Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Resolution...

It's difficult to take the time to document my progress on the redesign. My only New Year's resolution is to enter my progress EACH DAY that I work on this project.

So far I have done the following:

  • Set up preliminary permissions

  • Installed and enabled some basic modules

  • Created taxonomy for About the Library, Library Branches, Special Collections, and Find a Good Book

  • Created pages for several sections and assigned them to corresponding menus and tagged with corresponding taxonomy. The only sections left are Events and Research.

I also need to roughly flesh out what will be on the home page, add notes to the pages for their future population, and double-check everything.

The most confusing thing right now is how to handle taxonomy. I'm assigning almost everything to at least one term, but I'm not sure how it's going to pan out. I need to figure out how to hide the terms listed at the bottom of each page.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Onward Ho!

Now that EZProxy is successfully completed, it's time for the next phase of the redesign: Redesigning!

Creation of Website prototype, using Site Map as menu structure:

  1. Create preliminary permissions (2 admin, 1 staff)

  2. Download and install necessary modules

  3. Create Taxonomy for each section of

  4. Create Main Menu (primary links)

  5. Create sub-menus (secondary links, or menus from taxonomy?)

  6. Populate pages with title only and assign to taxonomy

Terribly exciting and only a little behind schedule...


This morning I officially migrated to EZProxy authentication. I originally thought this task would take one week. It ended up taking about three weeks. It was much more tedious, complicated, and time consuming than I originally thought.

Here's what I learned:

  1. Contacting database vendors is a time-sucker

  2. PPLD subscribes to a lot of database, each of which had to be altered in a separate script. Tedious and time-consuming

  3. We've linked to specific databases via Catalog authentication throughout Locating each instance and changing the scripts are not only tedious and time-consuming, but complicated.

  4. EZProxy rocks.

I'm pretty sure I fixed all issues involving the migration. However, only time and patron complaints will tell for sure.

All databases need to authenticate via EZProxy for the redesigned website. Hence the migration.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Kiosk - The Resurrection

The thing about Drupal is there's always more than one way to accomplish your goals, and usually the most elegant solution is not the one you originally implement. As I mentioned before, I put my documentation on the Libraries Drupal Group. Luckily I got some responses from some real Drupal experts advising me on how to create one View for all my categories. While I had to re-do my work, I'm glad to have this information for future use on the redesign. So, documenting madwoman that I am, I've revised the documentation for this process:

1. Create the categories and subcategories in Taxonomy
2. Create a Content Type in CCK and attach the Taxonomy to it. Use the Link module to add a link field to the Content Type.
3. Populate the Content Type with web links.
4. Create a View, Field = Content:URL; Filter = Published True; Sort criteria: Content:link title:URL asc; Argument: Taxonomy:Term ID (Title=%1; Validator=Taxonomy Term; Vocabulary=Tourist Information).
5. Create a Page Display in the View. Path is "tourist_information/%"
6. You can preview the View using the Taxonomy ID (TID) for each term in the specified Vocabulary.
7. Create a second View for the subcategories. Criteria is the same, except no Argument. Instead, create a separate Block display for each subcategory and add a Filter = Taxonomy Term for each specific subcategory.
8. Create a Menu called Tourist Information. Populate it with the View paths.
7. Create a main page called Tourist Information.
8. Assign the Tourist Information menu to the content region of the Tourist Information main page in Blocks.
9. Assign the subcategory blocks created in Views to the content region of their corresponding View paths in Blocks.
10. If you want the Tourist Information menu to show up as Navigation element anywhere, use the Multiblock module to create a separate instance of the Tourist Information block. Then assign that instance to your chosen region in Blocks.
11. Now if you navigate to the Tourist Information main page you should see a list of the categories and subcategories (Tourist Information menu in the content region). If you click on any link, you should go to a page created with the corresponding View path.

Clear as mud?

