Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The book goes live

   "Google this: Putting Google and other social media sites to work for your library" has gone from being a concept to being a real book that is sitting on my desk right now. Along the way I got to talk with librarians from the Library of Congress, New York Public, Harvard and the British Library. Most exciting, I was invited to the Googleplex for a day of talking with project managers. Later that day, we got to drive south and visit YouTube headquarters to interview a manager of educational projects. The seven months of writing went very quickly, followed by months of editing, copy editing and last-minute tweaks. I'm very proud of the final result, so we'll wait to see if it strikes enough chords with people to merit a second edition. The thesis here is that there are a lot of free or nearly free online products that are being underutilized by libraries. When possible, I've included a step by step instruction on how to create things like IGoogle gadgets or get links to your content in Google Earth.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Virtual Law Reference shelf

I'm experimenting with  a new page that shows a shelf of books arranged in call number order. If you click on a title you get a link to the online edition of that work. About half or slightly less are books in the public domain, so you can get them without authentication. The proprietary works will direct you to our proxy site for authentication. The idea of this site is to reaffirm the idea that electronic information is not just a lot of stuff that comes out of your computer. All of these started as printed books with editors and chapters. You can see it live at

Friday, November 11, 2011

There's an app for that at my law school

New York Law School's Mendik Library is proud to announce the release of Mendik Mobile, a smartphone app that gives library users mobile access to some of our key services. The app enables users to search the library catalog for books and course reserve materials. It provides channels for following the library’s blogs, and for contacting reference staff by phone, email or text. Users may review a list of books they’ve borrowed, and renew loans with just a click. Another channel links to the library’s popular DRAGNET feature, offering Google custom searching in free and reliable law-related Websites.

We created Mendik Mobile in conjunction with Boopsie, Inc., a major developer of library mobile applications. The app is a free download on all major smartphone platforms, including Apple, Android and Blackberry. Visit your app store, or point your smartphone’s browser to, and you will be automatically routed to the correct app store. We believe that we are the first law school in the nation to launch a fully featured library app for smartphones.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

DRAGNET goes gadget

In my IGoogle career I had only created a few actual gadgets - to someone who grew up in the 1950's XML is a very hard thing to learn. Unlike HTML it is absolutely unforgiving of any inconsistency. Miss so much as a quotation mark and you're in the dark. I got back into the game in a funny way. One day I noticed that I was listed in Google's Top IGoogle developer at around #200. This is because I had a wildly popular fall shot and it landed me in an area that was way out of my league. Later on I found out that I was also at #400 using a slightly different Google account. That got me taking another look at my gadget files to see if I could add more information like quotes and links to my web page. After a few weeks of this, my XML capabilities were way up. Previously when it was time to parse I had ten failures for every success. Now those odds have flipped. Up until this, my gadgets were just simple photo cubes. I was able to replace these with slide shows that would have up to 100 images of Ireland, New York or Dogs. Then I realized that I could imbed our DRAGNET search engine of free legal databases into a gadget file. There was some trial and error followed by actual success. I'm still tweaking, but we do have a working gadget now with the full functionality of DRAGNET and it's getting better every day.
Meantime, the improved data started showing up in the top developer's list. Earlier this week, my two entries were in adjacent spots.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

DRAGNET and its offspring

My summer project this year was to create a search gadget to put on our Facebook page. Google gives you access to something called Custom Search if you have a Google account (and why wouldn't you?) I'd used this to little effect in my Quinnipiac days, but I knew that there are many good free sites in the legal world, so I gave that another try. Once I had added about thirty sites, I knew I was on to something big. The more sites I added the more powerful this became, and the speed was always lightning-fast. Over the summer we finalized it, got the database count up to 80, and launched it with a new name "DRAGNET." The idea came from library director Camille Broussard, and I worked out the acronym "Database Resource Access using Google's New Electronic Technology."

Once I announced DRAGNET to some listservs it became an immediate sensation. I got several good suggestions about how to expand and fine-tune its results screens. The new expanded DRAGNET went live yesterday with search tabs for New York, International, Federal and a tab that displays the most recent hits from all 80 sites. Then I added the same search technology to a screen we keep that tracks 150 law journals with current issues and archives available free online - "Law Reviews with online content." More recently, at Camille's suggestion, I created a search page to use DRAGNET technology to track the constitutions and state codes of all 50 states and the federal government. This went public today at the NYLS Website.

I have about 10 custom searches in progress, including a few that I did just for practice. One of them tracks suggested recipe sites, to avoid the ones that have abusive popups. That will appear on my personal web page one of these days. Christina Crocker of the East Meadow Public Library used the technique to track book talk information. There is just no end to this.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Full Screen Google

Just found out by accident yesterday that Google now lets you add your own pictures to the Classic Google screen. I went to the Irish vault and had no trouble picking out an appropriate shot. Then I went to my wife's account and added one for her. I emailed her and told her to look. The response was "Wow!" I can't wait for September to start rolling out the fall shots.

Friday, July 9, 2010

New Gadgets

I finally figured out how to code the XML to create a Google gadget and get it in the interface. The first was a spinning cube with the theme "Love your Libraries." Then I resurrected a similar globe with images from the West of Ireland. I'm now busy adapting several customized Google searches dealing with legal data. Once you get the hang of this, the only limit is your imagination.