Preamble: I'm the webmaster for an educational institution in the
Netherlands and as such am more of a techie than a librarian. I have quite
a few skills with our library system but have never enjoyed a formal
library education. A large part of my job has to do with library websites,
but I also design and support other websites in our institution.
At 17:40 -0800 12-12-2003, John Durno wrote:
> Now that we've mostly agreed that it's probably useful for at least
> some librarians to know something about programming, I'm kind of
> curious to know what others feel are some of the #1 all-time best uses
> to which they have applied their programming chops. In other words, if
> programming skills are useful in libraries, what are they useful for?
> Now, I think I know the general answers to that question, and I'm
> familiar with, say, the impressive list of tools and projects over at
> oss4lib, but I'm more interested here in projects that are specific to
> your library (or other organization). What programming-type projects
> have you undertaken that really had some benefit in that context?
> (Alternatively, what projects would you like to undertake if the time
> and/or skills were available?)
As a webmaster I don't really consider myself to be a programmer, more a
scripter, I mostly use PHP/MySQL. I have done some projects on our website
to specifically overcome some of the failings of our existing systems.
For instance: last year I made an online accessible database for the
contents of a small dutch periodical. Our current contents vendor refused
to include this periodical as the subscriber base numbers in the hundreds
instead of the thousands. However this periodical is so important to one of
our faculties that we decided to build our own system, a highly specialised
OPAC if you will.
Recently I made a self-assessment webapplication for all first-year
students to test their information acquiring skills, a kind of home-grown
TILT if I understand TILT correctly.
All of these projects were done in PHP/MySQL in close collaboration with
Our institution also has a home-grown system to send e-mail alerts with
current contents and new acquisitions. This system was built mostly in Perl
by a former employee.
What I would like to do if I really had the time is provide RSS feeds of
these alerts, I'd be interested to know if other libraries have such a
system in place and how hard you found it to implement this.