The Kiosk project is finished. Let this be my last post on it!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Kiosk - The Return

I submitted the process I used to create the Tourist Information page to the Libraries Drupal Group. Another user was trying to accomplish something similar. The process I listed is a little different from what I posted in my previous entry. I also solicited suggestions on how to streamline the process. We'll see what people think:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Kiosk Progress

Well, after much experimentation the following solution seems to work for our Tourist Information web links list:

1. Create the categories and subcategories in Taxonomy
2. Create a Content Type in CCK and attach the Taxonomy to it. Use the Link module to add a link field to the Content Type.
3. Populate the Content Type with web links.
4. Create a Menu called Tourist Information.
5. Create a View for each category and add Page displays for the category and its corresponding subcategories and Block displays for each subcategory as well. Assign the Page displays to the Tourist Information menu.
6. Create a page for each category that contains subcategories. Assign the pages to the Tourist Information menu.
7. Create a main page called Tourist Information.
8. Assign the Tourist Information menu to the content region of the Tourist Information main page in Blocks.
9. Assign the subcategory blocks created in Views to the content region of each category page in Blocks.
10. If you want the Tourist Information menu to show up as Nav Bar anywhere, use the Multiblock module to create a separate instance of the Tourist Information block.
11. Now if you navigate to the Tourist Information main page you should have a list of the categories and subcategories (Tourist Information menu in the content region). If you click on any link, you should see either a page created in Views, or a page assigned with the blocks created in Views.

Simple, right? Not.

Our next challenge is to get the Kiosk theme to be one thing on the home page and something else on all sub-pages.

Wish us luck!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

PPLD Kiosk

Well, we've started work on our first official PPLD Drupal website. It's actually a kiosk that will be situated downtown at the Penrose Library.

The big challenge here is creating a View from a Content Type that will list out our Tourist Information websites by category. This is easy to do in SQL/VBScript. Hopefully it will be easy to do in Drupal once we get the hang of it.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Home Page Design Guidelines

As we begin to move into the construction phase of's redesign, I've been keeping an eye out for interesting articles, especially about usability.

Here is an article by Jakob Neilson, Top Ten Guidelines for Home Page Usability.

We will definitely be referencing this article during our home page construction. Website Improvement Survey Results

Thanks to the participation of PPLD's wonderful patrons, our Website Improvement Survey was a big success! We had 192 participants and received lots of feedback that will go toward making the redesigned website a more user-friendly experience.

We analyzed the results and now have a Site Map constructed to serve as a starting point for the website population. Next up, converting our proprietary database authentication to EZProxy, and when the local server is ready, begining the redesign construction and population.

Thank you to everyone who participated!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Take It Back...

While Drupal development work is happening on, I have decided to continue my documentation of the actual redesign process here on VirgiBlog. Sorry for the confusion...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hi there. I haven't posted here lately because most of my work has been on I think I'll be posting there mostly from now on. So if you are interested in our progress on the redesign, head on over to!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sirsi Voodoo?

OK, this isn't about the redesign, but the weirdest thing happened. On Friday afternoon at the request of a coworker, I embedded our MeeboMe widget into the Catalog page that returns 0 results. It worked great and I was all "yay me". Today I hear on Twitter that my coworker can't find the widget on that page. I take a look and lo and behold it is gone!

Current theories:

  1. Sirsi voodoo has made the widget mysteriously disappear (well our Catalog vendor is the Devil)

  2. The widget is only visible inhouse (not likely as my coworker was Twittering from inhouse)

  3. I was so busy on Friday that somehow I wrote over the file with the original in my haste to finish all the other crap I was working on (I hate it when that happens)

Guess I'd better bring my Catalog voodoo doll with me to work on Monday, just in case.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Slow and steady wins the race

Not to keep harping on PPLD's Website Improvement Survey, but I can't help it. I've resorted to promoting it on our slide show. We're up to 53 responses, some of which are friends of mine I emailed.

I feel pretty good about the responses so far, but I need more comments!!

This is really the primary disadvantage to online card sorting exercises. I can't hear what the user is saying/thinking so I'm not sure what their motives are. Comments are helpful, but I'm not getting enough of them.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Focus Group Card Sorting?

