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Archive for August, 2011

Atlas Systems reopens after Hurricane Irene

The Atlas offices will reopen at 8:00am on Monday, August 29, 2011. We’ve restarted all our servers and folded up all the plastic to save for next time. Everything is back to normal.

OCLC to offer Atlas Systems’ free electronic document delivery software

DUBLIN, Ohio, USA, 24 August 2011—Atlas Systems, the leading provider of time-saving solutions for libraries, has announced that OCLC will extend its suite of resource sharing services with Odyssey™ 3.0, the new version of Atlas’ free stand-alone electronic delivery software. Odyssey complements the OCLC ILLiad™ Resource Sharing Management Software that was developed by Atlas Systems and is now distributed by OCLC.

The stand-alone version of Odyssey allows sites to send and receive electronic documents to and from other Odyssey sites, OCLC ILLiad sites, and any other supplier’s software that supports the Odyssey protocol. “Odyssey 3.0 features the ability to send and receive PDF files and allows for users of the stand-alone module to be ‘trusted senders’ with ILLiad partners, resulting in even faster delivery times,” says Genie Powell, Chief Customer Officer at Atlas Systems. “In addition, we’ve made it easier to set up and administer Odyssey, making the free software even more attractive.”

“The Odyssey stand-alone represents an outstanding opportunity for OCLC members to expand their resource sharing using a free application,” says Katie Birch, Director, OCLC Delivery Services. “The partnership between OCLC and Atlas Systems continues to provide industry-leading software opportunities to the resource sharing community.”

About Atlas Systems
Atlas Systems is a software development company founded in July 1995 with the mission of developing library automation to “promote library excellence through efficiency.” Atlas is best known for the ILLiad Resource Sharing Management Software, in use in over 1,100 libraries and now distributed by OCLC. Focused on bringing the benefits of automation to library processes that have not been addressed by other software services, Atlas has introduced Ares, an electronic reserves solution, and Aeon, an online request and workflow management system specifically designed for special collections libraries and archives.

About OCLC
Founded in 1967, OCLC is a nonprofit, membership, computer library service and research organization dedicated to the public purposes of furthering access to the world’s information and reducing library costs. More than 72,000 libraries in 170 countries have used OCLC services to locate, acquire, catalog, lend, preserve and manage library materials. Researchers, students, faculty, scholars, professional librarians and other information seekers use OCLC services to obtain bibliographic, abstract and full-text information when and where they need it. OCLC and its member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the world’s largest online database for discovery of library resources. Search WorldCat.org on the Web at www.worldcat.org. For more information, visit the OCLC website at www.oclc.org.

Find out more about OCLC

OCLC, WorldCat and WorldCat.org are trademarks/service marks of OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. Third-party product, service and business names are trademarks/service marks of their respective owners.

Marilyn Rackley Joins Atlas Systems as Aeon Specialist

Marilyn Rackley

Atlas Systems, the leading provider of time-saving solutions for libraries, is pleased to announce that Marilyn Rackley has joined Atlas as Aeon Specialist, Training and Library Solutions. Formerly Aeon project manager at Harvard College Library, Rackley will be responsible for coordinating the implementation of the Atlas Aeon software for managing special collections and archives user services, including training and advanced workflow consulting.

“We are delighted to welcome Marilyn to our Aeon team,” said Christian Dupont, Aeon Program Director. “Her experience in Harvard College Library implementing Aeon in six libraries with different types of collections, physical configurations, and staffing will be greatly valued by our growing Aeon user community.”

Rackley says she looks forward to helping Aeon users maximize the potential of automated special collections management. “Implementing Aeon in the complex environment of the Harvard College Library has given me a lot of insight into the challenges libraries and archives face in balancing security and efficiency in meeting the needs of their users. Collaborating with the other knowledgeable and experienced members of the Atlas team, I will be able to use this experience to help new and existing Aeon users get the most benefit from the system for both their patrons and staff.”

In her new position Rackley will work with Atlas’s service and training teams to ensure that all Aeon customers have an optimal experience implementing and using the software. She will also provide advanced workflow consulting and help libraries and archives use Aeon’s powerful reporting features to assess the quality and impact of their services and return on investment.

“The first time I saw Aeon demonstrated, I was immediately impressed with the design and functionality and how helpful the system would be for special collections users to make and keep track of their requests,” Rackley said.  “Since that time, I have also seen how useful it can be for staff and have greatly appreciated the system’s capabilities when I have been helping patrons in a special collections reading room.  I am excited to share this unique solution with others in special collections and archives management.”

Rackley holds a Bachelor of Arts from Smith College in government and French literature and language, a Master of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania in French Studies, and a Master of Science in Library Science from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. During her library career she has worked on several special projects including digitizing the Colonial and State Records of North Carolina with Documenting the American South; the North Carolina State Government Web Site Archives; Web archiving at the European Archive in Paris; and the Open Collections Program at the Harvard University Library.

