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Open Knowledge Foundation: Collaborating For A Greater Good

Wed, 2017-04-19 16:14

Open Knowledge International is a member of Open Data for Development (OD4D), a global network of leaders in the open data community, working together to develop open data solutions around the world. In this blog, Nana Baah Gyan talks about his work carrying out an embedded data fellowship with Advocates for Community Alternatives (ACA) in Ghana as part of the OD4D programme. 

Generally, information needs often require different strategies in order to meet them satisfactorily. And this is even more the case in circumstances where technology know-how needs to be taught and gradually introduced to fit a particular setting of would-be technology adopters. Often, this case presents its own unique and (quite frankly speaking) exciting challenges for technology enthusiasts. It opens up otherwise largely unexplored avenues for technology innovation and learning in new communities. And this is exactly how I thought of it when I was first invited by Open Knowledge International (OKI) to be part of the  Open Data for Development (OD4D) embedded fellowship  working with Advocates for Community Alternatives (ACA) in Ghana for three months.

Some of the ACA team members in Ghana. From the right to left): Nimako, Naomi and Jonathan.

Registered as an non governmental organisation (NGO), ACA has as its main task, among other things, to help — through trainings and frequent community engagements — rural communities to independently explore for the themselves possible alternative livelihoods, especially in situations where these communities are threatened by big mining firms. In Ghana, the story has not always been a pleasant one whenever some such firm shows up at the door of the community with heavy machinery and equipments ready to mine. Often, mining companies have ended up destroying livelihoods by taking away farmlands, polluting drinking waters and significantly altering the way of life of people in the these communities for the worse. However, for some four villages in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana this was actively stood against by members of the communities, and their resolve to prevent one such mining giant in their communities presented, by itself, a fascinating story which attracted the engagement of ACA.

The OKI Fellowship

The fellowship took the form of being embedded as a data expert in an existing organisation, and comprised a 3-month contract with ACA facilitated by Ghana’s representative of OKI. OKI made all the pre-contract engagements and agreements for the project. My main role was to identify data needs of ACA and suggest and/or implement open standards-compliant tools to meet this need, including the training of staff to use these tools too.

ACA was just at that moment of exploring the proper collection and use of data in their work. They had realised the important role proper data management had begun to play in their work and also seen that, in order for them to succeed in their efforts in the villages, the timely collection, collation and delivery and analysis of information from the field was essential. This they saw to be crucial also for the purposes of monitoring and evaluating interventions over time as well as ensuring data integrity for its analyses and reporting needs.

Identifying Appropriate Tools

Right from the onset, R came up as the tool of choice for working with data. This was particularly because of R’s suitability in terms of its vast pool of packages to choose from for different analysis and modelling. But almost about a week or so into the fellowship this had to be reconsidered because of a number of issues. In order to deploy an R application for the needs described above for ACA, not only did R offer more than was wanted, it also presented unique challenges overcoming of which required significant investment (time, technical infrastructure, etc) — far more than necessary for a small organisation as ACA. For this fellowship, KoBo offered far more desirable advantages which made it the tool of choice. KoBo’s biggest advantage over R in this project was its ability to support offline form filling and, for the conditions which prevailed in the areas of ACA’s interest, this was especially useful. With it’s simple drag and drop interface for form design, and dual support for both mobile and non-mobile devices, KoBo presented all the was needed for ACA’s work. For that main reason, KoBo was the tool of choice for designing and sending out questionnaires, interviewing stakeholders in the villages for onward submission to ACA’s head office in Accra. It’s mobile/smartphone-capable tools only meant that end-users only needed SIM-enabled tablets to work with.

Training Stakeholders

Although KoBo is extremely useful and easy to use, it is still not largely known, and especially among non-technology inclined users. Therefore, stakeholders in the project had to be trained to use the tool. This included taking them through registering on the KoBo platform, designing and building questionnaire forms, deploying forms for use in the field, and analysing data sent by field workers on the KoBo platform.

A session with a farmer group in Kyeredeso, Brong Ahafo Region, Ghana. Here, I was explaining to the farmers, who are more than likely to become respondents to questionnaires in the future, how the new platform was going to be used by ACA’s field workers.

The trainees were of two categories: those who design and deploy questionnaires to the platform for use. These are the ones who decide on strategy and planning and are responsible for the kinds of data that should be collected. The other category consists of those who do the actual face-to-face interviews and fill out deployed forms answers from respondents. As expected, both categories of trainees required different training needs hence its design had to reflect these needs. Of particular mention is also the fact that, for some of the users, the training had to include basic instructions such as how to navigate the questions on a tablet or smartphone.  KoBo’s unique suitability for such purposes, among other things, is anchored on its superb ‘rural conditions support’ and the ability to operate the software offline.

What I thought also useful, and therefore put together, was a manual for using some of the basic features of KoBo. It contained, simple, straight-to-the-point steps for registering, designing and deploying forms, filling out questionnaires and using the platform for data analysis. It took such format that both categories of trainees would find it useful.

In total, five people were trained in the use of KoBo: two persons to design questionnaires and three in the field who would use them.

Looking Ahead

The training was successful in terms of explaining to end-users how the KoBo platform works and can be used. However, limited time would not permit at least one use case where that could be tested. It’s left to see how the training acquired could translate into actual use and practice — just as it is generally with the use of technology. However, there are good indications that the fellowship has been a success. There’s has been some increased awareness about data needs and tools such as KoBo that greatly help in its management. This, I hope, will go a long way in aiding ACA in their planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of projects.


In conclusion, the entire fellowship sponsored by OKI has been, in my experience of this nature as a data expert, a good experience. Every project of this kind that I’ve worked has had it’s own unique form and execution and this was no different. The whole idea of embedding or sponsoring experts in organisations with data needs is innovative and should be commended. It provides rare opportunities, in such developing countries as Ghana, to make the benefits of proper data management available to those who actually need them. This translates into better monitoring and evaluation strategies and decision making such as with ACA Ghana.

The data needs of Ghana, in general, are immense but it is also a largely unexplored territory lying dormant. Freely available tools and technologies for dealing with this problems are largely unknown and unused. Only few organisations and private individuals are now warming up to this idea of data management. If this hurdle can be overcome, a number of initiatives such as this are crucial. What would perhaps speed up the process is identifying the particular groups with such needs and matching them with experts who would share and engage communities on this need and, thus, creating a necessary, much-needed awareness.

Mark E. Phillips: Compressibility of the DPLA Creator Field by Hub

Wed, 2017-04-19 14:30

This is the second post in a series of posts exploring the metadata from the Digital Public Library of America.

In the first post I introduced the idea of using compressibility of a field as a measure of quality.

This post I wanted to look specifically at the dc.creator field in the DPLA metadata dataset.

DC.Creator Overview

The first thing to do is to give you an overview of the creator field in the DPLA metadata dataset.

As I mentioned in the last post there are a total of 15,816,573 records in the dataset I’m working with.  These records are contributed from a wide range of institutions from across the US through Hubs.  There are 32 hubs present in the dataset with 102 records that for one reason or another aren’t associated with a hub and which have a “None” for the hub name.

In the graph below you can see how the number of records are distributed across the different hubs.

Total Records by Hub

These are similar numbers to what you see in the more up-to-date numbers on the DPLA Partners page.

The next chart shows how the number of records per hub and the number of records with creator values compare.

Total Records and Records with Creators by Hub

You should expect that the red columns in the table above will most often be shorter than the blue columns.

Below is a little bit different way of looking at that same data.  This time it is the percentage of records that contain a creator.

Records with Creator to Total Records

You see that a few of the hubs have almost 100% of their records with a creator, while others have a very low percentage of records with creators.

Looking at the number of records that have a creator value and then the total number of names you can see that some hubs like hathitrust have pretty much a 1 to 1 name to record ratio while others like nara have multiple names per record.

Total Creators and Name Instances

To get an even better sense of this you can look at the average creator/name per record. In this chart you see that david_rumsey has 2.49 creators per record, this is followed by nara at 2.03, bhl with 1.78 and internet_archive at 1.70. There are quite a few (14) hubs that have very close to 1 name per record on average.

Average Names Per Record

The next thing to look at is the number of unique names per hub.  The hathitrust hub sticks out again with the most unique names for a hub in the DPLA.

Unique Creators by Hub

Looking at the ratio between the number of unique names and number of creator instances you can see there is something interesting happening with the nara hub.  I put the chart below on a logarithmic scale so you can see things a little better.  Notice that nara has a 1,387:1 ratio between the number of unique creators and the creator instances.

Creator to Unique Ratio

One way to interpret this is to say that the hubs that have the higher ratio have more records that share the same name/creator among records.


Now that we have an overview of the creator field as a whole we want to turn our attention to the compressibility of each of the fields.

I decided to compare the results of four different algorithms, lowercase hash, normalize hash, fingerprint hash, and aggressive fingerprint hash. Below is a table that shows the number of unique values for that field after each of the values has been hashed.  You will notice that as you read from left to right the number will go down.  This relates to the aggressiveness of the hashing algorithms being used.