I read this article by Michael Hawley called, "Extending Card-Sorting Techniques to Inform the Design of Web Site Hierarchies". In it, he mentions some options to extend and complement traditional card-sorting practices. The one I found most interesting was Focus Group Card Sorting. Basically you find a focus group of 8-15 people and bring them to a physical location and have them do the card sorting exercise online but with you there to listen to and record their comments and discuss their choices.

I'm not sure we'll have the time or resources to do this or even if it will be necessary, but I still think it's a good idea for future card sorts, if nothing else.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Initial Reaction

The card sorting exercise has been active for 1 day. So far we've had 22 participants, about half of which are staff.

The comments I've received so far from patrons are that they were confused by the format. They expected a traditional survey and instead got an "exercise". To help alleviate this confusion I pointed the link to the Library's blog entry about the exercise. It describes a bit more clearly what the Survey actually is.

I really hope that helps clarify things for our patrons.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Patron Card Sort

We launched the Website Improvement Survey (which is a card sorting exercise for patrons) today! It runs through October 31. I'm both excited and apprehensive to see how patrons react to it.

Everyone, please take it!

PPLD's Website Improvement Survey

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

CCK and me!

I uploaded and enabled the CCK module and messed around with it per Drupal 6's instructions. I created two new content types on my test site,, Book Reviews and Movie Reviews.

I also enabled FiveStar module so authenticated users can vote on the books and movies I highlighted.

This was a good exercise for me to wrap my head around CCK.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Hell. Looking at Taxonomies in Drupal made me realize I'll need to create a taxonomy structure for I think with an already existing Site Map and a card sorting exercise in progress, that this should be okay. It's a similar concept, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Staff Card Sort

Well, we've released the card sorting exercise to staff. We'll see how it goes. I'm looking forward to their feedback... as long as it's all positive, harhar.

Monday, September 8, 2008

LiveStats vs. Google Analytics

When comparing Visits for our current web statistics software, LiveStats, and our possible new web statistics solution, Google Analytics, I noticed quite a discrepancy:

  • Google Analytics reported 9,692 visits on September 4, 2008

  • LiveStats reported 13,376 visits on September 4, 2008

I learned this is the case because Google Analytics user sessions expire in 30 minutes and LiveStats expire in 15 minutes. I suspect I'll run into a lot of differences like this.

I've started documenting my findings on our staff Intranet for posterity's sake.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Card Sorting Redux

We've decided on OptimalSort for our card sorting project. Staff testing begins the week of September 9. Patron testing begins on October 1. Good times.

I also submitted a proposal to speak at 2009 Computers in Libraries conference. If accepted, my topic will be a portrait of this redesign. Why? Because I wasn't stressed out enough.

Drupal 6.4

After much hubbub I have upgraded to Drupal 6.4. I know for the future that I will need to do upgrades through Simple Scripts. Because of my inexperience, I pretty much had to re-setup from scratch. Ugh.

Now that I've hopefully been able to put a halt to work projects, I should be able to do more work on this project.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Drupal Support is Awesome!

I've only been working on for a few days and I've been going by the book, but already I've run into two problems:

  1. DHTML Menu - contrib module settings don't display the way the book said it would.

  2. Clean URLs - going to Administer after enabling this gave a 403 Forbidden error.

But hey, no worries! I went to, searched for both problems and found solutions that worked!

So far I'm very happy with Drupal and its community.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I just purchased the domain name and set up a remotely hosted website to work with Drupal:

It's just in its initial stages...

I'll probably be migrating this blog over there before too long.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

DrupalCamp Websites

I told the Website Team I would gather a list of the websites highlighted at DrupalCamp Colorado. Here they are:

DrupalCamp Websites

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Card Sorting and Other Things

The website team met today. We finished renaming links and now will actively start the card sorting process. We're going to go with an online solution and are currently deciding between WebSort and OptimalSort

Meanwhile, I am going to immerse myself in Drupal by installing it on a remotely hosted site and working with it, reading tons of documentation and books, and becoming an active member of the Drupal Community.

