API and YouTube API Code Samples – Library Mashups

My chapter “ and Digital Video Collections in the Library” for the recently released Library Mashups edited by Nicole Engard was in need of some code samples. I wanted to show how to use the APIs I kept mentioning in the writing which focused on the digital library mashup of TERRApod. So… here they are in their basic, rudimentary glory.

The complete code is available for download from my code archive. Think of these examples as the raw materials for building mashups with the API and YouTube API. The example relies on PHP 5, but I made the YouTube PHP4 compatible and you could adapt the code from there for the API. I also included some CURL code in the comments of the files just in case your host requires it. If you have questions or improvements, drop a comment.

A quick word about the book: If you are at all interested in mashups and web services, take a closer look. The book covers one profession’s (the librarian) application of web services to library data problems. Contributions from industry leader’s like John Blyberg, Ross Singer and Karen Coombs make this an interesting read for anyone interested in how web services and open data are changing the nature of web development for libraries.

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A Wordle View of Computers in Libraries 2009

So, I’m back at home while the Computers in Libraries 2009 conference is wrapping up. On the flight home, I got to thinking about major themes and it struck me that there might be a way to represent the themes visually. Enter wordle. If you aren’t familiar with wordle, you can paste source text or even pass URLs of feeds to a simple web form and get a “wordcloud” of major terms. I thought I might try pasting the Computers in Libraries 2009 program text into wordle. Here’s the wordle representation of cil2009. (I removed some basic noise words like keynote, track A, 11:30, etc.)

 (click on thumbnail for full image)

Not surprising to see “Library”, “Libraries”, “Search” and “Social” as some top terms. But, I am glad to see the terms around the edges making some headway. Terms like “mobile”, “development”, and “innovative” suggest that the profession is moving forward.  One missing term that I’m hearing more and more is “embed” or embedding”. I think it’s an important concept and starts to get at a new mode of library services: embedded library instruction, embedded reference services, embedded library web services in the form of widgets and gadgets, etc. Just my thoughts from a cursory scanning… If you have other thoughts about the cil2009 wordcloud, feel free to leave a comment.

What are your patrons doing online?

BusinessWeek has a quick snapshot of U.S. user activities online broken down by task and ages. (The study was conducted by the Forrester Research group.)

Who Participates And What People Are Doing Online


Good news if you are into the web2.o stuff and you work in college libraries. The 18-21 set and 22-26 set are well represented in most task categories. And how about those task categories: Creator, Collector, Spectator, Joiner, Critic, etc. They help to define the possible tasks of web2.0 users. Granted the activities recorded refer to patterns in the web at large, but it gives libraries some guidance as to what our users are doing online. It’s also interesting to note the “Inactives”. There’s a whole population that doesn’t live and breathe the web. I get caught up in the “everybody’s online” thing, so it’s a nice gentle reminder.

The key is honing in on one or two likely applications for your library community and giving them a go. Want to enable the Collectors? Think about an XML feed to pieces of your digital collections. Or what about building a service for the Critics? Build a tagging or a comment/rating system into the catalog or digital collection.

An admission: it’s all fine and good for the student set, but college libraries have other interested parties like faculty and university admin. Part of the library role might be to “coach” these other parties into possible roles they might take up in their web use. A faculty member trying to build a research bibliography seems like the perfect candidate to become a “Collector” once given the right library tool or app. In this setting, outreach and education are still a library web developer’s best friend.

S3 (Simple Storage Service) – Amazon and Libraries

Have you heard of Amazon’s s3 (Simple Storage Service)? From the site:

Amazon S3 is “storage for the Internet” with a simple Web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the Web.

It’s one of Amazon’s newer web services. At .15 cents/gig of storage, it’s a pretty cheap option. Caveat emptor: S3 is intended for developers as an option for storage that can be queried with SOAP and REST web services, so they also get you for network traffic at .25 cents/gig. I wasn’t able to find anything in the fine print about checksum routines and the integrity of the objects, but I’m assuming backups and error checking are part of the Amazon routine. (Update from the horse’s mouth: found this thread in the forums which talks about Amazon’s data protection routines. It’s reassuring…)

Can the library use this? I think so. Even with the mentioned caveats, in the end you are looking at taking the server management side out of the equation. That’s pretty liberating for the small digital shops that our libraries are. At work, we’re experimenting with using the service to store some of our master digitization objects. I mentioned that this was an experiment, right? We’ve got some objects on the S3 servers and are looking into building a web interface that will allow our Special Collections staff to pull down master files when they receive requests from patrons. We’re also working with a campus entity to store media files on S3 and then building a search interface to query S3 for the data. It’s all a work in progress, but something to consider. I can tell you that my library and university will never have the infrastructure or access to a network cloud like Amazon’s. That’s not a knock; them’s just the facts.

(Sidebar: If you’re interested in web services, think about browsing around the Amazon Web Services Developer Connection. Lots of code examples, “howtos” and discussion to get you thinking about web service applications. Don’t be afraid to get you hands dirty and make some mistakes. It’s the only way to learn.)