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Evergreen ILS: Evergreen Community Releases 2015 Annual Report

planet code4lib - Fri, 2016-04-22 14:12

The Evergreen community released its 2015 Annual Report this morning during the 2016 International Evergreen Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The annual report highlights a busy year for Evergreen with 60 new library locations moving to the system, bringing the total number of known Evergreen libraries to nearly 1,800.  In addition to two new feature releases, 2015 also saw a lot of work completed for the new web-based staff client, which is scheduled to be ready to replace the current staff client in Spring 2017.

The annual report is available from the Evergreen web site at


OCLC Dev Network: Federated Queries with SPARQL

planet code4lib - Fri, 2016-04-22 13:00

Learn about choosing blending data from different SPARQL endpoints using federated queries.

Eric Hellman: Using Let's Encrypt to Secure an Elastic Beanstalk Website

planet code4lib - Thu, 2016-04-21 20:10
Since I've been pushing the library and academic publishing community to implement HTTPS on all their informations services, I was really curious to see how the new Let's Encrypt (LE) certificate authority is really working, with its "general availability" date imminent. My conclusion is that "general availability" will not mean "general usability" right away; its huge impact will take six months to a year to arrive. For now, it's really important for the community to put our developers to work on integrating Let's Encrypt into our digital infrastructure.

I decided to secure the website as my test example. It's still being developed, and it's not quite ready for use, so if I screwed up it would be no disaster. is hosted using Elastic Beanstalk (EB) on Amazon Web Services (AWS), which is a popular and modern way to build scaleable web services. The servers that Elastic Beanstalk spins up have to be completely configured in advance- you can't just log in and write some files. And EB does its best to keep servers serving. It's no small matter to shut down a server and run some temporary server, because EB will spin up another server to handle rerouted traffic. These characteristics of  Elastic Beanstalk exposed some of the present shortcomings and future strengths of the Let's Encrypt project.

Here's the mission statement of the project:
Let’s Encrypt is a free, automated, and open certificate authority (CA), run for the public’s benefit.While most of us focus on the word "free", the more significant word here is "automated":
Automatic: Software running on a web server can interact with Let’s Encrypt to painlessly obtain a certificate, securely configure it for use, and automatically take care of renewal.Note that the objective is not to make it painless for website administrators to obtain a certificate, but to enable software to get certificates. If the former is what you want, in the near term, then I strongly recommend that you spend some money with one of the established certificate authorities. You'll get a certificate that isn't limited to 90 days, as the LE certificates are, you can get a wildcard certificate, and you'll be following the manual procedure that your existing web server software expects you to be following.

The real payoff for Let's Encrypt will come when your web server applications start expecting you to use the LE methods of obtaining security certificates. Then, the chore of maintaining certificates for secure web servers will disappear, and things will just work. That's an outcome worth waiting for, and worth working towards today.

So here's how I got Let's Encrypt working with Elastic Beanstalk for

The key thing to understand here is that before Let's Encrypt can issue me a certificate, I have to prove to them that I really control the hostname that I'm requesting a certificate for. So the Let's Encrypt client has to be given access to a "privileged" port on the host machine designated by DNS for that hostname. Typically, that means I have to have root access to the server in question.

In the future, Amazon should integrate a Let's Encrypt client with their Beanstalk Apache server software so all this is automatic, but for now we have to use the Let's Encrypt "manual mode". In manual mode, the Let's Encrypt client generates a cryptographic "challenge/response", which then needs to be served from the root directory of the web server.

Even running Let's Encrypt in manual mode required some jumping through hoops. It won't run on Mac OSX. It doesn't yet support the flavor of Linux used by Elastic Beanstalk, so it does no good configuring Elastic Beanstalk to install it there. Instead I used the Let's Encrypt Docker container, which works nicely, and I ran a Docker-Machine inside "virtualbox" on my Mac.

