Librarians on the Commons

There are lots of librarians on the Commons, and about a year ago, fellow Commons Facilitator Brian Foote (@brianfoote) started a wiki page to compile links to their work, focusing especially on blogs and groups.

An amazing amount has happened since!  Included below are some updates, and a bunch of images, one year later.

Please feel free to contribute more links and annotate the existing ones!

The following comes directly from a Commons Wiki page.

Libraries and Library Issues on the Commons


see also: CUNY Library List on this Wiki

This page is a compilation of links to stuff librarians are posting on the Commons. Please feel free to add, expand and otherwise modify its contents so that the work of CUNY librarians can be shared. Stuff includes: blog posts & pages, wiki pages, groups links, forums thread, BP Docs, and whatever.

Blogs on the Commons:

Groups on the Commons:

Some groups have restrictions on membership.

Selected Links for Librarians on the Commons Wiki

Other Links

Google Maps Now Available on Commons Blogs

With the latest release of CUNY Academic Commons 1.1.1, all blogs will be able to easily embed Google maps into posts and pages.  Check out the appended wiki page for the simple instructions.


Google Maps Embed WordPress Plugin

Planning a meeting with colleagues? Writing about a geographical area unfamiliar to your readers? Announcing a conference? The Google Maps Embed plugin is an effective way to add geographical information to your blog posts or pages. You can quickly and easily embed a Google map and provide directions to an event or highlight a unfamiliar area.

How to use this Plugin

As with all new plugins, you will need to activate it. (This is a one time process.)  Once activated, a Google Map Embed icon will appear on the top of your edit screen for pages and posts: 


Step One

Go to Google and search for a map of the place your want to embed in your blog. Adjust the zoom appropriately.  Copy the url.

Step Two

Go to your WordPress dashboard, and edit your post or page.  Click on the Google Map Embed icon highlighted by the red arrow, above.  You should see this popup:


Paste in the url (from Step One), click "Okay," and you should see your map embedded.

If you click on "Dimensions," you may alter the dimensions of your map.  See the various options below:


You may also go to "Settings" to change the default dimensions and scroll option for the screen above if you find that your prefer different settings.


The following quick screencast shows how easy it is to click on the Google Maps Embed Icon and embed a map using this plugin:


WordPress Image-handling Plug-ins

from a Commons Wiki page


There are several plug-ins available on the Commons which extend WordPress image-handling functionality.  Some make it easier to add images to blog sidebars, some provide templates and scaling mechanisms that allow users to professionally format images and text, and some create galleries and slideshows. Here's a rundown:


Flickr Photo Album

Created by TantanNoodles, this plugin requires a Flickr account and a Flickr API key. The user configures the plugin by clicking "Photo Album" under the Settings tab on the WordPress dashboard. Once properly configured, the Flickr icon appears as the last option under "Add Media:" on the edit page. Templates may be created easily, and images scaled to meet any requirements.

Users may select images from their own Photostreams and albums, or choose the "Everyone" or "Interesting" tabs, which allow paging through images licensed under Creative Commons.

Quick Flickr Widget

This plugin lets you manage pictures on your sidebar. Once installed, click on Widgets, find "Quick Flickr Widget" and drag it to a sidebar. You will need to cut and paste your Flickr RSS feed URL which you will be able to get on your Flickr "Photostream" page. Click on the RSS icon, and copy the generated URL.  Then go back to your dashboard and paste the URL into widget configuration form. This plugin comes with a lot of customizations.

Nextgen Gallery

NextGen Gallery provides an easy way to present images in a gallery format. Not a image service like Flickr and Cincopa, NextGen integrates image storing within WordPress. Once installed, a tab called "Gallery" will be available to manage images.  Apparently if used in combination with another plugin (JW Image Rotator), slideshow functionality is possible, but the Commons does not have this plugin.

A gallery of images may be added to posts and pages through the use of "shortcodes" - by adding the following:"[nggallery id=myGalleryName]." There is a variety of configurations and effects possible.  NextGen supports CoolIris (aka "PicLens").

Lightbox Plugin

Details for this plugin can be found here. Lightbox is widely used/mashed up with other applications. Essentially this plugin allows you to show a smaller image which, when clicked, expands to full size and "overlays" the screen. It is a nice effect.

To use this plugin natively, you will need to add some HTML to your pages or posts, but nothing very complicated. The link above gives an example, and you will only need to change the the URLs.