Once the card sorting exercises have been finished and I'm pretty confident with Drupal, I will take the results and alter my site map accordingly. Then I will populate a Drupal prototype with the site map and barely populated pages. The public will have access to the prototype and will probably even be able to comment on it.

Then its on to the next phase, Design, Content Population, and Usability Studies...

Monday, July 28, 2008

DrupalCamp Colorado!

I just found out last week through a friend about DrupalCamp Colorado. I signed up just in time and spent this past weekend in Denver learning about Drupal. It was a great experience. Because I'm new to Drupal I felt a bit overwhelmed at times, but mostly I'm excited about what Drupal can do for

I took tons of notes during the sessions and posted them on Google Docs, for anyone who's interested:

Caveat: I'm a Drupal newbie. I tried to get everything right in the notes, but I probably missed a thing or two. Feel free to comment if you notice any mistakes.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Renaming Links

I'm working with the Website Team to rename links on to more user-friendly terms.

After we've come to an agreement on the link names, we'll conduct a small patron card-sorting exercise. After we have analyzed those results, we'll compile the basic organizational structure for the website.

It's slow going, but it is going...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Card Sorting

I met with two coworkers today and drew up a list of categories and subcategories for a card sorting exercise at the next Website Team meeting. We've already done one exercise so I'm looking forward to this second attempt. After we try it out on the Website Team we plan to try it out on patrons.

I'm also reading a book called "CSS Mastery". Not even a little exciting, I'll tell you.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Catalog Search Widget Thingy

I implemented a Catalog Search Widget on PPLD's Catalog today. It's from Widgetbox. It allows you to install a Catalog Search Box on iGoogle, Blogger, Wordpress etc. There's one at the bottom of this blog.

I hope people use it.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Don't Make Me Think!

I read a rockin' book about web usability this weekend called Don't Make Me Think!, by Steve Krug. I found a handful of things I could implement immediately, and I'm excited about making an entire paradigm shift for the redesign. It was a real eye-opener. Especially the idea of making link names obvious and taking advantage of web conventions. Libraries are huge offenders on the link names.

I highly recommend this book to all web developers.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Fell off the face of the Earth

It's been awhile since I've posted anything. I have just finished the Teen Summer Reading website and am now going to devote my time to converting our scripted SQL statements to stored procedures. It's a big, tedious project.

Meanwhile, because I know the tedium will drive me crazy, I plan to continue my Drupal research and maybe set up a test site or two.

Our System Administrator spec'd a Linux box for this project. I'll have to double check with her to make sure it meets Drupal requirements, but I'm pretty sure that won't be a problem.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Song and Dance

We gave our little song and dance about Drupal to the website team yesterday. They are mostly convinced that this is the best way for us to go. Stage 2 is to continue reading the documentation and pursue my research and testing.

I must admit that it's a bit intimidating to learn not only Drupal but the technology that supports it. Right now we use Windows/IIS and VBScript/Html mostly, for Drupal we'll need to implement an Apache box and learn PHP/mySQL on top of learning Drupal and successfully planning and implementing a redesign. It's a daunting task, to say the least. But I feel confident in my abilities and my coworkers' abilities to do this.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


It's funny how I'm supposed to redesign the website on top of my regular duties.

Lately I've been converting scripted SQL statements to Stored Procedures and creating the Teen Summer Reading pages, among other things. I'm reading an actual print book on Drupal as well.

The Website Team meets this Thursday to review our findings on Drupal and make a decision about whether or not to use this CMS.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


We met with the consultant this morning and he pretty much reinforced what I already suspected Drupal would and wouldn't do for our website. There are many advantages of using this CMS, and of course a few disadvantages. I'm going to compile a report summarizing the meeting and listing pros and cons. Then we will report to the Website Team to make a decision. All of us felt that Drupal would be a good CMS for us to use.

