Destiny’s Child Sort of Day

Today being Thursday, everything is dominated by the chunk of time I am manning the Help Desk in the computer lab.

So I came in and worked on finishing preparations for the Winter 2013 classes. We decided to keep the structure the same this “semester.” Depending on the participation we see for this round, we may mix things up for the Spring classes. We are using Wufoo for the class registration thanks to its ability to open and close automatically based upon entries. Then I wrote customized confirmation emails per class. I’m also asking teens one-on-one what sort of tech classes they would be interested in. Tomorrow I get to utilize the Teen Librarian’s mailing list to directly email teens and invite them to sign up for classes. While working on this, I rocked out to Destiny’s Child.

Following that, I finished my part of redesigning the Readers’ Advisory page. The table mimics the layout of the main staff directory listing. I sent some suggestions onto the Head of RA on how to improve items.

Readers' Advisory page

Readers’ Advisory page

In-between items, Heather McCormack, formerly of Library Journal and now with 3M Cloud Library swept into the UX office. I was elbow deep in my work and heavily distracted. However, Heather recognized me and even the place we had met before (Digipalooza in August 2011). I was impressed! She’s got quite the memory.

The good news for today is that my goal to move the Tech Books collection from the Lower Level (basement) to the main non-fiction section is now under away! The Head of Reference is now looping in all of the relevant people to make it happen. I’m very excited for this to happen as this has been my pet project this year. Hopefully my circ numbers will start climbing.

Then I wrote an email advising on LibGuides to another library department today. I probably sounded like I was coming down too hard, but I want them to know what they’re facing. In short: creating LibGuides is challenging.

Help Desk was entertaining as usual. In between patrons I worked on my set aside project: doing a content inventory. I discovered a whole new batch of posts which are ripe for deleting. I’ve received the green light from that department’s head but need to talk to the person who wrote the posts. This is perhaps not the best way to carry out a content inventory, but vicious pruning makes it easier to see what gems the website has buried within its thousands of posts. I also managed to sneak in introducing a patron to the DML. Score!

Finally, I wrapped up the day with a surprise stint on the Welcome Desk (circ). I was called up to help load a 3M eReader. This led to me helping re-fresh one staff member on the process and then showing off the 3M Cloud Library kiosk and eReader to another patron. I had changed out the text on the 3M kiosk last week to be more direct “Don’t have an eReader? See the Welcome Desk” (which is problematic for EOSL folks — oops). It seems people are thus asking!

Collection Development Policy

Today the Collection Development Librarian from the Children’s Library was kind enough to send me the policy she had written up. I then spent 45 minutes modifying it to fit the 100 or so books that make up the Tech Books Collection. I’ve sent the first draft to the Head of Reference and our overall Collection Manager (?) for feedback. While it may be silly for one tiny collection to have its own policy, I wanted to create something solid that will ensure the collection is not left out in the rain again.

Inbox zero continues to elude me. My Outlook inbox doesn’t sync correctly so the only inbox that is properly sorted is on my Windows machine. This computer was in storage for two months after the flood, so now I have 200+ emails that I’m slowly sorting into folders. I figure that if I do ten a day I’ll eventually get there.

I had moved my schedule around to attend SpringyCamp for LibGuides. Then when I looked at the schedule did I realize that only one session even remotely applied to my work. The session from Mount Holyoke was great — they asked students to draw their perfect LibGuides portal. The librarians then looked at all the results and improved their guides from the students’ suggestions.

Next, I had a good chat with the new head of Readers’ Advisory. I found out that the people who come to the Welcome Desk to check out do so for three reasons: really don’t have their library card, prefer face to face interaction (usually older patrons), or have their hands full so they can’t dig out their cards (people with children). She then mentioned that teens don’t have their cards but they’ve memorized their number. So I went upstairs and poked at the 3M Self Checkouts for a bit. When I returned to her, I had turned on the ability to type in your barcode and added a button to switch the screens between English and Spanish.