Photo Dropper

Photo Dropper lets you search Creative Commons by keywords. Once you find an image, select small, medium or large and the corresponding image appears in your page or post, along with a hyperlink attribution. Searching/paging can be tiresome, since only four or five results are returned at a time. Configuration is available in the dashboard, under "Settings" ==> "Photo Dropper".

Post video players slideshow and photo galleries

The "Post video players slideshow and photo galleries" plugin, developed by Cincopa is another service which requires membership, but it offers easy and robust image-handling, including slideshows and galleries. Images are uploaded to Cincopa and managed there. Once you decide upon the images and their format, click on finish and Cincopa creates a key which you simply paste into your page or post.

Once this plugin is installed, a tab on your WordPress dashboard will be created called "Cincopa." Click there and follow the instructions.

Cincopa is quite dynamic and allows Photos, Podcasts, Music and Video to be combined in galleries.  Many also include Lightbox effects.  The plugin also has some Flash components which can be used to enhance slideshows.

Openbare Bibliotheek – Amsterdam

Powered by Cincopa WordPress plugin

I took a short trip to Amsterdam last week and came across Openbare Blibiotheek – the largest public libary in Europe. Built in 2007 at a cost of 80 million euros, it was a welcome sign that progressive societies still value free access to information. And then I came home to reality on Wednesday to read the Times article “Anger Builds as a Private Company Takes over Libraries“…

I’ve included a slideshow of some pictures I took, so we can all be jealous…

The Openbare is truly amazing – 10 floors, 1200 seats, 600 Apple computers, 28,000 square meters of space, an awesome collection of CDs and DVDs, a theater that seats 250, conference rooms which may be rented for special events, a gourmet cafe on the roof, overlooking the city, with a fully stocked bar … only in Europe! With a staff of 200, the library is open 7 days a week, 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.

MediaWiki Shortcuts for Common Tasks

Several people have been asking me about writing wikis, and I put together a shortcut “cheat sheet” describing how to do six common tasks on the wiki. There’s a link to the wiki page in FAQ, and I’m including it, below.

from a Commons wiki page



Introducing Six Shortcuts

There are not that many commands that you need to know to write a wiki page, and most can be found on the Rich Editor, but in some cases it's more efficient to know some shortcuts for formatting a wiki page.

While you can enter all these code in the Rich Editor, you need disable it to efficiently work with them. (There's a hyperlink called "Disable rich editor.")

Creating Sections

To create a section, simply add one to six equal marks ("=") before and after your section heading.  Equal marks need to start at column one of your page (i.e. all the way over to the left).

  • =My Main Section=
  • ==My Sub Section==
  • ===My Sub Sub Section===
  • and so on...

The number of equals marks must be the same on each side. Font size gets smaller and colors change as you increase the number of equals marks. Max number of equals signs is six on each side.

Creating a Table of Contents

MediaWiki automatically creates a table of contents and places it at the top of your page if you have three or more sections.

If you don't want a table of contents to appear, use the MediaWiki "magic" word __NOTOC__ at the top of your page, and the table of contents will be suppressed.

Bullet List

Have a list of items that you want to format with bullets? Simply add an asterisk before each one. Again, the asterisks must be in column one, (i.e. all the way to the left):

*Item one

*Item two

*Item three

This is rendered as:

  • Item one
  • Item two
  • Item three

Numbered List

Have a list of items that you want to number? Simply add a number sign (#) before each one. Again, the number signs must be in column one, (i.e. all the way to the left):

#Item one

#Item two

#Item three

This is rendered as:

  1. Item one
  2. Item two
  3. Item three

External Hyperlinks

The formula for an external hyperlink is an open square bracket, the url, followed by a space, then the word your want to appear as your link, and closed with a square bracket.

The following code: [ Library of Congress] will be rendered as: Library of Congress

Linking to Other Commons Wiki Pages

The formula for a link to another wiki page is two open square brackets, followed by the page name, and closed with two square brackets.

The following code:[[CUNY on ITunes U]] will be rendered as: CUNY on iTunes U.

If the page exists, you will link there directly. If the page does not exists, you will be prompted to create this page, a quick and efficient way used by many to create a new link and a new page.

Related Links


WordPress Control Freak? Try Atahualpa…

We know how it can get sometimes, when you can’t find the right theme for a new blog. That’s where the folks at bytesforall come to the rescue. With 268 (and counting) customizable options, this theme rocks!


