Wednesday, April 27, 2011

BookDB: Personal (and not so personal) library management software

Some few months back, a librarian in a University here in Nigeria had asked me whether there is a stop gap library package she could use to keep records of her library's holdings pending the time her management will approve the implementation of Koha. The idea is to have entered the holdings as they are acquired rather than do them in retrospective later. I advised her to get a Microsoft Access Database setup that could be exported as text with a view to converting to Marc and uploading to Koha later.

But two weeks ago I discover BookDB2, called by its author a Book Database and librarian. It is supposed to be a personal library management software that allows you to keep a record of your personal book holdings and also manages borrowers. In the Author's words...

"BookDB is a simple yet powerful database tool which will help you keep track of your book collection. You can create and edit publishers, authors and categories then add books using a simple entry screen. The latest version also allows you to import your books from a text file, in case you've already got them in another program."

It supports import from a text file and from Librarything. So it's nice if you want an offline management of your books when Internet Access is not available. (Very common in my clime here in Nigeria)

More importantly is that you can export out your books out in a csv text file that you cam massage to get it into Marc using MarcEdit. So rather than bothering with Access Database you could use BookDB in a pinch for a small / young library pending upgrading to a more elaborate setup like Koha.

I will be posting a brief review/tutorial on BookDB soon.So watch this space! And did I mention that BookDB is absolutely free? You can get it at

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Vufind: Binding Koha and DSpace together

I usually deploy Koha for Library Management System and DSpace for Digital Repositories. The big question usually is how to search both systems at once (federated search) from a single interface. I have read about different solutions, including Blacklight, dbwiz and Vufind

Recently, I took a look at Vufind, and installed it on Debian Squeeze. To install Vufind, I followed the documentation here. I configured Vufind to index Koha and DSpace following the very good documentation efforts by the folks at Brac University (pdf).

I had 2 major issues during the configuration and testing. The first was that I could not view the details page for records imported into Vufind from DSpace. I joined and posted the issue on the mailing list of Vufind and I received pointers towards the solution. The problem happened to come from my installation of DSpace rather than Vufind.

The second issue was that description of items was not showing up in the Vufind details page. I posted this on the mailing list again and Demian Katz, one of the lead developers, responded that it was a bug and that he will do a patch before the week ends. To my surprise a few hours later, I got a mail saying the issue has been patched. I applied the patch and hey presto, my descriptions appeared in the right places.

This kind of support in the Vufind community reminds me of the kind of Support on the Koha community, and has encouraged me to keep on poking at Vufind to discover its hidden treasures.

So far I have been able to get records from my DSpace, Koha and the Project Gutenberg into my Vufind installation. What I am working on now it to use aperture for full text indexing of pdf documents through Vufind.

And this is a big thank you to the Koha, Vufind, DSpace and the open source community at large for the wonderful work being done to bring great tools to everyone.

Keep a date with me on this Blog to learn about my adventures with Vufind.

Open Source rocks!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

The Laptop and the batteries

I currently use a Compaq Laptop, Presario CQ50. I've had this laptop for about 2 years and 4 months now. I am on the third battery now on this laptop. The earlier 2 batteries were so bad that they don’t provide backup for 10 minutes before the laptop goes off without warning. (This to me is actually bad as my previous laptop was an Acer Centrino Travelmate 290 which I used with the original battery for almost 4 years. Even now the battery still lasts about 30 minutes.)

I bought the third battery about 10 weeks ago, this time going for a 12 Cells 8800mAh/95Wh High Capacity Battery HSTNN-IB72. At the local store where I bought this they had 8hrs pasted on the carton. I knew this is not likely true as the 4400mAh battery that came with the laptop barely lasted 2 hours new. Several reviewers online mention the fact that the battery sometimes fall out and it also makes the laptop too heavy and that the battery lasts about 4 hours.

I found from my experience that if I totally drain the battery then it would last about 5 hours. The battery has actually fallen off on one occasion. But I find it hard to replicate by shaking the laptop. The heaviness of the battery is actually insignificant to me as the ability to keep on working easily negates whatever weight the battery adds to my backpack. I think I can say I am reasonably satisfied with the battery.

One other thing mentioned in reviews online was that the battery usually dies just after 1 year that the warranty expires. I am waiting for the 1 year mark, and I hope I won't find this true!