Routine processing of library books frequently means using shelves and other spaces as staging areas for incoming and in-process items. As gifts and purchased books are acquired, cataloged and labeled, librarians typically work on them in batches, sorting on to separate shelves those which have not yet been searched in the catalog or which represent additional copies for the collection or which require a certain level of cataloging, etc. As they move through the processing of getting them to the library and ultimately, the reader they are moved from place to place in the back-rooms of library work areas. Continue reading
As we've mentioned before, the Smithsonian Libraries is redoing its website to move to Drupal 7 and away from our legacy ColdFusion site. The new site aims to be more friendly easier to our visitors, with a "flatter" hierarchy of information and simpler navigation to find information. It's been two months since we started and we have an update on where we are in the development and some of the fun things we've encountered along the way.
The same content appears
(N.B. When I refer to "styles", I really mean CSS. For the uninitiated, this is generally what controls how a web page looks, separating it from what a website does or what information the site contains.)
We're happy to say that the graphic design is nearly complete! Our initial design started with a Photoshop file. The first round of development of was simply to convert the Photoshop file into an HTML 5 Prototype that looked as close as possible to the Photoshop file while still looking normal in all of the major browsers. It's a fact of life that we still need to support some of the quirky styles that are needed to make a site look good in Internet Explorer 8, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and OS X Safari. This HTML Prototype is a way to make sure that what we want to build can be built. After that, it's a matter of turning it into something functional.
(Side note: There are those out there who may argue that this step is inconsequential and possibly a misuse of valuable time. As I've continued beyond the Prototype, I've found that the it is a useful reminder of what the page should look like. I've referred back to it a number of time during my conversion of the Prototype to a Drupal 7 theme.)
So that means the second round, creating a Drupal Theme was the next logical step. Even though the manner in which I created the prototype was completely different from that of creating a Drupal Theme, the work that I did there carried forward and streamlined some of the development of the theme. For the record, we are using the Zen theme, which is meant to act as a foundation for a sub-theme of your own creation, which we did. We cleverly named our sub-theme "smithsonianlibraries" to set it apart from the other themes that Drupal uses. Of course, we will not be sharing this theme with others, though it may get use on related websites that we build in the future, especially if they are Drupal.
Content is key!
Pretty graphics aside, there comes a point in developing a site in Drupal where the content starts to become important. It's one thing to create a handful of placeholder menu items, but those all need to be deleted and recreated (or edited) when the content becomes available. So now we have something along the lines of a chicken-before-the-egg problem. Building a website requires the content, but the content requires somewhere to go before the site can be built. So in one sense, these two things happen in parallel while we're building.In this case, I started out with some sample content to get the basics in place, but at this point in time I've deleted the sample content for a more complete set of records. They may still need some edits, but the content is still closer to "final" than "beta."
Much of the content so far has not be a simple matter of export-from-old and import-to-new. Certain portions of the site are getting a new, flatter architecture which means that content that once was separated onto multiple different pages is now being combined into a single, rich page. The benefits to the user experience far outweigh the temporary challenges that we face in reorganizing the data.
At this point in time, we can say that each of the 20+ locations of the Smithsonian Libraries will have it's on "homepage" giving you all the most important information about that library in one place. More information will be available if you wish to delve deeper, but this aims to help visitors find information faster and easier than before.
There's more to come!
As we mentioned before, this first phase of development presents a new website based on Drupal 7. Despite the learning curve involved, for both the developers and the rest of our staff, we feel we are well-positioned for what is to come later this year…
For now, schedules have shifted slightly, so now we are working towards an internal launch date in February or March and the launch and announcement of our new site sometime in April, at the earliest.
This time of year is full of lists — to-dos and "best of"s and, of course, resolutions. If you've found yourself a little lacking in the resolution-making department this year, we offer a few suggestions:
What are your resolutions for the new year? Any that are book or library related? We'd love to know in the comments. Whatever you do in the coming year, we hope it is filled with happiness! Happy New Year from the Smithsonian Institution Libraries!
On October 28, 2011, NHM, London, in collaboration with the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, the Society for the History of Natural History and others, hosted a symposium, "Anchoring Biodiversity Information: From Sherborn to the 21st century and beyond,” honoring the 150th anniversary of the birth of Charles Davies Sherborn. Sherborn, 1861-1942, played a critical role in the biodiversity world by being the first to successfully index every living or extinct animal discovered and documented between 1758 and 1850. His greatest work, Index Animalium, took over 43 years to complete but is still referred to by taxonomist around the world. The one-day event, held at the Flett Theatre at the Natural History Museum, London, celebrated the incredible achievements of Sherborn and the ramifications for taxonomic research yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
The Smithsonian Libraries presented at the symposium with Suzanne Pilsk, metadata librarian, giving a talk and Grace Costantino (Digital Collections Librarian for BHL) and Leslie Overstreet (Curator of the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library at SIL) presenting a poster.
SIL’s Suzanne Pilsk explained the role Smithsonian Libraries has played in bringing the critical work Index Animalium out of the library and off the page with a talk titled “Unlocking the Index Animalium: From paper slips to bytes and bits” (pictured above). Pilsk represented the work done to date by SIL staff, interns and volunteers to create an online version of the work. Smithsonian Libraries’ goal was to provide better access to the Index than was previously available and connect the researcher to the level of information needed. Over the span of years, staff has evolved the project from the initial vision of discovering where the text was located within the library walls, to linking to the scanned text via BHL.
The poster presented by Grace Costantino and Leslie Overstreet, entitled “Online Synergy: Sherborn’s Index Animalium and the Biodiversity Heritage Library,” delved into the link between SIL’s online version of Index Animalium and the digitized volumes within BHL. SIL’s online version of the Index Animalium allows researchers to search the entire multi-volume work by name, epithet, or other keyword. With the citation thus provided, researchers can then access the cited text itself on BHL, finding not only the species citation but, in many cases, remarkable illustrations as well.
The talks and posters from the symposium can be viewed here, and to find out more about the incredible life of Charles Davies Sherborn, take a look at the feature on him and the symposium in The Telegraph. You can also view photos from the event on Flickr.
— Suzanne Pilsk and Grace Costantino
Do you know an undergrad or graduate student studying library science, art or history? We are looking for a few good candidates to fill intern positions this spring! Both of these internships are unpaid but may be performed full or part time. Although the Smithsonian itself can not award credit for internships, but we are happy to work with academic institutions to do so. For more information about the benefits of interning at the Smithsonian, click here!
Review of reference materials in History and Culture branch libraries
This project is to assist reference librarians in the History and Culture branches in reviewing their reference collections. The process involves reviewing all library reference or ready-reference titles, with the aim of withdrawing any titles that are either redundant, available online for free or low cost, or under-used by museum staff. The intern would complete the paperwork, pack the boxes, and arrange for shipment. This topic may not often be discussed in library school. The intern would discuss the process and rationale with reference librarians and technicians and the criteria for weeding and learn how librarians make decisions to weed and cultivate a paper and online collection in a special library setting.
This internship would be either part or full time and located in various branches, including the National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of American History. Desirable candidates will have an understanding of the selection and de-accessioning process for reference materials (collection development) . Multiple interns may be chosen. Application deadline is January 20, 2012.
Hirshhorn Museum Library Collections Care
This internship is available either full time or part time to students with a background in art history and foreign langauages and a keen attention to detail. It entails searching databases for specific titles in the HMSG collection and transferring items to off site storage if necessary. Application deadline is January 20th, 2012.
For more information, including detailed application instructions, please visit our webpage here.