AADL RSS feeds extended to all catalog searches

I have to admit that getting this to work was born out of my own selfish motivations. I really wanted a way to get a jump on requesting some of the more popular items and thought, short of mugging someone in collection development, this would be the most fruitful way of going about it.

In the first iteration of this enhancement, RSS feeds were only available for hitlists generated by a keyword search. I do 90% of my searches using keyword, but thought that the feature really ought to be extended to all search types. The problem with doing so, however, is wrangling enough information from the catalog and URL to determine a) what kind of search it is, and b) what the search term is. The III catalog poses a couple of challenges to this. First, the III catalog seems to oscillate between GET and POST variables as you navigate through the OPAC. This makes it quite difficult to reliably put your finger on the right data. Second, each search type seems to be handled in its own special way. Again, this makes it difficult to generate reliable results.

So the solution was to create a set of “rules” in the code that is applied to each page of the catalog. These rules basically score the content and return a “best guess” which can then be applied toward RSS generation. It’s goofy, but again, that’s what we have to work with!

The result looks something like this in the catalog:

And something like this in NetNewsWire (My RSS reader):

I had an evil thought to write a piece of software that loops continuously, automatically requesting new items in an RSS feed. That way I’d be sure to be the first one in the hold queue. I don’t think doing that is ethically sound, but it does raise the question, what are we going to do about the people who find ways to take advantage of this new technology at the expense of others? Library 2.0, like Web 2.0 is most certainly going to widen the gap between the techno-savvy and non techno-savvy. The ‘nons’ are going to get left behind. It’s our responsibility to coax those users into using these services and technologies. We’re probably in the best possible position to do that because local citizens and community members are the main users on our sites and they have a vested interest in the services we provide.

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