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What Perl can do for you Phil Shirley Cuyahoga Falls Library.

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Presentation on theme: "What Perl can do for you Phil Shirley Cuyahoga Falls Library."— Presentation transcript:

1 What Perl can do for you Phil Shirley Cuyahoga Falls Library

2 Goals 1. Learn about the process of running a Perl script –So you can speak intelligently with an IT person who you want to do some Perl –So you can try it yourself if you want

3 Goals 2. Learn how libraries use Perl –Understand how some scripts basically work –Appreciate the more complex projects –Grasp the scope of what Perl can do

4 This presentation will not teach you anything about the Perl programming language or how to write, edit, or troubleshoot Perl scripts

5 Overview What is Perl What you need Beyond the basics What libraries are doing with Perl Resources

6 Dear computer, Please take that file I just saved and give me a summary report. kthxbye

7 “Great, somebody posted a Perl script to do exactly what I need! I wish I knew how to use it.”

8 “We don’t have Perl.”

9 What Perl Is Perl is a general purpose programming language that’s especially good at manipulating text.

10 Script? Program? Scripts and programs are changed (“compiled”) into commands the computer can understand. Scripts are compiled each time you run them. Programs are compiled once, when you finish writing them.

11 Still, we use the word “programming” to refer to creating scripts.

12 Some write it “PERL” “Practical Extraction and Report Language” Actually this is a backronym, just like “Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden” (Golf).

13 What do I need to get started? –A computer –A text editor –A Perl script –A Perl interpreter –Perl modules (if needed by the script) –Input

14 Computer –Your workstation (Windows, Mac, etc.) –Just about any server (web, e-mail, Windows, etc.) –Almost never your Innovative server

15 Which computer you use depends on the particular task and/or what computers you have access to.

16 Text editor For creating & editing Perl scripts A program for editing plain text files –letters, numerals, symbols, tab, newline –no fileformat-specific control characters for things like bold, italic, fonts, columns, tables

17 Text Editors –Not Microsoft Word, Wordpad, etc. –Built-in: Notepad (Windows) SimpleText or TextEdit (Mac) –Other specialized editors for programming exist

18 Perl script A plain text file that you write (or copy from somebody else) Written in the Perl language Looks like this:

19 #!c:\perl\bin\perl.exe print "Hello World!";

20 Perl interpreter A program you install on the computer where you’ll run scripts Changes the script into instructions the computer can understand Free!

21 Perl Interpreter: Active Perl activeperl/index.mhtml

22 Perl modules Extend the language Make it easier to do some kind of task Examples –Net::FTP –XML::Parser –MARC::Record

23 Input A text file that you want the script to do something with A script can also get some info from the computer (like date & time)

24 Output A text file created by the Perl script Could be HTML, XML, MARC, RSS feed, etc. Or, could be just something normal for you to look at, print, paste into a report, etc.

25 In summary, the components –A computer –A text editor –A Perl script –A Perl interpreter –Perl modules if needed by the script –Input –[Output – created by the Perl script]

26 Questions so far?

27 Beyond the Basics If you want, and you have everything you need for this, you can automate the running of scripts. Some libraries automate the running of Create Lists, process the output with a Perl script, and output an HTML file directly on their web servers. Of course, you can create and post a web page without doing it this way.

28 Beyond the basics: Expect An Expect script logs into the character-based system, runs Create Lists, and produces the input for a Perl script.

29 Actually, Expect scripts can do just about anything in the character- based system.

30 Beyond the basics: Scheduling an Expect script UNIX: cron Windows: Scheduled Tasks

31 Beyond the basics: E-mail pipe method –UNIX mail servers only (probably) –Receives e-mail and uses /etc/aliases file to “pipe” the e-mail to a Perl script on that server

32 Beyond the basics: Output –Save the output file to the live directory on a web server or intranet server. –It’s easier if your mail and web are on the same server.

33 Beyond the basics, putting it all together: Scheduling + Expect + email pipe method + web server

34 Other advanced uses Using a Perl script to: –Construct a database –Query a database –Interact with another script –Communicate with another computer

35 What Libraries Are Doing with Perl Create Lists Prepare Bib & Patron Data for Loading OPAC functionality Circulation System administration

36 Create Lists: How Perl Can Help Reformat the output of Create Lists to: –Create a web page. –Create an RSS feed. –Etc.

37 Create Lists: How Perl Can Help Bring out data that Create Lists can't display. Further refine your Create Lists query. Save the data in a different database (like MySQL).

38 Simple Examples of Using Perl with Create Lists for the Public

39 Creates a web page that’s a list of circulating videos from Create Lists output Mills College Script available from Alma Garcia (


41 Creates a web page that’s a list of journals based on output from Create Lists The Scripps Research Institute


43 Creates an A-Z list of periodicals electronic-journals.htm Stephen Wynn Truman State University Script available from


45 Generates new items RSS feeds from create lists output. Alan Brown Bury Libraries Script available at cgi-bin/clearinghouse/


47 Creates web pages and RSS feeds of recent acquisitions grouped by broad subject area, department/program, and call number Bob Duncan Lafayette College Script available from



50 More Complex Examples of Using Perl with Create Lists for the Public

51 Creates a web page and RSS feeds of new items which can be narrowed by subject area, media, library, time (today, last month, last 6 months), and sorted by title, call number, or author Uses Perl, MySQL, and Perl/Expect newbooks/ Tri-Colleges (Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Swarthmore)




55 Creates a title browse for videos and DVD's which can be limited by format and limited to new titles Uses Perl to populate a MySQL database, with a PHP front end videosPHP.php Stephen Wynn Truman State University Script available from


