SubjectsPlus is a tool for dynamically managing three parts of a library's website.

  • Subject Guides or pathfinders
  • A-Z list of Databases
  • Staff List, sortable by department and subject specialist

User Guide for SubjectsPlus

Getting Started (creating your subject guides)

Known Issue: Cannot log into Control Panel using Firefox

Although Firefox is the preferred browser for SubjectsPlus, there can be problems with clearing the session cookies from the /control/login.php screen that manifest themselves only in Firefox (while IE and Safari work on the same machine). The issue is that session cookies don't clear, despite browser settings.

Workaround Solution

Solution: I forced the session cookies to clear using the Web Developer toolbar .

--Carson, Bryan P. 14:59, 11 February 2008 (EST)


Admin tab (If you are not an administrator, ignore this sub-section.)

Once you have installed SubjectsPlus, you will need to add library departments, users, subjects, and then resources. You will need at least one admin account to proceed. Make sure the staff table has someone in with the admin field set to 1; you might need to do this by hand using a tool such as PHPMyAdmin.

Once you have someone with an admin privilege, you should see an Admin tab when you navigate to the home page of your control panel (say, at http://www.yoursite.edu/subsplus/control/index.php). Now, you should:

  • Add a department. You will need at least one department when you add users, below.
  • Now, you may add additional users if you want. See Notes on Adding Users below
  • Go to Manage Subjects/Librarians. Make sure at least one subject exists. If you have at least one person with RXS privs turned on in your users table, you may associate them with this subject. This means that their picture and contact info will appear in the sidebar for that subject in the public display of SubjectsPlus
  • That should be enough to allow you to Add Records to SubjectsPlus, below

Notes on Adding Users

  • Some fields are required, one of which is departments. This is necessary for the Staff List page; if you're not going to use this, just make sure there is one department in place, and assign everyone to it.
  • Make sure you've got IPs present if you're using the IP authentication. If you're using the password authentication, make sure you've assigned a password and the user has an email address, since that's their login.
  • You can turn on or off access privs here:
    • Research by Subject Module--Allows user to add resources to SubjectsPlus, and associate with subjects
    • RxS Eres Superadmin--Give additional privileges, including adding a display note (appears under the description, and is useful for things like, "Available on 3rd floor workstation", or "Two concurrent users"), deciding whether an item should appear on the A-Z list of databases, and the ability to delete a record forever.
    • Admin Module--Ability to modify users
  • The machine option is if you need IP access from a public machine. Probably not a good idea unless it's the ref desk. And then, still probably not a good idea.
  • There's also an option to make a semi-public machine (i.e., ref desk) password protected, if you're otherwise using IP authentication. Look in the readme.txt file for details.

Adding Records to Subjects Plus: The SP::RECORDS tab


This will only show up for someone with the correct privileges. Someone with the additional Eres privs will see more.

Add a New Record

  1. First, make sure it doesn't already exist. Use the search box to check if it's already present.
  2. If it's not there, click "Add New Item" in the sub-nav bar.
  3. Now, enter information for the new item:
    • Title: The title of your item . . .
    • Pre: Prefix. Use this for an article, or anything you do not want used for the alphabetical sorting
    • Description: Useful information about this resource. This information will appear underneath the item or in a pop up window
    • Subject 1: Information about the first subject assigned to the item. You need to assign a subject. If you are not yet ready to assign a subject, you might want to create a subject like "Unassigned" and then screen it out from your public display.
    • Rank: The lower the number assigned, the higher this item will appear within its source type listing on the public page.
    • Subject: A dropdown list of all the subjects entered into SubjectsPlus. If you need a new Subject, it will have to be added through the Admin tab.
    • Source: A dropdown list of all the sources that have been assigned. Items on the public display page will be organized by source type. The relative weight of the source type on the display page can be modified directly within the source table. Likewise, if you wish to add a new source, you'll need to do it directly in the table (for now)
    • Location 1: This is the first location for an item.
    • Format: Select a format type. To modify this list, you'll need to modify the format table by hand
    • Location: Enter in the location of the item. It might be a URL, it might be a call number, the only limit is your imagination.
    • Access Restrictions: Does someone need to be authenticated or not? Choose ic_library if this is the case. The campus only is legacy; does nothing!
    • Limit: Selecting web-based lets the program know that this is a web-accessible item. Comes into play when someone limits from the main page to "web only" resources
    • Full Text: This is a full-text item, however you define that. Will cause a little full text icon to appear next to the item.