Having configured Docker, I ran
docker run -it --rm -p 443:443 -p 80:80 --name letsencrypt \    
-v "/etc/letsencrypt:/etc/letsencrypt" \
-v "/var/lib/letsencrypt:/var/lib/letsencrypt" \ -a manual -d \
--server auth 
(the --server option requires your domain to be whitelisted during the beta period.) After paging through some screens asking for my email address and permission to log my IP address, the client responded with
Make sure your web server displays the following content at before continuing:
8wBDbWQIvFi2bmbBScuxg4aZcVbH9e3uNrkC4CutqVQ.hZuATXmlitRphdYPyLoUCaKbvb8a_fe3wVj35ISDR2ATo do this, I configured a virtual directory "/.well-known/acme-challenge/" in the Elastic Beanstalk console with a mapping to a "letsencrypt/" directory in my application (configuration page, software configuration section, static files section.). I then made a file named  "8wBDbWQIvFi2bmbBScuxg4aZcVbH9e3uNrkC4CutqVQ" with the specified content in my letsencrypt directory, committed the change with git, and deployed the application with the elastic beanstalk command line interface. After waiting for the deployment to succeed, I checked that responded correctly, and then hit <enter>. (Though the LE client tells you that the MIME type "text/plain" MUST be sent, elastic beanstalk sets no MIME header, which is allowed.)

IMPORTANT NOTES: - Congratulations! Your certificate and chain have been saved at   /etc/letsencrypt/live/ Your cert   will expire on 2016-02-08. To obtain a new version of the   certificate in the future, simply run Let's Encrypt again....except since I was running Docker inside virtualbox on my Mac, I had to log into the docker machine and copy three files out of that directory (cert.pem, privkey.pem, and chain.pem). I put them in my local <.elasticbeanstalk> directory. (See this note for a better way to do this.)

The final step was to turn on HTTPS in elastic beanstalk. But before doing that, I had to upload the three files to my AWS Identity and Access Management Console. To do this, I needed to use the aws command line interface, configured with admin privileges. The command was
aws iam upload-server-certificate \--server-certificate-name gitenberg-le \--certificate-body file://<.elasticbeanstalk>/cert.pem \--private-key file://<.elasticbeanstalk>/privkey.pem \--certificate-chain file://<.elasticbeanstalk>/chain.pemOne more trip to the Elastic Beanstalk configuration console (network/load balancer section), and was on HTTPS.

Given that my sys-admin skills are rudimentary, the fact that I was able to get Let's Encrypt to work suggests that they've done a pretty good job of making the whole process simple. However, the documentation I needed was non-existent, apparently because the LE developers want to discourage the use of manual mode. Figuring things out required a lot of error-message googling. I hope this post makes it easier for people to get involved to improve that documentation or build support for Let's Encrypt into more server platforms.

(Also, given that my sys-admin skills are rudimentary, there are probably better ways to do what I did, so beware.)

If you use web server software developed by others, NOW is the time to register a feature request. If you are contracting for software or services that include web services, NOW is the time to add a Let's Encrypt requirement into your specifications and contracts. Let's Encrypt is ready for developers today, even if it's not quite ready for rank and file IT administrators.

Update (11/12/2015):
I was alerted to the fact that while was working, was failing authentication. So I went back and did it again, this time specifying both hostnames. I had to guess at the correct syntax. I also tested out the suggestion from the support forum to get the certificates saved in may mac's filesystem. (It's worth noting here that the community support forum is an essential and excellent resource for implementers.)

To get the multi-host certificate generated, I used the command:
docker run -it --rm -p 443:443 -p 80:80 --name letsencrypt \
-v "/Users/<my-mac-login>/letsencrypt/etc/letsencrypt:/etc/letsencrypt" \
-v "/Users/<my-mac-login>/letsencrypt/etc/letsencrypt/var/lib/letsencrypt:/var/lib/letsencrypt" \
-v "/Users/<my-mac-login>/letsencrypt/var/log/letsencrypt:/var/log/letsencrypt" \ -a manual \
-d -d \
--server authThis time, I had to go through the challenge/response procedure twice, once for each hostname.
With the certs saved to my filesystem, the upload to AWS was easier:aws iam upload-server-certificate \
--server-certificate-name gitenberg-both \
--certificate-body file:///Users/<my-mac-login>/letsencrypt/etc/letsencrypt/live/ \
--private-key file:///Users/<my-mac-login>/letsencrypt/etc/letsencrypt/live/ \
--certificate-chain file:///Users/<my-mac-login>/letsencrypt/etc/letsencrypt/live/ now, traffic on both hostnames is secure!

Resources I used:

Update 12/6/2015:  Let's Encrypt is now in public beta, anyone can use it. I've added details about creating the virtual directory in response to a question on twitter.

Update 4/21/2016: When it came time for our second renewal, Paul Moss took a look at automating the process. If you're interested in doing this, read his notes.

