Category Archives: Utilities

Library database search box widgets

A growing number of library database providers are making customizable search box widgets available to subscribers. Vendors like Ebsco, Gale, Proquest, and Facts on File all simplify the process of adding a search box to a website (or CMS like Blackboard) into a few steps  that result in “copy and paste” code.

I mentioned Ebsco’s tool previously.  Here are a few more vendors I came upon recently for my library:

Do you know of others?

Firefox add-ons for librarians

iLibrarian has compiled an interesting list of 40 add ons for the Firefox web browser that may be of interest to librarians. I use a few of them already (FoxyTunes, Meebo, WebDeveloper, Zotero) but will test drive a few more. The first one that caught my eye was the Fireshot add on to make, annotate, and export screenshots. I’ve found it very handy so far in creating some documentation the past couple of days. Here’s an example:

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Open Source Partition Editor: GParted

Having paid many dollars over the years for software tools like Norton’s PartitionMagic that were rarely used, I was glad to find GParted. This free partition tool is an open source software project that let’s users add, remove, and edit partitions on hard drives. You can use it for simple projects like creating two drive partitions on a hard drive or for more complex projects like setting up a machine that can dual boot Windows and Linux.

I used it recently to setup a new machine and it worked quickly and flawlessly. It was easy. I downloaded the LiveCD image, burned it to a CD, booted the machine from the disc and then ran the program to configure my partitions. After a restart, the hard disc was setup with the desired partitions and I could then install Windows. While this is a great tool for the computer toolbox, you’ll need to know about various types of filesystems (fat23, ntfs, ext2, etc.) and which ones your operating systems support in order to make full use of GParted.

RSS tools galore

Mashable recently posted an “Ultimate RSS Toolbox” article that describes over 120 RSS-related viewers and utilities. I’m glad to see so many resources available that allow people to customize how they want their information delivered. My favorite viewer is the Sage plugin for Firefox. I like having the ability to jump directly to articles/posts and viewing them in my browser. The standalone readers I’ve tried either had an integrated browser or required me to jump back and forth from reader to browser.

Library vendors such as Ebsco are finally coming around and making steps in the RSS direction. Although the process in its current form is a bit cumbersome, users can extract customized feeds that show things such as search results or table of contents. Below is a table of contents feed for College and Research Libraries, a journal published by the Association of College & Research Libraries. [In order to view these articles you’ll need to be at an institution that subscribes to Ebsco’s Academic Search Premier database]: