rescuing data from the OPAC

Part of the long and major redesign of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library website mandated a browsable list of the feature films available. The idea, I’m pretty sure, is to have an online version of the title list binder that sits by the movies. There are a number of ways I could have accomplished this. Here’s a list or possible methods, ranked effort required and the resulting usability:

  • link from the website to the Word doc that already exists
  • link from the website to a PDF
  • copy and paste the titles into a Movable Type post to display them on the web
  • copy and paste the titles into a Movable Type post, but link the titles into the OPAC
  • make an individual post for each title, including a link to the OPAC, info about the film, a link to the IMDB’s entry on the film, and a place for user comments

films at the ford
There might be some more usable and labor intensive ways to do this, but let’s stop there because that’s what I decided to do. On one hand, it was bad that I couldn’t get access to the ILS and have some awesome scripts to automate this a la the WPOpac, but on the other hand, doing what I did wasn’t that much more terrible than linking titles to the OPAC in a plain old HTML document. Plus, since it is in this blog post format, other staff can easily keep the list up to date without the need for much instruction.

The pages could use some design tweaking, but since we’re going to have a whole new design in the next few months, it doesn’t make sense to spend that much more time on it. The important part is that the content and mechanics are in place. Speaking of mechanics, comments are moderated until approval. I don’t see this changing, mostly because this is built on Movable Type so spam will be very difficult to control.

infernal affairs

I see this little project as an experiment. If successful it will be an indication that the very lofty goals we initially made for the new site (now relegated to Phase 2) were on track, and that we shouldn’t forget about them.

You all are getting a sneak preview since this isn’t yet linked from anywhere on the TFML site. Poke around, see if you find anything goofy, and leave some movie reviews or comments.

Films at the Ford

8 thoughts on “rescuing data from the OPAC”

  1. Aaron — this is a great idea, and one that I may have to stea…. ahem, I mean borrow!

    I think all we have at the moment is a xerox’d list for our DVDs, but a web based version (ideally updated automatically when new records are added to the system) would be much better.

  2. *(ideally updated automatically when new records are added to the system)*

    Yes, for any collection larger than ours this is probably a necessity. Sadly, it is also an impossibility for those of us who only have web-based and non-admin access to the OPAC.

    Glad you like it, borrow away. I can’t wait to see an automated version.

  3. Hey, Aaron – I think this will be very useful for patrons! I especially like that you link to the IMDB (and that it’s open for comment, of course). Do you think you could organize the posts by category (genre) too for those who want a comedy, for example, but don’t know which one? You could borrow the genre terms from the IMDB or subject terms from the catalog or something like that. I know from other places I worked with substantial feature film collections, that I was asked for that a lot…Thanks for sharing!

  4. That’s a great thought and definitely in the works for later revisions of this site. I also want to display recent comments, and list the most films most commented upon. With any luck I can work these things in to the new design.

  5. Excellent idea making a separate post for each title — that’s really slick that patrons can comment on each individual movie.

    I may have to consider doing that for our library’s video game lists. Currently I just have them in a big list, with each title linked to the catalog. However, making each video game a separate post would allow for some pretty cool sorting (like by title, genre, rating, etc). Thanks for providing the inspiration!

  6. I like the genre tagging idea–much like some libraries are doing booklist blogs, and tagging by genre so users can easily see all the mysteries at once, or all the cookbooks…whatever. The one thing that stops me from doing something like that for our twelve libraries is sheer scale. I think this works well for a small library (even with the number you had to hand-enter, I am amazed at your endurance). For large libraries with thousands upon thousands of films, this becomes untenable. It is, however, something that we should be able to extract from our library catalogs in a nice presentable way. Browsing in the catalog should be an option. Period. May I live long enough to see that day….

  7. i’m just getting around to looking at this. i love that you went ahead and did it anyway without the “automatic” part.

    iii records are pretty easy to scrape if you can convince the opac admins to turn on xrecord in the wwwoptions. /record and /xrecord searches work on accession numbers, and accession numbers are incremental, so it’s real easy to guess what the next accession number is going to be. just tell the admins your trained monkeys will only slam the website in the middle of the night.

    failing that, here are some other wacky schemes:

    how about setting up a fake patron account and use iii’s e-mail alerts to notify a script of when new dvds are added to tfml? it won’t handle discards, but might work well for new materials. isn’t that sad? it might work?

    better yet just have the acquisitions staff put a hold on every movie for your fake patron. when it comes in, have the e-mail alert your patron. or just have them scan the UPC into a text file.

    if it’s really this important, convince the other swan partners. spring for a few extra dollars for more lists, or share a movie list and have the trained monkeys divy it up by location.

  8. awesome ideas! the fact that i had been working on this and was sooo sick of making entires was one of the reasons i was so excited about the technical aspects of your project.

    let me know if you do anything more with it.

Leave a Reply