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DuraSpace News: Quarterly Report from Fedora, January - June 2015

planet code4lib - Mon, 2015-07-06 00:00

From The Fedora Leadership Group

Fedora Development

In the past two quarters, the development team released three new versions of Fedora 4; detailed release notes are here:

Open Library Data Additions: PACER dump of cofc (Court of Federal Claims)

planet code4lib - Sun, 2015-07-05 17:56

PACER records from The U.S. Court of Federal Claims..

This item belongs to: data/ol_data.

This item has files of the following types: Data, Data, Metadata

Patrick Hochstenbach: Homework assignment #7 Sketchbookskool #BootKamp

planet code4lib - Sun, 2015-07-05 07:15
Filed under: Sketchbook Tagged: sketch, sketchbook, sketchbookskool, urbansketching

Jonathan Rochkind: Long-standing bug in Chrome (WebKit?) on page not being drawn, scroll:auto, retina

planet code4lib - Sat, 2015-07-04 13:57

In a project I’m recently working on, I ran into a very odd bug in Chrome (may reproduce in other WebKit browsers, not sure).

My project loads some content via AJAX into a portion of the page. In some cases, the content loaded is not properly displayed, it’s not actually painted by the browser. There is space taken up by it on the page, but it’s kind of as if it had `display:none` set, although not quite like that because sometimes _some_ of the content is displayed but not others.

Various user interactions will force the content to paint, including resizing the browser window.

Googling around, there are various people who have been talking about this bug, or possibly similar bugs, for literally years. Including here and maybe this is the same thing or related, hard to say.

think the conditions that trigger the bug in my case may include:

  • A Mac “retina” screen, the bug may not trigger on ordinary resolutions.
  • Adding/changing content via Javascript in a block on the page that has been set to `overflow: auto` (or just overflow-x or overflow-y auto).

I think both of these things are it, and it’s got something to do with Chrome/WebKit getting confused calculating whether a scrollbar is neccesary (and whether space has to be reserved for it) on a high-resolution “retina” screen, when dynamically loading content.

It’s difficult to google around for this, because nobody seems to quite understand the bug. It’s a big dismaying though that it seems likely this bug — or at least related bugs with retina screens, scrollbar calculation, dynamic content, etc — have existed in Chrome/WebKit for possibly many years.  I am not certain if any tickets are filed in Chrome/WebKit bug tracker on this (or if anyone’s figured out exactly what causes it from Chrome’s point of view).  (this ticket is not quite the same thing, but is also about overflow calculations and retina screens, so could be caused by a common underlying bug).

There are a variety of workarounds suggested on Google, for bugs with Chrome not properly painting dynamically loaded content. Some of them didn’t seem to work for me; others cause a white flash even in browsers that wouldn’t otherwise be effected by the bug; others were inconvenient to apply in my context or required a really unpleasant `timeout` in JS code to tell chrome to do something a few dozen/hundred ms after the dynamic content was loaded. (I think Chrome/WebKit may be smart enough to ignore changes that you immediately undo in some cases, so they don’t trigger any rendering redraw; but here we want to trick Chrome into doing a rendering redraw without actually changing the layout, so, yeah).

Here’s the hacky lesser evil workaround which seems to work for me. Immediately after dynamically loading the content, do this to it’s parent div:

$("#parentDiv").css("opacity", 0.99999).css("opacity", 1.0);

It does leave a `style` element setting opacity to 1.0 sitting around on your parent container after you’re done, oh well.

I haven’t actually tried the solution suggested here, to a problem which may or may not be the same one I have — of simply adding `-webkit-transform: translate3d(0,0,0)` to relevant elements.

One of the most distressing things about this bug is if you aren’t testing on a retina screen (and why/how would you unless your workstation happens to have one), you may not ever notice or be able to reproduce the bug, but you may be ruining the interface for users on retina screens (and find their bug report completely unintelligible and unreproducible if they do report it, whether or not they mention they have a retina screen when they file it, which they probably won’t, they may not even know what this is, let alone guess it’s a pertinent detail).

Also that the solutions are so hacky that I am not confident they won’t stop working in some future version of Chrome that still exhibits the bug.

Oh well, so it goes. I really wish Chrome/WebKit would notice and fix though. Probably won’t happen until someone who works on Chrome/WebKit gets a retina screen and happens to run into the bug themselves.

Filed under: General

FOSS4Lib Recent Releases: ePADD - 1.0

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-07-03 21:25

Last updated July 3, 2015. Created by Peter Murray on July 3, 2015.
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Package: ePADDRelease Date: Wednesday, July 1, 2015

FOSS4Lib Updated Packages: ePADD

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-07-03 21:22

Last updated July 3, 2015. Created by Peter Murray on July 3, 2015.
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ePADD is a software package developed by Stanford University's Special Collections & University Archives that supports archival processes around the appraisal, ingest, processing, discovery, and delivery of email archives.

The software is comprised of four modules:

Appraisal: Allows donors, dealers, and curators to easily gather and review email archives prior to transferring those files to an archival repository.

Processing: Provides archivists with the means to arrange and describe email archives.

Discovery: Provides the tools for repositories to remotely share a redacted view of their email archives with users through a web server discovery environment. (Note that this module is downloaded separately).

Delivery: Enables archival repositories to provide moderated full-text access to unrestricted email archives within a reading room environment.

Package Type: Archival Record Manager and EditorLicense: Apache 2.0 Package Links Development Status: Production/StableOperating System: LinuxMacWindows Releases for ePADD Technologies Used: SOLRTomcatProgramming Language: JavaOpen Hub Link: Hub Stats Widget: 

FOSS4Lib Recent Releases: Sufia - 6.1.0

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-07-03 21:15

Last updated July 3, 2015. Created by Peter Murray on July 3, 2015.
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Package: SufiaRelease Date: Thursday, July 2, 2015

Open Library Data Additions: Amazon Crawl: part if

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-07-03 13:58

Part if of Amazon crawl..

This item belongs to: data/ol_data.

This item has files of the following types: Data, Data, Metadata, Text

DPLA: Preserving the Star-Spangled Banner

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-07-03 12:00

The tune of the “Star-Spangled Banner” is one that will be played at picnics, fireworks displays, and other Fourth of July celebrations across the country this weekend. But the “broad stripes and bright stars” of the original flag that flew over Fort McHenry in 1814–inspiring Francis Scott Key to pen the iconic poem–have required some refreshing over the years. While recent conservation efforts have made the flag a centerpiece of the Smithsonian’s climate-controlled Flag Hall at the National Museum of American History, that wasn’t the only big upkeep project on the flag. Here’s the story behind the 1914 conservation effort spearheaded by a talented embroidery teacher to bring new life to an American icon.

Women at work repairing the Star-Spangled Banner, 1914. Courtesy of The New York Public Library.

The Star-Spangled Banner first came to the Smithsonian in 1907 and  was formally gifted a few years later from the family of Lieutenant Colonel George Armistead. When it came to the museum, the flag itself had seen significant damage. In addition to the battle it survived at Fort McHenry, pieces of the flag had been given out as mementos by Armistead’s family to friends, war veterans, and politicians (legend has it even to Abraham Lincoln, though his rumored piece has never been found).

