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SD Librarian

News and commentary about tools and articles for library and information professionals, mostly on Web 2.0 (RSS, blogs, etc.)

Updated: 2018-03-05T15:11:13.625-08:00


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R.I.P. Netscape Navigator


Netscape Navigator will finally be laid to rest next month.
Final double-click on Navigator
Netscape Navigator, the storied Web browser that launched an Internet boom but is now a mere shell of its former self, will soon be put out of its misery.

Now under the umbrella of Time Warner's AOL, Netscape will continue as a portal, but AOL said it will no longer engage in further development or even technical support for the browser beginning Feb. 1.
For most of us, Netscape Navigator is a distant memory, long abandoned for IE and Firefox--itself a project that originated at Netscape. But I still remember the first OMG moment when I tried it out for the first time.

1995 at the Mercer Library in Macon, down from the Atlanta campus for a staff development day. They had installed Netscape on the computers and everyone else was working in pairs, but I was lucky enough to be on my own. I got to Yahoo and wandered around the directory, and found the Star Wars websites. Spent the rest of the time clicking through the pages and being so amazed that this was out there.

Building Academic Library 2.0


Notes from Meredith Farkas' presentation at the LAUC-Berkeley Academic Library 2.0 Conference. I'll add some commentary later tonight.

Web 1.0 – democratized access to information
  • Users interacted w/ web as consumers; to produce, needed experience, space, etc.
Web 2.0 – all participants in web creation/contribution
  • Hubris of 2.0 – assumption that nothing revolutionary happened before 2.0
  • More of an evolution, driven by technologies; libraries not the only game in town anymore
Academic Library 2.0 – state of mind
  • Meeting user names
  • Trusting our users (radical trust)
  • Getting rid of the culture of perfect (start simple and test, more iterative, not waiting until something is “done”)
  • Aware of emerging technologies and opportunities
  • Learn to extrapolate to see what other types of libraries/non-libraries are doing
  • Looking outside of library world for applications, opportunities, inspiration
Building Academic Library 2.0 Externally
  • Know your users; look beyond netgen stereotypes: what do they value, how do they research (Univ Rochester anthro study); go into their space and ask for feedback
  • Question everything: do you still need to be sitting at the refdesk when all of your ref contact is IM? Dropping Dewey for bookstore-style classification
  • Communicate better with patrons (blogs, etc.) – including by library directors, accepting and using feedbackHighlight collections with tools like Flickr; RSS for new collections; adding our resources to Wikipedia
  • Embed services where they are: Facebook and Myspace, portal in WebCTBuild participation: take advantage of our users’ knowledge of these subjects in saved resources (wikis); social bookmarking (PennTags)
  • Better at building partnerships
  • Don’t focus on technology, or abandon constituents who won’t use these tools
Building Academic Library 2.0 Internally
  • Build learning culture; not everyone one gets to go to conferences; create in-house learning (Learning 2.0 at PL of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County)
  • Develop risk-tolerant culture; “perpetual beta”
  • Collect knowledge internallyCapitalize on your network: Facebook as online rolodex
  • Be transparent, internally as well as externally
  • Good ideas can come from anyone and anywhere
  • Nurture talent (she heard this from some LJ Movers & Shakers at IL--that they weren't feeling appreciated at their institutions)
  • Be agile (need 3 mos to decide on blogging software?); Empower staff to make some decisions
  • Involve staff from all levels in planning; helps avoid tunnel vision
  • Avoid technolust; start with needs, then look tools
  • Understand staff member’s needs and limitations (why people fear change; understand learning styles; some staff need more than just written instructions—prefer hands-on instructions/help)Time must be devoted; staff not given time for this, they way we do with reference shifts, etc.
  • Keeping up w/ new technologies and share with colleagues – make part of job description
  • Need new staff, or shuffle w/in existing staff with these interests
Question we were left with: Is your organization currently structured to make this happen?

Google Gears/Reader


I spent the morning trying out Google Gears with Google Reader at the airport before my flight out to Denver for SLA. For anyone who missed the many announcements this week, this is Google's first big public move into making their applications work offline.

