Sir Louie

I’m working with the University of Oxford on a new project called ‘Sir Louie‘ (which has a website and a blog) to integrate Reading Lists with their online learning environment called WebLearn (which is Sakai under the bonnet). This project has some similarities to the JISC funded TELSTAR project I recently finished at the Open University – but with some different angles, approaches and different systems involved.

Sakai already has a ‘resource list’ functionality called the ‘Citation Helper‘ (which came out of the Sakaibrary project I first heard about at IGeLU 2006 – not 2008 as I originally stated  – thanks to Lukas for the correction to the date).

With the Sir Louie Project, the hope is we can further enhance the Citation Helper through some quite ‘loose coupling’ of various systems. In essence we want to enable:

  • The addition of citations to a Citation Helper resource list from the ‘resource discovery’ system run by the library service at Oxford University called SOLO (actually Primo by Ex Libris under the bonnet)
  • The addition of holdings/availability information to resources in a Citation Helper resource list so that students (or staff) can see at a glance what is available (and where)

The first part we are hoping to emulate the existing functionality the Citation Helper has for Google Scholar (described in this blog post). This adds an extra button to search results in Google Scholar to import the reference into a Citation Helper resource list. However, where Google Scholar seems to push the metadata across in a reasonably arbitrary format, instead we want to enable the Citation Helper to translate any citation formatted as an OpenURL – which should mean that the Citation Helper can then import citations from any database/search interface that provides OpenURLs for results.

The second part we are planning to use the Juice framework, which in turn is built on JQuery. The Juice framework is designed to enable additional functionality, generally in library systems, using relatively simple javascript. Juice has two main components:

  • Metadefs
  • Extensions

Metadefs enable Juice to grab relevant pieces of metadata from a webpage. Essentially it is a way of telling Juice where specific pieces of information are stored on a page – a typical example is to define where an ISBN is stored. So we will be creating a new Metadef for the Citation Helper screens. However, rather than simply creating a metadef that just works with Citation Helper, we are intending to create a metadef that understands COinS – a way of inserting an OpenURL into an html ‘span’ tag.

COinS are already used by a variety of systems, including the Zotero reference management software, and the LibX library browser plugin/toolbar – so if we add COinS to the Citation Helper lists (it already supports OpenURL), not only can we use it for our own purposes, but we are also enabling these existing applications to work with Citation Helper.

There has already been some work done in making Juice work with COinS as part of the VuFind metadef, so I’m hoping that it won’t be too much of a stretch to get this working with Citation Helper.

Once COinS has been added to the Citation Helper, and we have the metadef working, we can look at the Juice ‘extension’ we need to build. This will need to use metadata from the Citation Helper page – probably an identifier (or set of identifiers) such as ISBN, DOI, ISSN, etc. – and then query appropriate systems to get holdings/availability data back. Rather than build a query to each relevant system (and deal with any cross-site scripting issues that may arise) we are planning to write an additional piece of software here to mediate these requests.

We hope to use a standard format for holdings/availability data using the DLF-ILS ‘GetAvailability’ specification, and possibly looking at DAIA (Document Availability Information API) developed by Jakob Voss. We know Ex Libris (who provide the software for SOLO, and also the core library management system in use at Oxford) are committed to this approach (see the Ex Librian newsletter from 2009), and the DLF specification is also being used by other JISC funded projects, such as Summon4HN.

We are very interested in feedback on this approach – any issues people can spot in our approach, questions, or suggestions are very welcome – just leave a comment below.

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