Creating a custom search engine for UK library blogs - Jo Alcock Consulting
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Creating a custom search engine for UK library blogs

Creating a custom search engine for UK library blogs

UK Library Blog wiki

For a while now, I’ve been helping Jennie (and Phil and Christine) administer the UK Library Blogs wiki with up-to-date details of blogs from the UK biblioblogosphere (i.e. library related blogs). It includes institutional blogs as well as personal blogs from all sectors in the information profession. The number of blogging (and microblogging) librarians in the UK seems to keep increasing, although there are some blogs that are now defunct, and a number that have chosen to change blogging platforms or converge multiple blogs into one. The wiki is a really useful resource (so please spread the word!), but there’s more that can be done now with the gathered blogs.

Yahoo Pipes to aggregate RSS

Last year Jennie copiously checked all the entries again, updated them, and produced a Yahoo Pipe for all the institutional blogs. This outputs as an RSS feed so that you can subscribe to which will pull in all the blog posts from institutional library blogs in the UK. Thanks to a conversation last week on Twitter, Gary Green volunteered to produce a pipe for the librarian blogs, although due to the large number of blogs this is currently running a little slowly.

Google Custom Search Engine

I still felt there was more which could be done with this list of blogs to utilise all the useful information within them. For example, wouldn’t it be great if you could see what UK librarians are saying about a certain topic (perhaps what they have written about CILIP, or what they think of the new iPad)? Or search across all the library blogs to see the sorts of things being discussed in library blogs for a specific subject or topic (e.g. to see what their vacation opening hours are like at a glance, or to see what libraries are doing with QR codes)?

After feeling inspired by a chapter in Nicole Engard’s Library Mashups book, I decided a Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) might be a useful tool to use. There are a lot of blogs on the wiki so it took a day or so of playing, but I have now added all the blogs (both current and abandoned if they are still live) to create a UK Library/Librarian blogs Google CSE (accessed from this link or by searching below).

I’ve tagged the blogs with different categories (this is done by adding different categories in the Refinements section of the CSE control panel), so that you can refine the search to only include Librarian blogs (usually individual, although there are some group blogs), Library blogs (usually institutional), or Supplier/Industry blogs. As you can see in the screenshot below, it’s just a case of performing the search, and then using the refinements to narrow the search down further.

Google CSE - Refinements

Google CSE - Refinements

I’d appreciate feedback at this stage, so please try it out and let me know what you think – is this something worth developing further? Would you find it useful? I’m not sure how Google manages the algorithms for the search, so I don’t know how reliable or useful the search results will be, but I’d appreciate it if people could test it out and letting me know if this sort of thing might be useful.

The future?

I’m happy to include the search box on Joeyanne Libraryanne blog, but am also considering using the Blogroll to Google CSE WordPress plugin which was developed for Libraries Interact to list australian library blogs and can be used as both a custom search engine and also to list and link to all the included blogs. This is relatively easy to administer, especially when compared to the Google CSE which seems a little flaky once a large number of sites are added. I might experiment with this plugin anyway, but would appreciate feedback in the comments, or by email on whether people think this would be useful?

By the way – if you are a UK library/librarian blogger and your blog is not included, please let me know and I’ll add it to both the wiki and the search engine.


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