I also set several balls rolling:

  • Two new automatically aggregated panels from web posts
  • Looking for a badge to mark that we’re a Five Star Library (according to Library Journal)
  • Trying to find a guide on networking to order for the Tech Collection

Finally, I met with my boss to get some help in narrowing down on what projects to work on. I’m going to continue to learn Github, look into a metadata schema for our digitization project (Dublin Core, anyone?), work with 960 grids, and responsive design. I then ended the day by finally fixing some CSS padding issues. Hopefully tomorrow they’ll be rolled out on the website.

Launch of Kids Summer Reading Website

Today was the kick off of our Kids Summer Reading program. This is landing page that I have been working on for the past week:

Property of Darien Library

The boat, waves, and sun were done by a contracted artist. The text is from our Children’s Library. I came up with the overall concept to create the purple ocean. I also made the seagull and buoy icons. The buoy actually rotates back and forth using CSS3 if you visit the website and hover on it.

Compare this to my previous effort which was put together in 90 minutes for the 21 Things for 21st Century Parents:

Property of Darien Library

Each week I will add another nautical-themed icon to the sea. Each icon will link to a quest for the kids’ to answer. When the week is up, I will deactivate the icon. When I visited the Children’s Library this morning to snap some photos of the program, I found out they had printed out a couple of my vector images that I had made in Inkscape and hung up (the mermaid and lifehouse):

Property of Darien Library

One of the librarians hugged me and another kept thanking me. It was the first time that I really felt that I had made a real difference to a coworker (this completely discounts all the other times I’ve been thanked, but their reaction was particularly touching). I should not fail to mention the awesome sign up form made by my boss. You will notice that he used Twitter Bootstrap for this and I believe it is hooked into Polaris.

The rest of my day was spent making digital signage (I’m particularly proud of this one “animated” four panel set), processing a video, testing a camera’s sound out (failed again!), and then some chatting about the big project which will be revealed on Friday!

Note: My boss has given me permission to share samples of my work on my blog so look forward to seeing some images! Perhaps after Camp NaNoWriMo, I will change this entire blog to be more photo driven to help encourage myself to bring home samples of what I do!

Projects Moving Forward & the Process Behind Them

Today I had an open schedule so I was able to focus on four projects that had been neglected: nailing down the process of transferring eBooks to the 3M eReaders and teaching three staff members this process (only a dozen more people to go!), finally getting my files uploaded to my Github repository (the terminal kept shutting down/going blank), working with the teen librarian to discuss her portion of the website redesign, and starting to gather information for the About page revamp.

I continue to worry over the web redesign since there is so far to go. Right now I’m working with each department’s information architecture. We meet a couple times to get everything laid out on the table and then I started sketching out plans and asking for feedback. They send me samples of designs that they like. I then go to work on the test site to see if the concepts we have created work in a real setting. Once that’s done, I transfer it over to the live site and send instructions on what they need to do to complete the transition. This goes fairly well until they get bogged down in completing their part of the project.

Another aspect is that I do not know what the visual redesign is going to look like yet, therefore I am trying to build within the constraints of the current site. I have a few websites’ homepages printed out on my desk to look at, but so far nothing has really jumped out to me. I also found out that Twitter Bootstrap is not a perfect fit with Drupal thanks to some coding issues. My boss believes the community is working on fixing this so that there will be a base theme for us to work on in the future.

Work in Progress: It’s finally working

So I ran into a lot of trouble on my pet project Drupal site these last few days. I finally managed to solve one of my issues after two days of researching the issue: in order to show a backlinks tab (what references this node) on a particular node, I had to set the path to be /node/%/references. Then in the Arguments (which are now called contextual references in Drupal 7), I had to set it to NID. I will do a write-up later of my View which is using the Entity Reference module to make the connection between nodes.

The Relation module slowed me down for a day and a half. The prospect is promising: instead of just making a vague reference from Node A to Node B (oh, yeah: also in Drupal 7, the different pieces of a website — comments, nodes, etc. — are called entities), you make a new connective entity (a relation) between the two nodes. So now you’d have Node A –> Relation –> Node B. On the relation, you can add other fields. I was thinking that I could turn my relation into a family-like page so I could include stuff like how many children Person A had with Person B. Or if they ever married, if so, where and for how long? I watched several tutorials before finding one that promised if I used the Dummy Relation Widget, I could print out the Relation info + all those extra rich fields on Node A and Node B. Yes! Yes! How exciting!