Hub Unique Names Lowercase Hash Normalize Hash Fingerprint Hash Aggressive Fingerprint Hash artstor 7,552 7,547 7,550 7,394 7,304 bhl 44,936 44,927 44,916 44,441 42,960 cdl 47,241 46,983 47,209 45,681 44,676 david_rumsey 8,861 8,843 8,859 8,488 8,375 digital-commonwealth 32,028 32,006 32,007 31,783 31,568 digitalnc 31,016 30,997 31,006 30,039 29,730 esdn 22,401 22,370 22,399 21,940 21,818 georgia 21,821 21,792 21,821 21,521 21,237 getty 2,788 2,787 2,787 2,731 2,724 gpo 29,900 29,898 29,898 29,695 29,587 harvard 4,865 4,864 4,855 4,845 4,829 hathitrust 876,773 872,702 856,703 838,848 780,433 il 16,014 15,971 15,983 15,569 15,409 indiana 6,834 6,825 6,832 6,692 6,650 internet_archive 105,381 105,302 104,820 102,390 99,729 kdl 3,098 3,096 3,098 3,083 3,066 mdl 69,617 69,562 69,609 69,013 68,756 michigan 2,725 2,715 2,723 2,676 2,675 missouri-hub 5,160 5,154 5,160 5,070 5,039 mwdl 49,836 49,724 49,795 48,056 47,342 nara 1,300 1,300 1,300 1,300 1,249 None 21 21 21 21 21 nypl 24,406 24,406 24,388 23,462 23,130 pennsylvania 10,350 10,318 10,349 10,056 9,914 scdl 11,976 11,823 11,973 11,577 11,368 smithsonian 67,941 67,934 67,826 67,242 65,705 the_portal_to_texas_history 28,686 28,653 28,662 28,154 28,066 tn 2,561 2,556 2,561 2,487 2,464 uiuc 3,524 3,514 3,522 3,470 3,453 usc 10,085 10,061 10,071 9,872 9,785 virginia 3,732 3,732 3,732 3,731 3,681 washington 12,674 12,642 12,669 12,184 11,659 wisconsin 19,973 19,954 19,960 19,359 19,127

Next I will work through each of the hashing algorithms and look at the compressibility of each field after the given algorithm has been applied.

Lowercase Hash: This hashing algorithm will convert all uppercase characters to lowercase and leave all lowercase characters unchanged.  The result of this is generally very low amounts of compressibility for each of the hubs.  You can see this in the chart below.

Lowercase Hash Compressibility

Normalize HashThis has just converts characters down to their ascii equivalent.  For example it converts gödel to godel.  The compressibility results of this hashing function are quite a bit different than the lowercase hash from above.  You see that hathitrust has 2.3% compressibility of its creator names.

Normalize Hash Compressibility

Fingerprint Hash: This uses the algorithm that OpenRefine describes in depth here.  In the algorithm it incorporates a lowercase function as well as a normalize function in the overall process.  You can see that there is a bit more consistency between the different compressibility values.

Fingerprint Hash Compressibility

Aggressive Fingerprint Hash: This algorithm takes the basic fingerprint algorithm described above and adds one more step.  That step is to remove pieces of the name that are only numbers such as date.  This hashing function will most likely have more false positives that any of the previous algorithms, but it is interesting to look at the results.

Aggressive Fingerprint Hash Compressibility

This final chart puts together the four previous charts so they can be compared a bit easier.

All Compressibility


So now we’ve looked at the compressibility of the the creator fields for each of the 32 hubs that make up the DPLA.

I’m not sure that I have any good takeaways so far in this analysis. I think there are a few other metrics that we should look at before we start saying if this information is or isn’t useful as a metric of metadata quality.

I do know that I was with the compressibility of the hathitrust creators. This is especially interesting when you consider that the source for most of those records are MARC based catalog records that in theory should be backed up with some sort of authority records. Other hubs, especially the service hubs tend to not have records that are based as much on authority records.  Not really ground breaking but interesting to see in the data.

If you have questions or comments about this post,  please let me know via Twitter.

In the Library, With the Lead Pipe: Hush… : The Dangers of Silence in Academic Libraries

Wed, 2017-04-19 13:00

In Brief

This article critiques the idea that civility rhetoric decreases workplace bullying or discrimination. We use Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to do a rhetorical analysis of a campus-wide civility campaign in contrast with literature about civility in libraries. To combat discrimination and bullying, we need to be attentive to systemic power dynamics and to rhetoric designed to enforce compliance and conformity. We conclude with recommendations about how to raise our voices instead of silencing our peers.

By Jessica Schomberg and Kirsti Cole


In this article, we use Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to compare the rhetoric of a campus-wide civility campaign with literature related to civility in libraries. The civility campaign was prompted by concerns about discrimination and bullying at a mid-sized public university in the Midwest. Within the particular context of academic libraries, we examine how the rhetoric of civility has historically been used to control behaviour. There is no evidence that this civility discourse has improved the situations of already-marginalized populations or reduced bullying. Instead, it has contributed additional silencing rhetoric, which could have dangerous implications for the well-being of library employees and the patrons we serve. We will conclude this article with ideas about how librarians might go beyond performative civility to acknowledge the structural and cultural differences that exist within their communities.

The campus civility campaign was a top-down attempt to control individual behaviour. It was introduced as follows:

When civility is present in a community such as ours, it becomes a healthy, vibrant and rewarding place to live and work. Without civility, it fails to thrive…we believe that civility comes down to treating everyone with respect. Each of us is responsible for showing civility in our own actions.That’s why you’ll see a series of posters, table tents and electronic messages across our community challenging you to think about your choices. You can choose to be civil in a certain situation. Or not. Who will you decide to be?

By placing the rhetorical focus on individuals, the campaign points to a compelling dynamic in the relationship between power and language. If the goal of the civility campaign is to provoke members of our community to speak and listen in particular ways, and about particular things, it is setting in place a series of rules for that community (Glenn 1–2).

Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) helps us understand the relationships between language, culture, and inequality within a particular context (Gee 23). In this context, the ethical uses of language brought up by the civility campaign are not reflected in the campaign itself.

Below is a table outlining the frame through which we understand this issue. These concepts guide and structure our analysis of the reaction to the campus civility campaign compared with existing literature about civility in libraries. On the left side of the table are the critiques our faculty association, which includes librarians, had about the civility campaign conducted on our campus. These concerns were taken from the recorded minutes of the April 2015 faculty association executive meeting. On the right side of the table are the themes that came out of a literature search conducted using the keywords silencing, civility, and professionalism.

Figure 1. Civility Framing

Faculty Comments Themes Literature Review Themes What civility or politeness might mean in different cultures Civility Problems with moving from anti-bullying focus to civility focus Bullying Singular culture vs. the diverse cultures our campus represents Monoculturalism Posters encourage passive aggressiveness, not empathy or civility Silencing Microaggressions Gatekeeping The 100% whiteness of the president’s cabinet. That people of color are held accountable but white people are not Power and (White) Privilege Empty rhetoric of the civility campaign: it exists solely for “CYA” so the university doesn’t get sued; protects the institution only but it’s empty, no real promotion of change Empty Rhetoric of Academic Freedom Attention to constant administrative focus on budgetary constraints, and the cost of producing the posters Precarity/Job insecurity



To explore the civility campaign and understand the possible impacts of such initiatives in academic library spaces, we turn to Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA). CDA “looks systematically at one or more of the often unnoticed details of grammar and word choice” (Zdenek and Johnstone 25). Linguists and other researchers use CDA to analyze large textual corpuses, as well as long stretches of discourse that include text, talk, image, and gesture. It is a methodology to find patterns that create, circulate, reinforce, and reflect societal norms and ideology (Huckin et al 119).

Within the larger umbrella of CDA, “recontextualization looks for and interrogates chains of events and texts” (Fairclough 420). Recontextualization considers the ways in which language is taken from its original context and transformed into different messages in different contexts. Through that process, texts “are articulated together in new ways according to the logic of the recontextualising practice; and transformed from real to imaginary, and brought into the space of ideology” (Fairclough 399). An example of recontextualization that we examine is how selected quotes from famous writers and philosophers are used to control how civility is defined. In this way, CDA is valuable for examining ways in which power is constructed rhetorically (Huckin et al. 114).

Critical discourse analysis is particularly useful for situations in which researchers wish to examine the relationship between institutional power and rhetoric (Fairclough and Wodak 271-80; Lewis 374). CDA allows us to explore the textual “silences, implicatures, ambiguities, and other covert but powerful aspects of discourse” (Huckin et al. 110). The ambiguities of the civility campaign we analyze are particularly compelling because the faculty association unanimously opposed the administrative agenda surrounding the campaign despite sharing the goal of improving the campus climate.

We use CDA to coordinate the analysis of larger purposes for the civility campaign with the smaller details of the language used to represent civility to the campus community, particularly in the library. CDA gives us the opportunity to look at the indirect or implicit meanings that the posters relay to us: how they shape us and our academic library space.


In analyzing the civility campaign, we rely on cues from the design and the alphabetic text of the posters in order to determine how meaning is made or how expectations for behaviour are established. The civility campaign ran from 2012 to 2015 and produced 49 unique posters. The posters were put up throughout campus buildings, small table tents for each of the posters were placed on tables in common areas, and both were prominently displayed in the library.

The posters from 2012-2014 presented a scenario in which the purple side presented the “civil” or preferred response, while the gold side presented the “uncivil” response. At the bottom of each poster was the appeal “Who are YOU?”



Civility scene 16 To express frustration… Keep your language respectful. OR… Curse a blue streak—it’s great linguistic therapy. Who are YOU?


After faculty voiced their disapproval, the civility posters were modified. The 2014-2015 campaign posters include quotes from famous scholars, artists, writers, and thinkers.



Civility scene 49 Respect yourself and others will respect you. – Confucius Who are YOU?



As we analyzed the posters, we turned to word choice as an important category through which to understand possible themes. In coding the language used in the posters, we identified five thematic categories. For each poster theme, there is a corollary to one or more of the faculty comments identified in Figure 1.


Figure 2. Poster themes

Poster categories Faculty comments Polite Communication Bullying, passive aggressiveness, and gatekeeping Community Interactions Protecting the university instead of faculty and students Respectful Behaviour Silencing, ableism, and microaggressions Social and Cultural Awareness Reinforcing monoculturalism Power Dynamics Privilege, precarity, intellectual freedom


It is worth noting that many of the scenarios presented in the posters created intersections between the thematic categories. We review the thematic categories in context of the scholarship surrounding the issue in order to locate the interplay of such things as privilege and ableism, microaggressions and gatekeeping, and monoculturalism and precarity. Because the discussion surrounding many of these issues is contentious, we believe it is important to look at the analysis of the texts in the specific context of the scholarship.


In this section, we interweave themes identified from faculty responses to the civility campaign with themes from relevant library literature.


