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Aquabrowser

November 20, 2006

My career in reporting has been called into doubt. For last week’s column, I embedded myself with librarians at the annual conference of the Colorado Association of Libraries, intending to file my story from the Holiday Inn DIA. But I never made my report. I forgot.

This will not do in the workplace. Fortunately, I have another job. And the annual conference is helpful for that job. We even had a trustee from the library board attend one day for a full schedule of presentations directed toward trustees.

Conferences can be tiring — lots of looking, listening, talking. Lots of head-nodding, head-shaking, handshaking. Many notes-to-self. Both formally and informally, one gets to see what’s going on, what might be coming down the pike. Discussions with colleagues — “Oh, yeah, we tried that” — might be the most valuable part.

I looked further into one new thing that intrigues me — “Aquabrowser,” which is software we might use on top of our library catalog to make it work better, easier, and prettier.

I’ve decided against it for now, mostly because I think we need a bigger, richer collection to make good use of its power. Aquabrowser would reindex our catalog and add its own thesaurus and connections among related terms. Then, it would return results for your search in several ways, one of which is a neat graphical display that makes the exploration of related topics inviting.

After the conference, I discovered that Buena Vista Public Library actually uses Aquabrowser. You can try it yourself. It goes nicely with their beautiful new library, too.

There are always new things on the horizon. But let’s see what’s new at the Salida Regional Library …

Two weeks ago, we completed our run of compact shelving in the basement Annex (the kind that rolls on rails to pack more shelving into a given space). By the time we fill the Annex from end to end, we will have half the library’s collection in the basement.

This is not ideal, since you can’t go down there and look for yourself, but it means we can keep a larger collection at hand for you. The books can be found in the catalog (or by asking us), and the “call number” has the words “Staff Retrieval” in it, which we hope is self-explanatory.

When you go to our catalog, you’ll see something new, something Amazon-like. Your search results will now show pictures of book covers, plus book reviews and summaries when available. I think this makes the catalog more useful and enjoyable.

When you return from your Thanksgiving holiday, you should see new and rearranged furniture in the library. You might recall that we’ll be moving the computers from upstairs down to the reference room near the main desk.

This will drastically cut traffic through the upstairs reading areas. We’ve picked out new chairs for the back room. When I mentioned in this column that we might buy Queen Anne-style chairs, Jackie Powell from Historic Salida, Inc. begged me not to. She hoped instead that we would stay with the Stickley style the library has had since 1908. Great suggestion.

And last, for anyone who works on their own cars, old and new, beginning December 1st we’ll have access to ChiltonLibrary.com — online access (from your home or in the library) to Chilton repair information. The downside is: You no longer can use the excuse that the manual was checked out.

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