Bahá'í Library Online
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Abstract:
Some structural or systemic improvements necessary for future Bahá'í Library expansion (excluding minor changes or new content); planning began in 2011, a redevelopment team was convened in 2021 and funded in 2023, and the project reset in 2024.
Notes:

Proposed Changes for Version 5

by Jonah Winters

2013/2024
Updates:

2024 April:

  • We have completed the emergency creation of a new website on a new server and I have begun programming a temporary replacement of the codebase. We are taking steps to attempt to salvage whatever we can of the fully paid-for but abandoned redevelopment project that started January 2021 and dissolved in 2023. The legacy server, which I had been running for 24 years, can no longer be maintained due to a very outdated operating system, and has finally been shut down.
  • The Board will begin discussing how to proceed, and decide whether to return to where we were in January 2021 with a completely fresh start, or to give up on the idea of redeveloping the Library and let it remain a static archive. After putting so much time and effort into planning and fundraising for the now-abandoned three-year redevelopment, I do not feel inspired to begin anew with a fresh programming team; my guess is we will, for now, simply develop a new LAMP site using PHP and not migrate to AWS.
2024 March:
  • The redevelopment project appears to have been abandoned. The initial deadline was November 2023; the final deadline for full completion of Steps 1-2 of the migration had been the server's end-of-life (EOL) on January 31 2024, but after receiving the initial $10,000 we raised, and then an additional $2,500 on request, the developer did not deliver and has gone incommunicado. What's been provided so far is not yet usable or complete and lacks documentation. Yet our operating system's EOL has passed and the existing ancient code cannot be exported.
  • Our current web-host has confirmed that, though the server's OS has reached EOL and all support has been terminated, we can continue operating it as-is for the time being.
  • As an interim solution, pending a rewrite of the code as necessary to migrate to a newer server, the entire website has been crawled and preserved as HTML (not "live" from a database) at the domain bahai-library.com. The interim live site is at bahai-library.org
  • We will begin looking for a new programming team once this unexpected yet urgent migration is complete.
2024 January:
  • After some months away, our programmer has just returned to the project, the site development is again underway, and he has assured us it can be completed by the end of January -- yay!!
  • We are now a registered non-profit organization in the state of New York under the name “Twenty-seven Letters Foundation, Inc.,” and have a new website at 27-letters.org.
  • The foundation's board is comprised of: Jonah Winters, president; J. Michael Kafes, secretary; Alexander Meinhard, treasurer.
  • We have an "EIN" and tax exempt status from the IRS and can now issue tax-deductible receipts.
  • We have a new bank account at Chase in Buffalo NY for “Twenty-seven Letters Foundation, Inc." and can now accept donations. Checks can be mailed to the following address:
      Twenty-seven Letters
      c/o Jonah Winters
      12 Tasker Street
      St. Catharines, ON, L2R 3Z8
      Canada
2023 November: Just confirmed that our application is still in process with NY. The programmer has again had to take a pause and was not able to complete the work, but I have confirmed with our hosting company that we can keep the current server online until the end of January 2024. We have only 2 months left now before our existing server reaches end-of-life, so keeping fingers crossed!

2023 October: After resubmitting the form twice due to bureaucratic issues — with a 2-month delay after each submission — our 501(c)(3) application is finally being processed by the state of New York! As soon as that's done, we can pursue funding and complete the final migration. Our programmer assured us in August that he has returned to the project and our November 2023 deadline can still be met.

2023 July: The 501(c)(3) application is being processed this month and the developer has returned to the project; we're now beginning planning for the final steps of the migration.

2023 May: We have filed incorporation papers for our non-profit! Our programmer was not able to complete the tasks in the initial time-frame so continuing development on Version 5 is on hold at the moment, but he has completed an initial migration of all content to AWS and so we are again able to post updates and additions (though still using the legacy server).

2023 April: After various delays, the site files and index pages, current to 2/23, are now functional in the cloud! Temporary URL: bahai-library-online.s3.eu-north-1.amazonaws.com.

