This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

March 10, 2005 -- the library catalog on your website

We get a lot of traffic on the library website -- about a million hits a month. And what's the number one destination of all that traffic? What do Douglas County citizens most look at?

Our library catalog. And why not? We have well over 600,000 items in our collection now. It's a huge asset, representing millions of dollars, and covering every conceivable topic.

I'm guessing that lots of the people who read this column work for organizations with their own websites. And I bet many of those companies serving Douglas County are looking for ways to add useful content to their sites. Ideally, they don't want to spend a lot.

Have I got a deal for you! Why not put our catalog -- one of the most popular destinations in the county -- on your website ... for free?

How? It's easy. In essence, you just need to insert this snippet of HTML code that lets you search the Douglas County Libraries right from your own page.

You can put it anywhere you like -- you'll get a blank text entry box, and a graphic that says "Search our Catalog!"

If you don't want to type out what you see below, just go to this web location: http://www.douglascountylibraries.org/Catalog/searchDCL_Form.php. Then use your browser's command to "view source." Then you can copy and paste the information into your own web page.

I should point out that this search isn't quite as flexible as the one on the library's own page. But it's also simpler. You don't have to worry about whether you're looking for a title, or a subject, or an author. Just type in what interests you.

Here's an example to show how powerful this can be.

Let's say you are a minister, and when you launch your browser, it defaults to your church's home page.

You're reading a newspaper article about Karen Armstrong, former Carmelite nun, and author of "A History of God," among others. You hear she's written a new book about her life.

Because you've added the library catalog search box to your church's website, you just type "karen armstrong" into it and press Enter.

In moments, you're looking at a page from the library catalog. You see that there's a title called "The spiral staircase : my climb out of darkness," with a publication date of 2004. So you click on it.

Now, on the left side, you can click again on reviews of the book, or a plot summary. If the summary intrigues you, you can even go ahead and reserve the book, directing it to the library branch closest to you.

I tested this myself on my personal web site, and have found that it's come in handy many times. Anybody who combines writing and research -- teachers and journalists, for instance -- will find it especially useful.

Again, this code is freely available, and anyone may use it. Use of the library catalog, or this search box, does not, of course, mean that the library endorses the views expressed by the websites in which the search box appears. But the library connection is bound to help anybody offer a richer Internet browsing experience.

Meanwhile, if you do decide to make use of this new tool, I'd appreciate knowing about it. Feel free to drop me a line at jlarue @ jlarue.com.

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