Edit an Existing Record

You will probably want to find the record you wish to edit by doing a search in the search box, then click on the correct record and you will be taken to the appropriate edit screen. The edit screen is similar to the Add New Record screen, except that it has additional fields and information:

  • "Logged in as ___" appears in the upper left. The options are "ref librarian" or something like "superuser". The latter has a few additional fields they can modify (see below). Access to this is set in the Admin tab, with the RxS Admin privilege.
  • Next and Previous buttons to move through the records in alphabetical order
  • Find all resources currently linked with a subject link will allow you to see the weights (ranks) of items within a source type
  • DB List (pop) link will pop up to show all the items that appear on the A-Z list of databases (a subset of what appears in SubjectsPlus)
  • Subjects: Here you may add additional subjects for this resource. If you want a resource to have more than one "source", you can put in another source type with the same subject underneath. I think.
  • Locations: You can add additional locations here. For instance, you might have both a print and an online version of a resource. Make two locations.
  • A-Z Display (Superuser only): This determines whether this item should show up on the A-Z list.
  • Article Linker (Superuser only): This determines whether this item is article-linker enabled. This is probably irrelevant
  • Display Note (Superuser only): A note about the resource, usually of a meta nature, that appears beneath the item description.

Delete an Existing Record

A delete button appears at the bottom of the record for users with Eres Admin/Superuser privs

Adding Content to SubjectsPlus Sidebar: The SP::SIDEBAR tab


On the main page of this tab, there will be a listing of any subject guides assigned to the librarian who logs in, plus a "Feeling Meddlesome?" dropdown, to select any subject. To do anything, you must select a subject! Once you have done so, there are six different categories you can mess with:

  • Best Bets: These are the items that will appear on top of the rest of your content if you have this turned on in config.php. Move an item from "All Choices" over to Best Bets, and hit update. They will show up in the order they appear on this screen. If you want to reorder, move all resources back to All Choices and try again . . . .
  • RSS Feed: You can add a feed to the page. Stick a URL for a feed in there, click update and see what happens. If it's a properly formed feed, the data will show underneath Feed Test. If you don't want a feed, delete everything from the text box and update.
  • Call Nums & Subjects: This hooks into our library catalog (Innovative Interfaces).
  • SS Links: These are links to SerialsSolutions, our journal aggregation service.(If your library happens to use this, this could be useful. Otherwise, you could try to make it work with another product--should be okay IF they have persistent URLs.)
  • Help Guides: This is a way of uploading or linking to documents that might be helpful for that subject. There are three options on this page:
  1. Select Existing File: Useful if this guide has already been uploaded to the server. Say, you want it linked off both the Psychology and Sociology guides. If you click "Add it", you'll be prompted for some metadata--a name for the link, whether or not it is active (maybe you want to only publicize the guide during certain times of year, so you can make it inactive at other times), and whether or not it should be highlighted. (Not yet properly implemented!)
  2. Link to Page: To link to a page residing somewhere on the internet
  3. Upload File: To upload a file. If this isn't working, you'll need to play with the doc_dir variables in control/includes/config.php and
  • Free Text (aka Tips): This is a place to add any old text you want. It displays under the heading Tips in the sidebar. Middlebury Note: We're using the FCKEditor, so the content provider of a guide doesn't have to use HTML in the Free Text area.

Adding a LibraryH3lp widget to the sidebar

  • On your SubjectsPlus guide, add a Base pluslet to your right side barAdd pluslet.PNG
  • Open the pluslet and click on Source
Sourcecode button.PNG
  • Copy & paste the following text into the source code box:
<iframe frameborder="1" style="border: 2px inset black; width: 260px; height: 300px;" src="http://libraryh3lp.com/chat/YOUR-QUE@chat.libraryh3lp.com?skin=11997&sounds=true&title=Ask+Us"></iframe>
    • Note1: Change YOUR-QUE to the name of the queue created for you, probably your LibH3lp username followed by a dash and subsplus: e.g., rjenkins-subsplus (OR, you can use midd-reference, the general queue for reference)
    • Note2: the "skin" 11997 gives the widget a white background which might look better with the Subsplus header
If you want more green in the background, as we have for the midd-reference widget, use 1191
  • Click the Source button again and you should see the widget appear intead of source code Widget editmode.PNG

