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How Mashups Work

A mashup is a web application that combines data from more than one source into a new, integrated tool (adopted from Wikipedia). For instance, disease data can be mashed-up with Google Maps to create a clickable disease map giving vivid interpretation of outbreaks in different regions around the globe. Mashups have shown great potential in public health, emergency preparedness, and information sharing for local interests.

Here are some great examples:

HealthMap (http://www.healthmap.org/en) brings together disparate data sources to achieve a unified and comprehensive view of the current global state of infectious diseases and their effect on human and animal health.

School Safety News (http://www.schoolsafetynews.com/home.php) provides an alert system displaying Pre-K to College safety events from all around the US.

Earth Album (http://www.earthalbum.com/) is a mashup based on Flickr and Google Maps that allows you to explore some of the most stunning photos in the world.

CodexMap (http://codexmap.com/codexmap.php) is a tool combing a book’s ISBN number with its geographic location on Google Maps.

NN/LM Member Maps (http://nnlm.gov/scr/blog/?p=492) mashes up address data in DOCLINE with Google Maps to give you a visual display of our network members.

BioWizard (http://www.biowizard.com/) tops PubMed with Social Networking applications where you can share, rank and discuss a PubMed search result, and register for an account to list publications, share research interests and join groups. It provides a web-based community for life scientists and physicians.

And here are some Google Gadgets to play with, to add things like “My Library’s Most Popular Items” or “the Newest Material at the Library” to your iGoogle page:  http://www.blyberg.net/2006/08/18/go-go-google-gadget/

So, what can mashups do for libraries? Here are some ideas for you:

  • A user does a search in your library catalog. A map then appears showing where a copy is available in the branch locations and its status.
  • A scientist comes to a health librarian looking for some articles. The librarian searches PubMed and each article found is linked with related, tagged resources shared in Del.icio.us and Connotea.
  • Several libraries are working collaboratively on a Virtual Reference service. A map with color-coded markers on the service home page shows users which librarian at what location is online and available at the moment. Once the user clicks on the available librarian, a chat window will be brought up for asking reference questions.
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