IUG 2012: Javascript for the WebPAC, Google analytics, and more

Chicago IUG

Chicago - the view from the conference hotel

I came away from this year’s Innovative Users Group conference with lots of good, practical information that I can readily put to use at my library.  Here are four sessions I found especially helpful:

1)  Beyond WebPAC Pro: Bending the Limitations of the Web Catalog with JavaScript

Presented by Jason Thomale and William Hicks from the University of North Texas, this session demonstrated how to customize the WebPAC using JavaScript and JQuery.   Have you ever been hopelessly frustrated by Innovative’s server-side WebPAC tokens, those pesky little pieces of inaccessible HTML code that you can’t edit?  Well, using what they call “a massive hack,” Jason and William have come up with a clever yet surprisingly simple solution: they manipulated the HTML code with JavaScript and JQuery as it renders in the browser.  The result is a pleasing, intuitive, and much more user-friendly OPAC interface.

Detail of UNT WebPAC showing homegrown music instrumentation search tool

2)  Print Templates 101

Carla Myers and Shad Harder from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs provided a terrific introduction to Print Templates in Millennium.  As a new user of print templates, this was exactly what I needed.  The best part of this session was the LibGuide that they created that has explicit step-by-step instructions (including lots of screenshots) on how to create, edit, and use print templates.   If you are somewhat intimidated by those Java expressions in iReport, I highly recommend this resource!

Print Templates LibGuide

Print Templates LibGuide detail

3)  Create Lists: Beyond the Basics

Richard Jackson’s advanced class on Create Lists was invaluable.  I finally understand how to use regular expressions in Lists!  Richard explained complicated Boolean concepts using simple language and clear illustrations.  Check out his slides on the IUG  conference site, and also his very useful handout on regular expressions in the IUG clearinghouse.

4)  Google analytics: Beyond the Code

After attending this session, I’m definitely going to be adding Google analytics to our WebPAC.  Robert Sebek from Virginia Tech provided lots of detailed information on how they are using Google analytics to track user behavior in their OPAC.  Here are some of the ways they are using the data:

  • Outgoing links show how many e-books are being found in the catalog.
  • Referring sites show where users start from: the library home page, Summon, etc.
  • Search engine queries can be identified – what words are being used to find the catalog and/or library home page.
  • Can see how many users are searching for article titles – and by adding a bit of Javascript to the WebPAC, those searches can be re-routed to Summon!
  • Search terms can be analyzed and common mis-spellings identified.  These can then be “corrected” by enhancing catalog records with added entries (i.e. 246’s).

Robert’s slides contain a wealth of information and can be downloaded at the conference website.


Thanks to all the IUG presenters for a really useful conference – you have given me lots of great ideas, and made my job much easier!

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