The original “Star-Spangled Banner.” Courtesy of The New York Public Library.

By the time the Smithsonian’s first conservation efforts began, the flag itself was 100 years old and in fragile condition. In 1914, the Smithsonian brought on embroidery teacher and professional flag restorer Amelia Fowler (who had experience fixing historic flags at the US Naval Academy) to undertake the Star-Spangled Banner project. Fowler, alongside her team of ten needlewomen, spent eight-weeks in the humid early summer restoring the flag. The team took off a canvas backing that had been attached in the 1870s, when the flag was displayed at the Boston Navy Yard. Fowler attached a new linen backing, with approximately 1,700,000 stitches, in a unique honeycomb pattern–a preservation technique Fowler herself patented. For the project, Fowler was paid $500 and her team split an additional $500. The newly-preserved flag was on display for the next fifty years.

Fowler’s flag restoration, which she said would “defy the test of time,” did last until 1999, during the “Save America’s Treasures” preservation campaign, when conservation efforts began again. The extensive work that Fowler completed to revive the Star-Spangled Banner, those millions of stitches, took conservators almost two years to remove. The iconic flag remains up for display in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, inspiring new generations in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Featured image, 1839 sheet-music for “The Star-Spangled Banner,” courtesy of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill via North Carolina Digital Heritage Center.

Jonathan Rochkind: “Dutch universities start their Elsevier boycott plan”

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-07-03 01:42

“We are entering a new era in publications”, said Koen Becking, chairman of the Executive Board of Tilburg University in October. On behalf of the Dutch universities, he and his colleague Gerard Meijer negotiate with scientific publishers about an open access policy. They managed to achieve agreements with some publishers, but not with the biggest one, Elsevier. Today, they start their plan to boycott Elsevier.

Dutch universities start their Elsevier boycott plan

Filed under: General

Mark E. Phillips: Characteristics of subjects in the DPLA

planet code4lib - Thu, 2015-07-02 14:49

There are still a few things that I have been wanting to do with the subject data from the DPLA dataset that I’ve been working with for the past few months.

This time I wanted to take a look at some of the characteristics of the subject strings themselves and see if there is any information there that is helpful, useful for us to look at as an indicator of quality for the metadata record associated with that subject.

I took at look at the following metrics for each subject string; length, percentage integer, number of tokens, length of anagram, anagram complexity, number of non-alphanumeric characters (punctuation).

In the tables below I present a few of the more interesting selections from the data.

Subject Length

This is calculated by stripping whitespace from the ends of each subject, and then counting the number of characters that are left in the string.

Hub Unique Subjects Minimum Length Median Length Maximum Length Average Length stddev ARTstor 9,560 3 12.0 201 16.6 14.4 Biodiversity_Heritage_Library 22,004 3 10.5 478 16.4 10.0 David_Rumsey 123 3 18.0 30 11.3 5.2 Digital_Commonwealth 41,704 3 17.5 3490 19.6 26.7 Digital_Library_of_Georgia 132,160 3 18.5 169 27.1 14.1 Harvard_Library 9,257 3 17.0 110 30.2 12.6 HathiTrust 685,733 3 31.0 728 36.8 16.6 Internet_Archive 56,910 3 152.0 1714 38.1 48.4 J._Paul_Getty_Trust 2,777 4 65.0 99 31.6 15.5 Kentucky_Digital_Library 1,972 3 31.5 129 33.9 18.0 Minnesota_Digital_Library 24,472 3 19.5 199 17.4 10.2 Missouri_Hub 6,893 3 182.0 525 30.3 40.4 Mountain_West_Digital_Library 227,755 3 12.0 3148 27.2 25.1 National_Archives_and_Records_Administration 7,086 3 19.0 166 22.7 17.9 North_Carolina_Digital_Heritage_Center 99,258 3 9.5 3192 25.6 20.2 Smithsonian_Institution 348,302 3 14.0 182 24.2 11.9 South_Carolina_Digital_Library 23,842 3 26.5 1182 35.7 25.9 The_New_York_Public_Library 69,210 3 29.0 119 29.4 13.5 The_Portal_to_Texas_History 104,566 3 16.0 152 17.7 9.7 United_States_Government_Printing_Office_(GPO) 174,067 3 39.0 249 43.5 18.1 University_of_Illinois_at_Urbana-Champaign 6,183 3 23.0 141 23.2 14.3 University_of_Southern_California._Libraries 65,958 3 13.5 211 18.4 10.7 University_of_Virginia_Library 3,736 3 40.5 102 31.0 17.7

My takeaway from this is that three characters long is just about the shortest subject that one is able to include,  not the absolute rule, but that is the low end for this data.

The average length ranges from 11.3 average characters for the David Rumsey hub to 43.5 characters on average for the United States Government Printing Office (GPO).

Put into a graph you can see the average subject length across the Hubs a bit easier.

Average Subject Length

The length of a field can be helpful to find values that are a bit outside of the norm.  For example you can see that there are five Hubs  that have maximum character lengths of over 1,000 characters. In a quick investigation of these values they appear to be abstracts and content descriptions accidentally coded as a subject.

Maximum Subject Length

For the Portal to Texas History that had a few subjects that came in at over 152 characters long,  it turns out that these are incorrectly formatted subject fields where a user has included a number of subjects in one field instead of separating them out into multiple fields.

Percent Integer

For this metric I stripped whitespace characters, and then divided the number of digit characters by the number of total characters in the string to come up with the percentage integer.

Hub Unique Subjects Maximum % Integer Average % Integer stddev ARTstor 9,560 61.5 1.3 5.2 Biodiversity_Heritage_Library 22,004 92.3 2.2 11.1 David_Rumsey 123 36.4 0.5 4.2 Digital_Commonwealth 41,704 66.7 1.6 6.0 Digital_Library_of_Georgia 132,160 87.5 1.7 6.2 Harvard_Library 9,257 44.4 4.6 9.0 HathiTrust 685,733 100.0 3.5 8.4 Internet_Archive 56,910 100.0 4.1 9.4 J._Paul_Getty_Trust 2,777 50.0 3.6 8.0 Kentucky_Digital_Library 1,972 63.6 5.7 9.9 Minnesota_Digital_Library 24,472 80.0 1.1 5.1 Missouri_Hub 6,893 50.0 2.9 7.5 Mountain_West_Digital_Library 227,755 100.0 1.1 5.5 National_Archives_and_Records_Administration 7,086 42.1 4.7 9.4 North_Carolina_Digital_Heritage_Center 99,258 100.0 1.5 5.9 Smithsonian_Institution 348,302 100.0 1.1 3.6 South_Carolina_Digital_Library 23,842 57.1 2.3 6.5 The_New_York_Public_Library 69,210 100.0 12.0 13.5 The_Portal_to_Texas_History 104,566 100.0 0.4 3.7 United_States_Government_Printing_Office_(GPO) 174,067 80.0 0.4 2.4 University_of_Illinois_at_Urbana-Champaign 6,183 50.0 6.1 10.9 University_of_Southern_California._Libraries 65,958 100.0 1.3 6.4 University_of_Virginia_Library 3,736 72.7 1.8 6.8

Average Percent Integer

If you group these into the Content-Hub and Service-Hub categories you can see things a little better.

