Friday, April 11th, 2014

Come Learn PHP at ALA 2014

EnoughLogo_350

Summary: Tim, LibraryThing’s founder, is going to be giving a one-day, almost-free introduction to PHP programming on Friday, June 27, alongside the preconference day of ALA 2014 in Las Vegas, NV.

“Enough PHP to Be Dangerous” will cover the basics of PHP, the most common web programming language. It’s designed for people with little programming experience.(1)

Instruction will be project-based–a series of brief explanations followed by hands-on problem solving. You won’t emerge a PHP master, but you’ll know enough to be dangerous!(2)

We’ll presume some familiarity with the web, including basic HTML. You must bring your own laptop. We’ll ask you to set up a simple development environment before you come–we’ll send instructions. You should be connected to libraryland somehow. Prepare for a mental workout–there’s no point going slow when we only have a day.

Where? The session will be held Friday June 27, 9am-5pm at Embassy Suites Convention Center, three blocks from the Convention Center.

How do I sign up? Email tim@librarything.com. Say who you are and put “Enough PHP to Be Dangerous” in the subject line.

We’ll close applications on Monday, April 14 at 4:00 PM EST. If more than 30 people sign up, we’ll pick the winners randomly. If fewer, we’ll allow people to sign up after the deadline on a first-come-first-served basis.

What Does it Cost? On the day of we’ll pass the hat, asking $55 to cover the $45 cost of hotel-provided muffins, coffee and sandwiches, and some of the cost of the room, equipment and wifi. If $55 is a hardship for you, no problem–we’ll waive the fee, and you’ll still get a sandwich.

Why do I need this? Libraryland needs more programmers, and people who know what programming is. Libary software vendors exert outsized power and too often produce lousy software because the community has limited alternatives. The more library programmers, the better.

Why are you doing this? Conferences are hugely expensive to exhibit at. They’re worth it, but it’s a shame not to do more. If we’re going to be out there anyway, adding a day, a room and a projector doesn’t add much to the cost, and could help the community. Also, I’m a frustrated former Latin teacher, so it’ll be fun for me!(3)

Is this officially connected to ALA, LITA, Library Code Year, etc.? Nope. We’re doing this on our own. It’s easier that way. Of course, we love all these groups, especially our friends at LITA.(4)

Will the class be broadcast? No. That sounds fiddly. Maybe another time.

Want to help out? If you’re a programmer and want to help make this happen, email me. It would be great to have another programmer or two helping people figure out why their script won’t run. It’ll be fun, and you can put it on your resume.


1. If you tried to learn something years ago, or do a little cutting and pasting of JavaScript, fine. If you’re a master of another programming language, you’ll be bored.
2. We’ll focus on the most basic skills–variables, loops, functions, etc. We’ll focus on non-OO PHP. We’ll print up some funny diplomas, so you can show off your new-found dangerousness back at the library.
3. Alas, the hotel doesn’t provide chalk boards.
4. We take inspiration from Introductory Python Workshop at ALA 2013, put together by Andromeda Yelton and others.

Labels: ala, ala2014, instruction

Monday, March 10th, 2014

New Feature: Include Book Details in Book Display Widgets!

We are pleased to have added a new feature to our wildly popular LibraryThing for Libraries product, Book Display Widgets: Book Details. Book Display Widgets let you create virtual book displays to show off collections on your library’s website, Facebook page, LibGuides, and more. Clicking a cover image brings you directly into the catalog to that item’s record.

Our new feature lets you include a bit more information about each title, before the jump into the catalog. In addition to the title and author of an item, you can now choose to include publication date, summaries, and more! The Book Detail box will pop up when a patron clicks on an item in the Book Display Widget, and they can choose to go onto the catalog page from there, or continue browsing in the widget.

bdw summaries screenshot

Check it out: Click on a book cover in our Showcase page to view Book Details. You can see it there in a few different types of displays.

Set it up: If you’re already using Book Display Widgets, you can turn this on easily in the LTFL admin pages. On each of your widgets under “Options,” you can choose to “Show Items Details upon clicking.” Simple toggle to “on” and you should be set!

Learn More: Interested in using Book Display Widgets for your library? Email me (abby@librarything.com) with any questions about this or any of the LibraryThing for Libraries products.

Labels: Book Display Widgets, librarything for libraries, ltfl, PLA

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

New Book Display Widget Features: Custom Covers and UPC/ISSN Data-Sources

We are very pleased to announce two new changes to our popular Book Display Widgets product which we think will help libraries of all kinds show off more of their collections!