One interesting thing that the consultant suggested was for us to switch the web server to an Linux environment. Right now we operate in a Windows environment and while Drupal works with Microsoft, it works better with Linux. My System Administrator is actually excited to learn about Linux, so I was glad for that. If we do decide on Drupal, we will use a Linux machine.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Redesign Project Step 1 - Research CMSs

I've been researching CMSs for quite some time now, mostly through word of mouth and some online sources. Right now I'm leaning toward Drupal. I'm about to slog through some Drupal documentation now so I'll be ready for a GoToMeeting with some consultants in the morning.

Wish me luck.

So it begins

PPLD is undergoing a website redesign. I've decided to blog our project's progress (and pitfalls) for posterity (say that 3 times fast). Besides, I think it will help me keep track of the project as well as provide a reference source as the project continues.

Most people that read the entries that follow will probably think I'm boring. I'm not.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Thing 23

Summarize my thoughts regarding 23 Things:
  • My favorite Things were LibraryThing, Google Labs, and the Web 2.0 Awards.
  • This program made me take the time to look at technologies that I need to know for my job. I was already familiar with most of them, but there were a few surprises.
  • The CakePHP and ColorTheme (?) technologies were neat and I plan to use them in my work. Same goes for LibraryThing.
  • Require users to include the URLs to the Things they create so we can look at them.
  • Of course I would participate if this would be offered again. Mainly because I'll likely be involved in making it.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Thing 22

Subscribe to a podcast. I subscribed to This American Life in Google Reader AND iTunes. Yip.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Thing 21

YouTube. I use YouTube quite a bit. I love it. I have even posted videos to it for the Library. Yay me.

Thing 20

Web 2.0 applications. I really liked ColorBlender and CakePHP. I saved them to my for future use. I think they will come in handy.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Thing 19

Apparently I've used Zoho writer before when I was at CiL and I guess I was having a hard time getting my Mac to let me take notes. I don't really remember this, but the document is sitting right here on my desktop so who am I to argue.

Zoho writer is cool. So is Google Docs. However, I usually have Word on my pc so I'm not that likely to use these tools. Both times I've tried to use an online document editor in the past my online session has been iffy, resulting in lost work. So in most cases, no thanks to Zoho and Google Docs.

I DO like that you can Publish to a Blog. That is very cool and a good way to format your entries before publishing.

Thing 18

Google Labs. Google Mars was very cool. But in my opinion, the coolest by far was the Google Ride Finder. I mean, it follows those cabs around in real time. That's so neat and big-brother like to me! It's like I'm God watching over my children from above! I can watch a cab drive around Baltimore for example, and imagine all the devious and strange things that are going on in the lives of the people driving to and from wherever it is they are going. Is that so wrong?

Thing 17

I read a few articles on Library 2.0. I liked the point Michael Stephens made that librarians should not use a specific technology just because it's the new cool thing. It's easy to fall into that trap and try to one up your colleagues. The best thing to do is find what technology works best for your needs and the needs of the staff and public, and use it consistantly.

Thing 16

I did some poking around Technorati and I'm not impressed. I already subscribe to way too many blogs and when I searched for 'bagpipes' none came up that interested me. Also, I tried to join so I can register my blog and it wouldn't let me enter my confirmation key. I tried twice, to no avail. WTF? Technorati? Not so much...

Thing 15

Dude, I LOVE I use it all the time, especially since now I'm researching and compiling links for the redesign. I like that I can easily share my findings with the rest of the Website Team. Although I always feel like a dork saying, "Look at my for links to..."

That said, look at my for links on all kinds of web redesign stuff:

P.S. When we do 23 Things again next time, I'm going to make staff include the links to the Things they created...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Thing 14

I belong to Ning because my boss is into it. I could take it or leave it, to be honest. There's so much technology out there that you have to pick and choose. I just haven't seen a terrific use for Ning yet. However, I may start really using it with the Website Team as the redesign progresses. Never say never...

Thing 13

MySpace and Facebook. Well, since I created the MySpace Teen Zone space and I also created the PPLD facebook group and Catalog search engine widget, I think I got this one finished. Ah, the perks of being web developer.

