or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk


A Couple WordPress Resources

   July 19th, 2011 Brian Herzog

WordPress logoFor anyone who uses WordPress, here are a couple resources you might want to check out:

Using WordPress as a Library Content Management System
A recent Library Technology Reports covers using WordPress to run your entire library's website. My library uses WordPress just for our two blogs right now, but are looking to migrate the entire site to a CMS. Thanks to Michael Stephens for highlighting this, and linking to the full-text of the first chapter.

2011 WordCamp Boston
For those in the Boston area, WordCamp 2011 is happening this weekend at BU. I'm looking forward to it because I've never actually attended an official WordPress-devoted event - I'm going to attend sessions everywhere from basic introduction to advanced fanciness. It's $40 for the weekend, which is less good than free, but I think it's still well worth the price. And for people who can't make it to Boston, look for a WordCamp in your area.



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Upgrading WordPress

   February 12th, 2011 Brian Herzog

Wordpress logoI'm upgrading my WordPress installation this weekend, going from way-out-of-date v2.5 all the way up to v3.0.5.

So far so good - a few glitches, but nothing major.

I know commenting is a little different, but if you notice anything out of the ordinary, please let me know.

Updates
I'll post the bigger problems I'm having here, and then solutions as I find them (but I am also open to suggestions if someone else has encountered these):

  • WordPress won't accept my FTP credentials - this is annoying, and it is preventing me from updating any of my plugins
  • Save Draft button isn't working - these are a few interrelated issues here: it seems like something is wrong with the permalinks, which is preventing me from previewing draft posts. Draft posts are also not saving to the list of draft posts, which means I can't save anything in advance

Update 3/8/11:
It looks like this is finally resolved. The root cause was two-fold, I think

  1. I hadn't been keeping up with regular upgrades (it had been years)
  2. The underlying database was corrupt, and wasn't allowing me access to everything I needed access to

Even before I upgraded, the access problem existed - it only became noticeable after such a huge upgrade jump, because WordPress had changed how it accessed the database, and now the parts I couldn't access were more critical than before.

The ultimate fix was to scrap the old install completely and start over with a fresh install - new WordPress, new database, everything. I exported all my posts and other content, got my theme set, and then my host essentially redirected my domain to point to the new directory.

A pain in the butt, basically, that could have been avoided long ago if I had been upgrading properly.

Thanks to Otto from WordPress for all his troubleshooting help, and to Chris of thevale.net for fixing everything I couldn't.



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Upcoming Workshop: CMS Day!

   May 19th, 2009 Brian Herzog

website designer comicI'm a member of the IT section of the New England Library Association, and we're holding a workshop on popular CMS software. If you're thinking about redesigning or updating your website, or would are just curious about what CMS' are and what they can do, then this workshop is for you.

CMS Day! Build a better website with Content Management Systems: Drupal, Joomla, Plone, & WordPress
Keynote by Jessamyn West

Date: Friday, June 12, 2009
Location: Portsmouth Public Library, Portsmouth, NH (directions)
Cost: NELA members - $50; Non-members - $60
Registration Fee includes lunch & a NELA USB hub!

To Register
Secure online registration & downloadable mail-in registration [pdf] are both available at http://www.nelib.org/its/conference. Registration Closes Monday June 8.

Program Schedule
10:00 a.m. - Registration & Coffee & Library Tours
10:30 a.m. - Keynote: CMS options - Jessamyn West
12 noon - Lunch (provided!) and Library Tours
12:45 p.m. - Librarians share their real-life CMS experiences:
--Drupal - Darien (CT) PL (darienlibrary.org) & Paige Eaton Davis, Minuteman Network
--Joomla - Randy Robertshaw, Tyngsborough PL (tynglib.org)
--Plone - Rick Levine & CMRLS Librarians
--WordPress - Theresa Maturevich, Beverly (MA) PL (beverlypubliclibrary.org)
3:30 p.m. -Wrap-Up!

Keynote by Jessamyn West

Jessamyn West is a community technology librarian. She lives in rural Vermont where assists tiny libraries with their technology planning and implementation. Her favorite color is orange. Jessamyn maintains an online presence at: librarian.net and jessamyn.info

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NELA Program Refund Policy: A full refund shall be granted provided that the registered attendee has contacted the authorized representative of ITS responsible for taking registrations, at least ten (10) business days in advance of the program. In the event that notice is given less than ten days, a refund is not granted, however, they may send a substitute to the program.

For more information, please contact Scott Kehoe at 978-762-4433 x16 / scott@nmrls.org



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Upgrading and Hosting

   July 1st, 2008 Brian Herzog

Wordpress logoI know I'm a couple months late to the party, but this past weekend I upgraded this blog to WordPress 2.5.1 (I upgraded the library's blog, too, but more on that in a minute).