It appears that the Content-Hubs on the left trend a bit higher than the Service-Hubs on the right.  This probably has to do with the use of dates in subject strings as a common practice in bibliographic catalog based metadata which isn’t always the same in metadata created for more heterogeneous collections of content that we see in the Service-Hubs.


For the tokens metric I replaced punctuation character instance with a single space character and then used the nltk word_tokenize function to return a list of tokens.  I then just to the length of that resulting list for the metric.

Hub Unique Subjects Maximum Tokens Average Tokens stddev ARTstor 9,560 31 2.36 2.12 Biodiversity_Heritage_Library 22,004 66 2.29 1.46 David_Rumsey 123 5 1.63 0.94 Digital_Commonwealth 41,704 469 2.78 3.70 Digital_Library_of_Georgia 132,160 23 3.70 1.72 Harvard_Library 9,257 17 4.07 1.77 HathiTrust 685,733 107 4.75 2.31 Internet_Archive 56,910 244 5.06 6.21 J._Paul_Getty_Trust 2,777 15 4.11 2.14 Kentucky_Digital_Library 1,972 20 4.65 2.50 Minnesota_Digital_Library 24,472 25 2.66 1.54 Missouri_Hub 6,893 68 4.30 5.41 Mountain_West_Digital_Library 227,755 549 3.64 3.51 National_Archives_and_Records_Administration 7,086 26 3.48 2.93 North_Carolina_Digital_Heritage_Center 99,258 493 3.75 2.64 Smithsonian_Institution 348,302 25 3.29 1.56 South_Carolina_Digital_Library 23,842 180 4.87 3.45 The_New_York_Public_Library 69,210 20 4.28 2.14 The_Portal_to_Texas_History 104,566 23 2.69 1.36 United_States_Government_Printing_Office_(GPO) 174,067 41 5.31 2.28 University_of_Illinois_at_Urbana-Champaign 6,183 26 3.35 2.11 University_of_Southern_California._Libraries 65,958 36 2.66 1.51 University_of_Virginia_Library 3,736 15 4.62 2.84

Average number of tokens

Tokens end up being very similar to that of the overall character length of a subject.  If I was to do more processing I would probably divide the length by the number of tokens and get an average work length for the tokens in the subjects.  That might be interesting.


I’ve always found anagrams of values in metadata to be interesting,  sometimes helpful and sometimes completely useless.  For this value I folded the case of the subject string to convert letters with diacritics to their ASCII version and then created an anagram of the resulting letters.  I used the length of this anagram for the metric.

Hub Unique Subjects Min Anagram Length Median Anagram Length Max Anagram Length Avg Anagram Length stddev ARTstor 9,560 2 8 23 8.93 3.63 Biodiversity_Heritage_Library 22,004 0 7.5 23 9.33 3.26 David_Rumsey 123 3 12 13 7.93 2.28 Digital_Commonwealth 41,704 0 9 26 9.97 3.01 Digital_Library_of_Georgia 132,160 0 9.5 23 11.74 3.18 Harvard_Library 9,257 3 11 21 12.51 2.92 HathiTrust 685,733 0 14 25 13.56 2.98 Internet_Archive 56,910 0 22 26 12.41 3.96 J._Paul_Getty_Trust 2,777 3 19 21 13.02 3.60 Kentucky_Digital_Library 1,972 2 14.5 22 13.02 3.28 Minnesota_Digital_Library 24,472 0 12 22 9.76 3.00 Missouri_Hub 6,893 0 22 25 11.09 4.06 Mountain_West_Digital_Library 227,755 0 7 26 11.85 3.54 National_Archives_and_Records_Administration 7,086 3 11 22 10.01 3.09 North_Carolina_Digital_Heritage_Center 99,258 0 6 26 11.00 3.54 Smithsonian_Institution 348,302 0 8 23 11.53 3.42 South_Carolina_Digital_Library 23,842 1 12 26 13.08 3.67 The_New_York_Public_Library 69,210 0 10 24 11.45 3.17 The_Portal_to_Texas_History 104,566 0 10.5 23 9.78 2.98 United_States_Government_Printing_Office_(GPO) 174,067 0 14 24 14.56 2.80 University_of_Illinois_at_Urbana-Champaign 6,183 3 7 21 10.42 3.46 University_of_Southern_California._Libraries 65,958 0 9 23 9.81 3.20 University_of_Virginia_Library 3,736 0 9 22 12.76 4.31

Average anagram length

I find this interesting in that there are subjects in several of the Hubs (Digital_Commonwealth, Internet Archive, Mountain West Digital Library, and South Carolina Digital Library that have a single subject instance that contains all 26 letters.  That’s just neat.  Now I didn’t look to see if these are the same subject instances that were themselves 3000+ characters long.




It can be interesting to see what punctuation was used in a field so I extracted all non-alphanumeric values from the string which left me with the punctuation characters.  I took the number of unique punctuation characters for this metric.

Hub Name Unique Subjects min median max mean stddev ARTstor 9,560 0 0 8 0.73 1.22 Biodiversity Heritage Library 22,004 0 0 8 0.59 1.02 David Rumsey 123 0 0 4 0.18 0.53 Digital Commonwealth 41,704 0 1.5 10 1.21 1.10 Digital Library of Georgia 132,160 0 1 7 1.34 0.96 Harvard_Library 9,257 0 0 6 1.65 1.02 HathiTrust 685,733 0 1 9 1.63 1.16 Internet_Archive 56,910 0 2 11 1.47 1.75 J_Paul_Getty_Trust 2,777 0 2 6 1.58 0.99 Kentucky_Digital_Library 1,972 0 1.5 5 1.50 1.38 Minnesota_Digital_Library 24,472 0 0 7 0.42 0.74 Missouri_Hub 6,893 0 3 7 1.24 1.37 Mountain_West_Digital_Library 227,755 0 1 8 0.97 1.04 National_Archives_and_Records_Administration 7,086 0 3 7 1.68 1.61 North_Carolina_Digital_Heritage_Center 99,258 0 0.5 7 1.34 0.93 Smithsonian_Institution 348,302 0 2 7 0.84 0.96 South_Carolina_Digital_Library 23,842 0 3.5 8 1.68 1.41 The_New_York_Public_Library 69,210 0 1 7 1.57 1.12 The_Portal_to_Texas_History 104,566 0 1 7 0.84 0.91 United_States_Government_Printing_Office_(GPO) 174,067 0 2 7 1.38 0.99 University_of_Illinois_at_Urbana-Champaign 6,183 0 2 6 1.31 1.25 University_of_Southern_California_Libraries 65,958 0 0 7 0.75 1.09 University_of_Virginia_Library 3,736 0 5 7 1.67 1.58 63 0 2 5 1.17 1.31

Average Punctuation Characters

Again on this one I don’t have much to talk about.  I do know that I plan to take a look at what punctuation characters are being used by which hubs.  I have a feeling that this could be very useful in identifying problems with mapping from one metadata world to another.  For example I know there are examples of character patterns that resemble sub-field indicators from a MARC record in the subject values in the DPLA, dataset, (‡, |, and — ) how many that’s something to look at.