Civility does not have a universal meaning. In her exploration of civility in diverse organizations, Sampson takes a multicultural approach to civility in the library. She explores several definitions of civility. These range from “deference or allegiance to the social order” to “acknowledgement of equality between citizens in private, public or official interactions” (Sampson 94). However, she notes that we can’t truly achieve this ideal until full societal equality is a reality. She also notes that in a more diverse environment, there will be conflicting social norms. This means that individuals have to self-regulate their own behaviour rather than relying on social support to interpret and guide behaviour. While shared experiences make it easier to have shared expectations, operating in a diverse environment means working without those shared norms.

In Farrell’s discussion of collegiality in library workplaces, she utilizes civility in a way more in keeping with the idea of allegiance to the social order, with librarians as role models. The idea of high standards and role model behaviour is a clear component of the civility campaign. The campaign presents the audience with didactic recommendations about behaviours or actions. There is no nuance, no space for cultural variance, and no attempt to educate the community about those behaviours.

In Civility Scene 28, the audience is told to “Model civil behavior.”


Civility scene 28

Model civil behavior….

Demonstrate it, day after day

Or… Pay lip service—activating your mouth is way easier than activating behavior Who are YOU?


What is the “it” we are meant to demonstrate? Is it in action and language? Only in language? The scenario presented commands us to do, but does not help us learn how.

Some librarians take a more critical perspective to calls for civility, viewing them as attempts to silence dissent. Shockey cites Joan W. Scott’s discussion of the Steven Salaita/University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign controversy, in which Salaita’s offer of a tenured position was rescinded after he Tweeted negative comments about Israel. The UIUC chancellor decided those Tweets provided enough evidence that his behaviour would threaten “the comfort, safety, and security of his students” (Scott “New Thought Police”). Elsewhere, Schlesselman-Tarango argues that historically, rhetoric about civility has been used as an assimilationist strategy (676). In this conceptualization of civility, the focus is on standardizing language, being respectful of authority, maintaining traditional gender roles, and creating a labor force that works hard without being disruptive.

Status quo maintenance is at the forefront of the civility campaign. In Civility Scene 11, the audience is targeted: supervisors.


Civility scene 11 If you’re at the top of a hierarchy…Model civility for those who work with you. Act as if you’re exempt, civility is for suckers. Who are YOU?


We don’t know exactly what this outdated colloquialism is meant to invoke. Though the poster lacks clarity, it attempts to focus on respectful authority and a non-disruptive labor force.

Sloniowski presents the rhetoric around civility as being a standard by which to demand affective labour and “service with a smile” (660). She engages in a Marxist critique of the affective labour involved in librarians’ roles as “civilizers” or what Farrell calls “role models” by observing how this form of labour is expected, but not valued as labour. In other words, while affective labour is a necessary part of maintaining cooperative efforts, it is often invisible, correlating “to an estranging, sexist, colonization of life by work” (Sloniowski 655-656).

Interestingly, the shadow labour of civility is acknowledged by one of the quotes used in the 2015 civility campaign. A quote by Ellen Goodman says, “Civility, it is said, means obeying the unenforceable.” If a librarian’s perceived role is as emotional labourer, then the manipulative forces of such requirements put individuals in a position where they are constantly working to be seen as pleasant. We know this is not civility in the sense of creating a space where all members are treated with dignity. In fact, policing oneself and one’s environment in such a way may lead to microaggressions (sometimes coded as polite behaviour policing) or to outright bullying.


While they are often conflated, the difference between bullying and incivility rests in power. Both can cause interpersonal challenges and both are interpreted through one’s own cultural prism, but when looking at how power is constructed rhetorically, there are differences. In the way that we use these terms in this article, bullying tends to appear in peer-to-peer or supervisor-to-employee relationships. Incivility tends to be a component of relationships in which individuals who feel powerless in their role push back against those in power. Hicks argues that concepts such as civility are promoted by organizations as a way of conscribing the rhetorical techniques allowed, making it more difficult to challenge those in power (Hicks 251).

Several types of behaviours are typical of bullying, including “yelling, screaming, threatening… aggressive gossip, refusing to communicate, criticizing or humiliating someone in front of others, insults, isolation and/or withholding information or resources” (Matesic 164). Mobbing is a type of bullying done by a group rather than by a single person. Examples of such behaviour includes excessive monitoring of break times, walking past an individual without acknowledging them, punitive desk schedules, withholding communication, and not providing sufficient resources to complete work tasks (Matesic 164). While these descriptions focus on individual behaviours, keep in mind that they may be the results of structural problems (Galoozis “Me and You”).

In the university context, our human resources department and unions recognize these bullying behaviours as a problem. While there are federal protections against harassment, bullying is much harder to identify, define, and understand. This makes it difficult for workplace hostility policies to consistently account for it (Sepler 1). In most cases, organizations identify a vague list of behaviours that contribute to a hostile work environment, but that are also difficult to prove. However, a civility campaign functions beyond the realm of policy and enforcement. How administrators define bullying behaviours can shed light on the organization itself.

When looking at how bullying is operationalized, we find that that victims of bullying are often productive. However, they have found themselves in organizations with low tolerance for diversity and rigid cultural norms. Those in power, organizationally or in the social hierarchy, engage in bullying behaviour to enforce conformity or simply force out the outliers (Fox and Spector 254).

Using civility rhetoric to accomplish anti-bullying goals is the wrong technique. Civility rhetoric as used in the civility campaign attempts to force all members of the community into a single acceptable pattern of behaviour. In order to counteract bullying one must acknowledge that bullying occurs when rigid norms exclude individuals who don’t fit into the dominant culture.


Monoculturalism is the expectation that all individuals conform to one worldview, which assumes itself to be neutral. In North America, monoculturalism1 prioritizes whiteness. As Hathcock says in her examination of the failure of diversity initiatives in librarianship, whiteness is “a theoretical concept that can extend beyond the realities of racial privilege to a wide range of dominant ideologies based on gender identity, sexual orientation, class, and other categories” (“White Librarianship”). In the context of campus civility, monoculturalism emphasizes one right way to be civil for the one campus community. This ignores that campuses, and libraries, are made up of individuals from many different communities with many different ideals of civility.

Though two of the civility scenes encourage a broadly accepting point of view (“Be gender-inclusive in your language” and “Recognize how different each individual is”), most of the posters project a nebulous definition of civility that does not take into account what civil behaviour looks like in different cultures. This campaign was approved by a largely white and male administration. As such, it is perhaps unsurprising that many more marginalized community members perceived the campaign recommendations as disrespectful. One example is Civility Scene 19.


Civility scene 19 If a colleague shows signs of stress…Ask if you can help. Ignore it–feeling stress is natural, showing stress is weak. What will you choose?


As suggested above, this didactic framing allows for no subtlely in an individual’s behaviour and ignores social power dynamics totally. Imagine, for example, that your boss excuses themselves for making inappropriate comments because of stress; imagine the expectation to provide emotional support to a supervisor or chairperson who is emotionally abusing you; imagine civil behavior being defined by the expectation that you intercede without any thought to the inherent risks in doing so. This scenario also ignores cultural power dynamics that may discourage someone from directly interceding in such a situation.

Rhetoric about diversity and multiculturalism is often used to reaffirm the neutrality of whiteness while simultaneously ignoring structural oppressions (Brook et al. 247). These power dynamics punish people who do not comply with white norms when conflict arises. For example, when critiquing the idea that reference librarians smiling at patrons is universally perceived as welcoming, Brook et al. state that “this apolitical conception of responsiveness limits reference librarians’ ability to serve patrons of diverse racial backgrounds because it does not guide us toward a more nuanced, political assessment of individual and collective needs” (272).

By only acknowledging superficial politeness norms, we don’t recognize the structural layers and nuances that underlie our interactions. We don’t allow people to be their real selves with us, which makes people more susceptible to the negative effects of overwork (Mountz et al. 1248-1249). By creating environments where people are not allowed to behave in ways that reflect the communities to which they belong, we are in effect asking people to silence significant parts of themselves — especially when they don’t fit into monocultural norms.


Silencing prevents people from engaging with difficult and controversial ideas, which runs counter to the goals of higher education. As O’Donnell notes “Education is not a space of absolute control. It has to permit unpredictability and surprise [and allow for transformation] through the encounter with a subject and the perspectives of others” (70-71). This is only possible when we allow space to make personal connections and become open to learning from people unlike ourselves; it cannot be imposed on us from above; it cannot happen when we’re not allowed to speak.

In the area of silencing aspects of one’s own identity in an effort to deflect negative professional consequences, b. binaohan notes that “we have a professional environment where many people feel very comfortable saying some really heinous things but those whose lives are negatively impacted by those words must always smile and remain silent. Because calling out oppression is almost always punished more heavily than being oppressive” (binaohan, “Gender and Presenting”). The poster campaign as a whole showcases silent passivity as a positive trait. Passivity however, can be a problematic civil ideal, particularly if an individual is faced with threatening or harassing behaviour.


Civility scene 14 Mind your own business and keep quiet when a rumor comes your way. Text the details to all of your friends immediately–with a big LOL. What will you choose?


Civility Scene 14 is again didactic, again extreme, but what if the rumor is addressed to a reference librarian? Maybe a student reported to you that she witnessed another student being harassed while using the computers. Is minding your own business the ethical response in that situation? Though there is a clear indication in the posters that civility is a value on our campus, the passivity demonstrated on the positive side of the posters undermines the possibilities of community-building in favor of silence.

Power and Privilege

Privilege is a complicated topic with multiple facets, including race, sex, ability, economic class, and more. In Sayer’s book on the moral aspects of class, he notes that often those in power demand respect — not in the moral sense of respecting fellow humans, but in an amoral sense of global efficiency. When the expectation of respect for authority crosses multicultural lines without an understanding of those different cultures or a shared understanding of why certain qualities deserve respect, it creates a situation in which superficial politeness norms and showing leadership in a good light at all times becomes increasingly important (Sayer 178).