Introducing Atahualpa

The Atahualpa WordPress theme allows a user to customize pretty much every inch of a blog. The theme comes with a header, a header logo, a header slideshow, two sidebars, and a footer. The following screenshot shows what Atahualpa looks like out of the box:

All of these sections can be fully customized or hidden, depending upon needs. Controls for each section can be found on the WordPress dashboard, in the Appearance tab, under “Atahualpa Theme Options.” The screenshot below shows the extent of control available with this theme:

The Atahualpa theme is one of the most popular themes on the Commons, and one feature which makes is so appealing is the configurability of its header, which is comprised of two components, the header and its logo, on top, and the header image, directly below it.

The Header

With a little tinkering, users can easily add, resize and place their own logo, title, and tag line in the header area. Fonts can be chosen and colors set. The header background can be set to a color, or to a background image with a little knowledge of CSS. The height of this section is totally configurable, and can be set to zero to totally hide this component.

The Header Image

Atahualpa comes with three floral images which change each time the screen is refreshed. Users can customize the slideshow by loading any number of their own images. The header image can be configured so that appears on specific pages and posts, and not on others. If you choose to hide the header, but still need a place for your blog's title and tag line, you can overlay the header image with them.

Changing the Rotating Images

By default, Atahualpa looks in your upload media folders for files using the naming convention "atahualpa_header_x" where "x" is an integer. So, if you upload images "atahualpa_header_3" and "atahualpa_header_5," the theme will cycle through these two images. If no files in your upload folders meet this naming convention, Atahualpa will use the three default, floral images found in its "/images/header" folder. Commons users don't have access to "/images/header" folder and need to use their upload media folders to change the rotating images.

Changing the Order of the Rotating Images

There is a dropdown with two selections: "sort" and "shuffle." If you choose "sort" (the default), your images will display in ascending order, according to the integer of your naming convention (i.e. atahualpa_header_1, atahualpa_header_3, atahualpa_header_5, etc.). There may be gaps in your integer selections, but the theme will do a preliminary sort first.

If you choose "shuffle," the theme's header image rotation will be random. This is useful when you have a good number of images and want to feature them all rather than following the same pattern.

Other Sections

A page menu bar and a category menu bar are both available and fully configurable, with drop-downs. The body, or "post-pages info items," offers a dizzying amount of customization. The Widgets option allows you to control how your widgets appear in your sidebars. There are many sections available, and you may choose just use the default settings. But it's great to know that customization is available if you need it.

Documentation and Useful Links

The dashboard controls for Atahualpa contain thorough documentation for each section.  Additional help may be found at the following links:


Wiki Upgrade and RSS Feeds

The Commons Wiki has been upgraded to a more modern version of MediaWiki (1.15.4), and this lets us do some cool things that were previously not possible. External feeds can now be drawn into wiki pages dynamically and wiki content can be fed out to Web pages, RSS Readers and other wiki pages.

I’ve been playing around with our Wiki’s new RSS functionality, and have begun including some feeds in the right sidebars of Wiki Wrangler

Haven’t had the time to fully explore all this, but I know these new extensions will help in the new Wiki home page redesign, spearheaded by Chris Stein (@cstein). Dynamic content will soon come to the Wiki home page in the form of popular wiki pages, featured wiki pages, wiki resource pages, recently changed wiki pages… The possibilities have multiplied with this upgrade.

Below is some how-to documentation I wrote, posted on the wiki.

Have fun!

(from a Commons Wiki page)

By Tiago Pinhal - Creative Commons

What's an RSS Feed?

Not sure what RSS Feeds are? Check out this link for more information. RSS is short for Really Simple Syndication. RSS feeds are common (among many other places) on the sidebars of websites. If you like a blog or website or a newspaper column and want to know when the next post occurs, you may subscribe to its RSS Feed (if available). RSS feeds let you know when content changes and help control the way your news is presented.

How to Create an RSS Feed on the Commons Wiki

Follow these instructions to create an RSS feed on the Commons Wiki:

  • Identify the pages you want to include in your feed.
  • Add them to the “News” category.
  • Ideally, add them to another, unique category all your own, so that you can control what you feed out.
  • Go to “Special Pages.”  (It's under the Wiki's Toolbox Tab, on the right sidebar.)
  • Scroll down to NewsChannel and click on it.  It's at the very bottom of the page.  Attached below is a snapshot of the screen you should see.

  • Boolean logic applies here. When you add another category, it means that the wiki page needs to be in both categories. If add an exclude category, the article will not be in the feed if it is in that exclude category.
  • When you are done, click on create a feed. You should see something like the following screen. (Your content will be under "Commons Wiki News.")