Let me know if there are other pieces that you think might be interesting to look at related to this subject work with the DPLA metadata dataset and I’ll see what I can do.

Let me know what you think via Twitter if you have questions or comments.

Open Knowledge Foundation: Just Released: “Where Does Europe’s Money Go? A Guide to EU Budget Data Sources”

planet code4lib - Thu, 2015-07-02 11:57

The EU has committed to spending €959,988 billion between 2014 and 2020. This money is disbursed through over 80 funds and programmes that are managed by over 100 different authorities. Where does this money come from? How is it allocated? And how is it spent?

Today we are delighted to announce the release of “Where Does Europe’s Money Go? A Guide to EU Budget Data Sources”, which aims to help civil society groups, journalists and others to navigate the vast landscape of documents and datasets in order to “follow the money” in the EU. The guide also suggests steps that institutions should take in order to enable greater democratic oversight of EU public finances. It was undertaken by Open Knowledge with support from the Adessium Foundation.

As we have seen from projects like Farm Subsidy and journalistic collaborations around the EU Structural Funds it can be very difficult and time-consuming to put together all of the different pieces needed to understand flows of EU money.

Groups of journalists on these projects have spent many months requesting, scraping, cleaning and assembling data to get an overview of just a handful of the many different funds and programmes through which EU money is spent. The analysis of this data has led to many dozens of news stories, and in some cases even criminal investigations.

Better data, documentation, advocacy and journalism around EU public money is vital to addressing the “democratic deficit” in EU fiscal policy. To this end, we make the following recommendations to EU institutions and civil society organisations:

  1. Establish a single central point of reference for data and documents about EU revenue, budgeting and expenditure and ensure all the information is up to date at this domain (e.g. at a website such as At the same time, ensure all EU budget data are available from the EU open data portal as open data.
  2. Create an open dataset with key details about each EU fund, including name of the fund, heading, policy, type of management, implementing authorities, link to information on beneficiaries, link to legal basis in Eur-Lex and link to regulation in Eur-Lex.
  3. Extend the Financial Transparency System to all EU funds by integrating or federating detailed data expenditures from Members States, non-EU Members and international organisations. Data on beneficiaries should include, when relevant, a unique European identifier of company, and when the project is co-financed, the exact amount of EU funding received and the total amount of the project.
  4. Clarify and harmonise the legal framework regarding transparency rules for the beneficiaries of EU funds.
  5. Support and strengthen funding for civil society groups and journalists working on EU public finances.
  6. Conduct a more detailed assessment of beneficiary data availability for all EU funds and for all implementing authorities – e.g., through a dedicated “open data audit”.
  7. Build a stronger central base of evidence about the uses and users of EU fiscal data – including data projects, investigative journalism projects and data users in the media and civil society.

Our intention is that the material in this report will become a living resource that we can continue to expand and update. If you have any comments or suggestions, we’d love to hear from you.

If you are interested in learning more about Open Knowledge’s other initiatives around open data and financial transparency you can explore the Where Does My Money Go? project, the OpenSpending project, read our other previous guides and reports or join the Follow the Money network.

Peter Murray: Thursday Threads: New and Interesting from ALA Exhibits

planet code4lib - Thu, 2015-07-02 10:51
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I’m just home from the American Library Association meeting in San Francisco, so this week’s threads are just a brief view of new and interesting things I found on the exhibit floor.

Funding for my current position at LYRASIS ran out at the end of June, so I am looking for new opportunities and challenges for my skills. Check out my resume/c.v. and please let me know of job opportunities in library technology, open source, and/or community engagement.

Feel free to send this to others you think might be interested in the topics. If you find these threads interesting and useful, you might want to add the Thursday Threads RSS Feed to your feed reader or subscribe to e-mail delivery using the form to the right. If you would like a more raw and immediate version of these types of stories, watch my Pinboard bookmarks (or subscribe to its feed in your feed reader). Items posted to are also sent out as tweets; you can follow me on Twitter. Comments and tips, as always, are welcome.


Book-Donations-Processing-as-a-Service. See something new everyday. #alaac15

— Peter Murray (@DataG) June 28, 2015

I didn’t get to talk to anyone at this booth, but I was interested in the concept. I remember donations processing being such a hassle — analyze each book for its value, deciding whether it is part of your collection policy, determining where to sell it, manage the sale, and so forth. American Book Drive seems to offer such a service. Right now their service is limited to California. I wonder if it will expand, or if there are similar service providers in other areas of the countries.

Free Driver’s Ed Resources for Libraries

Free driver's ed resources for librs. Group has a great story. – Another first at #alaac15

— Peter Murray (@DataG) June 28, 2015

This exhibitor had a good origin story. A family coming to the U.S. had a difficult time getting their drivers licenses, so they created an online resource for all 50 states that covers the details. They’ve had success with the business side of their service, so they decided to give it away to libraries for free.

Free Online Obituaries Service from Orange County Library

Orange County Public Library offering free obituary service and publicizing through libraries. Via @us_imls

— Peter Murray (@DataG) June 28, 2015

With newspapers charging more for printing obituaries, important community details are no longer being printed. The Epoch Project from the Orange County (FL) Library System provides a simple service with text and media to capture this cultural heritage information. Funded initially by an IMLS grant [PDF], they are now in the process of rounding up partners in each state to be ambassadors to bring the service to other libraries around the country.

Link to this post!

Open Library Data Additions: HathiTrust Metadata

planet code4lib - Thu, 2015-07-02 06:46

Metadata records from

This item belongs to: data/ol_data.

This item has files of the following types: Data, Data, Metadata

HangingTogether: The Evolving Scholarly Record Workshop — the San Francisco edition and the series wrap-up

planet code4lib - Wed, 2015-07-01 21:19

The report, The Evolving Scholarly Record, introduced a framework for discussing the changes in the scholarly record and in the roles of stakeholders.

Over the past year, OCLC has conducted a series of workshops to socialize the framework.   You can read about the first three Evolving Scholarly Record workshops on  the Amsterdam workshop, the DC workshop, and the Chicago workshop.

For the fourth and final workshop in the series, we wanted to be more cumulative so we took a different tack from the first three workshops.  Instead of having guest speakers in the morning and small group breakout discussions in the afternoon, presentations by OCLC staff set the context for plenary discussions.  I reviewed the ESR framework and recapped the 3 previous workshops, Constance Malpas previewed the report, Stewardship of the Evolving Scholarly Record: From the Invisible Hand to Conscious Coordination, and Jim Michalko talked about boundaries and internalizing and externalizing roles in managing scholarly outputs.  Slides and videos of these presentations are available.

In the previous workshops, breakout discussions had focused around these four topics:  Selection, Support for the Researcher, Collaboration within the University, and Collaboration with External Entities.  Here are some of the takeaways from those discussions. (There were also discussions under the broad topic of technology, but those have been integrated with the other topics.)


