Dedicated Javascript library for libraries (!)

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I was struck by the idea of a dedicated Javascript library for use with library websites, one that

  • provides the core functionality that you typically need when providing access to information sources,
  • is extensible enough to allow users the possibility of adding the functionality they need in their specific instance,
  • is freely available without charge, or license restrictions,
  • and is compatible with all major browsers out of the box.

What I’m thinking about is a scriptaculous or mootools type Javascript library aimed at libraries.

Is this really necessary? Can’t libraries just use the existing libraries to meet their needs? The answer is probably yes, but bear with me for a moment.

The reason why a Javascript library for libraries is a good idea is that the Javascript libraries that are currently available presume a level of competence in programming for the web that the typical librarian just doesn’t have. For example, using Mootools is relatively simple, but a librarian who wants to create a subclass for Ajax request for responses from an SRU source would probably struggle (especially if you wanted cross-browser compatibility). The SRU data is formatted predictably, so there is no real need for more than one person to do this work.

Other things that came to mind for the library Javascript library:

  • interfacing commonly used library technologies
  • working with XMLMARC data
  • generating valid SRU requests
  • RSS-feed generation and management tools

Now, I know that a lot of this stuff probably exists already, but it is typically skinned and angled precisely at the library market. Another thing is that libraries are designed to be a pick-your-own affair, which isn’t typically what, for example, RSS-feed tools have in mind — they often allow you to present a set of feeds, but not sort them by category, pick and choose and output an OPML file that allows users to get the feeds they want in their aggregator.

My list isn’t exhaustive either, there’s a lot of other things that I could have included, but haven’t — suggestions please!

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