Upgrading SwissArmyLibrarian.net
The upgrade went fairly smoothly, and I think this website is operating normally. If you seen anything different or wrong, please let me know in the comments.

A few backend issues still need to be dealt with. For some reason, the comment admin screen is not displaying comments. If I search for them, they appear, but when I click the Show All Comments I get a "No results found" message. Odd. And, I'm having trouble with the ftp settings. Which should be fairly straight-forward, so I'll keep trying.

Beyond these issues, I'm also still getting used to the new look and design of the admin interface. I'd heard it was very different (and not necessarily better), so I was prepared. Even with accounting for bias, I do think I like the old version better, but we'll see.

The upgrade itself went smoothly. WordPress makes is pretty easy, with their upgrade instructions. It really was as easy as the directions indicate, despite me making a few mistakes along the way (hurray for backups).

Upgrading ChelmsfordLibrary.org/blog
However, I must say that it was not as easy as upgrading my library's blog. Our website is hosted at Bluehost.com, which offers many web services and programs pre-installed through Fantastico. I know Fantastico has some issue, but it sure does make upgrades like this easier. What took me a few hours to do on my own for swissarmylibrarian.net took perhaps ten minutes through Bluehost (and I didn't see the problem with comments and ftp settings).

I don't want make a sales pitch for them, but if a library is looking for a place to host their website, we've been very happy. It's cheap (something like $7 a month), their tech support has been great, and so much software comes preinstalled that it's easy to manage and try out new web tools without having to do all the installations yourself.

But if you are a library looking for web hosting, definitely check out LISHost.org. They specialize in hosting library websites, offer a lot of the extras, and will also help design a website.



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Welcome to SwissArmyLibrarian.net

   February 26th, 2008 Brian Herzog

Swiss Army Librarian logoFor the first official Swiss Army Librarian post, I wanted to mention a few things about my new home.

I upgraded from WordPress v2.0.1 (which is what herzogbr.net/blog ran) to v2.3.3, and a lot had changed - but happily, most of the changes were for the better. The major outward change is the new theme, but my real goal was to update my code. Now, it's all css-based, and the only code that doesn't validate properly is the flickr badge.

It took a lot of behind-the-scenes fiddling to make this transition happen (Chris, my thank you gift on the way). On my About page I list all the plugins I'm using, and a few other technical details. I also fully explain "why Swiss Army Librarian?," in two parts, but I'll just summarize here:

  1. I've had a Swiss Army knife ever since college, and I use it all the time. Most people who know me couldn't image me without it
  2. If I had to summarize the job responsibilities of a librarian, “swiss army knife” comes pretty close. We’ve got to be ready to handle any request that comes along, and be prepared with whatever tool is needed for the job at hand

During the migration, I found I really enjoyed playing with WordPress plugins and pages. It has gotten me excited to start seriously using WordPress as a CMS for a full website, and not just a blog. My library is looking to update the way we manage our website, so I'm going to be pushing and pulling WordPress to see what it can do.

Alright, that's that. I'd appreciate hearing what people think of the new look, and if you have any tips or tricks on using WordPress as a CMS. And now, back to the regularly scheduled postings...



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New Library CMS?

   December 18th, 2007 Brian Herzog

Kyle and his Drupal bookYou know how you mean to do something, and know you should do it, but you never get around to it? Well, that's me with learning Drupal.

But my friend Kyle (that's Kyle, in the hat) isn't a slouch like me. He actually went out and bough a Drupal book to learn from (while I, on the other hand, sit about twenty feet away from one every day, but have yet to crack it).

Anyway: my library uses Adobe Dreamweaver to manage our website. But dealing with static html pages is cumbersome, and stands as a large barrier to getting more staff contributing (easily) to our website. So, using a tool like Drupal would be a great improvement - not just for site management, but also in usefulness for our patrons.

I'm getting there. I'm also looking at expanding our WordPress installation, from running just our blog to containing our entire website. Or, we could use Joomla. Or Scriblio. Or Plinkit. Part of the problem is the myriad of tools to choose from.

And Kyle's no help. He writes:

One thing that I have been looking into for one of my clients is Omeka (http://omeka.org/). Omeka is a wiki/cms solution for museums and libraries to catalog information in an online format. It is being developed at George Mason University specifically for historical institutions.

Another tool. But from what I can tell (using it is invitation only, at the moment), it is neat, and they've got some interesting sites running it. I'm going to watch it and see where it goes.

I know I've been talking about these CMS tools for awhile, but perhaps that's what new year's resolutions are for. We will migrate the website to a new platform by the end of 2008. Ah, we'll see.

Oh, and one more thing: I recently read that there's a new drupal4lib group. Maybe with a support group, it'll actually happen.

cms, drupal, drupal4lib, joomla, kyle, libraries, library, omeka, public, scriblio, wordpress



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