Library of Congress: The Signal: Closing the Gap in Born-Digital and Made-Digital Curation

planet code4lib - Thu, 2016-04-21 18:06

This is a guest post by Jessica Tieman.

Jessica Tieman. Photo from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

As part of the National Digital Stewardship Residency program, the 2015-2016 Washington, D.C. cohort will present their year-end symposium, entitled “Digital Frenemies: Closing the Gap in Born-Digital and Made-Digital Curation,” on Thursday, May 5th, 2016 at the National Library of Medicine. Since June, our colleague Nicole Contaxis has worked with NLM to create a pilot workflow for the curation, preservation and presentation of historically valuable software products developed by NLM.

Why “Digital Frenemies”? Our group has observed trends in digital stewardship that divide field expertise into “made digital” and “born digital.” We believe the landscape of the digital preservation field shouldn’t seem so divided. Rather, the future will be largely defined by the symbiotic relationships between content creation and format migration. It will depend on those endeavors where our user communities intersect rather than lead to us to focus on challenges specific to our individual areas of the field.

The symposium will showcase speakers from cultural heritage and academic institutions, who will address the relationship between digitized and born-digital material. Guest speakers will explore topics such as preserving complex software and game technologies through emulation, creating cultural digital collections through mobile public library labs, collecting and curating data and much more. Featured sessions will be presented by Jason Scott of the Archive Team; Mercè Crosas, chief data science and technology officer of the IQSS at Harvard University; and Caroline Catchpole from Culture in Transit.

The event is free but registration is required as space is limited. We encourage those interested in attending the event or following along on social media to visit our website.

DPLA: Discussing ebooks at PLA 2016

planet code4lib - Thu, 2016-04-21 16:00

Earlier this April I traveled to the Mile-High City for the Public Library Association’s biennial conference in search of all things e-content. Held at the Colorado Convention Center, PLA 2016 empowered attendees with the tools to return to their library and “Make It Extraordinary.”

As the Digital Public Library of America, DPLA is utilizing its national network of libraries and cultural heritage institutions to explore how it can help improve the state of library ebooks. We are convening community conversations with stakeholders around ebooks to move towards a national digital strategy. In Denver I was part of conversations with these library e-content leaders as they formulated a vision for an umbrella group that would organize communications, streamline efforts, and advocate for our work amongst each other and to the larger ecosystem. DPLA is proud to have a leading role in coordinating these conversations. Click here for more on getting involved.

Three of these e-content stakeholders provided an update on their work at ‘Making Progress in Digital Content’ Friday morning to a packed audience. Carolyn Anthony, Director of the Skokie Public Library (IL) and Co-Chair of ALA’s Digital Content Working Group updated on progress in pushing publishers for better licensing models (slowly improving) and overall trends (ebook market down; self-publishing up). Veronda Pitchford of the Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS) laid out the problems (budgets, platform fatigue) and called for librarians to unite in telling publishers and vendors what they want. Micah May of The New York Public Library described the IMLS-funded Library E-content Access Project (LEAP), which will create a library-owned marketplace, and demoed Open eBooks, NYPL’s first iteration of their SimplyE platform. DPLA is partner on LEAP and Open eBooks and is working with the community to address the opportunities and challenges Carolyn and Veronda identified.

Through Open eBooks DPLA hopes to further highlight the issues with diversity in children’s books and use the initiative as an opportunity to bring diverse authors and content to kids. A Book Buzz session featuring the youth divisions of Little, Brown, Macmillan, Random House and Disney previewed upcoming children’s books which strongly featured diversity in characters, authors, and genres. A rousing discussion of diversity in children’s lit ensued, with publishers crediting librarians for helping to raise awareness of the issue. Issues discussed included lobbying the Book Industry Study Group to improve BISAC subject headings to better reflect diversity in metadata, and a need to push for characters that are diverse but also don’t play into stereotypes.

Stay tuned for more updates on DPLA + Ebooks!

District Dispatch: DOE confirms half of IAL funds reserved for school libraries

planet code4lib - Thu, 2016-04-21 15:49

IAL Grant Applications due by May 9

The Department of Education today issued a notice in the Federal Register clarifying that 50 percent of all Innovative Approaches to Literacy grant funds, more than $13 million, are reserved for use by school libraries. In it, the Department stated categorically that last year’s Consolidated Appropriations Act committee report directed DOE to “ensure that no less than 50 percent of IAL funds go to applications from LEAs (on behalf of school libraries)…”

A student at the ‘Iolani School in Hawaii

Today’s notice follows up its earlier release of April 7. As noted previously in District Dispatch, all eligible applicants seeking a grant have until May 9, 2016 to submit their proposal. DOE is expected to announce its grant awards in July.

