Thursday, March 15, 2007

the library workshop

Watzek Library's ILL department just had a visit from some folks at the Multnomah County Library, the big public library system serving most of the Portland Metro area. They were interested in a little hack to our Clio interlibrary loan system that allows us to check out ILL books on our III integrated library system without any rekeying.

As Jeremy and Jenny showed the application in action, I was really admiring the resourcefulness of it. Nothing fancy--just the DIY powertools of the digital workshop: Expect (to talk to a legacy black box III system), MySQL, PHP, and especially a PHP function to create barcode images. Normal ILL workflow for an incoming book is followed by a couple simple steps, and pretty stickers with barcodes that correspond to records in our ILS emerge.

We're thinking about the software platform (basically LAMP), which powers our website. Should we go to something like Rails? Or should we stick with the simple, blunt LAMP instruments that we're used to.

1 comment:

Jeremy M said...

Thanks Mark...the Clio-III hack is pretty basic, but I probably couldn't have done it without the generosity of others (i.e. free code available on the web). The label printing feature uses pdf functions from

We've done a fair amount at Lewis & Clark without having staff with traditional computer science backgrounds. Imagine what a legion of 'hackers' in the library world would accomplish. I'm thinking beyond the code4lib crowd. I hope library schools can see the value in 'arming' students with a language like PHP. It could really instigate a technologically creative class within the field.