Farrell argues that prioritizing collegiality creates a sense of shared purpose that helps libraries achieve their goals and also supports the work of individual library personnel (173). Matesic’s research, on the other hand, found that poor behaviour “breeds in chaotic environments with weak leadership, some degree of job insecurity, nebulous task or work roles, indistinct performance measures and strong conformity to organizational culture” (165-166). In that scenario, trying to force feelings of collegiality rather than working to improve structural problems actually impedes civility.

Existing library and university structures were designed to maintain the status quo (de jesus, “Institutional Oppression”). While ideals about service and access are commonly discussed, actually making changes that don’t benefit those in power can be difficult, even when those in power claim to want to reach related goals. As Chris Bourg notes in her post on the whiteness of librarianship, our professional rhetoric claims that we reflect the nation’s diversity, but we don’t actually hire people of colour (“Unbearable Whiteness”). And even when we do hire people of colour, we don’t retain them (Vinopal, “Quest for Diversity”). Within the context of power and privilege, race is not the only factor we contend with.


Civility scene 22 When talking to someone, be present in all senses. Be there in body only—and twiddle away with your gadget du jour. Who are YOU?


Civility Scene 22 focuses on the role of technology in our face-to-face interactions. This recommendation is ableist, ignoring how embodied experiences vary. For example, common self-calming techniques for someone with autism are stimming or fidgeting, which in some cases involves “twiddling” with a gadget.

In Civility Scene 49, Confucius is quoted, “Respect yourself and others will respect you.” For a person with disabilities, the social and cultural power dynamics; the inaccessible physical spaces in which they must operate; and the struggle with their specific impairments or body image can have lasting impacts on how they perceive themselves, on how others perceive them, and on how they understand the ways in which others perceive them. This double- or sometimes triple-consciousness impairs the ability to comply with a simplistic directive to respect oneself.


Civility scene 1 When you want to get a point across… be calm, clear, and coherent. OR… Raise your voice—makes you sound like The Intimidator. Who are YOU?


Demands for verbal clarity ignore individuals who may be learning the primary language of the community. It may also silence someone who speaks with a louder voice. Civility Scene 32 repeats this simplistic approach to speech differences.


Civility scene 32 In any conversation… Listen to the tone of your voice. OR… Ignore it—it’s all in the words. Who are YOU?



Women are frequently referred to as “shrill” when they speak, particularly when they are in positions of authority (West). They may not raise their voice at all and be perceived as aggressive. Gendered communication expectations can result in impossibly conflicted recommendations about how to behave in professional settings. This is especially damaging when this tone policing is used by a person in a position of authority, against someone with less power. As the Library Loon notes in her post on silencing and gender: “Asking a potential or actual target to buck the system—not to mention assuming it’s their fault if they don’t, or if they do and are punished for it—piles responsibility in entirely the wrong place.” (Library Loon, “Silencing”)


In August 2015, after the faculty union’s continued objections to the campaign, the Vice President of Student Affairs reported that the civility campaign posters would be replaced with “general university belief statement posters.” As such, posters produced in 2015-2016 include the mission of the institution, the goals of various departments, and some of our institutional student learning outcomes. While this was ostensibly a victory for the union, in actuality our requests for a focus on intersectional anti-bullying was ignored.

Next Steps

Recognize how we reinforce silence

  • If our discourse is based on prioritizing passivity and squashing dissent, the squeaky wheel gets replaced while non-challenging people get promoted in an endless cycle of bad civility campaign rhetoric.
  • By eliminating people who challenge the status quo instead of spending time on doing the real work of combating oppression, we train newcomers to the profession to continue engaging in that silencing behaviour.

Seek remedies to performative civility

  • Protect library employees from threats of precarity through collective action and unionization of workers. We both work in an institution where tenure is protected by an active faculty bargaining unit. This means that during times of campus budget reductions, the process of cutting resources and positions is clearly articulated beforehand, and reduces the ability of administration to engage in retaliatory action against any single individual or group of individuals who choose to speak out. Because librarians are part of the faculty union, they also receive these protections. This gives us the freedom to speak out against initiatives like the civility campaign and advocate for better methods.
  • Prioritize support for librarian scholarship and political engagement. Writing, researching, learning new skills, and being intellectually challenged helps us develop a sense of self-efficacy and become better, more critical thinkers. Prioritizing learning to use our voices, instead of learning to silence ourselves, allows us to become better advocates for ourselves and others.

Many thanks to our external reviewers for this article, Eira Tansey and Sarah Fancher; our internal reviewer, Bethany Messersmith; and to publishing editor Ian Beilin. Their work keeping us focused is much appreciated! Thanks also to nina de jesus, Kyle Shockey, and many others for critiquing early drafts and encouraging our efforts.


binaohan, b. “Gender and Presenting as Professional.” i dream of being possible, 22 Dec. 2013,

Bourg, Chris. “The Unbearable Whiteness of Librarianship.” Feral Librarian, 3 Mar. 2014,

Brook, Freeda, Ellenwood, Dave, and Althea Eannace Lazzaro. “In Pursuit of Antiracist Social Justice: Denaturalizing Whiteness in the Academic Library.” Library Trends vol. 64, no. 2, 2015, pp. 246-284.

College Portrait. “Minnesota State University, Mankato College Portrait.” 2015.

de jesus, nina. “Locating the Library in Institutional Oppression.” In the Library with the Lead Pipe, 24 Sept. 2014.

Fairclough, Norman. Critical Discourse Analysis: The Critical Study of Language. Pearson, 2010.

Fairclough, Norman, and Ruth Wodak. “Critical Discourse Analysis.” Discourse as Social Interaction. Edited by Teun van Dijk. Sage, 1996.

Farrell, Maggie. “Collegiality in the Workplace.” Journal of Library Administration vol. 56, 2016, pp. 171-179.

Fox, Suzy, and Paul E. Spector. Counterproductive Work Behavior: Investigations of Actors and Targets, American Psychological Association, Washington, DC, 2005.

Galoozis, Elizabeth. “Me and You and Everything We Know: Information Behavior in Library Workplaces.” In the Library with the Lead Pipe, 26 Feb. 2014.

Gee, James Paul. How to Do Discourse Analysis: A Toolkit. Routledge, 2010.

Glenn, Cheryl. Rhetoric Retold: Regendering the Tradition from Antiquity through the Renaissance. Southern Illinois UP, 1997.

Hathcock, April. “White Librarianship in Blackface: Diversity Initiatives in LIS.” In the Library With the Lead Pipe, 7 Oct. 2015.

Hicks, Darrin. “The Promise(s) of Deliberative Democracy.” Rhetoric and Public Affairs vol. 5, 2002, pp. 223–260.

Huckin, Thomas, Jennifer Andruss, and Jennifer Clary-Lemon. “Critical Discourse Analysis and Rhetoric and Composition.” College Composition and Communication vol. 64, no.1, 2012, pp. 107-129.

Lewis, Cynthia. “‘What’s Discourse Got to Do with It?’ A Meditation on Critical Discourse Analysis in Literacy Research.” Research in the Teaching of English vol. 40, no.3, 2006, pp. 373–79.

Library Loon. “Silencing, Librarianship, and Gender: Links, Apologies, and Suggestions.” Gavia Libraria 31 Jul. 2013.

Matesic, Gina. D. “Internal World of Libraries and the Challenge of Civility.” Strategies for Regenerating the Library and Information Profession, edited by Varlejs, J., Lewis, L. & Walton, G. Walter de Gruyter, 2009.$002fbooks$002f9783598441776$002f9783598441776.3.158$002f9783598441776.3.158.pdf?t:ac=product/41985

Mountz, Alison, Anne Bonds, Becky Mansfield, Jenna Loyd, Jennifer Hyndman, Margaret Walton-Roberts, Ranu Basu, Risa Whitson, Roberta Hawkins, Trina Hamilton, and Winifred Curran. “For Slow Scholarship: A Feminist Politics of Resistance through Collective Action in the Neoliberal University.” ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies vol. 14, no. 4, 2015, pp. 1235-1259.

O’Donnell, Aislinn. “Securitisation, Counterterrorism and the Silencing of Dissent: The Educational Implications of Prevent.” British Journal of Educational Studies, vol. 64, no. 1, 2016., pp. 53. doi:10.1080/00071005.2015.1121201.

Sampson, Zora F. “The Role of Civility in Diverse Relations.” Journal of Library Administration vol. 27, no 1-2, 2009, pp. 93-110.

Sayer, Andrew. The Moral Significance of Class. Cambridge University Press 2005.

Scott, Joan W. “The New Thought Police.” The Nation 15 April 2015.

Sepler, Fran. “Workplace Bullying: What it is and What to do about it,” Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy vol. 0, art. 42, 2015.

Schlesselman-Tarango, Gina. “The Legacy of Lady Bountiful: White Women in the Library.” Library Trends vol. 64, no. 4, 2016, pp. 667-686.

Shockey, Kyle. “Intellectual Freedom Is Not Social Justice.” Progressive Librarian vol. 44, 2016, pp. 101-110.

Sloniowski, Lisa. “Affective Labor, Resistance, and the Academic Librarian.” Library Trends vol. 64, no. 4, 2016, pp. 645-666.

Vinopal, Jennifer. “The Quest for Diversity in Library Staffing: From Awareness to Action.” In the Library with the Lead Pipe, 13 Jan. 2016.

  1. In the case of our institution, of the more than 15,000 students, we have about 2,200 students of color including 1,100 international students from 90 countries. For our populations of students, then, our campus is roughly 76% caucasian with 81% in-state undergraduates (College Portrait).

Open Knowledge Foundation: Open Data for Clean Air in Medellin – ODD2017

Wed, 2017-04-19 11:41

This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2017. On Saturday 4 March, groups from around the world organised over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 44 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by SPARC, the Open Contracting Program of Hivos, Article 19, Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. This event was supported through the mini-grants scheme under the environmental theme.

On March 4th, 2017 a group of citizens celebrated Open Data Day aiming “for clean air in Medellín”. This because of an alert of bad air quality registered between March 9 and March 14. With levels of air quality still in worrying levels.

