Enhancing Discoverability With Virtual Shelf Browse

  • Andreas Orphanides, NCSU Libraries, andreas_orphanides@ncsu.edu
  • Cory Lown, NCSU Libraries, cory_lown@ncsu.edu
  • Emily Lynema, NCSU Libraries, emily_lynema@ncsu.edu

Code4Lib 2010 - Wednesday, February 24 - 13:40-14:00

With collections turning digital, and libraries transforming into collaborative spaces, the physical shelf is disappearing. NCSU Libraries has implemented a virtual shelf browse tool, re-creating the benefits of physical browsing in an online environment and enabling users to explore digital and physical materials side by side. We hope that this is a first step towards enabling patrons familiar with Amazon and Netflix recommendations to “find more” in the library.

We will provide an overview of the architecture of the front-end application, which uses Syndetics cover images to provide a “cover flow” view and allows the entire “shelf” to be browsed dynamically. We will describe what we learned while wrangling multiple jQuery plugins, manipulating an ever-growing (and ever-slower) DOM, and dealing with unpredictable response times of third-party services. The front-end application is supported by a web service that provides access to a shelf-ordered index of our catalog. We will discuss our strategy for extracting data from the catalog, processing it, and storing it to create a queryable shelf order index.

Slides in PowerPoint (3.65 MB) Source Code (Google Code)