Custom Covers

Responding to several requests, we have added the ability to use your own cover source in Book Display Widgets. If you have a specialized collection or some unusual titles, now you can supplement our default cover service with your own covers.

Go from this:

To this:

Book Display Widget with all the covers filled in

For more information on how to use Custom Covers in Book Display Widgets, you can see the instructions here or check out our quick how-to video, here:

Image linking to video on how-to use Custom Cover URL feature

UPC/ISSN Data-Sources

Recognizing that not every item in your library carries an ISBN, we have added two new options for data in Book Display Widgets: UPCs and ISSNs. These additions will allow you to show off your video collections and your academic journals with ease!

Screenshot of a Scrolling UPC Widget

UPCs are product codes commonly found on items such as DVDs, music, and video games. Help your patrons discover their new favorite movie!

Screenshot of a Book Display Widget with ISSNs

ISSNs are for journals. You can use these to highlight your robust journal collection to your students!

For more information on using these new data-sources, please see our instruction page or view this quick how-to video.

Image linking to a How To Video on using List of UPCS or List of ISSNs

Labels: Book Display Widgets, librarything for libraries, ltfl

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

The LibraryThing Conference-Pen Olympics

The New England Library Association (NELA) has come to a close. The final event–not publicized in official documents–was the LibraryThing Conference-Pen Olympics, consisting of Tim taking (sometimes stealing) pens from all the exhibitors and taking them back to the LibraryThing office for a test drive. As regular conference-goers know everyone has pens, but not all pens are created equal. NELA was a low-pen-quality event—no Pilot Precise V5 Rolling balls, no “Wavy Clip Pens.” But some were better than others.

The Competitors

The Judging
Judges evaluated feel, stroke and appearance. Syracuse University wrote well, but twists rather than clicking—life is too short for that. The University of South Carolina achieves a satisfying heft but is too fat to hold comfortably. OCLC’s entrant was cheap–flimsy and blunt, with their logo reduced to black and white–and came with a microprinted “usage policy” on the side, claiming ownership of anything you write with it.

Second Runner-Up: Access Engineering
Chosen by Loranne for its heft and grippy-thing. The pen advertises some sort of engineering program available from McGraw-Hill.

First Runner-Up: ProQuest
Chosen by K.J., who opines “I chose my pen because I like to fiddle with pens during meetings, and the metal clip is bendable but likely won’t snap.” I appreciate its pleasing kaleidoscopic interior, reliable-sounding “click,” and sharp writing ball. Advertises ProQuest, a major provider of library content and services. (They’re also sister-company to Bowker, who sell our products to libraries—but that’s not why they won!)

The Winner: Equinox
Chosen by Tim, Abby and Matt. Matt described it as “wholesome.” I’m not sure what he means by that. I like it for its satisfying click, smooth writing and decent weight. Advertises Equinox Software, a (rather good) provider of open source ILS systems. As the winner, Equinox will be the first pen Tim destroys by chewing on it.

Labels: conference

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

NELA and a Hometown LibraryThing Party!

This weekend NELA (New England Library Association) comes to Portland, Maine, for three days of exhibits and talks. We’ll be exhibiting, of course, showing off LibraryThing for Libraries, Book Display Widgets and our other products to librarians around New England. Come visit it at booth 702.

LibraryThing Hometown Party!

And we’ll be partying! For Portland, Maine is also home to LibraryThing, and “Castle LibraryThing” (okay, Tim’s house and LT’s office) is just a few blocks down the street from the Conference Hotel. We’re not likely to see another library conference in Portland any time soon, so we’re doing it up!

And if we’re going to do it, why not invite local booksellers and other members? We’ll even let vendors in. Tim’s lending us his bookish home. There’ll be (real) food and drink, books, music and conversation.

So, if you’re in town for NELA, or just want to party with librarians, bookish people, LibraryThing members (and most of the LibraryThing staff) visit us this Sunday at 7:00, after the reception and exhibition hall closes, until whenever.

Details:

Sunday, October 20
7:00 to whenever
286 Spring Street (Green House)

How to get there:

Exit the hotel, turn left and walk.
Or come by car; there’s on-street parking.

RSVP on Facebook!

Labels: librarything for libraries, NELA2013, portland

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Show off your reviews in Facebook

Our new LTFL Reviews Facebook Pagetab feature lets you display recent reviews that have been written in your catalog right in Facebook—where your patrons are. This is a free update to any library that subscribes to our Reviews Enhancement. Make the most out of the reviews your patrons are writing and proudly show them off!

