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So I now have two different test libraries, and I’m working on a third through wordpress using Scriblio,

The first is built with Drupal and a couple of modules. The backbone module is biblio. However, per a suggestion by another biblio user I’ve added taxonomy access control lite a nice little module that can help control which parts of our collection and which are public.

The biggest problem with Drupal (and all options so far) is the weak search interface. Biblio’s is particularly bad since it only gives ten results no matter how many there are in reality. This just baffles me and I’m wondering if it’s a bug. However, it imports Endnote nicely and seems to be able to handle our large collection. It’s not perfect, but it may actually be the easiest especially if we have to maintain our Endnote records on the side, a possibility I’m sadly beginning to accept.

On the other side I have a nice Joomla set up. The key component here is docman which does an excellent job of allowing indexing and flexible permissions. The downside is, again, metadata. There is no metadata input and thus searchability is next to nothing. It is, however, easier to browse and may thus be more useful for end users. Again, I’d have to maintain it in addition to the EndNote “library” that we have now.

Other than that, I’ve been tinkering with a few faceted search options. That won’t work in Drupal yet because the vocabulary is all over the place and is pretty chaotic at this point. It could be a nice solution to help browsability while maintaining more sophisticated searching and filtering options.


Ok, I’m probably not the first you’ve heard this from, but some members of congress (including democrats no less!) have introduced a bill to stop the NIH open access policy. Personally, I don’t think this will go anywhere. But personally I never thought Californians would approve Prop. 8.

For those of you in Madison (or anywhere) our representative Tammy Baldwin is on the house Judiciary committee. I suggest sending her an email or a letter. Government funded research is supposed to benefit us, not publishers.

Here’s a librarian at heart. When the government puts what should be free information online, he and other like-minded individuals snagged the opportunity and downloaded the information (almost 20 % in one day) to republish in freely available database. That is some good ol’ fashioned take no prisoners librarianship.

And then there are those who would want to keep information hidden. As reported by slash dot, a bill was introduced to stop the NIH open access policy.

Come on people, it’s our tax dollars. Every damn cent spent on research should have the widest possible impact. Hopefully this is a pathetic attempt to, I don’t know, slow the American research process and will fizzle out quickly.

I’ve been reading The Craftsman by Richard Sennett. All around, it’s been a pretty good read. There’s a lot of discussion about the craftsman, how they engage in work, the community, etc. But I believe this line completely summarizes the rise of the DIY spirit and the beauty of open access:

“People invest thought in things they can change.”

Yes. Yes. And more yes. It’s just that simple, people. If we can use it, change it, enhance it, customize it, then it becomes interesting. If we engage it and move on. What is the damn point? Nothing is different or only slightly so.

Well, now I may be adding wordpress to the mix. I ran across a nice plugin called scriblio today. It looks pretty sweet. The worst part is the IT guy who has been nice enough to install all of these to the server suggested WordPress. “Nah” I scoffed “I have a word press blog, I don’t think it can handle the project” *sigh* Well, I may have to praise the prescience of my local computer guy. Secondly, I should do a little more research before I begin.

Because I like to complicate my life, I decided to through Drupal into the digital library mix. Joomla is looking pretty good, but it doesn’t have the flexibility that I’m going to need. There’s no real way to add metadata much less search different categories. Well, we’ll see what happens.

In the meantime I’ve been trying out Drupal as well. It has more flexibility and a way steeper learning curve. Personally, I think someone should put together a content management thesaurus. Something along of the line of Components are to Joomla as Module is to Drupal. Just a thought.

On the plus side, I’ve been much better at documenting as I learn, so now I have a few nice training manuals with beautiful screenshots (thanks Jing). So I won’t have to reinvent the wheel every time I come back to a project.

As I was working on my joomla system I began to become quite frustrated. It just didn’t have the tools I needed. As I slinked over to the IT guys to beg for them to install yet another system, I felt truly baffled. The problem with this whole project, is that I know the answer is dangling there right in front of me.

So, after playing with Drupal for about half an hour, I ran across a module that created bibliographies. It was searchable, allowed for quite a bit of metadata and could link to a url with the pdf. . . .wait a minute. I bet there’s something like that for Joomla and sure enough. . .

I don’t know if it will work yet. There is always the pesky authentication problem, but I feel like I’m narrowing in. I’ll be bouncing back and forth between Joomla and Drupal until one emerges as the clear winner.

Let the games begin
Joomla vs Drupal


I have been puzzling through the now emerging limnology digital library for about a week now. Joomla is looking good but lacks a key functionality. Specifically there is no way to put in metadata and then search by said metadata. Kind of important.

After a week of wrenching I’ve really come to appreciate the time I’ve spent messing around on, say, wordpress (this isn’t my first blog). The first one I put together to look like a static webpage. It took me most of a long air-conditionless summer night to finish. A couple of weeks later, I put together another word press blog/webpage to support my candidacy for a job. It took my lunch hour and that includes inputting all of the information and modifying a template.

I consider myself a pragmatist. A tool is only as good as the job it can do. And so much time spent tinkering and testing are the best forms of discovery. I think a successful project is not a matter, necessarily, of skill or training, but about having the ability to see possibility.