To be eligible, a school library must be considered a “high-need” Local Education Agency (LEA), meaning that at least 25 percent of its students aged 5 – 17 are from families with incomes below the poverty line (or are similarly defined by a State educational agency). A grant application must include: a program description of proposed literacy and book distribution activities; grade levels to be served or the ages of the target audience; and a description of how the program is supported by strong theory. Additional information, like timelines and results measurement methods, is also required. DOE also will consider programs that seek to integrate the use of technology tools, such as e-readers, into addressing literacy needs.

According to DOE, priority consideration for IAL funding is given to programs that include book distribution and childhood literacy development activities, and whose success can be demonstrated. Additional “points” in assessing competing grant proposals may be awarded to an application that meets additional program objectives. As detailed in the DOE’s Notice, there are many such additional goals, including distributing books to children who may lack age-appropriate books at home to read with their families.

The post DOE confirms half of IAL funds reserved for school libraries appeared first on District Dispatch.

DuraSpace News: AVAILABLE: Recording and Slides from April 21 LYRASIS and DuraSpace CEO Town Hall Meeting

planet code4lib - Thu, 2016-04-21 00:00

Austin, TX  On April 21, 2016, Robert Miller, CEO of LYRASIS and Debra Hanken Kurtz, CEO of DuraSpace presented the second in a series of online Town Hall Meetings. They reviewed how their organizations came together to investigate a merger in order to build a more robust, inclusive, and truly global community with multiple benefits for members and users. They also unveiled a draft mission statement for the merged organization.

DuraSpace News: Towards an Independently Versioned Fedora RESTful API

planet code4lib - Thu, 2016-04-21 00:00

Austin, TX  The Fedora community is currently in the initial phases of drafting a standards-based application programming interface (API) specification that will result in a stable, independently-versioned Fedora RESTful API.  A Fedora API specification will be a significant milestone for the project and the community enabling a concrete and common understanding of Fedora's role in an institution's infrastructure ecosystem.

District Dispatch: ALA Past President Carla Hayden receives warm Senate welcome

planet code4lib - Wed, 2016-04-20 22:25

It was a standing room only crowd at today’s confirmation hearing of Dr. Carla Hayden, President Obama’s nominee to serve as Librarian of Congress, with the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration. The hearing marks the first step in the Senate review process.

Three Maryland senators (one former) presented Dr. Carla Hayden to the committee. Former Senator Paul Sarbanes (and current Enoch Pratt Free Library board member) joined Dr. Hayden and Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin at the microphone to open the hearing.

Dr. Carla Hayden (center) with her mom Colleen and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO).

“It would be a great, great day for the nation, but a loss for Baltimore,” if Dr. Hayden were confirmed, said Senator Mikulski in her introduction to Senate colleagues. She highlighted Dr. Hayden’s ability to work with everyone from “electeds” to people in both wealthy and “hard scrabble” neighborhoods, and referenced the fact that the library stayed open in the wake of massive protests that followed Freddie Gray’s death in police custody. Senator Cardin recognized her leadership not only of the Enoch Pratt Free Library but also the Maryland State Library Resource Center, including managing technology transitions and capital improvements. “Dr. Hayden is the best qualified and will bring the respect that is needed,” Senator Cardin said.

“(Dr. Hayden) is an extraordinarily able, committed person,” said Senator Sarbanes. “The nation will be extremely well-served (by her) and I strongly urge her confirmation.”

Dr. Hayden’s testimony shared the evolution of her career, as well as changes across the profession and the Library of Congress. “As I envision the future of this venerable institution, I see it growing its stature as a leader not only in librarianship but in how people view libraries in general,” she said. “As more of its resources are readily available for everyone to view online, users will not need to be in Washington, D.C.; everyone can have a sense of ownership and pride in this national treasure.”

Committee Chair Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) followed the Maryland senators with a recollection of his own visit to the Ferguson (MO) Public Library and an acknowledgement of the “big job” ahead for the future Librarian of Congress. The big job was made plain in questions from committee members that largely focused on the modernization of the Library’s technology infrastructure, the future of the Copyright Office, and public access to reports from the Congressional Research Service.

