Monday, November 13, 2006

An URL of Your Own

Back on September 18th, I wrote a post that described the Research Network's plans on providing information digitally in response to client requests. Today, we took a big step in making this a reality.

We'd been experimenting in attaching files (Word docs, Excel sheets, PDF files, HTM pages, etc.) for several months, but it was causing unforeseen problems. Our mail server & your mail server may not agree on certain things (like the size of a file being sent, or whether a message would fall prey to a junk mail filter, etc.). As a result, some messages weren’t being received. So, rather than trying to memorize the quirks of 20+ mail servers around the state, a different method was born.

Gus Geidel (our harried but diligent MIS guy) created a section on the main SBDC website in which any of the RN librarians can "drop" a file. More often than not, the file will be several documents stitched together, and saved as a PDF file.

The file name will comprise two parts: the advisor's last name, followed by the case number to which the research applies. Once you identify your file, you can either open it & print, or open it & save locally to your hard drive. The file will exist on the website for a brief period of time (we plan on purging every Friday those files over a week old). When your file has been put on the site, you'll get an e-mail that same day from whichever librarian did the work. The body of the e-mail will provide any other details relevant to the research, and it will also provide a link to the web address.

(Because this blog site can be read by anyone, I'll send the URL to this site to SBDC staff only this Friday.)

We can still attach small files to e-mails & send them to you. It's the larger files that will require use of this new website.

There will be no links to this new site from the main SBDC page - it's strictly for New York SBDC personnel. The address should NOT be given out to the client (there'll be other files on there not meant for prying eyes). The site will be bare bones in its aesthetic, so don't expect a masterpiece of visual design. Also, at some point, we'll had some level of security to the site (probably a password function).

The RN staff still has to work out internally some kinks on how we're going to utilize this function (there's a bunch of behind-the-scenes stuff that has to get done before a file is posted, and, for our own sanity, we're trying to keep that effort as streamlined as possible). We’re in uncharted waters here.

If you've got ideas on how to improve this, we'd like to hear it. But the site is up, and it is running, and we think it's pretty cool.

No comments: