6/25/2009

Good Intentions (or how I broke the new catalog for a day)

I had this great idea. Well, I still think it is a great idea and I hope most UB students and faculty will think so as well. The University System of Maryland Libraries just purchased a shiny new interface for our online catalog called WorldCat Local (WCL). The old catalog is still there, but WCL local has several features and a much better display that makes it much easier to use and we are planning to have most of the links to the Langsdale Catalog point to WCL by the time the Fall semester starts. All well and good so far.

My great idea, and the problem, comes from this thing called the "WCL configuration module." It turns out that each library has the ability to go into its configuration module and change settings. Some of these are pretty basic, like we want to use a UB logo and have a link back to Langsdale's home page. One option in particular got me thinking. We have the option of changing of what constitutes the "local". Right now "local" means Langsdale Library, so items owned by Langsdale Library will display first and you can tell whether an item is on the shelf or checked out. However we can change the definition of "local" to include both Langsdale and the Law Library. There are plenty of topics I can think of (civil rights, criminal justice, etc.) where students would be able to find materials in both libraries on campus, but right now there is no easy way to search just the two UB libraries. I think WCL will be more useful to everyone on campus if they can find items on their topic in either library. So I went ahead and changed the setting in WCL so that items in either Langsdale or the Law Library, along with call numbers and checked out statuses, would display first.

This completely hosed our copy of WCL. Instead of displaying UB stuff first, it was no longer able to tell whether Langsdale had an item or not, much less the Law Library. Apparently there was a notice posted a few weeks ago saying "if changes are made to the Level 2 or Level 3
Relevancy configurations it could cause your WorldCat Local to break." It is still not clear to me exactly what they mean by Level 2 or Level 3 Relevancy, but I am pretty sure I found one example.

So my great idea for WCL is on hold at the moment. Our version has been restored, so it shows Langsdale's holdings again (although the search USM option doesn't work). There is supposed to be a patch installed in July to allow these changes to work, and I shall try again.

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