  • Establish priorities: for example, institutional (local) materials, at-risk materials, materials most valued by researchers in specific disciplines.
  • Establish limits: what doesn’t need to be saved? What can be de-selected?
  • Establish clear selection criteria, especially for non-traditional scholarly outputs: for example, blogs, web sites.
  • Accept adequate content sampling.
  • Be aware of system-wide context: how do local selection decisions complement/duplicate stewardship activities elsewhere? Which local collections are considered “collections of record” by the broader scholarly community?

Support for Researchers

  • Offer expertise with reliable external repositories to help researchers make good choices in use of disciplinary repositories.  Provide a local option for disciplines lacking good external choices.
  • Use the dissertation as the first opportunity to establish a relationship with a researcher.  Mint an ORCID and/or ISNI and provide DOIs.  Offer profiling, bibliography, and resume services that save researchers time.  Find ways to ensure portability of research outputs throughout a researcher’s career.
  • Determine how to link various research materials to a project and define for each project what an object is and how to link related bits to the object.
  • Become an integral part of the grant proposal process to ensure that materials flow to the right places instead of needing to be rescued after the fact.
  • Agree on and be explicit about service levels and end-of-life provisions.

Collaboration within the University

  • Use service offerings to re-position the library in the campus community.  Decide where the library will focus; it can’t be expert in all things.
  • Make alliances on campus so you can integrate library services into the campus infrastructure. Help other parts of the university negotiate licensing of data from vendors.
  • Use policy and financial drivers (mandates, ROI expectations, reputation and assessment) to motivate a variety of institutional stakeholders.
  • Create statements of organizational responsibility about selection, services, terms, and which parts of the university will do what.
  • Coordinate to optimize expertise, minimize duplication, rebalance resources, and contain costs.

Collaboration with External Entities

  • Identify the things can be done elsewhere and those that need to be done locally. Figure out what kinds of relationships are needed with external repositories.
  • Help researchers negotiate on IP rights, terms of use, privacy, and so forth.
  • Determine which external repositories are committed to preservation and which will collect the related materials from processes and aftermaths.  Rely on external services like JSTOR, arXiv, SSRN, and ICPSR, which are dependable delivery and access systems with sustainable business models.
  • Learn how to interoperate with systems such as SHARE. Employ persistent object identifiers and multiple researcher name identifiers to interoperate with other systems.
  • Consider centers of excellence; host one and rely on others.

It is clear that no single institution can hope to gather and manage all of—or even a significant share of—the scholarly record.  This is the starting point for the new report, Stewardship of the evolving scholarly record: From the invisible hand to conscious coordination.

In the fourth workshop we had discussions with all attendees present.  Having started with what came out of the previous workshops, it was easier for them to stretch a little bit beyond that.  Highlights from the plenary discussions are:

Things that institutions should consider doing:

  • Establish when research outputs should be archived locally.  In many cases a citation with a pointer to outputs archived elsewhere will be satisfactory.
  • Decide which materials merit application of preservation protocols.
  • Embed data capture requirements in the researchers’ workflow and see that metadata is created early in the flow.
  • Partner with the sponsored projects office to communicate about data lifecycle.
  • Explore with the Office of Academic Affairs if there are opportunities to work together on collecting assets for promotion and tenure.
  • Do ongoing analysis on Data Management Plans to provide fundamental planning data.
  • Use the library’s space and its “power to convene” to foster critical cross-campus conversations.
  • Develop practices for library assignment and management of ORCID, ISNI, DOI…  Identifiers are crucial.
  • When other units are licensing services (such as those from Elsevier), help with the negotiations and help to ensure that the various campus systems will interoperate.
  • Establish a relationship with HathiTrust and others who can share the stewardship workload.
  • Think about what else you will archive, beyond your institutional output.

Things to consider as a community

  • Assemble case studies of successful faculty engagement.
  • Decipher and interpret impact calculations in different systems.
  • Develop models for above-campus infrastructure, with shared investment and governance.  For instance, instead of allowing commercial providers to mine and share our data, develop Open Source tools and retain our data and mine it ourselves.
  • Identify a way to coordinate selection decisions with those of other institutions.
  • Develop shared goals and criteria to influence vendors to improve tools:  Aggregate information about researcher workflow preferences and what the potential is for their tools interoperating with other systems.  Prioritize vendor metadata interoperability requirements for selected tools to allow machine-readable acquisition.
  • Assess the reliability of external repositories.
  • Develop best practices for agreement language, such as preservation commitments with repositories and exit plans with vendors.

The four workshops gave us a chance to not just socialize the framework, but to really hear about the concerns of libraries and other stakeholders, learn what is being done, and begin to think about what lies ahead.  In the near future, we’ll be synthesizing all this and considering next steps.

About Ricky Erway

Ricky Erway, Senior Program Officer at OCLC Research, works with staff from the OCLC Research Library Partnership on projects ranging from managing born digital archives to research data curation.

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FOSS4Lib Recent Releases: Collective Access - 1.5

planet code4lib - Wed, 2015-07-01 20:05
Package: Collective AccessRelease Date: Thursday, June 11, 2015

Last updated July 1, 2015. Created by David Nind on July 1, 2015.
Log in to edit this page.

An exciting new version of CollectiveAccess is now available, with a number of new features and improvements!

  • Improved PDF reports
  • Additional external data sources such as Wikipedia and WorldCat
  • Media Annotation tools
  • Improved search functionality
  • Support for complex "interstitial" relationships
  • Collection management tools such as support for deaccessions and location tracking
  • "Check in/ Check out" library circulation module
  • Improvements to the data importer

...and more!

LITA: Jobs in Information Technology: July 1, 2015

planet code4lib - Wed, 2015-07-01 17:44

New vacancy listings are posted weekly on Wednesday at approximately 12 noon Central Time. They appear under New This Week and under the appropriate regional listing. Postings remain on the LITA Job Site for a minimum of four weeks.

New This Week

Digital Systems, Training, and Support Coordinator, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Little Rock, AR

Systems and Digital Services Librarian, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Little Rock, AR

Digital Library Data Curation Developer, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN

Visit the LITA Job Site for more available jobs and for information on submitting a job posting.

In the Library, With the Lead Pipe: Revising Academic Library Governance Handbooks

planet code4lib - Wed, 2015-07-01 13:00

Original Image by Flickr user Sasquatch 1 (CC BY 2.0), with minimal modification by C. Strunk (10 June 2015).

In Brief

Regardless of our status (tenure track, non-tenure track, staff, and/or union), academic librarians at colleges and universities may use a handbook or similar document as a framework for self-governance. These handbooks typically cover rank descriptions, promotion requirements, and grievance rights, among other topics. Unlike employee handbooks used in the corporate world, these documents may be written and maintained by academic librarians themselves1. In 2010, a group of academic librarians at George Mason University was charged with revising our Librarians’ Handbook. Given the dearth of literature about academic librarians’ handbooks and their revision, we anticipate our library colleagues in similar situations will benefit from our experience and recommendations.