There's a plugin to install, and then you're ready to go. You can then download your feeds to scan offline, read the feed headlines and summaries, and star what you'll want to read when you're back online (making sure that you've left your Google Reader page up when you go offline) and then resynchronize your feeds to go back to online mode.
  • It was a bit slower in offline mode, but not enough to be a problem
  • The 'Mark All As Read' button is disabled, so you have to J-click through the feed headlines
  • Images did not get pulled into the feeds in offline mode, whether they were web comics or structures from ACS journal abstracts.
This is a very exciting development, and I can't wait to see what's next. Docs and Spreadsheets, maybe?

RSS Feeds: Science Direct


Science Direct now has RSS feeds!! I think that's the last of the big science publishers.

About the feeds:
  • The article feeds will show up on the journal homepage as well as any browsable list of titles--but they did not show up until my proxy authentication kicked in.
  • You don't right-click-to-copy the links in the (image) icon. Instead, left-click to bring up a popup that will give you the RSS feed URL and several auto-subscribe buttons (Bloglines, My Yahoo, etc.)
  • They also have feeds for cited reference, topic and search alerts. The topic and search alerts require a Science Direct username and password.

Social Software & Chemistry


This week's Chemical & Engineering News has an article about the March 25th Using Social Networking Tools to Teach Chemistry symposium (morning & afternoon abstracts) from the Chicago ACS meeting. This was a great program and I was delighted to be the lead-off presenter.

One idea discussed was integrating Wikipedia-writing into coursework. A research paper assignment could be revamped so students have to write it like a Wikipedia entry.

I expect we'll see more of this at the next few ACS meetings, how faculty are using Wikipedia like this and the impact it has on their students' work. And I just found out last week one of the chemistry faculty here is trying it in a grad/undergrad combo class this quarter. The grad students are to write their papers as Wikipedia articles--and post them.

From Blogs to Wikis


Testing out the blog for my Staff Development Workshop. TGIF!!

My Firefox Extensions


My list of Firefox extensions continues to grow. In preparation for my library staff development Web 2.0 workshop series (#6 of 6), I've reorganized the page as well as updated it with the extensions I have started using in the last month.

Yesterday afternoon, I e-mailed 3 colleagues to ask if they had other extensions they'd either just come across or had been using for a while. And I immediately got an additional 2-3 from each of them, which I've added at the bottom until I get a chance to give them a test run.

Add This Widgets (RSS/Bookmarking)


I guess these have been around for a while, but I only noticed them this week on

The Add This widgets are fantastic way to offer subscription and bookmarking features on your blog without having to create separate buttons for each RSS reader or social bookmarking system you want to include.

The widgets are easy to set up and customized, and then you just copy/paste the resulting code. Clicking the (image) button takes your user to a page where they can select one of 22 web-based or desktop reader. The (image) widget is available in two versions: bookmark the entire site or bookmark a particular entry--with 30 social bookmarking sites to choose from.

The code for the RSS and "Bookmark this site" widgets was placed in the Subscribe HTML/Javascript page element in New Blogger. The code for "Bookmark this blog entry" got pasted into the template with no problems.

With an account, one can: 1) get some user statistics for each page that uses one of the widgets, or 2) customize the Add This screens to bypass the prompt pages and go right to subscribing to the feed or bookmarking the page.

Google Spreadsheets - Testing


Testing Google Docs & Spreadsheets to see if I can embed a presentation here. Linking to the public view of it certainly works.

If you're curious, it's a list of the books that in our Science & Engineering Library Browsing Collection + the books that aren't in the collection yet.

src="" frameborder="0" height="400" width="550">

RSS/Podcast Presentation (Slideshare)


Just loaded my first presentation up to Slideshare. It's #3 of the 6-part Web 2.0 workshop series I'm teaching for library staff. Tomorrow's class is on social software tools (bookmarking, citations, and media sharing), so this will give me something else to show them for the media sharing part along with Flickr and YouTube.


Tagging in Compendex/EiVillage2


Along with 'Blog This' and the RSS feeds for search alerts, we now have tagging in Compendex. The rep who visited last week pointed out that it had just gone live. Not sure if it's in Inspec since we get that through Ovid.

To tag anything, you must first create a profile in Compendex. Once on a single record view, you get the option to tag the citation, with a choice of selecting public, private or institutional tags as well as posting the citation to You can also select the Tags + Groups tab to search or browse articles by the tags other users have already created.

Web 2.0 Staff Workshops


Here's the blog for my workshop, "From Blogs to Wikis: Getting the Most Out of the New Web." This is a 2-part workshop I now teach through my university's staff development office. One of the things I've been working on is integrating the tools we're covering in the workshop in the actual learning/instruction process. It's a learning process for me, as I want to bring more of these techniques into my chemical information seminar this Spring.

