Friday, November 22, 2013

Outside Connections and Follett Destiny

If I could wave a magic wand and improve Follett Destiny as a school library catalog, it would be to improve ways of linking and looking into it.

Here are a few ways to ameliorate the situation.

1)  Share a Destiny link -- the need to add the all-important 'site' information

Have you ever wanted to send a Destiny link to a title, resource list, or copy category to someone?  If so, you know you HAVE TO add:


to the end of the link, where NUMBER is usually 100, 101, 102, 103, etc.

We host our own catalog, so that's all we have to do.  I just learned that if Follett hosts your catalog, you also have to add:


For example:  &context=saas18_8553630&site=100

You can see your particular site information by hovering over the link that gets you into your particular catalog.  For example, our Dover Secondary library is site 100, our Dover Primary library is site 101, our East Primary library is 102, and our East Secondary library is 103.  So that information is added to any link we send to anyone.

Update 12Apr14:  If Follett hosts your catalog and you need to find your CONTEXT number, look at the URL when you see all your catalogs displayed -- and it will be at the end of the URL:

2)  Get a Destiny link -- to a set of search results

If you want to send someone a "canned" ("tinned"?) search -- such that they can dynamically search the catalog by clicking on a link, you need to edit the URL.

For example, suppose I want to send someone a link that will do a keyword search on "economics".  I put "economics" in the Basic Search box and press Enter.  The URL that results is not reproducible -- you can't send it to someone and get the same results.  Instead you need to choose "Refine your search" and work with that URL.

When you get that URL, you need to change the word "present" to "handle":

Lastly, I have to add the site/context info, e.g., here is the final URL.

The URL above will do a keyword search on "economics" for the East Second Library of UWCSEA and present the results.

Note:  You can also use DQL (Destiny Query Language) to do a more complicated search out of the Basic search box (because you can't access meaningful URLs based on an Advanced Search).

See the Destiny Help system for more information, e.g.,

3)  Goodreads -- how to click to check if you already have a Goodreads book in your Destiny catalog

First, find a book in Goodreads.  On the Title information page, look for "online stores" and "book links" at the bottom.  It's the "Book Links" bit that you (and your patrons) can customize to go to your school's Destiny catalog to check availability.

Angie Erickson and I presented a workshop on "Geeking out with Goodreads" in September at the Google Apps Summit here in Singapore -- and put "how to" information about integration with Follett Destiny up on a Google Site page here:

4)  Book Cover Displays -- mirroring bits of your collection via Goodreads or LibraryThing or showing "Latest Arrivals" via Pinterest

Many people use Goodreads or LibraryThing to generate book display widgets for parts of their catalog.

Basically, you reproduce a Resource List or Copy Category (i.e., a list of books) in your catalog into Goodreads or LibraryThing or Pinterest -- and then put them on a shelf or board or tag them.

E.g., here is the 2013-2014 Red Dot books for Older Readers -- display out of Goodreads:

Update 12Apr14:  
If you "pin" books from within your Destiny catalog (adding the &site=xxx as per above), then when users click through on the board, they will be taken to the title in your catalog.

Pinterest, unlike Goodreads and LibraryThing, is a time-sensitive -- last in, first out -- list.  So it's perfect for showing things like "Latest Arrivals". (In Destiny Quest, users can see latest arrivals, but only 10 or so and you can't control what is on that list.   Via Pinterest, you can choose the books to advertise.

And here are some links to Pinterest boards that show our latest arrivals:

5)  LibraryThing for Libraries -- Book Display Widgets -- linking back to Destiny

LibraryThing for Libraries has a javascript Book Widget generator available via Bowker for about US$ 400 -- which allows you to create any number of book display widgets in four different styles that will let people click on a book cover and go directly to that item in your school catalog.

We're now using it to get beautiful displays of booklists on our Libguide pages, e.g., see our Economics: Introduction: Books & Physical Resources and our Mathematics: Introduction: Books & Physical Resources guides.

The widget can take a variety of inputs -- as the screenshot to the right shows.

If you want to have the book covers displayed link back to your own catalog -- you need to use the " User".  When you buy the widget generator, you automatically get a LibraryThing account to put books into.  The widget works off LibraryThing "Collections" -- so when you enter or import titles, put them in a Collection.

If you have a Destiny Resource List and want those titles imported into LibraryThing, you can run a "Title/Copy List" report out of Destiny -- which includes the ISBN of copies. When the report is displayed, select all and copy the whole text output.  Then in LibraryThing go to "Add Books" then "Import Books" -- and paste that text into the "Grab ISBN" box.  Identify what collection you want them imported into -- then import.

You can then create a widget based on that collection.

You can also dump your whole school catalog as MARC records out of Destiny - and LibraryThing will upload them in batch mode -- though you can't identify tags or collections upon import.

In order to have the widget link back to your catalog, you have to tell LibraryThing how to search your catalog using a URL, e.g.,

ISBN search:

Title search:

 Access-based URL:

After you get these Global Configurations set up, creating the widget is straight-forward.

Here are the four styles available:

3D Carousel example:

Dynamic Grid example:

Carousel example:

Scrolling example:

NB: As it's javascript, it's not possible to embed these widgets into Google Sites nor in the Destiny HTML homepage.

 6)  Destiny Homepage -- call numbers and collections....

Last but not least, I think we all should be providing better clues about the structure of our catalogs on our Destiny homepages.   

When I get to somebody's catalog start page, I have no way of knowing how many books they have or how they've organized their collections.  So I'll look at Resource Lists and Visual Search lists, but if people haven't create any -- then it's a blind search box and I have to guess.

