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Building a Custom Library Toolbar with LibX

Would you like to create a custom library toolbar for your users to search your library catalog and other important resources? LibX, a free online tool available at http://libx.org, allows you to do this without programming. Here is a sample toolbar:

LibX image

LibX hosts the custom toolbars, so you do not need to have access to server space to host the toolbar. The toolbar can be installed in Firefox or Internet Explorer. Users will need to be able to download and install software. However, if your institution has firewalls or policies blocking software installation, you may be able to work with your IT department to add the toolbar as part of the standard institutional browser installation.

Features of LibX

In this article, we will focus on the basic features of LibX. You can set up the custom toolbar to allow users to search your library catalog or, importantly, almost any website with a search box. This means you can truly customize the toolbar for your patron’s needs. For the example in this article, we will show how to build a simple toolbar with access to a library catalog, PubMed, and MedlinePlus.

Users can enter information into the LibX toolbar in four different ways:

  1. By simply typing text into the textbox of the toolbar, selecting the resource they want to search from the pull down menu, and pressing Enter.
  2. By dragging and dropping any selected text from their browser into the textbox of the toolbar.
  3. By selecting any text in the browser window and then right clicking to access a context-sensitive menu.
  4. By clicking on a user customizable icon that will appear next to searches in other search engines such as Google.

You can see these examples in action by viewing the screenshots and video screencasts on the LibX site at http://libx.org/ (click on “Screenshots” in the left hand menu).

Building the Toolbar

We will build a simple toolbar that searches a library catalog, PubMed, and MedlinePlus.

Access the LibX Edition Builder at http://libx.org:8080/editionbuilder/src/zul/. From here, you can view examples of other toolbars. You may wish to click on a few to try them out. If you find an example you like, you will be able to copy that example for your own use. Note that you can only install one toolbar at a time in your browser.

Once you are ready to begin building your own toolbar, I recommend that you register with the LibX site. This will make it easier to build, test and save your toolbar. There is a low-volume listserv that you can sign up for when you register.

Create the Library Catalog Search

Click on the “My Editions” tab. Log in to your LibX account.

Once you are logged on, click on the “All Editions” tab. From here you will be able to create a new toolbar.

LibX image

Click on the “Build a New Edition” button.

The next screen will ask you for descriptive information about your toolbar. Fill in the information.

LibX image

Click on “Catalogs & Databases” tab. Under the “Auto Detection” window, type in the URL of the library catalog you wish to add. In this example, we will add the UCLA Library Catalog. Note: in general try the catalog URL without extra information after the basic URL. For instance, for the UCLA Catalog I used http://catalog.library.ucla.edu rather than the longer URL http://catalog.library.ucla.edu/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?DB=local&PAGE=First. LibX will alert you if you use a longer URL when it expects the shorter one.

Press Enter. The system will detect possibilities for you to add.

LibX image

Click on “Add” next to the option you want to use; in this case, we will select the first option. The system now gives you more options on the right hand side of the screen.

LibX image

Now take a look at the Search Options. Click on “Change” to see a window of options. You can decide which search options to offer and whether you want a right-click context menu that users can use to as an alternative to the toolbar. I think it is a good idea to add context menus, but this will require some training with your users so that they know it is available to them.

LibX image

Once you are satisfied with the Search Options, close the window away and return to the main screen.

You can now test your work. Click on the “Click here to try out this configuration” link at the bottom of the screen. You will see a screen where you can test some searches:

LibX image

A search for “Diabetes” as a keyword opens a new window with the results from the UCLA catalog:

LibX image

Adding Additional Resources

Before you build and install the toolbar, you may wish to add additional resources. Type the URL of the resource into the Auto Detect window again, and click “add” when it finds a choice you like. This screenshot shows that we’ve added PubMed as a resource:

LibX image

Follow the same procedure as above to change the Search options, add a context menu, and test.

We can add a MedlinePlus option by following exactly the same procedure. In the case of MedlinePlus, the system used a long URL name for the Bookmarklet Name, so we changed it to MedlinePlus to be more understandable for users.

Building and Installing the Toolbar

Once you are satisfied with the toolbar, you can build it. Click on the “My Editions” tab. Click on “Build Revision” in the window in the lower right hand corner.

LibX image

Then click on the link “Revision Test Page.” You will be presented with the test page again, where you can click the link to install the toolbar in your browser.

LibX image

The installation will require a browser restart. Once your browser restarts, you should see your new toolbar! This screenshot shows the toolbar with the pulldown menu selected to show the available resources:

LibX image

Besides searching for keywords by typing them directly in the toolbar, try the drag and drop, context menu and icon options. Do a search in Google to see the icon option. This screenshot shows the catalog icon, next to the word “Web,” as well as the context menu when the user right clicks on “Diabetes” in the text of the browser window:

LibX image button
Click image to see larger display!

Note that the context menu options will be the same ones you chose in the Select Options menu when you were building the toolbar. The icon that will appear is the icon for the first resource in the toolbar (in this case, the UCLA Catalog, which is currently set to the default LibX icon). You can change the look of the icon under the “Optional Settings” for the catalog in the “Catalogs & Databases” tab – it is called a “cue icon.”

Also note the “Google Scholar” button in the toolbar and the context menu. This is installed automatically. Users can drag and drop text directly from the browser onto the Google Scholar button to conduct a Google Scholar search.

Editing Your Toolbar

The option for editing your toolbar is a bit hidden in the Edition Builder. If you wish to edit your toolbar, return the Edition Builder. Log in to your account. Click on the “My Editions” tab. Click on the name of your toolbar in the left hand window. Click on “Build Revision” button. This will display a button called “Open Revision # (Modify).” Click on this button to modify your toolbar.

Making Your Toolbar Live

Once you are happy with your toolbar, you can release it to the public by clicking the “Make Revision # Live” button in the “My Editions” tab. This will create a permanent URL for the toolbar that you can advertise to your patrons.

More Features

There are many more features of LibX not discussed in this article. They include support for xISBN, OpenURL, and proxies. For more information see the LibX website.

Examples of a Toolbar in a Health Sciences Library

Although it was not created with LibX, UCSF has created a Clinician’s Toolbar. The toolbar offers access to the library resources, as well as UpToDate, drug information, clinical resources on the library’s web site, Google Scholar, and PubMed. For more information, see http://mededlit.blogspot.com/2009/10/download-clinicians-toolbar-to-your.html.

Want to Create a Toolbar? Need help?

If you have built a toolbar for your library, please feel free to add the link in our comments section.

If this idea sounds intriguing to you, let me know! I would be happy to work with PSR members to help them create a custom LibX toolbar. Please contact me at:

Sharon Dennis
Technology Coordinator
NN/LM Pacific Southwest Region
sdennis@library.ucla.edu

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