In Medellín we promoted this celebration from the citizen community Datos Abierto Medellín, from the environmental premise: “Open Data Day for clean air in Medellín” to identify, discuss and share information related to air quality, while also learning about data sources and proposing actionable from the citizens, public institutions, collectives, activists and university research groups.

During the 8 hours of the event we identified three main issues:

  1. The lack of public information in terms of open data regarding air quality and other crucial matters that are crucial for the citizens.
  2. The lack of pedagogical initiatives aimed to citizens so they can learn, understand and suggest regarding the air quality issue.
  3. The lack of low-cost sensors and citizen developed devices that contribute to capturing, processing and analysing information about air quality.
Where are the data?

Right now the most reliable data sources for air quality in the city comes from the Sistema de Alerta Temprana de Medellín y el Valle de Aburrá SIATA which has 16 monitoring stations for air quality. Other official sources come from the Mayor’s office.

We found that to access the real-time data, we had to request access to it through an email to the SIATA, wishing to access this information. We did this before ODD and received a link to the data download site. Once on the platform, we had to create a user and a password, giving our personal data and whether we belong to a research group. To download this data we also need to fill a form to indicate the time interval of the data we need and what we want to achieve by downloading this data.

These steps to access air quality data were considered by many as bureaucratic restrictions that make access to information more difficult. Estefanía Acosta from SIATA explained that the portal is in an experimental phase right now and this information will help assess the needs of the citizens and researchers so that they will be able to improve the tool and use this information as leverage with other public offices to make the data available as open data.


The week before Open Data Day two citizens decided to download the data and draw some initial conclusions:

  1. Exercise with air quality data in Medellín, from February 1st to February 22nd, 2017.
  2. Exercise with air quality data in Medellín, from 1989 to March 3rd, 2017.


Besides these two exercises we showed that even having the data, there is a lack of technical knowledge to analyse this information in an optimal way since some categories or terms aren’t clear. Thus, it is important to establish more open channels for collaboration to inform and explain the conventions and relevant information when publishing the data.

Other specific information about air quality in Medellin must be requested through a “PQRS” (questions, complaints, requirements and suggestions for its initials in Spanish) to the Mayor of Medellín, mentioning all the details of time, space and format to have a complete answer. During the event, some attendants mentioned that these requests tend to be incomplete.

ODD talks: open data + air

During Open Data Day we heard from different experiences and visions regarding air quality in Medellín, about its relation to access and use of information on this topic. Here are a few ideas shared during that day (videos are in Spanish):

Ricardo Zapata – Environmental activist

The La ciudad Verde collective and AIREMedellín shared the problems around air quality in the city.

  • Fuel quality
  • Engine pollution control
  • Citizen monitoring
  • Public Health
  • Sustainable transport

José Valentín Restrepo – Researcher and professor

In Medellín there are two silent killers: air pollution and the lack of open data about it.

To analyse air quality we need to consider factors such as weather (winch, humidity, temperature) and other factors like the air, its gases and particles. The liberation of Nitrogen oxides (NOx) like monoxide and dioxide (NO and NO2), two of the most dangerous chemical compounds, air pollutants to which humans are exposed because of vehicle combustion, especially diesel. These compounds can cause grave lung diseases.

PM 100 particles are easier to dispose from the body. PM 10 and PM 2.5 stay longer, affecting our health. Fine particles like PM 2.5 are smaller than a thirtieth of the diameter of a human hair. One of the areas where we need to improve is the measurement of particles like PM 2.5.


Eileen Niemeier —Researcher

Elieen Niemeier, a German researcher living in Medellín spoke about her final work of her masters. This work from 2015 focuses on the possibility of implementing electrical mobility in Medellín, she found that since 2013 there was already a high level of pollution in the city.

Estefanía Acosta — Communications department of SIATA

SIATA is the Early Alert System which functions as a research, science and technology group for the Mayor’s office, which has contributions from EPM and ISAGEN.

Among its missions we can find:


  • Real-time monitoring of the air conditions in the region: measure different meteorological and water variables through different sensors in strategic points in the region.
  • Develop and use of forecast models, based on the conditions of the Valley of Aburrá.
  • Deliver the information promptly to the community and the entities working on risk management in the region.

During ODD we had the SIATA team to talk about the factors affecting air quality in Medellín, ask them questions, point good practices, difficulties and possibilities of access to the data that the centre produces:

Listen to audio – Estefanía Acosta on her role as citizen

Other Ideas during this session about access to data:

  • Data made available by SIATA is on a test site
  • To access the data you need to fill a form. This data has a structure defined by the researchers.
  • The data are available in CSV and you must request the link to access them.
  • There are no APIs to make the data available

Experiments with sensors from academia and citizens

Julián Gálvez — EAFIT Integrante Misión Simple-1

Missión Simple 1 is a project which provides access to space from a research seed space made of undergrads and graduate students of EAFIT University. This mission seeks to design, build, test and validate a small satellite called “CanSat” (because of its soda can shape) to be tested on a rocket platform of mid range.

During ODD we had the presence of Julián Gálvez one of the members of Misión Simple 1. He explained how nano-satellites can contribute to the remote measuring and to the actions of Earth observation, considering air quality, among others. We could also see a demo of a low-cost sensor developed using a microcontroller and a real-time visualisation of the gathered data.


Julián Giraldo – Member Un/loquer, hackerspace

We also had the presence of the Un/loquer collective. Julián Giraldo, known as Brolin, shared their projects during ODD. You can find more information about their work here:

What’s the expectation about Open Data and Air Quality?

Academia and public entities are still researching technologies that will allow us to have better data to understand the conditions of the Valley of Aburrá. The members of the Mayor’s office claim that the air quality sensor network and the network of Citizen Scientists generate relevant data with scientific accuracy. Getting to a red alert on air quality is closer than we think. The SIATA team mentioned that Medellín has had an unexpected growth in a number of motorised vehicles, this is still one of the biggest air polluters.

The Open Data Day for Clear Air in Medellín is an initiative that will give us the roadmap to continue promoting free access to environmental data in the city. Gathering and systematizing information from the public and academic entities, as well as civic organizations is a must, in order to tackle the problems of air quality. It is also necessary to create alliances between the different actors and have a constant exchange, allowing information flow to all the citizens while letting different voices be heard.


At the end of the event, we listed all the difficulties and proposals for better open data in the city:

  • Privative formats for the data, outdated data and lack of channels to access data.
  • Lack of awareness or interest from the public servants about access to information as a citizen right, written in the law, as well as their refusal to use open formats.

The main proposals are:

  • Accountability from public entities should be done based on their own data
  • Organise the data with tags, so that they can be understood by every person interested in the subject, giving context about how the data is organised.
  • Standardise the datasets based on best practices of open data, to make access and processing easier
  • Create a citizen committee that will oversee the management of public information
  • Create a multi-sector board to generate exchange and horizontal participation.




Other resources



[1] Plan Operacional de Episodios Críticos de Contaminación Atmosférica — Valle del Aburrá.

[2] Lung Cancer, Cardiopulmonary Mortality, and Long-term Exposure to Fine Particulate Air Pollution C. Arden Pope III, PhD; Richard T. Burnett, PhD; Michael J. Thun, MD; et al.

[3] Medidas de datos+modelos asimiladosDatos crudos visualizadosCubeSats.

Hydra Project: IMLS grants for two Hydra-related projects

Wed, 2017-04-19 08:22

We are delighted to announce that the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded grants to two Hydra-related projects.

The Boston Public Library and the University of Utah have secured funding for “Newspapers in Hydra”.

The project will create: (1) a shareable, system- and programming-language-agnostic RDF-based data model addressing structural and descriptive metadata features unique to digitized newspapers; (2) a set of modular, open-source plugins for the popular Hydra/Fedora digital repository framework for ingesting, describing, discovering, displaying, and disseminating digitized newspaper content; and (3) a community of practitioners — including developers, librarians, content specialists, and managers — dedicated to addressing challenges and collaborating on best practices associated with managing digitized newspapers.

Northwestern and Indiana Universities have secured funding for “Avalon Media System: Integrating audiovisual collections with research, digital preservation, and a sustainable developer community.”

The aim of this two-year project is to increase adoption of Avalon within the library and archives community by enhancing the value proposition of Avalon and carrying out work to help ensure sustainability: (1) Integrate Avalon within the Hydra community. We will adapt Avalon to make use of the current Hydra open source repository software stack and will engage members of the Hydra community in development through community sprints. We will also increase the modularity of Avalon so that its components can be more easily integrated into other Hydra-based repository systems, including Hydra-in-a-Box, to provide time-based media access; (2) Implement a cloud-hosted Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) version of Avalon. We will work with Lyrasis and DuraSpace on the establishment of a hosted SaaS offering by conducting pilots to help provide cost modeling for Avalon as a cloud based service; (3) Connect Avalon to media preservation systems and workflows. We will connect Avalon to long-term digital preservation solutions and improve interoperability with workflow and management tools in order to provide a complete AV preservation and access platform, by working with Artefactual Systems to integrate Avalon with the Archivematica platform; (4) Enable interoperability with scholarly tools. The Avalon technical team will take a leadership role with the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) by contributing to the creation of an AV interoperability spec and providing a demonstration implementation.

Our congratulations to both teams!

DuraSpace News: Welcome New DuraSpace Board Members Kaitlin Thaney and Wolfram Horstmann

Wed, 2017-04-19 00:00

Austin, TX The DuraSpace organization is pleased to announce that Kaitlin Thaney and Wolfram Horstmann have accepted appointments to the DuraSpace Board of Directors.

DuraSpace News: Welcome Erin Tripp: Business Development Manager for DuraSpace

Wed, 2017-04-19 00:00

Austin, TX  DuraSpace is pleased to announce that Erin Tripp will join DuraSpace as the new Business Development Manager on May 1, 2017. Her duties will include pursuing new partnerships, grants, and strategies to grow business for DuraSpace hosted services DuraCloud, DSpaceDirect, and ArchivesDirect. Working with staff and our community, Mrs. Tripp will help cultivate new business opportunities for DuraSpace.

