Creating a virtual card catalog

Ever get nostalgic for the old card catalog?

I was lurking on #code4lib and someone dropped a link to some fabulous old catalog cards. That reminded me of an idea Eli Neiburger had to make a flash-based card catalog that you could flip through. Never one to let a good idea sit, I decided to work on a variation that would allow visitors to AADL’s catalog a chance to get their hands on a “virtual card catalog”.

Thanks to some handy photoshopping by Eric Klooster, I had some really great card-stock to work with. These have some real character! Here’s one:

Using PHP’s great GD front-end, I threw together an interface to view the cards and a little database that will allow users to add some marginalia. Of course, you can view the cards with or without the comments. Here’s a one with the comments disabled:

The background stock randomly rotates, as well as the handwriting font, so you can get some really neat-looking, unique cards:

Adding a little graffiti is just a matter of typing it in:

An unlimited number of comments can be added for each “position” on the card. They are simply randomly picked from the database and drawn on the image dynamically at render time.

Users can access these via the hitlist now, and soon via the item record itself. Also, I’m working on a way for registered users to save cards in a “personal card catalog”. That way, if they see card they like, they can revisit it later.

I’m sure the layout on these cards is far from orthodox, but they’re still kinda fun. Take a look and play around. Who says the OPAC can’t be fun?

[update 1/20/2006 2:15 PM]

I’ve added the ability for registered users to “collect” cards in their own personal card catalog. Users will then be able to go to their catalog and view the cards they saved (It saves the card exactly how it was. That is, it preserves the same background, fonts, etc). Per Ed’s request, users can also email their cards to friends and co-workers with an optional note.

This is a sample card with the “Add this card to your collection” link:

And this is what the Personal Card Catalog looks like. Notice that each card is thumb-nailed–even the comments:

Obviously, I need to do a little work on the personal card catalog, allowing users to filter, sort, search, etc. But this is a start.


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