Ideally I'd like to create a map showing my library's layout and physical collections as well as digital resources -- and have that on my homepage.

Until I get around to to doing that, I list all the major call number prefixes on our Destiny Home Page.

Liberate your book cupboards and create a more true "bookstore" model in your school library?

We all enjoy the mental exercise of comparing libraries and bookstores as spaces where humans come to interact with books.

Libraries nobly address users' needs (the story goes), while bookstores focus on their wants -- and therefore provide a better browsing experience, being organized for optimum attention rather than intellectual access. 

Positing bookstores as the outside competition prompts us to examine and improve discoverability in our library environment -- to increase the likelihood people will find the books they want - or, more importantly, books they didn't even know they wanted.

First there's the basic environmental psychology of shopping, which Paco Underhill explained so well in his 1999 book, Why We Buy: the science of shopping -- what I think of as the "grocery store" approach. Put the most frequently purchased items at the back of the store, forcing people to walk through the space and be exposed to more merchandise.  Put the tempting last-minute purchases (the candy and gossip magazines) in the checkout aisle.  Make as much stuff face-front display as possible (who buys cereal by looking at the spine of the box?).

More commonly, talk of implementing bookstore models in libraries is associated with ditching Dewey (e.g., see this September 2012 article in School Library Journal) in favor of sections with real names on prominent signs ("Science Fiction", "Sports", "Travel", etc.), not decimal numbers.  Of course, we all ditch Dewey to some degree.  Everyone has an A-Z author-sorted "Fiction" section outside the 800s.  Many have a separate "Biography" section.  Every collection outside the run of the Dewey numbers can be claimed as a victory by the bookstore model.

The Magic of Multiple Copies

But there's one aspect of the bookstore model that most libraries don't or can't reproduce -- having multiple copies on the shelf and potentially more stock "out back" somewhere.

In our library this year, we have started to create "bookstore" sections.  Book covers facing out.  Rough grouping by author or genre.  Multiple copies behind the front book. And, most importantly, a paper place-holder sign showing you what book is normally shelved in the spot -- and a QR code to let you see how many copies are still available.

We started with the English Dept'.s resources, creating a Hot Reads for High School (over 250 titles so far) and a Middle School Reading Zone (over 170 titles so far).  Next the Math Dept. came up with a list of books to buy multiple copies, and the Economics Dept. wasn't far behind.  We've put those titles face-front at the beginning of the subject Dewey section in Nonfiction.

The best thing is - you can booktalk efficiently.  The selection is smaller and definitely selected - by virtue of the curriculum or a teacher or librarian. And there is an instant supply!

Because that's the usual frustration of a school librarian in front of a group of students - booktalking when only one copy is available.  What if you could booktalk a book and have 4, 6, 8, 12, 24, 144+ copies available?

The project started with our middle school's foray into Reading Workshop, with its focus on literature circles instead of whole-grade novel study, and our Grade 9 English teachers deciding they wanted to kick off the year with a wide reading initiative (inspired by Penny Kittle's Book Love) before having to hone in on IGCSE texts.

How could we quickly produce varied class libraries for 8+ English classrooms per grade level?  Where would these books come from?

Solution:  Take all the multiple copies previously purchased for whole-class novel study by the English Dept. and make them available to all students (when not required by a particular teacher).  Then choose some extra titles for purchase, whether in small or large sets, based on curriculum need or teacher/librarian choice.  Finally, for us, add in the multiple copies purchased as part of running of the annual Red Dot Awards (see history here).

Voila!  The library as massive class library.  With multiple copies of great books available on the shelf.  This is our "Best Books for Middle School" list, our "This is What Your Child Will Be Reading in English Class" list, our "What Your Teacher Recommends" list.  Parents love it, as do kids.  It's the quick pick-up zone.  The whole Fiction section still has a fantastic selection of books, but students don't have to negotiate it until they are motivated to do so.

I want to focus now on the logistics of our implementation.  Because there always are tricks that make things work, in any given situation.

Q:  How to you keep multiple copies on the shelf?

A:   Our shelves are deep enough to store a stack of books behind a simple metal bookend, bent to hold a front-facing book on display.  The excess are kept in a backroom, handy enough that library staff can go retrieve them to replenish the shelf stock or upon request.

Q:  What if all the "hot reads" are gone?  How do I know what is all out?

A:  There is still evidence left behind.  No titles out of sight, out of mind. We have made A5 (half of 8.5x11" sheets, for you Americans) printouts showing the cover plus a QR code and shortened URL -- which take you to the catalog, showing how many copies are still available.

QR codes are magic.  I've liked them from the beginning and have them sprinkled around my library, connecting the visible with the virtual.

I recommend you get ShortenMe in the Chrome Extension store.  With one click, you get an instant QR code and URL.

NB: if you're using Follett Destiny, you always need to add your site number at the end of the URL before shortening it (e.g., blahblahblah&site=100).  Contact me if you use Destiny and don't know what I'm talking about.
The A5 paper signs go into re-usable stiff plastic "card cases". Sample at left.

Q:  How do people know if there are more copies out back?

A:  By scanning the QR code or typing in the shortened URL provided on every display stand -- both of which link into our catalog, e.g., click here to see availability of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

As mentioned above, this model is being extended into subject departments in high school, creating pockets of the "bookstore experience" within the Dewey run.  Mathematics, Economics, History, and Drama are the first.

To the right are books on the Mathematics shelves in the Dewey section.

We have virtual walls, too, mirroring these bookstore sections -- thanks to a new HP large-format printer, which can make posters up to 1.x meters in size.  See examples in the slideshow below.