Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lunchtime snow blogging

When I left work last evening my student workers had snow day, or at least cancelled class, visions dancing in their fevered minds. Unwilling to blithely dash their hopes, I simply mentioned the library rarely closes and I would contact them should hours be affected by the forecasted snow storm. Not helping matters is year anniversary of last February’s snow storm that did indeed close campus on Valentines Day looms.

Today, unwilling to brave the elements, I brought lunch and enjoyed a Mexican Weight Watcher's entree and Valentine's Day Hershey hugs/kisses at my desk while composing this post. Two or three inches of snow are on the ground, nothing spectacular, but snarky comments are abound following web postings of several branch campuses cancelling evening classes. Winter storm warnings issued predict three to five additional inches this evening mixed with freezing rain and sleet. Tomorrow is another day fraught with shining possibilities of a day off.

On to my consistent updates regarding the new web site; I have determined using Google calendar feeds to create a non-Google widget is relatively useless. Instead, yesterday I flirted with the unthinkable. Why not just use Google Calendar as our library calendar? I can link to the calendar from the library web page, or use the Google calendar widget and embed a large version on the library web page (allowing for the templates). The only problem with this proposition is design related specific to entering events on the Google Calendar. After selecting a date, the event box asks "what" the event is and which calendar it belongs on before creating the event. Great in theory, and making quite a bit of sense, this is marred by the fact that if you enter anything in the "what" box even remotely resembling time, it sets your event to start at that time, last an hour, and displays the time next to the event. Great, but if you are entering hours into the "what" box a duplicate of the opening time displays. For example, the image displayed here shows the event box and hours posted below; it says 7:45 7:45 am to Midnight.

Since having hours of operation displayed on every day of the week was desired, this creates a conundrum. Do we ignore the display (NO!) or look further to make it better even if it means the hours are not visible (YES)? I decided to name the event "Library Hours" and set it as an all day event. Then, the "when" displays as the date and I was able to add a time element to the event description (see second image). It is still interactive; patrons can click on any given day and see the hours. Furthermore, we can now add different elements to the calendar; specific reference instruction classes, resource center tours, and library events are all possibilities. This option makes it easy for anyone (with permission) to add an event and expands the aforementioned possibilities into circulation information like electronic reserves due dates. I now have two different uses of the calendar to present to the group and have both of them posted.

The library 2.0 stuff is great, but there definitely comes a time when a decision needs to be made; just because we can add interactive components to the web site does not mean we should not pick and choose what best suits our library needs. In other words, less is more if it means clarification and usability.

Lunch is over.
The snow has stopped.
It's still bloody cold.

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