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Course Reserves & Website

Library Course Pages

 

Overview

ScreenshotLibrarians at UW Oshkosh Polk Library often create web pages for individual courses to aid in library instruction to generally help students find suitable research materials for the particular class. This process is repetitive, time-consuming, and cannot include dynamic content such as the availability of reserve items. In addition, the instructor generally has no ability to customize the content.

The Library Course Pages project provides a more capable and automated alternative to this manual process, based on a similar effort completed by UW Colleges. This web application combines all of the library’s resources for a particular class into a single webpage accessible from D2L. Course pages are generated automatically when first accessed based on departmental templates created by Polk librarians; a page initially contains general picks for subject-related reference databases and book search tools, lists of the traditional and electronic reserve holdings for that class, as well as instructor and subject-specialist librarian contact information. If the instructor wants to customize the page, the librarian or instructor can do so without any HTML knowledge or related skills, adding and removing reference databases or tools and commenting (or re-ordering) them to indicate recommended search strategies. They can also add commented links to other web resources, as well as general research tips or instructions.

The web application was developed using the standard LAMP (Linux, Apache httpd, MySQL and PHP) set of tools, along with the CakePHP framework for web development. Javascript (including AJAX and dynamic HTML behavior) is used heavily, making use of the Prototype and script.aculo.us libraries. Integration with DocuTek E-Reserves is done via screen-scraping as no suitable API exists. Traditional reserves from Voyager are currently loaded in similar manner. Integration with PeopleSoft for course directory information uses a web service provided by the university’s Administrative Computing department.

 

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