2023 March: Our initial site migration to AWS is taking longer than anticipated, due to the sheer size of the Library (est. 79,000 distinct files, 141,000 internal links, an outdated database, and archaic code). But we have been assured that it's almost done! We have a new Patreon membership page to help support this extensive effort, which cannot be done without paid labor.

2023 March: Incorporating a 501(c)(3) non-profit is in process, and should be done by May.

2023 March: Set up facebook.com/bahai.library.online and patreon.com/bahai_library_online.

2023 February: The redevelopment is proceeding well, and we have issued our first-ever call for donations to pay for the programmer's work.

2023 January: Ismael has just alerted me that he has an unexpected but brief 5-week window in which to do the redevelopment. I am getting ready to start a large fundraising effort to raise the funds that will be needed to accomplish this. So the redevelopment has begun in earnest, and he assures us the new Version 5 (beta) will be online by March!

2023 overview: Here is our roadmap for this year. Phase 1 is migrating the entire site from a dedicated server to AWS cloud hosting, and coding a wholly new, original backend, and writing specs for a future API — time estimate 6-8 weeks, completion date March. Phase 2 is creating the API, which will allow the new backend to interface with new and future front-ends — time estimate 1-2 weeks, completion date March. Phase 3 is creating new front-end interfaces, starting with mobile — time estimate unknown, completion date hopefully fall. Phase 4 is adding the much-needed new features to bring the site up to current Library Science standards — time estimate unknown, completion date hopefully December 2023. Phase 5 is data entry, specifically adding tags and other metadata — time estimate two years, completion date spring 2025.

2022 May: Behind-the-scenes changes have been coming along steadily; see Bahá'í Library Online at 25.

2021 September: Initial programming has begun! Updates will be posted when I receive them.

2021 August: Progress has begun on coordinating a team of programmers to build Version 5, led by software engineer Ismael Velasco.

2021 March: Version 5 initial development and planning has begun.

2013-2020: research and gradual planning for the future wholesale re-creation of a brand-new codebase.

Every few years the Library grows enough to warrant a sub-version number. Once every 5-10 years the Library evolves enough to require a whole new version; see past versions. This document will track proposed changes to Version 5, circa 2021-2023. It will not include all requested changes, as there are too many to possibly consider; see all those in Brett's and my To-Do list. Rather, this document will list changes that are more feasible or more necessary.

Some planned changes:
  1. Mobile interface
  2. From-scratch rewrite of desktop interface
  3. Unified database, e.g. wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_public_access_catalog and wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrated_library_system
  4. Authority control for authors: wikipedia.org/wiki/Authority_control, which would also solve the problem of multiple spellings, e.g. "Masumian" and "Ma'sumian", name changes, and items with many authors
  5. Edit/version history
  6. Licenses and permissions. Separate editor/publisher. Change "open copyright". See http://opensource.org/licenses/alphabetical
  7. Make public metadata search options, e.g. search Abstract or Parent or Publisher, plus full-catalogue output
  8. Tag table / master subject index
  9. Native push notifications
  10. EndNote and Marc export
  11. Crowdsourcing-capable multi-editor system with versioning and rollback functions, à la Wikipedia
  12. Incorporate diversity awareness, e.g. disclaimers on certain documents with now-outdated racial or non-inclusive terms
  13. Document-submission portal, scanned with VirusTotal, allowing for receiving, categorizing, vetting, editing, tagging
  14. Ensuring accessibility, e.g. for blind users
Design proposals:
  1. Logo, fonts, and colors concept art: zein_logo_design_concept_2022.pdf
Mistakes and other to-do:
  • multiple-authorship issues, e.g. Cole and UHJ
  • check "published as" fields
  • loss of initial punctuation in titles in Editing window
  • deal with redirects, e.g. bahai-library.com/ruhiyyih_passing_shoghi_effendi (should be khanum_passing_shoghi-effendi)
  • move "ed." from volume field to new "editor" field for books
  • deal with surname fields e.g. "van den" / "Hoonaard"
  • Begin archiving regional newsletters, including sending requests to the Institutions
  • Title search issues: how search for a title that has embedded HTML (italics, ampersands, m-dashes)?
  • Make other language documents more prominent
  • Combined searches, e.g. search for Tags "Philosophy + Free will", or search Author + Date
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