I wanted to highlight a collection of our feature films for Halloween so I created a LibGuide for the occasion. Like many libraries across America, my library has subscribed to LibGuides to deliver information to our patrons. It is an amazingly easy way to get content online with a minimum of fuss. There are many flexible building blocks that can be used to hold links, widgets, items from the catalog, even simply rich text.
I’d seen several nice looking widgets from sources such as Goodreads, Shelfari, and LibraryThing. There’s even a widget that ties lists made in WorldCat to display on a webpage. But there’s a problem. Goodreads is solely a book environment. The same goes for Shelfari and LibraryThing. If I want to display media items in a widget I am out of luck. No CDs, no DVDs.
The WorldCat option is larger than I was hoping for, and many of the titles I had did not have cover pictures in the catalog. Also, as I discovered, the OCLC widget will only show a fraction of the titles on your list. This was a large disappointment, and left me two options. One, scanning the covers myself, and posting the images to link to, which was not very feasible for this ‘quick’ project.
I settled on the Amazon widget. I was hesitant for two reasons. One – it was created by Amazon to promote sales on Amazon. Two – I didn’t feel able to create an Amazon account with the library name, as we already purchase from there. So the list I built was tied to my personal Amazon account.
Hesitations aside, I found the creation of the widget fairly easy.
First you must create a “Listmania” list. To create a list, you must be logged into Amazon and find “Your Profile.” I found that the list needs a title that is fairly unique, because when you create the widget you need to search for your list.
There is a field for comments within the list, and I began with a link to the item our catalog, hoping that it would allow patrons to check availability of the item. Sadly, the field did not accept html, and the link only blocked the picture of the item, so I limited myself to adding only the call number of the items.
Also, be sure to do your list right the first time. Changes to your list take a long time to travel to the widget, once it is made. I removed the hyperlinks from my list on a Friday night and they were still present in the widget on Saturday. By Monday when I checked, the changes had propagated, so it is possible to edit your list, but it takes some time.
Once you’ve created your list and checked it twice, it is time to create a widget.
Follow this link: https://widgets.amazon.com/Amazon-Slideshow-Widget/ and click “Search Listmania.” If you have titled your list well, the next steps are easy. Click the “Select” button and choose your layout, animation, and size for display. Beyond the four premade color themes, you have the opportunity to customize the colors used in the borders and background of the widget, which would be nice to match existing pages.
This widget, although not perfect, was a quick and flashy way to highlight a collection on our webpage. It was very exciting to pull together.