A couple of weeks ago -thanks to a scholarship- I was in Bloomington, IN attending the 2011 Code4Lib Conference. I think the conference organization was great and it was well attended too -even with some international attendees. Two main characteristics of the conference were: the single-track method allowed new comers to avoid the problems of choosing between breakout sessions; and many participants were not only taking notes, commenting or twitting about the sessions, but also coding. It was also great to hear that some of the projects presented were actually “ideas gathered” at the previous conference; in short, Code4Lib seems to be a great place for brainstorming and initiating new projects that can produce deliverables for real-life projects in matter of months.
Some of my favorite presentations were:
- Drupal 7 as Rapid Application Development Tool, the overview was very informative; it has re-inspired a work in progress where we plan to create a front-end for digital collections by re-indexing metadata files using the Content Construction Kit module and a timeline widget developed by the SIMILE project.
- Enhancing the Mobile Experience: Mobile Library Services at Illinois, it was great to hear about the ongoing need for designing/evaluating/combining sites for both small and normal (big) size screens -particularly when dealing with special type of content such as manuscripts or large images.
- One Week, One Tool: Ultra-Rapid Open Source Development Among Strangers, this presentation was an excellent example of a one-week work that can automate the transformation of regular text files (blog entries) into new multiple formats such as PDF, ePUB or TEI. A possible adaptation of Anthologize for digital collections with transcripts may be an option for creating new format for end-users.
- A Community-Based Approach to Developing a Digital Exhibit at Notre Dame Using the Hydra Framework, the combination of Fedora, Solr, and the Hydra Framework seems to be a suitable option for large and diverse type of collections; now I just hope to have the time/patience to learn more about Solr and Hydra.
- Let’s Get Small: A Microservices Approach to Library Websites, the use and combination of JSON, Compass, jQuery, PHP, and other technologies seem to be a great alternative to the ongoing work in updating small (critical) sections of institutional websites; a recent DSpace plug-in idea/project seems to be a good candidate for testing this work.
- Mendeley’s API and University Libraries: Three Examples to Create Value, the examples presented seem to be of great benefits for both IR’s administrators and scholars; moreover, the announcement of a plug-in based on SWORD that will work with major repository systems was also good news.
The Lightning Talks seems to be an excellent method for learning about a variety of topics in a short period of time, some of my favorites included: AjaxyDialog jquery-ui widget, Blacklight and Hydra at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Open data and the Biodiversity Heritage Library experience, Mobile Web Apps for Library Exhibits, Digital Humanities and Libraries, and A Guide for the Perplexed.
The Ask Anything session was also an interesting one, questions and answers ranged from basic to advanced, from on-site to online, from short to long; as a new comer, the question of the day was “What should we teach new librarians about coding/programming/hacking?” The answers included: learn and try something simple and quickly, install LINUX, find an interesting and short-term project, use the command line … and I think we could also add one more: join Code4Lib -which could be as simple as joining the listserv, attending a conference, checking the Journal or maybe just making time to watch the archived videos from the 2011 Conference.
Once again, thanks Code4Lib organizers!