I’ve shown a couple of people this idea that Julie and I have been developing for Holbeach – that of using RefWorks to manage a new-books list for the relatively small number of new titles that we receive each year at the campus LRC – and that can be embedded into Blackboard or a subject web page.
The advantage of using RefWorks (apart from the fact that many L&LR staff are reasonably familiar with it) is that the RefWorks shared folders do most of the work for you.
If people like it, there’s no reason you can’t start using it straight away. I’ve already a trip planned to Hull next month to see if it’ll work for colleagues there.
First, here’s the end result: http://feeds.feedburner.com/HolbeachLRC
Now, here’s how it’s done:
- Every time Julie gets a PO slip back for an order she placed, she logs into her RefWorks account, searches our catalogue for the book, and imports it.
- Julie has created a RefWorks folder called ‘Holbeach new books‘, and shared it publicly. All newly-arrived titles are added to this folder on import.
- This is the clever bit – RefWorks allows you [PDF, p.4] to make the contents of a shared folder available as an RSS feed. Here’s the feed for the Holbeach new books folder. You can treat this like any other RSS feed – follow it in Google Reader / wherever, embed it into a web page using Feed2JS, etc.
- But… it’s not very pretty.
- So, in comes Yahoo! Pipes. I’ve created a pipe which takes any RefWorks shared-folder RSS feed with books in it (not designed to work with journal articles or other items – perhaps that’s phase II). This pipe, which you can find at – http://pipes.yahoo.com/lincoln/newbooks - does the following:
- Looks for, and extracts a valid(ish) ISBN from each RefWorks item;
- Creates a new link to our catalogue which looks up this ISBN for each item;
- Displays a book-cover image from Amazon.co.uk matching that ISBN (with a link back to Amazon through our affiliate scheme), next to a description of the book (manually added to RefWorks), and an extra link back to the original item record in RefWorks (marked by the RefWorks icon: ) – I’ve just added that last element, today, because I think it’ll be useful to give students & staff the option to take each item and export it to their own RefWorks account. Also to give credit where credit’s due, and recognise that RefWorks is the source of the information!
- The ‘prettified’ RSS feed from Yahoo! Pipes is then fed through Google Feedburner, in order to give it a stable, sensible URL, collect stats on subscriptions and hits, and to allow email subscriptions.
Couple of slight problems / areas for development: we’re finding it necessary sometimes to ‘tweak’ the ISBN before it can find an Amazon cover image. Maybe with a better use of regex in my pipe, that wouldn’t be necessary? Also, at the moment Julie is manually adding the paragraph description to each item after import. I’m sure that somewhere out there exists a source of book descriptions / reviews that I could pull in automatically (hello, library mashup fans?!) – that would streamline the process a bit.