Background and Context

There are three handbooks at George Mason University (Mason) governing individuals in various faculty positions: the Academic/Professional Faculty Handbook, the LibrariansHandbook, and the Mason Faculty Handbook, which covers instructional faculty.2 Librarians at Mason, a young institution founded in 1957, are classified as professional faculty, a non-tenured faculty classification. As such, librarians are governed by the University’s Administrative/Professional Faculty Handbook (A/P Handbook), as well as by the LibrariansHandbook (Handbook), which became an appendix of the former in 2000. The Handbook contains provisions that apply only to professional faculty librarians. Although the history of the Handbook is not well documented, its precursor was an evaluation and promotion document that was used by library administration as early as the 1970s.

Librarians who hold a professional faculty position at Mason (~45) are members of the Librarians’ Council (Council), which plays a significant governance role by defining the standards for librarian rank, contract renewal, and promotion in the Librarians’ Handbook. Our Handbook differs significantly from the A/P Handbook because the Librarians’ Handbook includes a statement on academic freedom, a professional review process for contract renewal and promotion, professional ranks, and some aspects of the grievance and appeal processes. Consequently, our Handbook is more analogous to the Mason Faculty Handbook.

In late 2009, the Council voted to review and, as needed, revise the Handbook, especially sections related to professional peer review and librarian ranks. We began in the summer of 2010 with the appointment of an ad hoc handbook review committee that was selected by Council officers and approved by the library’s senior administrators. The A/P Handbook was under review at this same time, so revising the Librarians’ Handbook concurrently made sense. Our colleague representing the library in the A/P Handbook group was also appointed to chair the Council’s ad hoc committee, and her dual role proved to be most advantageous to our revision process.

Literature Review

Although there is a substantial body of literature regarding employee handbooks as a whole (most of it in Business and Human Resources), relatively little has been published on creating and revising faculty handbooks, let alone librarian faculty handbooks. Articles that do include library faculty tend to do so in a cursory fashion. One example is a 1985 Chronicle of Higher Education article “Writing a Faculty Handbook: a 2-Year, Nose-to-the-Grindstone Process” that provides a brief description of the recommended process from a legal standpoint and an outline for how to structure the resulting document. This outline includes librarians, along with other “Special Academic Staff and Categories,” but only as a line item (Writing 1985, 29).

One of the few articles describing the actual process of writing and revising faculty handbooks, James L. Pence’s “Adapting Faculty Personnel Policies” focuses solely on instructional faculty (Pence 1990). A more detailed faculty handbook outline that addresses material applicable to librarians is provided in Drafting and Revising Employment Policies and Handbooks. 2002 Cumulative Supplement (Decker et al. 2002, 456-511), but it is more of a prescriptive example from the standpoint of human resources law rather than a “how to” or case study.

Although it is unclear why library faculty are not more fully included in such articles, one reason may be the lack of conformity regarding librarian status in higher education institutions. As surveys such as Mary K. Bolin’s “A Typology of Librarian Status at Land Grant Universities” indicate, librarian status varies widely (Bolin 2008). For the purpose of her survey, Bolin grouped librarian statuses into “Professorial,” “Other ranks with tenure,” “Other ranks without tenure,” and “Non-faculty (Staff)” (Bolin 2008, 223). These statuses span a continuum, with “Professorial” being closest to instructional faculty who have tenure and research requirements and “Non-Faculty (Staff)” being the furthest. More variation may exist within those statuses; for instance, at some institutions, “Non-Faculty (Staff)” librarians are represented in Faculty Senate, while at others, they are not (Bolin 2008, 224).3

We are not aware of any research that reports how many academic librarians are covered by broader faculty handbooks. Given the wide disparity of librarian status, and the fact that librarians may or may not be part of their institution’s larger faculty handbook, it isn’t surprising that librarian handbooks have not received a lot of attention in the literature.


Our review began in earnest in September 2010. We met weekly, which made it easier to maintain discussion continuity from one meeting to the next, and began with deciding on an approach and a tentative timeline. Our initial deadline was April 2011, which mirrored the working deadline for the A/P Handbook. Because both handbooks had to be approved by Mason’s Board of Visitors, we believed it would be advantageous to submit ours as part of the A/P Handbook.

To learn more about the history of pertinent sections, we talked to our library colleagues who worked on previous versions of the Handbook. We reviewed the Academic College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Standards for Faculty Status for Academic Librarians (2007) as well as librarian governance documents from other colleges and universities in Virginia.4 These document reviews confirmed that our handbook was already aligned with the published ACRL standards, provided insight into how governance was handled at other institutions, and gave us ideas to consider for our own handbook. For instance, we considered aligning the professional peer review process with the annual administrative review process and adjusting the professional review calendar.

We met with representatives from the University’s Human Resources Department, the Provost’s Office, and the Office of University Counsel several times to ask questions and learn more about the legal and administrative issues and policies affecting our Handbook. Information shared during these meetings indicated the roles of different faculty handbooks at Mason and how ours fits into the broader institutional picture.

Each committee member volunteered to revise specific sections based on their interest and experience. We reviewed sections as they were revised, rather than in any specific order. Several sections (e.g., Introduction, Professional Development) were revised quickly, whereas others involved deeper discussion. For example, we thought it was critical to discuss the sections on Librarian ranks and professional review together because they were so closely related. The complexity and sensitivity of this subject matter sparked discussions that spanned multiple meetings and content iterations.

Section discussions were often quite detailed, covering all possible aspects–from the overall intent and purpose of the content to the specific definitions of words and phrases. Decisions about the level of textual vagueness or detail desired had to be made. Proposed revisions were considered, modified, discussed, and modified again. We spent a lot of time on word choice to make the document more cohesive and minimize ambiguity. To enhance the Handbook’s professional appearance, we standardized punctuation, capitalization, and format, and removed references to specific web sites.

Throughout our work, we needed to share working documents easily with one another (there were seven committee members), which we accomplished using Dropbox. This practice alleviated some problems with version control, but edits were occasionally made to multiple versions of the same document that later needed to be reconciled. The “track changes” functionality within Microsoft Word was also critical to share changes we had made and add comments and questions. As the work progressed, the committee Chair compiled the revised sections into a final draft for review and created a list of major revisions to share with Council members and reviewers.

Feedback from our colleagues was critical, and we gathered it using online polls and surveys, and town hall meetings. We frequently presented reports at Council meetings to inform the larger body of our progress, receive verbal feedback, and address any questions or concerns.

Both the University Librarian and Vice President/CIO for Information Technology (CIO), the Libraries’ most senior administrators at that time5, were required to review and approve our revised Handbook prior to submission of the final draft to HR for integration with the A/P Handbook. To expedite this process, we gave the University Librarian revised sections as they were completed for his review and comments, and we met with him on several occasions to discuss his questions and concerns.

The revision schedule changed during the process, largely because it took us longer to revise some sections than we originally anticipated. Other delays occurred after we wisely decided to mirror the A/P Handbook revision schedule, which lagged behind ours. For example, protracted discussions of the grievance and termination sections of the A/P Handbook lead to delayed revision of those same sections in the Librarians’ Handbook. We wanted to ensure that whatever modifications the A/P Handbook Committee made would not conflict with the rights conferred librarians in our existing Handbook (e.g., grieving salary or filing a grievance as a group). We also chose to defer to the A/P Handbook for parts of the grievance and termination sections that were duplicative, which streamlined our document. A more flexible timeline meant our revision process took longer than it might have otherwise, but our revised text did not conflict with the revised  A/P Handbook. As a result, it enabled submission of a combined, single document from HR to the Board of Visitors at one time rather than in pieces.