If you don't see the widget, you probably have an error in coding

  • Click Save Changes
  • Check your Guide's 'live' page. If necessary fine-tune the window dimensions by changing the width in the embed source code (width 250 - 260 should fit the sidebar). You might also want to change the height to make it shorter than 300px.
  • For an example in an existing page, see the Education Studies guide

Reminder: When you login to LibraryH3lp chat, you now will have a choice of queues: your personal queue or the general midd-reference queue. You may check both or just one. Select queues.PNG

Feedback and Discussion (from Guide Creators)

Please use this section to post issues, give feedback, or generally share your experiences creating guides. Including:

  • tips
  • caveats
  • suggestions
  • workarounds

Middlebury-specific Environment

What's in Middlebury's SubjectsPlus instance so far?

If the A-Z checkbox in the admin interface is checked,

A-z checkbox.jpg

then the resource will appear here: A-Z List (a.k.a. Database List)

Creating records for print resources

If you are creating a record for a print resource use the following settings.

  • Format "Print with link"
  • Location either
    • active MIDCAT search link (examples at go/midcatlinks ) or
    • the URL of the permalink in the MIDCAT record
  • Description the Call # (and any other description you want)

This allows for the link to be live and the user to access MIDCAT easily.

Parenthesis Bug in "All Items" edit button after browsing to a record


If you browse to a SubjectsPlus record, as in the screenshot above (and as opposed to Search for it), you may have experienced this bug.

If the title has parenthesis, you can browse the list to find the record, but you cannot get to the record via the edit button (see below).


If you click on the edit button, you get the error message: "Sorry, there were no results. Try again." The parentheses are messing up the bare-bones, on-the-fly search function.

  • Workarounds for parenthesis bug
    • Use the "Search for" function instead. OR
    • Don't use parenthesis in the title of a record

Creating New Record bug

Resolved: No ampersand in Subject name fixes this glitch. (Tested 2008-09-22)


When adding a new record, the dropdown for the "Subject" always defaults to the first in the list (in this case "American Studies"). This only happens when creating a new record, not when using an existing one.


  • Workaround for "Creating New Record Bug":
    • Save initially
    • go back and check it
    • Set the Subject to what you want it to be
    • Save again
  • Everything works fine from that point.

"Locating Books and Journals" .pdf available for all guides

I created a .pdf with instructions on how to locate books and journals online and in print. Please feel welcome to add it to your guides. It's called "locating books,journals." --Carrie Mac

Remove text about access ("This is a subscription resource...") from descriptions?

I would like to remove text about access ("This is a subscription resource...") from resource descriptions now that we have the padlock icon. It'll save space and typing, and it'll make the icons more meaningful (people will hopefully get used to looking for them). I think the text came from my science guides in the CMS, so it's mostly in science databases, but it's also in multidisciplinary databases like Academic OneFile. Does anyone disagree--is there anyone who wants to keep this text in the descriptions? --Carrie Mac

Add "Current Awareness" as a Source type?

If others are interested, I would like a new source category which could be used for sources like RSS feeds, instructions in MIDCAT Preferred Search, and (if I get around to creating them!) instructions on setting up citation alerts from indexes like Web of Science. I could put these under "Web Sites" but the significance will be lost, I think. I don't want to clutter our interface, but I think that subject guides are a perfect place for us to recommend sources for research such as these. It could be called "New Resources" or "Research Alerts" or something like that. --Carrie Mac

Revise Subsplus entry for Chicago Manual?

I would like to edit the Subsplus entry for Chicago Manual of Style. It's a relatively minor change, and it would allow me to be more consistent within my guides. If I don't hear any objections this week then I'll go ahead and make the change.

As you may have seen, currently, there are two entries for Chicago Manual of Style in Subsplus. One is for the print and it links to the MIDCAT record. The other is for the online and it links to the online version. Some of you might prefer having two separate records, and I don't think that my revision will make doing so redundant.

In my guides, when I link to a resource that is available both in print and online, I like to link to both versions in one record. Here's how I usually do that:

1. In description of resource, include links to MIDCAT record and online version

2. For the whole subsplus record, link to a MIDCAT title search. Provided there is a record in MIDCAT, the title search will bring up both the print version and the online version.

