Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Compare your Library with LibraryThing

Tim Splading of LibraryThing just release and new set of data, An export of all the ISBN's that LibraryThing knows about.

Tim writes:
Over on Next Generation Catalogs for Libraries, NCSU's Emily Lynema, asked me:
"Do you have any idea of the coverage of non-fiction, research materials in LT? Have you done any projects to look at overlap with a research institution (or with WorldCat)?"
No, we haven't. And I'm dying to find out, both for academic and non-academic libraries.
So I decided to see how hard it would be to write a script to compare the LibraryThing dataset against a simple export from our library system. It turns out it didn't take to long. And I have posted the perl source code on my personal website so you no longer have that as an excuse for not helping Tim out.

Here are the stats for The University of Waikato Library:

Out of approximately 500,000 Bib records in our database I found only about 178,460 unique ISBNs. LibraryThing has 1,774,322 ISBNs so they have ten times as many as us! Note: This was found to be an error during normalisation. The number is now 292,073

UoW Library and LibraryThing have 45,259 73,377 ISBN's in common, which means that LibraryThing only has about 15% of the ISBN's we have or in other words 75% of our ISBN's are ones that LibraryThing doesn't have. This seems like a surprisingly large number given how much larger LibraryThing's database is. Tim may have the right idea though, as he said he suspects LibraryThing users tend to have the paperback (cheaper) copies of books rather than the more expensive hardcover versions that libraries tend to buy. It would be interesting to see if that is infact the reason, or if we just have very different set of resources from what is cataloged in LibraryThing.
DatabaseTotal ISBNsUnique ISBNsPercentage Unique
University of Waikato292,073218,69674.88%

Total ISBNs in common: 73,377

I figure since they asked the question, NCSU Libraries should be next...

External Links:

Update: Updated Figures after discovering I had dropped a whole bunch of ISBN's when normalising them.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Citizen Preservation, A vision for the future.

I attended the ANZREG (Australia & New Zealand Regional EndUser Group) conference in Wellington this week.
We were privileged to have the NZ National Librarian (Penny Carnaby) speaking about the National Digital Heritage Archive (NDHA) as well as other projects such as the National Resource Discovery System, the concept of kete (basket of knowledge) and a whole lot more.

She talked a lot about the way the internet is evolving, web 2.0 concepts bringing content creation to the hands of every day people and how that is changing the way content needs to be archived and preserved.

This got me thinking, if web 2.0 if all about giving ordinary people the tools and resources they need to produce content, shouldn't we also begin to put the tools and resources in people hands to preserve and describe their content?
Preservation isn't exactly a foreign concept to most people, I mean people collect stamps and antique furniture, they rewrite grandma's favorite chocolate cake recipe in a new book so that is wouldn't get lost. We all like to hold on to family heirlooms and all manor of odds and ends. So is there a place for a national library, or in that sense anyone to make tools and resources available to everyday people and set them loose to protect and preserve their content, history, and the like?

I asked that question (Slightly more succinctly I might add) of Penny Carnaby, and I love her response. Note: This is stated as I remember it, not even slightly 'word for word'.

"Imagine this picture, A elderly man walks into the national library, his grandson reaching up to hold his hand. Under their arms are books filled with old New Zealand and international stamps collected over the decades. Together the two sit down at computer and begin to scan in and annotate the collection, making it available to the world."

It is such a nice picture isn't it? The people who care about the data, the people who have the data, are able to release that data so that others have access to it. I don't think from any stretch of the imagination that the national library will undertake to build such a system, but it is a vision of what the future maybe like.

I don't know about you, but I'd love to see it happen!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Automated Equipment Inventory

Our team supports some 300 workstations and one of the most tiresome tasks for support staff is to record accurately the inventory details of all the workstations in use. Because we are keen for the equipment to do as much routine work as possible, we use a Windows Powershell script to query the WMI Win32_Product which is designed to retrieve information about all the software on a computer that was installed using the Windows Installer (e.g., a .MSI file). The Win32_Product is not foolproof - it can miss applications that really were installed using the Windows Installer - but it seems to have no problem identifying most major software programs. We also capture patches and hardware details in the output.

The script outputs the data it retrieves to a HTML file located on the C:\ drive of the workstation that it is run on. We leave a copy of the output file on the C:\ drive so we can open it if we navigate to the C$ share over the network. We also copy the output file onto a server which allows us to browse or search the files using another script.... Typically the output will look like the output from my personal computer. I really like the way this script gets details like the processor ID number, the MAC address and the serial numbers off the BIOS. It makes the output file almost like a "finger print" of the machine. (Which is great news if a laptop goes missing and the police need the details AND you have a copy of the file on a server!)

The script is available together with more details about it here. We used Windows Powershell to solve this problem because it is a new product (at the start of it's life cycle) and is compatible with the current and upcoming Microsoft operating system releases.

If you are using Windows XP you will need to load Microsoft Windows Powershell, on the workstations on which you want to run the script. You will also need to set the Powershell script execution policy to: "set-executionpolicy remotesigned". The prerequisites for Powershell on XP are Service Pack 2 and the Microsoft .NET Framework version 2.0

12-06-2007 Added a new section that identifies all the usernames that have a profile on the workstation....
14/07/2007 Inserted new section to display Norton/Symantec AntiVirus Status if the application is present...

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Welcome to the Technology Support Services Team blog.
We hope to be adding some more content here soon.