Sunday, December 16, 2007

No misscopied call numbers

Last week an e-mail where a colleague was sharing some exciting technologies that are being used by libraries to make their resources more available and more useful to our students and faculty. One really captured my attention because it solves a problem that has always bothered me. I have terrible handwriting and am numerically challenged. This has always been a problem for me as I researched in libraries in the days of the card catalog. I would write down a call number and wander around the stacks until finally arriving at the place where I thought my book should be only to find that I had transposed some numbers. When I became a librarian I realized that I wasn't the only one with this problem. Then came the online catalog and these wonderful small HP dotmatrix computers attached to each terminal. I could just print out the bibliographic information and call number. No more wandering the stacks on a mission doomed from the start. Then came technology updates, networked laser printers that made me feel like an environmental reprobate every time I wasted an entire sheet of paper and toner to print out a bib record and call number. I was back to using those little golf pencils and the backs of envelopes.

Well the message I received last week held the answer to my problem it was in a blog post from Jason the Content Librarian. Jason was writing about a widget being used by the University of Oregon in their catalog that creates a button on the bibliographic record screen. The button allows you to send your cell phone a text message with the title and call number of the book you want. Students can walk up to the stacks knowing they have the correct call number. The widget is written for Innovative Interfaces catalogs. I was told that a librarian at Bryn Mawr had written the original hack and that it was also being used at the Iowa City Public Library. Its probably being used at other places that I don't know about.

Our catalog is a ExLibris Voyager product and I haven't been able to find that anyone has developed a similar widget for it. As soon as someone does, you know that we will be offering it just as soon as we can. While I was trying to find a Voyager version of this widget I did find the next best thing. It is a Firefox Browser add-on by Google called Send to Phone it allows you to do just about the same thing but requires a little more personal intervention. Once you install this add-on to your Firefox Browser all you have to do is highlight something on a page and click a little cell phone icon on your toolbar and a window comes up where you can type in your cell phone's number and indicate your service provider and within minutes the message is on your cell. Of course, there are a lot of other situations where this can come in handy but I am more concerned helping our students use our catalog information on a device with which they are extremely comfortable.

I will still be waiting anxiously for someone to write the hack for Voyager though.

1 comment:

Jason Eiseman said...

Thanks for digging into this. It looks like you've come up with a nice temprary solution.