We finished the Handbook revision in July 2011 and sent electronic copies to the CIO and the University Librarian for review and comment. The University Librarian provided his feedback in late November and our final revision was completed in February 2012, after which it was sent to Human Resources for integration into the newly revised A/P Handbook. Subsequently, the combined document was submitted to Mason’s Board of Visitors, who approved it on March 21, 2012.

Table 1: Table of Contents. George Mason University Librarians’ Handbook (George Mason University 2012b).


Professional Peer Review for Librarians

Because professional review is the most important aspect of self-governance defined in our Handbook and detailed in our Council’s Bylaws, a brief description of this process is in order.6 The Council’s Professional Review Committee (PRC), a standing committee, consists of seven elected members who serve staggered two-year terms; a librarian is eligible to serve on the committee after having gone through this peer review process at least once. The University Librarian, in consultation with the PRC Chair, designates subcommittees of three reviewers for each reappointment or promotion review. Librarians are permitted to request that a subcommittee member be recused if a potential conflict of interest exists.7

Based on a librarian’s hire date (see the Professional Review Calendar section below), their review begins with submission of an annotated curriculum vitae (CV) or a “dossier” to the PRC. The dossier is, in fact, a notebook containing the librarian’s CV and detailed documentation of all accomplishments (e.g., publications, presentations, awards, grants, offices held, etc.) achieved during a specific period of time. Mason librarians report progress in three areas: 1) professional competence; 2) scholarship and professional service; and, 3) service to the university and the community. However, only information related to scholarship and service are included in the dossier; content related to professional competence, as well as the required supervisor’s evaluation letter, are neither reviewed by nor available to the PRC subcommittee.

Points to Consider

During the revision process, we identified several major issues we believe readers will benefit from learning how we handled, or did not handle. They are grouped by issues related to Handbook content and those related to our revision process (see below).

Professional Review Calendar

A critical situation the committee wanted to rectify was the inequity in time newly hired librarians were allowed before their initial professional peer review. All librarians, regardless of rank, receive an initial two-year contract.8 Librarians hired before March in a calendar year must submit their CV or dossier for review the first January after they are hired. However, librarians hired later in a year may have up to twice as much time before their initial review (Table 2). Several adjustments to the calendar were considered, but ultimately, we could only incorporate minor changes due to limits imposed by the Provost’s and University Librarian’s schedules, which, in turn, are dictated by the University’s fiscal year.

*For a subsequent promotion, the dossier should cover all professional activities since the last promotion. ** Contract Term = Rank + 1 year

Table 2. Documentation Requirements by Librarian Rank and Review Type (George Mason University 2012b).


Librarian Ranks

Handbook content related to librarian rank required a lot of attention, with one example being the basic definition of a librarian. The Handbook defines a Mason librarian as a library employee with a professional faculty appointment and an ALA recognized degree9; this definition also confers Council membership. Table 3 details the basic criteria required for each librarian rank.

Table 3. Mason librarian rank criteria (George Mason University 2012b).


Recently, however, professional faculty positions formerly held by librarians have been filled by individuals without an MLS, thus disqualifying those individuals from becoming Council members. Likewise, individuals who hold an MLS or similar degree and are hired in classified staff positions are not eligible for Council membership. The revision committee and Council discussed retiring the library degree requirement, but ultimately did not change the definition primarily because these colleagues would not be subject to professional peer review. If the Council membership definition were changed, three repercussions may take place:

  1. the Librarians’ Council would no longer be a “Librarians’” Council;
  2. non-MLS professional faculty would be subject to peer review or there would be two systems of review; and/or
  3. the Librarians’ Council would be dissolved and all rights conferred by the Librarians’ Handbook terminated.

None of these possible repercussions appealed to Council members at the time.

We also discussed whether to require Librarian 1s to apply for promotion to the Librarian 2 rank as part of their initial reappointment. This idea was dismissed because we were unable to make the desired changes to the professional review calendar. Under the existing calendar, Librarian 1s with no previous experience going up for initial professional peer review might have as little as 18 months of experience in an academic library. This is insufficient experience for advancement to the rank of Librarian 2, which at Mason requires a minimum of three years.

External Reviewers

Composition of the Professional Review (PRC) subcommittee for individuals seeking promotion to Librarian 4 concerned the Handbook committee. Neither the Handbook nor Council Bylaws require reviewers to be at or above the level of the librarian under review or promotion, even though it circumvents potential personnel problems to make this a requirement (e.g., a negative review may be more easily challenged). Because no Mason librarians held the Librarian 4 rank when we revised the Handbook (and there still are none), we wanted to ensure promotion to this rank was conducted by reviewers who could draw from the maximum years of experience possible despite holding the rank of, at least, Librarian 3.

One solution we considered was to invite an external reviewer to participate in a PRC promotion subcommittee. This reviewer would be selected from either the Mason community (non-library), or from another institution. Although external reviewers typically participate in instructional faculty promotion and tenure reviews, we decided this option would not work for us and sought another solution. Eventually, we concluded that all reviewers for a Librarian 4 promotion should be a Librarian 3 at a minimum. Because PRC members are elected on staggered terms, however, there is no way to predict how many Librarian 3s may be serving on the PRC in a given year, nor do we know who has decided to seek promotion until a month before the reviews begin.10

Consequently, to increase the pool of reviewers needed for a given year, we revised the Handbook to allow eligible library faculty not currently on the PRC to be appointed as a reviewer rather than hold an election. This change, which was incorporated into our Council’s Bylaws, ensured that all PRC subcommittee members who review a Librarian 4 promotion bring the experience of at least a Librarian 3 to the process. Furthermore, in years when there are a large number of reviews (15-20) to be conducted, the PRC now has the ability to appoint additional reviewers when needed.

Dossier Requirement for Review

Formerly, librarians being reviewed for each contract renewal and/or promotion submitted dossiers (i.e., often lengthy notebooks) to the PRC that documented their publications, presentations, service, and professional development activities. After much discussion, we proposed that librarians undergoing a second or later reappointment had the option to submit an annotated CV in lieu of a full dossier. Dossiers would continue to be required from Librarian 2s and higher undergoing their first contract renewal and/or all librarians applying for promotion in rank. We thought this option was logical from the standpoint that annual evaluations are required of each librarian, anyway, so an annotated CV would suffice for the purpose of contract renewal. Because an annotated CV is a synopsis of one’s professional activities, it requires less work and documentation than a dossier. The University Librarian approved this option.

Council Approval

Neither the Council’s Bylaws nor the Handbook require members to vote on a Handbook revision. We had to decide whether it was important to seek Council approval of the revised document. After much discussion, we chose to ask for a vote of endorsement before sending a complete draft revision to the University Librarian for his formal review. Council approved the draft by a substantial majority.

