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Library Mashups for the Virtual
Using Web 2.0 Tools to Create a New
Current Awareness Service
Linda Absher, Adriene Lim and Kerry Wu
Portland State University – ACRL 2007
• Inspired by Web 2.0 functionality
• Automated
• Customizable
• Modular
• “MyPortlandState”: Campus Portal
– Desire to integrate library/selected
web resources and content within
the campus portal
Definition: New Web applications or
sites created through the combination
and re-use of data and/or functionality
from two or more disparate and usually
third-party Web sources
(Wikipedia, Jan. 2007)
Current Awareness Services (CAS):
The Library Literature
Definition: “system…for reviewing
newly available documents,
selecting relevant items…and
recording them so that notifications
may be sent...” (Kemp, 1999)
CAS: The Library Literature
• Historically paper-based and labor-intensive
• Online Services
• Alerts mostly available via e-mail or
electronic lists
• World Wide Web: some news/content
pushed via RSS feeds or blogs
• Still library specific (i.e., via library Web
• Not customizable
Topic Watch: The CAS Mashup
• Building Blocks: RSS feeds and more
• Chosen Subject Areas
• Business
• Film Studies
• What’s Different?
• Not intended to be used solely within a
library context
• Planned from the beginning to be
integrated within MyPortlandState Portal
Topic Watch: Technical Overview
• Presentation framework using HTML,
JavaScript, Asynchronous JavaScript
and XML (AJAX), and Cascading Style
Sheets (CSS)
• RSS feeds polled and displayed,
grouped by type (news, podcasts, etc.)
• New titles gleaned and cached via
“screen scraping” from canned reports
Technical Overview (cont’d)
• PHP scripts used for retrieving,
caching, and parsing of data
• Data stored in mySQL database
• Mouseover balloons using AJAX
• Central Search XML-based API
• OpenURL links offered
• Other APIs being considered
Close-up view of the
channel with “play”
• Customization and personalization not
yet possible
• Lack of filtering of keywords
• Few licensed databases offering RSS
• Copyright concerns – Example:
YouTube, holding off on using this API
• Non-Romanized characters
Initial Reactions to Pilot Project
• Initial comments very positive
• Faculty admitted they had little time to
subscribe to feeds
• Many had never encountered RSS feeds
before the CAS
• Subject area of “Business Research” too
broad for at least one respondent
Future Enhancements and Ideas
• More customization – User-submitted
RSS feeds for adds and deletions
• Identifying and pulling in more
Webinars and videocasts if possible
• Sharing of OPML file for users
• Flag already read items
• Possibly share framework and scripts
Next Steps
• More topics covered - Work with subject
librarians and faculty
• More marketing
– Introduce tool into Library instruction
• More integration
– Integrate tool with Research Guides
and Learning Management Systems,
(i.e., Sakai, WebCT)
Thank you – Questions?
• Linda Absher – [email protected]
• Adriene Lim – [email protected]
• Kerry Wu – [email protected]