57 Simple Examples of Using Perl with Create Lists for Staff

58 Creates a shelf list, delivered automatically to a printer, of items for which overdue notices are about to be sent so that Circulation staff can check the shelves before sending notices Stephen Wynn Truman State University Script available from

59 Creates and sends e-mail notices to requestors, alerting them that materials they have ordered are available in the library Stephen Wynn Truman State University Script available from

60 Finds items that are awaiting processing which have bib-level holds and notifies cataloging staff via email Stephen Wynn Truman State University Script available from

61 Reads Create Lists output and creates files of OCLC numbers for batch update, which are then updated using an AutoIt script Phil Youngholm MARINet

62 More Complex Examples of Using Perl with Create Lists for Staff

63 Notifies selectors that their materials have arrived based on the selector field in order records Uses Expect module for Perl Tri-Colleges (Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Swarthmore)

64 Creates a list of items on reserve, sorted by course title Uses Create Lists and Patron API John D. Boggs Peninsula Library System

65 Uses a monthly full MARC extract (using Data Exchange) and populates a rudimentary stock management tool; generates reports from this database such as top issuing authors, missing items, and worn stock Uses Perl and MySQL Alan Brown Bury Libraries

66 You Can’t Do that with Create Lists… but you can if you add Perl

67 Finds and reports duplicate patrons Stephen Wynn Truman State University Script available from

68 Identifies duplicate copies for weeding John Wenzler San Francisco State University Library

69 Creates a web page of purchase alerts based on the holds per title ratio, based on output from Create Lists pa_example.html Glen Modell Ann Arbor District Library Script available at cgi-bin/clearinghouse/



72 Prepare Bib & Patron Data for Loading

73 Creates patron barcodes for incoming student data loads given a beginning barcode (without check digit) Christopher King Appalachian School Of Law Script available at

74 Adds additional patron barcode field entries before loading patron records (the barcode without leading digits and the campus ID number) Steve Sowder Andrews University Script available from

75 Creates MARC patron records from a delimited text file created from an Excel file received by the Admissions Office Amy Moberly California Western School of Law Script available from

76 Extracts last four digits of phone number from Create lists output, inserts this as a PIN field, and creates a delimited file that can be turned into MARC format using MarcEdit Phil Shirley Cuyahoga Falls Library Script available from

77 Reorders the ISBN's in bib records, putting the 10 digit ISBN first in order to use Amazon book jackets Alan Brown Bury Libraries

78 Rearranges data in MARC records for electronic resources to make them work with existing load tables – easier than creating new load tables (uses MARC module for Perl) Michael Kreyche Kent State University

79 Creates a web-based system for retrieving, validating, reviewing, and manipulating MARC records, and documenting loads (uses Perl, the MARC module for Perl, and PHP) Michael Kreyche Kent State University

80 Coverts a special collection from excel files to MARC Ann Anderson The Boeing Company

81 Converts data into a format to feed in an enterprise search Ann Anderson The Boeing Company

82 Cleans and separates data in MARC records for uploading to union catalogs and other services Alan Brown Bury Libraries

83 OPAC Functionality

84 Creates a catalog feature allowing patrons to navigate through Library of Congress call number outlines to class number level, where patrons can search by that class number, search the associated subject heading, find most popular titles in a class, and more. Mark Stoffan Western North Carolina Library Network





89 Creates a feature in the web OPAC which allows patrons to send SMS messages to their phones with title, shelving location and call number of any item (uses Javascript, HTML, and Perl). Tri-Colleges (Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Swarthmore) Script available at clearinghouse/




93 Includes Syndetics and Google Books data in catalog records (using Perl and Javascript). Tri-Colleges (Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Swarthmore)

94 Circulation

95 Updates ITYPEs for ILL materials that have not been checked out (as loan periods for ILL's are controlled through ITYPE at this library), and notifies ILL staff when such materials should be returned to the lending library Stephen Wynn Truman State University Script available from

96 Posts Ariel document delivery to a web server John Dillon Saint Anselm College

97 Takes the web server log, a list of items for electronic resources, and a list of courses, and produces usage stats for each resource by course Mark Huppert The Australian National University Script available at

98 Reformats paging slips and sends them to the appropriate groups for disposition. Reformats and sends notices via e-mail Ann Anderson The Boeing Company

99 Creates and sends out courtesy notices Sends e-mails to indicate that an item is in the mail for a patron (takes advantage of the Oracle back end) Ann Anderson The Boeing Company

100 System Administration

101 Logs into the character-based system to run reports and perform maintenance tasks (uses Expect module for Perl) Tri-Colleges (Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Swarthmore)

102 Works with EZproxy and Patron API to allow users to verify on either PIN or last name John D. Boggs Peninsula Library System

103 Works with a proxy server for access to electronic resources Steve Sowder Andrews University

104 Synchronizes EZProzy and URL's in the catalog by creating a list of new or modified 856 fields and transforming them to EZProxy format (uses Perl Expect module, PHP, and MySQL) Tri-Colleges (Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Swarthmore)

105 Examines CybraryN log files and calculates the number of users Cuyahoga Falls Library

106 Processes a web form and e-mails the results Cuyahoga Falls Library

107 Where to find more of other libraries' scripts IUG Clearinghouse and listserv

108 How to learn the Perl language –Books such as: Learning Perl by Randal Schwartz, Tom Christiansen, Larry Wall A good book for beginners Programming Perl Larry Wall, Tom Christiansen, Jon Orwant A great reference Win32 Perl Programming by Dave Roth Good for automating Windows functions

109 Another Resource Perl4lib: Perl for Libraries listserv and web site

110 Other tools MarcEdit Other scripting languages

111 Questions? pshirley@CuyahogaFalls

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