Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Open Library Training Materials and Custom Search Engines

Chatting to a fellow Visiting Fellow this morning about the best way of searching historical newspaper content (my vote, given the local context, was to use Factiva or LexisNexis (or is it called Lexis Library now?), it struck me that it might be handy to be able to search across all the UK HEI Library websites for tutorials and generic training materials.

So how might we do this? One easy way I know of creating a site (or page) limited search engine is via a Google Custom Search Engine.

For a more detailed overview, see Google Developer Day US - Google Custom Search Engine.

Handily, @ostephens posted an application that screenscrapes UK HE Library details (including th URIs of Library websites) from Sconul the other day (Accessing Sconul Access), from which I took a dump of details for all UK Libraries that I've placed at http://dl.getdropbox.com/u/1176102/sconulLibs.xml, RSSified at Sconul RSS Pipe and geocoded/mapped at SCONUL Map.

Sconul Map http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/pipe.info?_id=fb5ef40222bc84ae6a23446438a4a307

It's been some time since I created a Google Linked Custom Search Engine (that is, a custom search engine whose limits are set dynamically from a linked to configuration (that is, annotation file), but I had a vague memory that it was possible to create an annotation file from an RSS feed (such as the one I created above from the Sconul data), and indeed it is possible: Tools for Linked CSEs

So for example, here is an annotation file from the Sconul data

However, wiring this feed into a new CSE didn't appear to work (maybe it takes some time for the feed to start powering the CSE?), so instead I ran a quick search and replace over the contents of a copy of the annotation file, and just pasted the literal URIs into the configuration page of a new CSE:

Creating a Google CSE

Anyway, here it is, such as it is: a custom search engine that searches over UK HEI Library websites (possibly;-)

Exanple UK HEI Library website CSE http://www.google.com/cse?cx=009190243792682903990%3Aphpddg0idfs&q=lexisnexis+tutorial

PS Also related, @lorcand posted a couple of tweets over the last few days about Library tutorial videos on Youtube:
- U Glasgow library vids "Library On Demand" http://www.lib.gla.ac.uk/libraryondemand/ via @williamjnixon (URL fixed)
- Five (yes, five) video tutorials about using the library catalogue. http://www.bristol.ac.uk/studentskills/content/ilitskills/tutorials/librarycatalogue/

I'm not sure if there's a list of Library presences on Youtube (there is one for HEIs, which I used as the basis of a UK HEIs DeliTV channel) but if there is, it won't be too hard to create a custom search engine over those channels.

In the meantime, here are a couple more loosely library related custom search engines: How Do I? Instructional video search (about HowDoI), and my Science Experimental Protocols Video Search , which searches over several sites that collate scientific/experimental protocols.

See also: Brian Kelly on Opening Up Institutional Training Resources, me on Google('s) Training Resources


  1. Very cool idea! Thanks for posting about Training Resources
    Awesome job !!! keep it up.

  2. For a nice write up of generating a CSE from an OPML or RSS feed, see http://cogdogblog.com/2010/04/19/two-timing-xml/

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