Free and Open Source Subject Guide software

Free and Open Source Options for Creating Database-Driven Subject Guides

This article reviews available cost-effective options libraries have for updating and maintaining pathfinders such as subject guides and course pages. The paper discusses many of the available options, from the standpoint of a mid-sized academic library which is evaluating alternatives to static-HTML subject guides. Static HTML guides, while useful, have proven difficult and time-consuming to maintain. The article includes a discussion of open source database-driven solutions (such as SubjectsPlus, LibData, Research Guide, and Library Course Builder), Wikis, and social tagging sites like This article discusses both the functionality and the relative strengths and weaknessess of each of these options.

Corrado and Frederick have put together an excellent overview of free and open source subject guide software for libraries in their article, Free and Open Source Options for Creating Database-Driven Subject Guides. It’s a good place to start if you are looking for a package to use for your library.


Questions to ask your interviewers

Questions to ask your interviewers

Several friends and acquaintances have recently asked what they should ask in an interview when the search committee or director inevitably asks “Do you have any questions for us?” (Hint: You should always have questions for us.)

If you’re looking for a really good job that’s a great fit for your skills and goals and interests (as opposed to just looking for a job, any job, one with a salary and benefits, really, any job will do), the interview is crucial to knowing whether or not you’re going to fit in there. And asking questions is one way to bust through the veneer of polish that we all put on for interview days. Seriously: you’ll never see more ties and jackets and heels than on days when we have a candidate coming. We’re all on Best Behavior, because we know we’re selling ourselves as much as you’re selling yourself. And you want to know more than our Best Behavior if you want to know if we’re a good fit for you.

So test us on that. Find out if we’re a good fit.

Here are a dozen questions that I a) enjoy asking, b) enjoy answering, and c) think can reveal something about the institution and the staff of a library. My brief commentary on why I would ask or what I suspect you might learn follows each question.

Jenica Rogers provides some insight into an important part of the librarian job interview.

Fallout from recent Federal libraries cuts: Fisheries library merger draws fire in Quebec

Fisheries library merger draws fire in Quebec

OTTAWA — The merging of fisheries libraries in Nova Scotia and British Columbia is sparking some anger in the rest of the country.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada will close most of its nine libraries across the country and split their collections between just two — in Sidney, B.C., and at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth.

A third Library in Ottawa will be reduced in size but retain a physical location.

At the same time, the federal department is digitizing its collection to make it available online.

That isn’t good enough for Quebec New Democrat Guy Caron, whose riding of Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques is losing a French-specific library.

Caron denounced the closure in the House of Commons on Monday as “ideological cuts” by the Conservatives, who he said are trying to “destroy our scientific institutions.”

Caron said the survival of the library is an official languages issue because it serves the francophone community.

“spokeswoman Erin Filliter … ‘Essentially, we’re digitalizing the electronic services, so everything is going to be electronic,’ ”

Does it necessarily follow that less staff is required to manage an electronic collection than one made up of books, microfilm and other more tangible media? It is difficult not to see this as simply cuts to Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s libraries with the distraction of the movement of libraries to electronic collections.

See also:

DFO Libraries

MOOCs – the 21st Century correspondence course?

In the MIT Review, Nicholas Carr compares the trend towards the use of MOOCs in higher education to an early 20th century trend, courses presented by postal mail.

Is it different this time? Has technology at last advanced to the point where the revolutionary promise of distance learning can be fulfilled? We don’t yet know; the fervor surrounding MOOCs makes it easy to forget that they’re still in their infancy. But even at this early juncture, the strengths and weaknesses of this radically new form of education are coming into focus.

The Crisis in Higher Education –

Digital Recovery

I have participated in disaster recovery missions (usually after the damage has occurred) in two different organizations, however they involved tangible assets, not digital ones. The “rescue” of digital repositories will play out more often in the future:

They call themselves “the bucket brigade.”

In a lower Manhattan building evacuated during Hurricane Sandy, more than a dozen people on Wednesday carried 5-gallon buckets filled with diesel fuel up 17 flights of stairs. Each of them carried two buckets — one in each arm — up two flights of stairs, then handed them off to the next person. The stairwell was pitch dark, slippery and reeked of diesel.

The diesel was powering a backup generator on the roof that fueled a data center run by Peer 1 Hosting. Inside, rows and rows of Peer 1’s servers provide the computing power for about 100 companies like Squarespace, a Web publishing software business, and Fog Creek Software, a company that develops tools for the software industry. Those companies rely on Peer 1’s data center to enable thousands of customers around the world to run their websites.

Now, to keep their customers online, these high-tech companies were relying on a very low-tech feat: carrying buckets of gasoline up stairs and pouring the fuel into a generator. The stakes were high: If the rooftop generator ran out of fuel, the servers would fail, and thousands of websites would go dark.


After Sandy Knocks Out Power, Rescue Keeps Data Center Alive –