Librarians and Open Source: We Need Code, Too!

We Need Code For Ourselves

Other Possible Options

Polaris ILS has an API

If only there were a duplicate copy of the database somewhere that an enterprising coder could run queries against in their preferred language, or some sort of documented API for Polaris ILS that the library system gave access to so that the a power user, staff member, or interested civic or community partner could build an application to go in, grab the requested resources, and kick out a set of records in some sort of useful format.

No developers in public libraries

Unfortunately, the library system has just enough people to be able to keep things running. So they don't have time or resources to dedicate to one weirdo that wants to do things a particular way. Maybe if that weirdo went and gathered some allies who all wanted the same thing, they could devote time and resources to it, but it would have to be a pretty large set of allied people...or someone with true organizational power. Ideally, this sort of thing would be perfect for a developer to cut their teeth on, or use as practice for getting to know the database and/or API better so that a later, more complex request can build on those skills, and at the same time, making one (or more) of the staff people happy that they can get useful data out of the system. After all, if one person requests it, there might be three more that don't know how useful it will be to them until they try it or see how the other person uses it. Since libraries are about sharing useful things with each other, the developed module might spread across library systems and be useful to others.


If you want to see what I managed to accomplish without database or API access, by basically taking outputs of other reports as sample data sets and then building an application that would do what I wanted to do with them, you can examine WeedingHelper on my GitHub page - it's a little over 350 lines of code, including comments and whitespace, based on my limited abilities. Someone with greater Ruby skills than mine could probably take it and do amazing things. Or see how it's done and replicate it in their language, and do amazing things with it. I just can't go any further with it because I don't have access to the things I would want to make it more useful. Clown Shoes for all, I guess.