For example, here's my Subsplus entry for Physiological Reviews:

Physiological reviews [<==link to MIDCAT title search]

In print 1921-current at Armstrong Periodicals and Armstrong Microfilm [<==link to MIDCAT record]

Online 1998-1 year ago at HighWire Press [<==link to online journal]

May I do the same thing for the Chicago Manual?



Admin Docs

If you're not an administrator, you can probably ignore this section.

Known Issues

Cannot log into Control Panel using Firefox

Although Firefox is the preferred browser for SubjectsPlus, there can be problems with clearing the session cookies from the /control/login.php screen that manifest themselves only in Firefox (while IE and Safari work on the same machine). The issue is that session cookies don't clear, despite browser settings.

Workaround Solution

Solution: I forced the session cookies to clear using the Web Developer toolbar .

--Carson, Bryan P. 14:59, 11 February 2008 (EST)

Best Bets won't pop up

In subjects/display.php, comment out (/* */) this line.

$icon2 = "<img src=\"images/info2.gif\" alt=\"$alt_title\" title=\"$alt_title\" border=\"0\" />";

Error saving SP Records format "Print with Link"

SubjectsPlus is a little temperamental on the initial save. You must have a Title, Description, and Location when saving a new SP Record in the Control Panel, otherwise you get an error. This is a bit counter-intuitive, because a print resource doesn't have a Location (which is a URL).

Workaround Solution

Always add a Location (usually the permalink from MIDCAT or alternatively the search string URL). You can make the initial save to add the record to the database and then edit the record as needed afterward.

Sidebar - Adding links to external documents does not work when the URL begins with https

When adding content to the Sidebar in the Guides section you can  "Link to Page".  You see the link "Create a link to an external page or document"  (Use this if want to link to an HTML page or document on the library site or elsewhere.)  Follwing that link, you come to a screen where you can paste in a URL.  The issue came to light trying to paste in a Segue URL.  Segue URLs start with https.  This confuses subsplus and it conflates the subsplus URL with the target of the link you're trying to insert into the Sidebar.

Workaround Solution

Change the URL from https to http and SubjectPlus then creates the link in the sidebar correctly.

Sidebar resized on a single guide

When the sidebar resizes on a single guide, not systemaitically, this is most likely because someone input code (an inline CSS) into the description field of a record.


UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger

<p>The online edition of the Atlas includes all of the information in the print edition (soon to be released)
and much more. Using this interface, you can browse through the endangered languages listed in the 2009 edition
of UNESCO&rsquo;s Atlas, using combinations of search criteria and/or zooming in the map below
(see. <a target="_blank" rel="external" href="">browsing functionalities</a>). For more detailed information, please
consult the <a href="?pg=00212">Language names and locations</a>, <a href="?pg=00213">Contribute your comments
</a> and <a href="?pg=00148">FAQ</a> pages.</p>
<div id="contenttext"><style type="text/css">
#filter {
#filter td{
font-style: italic;}
font-weight: bold;
padding: 3px;
border-collapse: collapse; }
margin: 0px;
padding: 0px;
border: 1px;
text-align: left;
}</style><!-- SEARCHING FORM --></div>


  1. Look at the source of the guide on which it is occurring to find out in which record the stray inline CSS is.
  2. Edit the description field in the record.

Localizations and Customizations

Subject Search in catalog (MIDCAT)

Used for the Call Numbers & Subjects portion of Sidebar. Below is an example from the Middlebury College Innovative Interfaces WebPAC. Your subject search term will be sandwiched in between these two strings.

This code snippet is around line 81 of control/includes/config.php

//MIDCAT - Innovative Interfaces Inc. WebPAC Pro
$open_string = "http://biblio.middlebury.edu/search/d:";
$closed_string = "&searchscope=2";

Techniques & Tricks (aka Hacks)

  • Print resources linked from the call number in the description field.
  • MIDCAT Lists as web resources.

Show/Hide "Legend" options in Sidebar



<div style=\"display: none;\" id=\"legend\">

<div style=\"display: 1;\" id=\"legend\">

Upgrading to Version 0.7.3

On slug:

  • Created staging-diff directory
  • Placed new version there and began configuring
  • Compared settings of \staging-diff\subsplus\control\includes\config.php and \subsplus\control\includes\config.php
  • configured \staging-diff\subsplus\control\includes\config.php and moved it into \subsplus\control\includes\ , replacing old version.

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