[Previous] [Contents] [Next]

Creating Customizable Local WebPAC Pages

Raleigh Muns, University of Missouri, St. Louis
Web Sites:
http://www.umsl.edu/~muns/moron/index.html (Missouri's Omnipotent Research Online Network)
http://www.umsl.edu/~muns/webcatdemos/ (Edited WebPACs)
http://www.umsl.edu/~muns/webcatdemos/awful/index.html (Badly hacked WebPAC)
http://www.umsl.edu/~muns/webcatdemos/templates_java/ (JavaScript templates)
http://www.umsl.edu/~muns/webcatdemos/quick.htm (How to edit JavaScript templates)

The purpose of this program was to empower librarians to edit PAC pages (i.e., to “hack the PAC”). The intended audience was librarians who know how to use a web browser and word processing program, but who were not necessarily ‘techies.’

Raleigh Muns distributed a diskette containing files and links to Web pages, including the complete text of the program and handout and links to the edited III WebPACs of 20 libraries. These files are also available from the web sites listed above.

Understanding HTML and Web Documents

HTML documents are ASCII text documents. To edit these documents, use a simple text editor or word processor. These are less likely to add their own code to the file than more sophisticated programs. Save all HTML documents as text.

Uniform Resource Locators (URLs)

URLs are the “telephone numbers of the Internet.” The URL appears in the location box of the Web browser when it is displaying a page. A URL is unique to a particular page. In an HTML document, the format for a hot link to another Web page is:

<A HREF=“web.page/url/”>Text of Hot Link</A>

When the HTML document is opened in a browser, the only visible text will be: Text of Hot Link.

This text is a hot link, and clicking on it will cause the browser to display the Web page whose URL is: http://web.page/url/

Both the hot link text and the URL can be changed in an HTML document. Changing the text of the hot link does not change the page to which the link points. To link to a different page, change the URL in the <A HREF=“ “> to point to the new page.


The URL of a search results page in any III WebPAC is constructed so that by changing the search terms of the URL in the browser’s location box, a search results page for the new terms appears. Using these URLs, you can create an HTML document with links to search results in your WebPAC.

You can also do this with Web search engines such as Yahoo! and Infoseek. (Raleigh has done this with search engines on Missouri’s Omnipotent Research Online Network site.

You can also use these links in bibliographic instruction sites to illustrate the results of different kinds of searches.

Local WebPAC pages can be edited well or badly. For links to some good examples of III WebPACs that have been edited, go to:


For a tongue-in-cheek awful example of a hacked PAC, go to:


Hacking the PAC with Forms

Using the Web browser you can save any web page, including forms, and save the file to your hard drive. You can edit the form for your use, BUT you need to ‘trick’ the server into thinking the form you edited is on the server.

Make a note of the original URL of the form you are copying.

On the edited form, place: <BASE HREF=“URL of the original form”> before the <BODY> tag.

Frames-Based JavaScript Templates

Using frames and JavaScript, you can create a page to search several catalogs at once using search URLs and pull down menus.

Frames are created using HTML and separate the Web page into sections. JavaScript is a programming language that can be used in an HTML document to manipulate input from forms. Raleigh provided three templates for creating framed pages using JavaScript on the session’s diskette. These are also available at the following site:


The templates are heavily commented to make them easy to edit. For instructions on how to edit these templates see the handout, which is also available on the Web: http://www.umsl.edu/~muns/webcatdemos/quick.htm

Recorded by: Patricia Tully, Gettysburg College

[Previous] [Contents] [Next]