You can set it to show all recent reviews, or filter by category—show just the “staff picks” or “back to school” category you might have set up.

LibraryThing for Libraries Reviews Enhancement is a great addition to your library catalog—letting patrons rate and review right within your OPAC. You can also share reviews with hundreds of other libraries that use the service, as well as draw from over a million hand-vetted user reviews written by LibraryThing.com members.

The Reviews Facebook Pagetab feature dovetails nicely with the last feature we added: social media integration—allowing patrons to sign in with and post their reviews to Facebook and Twitter.

More: Reviews Blog Widget

a reviews blog widget

While we’re on the subject of showing off reviews, the Reviews Enhancement also comes with a reviews blog widget, which lets you display new reviews anywhere (not just on Facebook!). Try adding a widget to your library’s homepage or blog to highlight the activity in your catalog. See for example the homepage of the Cass District Library, the blog of City of Hayward Public Library, or how the City of Port Phillip Library shows off “recent reviews from our catalogue.” Like the Facebook Pagetab, this feature also comes free with a subscription to the Reviews Enhancement!

Instructions on creating reviews widgets are here.

How to get Reviews in Facebook

If your library currently subscribes to the Reviews Enhancement, it’s quite easy to bring reviews into Facebook. Instructions to get started are here.

If you don’t yet subscribe to Reviews, just let me know if you’d be interested in a free trial! (email abby@librarything.com).

Labels: book reviews, facebook, librarything for libraries, ltfl, LTFL Reviews, new features, reviews, social media, social networking

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Book Display Widgets in Facebook

This new feature allows you to use our fantastic and versatile Book Display Widgets within Facebook. Add a Book Display Widget tab to your library’s Facebook page to easily show off new books, staff picks, featured collections, and more.

Check it out. Give it a try on our fake library Facebook page, here. If this were connected to a real library, clicking on a book would open to that item’s bib page in the catalog.

Set it up. If you already subscribe to Book Display Widgets, this is a free addition! Just read here for how to set up widgets on your library’s Facebook page. On that same page you’ll see a link to a screencast to help you get set up.

Learn more. Interested in Book Display Widgets for your library? Email me (abby@librarything.com) with any questions about this or any of the LibraryThing for Libraries products. To subscribe, contact Peder Christensen at Bowker—toll-free at 877-340-2400 or email Peder.Christensen@bowker.com.

Labels: Book Display Widgets, librarything for libraries

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Reviews Enhancement with Social Media Integration

We are very pleased to announce an upgrade to our LibraryThing for Libraries Reviews Enhancement—social media integration.

The Reviews Enhancement lets your patrons rate and review items directly within your catalog. But it also comes loaded with reviews to start! You can share reviews with over 200 libraries who also use the service and draw from over 950,000 hand-vetted user reviews written by LibraryThing.com members. But we’re constantly improving, and we’ve just released the following new features!

Social media integration

  • Sign in with Facebook or Twitter. Your patrons can now login to write reviews in your catalog using their Facebook or Twitter accounts, or they can continue to use the “reviews account” as usual. They will also be able to link an existing reviews account to their Twitter or Facebook login, for easy access in the future. (Simply log into an existing reviews account, click to account settings, and then connect.)
  • Post reviews to Facebook and Twitter. Once a patron’s reviews account is linked, they also have the ability to tweet the review they just wrote in your catalog, and to post it to Facebook. This is great for everyone. The patron gets to show their friends what they’re reading at the library they love—and your library gets fantastic visibility!

The links from Facebook and Twitter drive people back into your catalog, to discover even more of your collection.

Rating without reviewing

Just to sweeten the pot, we’ve added one more feature in here: the ability to rate a book with stars without having to write a review. Some people prefer to just rate, and we’ve made that possible.

How to get it

If your library currently subscribes to the Reviews Enhancement, and you want to make sure your patrons can take advantage of these improvements, you have to do… nothing, unless you want to turn social media integration off! If you’d like to disable this, just log into your LibraryThing for Libraries admin account, and go to the Configuration > Reviews page. At the bottom, you’ll see an option to disable social media integration. Toggle that, and the ability to sign in with and post to Twitter and Facebook will disappear from your catalog.

Learn more. If you’d like to subscribe to Review Enhancements, get a free trial, or just learn more: Email me (abby@librarything.com). To subscribe, contact Peder Christensen at Bowker—toll-free at 877-340-2400 or email Peder.Christensen@bowker.com.