Throughout, though, the questions were open and respectful—even warm and encouraging—on both sides of the political aisle. During a hotly contested presidential election year, it was a welcome respite and encouraging sign for Dr. Hayden’s ultimate confirmation. You can watch a webcast of the hearing here.

The ALA also submitted to committee members yesterday a letter of support for Dr. Hayden’s nomination signed by more than 20 leading national nonprofit organizations, two dozen educational institutions (ranging from community colleges to the Big Ten and Ivy League); two dozen academic libraries from every corner of the country; more than a score of national library groups; and virtually all of the nation’s state library associations.

Stay tuned to the District Dispatch for the most current news related to the confirmation process.

The post ALA Past President Carla Hayden receives warm Senate welcome appeared first on District Dispatch.

David Fiander: Mac OS vs Emacs: Getting on the right (exec) PATH

planet code4lib - Wed, 2016-04-20 13:36

One of the minor annoyances about using Emacs on Mac OS is that the PATH environment variable isn't set properly when you launch Emacs from the GUI (that is, the way we always do it). This is because the Mac OS GUI doesn't really care about the shell as a way to launch things, but if you are using brew, or other packages that install command line tools, you do.

Apple has changed the way that the PATH is set over the years, and the old environment.plist method doesn't actually work anymore, for security reasons. For the past few releases, the official way to properly set up the PATH is to use the path_helper utility program. But again, that only really works if your shell profile or rc file is run before you launch Emacs.

So, we need to put a bit of code into Emacs' site_start.el file to get things set up for us:

(when (file-executable-p "/usr/libexec/path_helper")
(let ((path (shell-command-to-string
"eval `/usr/libexec/path_helper -s`;
echo -n \"$PATH\"")))
(setenv "PATH" path)
(setq exec-path (append (parse-colon-path path)
(list exec-directory)))))

This code runs the path_helper utility, saves the output into a string, and then uses the string to set both the PATH environment variable and the Emacs exec-path lisp variable, which Emacs uses to run subprocesses when it doesn't need to launch a shell.

If you are using the brew version of Emacs, put this code in /usr/local/share/emacs/site-lisp/site-start.el and restart Emacs.

Open Knowledge Foundation: Global Open Data Index Insights – Open Data in the Arab world

planet code4lib - Wed, 2016-04-20 08:55

This blog post was written by Riyadh Al Balushi from the Sultanate of Oman.

I recently co-authored with Sadeek Hasna a report that looks at the status of open data in the Arab World and the extent to which governments succeed or fail in making their data available to the public in a useful manner. We decided to use the results of the Global Open Data Index as the starting point of our research because the Index covered all the datasets that we chose to examine for almost all Arab countries. Choosing to use the Global Open Data Index as a basis for our paper saved us time and provided us with a systematic framework for evaluating how Arab countries are doing in the field of open data.

We chose to examine only four datasets, namely: the annual budget, legislation, election results, and company registration data. Our selection was driven by the fact that most Arab countries already have published data in this area and therefore there is content to look at and evaluate. Furthermore, most of the laws of the countries we examined make it a legal obligation on the government to release these datasets and therefore it was more likely for the government to make an effort to make this data public.

Our analysis uncovered that there are many good examples of government attempts at releasing data in an open manner in the Arab World. Examples include the website of Ministry of Finance of the UAE which releases the annual budget in Excel format, the legislation website of Qatar which publishes the laws in text format and explicitly adopts a Creative Commons license to the website, the Elections Committee website of Egypt, which releases the elections data in Excel format, and the website of the Company Register of Bahrain, which does not make the data directly available for download, but provides a very useful search engine to find all sorts of information about companies in Bahrain. We also found several civil society projects and business initiatives that take advantage of government data such as Mwazna – a civil society project that uses the data of the annual budget in Egypt to communicate to the public the financial standing of the government in a visual way, and Al Mohammed Network – a business based on the legislation data in the Arab World.

“Map of Arabic-speaking countries” by Illegitimate Barrister – Licensed under CC Attribution 3.0.