Follow Up on Implementation of Revisions

Once our ad hoc committee met its original charge of producing a revised and approved handbook, we were disbanded. We did not develop a plan to implement changes to the Handbook, and neither did the Librarians’ Council. As a result, three years after approval, much work remains to be done. Changes to the Handbook required revision of the Council’s Bylaws and procedural changes in the professional peer review process. The Bylaws were revised, but the Professional Review Committee has been slow to incorporate all the procedural changes and decisions described in the new Handbook into the PRC documents that are used to manage and guide the process. This has resulted in continuing confusion with the professional review process, ironically the primary reason we opened the Handbook for revision.

Recommendations for Revising Your Handbook

When we began this project, it seemed overwhelming. Early on, we discussed our revision strategy and made decisions about how to allocate and accomplish the work. Our plans changed over time, of course, and new approaches were proposed and adopted. Re-examination and adjustment of our workflow throughout the project contributed greatly to our success.

Library consolidation, changes in librarian status, and other factors are affecting even long-established academic libraries, public and private. These changes likely require modifications to documents governing librarians at these institutions. Despite our institution’s relative youth, we offer the following recommendations to other librarians embarking on a handbook or similar governing document revision.

 Table 4. Recommended actions and resulting benefits when conducting a handbook revision.


Like most undertakings of this magnitude and importance, the Handbook revision project was extremely time-consuming and, at times, frustrating. Nevertheless, we successfully balanced our Council’s needs within the University’s framework. We were intent on working with our colleagues to create a more professional document that is applicable and fair to today’s members. Most importantly, we gained an intimate familiarity with our handbook—a responsibility all academic librarians with a similar governance structure should work toward. Even when librarians who have a handbook or similar governance documents never have the opportunity or need to revise their handbook, we believe that it is vital to be knowledgeable about its content and ready to advocate for and promote the rights it confers to their colleagues and administrations.


The authors would like to thank our peer review editor, Vicki Sipe, Catalog Librarian at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and our editors at In the Library with the Lead Pipe, Ellie Collier and Annie Pho.


Association of College and Research Libraries. Association of College and Research Libraries Standards for Faculty Status for Academic. 2007. Accessed June 5, 2015.

Bolin, Mary K. “A Typology of Librarian Status at Land Grant Universities.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship. 2008. v. 34, issue 3, pp. 220-230. doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2008.03.005

Decker, Kurt. H. Drafting and Revising Employment Policies and Handbooks, 2nd ed., 2 volumes. New York, NY: Wiley, 1994.

Decker, Kurt. H., Louis R. Lessig, and Kermit M. Burley. Drafting and Revising Employment Policies and Handbooks. 2002 Cumulative Supplement. New York, NY: Panel Publishers, 2002.

George Mason University. Administrative/Professional Faculty Handbook, (2012a). Accessed December 22, 2014.

George Mason University. “Librarians’ Handbook,” in Administrative/Professional Faculty Handbook, Appendix C (2012b): 18-32. Accessed December 22, 2014.

George Mason University. Faculty Handbook, 2014. Accessed December 22, 2014.

Pence, James. L. “Adapting Faculty Personnel Policies.” New Directions for Higher Education. Fall 1990. 59-68. DOI: 10.1002/he.36919907108

“Writing a Faculty Handbook: a 2-Year, Nose-to-the-Grindstone Process.” Chronicle of Higher Education. October 2, 1985. v. 31, issue 5. p. 28




  1. Some librarians are governed by documents developed by Human Resources, faculty unions, or content within a Faculty Handbook. There is a dearth of available information regarding handbooks for academic librarians. See Bolin 2008
  2. For the purposes of this article, we define “instructional faculty” as faculty in the more commonly accepted traditional sense (i.e., professors of English or Chemistry) as well as non-teaching research faculty, and term and adjunct faculty, who are also included in this faculty handbook.
  3. Professional library faculty at George Mason do not have elected representation in the Faculty Senate.
  4. In addition to the George Mason University Faculty Handbook, we read faculty handbooks from the following Virginia colleges and universities:  James Madison University, Radford University, University of Mary Washington, University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University,  and Virginia Tech. Since our review, all of these handbooks have been revised except for Radford University and the University of Mary Washington.
  5. The University Libraries is now directly under the purview of the Provost.
  6. The professional peer review process is distinct from Mason’s professional faculty annual performance review, which takes place between a librarian and his/her supervisor and is required by the A/P Handbook.
  7. The standard  procedure is that librarians from the same department cannot review one another. This can cause problems for departments with large numbers of librarians.
  8. Mason librarians hold multi-year contracts, the duration of which is determined by an individual’s rank.
  9. According to the A/P Handbook, “Typical professional faculty positions are librarians, counselors, coaches, physicians, lawyers, engineers and architects…[that] require the incumbent to regularly exercise professional discretion and judgment and to produce work that is intellectual and varied and is not standardized” (George Mason University 2012a, 4).
  10. In 2014-2015, the PRC included three Librarian 2s and four Librarian 3s while the entire Council composition was: 2 Librarian 1s, 21 Librarian 2s and 18 Librarian 3s and no Librarian 4s.

LITA: An Interview With Emerging Leader Isabel Gonzalez-Smith

planet code4lib - Wed, 2015-07-01 13:00

Tell us about your library job.  What do you love most about it?

I am an Undergraduate Experience Librarian at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Richard J. Daley Library where I focus on how the library can support the academic success of our undergraduates. It’s hard to pick a single thing I love about my job because it is really personal to me. As an alumna, serving UIC undergrads is like stepping back into my own undergraduate experience and constantly thinking about ways I can improve that of our current students. Collaboration is key to many of our library efforts and my current role at UIC Library allows me to meet campus partners with the same mission. It doesn’t hurt that I work with an inspiring team of librarians that constantly push me to be the best professional I can be.

Where do you see yourself going from here?

My greatest motivator is improving the experience of the communities we serve as librarians. It might be nerdy but I geek out about data-driven decision making, the iterative process of refinement, and holistic problem solving when it comes to both virtual and physical services. I’m hoping my next career move is in user experience and assessment.

Why did you apply to be an Emerging Leader? What are your big takeaways from the ALA-level activities so far?

It’s funny – I applied to the program several years ago when a previous EL and friend of mine encouraged me to but I wasn’t accepted. I remember feeling really bummed about it! Years later, I had other friends who became Emerging Leaders bring it up and motivate me to try again. I’m so glad I did! I have found the Emerging Leaders and ALA community very welcoming – people want to see you succeed. Being an Emerging Leader means having the tools and the encouragement to engage more directly with ALA – developing a true appreciation and understanding that it is YOUR organization.

What have you learned about LITA governance and activities so far?

LITA is such an awesome division. I am very grateful I was selected as the LITA sponsored Emerging Leader because it has allowed me to get to know the members who make LITA happen. Members work so hard for each other and they’re truly an innovative bunch. I had no idea how many groups of people worked towards different initiatives in committees, task forces, interest groups and I’m still learning about each of them. Governance takes a lot of people and it is much clearer to me now that I have been more involved.

What was your favorite LITA moment? What would you like to do next in the organization?

Hands down – working with the search committee in selecting LITA’s next Executive Director. Special thanks to the LITA Board for inviting me to have a voice on the committee. It speaks volumes that LITA Board members embraced an early career librarian and allowed me the opportunity to have a say in LITA’s future. Very exciting moment!


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