 

Creating and Working with Addon Libraries

One of the neat features of Lua that we’ve leveraged in several of the Atlas addons is the ability to create a library system in which you can take code that is used frequently, compartmentalize it by placing it into a separate file and then utilize that code in multiple different places.

In a number of the Atlas addons, we were faced with the problem of generating URL fragments based on data available in request records. When we first approached this, we did so somewhat naively and just appended the necessary bits of data to the URL string. This of course caused problems when those pieces of data contained characters that aren’t valid as part of a URL and need to be encoded. To fix this, we created a method that takes a string and returns a URL encoded version. Since we needed that same functionality in several scripts, we extracted the method out into a separate file (which now also contains a couple other functions) which we called AtlasHelpers.lua. Once we did that, we were able to place that file in a central location in our addons folder (specifically, we placed it in the Atlas folder) and simply include it in any addons that need it. This simplified the addons that needed that functionality, since they didn’t all have to have that method in them. It also simplified the process of fine tuning and enhancing that method since we now only have to change it in one place.

So how does this work? Well, fortunately we didn’t actually have to do a whole lot to make this work, since Lua already supports a method for including files. The Lua language itself supports a command called “require”, which takes a single string argument; the string is formatted sort of like a C# or Java namespace and is used to locate and load a code library for use in the script that called require. For exact details on how the Lua system handles the require command, you can see the documentation here, but essentially the string you pass in is treated as a dot delimited file path to the file you are trying to include. Lua plugs the string into a search pattern defined by a global path variable, finds the file and loads it. All we’ve done is to change the loading process for addons so that before loading an addon’s script files, the path variable gets set to something more useful. Specifically, we set the path to “{CurrentAddonDirectory}\\?.lua;{HostAppPath}\\Addons\\?.lua” where HostAppPath is the folder the host application’s executable file resides in, and CurrentAddonDirectory is the base directory for the currently executing addon. What this means for addon developers is that we can now create Lua files inside of our addon folders and reference them just by using something to the effect of:

require "AtlasHelpers"

In addition, we can take those helper files, put all the ones you tend to use repeatedly into a single file in your Addons directory and reference those files with a call as simple as:

require "Atlas.AtlasHelpers"

Now some people may be thinking “Well Travis, that’s awesome and all, but how do I distribute my libraries from a network share if I don’t put them in an addon that will get pulled down automatically?”

Well, we thought of that. What we chose to do was make it so that you can add a config.xml file to your libraries that identifies them as such. The addon system will then see the config file, recognize that it is something it needs to deal with and handle it appropriately. Specifically, it will do all the same version checking that it does for actual addons, and if the network share has a new version, it will be pulled down just like any addon would. There are, however, a couple minor catches. First, while the config files are setup very similarly to the addon config files (in fact, they use the exact same schema definition and get loaded into the exact same class in the scripting system) there is one tag that is required for libraries, as well as some tags that are required for addons but are completely unnecessary for libraries. Below you can see an example of a library’s config.xml file.


	Atlas Library
	Atlas Systems, Inc.
	1.0
	false
	Library

	Contains helper methods for use with user addons.

The first thing you will probably notice is that there are several missing sections. The Forms, Settings, and Files sections are all optional sections in the xml schema and can be safely excluded when dealing with libraries. In addition, you may notice that there is a new tag named Type. The Type element can have one of two values: Library or Addon. These are pretty self explanatory. The only note I will make about this tag is that the tag itself is optional, and it defaults to Addon. This means the tag is unnecessary for addons, but required if you want to identify a library as a library.

So to recap: We can now use libraries in addons by creating the library code files in a separate folder in the addons directory, creating a config file for the library making sure to set the value of the Type element to “Library”, and then using the require statement to include the file in the addons that need it.

Position Available – Customer Service Agent

Atlas is pleased to say that we’re expanding our staff! We have added two new staff to the Training and Library Solutions department under Stephanie Spires. One of those positions was filled internally by Kevin Ford, so we now need to fill his Customer Service Agent position.

Those are big shoes to fill, too! Our Customer Service Agents are the liaisons between Atlas and all of our customers, guiding them through implementations, customizations and any support issues that come up. It involves being technically savvy, but more importantly it requires a passion for helping people.

This position is in our Virginia Beach office, so if you are not already local to the area it would require relocating. There are four other Customer Service Agents on the team and collaboration is key to excellent service.

The job description is available for download. If you are interested in applying for this position or have questions, please email us at hr@atlas-sys.com. This position is available for immediate hire.

NOTE: This position has been filled by Angela Mott as of September 16, 2011. We are always looking for more talented people to add to our team, though, so always feel free to send your resume to HR@atlas-sys.com.

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