What was interesting is that even though many Arab countries now have national open data initiatives and dedicated open data portals, all the successful open data examples in the Arab World are not part of the national data portals and are operated independently by the departments responsible for creating the data in question. While the establishment of these open data portals is a great sign of the growing interest in open data by Arab governments, in many circumstances these portals appear to be of a very limited benefit, primarily because the data is usually out of date and incomplete. For example, the Omani open data portal provides population data up to the year 2007, while Saudi’s open data portal provides demographic data up to the year 2012. In some cases, the data is not properly labeled, and it is impossible for the user to figure out when the data was collected or published. An example of this would be the dataset for statistics of disabilities in the population on the Egyptian government open data page. The majority of the websites seem to be created through a one-off initiative that was never later updated, probably in response to the global trend of improving e-government services. The websites are also very hard to navigate and are not user-friendly.

Another problem we noticed, which applies to the majority of government websites in the Arab World, is that very few of these websites license their data using an open license and instead they almost always explicitly declare that they retain the copyright over their data. In many circumstances, this might not be in line with the position of domestic copyright laws that exempt official documents, such as the annual budget and legislation, from copyright protection. Such practices confuse members of the public and give the impression to many that they are not allowed to copy the data or use it without the permission of the government, even when that is not true. Another big challenge for utilising government data is that many Arab government websites upload their documents as scanned PDF files that cannot be read or processed by computer software. For example, it is very common for the annual budget to be uploaded as a scanned PDF file when instead it would be more useful to the end user if it was uploaded in a machine-readable format such as Excel or CSV. Such formats can easily be used by journalists and researchers to analyse the data in more sophisticated ways and enables them to create charts that help present the data in a more meaningful manner. Finally, none of the datasets examined above were available for download in bulk, and each document had to be downloaded individually. While this may be acceptable for typical users, those who need to do a comprehensive analysis of the data over an extensive period of time will not be able to do efficiently so. For example, if a user wants to analyse the change in the annual budget over a period of 20 years, he or she would have to download 20 individual files. A real open data portal should enable the user to download the whole data in bulk. In conclusion, even though many governments in the Arab World have made initiatives to release and open their data to the public, for these initiatives to have a meaningful impact on government efficiency, business opportunities, and civil society participation, the core principles of open data must be followed. There is an improvement in the amount of data that governments in the Arab World release to the public, but more work needs to be done. For a detailed overview of the status of open data in the Arab World, you can read our report in full here.

Casey Bisson: get list of functions in bash script…look for those in argv

planet code4lib - Wed, 2016-04-20 03:59
# Get function list as array funcs=($(declare -F -p | cut -d " " -f 3)) # parse out functions and non-functions i=1 declare -a cmdargs declare -a otherargs for var in "$@"; do if [[ " ${funcs[@]} " =~ " ${var} " ]]; then cmdargs[i]=${var} else otherargs[i]=${var} fi ((i++)) done echo ${cmdarg[*]} echo ${otherargs[*]}

DuraSpace News: WORKSHOP: Publishing Assets as Linked Data with Fedora 4

planet code4lib - Wed, 2016-04-20 00:00

Austin, TX  David Wilcox, Fedora product manager and Andrew Woods, Fedora tech lead, will offer a workshop entitled, "Publishing Assets as Linked Data with Fedora 4" at the Library Publishing Forum (LPForum 2016) to be held at the University of North Texas Libraries, Denton, Texas on May 18 from 1:00 PM-3:30 PM. All LPForum 2016 attendees are welcome—there is no need to pre-register for this introductory-level workshop.

Max Planck Digital Library: MPG/SFX server maintenance, Wednesday 20 April, 8-9 am

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-04-19 23:54

The MPG/SFX server updates to a new database (MariaDB) on Wednesday morning. The downtime will begin at 8 am and is scheduled to last until 9 am.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

District Dispatch: LIVE: Watch the confirmation hearing for Dr. Carla Hayden

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-04-19 19:52

Watch Dr. Carla Hayden’s Confirmation Hearing Live on Wednesday, April 20, 2016 at 2:15 pm ET

The Confirmation Hearing for Librarian of Congress Nominee, Carla Hayden, by the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, will air LIVE on C-SPAN3, C-SPAN Radio and on Wednesday, April 20, 2016 at 2:15pm ET.

The hearing will also be webcast from the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration hearing page. The webcast will be available approximately 15 minutes prior to the start of the hearing, and the archive will be available approximately 1 hour after the completion of the hearing.

Previous: Preparing for a librarian…Librarian (March 4, 2016)

The post LIVE: Watch the confirmation hearing for Dr. Carla Hayden appeared first on District Dispatch.

