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October 23, 2005

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» LibX adds library functions to Firefox from Thinking about the Future
Richard Akerman over at Science Library Pad draws my attention to LibX, an open source Firefox extension to surface some of your library's functionality in the browser whilst out on the open Web. The extension, developed by staff at [Read More]

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I'd like to draw attention to two features which we believe set LibX apart from other Firefox extensions we've seen.

First, in addition to the toolbar and context-sensitive right-click menu, LibX includes greasemonkey-like functionality, that is, Librarians can enrich the pages their clients see with links to their library's resources. We call these "cues"; examples can be seen here: http://libx.org/screenshots.html#cues
Briefly put, this gives your library prime placement in places in which it otherwise could not afford to be, such as on every Google search results page or on every amazon or barnes & noble page.

Second, we believe the way in which LibX uses Google Scholar as a backend to be novel. A common task when doing research is retrieving a paper listed in the reference section of a PDF file. More often than not, those reference do not contain hyperlinks; even if they do, the links are not OpenURL.

With LibX, one can select all or part of the reference in the PDF, drag and drop it onto the Scholar button. LibX will run a Scholar search, analyze the results in the background, and if the paper searched for is found, it will retrieve the OpenURL from the Scholar results and open the OpenURL page directly, leading the user hopefully directly to the paper. (Of course, this only works as well as your OpenURL resolver and it is dependent on Scholar.)

As an aside, I should mention that a work-around exists that makes this work even if your institution has not registered with the Google Scholar affiliated libraries program.

We are also contemplating the development of a interactive web-based interface to create new editions as well as the creation of a "generic edition" which an enduser can adopt themselves.

We are looking both for developers to help with the development - LibX is an open source project hosted at libx.mozdev.org as well as adopters who would like to try LibX for their libraries.

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