DuraSpace News: PARTICIPATE: Beyond the Repository Survey On Distributed Preservation

Wed, 2017-04-19 00:00

From the "Beyond the Repository" Team: Laura Alagna, Carolyn Caizzi, Brendan Quinn, Sibyl Schaefer, Evviva Weinraub

District Dispatch: How to participate in #NLLD17 from home

Tue, 2017-04-18 18:59

As library supporters from across the United States prepare to go to Washington, D.C. to participate in National Library Legislative Day, don’t forget that you can participate from home!

All week long (May 1-5th), we’re asking library supporters to email, call, and tweet their Members of Congress about federal library funding and other key library issues. Register now, and you will receive an email on May 1st reminding you to take action, along with a link to the livestream from National Library Legislative Day, so you can hear our keynote speaker and the issue briefings live.

This year’s keynote speaker will be Hina Shamsi, Director of the ACLU National Security Project, and the issue briefings will be provided by the staff of the ALA Washington Office. Check out our earlier post to see the full list of panels at National Library Legislative Day this year.

This year, we’re asking Congress to:

House: Save IMLS; Fully Fund LSTA & IAL
Senate: Sign LSTA & IAL “Dear Appropriator” Letters
House/Senate Reauthorize MLSA (incl. LSTA)

We’ll have talking points and background information available on the Action Center starting May 1st, to help you craft your message. You can use the event tag #NLLD17 to join in the conversation.

Looking for other ways to participate? Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr users can sign up to participate in our Thunderclap.

Questions? Email

The post How to participate in #NLLD17 from home appeared first on District Dispatch.

LITA: Universal Design for Libraries and Librarians a popular repeat LITA web course

Tue, 2017-04-18 15:06

Don’t miss your chance to participate in the repeat of this popular web course. Register now for this  LITA web course:

Universal Design for Libraries and Librarians


  • Holly Mabry, Digital Services Librarian, Gardner-Webb University; and
  • Jessica Olin, Director of the Library, Robert H. Parker Library, Wesley College

Offered May 15 to June 19, 2017.

A Moodle based web course with asynchronous weekly content lessons, tutorials, assignments, and group discussions.

Register Online, page arranged by session date (login required)

Universal Design is the idea of designing products, places, and experiences to make them accessible to as broad a spectrum of people as possible, without requiring special modifications or adaptations. This course will present an overview of universal design as a historical movement, as a philosophy, and as an applicable set of tools. Students will learn about the diversity of experiences and capabilities that people have, including disabilities (e.g. physical, learning, cognitive, resulting from age and/or accident), cultural backgrounds, and other abilities. The class will also give students the opportunity to redesign specific products or environments to make them more universally accessible and usable.


By the end of this class, students will be able to…

  • Articulate the ethical, philosophical, and practical aspects of Universal Design as a method and movement – both in general and as it relates to their specific work and life circumstances
  • Demonstrate the specific pedagogical, ethical, and customer service benefits of using Universal Design principles to develop and recreate library spaces and services in order to make them more broadly accessible
  • Integrate the ideals and practicalities of Universal Design into library spaces and services via a continuous critique and evaluation cycle

Here’s the Course Page

Holly Mabry

Holly Mabry received her MLIS from UNC-Greensboro in 2009. She is currently the Digital Services Librarian at Gardner-Webb University where she manages the university’s institutional repository, and teaches the library’s for-credit online research skills course. Since finishing her MLIS, she has done several presentations at local and national library conferences on implementing universal design in libraries with a focus on accessibility for patrons with disabilities.

Jessica Olin

Jessica Olin is the Director of the Library, Robert H. Parker Library, Wesley College. Ms. Olin received her MLIS from Simmons College in 2003 and an MAEd, with a concentration in Adult Education, from Touro University International. Her first position in higher education was at Landmark College, a college that is specifically geared to meeting the unique needs of people with learning differences. While at Landmark, Ms. Olin learned about the ethical, theoretical, and practical aspects of universal design. She has since taught an undergraduate course for both the education and the entrepreneurship departments at Hiram College on the subject.


May 15 – June 19, 2017


  • LITA Member: $135
  • ALA Member: $195
  • Non-member: $260

Technical Requirements:

Moodle login info will be sent to registrants the week prior to the start date. The Moodle-developed course site will include weekly new content lessons and is composed of self-paced modules with facilitated interaction led by the instructor. Students regularly use the forum and chat room functions to facilitate their class participation. The course web site will be open for about a week prior to the start date for students to have access to Moodle instructions and set their browser correctly. The course site will remain open for 90 days after the end date for students to refer back to course material.

Registration Information:

Register Online, page arranged by session date (login required)
Mail or fax form to ALA Registration
call 1-800-545-2433 and press 5

Questions or Comments?

For all other questions or comments related to the course, contact LITA at (312) 280-4268 or Mark Beatty,

Open Knowledge Foundation: Open Research event in Yaoundé, Cameroon

Tue, 2017-04-18 09:02

This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2017. On Saturday 4 March, groups from around the world organised over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 44 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by SPARC, the Open Contracting Program of Hivos, Article 19, Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. This event was supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Open Research theme.

On 6th April 2017, I was finally to organise an Open Research Data event in Yaoundé, Cameroon to train the young and next generation of social scientists on transparency and reproducibility tools to enhance the openness of their research. Of a pool of 80 applicants, about 40 participants were carefully selected based on their gender, their field of study as well as their previous knowledge and interest towards research replicability and openness.

In spite of the heavy rainfall that preceded the opening ceremony, about 30 participants from various Cameroonian universities and disciplines ranging from economics, political science to psychology were able to attend the event. We were also lucky to have among the attendees about 4 participants originally from Benin. The event kicked off with an introduction of the topics intended to be covered.

The first part of the presentation focused on sensitising participants on the different forms of academic research misconducts, with concrete examples of research falsifications with regards to economics and psychology over the last decade.  

We also discussed the various types of academic research misconducts, such as publication bias, p-hacking, failure to replicate, unreproducible workflow as well as the lack of sharing and openness in research. At the end of this first part of the workshop, a lively discussion arose with participants, especially on the difficulties for young PhD students to deviate from the traditional “hidden”  and “lack of sharing” behaviour inherited from their senior mentors.

Some attendees also mentioned bottlenecks to access data from National Statistical Offices (NIS), that are meant to be opened and freely accessible to the academic research community, as one of the key impediment to pursuing their respective research. They also raise the difficulty they face in getting access to publication (not even raw or cleaned datasets) from their peers/colleagues.

The second half of the day centred on introducing participants to different solutions that could be undertaken to enhance the openness of their research, such as pre-registration, pre-analysis plan, data sharing and the construction of a reproducible and transparent workflow, dynamic documents etc. An example on how to pre-register a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) or a research undertaken with secondary data was made under the American Economic Association (AEA) Social Science Registry as well as the Open Science Framework (OSF). A compelling presentation of what is a Pre-Analysis Plan (PAP) was done by the BITSS (Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences) catalyst Faha Nochi Dief Reagen.

Dief Reagen Nochi Faha of Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences leading a presentation.

After that, STATA Do files and R Markdown codes along with R, R studio and STATA 13 set up were distributed to participants with useful assistance from Mr Cyrille Moise Touk and Mr Dief Reagan Nochi Faha.

The internet connection was a bit of a challenge, especially when it came to loading up some of the R packages to build dynamic documents in R (R Markdown, Foreign, Stargazer, Sandwich) and Stata (Markdoc). The practical sessions, however, went very well and almost all the participants were able to successfully run the code and get their dynamic documents done either in R or STATA.

At the end of the workshop, students were encouraged to apply for the forthcoming OpenCon2017 conference to learn more about Scholarly Publishing and Altmetrics and also apply to the BITSS summer institute of UC Berkeley.

The views of two participants:

“I really wish I knew about all those bottlenecks to research openness (Publication bias, P-hacking, failure to replicate, unreproducible workflow, lack of data sharing and transparency) at the very beginning of my PhD, I would have been more cautious. However, now that the workshop has raised my awareness on the necessity to be more transparent and open in research, I could use the knowledge acquired to enhance the quality of my current and forthcoming publications.” – Mr Armand Mboutchouang Kountchou; Final year PhD Student in economics, University of Yaounde II-SOA and African Economic and Research Consortium (AERC)

“Research transparency, reproducibility and openness tools should be integrated into the academic curriculum of our universities from the undergraduate level. This could enable the next generation of African economic researchers to embrace a different path in order to enhance the credibility and quality of their research outputs.” – Mr Nochi Faha Dief Reagen; PhD Student in economics, University of Yaounde II-SOA and University of Rennes 1, France.


ACRL TechConnect: Hosting a Coding Challenge in the Library

Mon, 2017-04-17 19:39

In Fall of 2016, the city of Los Angeles held a 2-week “Innovate LA” event intended to celebrate innovation and creativity within the LA region.  Dozens of organizations around Los Angeles held events during Innovate LA to showcase and provide resources for making, invention, and application development.  As part of this event, the library at California State University, Northridge developed and hosted two weeks of coding challenges, designed to introduce novice coders to basic development using existing tutorials. Coders were rewarded with digital badges distributed by the application Credly.

The primary organization of the events came out of the library’s Creative Media Studio, a space designed to facilitate audio and video production as well as experimentation with emerging technologies such as 3D printing and virtual reality.  Users can use computers and recording equipment in the space, and can check out media production devices, such as camcorders, green screens, GoPros, and more.  Our aim was to provide a fun, very low-stress way to learn about coding, provide time for new coders to get hands-on help with coding tutorials, and generally celebrate how coding can be fun.  While anyone was welcome to join, our marketing efforts specifically focused on students, with coding challenges distributed daily throughout the Innovate LA period through Facebook.

The Challenges

The coding challenges were sourced from existing coding tutorial sites such as Free Code CampLearn Ruby and Codecademy.  We wanted to offer a mix of front-end and server side coding challenges, starting with HTML, CSS and JavaScript and ramping up to PHP, Python, and Ruby.  We tested out several free tutorials and chose tutorials that had the most straightforward instructions that provided immediate feedback about incorrect code. We also tried to keep the interfaces consistent, using Free Code Camp most frequently so participants could get used to the interface and focus on coding rather than the tutorial mechanism itself.