An hour later I realized that the Dummy Relation widget had been broken and/or the working components had been removed months prior — according to the issues filed. I could make the Relation but when I visited this newly created entity, the “page” was broken. This meant I could not pull the data back out. So, there seems to be a lot of high hopes for this module, but at the current time it is useless.

So, I ended up staying up far too late last night and added the forty or so characters to my website. Did I mention that the point of this website is to be a character database repository — the same thing I was looking for last week? :-)

Work in Progress: Day 2

I added a couple new modules (Conditional Fields and Multiselect) to help with entering data into the website. I then struggled all day with a particular issue that I needed the URL to be only one word but needed to display on the page the entire contents of the field. I created a new tpl.php file and eventually managed to figure out how to print the contents of the field I needed:

but I could not get this code to override the title on the page. This code would only show up in the body. I then tried with the Display Suite model, but no dice. I posted on a few forums online with no luck either. Finally, I decided to create two fields — one for the full length for the title and then another whose single word content I plug into URL aliases. It’s far from an ideal solution, but it was the best that I could come up with.

Turn WordPress into a Landing Page Site

As you may know, I own two domains: this one and AmandaGoodman.com. I have been letting my portfolio website sit for the past year (former appearance) with little interest in actively changing it over. The main reason being that once you have built a website, even a WordPress one, it is a pain to reshape it. Second, I don’t really use my name domain. It is important to own your name online, but my first purchased name was godaisies and it is the handle I have stuck to for the last 3.5 years. So I decided to do something drastic: turn my capstone site into a landing page. The new design is below:

I kept the orange color from the previous site.

I may make some changes to the font, font colors, and what is listed on the page, but it is to remain minimal. Steps for the transformation from a full WP website to a landing page:

  • Follow the steps for How to Make An about.me Style Home Page.
  • I had to copy his CSS onto the actual style.css file (underneath Coraline’s default — make sure to add a comment to separate it out!) via FTP since it would not save through the WordPress interface. This may be a 1&1 issue instead.
  • To remove the Home link, I used Chrome’s Inspect Element property to pinpoint the text so I could write a new line of code with a display of none.
  • I then used the Redirection plugin (seems to take a little while to actually change in the database) to point the About and Contact to this website’s pages.

Then on this website, I installed the Platform theme. This has more of a drag-and-drop interface since Lord knows that I don’t have time to actually design my own websites! There is a bit of a small learning curve and the display of the site does not update as rapidly as I would like. However, that may once again be a 1&1 thing.

Changes I’m looking into making:

  • Have the top three section appear only on the front page.
  • Change the header logo.
  • Turn the background a dark color to closer mimic the Landing Page site (or change that one!).

The Most Important Drupal Admin Links

From my email to the new ICL webmaster dealing with Drupal 6…

  • Comments — so you can remove spam
  • Content — manage all the content on the site
  • Content types — you can make a template dedicated to different areas of the site. For instance, the blog content type usually only has a title, tags, paragraph, and an image field. One of the resources would have author, publication date, publisher, etc.
  • User permissions — who can do what
  • Blocks — see the “block” of links on the front page? Those are examples of blocks of content. You also have them on your profile
  • Custom breadcrumbs — a lot of work went into getting these babies working correctly. Breadcrumbs are the things that say Home > Educational Resources > Blogs (for example)
  • Flags — how we monitor for spam. If so many people click something as spam, it is unpublished and notifies us that it needs to be reviewed (I think)
  • Modules — the second real engine of the site. Think of them as “apps” which extend the basic functions of Drupal
  • URL aliases — Instead of a page URL being a random string of numbers, you set a pattern here which will make URLs that are logical. Works with the Clean URLs link.
  • Views — the main engine of the site. It controls the searchable database which is the whole reason I learned Drupal to make this site.