April 19, 2018

Casey Bisson | Movers & Shakers 2007

Mad Scientist


While others complained that ‘OPACs suck,’ Casey Bisson actually did something about it. He was troubled that most people begin their research in a general search engine, but libraries’ content and information is not, as a whole, findable there. It’s not easily searched and accessed, not easily remixed and mashed up with other content to create something new and useful. Using a plugin within a WordPress framework, he created Scriblio (formerly WPopac), which provides keyword searching, faceted searching and browsing, stable URLs for easy linking, and an easily configurable record display. He received the prestigious Mellon Award for it in 2006. Scriblio reflects Bisson’s mantra of ‘usability, findability, remixability,’ born of his conviction that libraries must use, expose, and make their data available in new ways.

Because it’s based on blogging software, Scriblio enables comments, trackbacks, and pingbacks, as well as RSS feeds. Because it’s based on WordPress, others can add WordPress plugin API (application programming interface) to extend its functionality. Because it’s free, open source, and extensible, Scriblio opens up OPAC options for all libraries.

Bisson blogs about Scriblio, technology, and more at MaisonBisson. ‘If I have to spend time researching something, it’s worth blogging about it,’ he says. As for MaisonBisson, he says, ‘My wife, Sandee, came up with the name, which mostly means ‘house bisson,’ and, well, it’s just sort of fun to say with a ridiculous French accent.’

Nominator Meredith Farkas, Norwich University distance learning librarian, sees Bisson as a ‘mad scientist…but in a good way! He seems to see the world a little bit differently than most of us, which helps him come up with truly creative solutions to common tech problems.’

His Flickr photos (www.flickr.com/photos/maisonbisson) reflect that eclectic spirit and hint at his creative solutions to technology problems. ‘Good photos and good writing demand that we first identify what elements are important, then figure out how to position them,’ he says. ‘We’ve gotta do that quickly, as the scene is constantly changing; we often don’t get a second chance.’

It’s our good luck that Bisson ‘stumbled’ into libraries. ‘I was hired as a sysadmin in 1998 and assigned to help the library with its IT problems,’ he says. ‘Had libraries not interested me, or had I not enjoyed the support of a few key people, the story might have ended there.’




CURRENT POSITION Information Architect, Lamson Library, Plymouth State University, NH

AWARD Mellon Award for Technology Collaboration, 2006

CREATIONS MaisonBisson blog (maisonbisson.com); Scriblio (formerly WPopac)