Tag obits

weblogs, they work

When I talk to people about using weblog software for library projects I always mention that the clean code it’ll spit out is advantageous. This clean code, along with dynamic content makes it easy for search engines to index, increasing the chances of your stuff getting noticed.

As of yesterday, I have a really great example of this that also servers as a reminder of the positive impact that libraries can have on the web. In the TFML inbox yesterday:

Dear Madam, Dear Sir,

I am trying to trace an old friend of mine, [XXXX], that I lost contact with over the past 8 years. In the search engine I found the link below and would be grateful to receive a copy of this article, so I can check whether the deceased is the person I am looking for.
I live in Frankfurt/Germany.
Thank you for your attention.
Best regards

[gives link to an entry in the TFML obit index]

We no longer had the newspaper so I had the obit faxed over from a nearby library and emailed the text to Germany. Today, a response was waiting for me.

Dear Aaron,

Thank you very much for your prompt reply. Unfortunately, [XXXXX]
is the person I was looking for. I am stunned that he died more than 3 years
ago, while he was still quite young and had so many plans.

The patron went on to give the story of how they knew each other, then ended with this:

In the past few years I “googled” him unsuccessfully, but only now traced
him on Amazon’s search-engine A9.com, in case you are interested how I
discovered your website. What would we do without the internet!

Again, thank you very much, and although I feel quite sad now, with your
information I can close a chapter in my life.

Sincerely, [XXXX]

Wow, just wow. Let’s not underestimate the impact libraries can have by putting quality content on the web through our own websites and in other receptacles. Our dispersed digital branches go far beyond the boundaries of our communities. Even small libraries secondarily serve people around the world.

western springs newspaper obituary index

You all may get a kick out of the Western Springs Newspaper Obituary Index. An industrious Magazines Desk employee was interested in indexing obits from our local papers, and naturally we wanted this index to be online. The obvoius solution was to use WordPress:

Quick and easy database creation. In fact, I didn’t have to do anything, WordPress did it all. Yay. Fully searchable.

Easy data entry This is Beth’s project, and she’s very dedicated to it. I wasn’t going to have the time to enter code myself, and there wasn’t time to show her how to write code. It took literally 4 minutes to show her how to log in, make an entry, select a category, and post.

So each ‘record’ in this database is a blog post. Categories were put in alpha order by

< ?php wp_list_cats('sort_column=name'); ?>.

I had to get the posts within a category display to be in alpha order too, not the usual bloggish reverse chronological. Luckily I found this code on the WordPress forums:

< ?php if (is_category()) { $posts = query_posts($query_string . '&orderby=title&order=asc'); } ?>.

The static front page is produced by semilogic’s static front page plugin.

It isn’t the prettiest website I’ve ever seen, but it’s functional. And it’s sure a great example of how weblogs can be so darn handy.

n.b. People can’t make comments on the obit index. I wasn’t quite comfortable with giving people the opportunity to talk about the deceased. “Online Grieving @ Your Library” has an odd ring to it.