I had the pleasure of attending the Mashed Libraries UK 2008 event in London last week. It had a good mix of librarians interested in technology, technologists interested in libraries, people from library system vendors, etc., and it was nice to put some faces to names/twitter identities!
I’ve decided not to write up the sessions themselves (for now at least) as several others already have and very eloquently to boot! The homepage of the Mashed Libraries Ning linked to above has a list of blog posts; Paul Walk, Jo Alcock and Richard Wallis all have good summaries of the presentations and the general mood of the day.
Personally I’d categorise myself as a librarian who wants to get more into the technology side of things – the phrase several people have used is a ‘tinkerer’ rather than a hard-core programmer. The presentations on the day made me see there was a lot I could do without delving into the guts of systems thanks to the increasing number of open APIs and web apps out there, which is brilliant. Data sources useful for library techies include the Talis Platform and Amazon’s web services API, while apps for doing stuff with them include Google Docs spreadsheets which can import XML and output RSS (I had no idea!) and the amazing Yahoo Pipes.
I played with the latter in the run-up to the event, on the day itself and afterwards to boot as it’s quite a compulsive tool – you can see the results which I consider nearly decent enough to share on my Yahoo Pipes page (yes, I’m chuffed I got the coveted ‘edith’ username). I think writing about my fumblings with the plumbing can wait for a future blog post. In the meantime talking to someone on the day made me realise there’s nothing to stop me adapting the script which creates RSS feeds from my library catalogue’s new item lists and using it to create RSS feeds of our reading lists for mashing up.
Hopefully sometime soon I’ll come up with uses of these mashups that our students might actually want – any suggestions are welcomed!
In the meantime, my thanks go to Owen Stephens for organising the event, and I hope it’s the first of many.