Here’s a list of the challenges and their corresponding badges earned:

Challenge Badge Received Say Hello to the HML Elements, Headline with the H2 Element, Inform with the Paragraph Element HTML Ninja Change the Color of Text, Use CSS Selectors to Style Elements, Use a CSS Class to Style an Element CSS Ninja Use Responsive Design with Bootstrap Fluid Containers, Make Images Mobile Responsive, Center Text with Bootstrap Bootstrapper Comment your JavaScript Code, Declare JavaScript Variables, Storing Values with the Assignment Operator JavaScript Hacker Learn how Script Tags and Document Ready Work, Target HTML Elements with Selectors Using jQuery, Target Elements by Class Using jQuery jQuery Ninja Uncomment HTML, Comment out HTML, Fill in the Blank with Placeholder Text HTML Master Style Multiple Elements with a CSS Class, Change the Font Size of an Element, Set the Font Family of an Element CSS Master Create a Bootstrap Button, Create a a Block Element Bootstrap Button, Taste the Bootstrap Button Color Rainbow Bootstrap Master Getting Started and Cat/Dog JS Game Maker Target Elements by ID Using jQuery, Delete your jQuery Functions, Target the same element with multiple jQuery selectors jQuery Master Hello World

Variables and Types


Python Ninja Hello World, Variables and Types, Simple Arrays PHP Ninja Hello World, Variables and Types, Math Ruby Ninja How to Use APIs with JavaScript (complete through Step 9: Authentication and API Keys) API Ninja Edit or create a wikipedia page. You may join in at the Wikipedia Edit-a-thon or do editing remotely. The Citation Hunt tool is a cool/easy way of going about editing a Wikipedia page. Narrow it to a topic that interests you and make. WikiWiz Create a 3D Model for an original animated character. You may use TinkerCAD or Blender as free options or feel free to use SolidWorks AutoCAD if you are familiar with them. If you don’t know where to begin, TinkerCAD has step by step tutorials for you to bring your ideas to life. 3D Designer Get a selfie with a Google Cardboard or any virtual reality goggles VR Explorer

Note the final three challenges – editing a Wikipedia page, creating a 3D model, and experimenting with Google Cardboard or other virtual reality (VR) goggles are not coding challenges, but we wanted to use the opportunity to promote some of the other services the Creative Media Studio provides.  Conveniently, the library was hosting a Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon during the same period as the coding challenges, so it made sense to leverage both of those events as part of our Innovate LA programming.

The coding challenges and instructions were distributed via Facebook, and we also held “office hours” (complete with snacks) in one of the library’s computer labs to provide assistance with completing the challenges.  The office hours were mostly informal, with two library staff members available to walk users through completing and submitting the challenges.  One special office hours was planned, bringing in a guest professor from our Cinema and Television Arts program to help users with a web-based game making tutorial he had designed.  This partnership was very successful, and that particular office hour session had the most attendance of any we offered.  In future iterations of this event, more advance planning would enable us to partner with additional faculty members and feature tutorials they already use effectively with students in their curriculum.


We needed a way to both accept submissions documenting completion of coding challenges and a way to award digital badges.  Originally we had investigated potentially distributing digital badges through our campus learning management system, as some learning management systems like Moodle are capable of awarding digital badges.  There were a couple of problems with this – 1) we wanted the event to be open to anyone, including members of the community who wouldn’t have access to the learning management system, and 2), the digital badge capability hadn’t been activated in our campus’ instance of Moodle.   Another route we considered taking was accepting submissions for completed challenges was through the university’s Portfolium application, which has a fairly robust ability to accept submissions for completed work, but again, wouldn’t facilitate anyone from outside of the university participating. Credly seemed like an easy, efficient way to both accept submissions and award badges that could also be embedded in 3rd party applications, such as LinkedIN.  Since we hosted the competition in 2016, the capability to integrate Credly badges in Portfolium has been made available.

Credly enables you to either design your badges using Credly’s Badge Builder or upload your own badge designs.  Luckily, we had access to amazing student designers Katie Pappace, Rose Rieux, and Eva Cohen, who custom-created our badges using Adobe Illustrator.  A Credly account for the library’s Creative Media Studio was created to issue the badges, and Credly “Credits” were defined using the custom-created badge designs for each of the coding skills for which we wanted to award badges.

When a credit is designed in Credly and you enable the credit to allow others to claim the credit, you have several options.  You can require a claim code, which requires users to submit a code in order to claim the credit.  Claim codes are useful if you want to award badges not based on evidence (like file submission) but are awarding badges based on participation or attendance at an event at which you distribute the claim code to attendees.  When claim codes are required, you can also set approval of submissions to be automatic, so that anyone with a claim code automatically receives their badge.  We didn’t require a claim code, and instead required evidence to be submitted.

When requiring evidence, you can configure which what types of evidence are appropriate to receive the badge. Choices for evidence submission include a URL, a document (Word, text, or PDF), image, audio file, video file, or just an open text submission.  As users were completing code challenges, we asked for screenshots (images) as evidence of completion for most challenges.  We reviewed all submissions to ensure the submission was correct, but by requiring screenshots, we could easily see whether or not the tutorial itself had “passed” the code submission.


Credly gives the ability of easily counting the number of badges earned by each of the participants. From those numbers, we were able to determine the top badge earners and award them prizes. All participants, even the ones with a single badge, were awarded buttons of each of their earned badges. In addition to the virtual and physical badges, participants with the greatest number of earned badges were rewarded with prizes. The top five prizes were awarded with gift cards and the grand prize winner also got a 3D printed trophy designed with Tinkercad and their photo as a Lithopane incorporated into the trophy. A low stakes award ceremony was held for all contestants and winners. Top awards were high commodity and it was a good opportunity for students to meet others interested in coding and STEM.

Lessons Learned

Our first attempt at hosting coding challenges in the library taught us a few things.  First, taking a screenshot is definitely not a skill most participants started out with – the majority of initial questions we received from participants were not related to coding, but rather involved how to take a screenshot of their completed code to submit to Credly.  For future events, we’ll definitely make sure to include step-by-step instructions for taking screenshots on both PC and Mac with each challenge, or consider an alternative method of collecting submissions (e.g., copying and pasting code as a text submission into Credly).  It’s still important to not assume that copying and pasting text from a screen is a skill that all participants will have.

As noted above, planning ahead would enable us to more effectively reach out and partner with faculty, and possibly coordinate coding challenges with curriculum.  A few months before the coding challenges, we did reach out to computer science faculty, cinema and television arts faculty, and other faculty who teach curriculum involving code, but if we had reached out much earlier (e.g., the semester before) we likely would have been able to garner more faculty involvement.  Faculty schedules are so jam-packed and often set that way so far in advance, at least six months of advance notice is definitely appreciated.

Only about 10% of coding challenge participants came to coding office hours regularly, but that enabled us to provide tailored, one-on-one assistance to our novice coders.  A good portion of understanding how to get started with coding and application development is not related to syntax, but involves larger questions about how applications work:  if I wanted to make a website, where would my code go?  How does a URL figure out where my website code is?  How does a browser understand and render code?  What’s the difference between JavaScript (client-side code) and PHP (server-side code), and why are they different?  These were the types of questions we really enjoyed answering with participants during office hours.  Having fewer, more targeted office hours — where open questions are certainly encouraged, but where participants know the office hours are focused on particular topics — makes attending the office hours more worthwhile, and I think gives novice coders the language to ask questions they may not know they have.

One small bit of feedback that was personally rewarding for the authors:  at one of our office hours, a young woman came up to us and asked us if we were the planners of the coding challenges.  When we said yes, she told how excited she was (and a bit surprised) to see women involved with coding and development.  She asked us several questions about our jobs and how we got involved with careers relating to technology.  That interaction indicated to us that future outreach could potentially focus on promoting coding to women specifically, or hosting coding office hours to enable mentoring for women coders on campus, modeling (or joining up with) Women Who Code networks.

If you’re interested in hosting support for coding activities or challenges in your library, a great resource to get started with is Hour of Code, which promotes holding one-hour introductions to coding and computer science particularly during Computer Science Education Week.  Hour of Code provides tutorials, resources for hosts, promotional materials and more.  This year, Hour of Code week / Computer Science Education Week will be  December 4-10 2017, so start planning now!

District Dispatch: ALA announces Google Policy Fellow for 2017

Mon, 2017-04-17 17:05

Alisa Holahan will serve as ALA’s 2017 Google Policy Fellow. Holahan is a candidate for the Master of Science in Information Science degree at the School of Information at the University of Texas, Austin. Previously, she completed her J.D. at the University of Texas Law School where she graduated with honors.

I am pleased to announce that Alisa Holahan will serve as ALA’s 2017 Google Policy Fellow. She will spend ten weeks in Washington, D.C. working on technology and internet policy issues through the library lens. As a Google Policy Fellow, Holahan will explore diverse areas of information policy, such as copyright law, information access for underserved populations, telecommunications policy, digital literacy, online privacy, the future of libraries and others. Google, Inc. pays the summer stipends for the fellows and the respective host organizations determine the fellows’ work agendas.

Holahan is a candidate for the Master of Science in Information Science degree at the School of Information at the University of Texas, Austin. Previously, she completed her J.D. at the University of Texas Law School where she graduated with honors and served as Associate Editor of the Texas Law Review. Holahan also completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Texas.

Since September 2015, Holahan has served as a Tarlton Fellow at the Tarlton Law Library at the University of Texas. She has interned twice in Washington, D.C., at the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Holahan is licensed to practice law in Texas.

ALA is pleased to participate once again in the Google Policy Fellowship program as it has from its 2007-8 inception. We look forward to working with Alisa Holahan on information policy topics that leverage her strong background and fight for library interests with the Trump Administration and U.S. Congress.

Find more information the Google Policy Fellowship Program.