District Dispatch: 2016 winners of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service announced

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-04-19 19:06

10 Winners of the 2016 National Medal for Library and Museum Service Announced

On April 19, 2016, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced the 10 recipients of the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community. Now in its 22nd year, the National Medal celebrates libraries and museums that “respond to societal needs in innovative ways, making a difference for individuals, families, and their communities.”

The award will be presented in Washington, D.C. on June 1st. To learn more about the 2016 National Medal winners and 30 finalists, click here.

The 2016 National Medal recipients are:

  • Brooklyn Public Library (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
  • The Chicago History Museum (Chicago, Ill.)
  • Columbia Museum of Art (Columbia, S.C.)
  • Lynn Meadows Discovery Center for Children (Gulfport, Miss.)
  • Madison Public Library (Madison, Wis.)
  • Mid-America Science Museum (Hot Springs, Ark.)
  • North Carolina State University Libraries (Raleigh, N.C.)
  • Otis Library (Norwich, Conn.)
  • Santa Ana Public Library (Santa Ana, Calif.)
  • Tomaquag Museum (Exeter, R.I.)

Read More from IMLS:

This year’s National Medal recipients show the transforming role of museums and libraries from educational destinations to full-fledged community partners and anchors,” said Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “We are proud to recognize the extraordinary institutions that play an essential role in reaching underserved populations and catalyzing new opportunities for active local involvement.”

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums.

Previous: Libraries: Apply now for 2016 IMLS National Medals (July 23, 2015)

The post 2016 winners of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service announced appeared first on District Dispatch.

District Dispatch: 3D/DC: A great day for libraries

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-04-19 18:18

L-R: Diego Tamburini, Autodesk; Charlie Wapner, American Library Association; Adam Schaeffer, D.C. Public Library; U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (CA-41). Image from Becky Button, via Twitter.

Last week, I participated in 3D/DC, an annual Capitol Hill event exploring 3D printing and public policy. Programming focused on 3D printing’s implications for education, the arts, the environment, the workforce and the public good. In my reflections on last year’s 3D/DC, I averred that the event was “a good day for libraries.” This year, “good” graduated to “great.” Libraries were mentioned as democratizers of technology too many times to count over the course of the day, and the library community had not one, but two representatives on the speaker slate.

It was my privilege to be a panelist for a program exploring the role of 3D printing in closing the workforce skills gap. Thankfully, my national-level outlook on how libraries harness 3D printing to build critical workforce skills was buttressed by the on-the-ground perspective of Library Associate and Maker Extraordinaire Adam Schaeffer of the Washington, D.C. Public Library (DCPL). The other participants on the panel were Robin Juliano of the White House National Economic Council, Gad Merrill of TechShop and Diego Tamburini of Autodesk.

I described libraries as informal learning labs; places where people are free to use digital technologies like 3D printers, laser cutters and computer numerical control (CNC) routers to build advanced engineering skills through the pursuit of their personal creative interests. I argued that in combination with the suite of other job search and skill-building services libraries provide, library 3D printers are powerful tools for fostering workforce preparedness. Adam Schaeffer offered powerful anecdotes to illustrate this point. His kinetic overview of the wide array of products he’d helped patrons launch with a 3D printer was a tour de force of the 21st century library’s power as an innovative space.

It was a pretty light lift to convince those in attendance of the value of library 3D printing services to the task of workforce development. Nearly every word I, and my Library Land compatriot, Adam, uttered in furtherance of this effort was met with a sturdy nod or a knowing grin. I found this surprising at first – but after a minute, I realized it was in keeping with an ongoing trend. In my just-over two years at ALA, I’ve seen a steady proliferation of stories in popular news and blog outlets about 3D printers being used in libraries to build prototypes of new products and foster engineering and design skills. As a result, library “making” has reached an inflection point. It’s no longer seen as quaint, cute or trivial; it’s acknowledged as a means of advancing personal and societal goals.

That this is the case is a testament to the ingenuity of library professionals. From New York to California and everywhere in between, the men and women of the library community have built communities around their 3D printers; library makerspaces have become cathedrals of creativity – and their congregations are growing by the day. I know…Because last week, I was preaching to the converted. To all the library makers out there: keep up the good work.

ALA would like to thank Public Knowledge for including libraries in 3D/DC this year. I’d personally like to thank Public Knowledge for the opportunity to speak during the event.

