Yesterday I attended the Mashed Libraries Unconference held in London.

There were around 25 participants in the event – mainly from the UK, although one had even come all the way from Germany (an ExLibris representative). Most people were library techy people, many from systems departments in academic libraries. There were also quite a few not so techy people like myself there though, and although some of the programming went way over my head, there was a lot to be learned and some interesting things that were not so difficult to achieve.

We started the day with some short presentations about mashups and APIs and what can be achieved.  We heard about Talis’s new APIs and the basic structure of how their systems work. Although I didn’t know all the coding, it was very interesting and certainly made me think about how data can be utilised by these systems to get interesting outputs such as holding information or book jackets.

The next talk was by Tony Hirst from Open University. Tony demonstrated Amazon Web Services which is an easy to use front end to play around with Amazon’s APIs. He then showed us Google Spreadsheets which can be used to import data such as a table on a HTML page, RSS or XML (I had no idea it had the ability to do this!). Combined with Amazon Web Services you can get some great data! He also demonstrated Yahoo Pipes which I have used before but only to combine multiple RSS feeds into one feed. He demonstrated using it to bring in delicious feeds and set conditions on what to include/exclude, as well as using LibraryThing’s ThingISBN and Amazon Web Services to bring in data about all versions of a book and display reviews from Amazon all from an ISBN. I haven’t used Yahoo Pipes for a while and there seems to be more options of how you can export data now, you can even use it to create iGoogle gadgets.

We also had talks from Ex Libris, OCLC and COPAC and it was interesting to hear the things they are up to at the moment. It seems many products are moving towards opening the use of APIs and promoting sharing of developments within the community.

We then had a break for an early lunch (we had fantastic catering throughout the day) and got to work on whatever inspired us. Many people decided to play around with Yahoo Pipes, but there were others who played around with APIs that had been made available to use on the day.

In the afternoon we had a presentation from Paul Bevan from the National Library of Wales (who co-authored the Library 2.0 conference paper I wrote). It was great to meet Paul and hear about experiences from a different type of library. Amazingly, 82% of the National Library of Wales’ visitors are online visitors so they recognised the need to develop the web side of things. A Web 2.0 Taskforce was established a few months ago with a remit to investigate Web 2.0 and inform the strategic review. Web 2.0 is now incorporated into their strategy and a number of developments are included to be investigated further. Their three main aims for the future are to share (relaxing rights where possible and providing support for reuse), collaborate (form partnerships, identify best practice and hold events), and innovate (take steps to an open infrastructure and improve engagement within Wales).

It was great to put more faces to names and share experiences, both techy and not so techy. I even got chatting to Dave Pattern about their 25 Things project (which I didn’t know was happening!), and he was kind enough to share some of their experiences with that.

A huge thanks to Owen Stephens for organising such a great event, I certainly hope there will be similar events in the future. 🙂

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