Thing 12

Rollyo. It's pretty cool. I'd like to one day make a repository of custom searches created by PPLD patrons and staff and include it on

Monday, March 10, 2008

Thing 11 - LibraryThing

LibraryThing is pretty darn cool. I'd like to use it to review books I've read, but the Facebook application doesn't work very well. I use Shelfari to review books in Facebook right now, and although it has its issues as well, I'll probably stick to it until LibraryThing's Facebook application improves. Still, I plan to continue to mess with LibraryThing. Maybe some uses for will come up, like a patron review area, or something. I added LibraryThing to my blog, but I'm still populating it.

Thing 10 - LinkedIn

This resource is interesting if you are looking to network on a professional level. Unfortunately I'm notoriously awful at networking. I never had much patience for hobnobbing with the goobersmoochers. Maybe since this isn't a face-to-face schmooz-fest I'll finally get somewhere.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Learn a New Thing Every Day!

Just when I thought I knew (almost) everything about the Intranet wiki, I learned something new today.

By accident, one of my co-workers mistyped her blog URL information into the wiki (one time, w/o brackets) and yet the URL still worked.

Instead of using brackets and typing the URL twice, all you have to do is type the URL in once w/o brackets and it shows up correctly. DUH!!

It makes perfect sense in retrospect. Using brackets with a hyperlink allows you to name the hyperlink anything you want. However, we just wanted the hyperlink to show the URL, so in this case, no need for brackets.

I'm thrilled. It just goes to show you that even those of us that work with these tools every day can learn new things about them.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Captain Kirk Ponders a Career Change

Kirk: "There are times, Mr. Spock, when I think I should have been a librarian."

Spock: "The job of librarian would be no less challenging, Captain, but it would undoubtedly be a lot less dangerous."

Star Trek on YouTube

Thanks, Desert Librarian!

Monday, February 25, 2008

RSS Feeds

I'm a big fan of Google Reader and have been using it for quite some time. It's so easy to subscribe to feeds! All you do is paste in the URL for the website that interests you and if a feed exists you are automatically subscribed to it.

I subscribed to almost everyone's blogs (except for those of you who messed up your URLs on the wiki).

Before this project I had way too much stuff on my Reader, now it's really out of hand. Oh well, just because it shows up in your Reader doesn't mean you have to read it...

Academy Awards

I watched the entire Academy Awards last night. Why? I'm still not sure. I haven't seen most of the nominated movies this year. However, now I really want to see 'No Country for Old Men', 'There will be Blood', 'Away From Her', and 'Atonement'.

The moment that made the whole night for me was when Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova won Best Original Song for "Falling Slowly" from the movie "Once". I loved that movie and I love that song. They were the underdogs and I'm so glad they won.

I'm also glad that Diablo Cody won for Best Original Screenplay for "Juno" which I also loved.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Take My Dog... Please!

Man, I wish someone would do this to Luna! She's the dog in the Librarian Trading Card pic and I call her Pig Pen for her ability to get dirty no matter where she is. Of course I'd be a basket case if she went missing for 2 hours, like the pup in this article:

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Flickr - Thing 7

My Librarian Trading Card
Originally uploaded by daved23
Flickr rocks! I love this website. You can find so many photos here and connect with people with similar interests.

I'm glad that PPLD has their own account now, but I think they still need to go through the photos and remove the poor quality ones and the duplicates from their private photos.

Fun fun fun

Yes, I'm doing 23 Things, too. Which is weird because I was one of the people that helped launch this project. You would think that would be enough to qualify for the laptop. But no...

On the bright side, I do like to listen to the click click click of the keyboard as it spells out my deepest thoughts and fears. My deepest thought today was "If I legally changed my name to Constantinople, would people be looking for a girl named Istanbul instead?" My deepest fear is falling victim to a stealth attack by humongus mutant Hostess Twinkies that gush flesh-eating creamy filling from their yummy insides.