Come see us at CIL. Tim and I (Abby) are at the Computers in Libraries conference in Washington DC this week—stop by the exhibit hall to see us!

Labels: facebook, librarything for libraries, ltfl, reviews, social media, twitter

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Improvements to Book Display Widgets

We’ve had a fantastic response to our newest LibraryThing for Libraries product, Book Display Widgets. Book Display Widgets were envisioned as a way for libraries to create virtual book displays—to show off specific collections and to highlight particular titles.  Importantly, we also wanted Book Display Widgets to be easy for libraries to create and to update.

And we want to make it even better! We’ve just implemented several new features:

Multi-widgets

(Note: This is a sample widget. If you were using this in a real library, then each book would link to the book record in the catalog when clicked.)

Our new multi-widget format saves on space by giving you the ability to showcase multiple widgets in one area. Just click header titles to switch between widgets.

Our example above is an assorted collection of types of widgets, but the possibilities are endless. You can imagine this being useful for showing a collection of widgets with new books, new DVDs, new children’s books, etc. Or a multi-widget that displays several different widgets full of staff picks. Or one that shows off all the different nominees for various book awards being chosen this month. Book Display Widgets provide the structure for anything you can think up!

Vertical display

This new vertical display option is great for use on pages with side columns that you want to populate—like on LibGuides, for example.

Two display types now offer the vertical option—carousel and scrolling. We’ve also added in a shelf or no-shelf option for the carousel display (previously it was only available with a shelf background).

Learn more

We’ve made a short (less than a minute, I promise) video, showing how truly easy it is to create a widget.

See our Showcase page for sample widgets in each display style, and to get inspiration.

What do you think? Let us know if you have any other suggestions (email abby@librarything.com), we’re always open to adding and improving!

Labels: Book Display Widgets, librarything for libraries, ltfl

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

New “Check Library” button for LTFL libraries

We’ve just introduced an exciting new LibraryThing for Libraries product, called the “Check Library” button.

In brief, the “Check Library” button is a “bookmarklet” that libraries can give to their patrons. It allows patrons to check if your library has a book while on another website, like Amazon.com or anywhere.

We think it’s nifty and useful—a great way to boost circulation and patron happiness. We really want it out there, however, so every current LibraryThing for Libraries customer gets it for free!

60-Second Video

Here’s a 60-second video about it. It’s really all you need. The video is general, but we use the High Plains Library District’s button as an example.

Other examples:

Not Using LTFL?

The “Check Library” bookmarklet comes with LibraryThing for Libraries. If you don’t use LibraryThing for Libraries but want your own “Check Library” feature, email abby@librarything.com. We’d love to give it to you, and won’t charge an arm and a leg.

Details for the Detail-Oriented

What is it? The button is a “bookmarklet,” a little button people can drag to their “bookmarks” bar.

Once you have it, you can use it anytime you’re on a page about books—Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and more. The bookmarklet pops up a little mini-window on the page. This tells you if your library has the book, and links directly to all the editions your library has.

Behind the scenes it’s finding the ISBNs on the page, checking them against LibraryThing’s huge editions database, checking those against your holdings, and returning a list of those holdings with links. Although geared to books, it will work with anything that has an ISBN. It works even if LibraryThing has never seen the ISBN, so long as there’s an exact match in your holdings.

How to Get It. Every LTFL library gets its own bookmarklet that’s set up just for it. To get your library’s, LTFL customers should log in and go to http://www.librarything.com/forlibraries/configure-bookmarklet.php and click “Your bookmarklet page.” That will take you to the “get it” page for patrons.

Once you have your page, promote it to your patrons. For example, so far, Port Phillips has put it on their home page and Burdekin Library have it on their Facebook page.

Customize It. Like other enhancements, the bookmarklet is highly customizeable. Go to http://www.librarything.com/forlibraries/configure-bookmarklet.php

Update Your Holdings. Because the bookmarklet, like most LTFL enhancements, works off your holdings, it’s imperative you keep your holdings up to date. (If it doesn’t find something it suggests the user perform a catalog search, but how many users will do that?) You can upload holdings and review your recent uploads here.

If You Don’t Want It. If you don’t want the bookmarklet, do nothing. The page you get it from has an unguessable URL. If you want to make sure it’s turned off, go to http://www.librarything.com/forlibraries/settings.php.

Let Us Know. As a new feature, we’re eager to get your feedback. And if you post about it on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog, we’d love to know.

Labels: Uncategorized