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Technical Architecture

For the mobile application to obtain citation information, it needs to be able to associate a physical item (such as a book) to the relevant bibliographic information. We plan to provide a RESTful service that can take a lookup value, such as a barcode number, and then search bibliographic sources for useful data for the user. For example, in the case of our library stock, each item has a barcode number that can be used as a unique identifier to search our library catalogue, Aleph.

It is better to provide a intermediate service rather than allowing the application to query Aleph directly. It will be easier to extend the service to support different and multiple bibliographic sources without having to update the application on the phone. The service will just continue to return data in a format that the application understands.

The service can also be used to store and query the usage statistics that are of interest to the library staff.

Below is a diagram of the planned architecture:

Proposed architecture

I’ve already made a modest start on the development of the service, by querying Aleph through the X-Service API for details of a item via a barcode lookup. For those interested, I’m using JAX-RS (Jersey) to provide the RESTful service and the Spring Application Framework for dependency injection.

Introducing m-biblio

The m-biblio project is funded by JISC under the m-library innovation programme and runs from November 2011 until the end of May 2012. We have fairly ambitious aims for a relatively short project:

“We propose to enhance the learning and research activities of the University of Bristol’s academic community by developing a mobile application that can record and organise references to books, journals and other resources. These references can be added actively by scanning barcodes and QR codes, or passively by automatically recording RFID tags in items being used for study and research. With permission of the user, the application will submit anonymous usage data to their library. This innovation will provide library staff with a valuable set of user-derived usage statistics. It will be able to track which resources were used, and where. The library will therefore be given a rich seam of usage patterns, including data about library items that are often confined to branches such as periodicals, journals and reference books. The application will be made available to the wider FE/HE community for use in other institutions.”

The project will be managed by the IT Services R&D / ILRT group at the University of Bristol, in collaboration with the University Library.

I’ll expand on the aims of the project in future posts and this blog will be a useful forum to report and discuss issues (technical or otherwise). The amount of work at this point is a little daunting, but I see this as a “fun” project that will provide very useful outputs.

I really need to find a better theme for this blog. 🙂

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