This week, the focus is on blogs, RSS and Google applications like Docs and Spreadsheets.

I'll be adding more stuff over the week, and hopefully the workshop participants will accept their "assignment" and continue adding to the blog and trying out one of the Google products. Next week will be wikis, the whole social networking/tagging/bookmarking arena, and possibly Firefox.

Ulrichweb Now Identifies Journals with RSS Feeds


A colleague forwarded me the email from Ulrich's announcing that they now include RSS availability in their journal records. You can also use the Advanced Search and select "RSS Available" as a criterion when searching for journal titles. I just did a subject search for mathematics and got 100 journals with RSS feeds (directly from the publisher, from Ingenta, or both).

My only quibble is that a few publishers aren't yet included (RSC and Wiley), but I'm delighted that Ulrich's has decided to do this.

Better Firefoxing Through Extensions


As part of the testing we're doing here with our new campus blogging service, I created a page on my WordPress blog listing my favorite Firefox extensions along with any that I'm still trying out.

The page will have a date of October 19, but I can update the title of the page based on the last update (which is now 10/25) without changing the URL.

If there are other extensions you like and recommend, please comment.



Testing out the blog for our Staff Development class.

Google Reader, Revisited


When I initially reviewed Google Reader nearly a year ago, I found it seriously lacking and abandoned that chunk of my Google suite. I planned to revisit it, test it some more, and even send feedback to the Reader Group. Other things took precedence, but I believe I would've made time if Reader was at least decent enough to make the effort. It wasn't.Late last month, Google announced a major revamp to the Reader. I've been working with it now for about two weeks, and the verdict: Very Impressive. It's now a fully functional web-based RSS reader that can rival Bloglines, which as Doug pointed out, hasn't made any major changes/improvements for a while. I've moved about 25% of my feeds over from Bloglines. into it, with no major problems.What I like (and if any of these were in original version, I can't remember):The navigation is a vast improvement over previous interface. I can view all of my subscribed RSS feeds, or easily bring up just the ones with updates. The page also opens with "A look at what's new," with what I'm guessing are the most recent headlines. When you click on the updated feed, you can toggle between list (headlines only) and expanded views of the feed entries.It's much easier to delete feeds, or to make batch edits like assigning folders. The first thing I did: delete everything that was in there when I set up the site last fall. Took all of 15 seconds. You can select or deselect all of your feeds, or select just the ones that aren't yet assigned to a folderYou can star items to save for future reference, and look at those together. These items are still treated as "marked as read," but you can still get back to them.Lots of keyboard shortcuts (though you lose then once you move off the home view).The Tags option allows you to share by offering a public option for starred items or for feeds within a folder.You can also share items with others: using the provided URL or script to place the last 1-10 headlines on your webpage.There's a subscription bookmarklet you can add to your bookmarks toolbar.A few things that need work:In several instances, it did not recognize the feed I wanted to import, like the feeds from Knovel (other than K-News).It's a wee bit slow at times, and when it's loading or adding feeds the browser throbber doesn't do anything. All you get is an image of the Google Labs flask with bubbles coming out of it.You cannot get a total of unread items beyond 100. It just becomes 100+ .You cannot adjust the frames, so you may need to rename some of the longer feeds to something shorter.I'm still checking to see how Google Reader handles feeds from journals and database searches, which have been a problem in Bloglines when the new content wouldn't show up in bold unless I changed one of the subscription settings.Overall, the Google developers have done a great job to make this a fully functional, useable RSS reader.Tags: Google | Google Reader | RSS | Bloglines[...]

WordPress Multi-User for Library Blogs?


My university has just released an extreme soft-launch of WordPress Multi-User for faculty/staff/students to use to set up their own blogs. A few of us immediately jumped in and started testing it to see if we could make it work for our library blogs, which currently run on an older version of Movable Type. Only a few universities like Minnesota and Michigan are offering this, and Arizona State is the large one I've found so far that's using WordPress' MU version. Way to go, ACS and IWDC.

