Why I love new librarians

So here at UTC we’ve hired a few new faculty and staff, and this week I’ve been blown away by one of my new colleagues. She attacked a problem that we were having, and found a solution that was elegant and awesome, all at once.

Here’s the setup: one of my reference librarians is maintaining a file that describes, for each of our databases, how you use Endnote Web…which filters, how to make it happy, etc. With dozens of interfaces, this is a non-trivial amount of info, and finding a balance of how to display it to users and keep it easy to update for the librarian became an issue.

Enter: Caitlin and Exhibit! Somehow, I had never seen or heard of this marvelous little tool! Exhibit will take data, and build you a webpage that can be manipulated and sorted in a myriad of ways. Best thing? You can use a Google Docs Spreadsheet as your data source.

So Caitlin worked to get the data file up as a Google doc in the appropriate format, got Exhibit working with it, skinned the results to fit our look & feel, tweaked the CSS, and generally went web-fu on the whole problem.

The final result is a page that’s easy for our patrons to use, and easy for the librarians to manage. Take a look at the result: here’s the Google Spreadsheet with the data, and here’s the final webpage using Exhibit.

I was really impressed with the way she handled this problem, and I can’t wait to continue to be surprised with the solutions she comes up with.

10 thoughts on “Why I love new librarians

  1. What enables new (or even old) librarians to come up with these solutions are work environments where new ideas don’t get shut down and people are allowed to actually DO things. So you need to take credit for being a big part of the success. You allow librarians to install open source software. You allow them to touch the CSS of your web pages. You allow them to *gasp* use Google Docs for business purposes. I assure you, that is not as commonplace as you think.

  2. I think Jenny makes an excellent point. You and Caitlin should both take a well-deserved bow. It takes a village to generate an environment where problems get solved.

  3. What enables new (or even old) librarians to come up with these solutions are work environments where new ideas don't get shut down and people are allowed to actually DO things. So you need to take credit for being a big part of the success. You allow librarians to install open source software. You allow them to touch the CSS of your web pages. You allow them to *gasp* use Google Docs for business purposes. I assure you, that is not as commonplace as you think.

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