  • From here you can simply subscribe to the feed using an RSS Reader. There are many RSS Readers. This link rates them.
  • Or, you can go the the top of your browser and copy the url. You can use this url to add the feed to your blog, website, or to a Commons Wiki page.

How to Display an RSS Feed on the Commons Wiki

You can now add RSS feeds to your Wiki pages! They can be feeds from the Commons Wiki or from anywhere else. Follow these simple instructions.

  • Copy the feed url
  • Edit the wiki page where you want the feed to appear
  • Enter <rss>
  • Paste in the url
  • Enter </rss>

And you are ready to go.  There are a number of parameters which you may want to use which control how the articles are presented.  This is described by the author of the extension here. (See the section called "The rss tag.")  You can even enclose 2 or 3 urls within the rss tags (separated by a "|") and they will be displayed in columns.  

Related Links

  • NewsChannel – this is the MediaWiki extension that lets you create RSS Feeds.
  • RSSReader - this is the MediaWiki extension that lets you display RSS Feeds on Wiki page


Apture Plug-in for WordPress

I activated the Apture plug-in today and it’s pretty cool.  Apture lets you create a collection of links, each of which is popped up in its own window.  The idea is to keep your readers on your site while reading or watching content from other sites.

The first link you select serves as the frame, and all the subsequent links appear as icons underneath the control bar.  Here is a sample Apture link I created: Open Access.   I chose a youTube video as the frame, and included a wiki article from the Commons Wiki, an image from Flickr, an article from Wikipedia, Open Access on Twitter, Peter Suber’s Linked-In account,  and an e-book  from Google Books.  When you select web pages, you can open up snippets, or the whole page in another window.

Apture may be activated by going to “Plugins” on the WordPress dashboard.  Scroll down until you find it, and click on the “Activate” hyperlink.  Once it is installed, you will be guided to set up an Apture account.  A quick “Getting Started” tutorial is available.

See Apture for documentation and additional information.   Unfortunately, Apture does not work on the iPad.  Apture requires Flash Player, and Apple doesn’t allow it.

This can also be done using Apture’s “embed” function.  The following sample was just embedded in the post:

Spam Comment

I’ve noticed that I’ve been getting spam comment on some posts and wonder if anyone else is experiencing the same problem.  I’m including a wiki page below that provides some information about spam comment.

Commons Guide to Blogging – Spam Comment

This page has been deleted. The deletion log for the page is provided below for reference.

There is currently no text in this page. You can search for this page title in other pages, search the related logs, or edit this page.


    Adding Wiki Content to Blog Posts

    I’ve been looking at the various ways to use blogs and wikis together, and found a new one (at least to me).

    Suppose you want to record what you learn at a class or a conference. Both wikis and blogs let you compile links and share information, but blogs are better suited to broadcast that information. On the other hand, wikis allow content to evolve and grow by enabling collaboration. Blogs allow feedback in the form of comments, but searching through comments is not that convenient.

    So here’s an alternative that lets you use both!

    Using the WordPress plug-in “WIKI INC” you can include wiki content in your blog post or page. I created a wiki page to further explain, and have dynamically “included” it below to demonstrate this plug-in’s functionality.

    Everything below here comes dynamically from a Commons Wiki page


    The Problem

    You're writing a blog post, and you'd like to include wiki content. This content might come from the Commons wiki, or a variety of MediaWiki sites like Wikipedia, Wiktionary, WikiQuotes...

    You can certainly just link to the wiki article. But you can also "include" the wiki page at the end of your blog post or page.

    Or you can just use a blog post or page to "serve up" a wiki page.

    "KwikiMart" courtesy of cogdogblog

    The Quick Solution

    To include a wiki in a blog post or page, first activate the "Wiki Inc" WordPress Plug-in.  (This is a one time operation - on the WordPress Dashboard, click "Plug-ins."  Then scroll down until you see Wiki Inc.  Click the checkbox and the "Activate" hyperlink.)

    Once Wiki Inc is activated, go to the edit screen of your blog post. Scroll to the very bottom of the page and you should see the follow input boxes:

    Image:Wiki inc.JPG

    In the first box, enter the title of the wiki page you want to include in the text of your post or page.

    In the second box, enter the "Main_Page" address of wiki.

    Here are some examples of Main_Pages you can use:


    • Only one wiki page per blog post or page is allowed.
    • Wiki content must come from a MediaWiki-based wiki
    • Wiki content appears at the end a each blog or page


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