I had never heard of the MU version until I started trying it, but I figured out pretty quickly how it differed from regular WP when I started looking for the link to customize my template and couldn't find it. MU is a scalable (as explained to us by one of the campus IT people) option for them to offer blogging capability to the campus. But it's not set up to allow individual blog owners to customize their own themes. You cannot change the CSS or HTML, nor can you make changes to the widget column. The widgets and their arrangement are pretty much set based on the theme you select. Of the available templates I only found one that was functional and professional-looking enough, but it's a color palette I wouldn't otherwise choose and looks nothing like the library website. At this time, it's just too locked down for us.

The updside: if we come up with templates that match our websites, probably by tweaking an existing theme out there, the campus IT group should be able to set then up for us to use on their platform. Actually, it'll probably be the other librarians in the group since going under the hood in MT or Blogger is challenging enough for me. But if we can make it work (and then create another theme to match the new website we'll hopefully have in a year), it means moving to a supported system that will be upgraded as needed.

Wiley Interscience - RSS Feeds


Wiley Interscience just announced their new RSS feeds for the journals. Each one can be pulled off the the journal homepage (having them all on page--of course not!). The only odd thing I've noticed so far is that of the 4 feeds I've added to Bloglines, only 3 of the 4 have abstracts. I don't know if it's a quirk with Bloglines or something different about the Angewandte Chemie Intl Ed. feed.

RSS Feeds: Emerald Publishing


Emerald, publisher of numerous journals in library/information science, business and management, education, marketing, engineering and materials science, now has TOC RSS feeds. They're also offering an additional feed to track all Emerald articles published in the last week.

RSS Feeds: Japanese Science Society Journals


I've recently come across several journals from various Japanese societies that are offering RSS feeds (haven't yet tested), which we only noticed because we've been having major online access problems with the first 2 journals and were looking over their websites for any kind of contact assistance.

Chemistry World: RSS Feed


Chemistry World, the news magazine of the Royal Society of Chemistry, now has a RSS feed. The RSC has had feeds for their journals for about a year now, but not for their news. I'm working on a new homepage for SLA-DCHE that would include RSS-to-Javascript news headlines from 1-2 chemical organizations, so now I'll be able to include ACS (via Chemical & Enginering News) and RSC.

ISI: RSS Feeds (and why the could be much better, Part 2)


The newest ISI/Web of Knowledge update has added RSS capability. For my institution, this means search alerts for Web of Science and Biosis Previews (plus a few others), and citation alerts for Web of Science. I spent part of the morning working with it and writing up instructions for our library's Science/Engineering feedlist.This is how RSS-based search alerting should work: you run a search, you see an box or something equivalent, you right-click to copy the link, you paste that link into your reader and you're done.And this is how it works in ISI.Set up an account in Web of Knowledge and login if you don't already have one.Run a search.From the results, go to Search History.Save the search like you would do for an e-mail alert (but skip that part of the form) and save it to their server. You'll see a confirmation of the alert, with the .So far, it's deja vu with yet another publisher tying RSS alerting to their e-mail alerting system where--yes--you need at least an e-mail address for that user. But I shouldn't have to go through this many steps to capture a feed off a search. For a cited reference alert in WoS, you click Create Citation Alert from the record and you'll get a similar confirmation pageBut wait.....there's more. They've also borrowed from EiV2 to make the RSS even less intuitive.You can't copy/paste the link in the , because the link looks like this (the ................... represents lots of letters and numbers):javascript:openWindow('','_WOK_RSS_')Problem is, the RSS reader won't recognize this as a feed. You either have to paste it and strip out part of the link, or click the to bring up the feed code in a new browser window and copy the URL as it appears in the address bar. I got the feed in Bloglines, it looked fine. You get more information than with the EiV2 feeds (complete citation vs. article title only), but less information than with PubMed or Astrophysics Data System (no abstract or journal linking).I'm just baffled at how our licensed database vendors have made their RSS alert creation systems so convoluted for users. Maybe Ovid will get it right with their next interface.Tags: ISI | Web of Science | Biosis | RSS Feeds | Databases[...]

Mary Ann Liebert: RSS Feeds


Another science publisher that's now offering RSS feeds. Mary Ann Liebert publishes mostly medical journals, with a few others that fall into the life sciences, engineering and law.

The feeds can be found on the journal homepages, naturally. No master list.

Sage Publications: RSS Feeds


Sage Publications (engineering/materials science, medicine, social science/education) now has RSS feeds for their journals. Feeds for the current issue and recent issues for each journal can be found off of that journal's homepage. If there's a single page of feeds, I couldn't find it.