The post 3D/DC: A great day for libraries appeared first on District Dispatch.

David Rosenthal: How few copies?

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-04-19 15:00
A question that always gets asked about digital preservation is "how many copies do I need to be safe?" The obvious questions in response are "how safe do you need to be?" - it isn't possible to be completely safe - and "how much can you afford to spend being safe?" - costs tend to rise rapidly with each additional 9 of reliability.

User rblandau at MIT-Informatics has a high-level simulation of distributed preservation that looks like an interesting way of exploring these questions. Below the fold, my commentary.

rblandua's conclusions from the first study using the simulation are:
  • Across a wide range of error rates, maintaining multiple copies of documents improves the survival rate of documents, much as expected.
  • For moderate storage error rates, in the range that one would expect from commercial products, small numbers of copies suffice to minimize or eliminate document losses.
  • Auditing document collections dramatically improves the survival rate of documents using substantially fewer copies (than required without auditing).
  • Auditing is expensive in bandwidth. We should work on (cryptographic) methods of auditing that do not require retrieving the entire document.
  • Auditing does not need to be performed very frequently.
  • Glitches increase document loss more or less in proportion to their frequency and impact. They cannot be distinguished from overall increases in error rate.
  • Institutional failures are dangerous in that they remove entire collections and expose client collections to higher risks of permanent document loss.
  • Correlated failures of institutions could be particularly dangerous in this regard by removing more than one copy from the set of copies for long periods.
  • We need more information on plausible ranges of document error rates and on institutional failure rates.
My comments on these conclusions are:
  • Auditing document collections dramatically improves the survival rate - no kidding! If you never find out that something has gone wrong you will never fix it, so you will need a lot more copies.
  • Auditing is expensive in bandwidth - not if you do it right. There are several auditing systems that do not require retrieving the entire document, including LOCKSS, ACE and a system from Mehul Shah et al at HP Labs. None of these systems is ideal in all possible cases, but their bandwidth use isn't significant in their appropriate cases. And note the beneficial effects of combining local and networked detection of damage.
  • Auditing does not need to be performed very frequently - it depends. Oversimplifying, the critical parameters are MeanTimeToFailure (MTTF), MeanTimeToDetection (MTTD) and MeanTimeToRepair (MTTR), and the probability that the system is in a state with an un-repaired failure is (MTTD+MTTR)/MTTF. MTTD is the inverse of the rate at which auditing occurs. A system with an un-repaired failure is at higher risk because its replication level is reduced by one.
  • Institutional failures are dangerous - yes, because repairs are not instantaneous. At scale, MTTR is proportional to the amount of damage that needs to be repaired. The more data a replica loses, the longer it will take to repair, and thus the longer the system will be at increased risk. And the bandwidth that it uses will compete with whatever bandwidth the audit process uses.
  • Correlated failures of institutions could be particularly dangerous - yes! Correlated failures are the elephant in the room when it comes to simulations of systems reliability, because instead of decrementing the replication factor of the entire collection by one, they can reduce it by an arbitrary number, perhaps even to zero. If it gets to zero, its game over.
  • We need more information - yes, but we probably won't get much. There are three kinds of information that would improve our ability to simulate the reliability of digital preservation:
    • Failure rates of storage media. The problem here is that storage media are (a) very reliable, but (b) less reliable in the field than their specification. So we need experiments, but to gather meaningful data they need to be at an enormous scale. Google, NetApp and even Backblaze can do these experiments, preservation systems can't, simply because they aren't big enough. It isn't clear how representative of preservation systems these experiments are, and in any case it is known that media cause only about half the failures in the field.
    • Failure rates of storage systems from all causes including operator error and organizational failure. Research shows that the root cause for only about half of storage system failures is media failure. But this means that storage systems are also so reliable that collecting failure data requires operating at large scale.
    • Correlation probabilities between these failures. Getting meaningful data on the full range of possible correlations requires collecting vastly more data than for individual media reliability.

DuraSpace News: Upcoming LYRASIS and DuraSpace CEO Town Hall Meetings

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-04-19 00:00

Austin, TX  The LYRASIS and DuraSpace Boards announced an "Intent to Merge" the two organizations in January. As part of ongoing merger investigations LYRASIS CEO Robert Miller and DuraSpace CEO Debra Hanken Kurtz have been working with our communities to share information widely about the proposed merger and to gather input. 


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