate, I promise).

Spam Comment of the Day, 11 June 2010

This one just came in for my Digital Reference blog: my sister is very good in installing VOIP equipments and i really admire her for that.:,’ This comment came in on a post about VoIP for reference services. I’m amused when folks take the time to handcraft spam that tries to match up with the content of a post. Excellent work, you surreptitious seller of goods that I won’t link to!

Gale Resource Centers and LibGuides

Watching this video from Gale about the redesign of their Resource Center products reminded me of the philosophy our library is trying to develop as we roll out LibGuides at Baruch College. The new Resource Center platform will have a much more contemporary look to it. Blocks of text are deprecated somewhat to make more room for video, photos, and other graphics. What I really like is the way a spotlight is shone on the curated aspected of the content: an “Editor’s Picks” box is one of the most prominent element on the page. In our LibGuides pages, I’m hoping that we are moving away from a kitchen sink approach to providing subject guides and more of approach that shows the expert advice of a unique individual librarian. I suspect that what can make our content connect with students is if our students sense that the resources presented are the best things to start with and represent carefully edited choices made by experts.

Microsoft Office Documents on SkyDrive

Because the college where I work uses Microsoft’s Hotmail system for student email accounts, I thought I’d take a look at the just released service that allows you to put your Microsoft Office documents in the cloud via the SkyDrive service (check out the Windows Blog for an official announcement). Logged in to live.com in Firefox, I created a Word document in my browser with the intent of sharing it with some team members. Here are some quick problems I ran into:

  • Silveright continues to be crashy. After I logged out of live.com and tried to view the document via the public URL I created for it, it crashed each browser I tried it in (Firefox, Chrome, and IE). I uninstalled and then reinstalled Silverlight, which seemed to fix the problem (I shouldn’t have to do this, right?) I’m not sure if you need to have Silverlight installed before you can view any Office Docs in this new service, but if you do, then that requirement 
  • When I tried to download and view a document in Word 2003 (I’ve got the .docx converter plug installed already), I got an unreadable mess.
  • The formatting I set up in the editing mode got screwy in the online viewing mode (lines that I had pushed to the right with a single tab stop were suddenly right justified)
  • I couldn’t figure out how to to share the document in a way that others could edit it. Maybe you can give rights to edit to people but then those people have to create Live.com accounts to edit.
I think I’ll be sticking to Google Docs for a while for collaborative editing of docs.

Modern Humanities Research Association Style Guide

Just when I think that I’m in pretty good shape for being conversant with the main citation styles (Chicago A, Chicago B, MLA, APA), I find that I’m forced to learn a new one. This time, it’s the style from the MHRA (Modern Humanities Research Association). I hope I can figure out how to use MHRA for all the complicated citations to archival materials I’m using for my article on McCarthyism and the NYPL.

My Summer Projects

Personal Projects

  1. Port over the decade old content from my Teaching Librarian website into a new Drupal version.
  2. Finish editing of an article about McCarthyism and the central library of the New York Public Library. I’m hoping the journal editors will let me post a pre-peer reviewed draft online.
  3. Rework my syllabus for the LIB 1015 class that I taught for the first time this spring. Since my fall class will be part of the college’s learning communities program, my students (all first year students) will also be in a philosophy class (an intro to ethics course). The philosophy professor and I are looking for points of alignment between our courses.

Projects for My Co-workers and Me

  1. Expand my library’s collection of LibGuides.
  2. Work on ways to improve the answering percentage among the six CUNY libraries that share a group subscription to QuestionPoint (answering percentage is ratio that compares the number of questions your library puts into the cooperative service to the number of questions your library answers).
  3. Revise an old plagiarism tutorial.
  4. Write a proposal for a text message reference service.
  5. Rething the process of taking in requests for research consultations and for delegating them to librarians.
  6. Do usability testing of the union catalog shared by CUNY libraries.