The post ALA announces Google Policy Fellow for 2017 appeared first on District Dispatch.

Harvard Library Innovation Lab: LIL Talks: Parsing Caselaw

Mon, 2017-04-17 16:41

In last week’s LIL talk, expert witness Adam Ziegler took the stand to explain the structure of legal opinions and give an overview of our country’s appellate process.

First on the docket was a general overview of our country’s judicial structure, specifically noting the similarities between our federal and state systems, which both progress from district courts, to appellate courts, to supreme courts.

Next, we dissected several cases which would eventually be heard by the US Supreme Court. While some elements, such as a list of attorneys and the opinion text, are standard in all cases, each court individually decides how their cases will be formatted. They are, however, often forced to work within the guidelines and workflows specified by their contracted publishers.

In our Caselaw Access Project, we’re working on friendlier, faster, totally open, and more data-focused systems for courts to publish opinions. For more information, please send an email to:

Terry Reese: Can my ILS be added to MarcEdit’s ILS Integration?

Mon, 2017-04-17 14:32

This question has shown up in my email box a number of times over the past couple of days.  My guess, it’s related to the youtube videos recently posted demonstrating how to setup and use MarcEdit directly with Alma.

  1. Windows Version:
  2. Mac Version:


Folks have been curious how this work was done, and if it would be possible to do this kind of integration on their local ILS system.  As I was answering these questions, it dawned on me, others may be interested in this information as well — especially if they are planning to speak to their ILS vendor.  So, here are some common questions currently being asked, and my answers.

How are you integrating MarcEdit with the ILS?

About 3 years ago, the folks at Koha approached me.  A number of their users make use of MarcEdit, and had wondered if it would be possible to have MarcEdit work directly with their ILS system.  I love the folks over in that community — they are consistently putting out great work, and had just recently developed a REST-based API that provided read/write operations into the database.   Working with a few folks (who happen to be at ByWaters, another great group of people), I was provided with documentation, a testing system, and a few folks willing to give it a go — so I started working to see how difficult it would be.  And the whole time I was doing this, I kept thinking – it would be really nice if I could do this kind of thing with our Innovative Interfaces (III) catalog.  While III didn’t offer an API at the time (and for the record, as of 4/17/2017, they still don’t offer a viable API for their product outside of some toy API for dealing primarily with patron and circulation information), I started to think beyond Koha and realized that I had an opportunity to not just create a Koha specific plugin but use this integration as a model to develop an integration framework in MarcEdit.  And that’s what I did.  MarcEdit’s integration framework can potentially handle the following operations (assuming the system’s API provides them):

  1. Bibliographic and Holdings Records Search and Retrieval — search can be via API call, SRU or Z39.50
  2. Bibliographic and Holdings Records creation and update
  3. Item record management


I’ve added tooling directly into MarcEdit that supports the above functionality, allowing me to plug and play an ILS based on the API that they provide.  The benefit is that this code is available in all versions of MarcEdit, so once the integration is created, it works in the Windows version, the Linux version, and the Mac version without any additional work.  If a community was interested in building a more robust integration client, then I/they could look at developing a plugin — but this would be outside of the integration framework, and takes a significant amount of work to make cross-platform compatible (given the significant differences in UI development between Windows, the MacOS, and Linux).

This sounds great, what do you need to integrate my ILS with MarcEdit?

This has been one of the most common questions I’ve received this weekend.  Folks have watched or read about the Alma integration, and wondered if I can do it with their ILS.  My general answer, and I mean this, is that I’m willing to integrate any ILS system with MarcEdit, so long as they can provide the available API end points that make it possible to:

  1. Search for bibliographic data (holdings data is a plus)
  2. Allow for the creation and update of bibliographic data
  3. Utilize an application friendly authentication process, that hopefully allows the tool to determine user permissions


This is a pretty low bar.  Basically, an API just needs to be present; and if there is one, then integrating the ILS with MarcEdit is pretty straightforward.

OK, so my ILS system has an API, what else do I need to do?

This is where it gets a bit trickier.  ILS systems tend to not work well with folks that are not their customers, or who are not other corporations.  I’m generally neither, and for the purposes of this type of development, I’ll always be neither.  This means that getting this work to happen generally requires a local organization within a particular ILS community to champion the development, and by that, I mean either provide the introductions to the necessary people at the ILS, or provide access to a local sandbox so that development can occur.  This is how the Alma integration was first initiated.  There were some interested folks at the University of Maryland that spent a lot of time working with me and with ExLibris to make it possible for me to do this integration work.  Of course, after getting started and this work gained some interest, ExLibris reached out directly, which ultimately made this a much easier process.  In fact, I’m rarely impressed by our ILS community, but I’ve been impressed by the individuals at ExLibris for this specifically.  While it took a little while to get the process started, they do have open documentation, and once we got started, have been very approachable in answering questions.  I’ve never used their systems, and I’ve had other dealings with the company that have been less positive, but in this, ExLibris’s open approach to documentation is something I wish other ILS vendors would emulate.

I’ve checked, we have an API and our library would be happy to work with you…but we’ll need you to sign an NDA because the ILS API isn’t open

Ah, I neglected above to mention one of my deal-breakers and why I have not at present, worked with the APIs that I know are available in systems like Sirsi.  I won’t sign an NDA.  In fact, in most cases, I’ll likely publish the integration code for those that are interested.  But more importantly, and this I can’t stress enough, I will not build an integration into MarcEdit to an ILS system where the API is something that must be purchased as an add-on service, or requires an organization to purchase a license to “unlock” the API access.  API access is a core part of any system, and the ability to interact, update, and develop new workflows should be available to every user.  I have no problem that ILS vendors work with closed sourced systems (MarcEdit is closed source, even though I release large portions of the components into the public domain, to simplify supporting the tool), but if you are going to develop a closed source tool, you have a responsibility to open up your APIs and provide meaningful gateways into the application to enable innovation.  And let’s face it, ILS systems have sucked at this, and much to the library community’s detriment.  This really needs to change, and while the ability to integrate with a tiny, insignificant tool like MarcEdit isn’t going to make an ILS system more open, I personally get to make that same choice, and I have made the choice that I will only put development time into integration efforts on ILS systems that understand that their community needs choices and actively embraces the ability for their communities to innovate.  What this means, in practical terms, is if your ILS system requires you or I to sign an NDA to work with the API, I’m out.  If your ILS system requires you or their customers to pay for access to the API through additional license, training, or as an add-on to the system (and this one particularly annoys me), I’m out.  As an individual, you are welcome to develop the integrations yourself as a MarcEdit plugin, and I’m happy to answer questions and help individuals through that process, but I will not do the integration work in MarcEdit itself.

I’ve checked, my ILS system API meets the above requirements, how do we proceed?

Get in touch with me at  The actual integration work is pretty insignificant (I’m just plugging things into the integration framework), usually, the most time consuming part is getting access to a test system and documenting the process.

Hopefully, that answers some questions.







Islandora: Report from a release stance: Islandora 7.x-1.9RC2 VM available and only 14 days left for release

Mon, 2017-04-17 13:10

Spring is here and so is also our Release Candidate 2 Islandora 7.x-1.9 Machinery.

A wonderful scented bouquet of colourfull islandora modules was updated to 7.x-1.9 RC2 version and I'm happy to announce that also an incredible (and even) number of 48 bugs have been fixed since this release process started, which of course speaks good of you people. Not counting community participation, documentation work and general engagement, which would make that number close to infinite.   Also no dangerous, critical or even medium risk "Bugs" are open or in an irresolute state, which could mean that even small fixes could still get into this release because we don't know what to do with so much free time =)   Before: Give this a look again (by know you should already dream with this),-Document,-or-Test-an-Islandora-Release   How to use Testing Machine: Passwords, which URL, other questions, are answered here.   VirtualBox or VMware   Virtual Machine is available and ready to be tested at   etag is 4947dada98abb576c9968be1d0db96f3 and Md5 is: 4947dada98abb576c9968be1d0db96f3 (hu they match!)   Old good terminal action   git clone -b 7.x-1.9
cd islandora_vagrant
vagrant up   wait for it...   vagrant ssh   This particular VM is reduced in cholesterol but same old flavour. Which means you will be downloading 1.3 Gbytes less of 1 and 0 than before, leaving more time for easter egg hunts, eating easter eggs any other social/outdoor activity you prefer this weekend (who are we to impose what to do with your free time?)   Need help? Did I say something wrong? The VM does not work? Too informal? Write me directly to Also on general Q/A, don't hesitate to reach out, contact us/me/or Melissa Anez (Project & Community Manager) if you have questions (email, IRC or Skype).   Nothing more to say than thanking you all for your feedback, pull requests and help.  Enjoy this community code. Test, explore and find / document/ bugs    Thanks again for making Islandora happen, over and over, at least twice a year.   Diego Pino Navarro / Islandora 7.x-1.9 release manager  

HangingTogether: New skill sets for metadata management

Mon, 2017-04-17 12:00

That was the topic discussed recently by OCLC Research Library Partners metadata managers, initiated by Jennifer Baxmeyer of Princeton, Dawn Hale of Johns Hopkins University and MJ Han of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Educating and training catalogers has been at the forefront of many discussions in the metadata community. Today’s changing landscape calls for skill sets needed by both new professionals entering the field and seasoned catalogers to successfully transition to the emerging linked data and semantic web environment. Catalogers are learning about and experimenting with BIBFRAME while remaining responsible for traditional bibliographic control of collections. Metadata specialists utilize tools for metadata mapping, remediation, and enhancement. They identify and map semantic relationships among assorted taxonomies to make multiple thesauri intelligible to end users. For the more technical aspects of metadata management, we increasingly see competition for talent from other industries. This may intensify as metadata becomes more central to various areas of government, non-profit, and private enterprise.

Managers want to focus less on specific schema and more on metadata principles that can be applied to a range of different formats and environments. Desired soft skills included problem solving, effective collaboration, willingness—even eagerness—to try new things, understanding researchers’ needs, and advocacy. Although some metadata specialists have always enjoyed experimenting with new approaches, they lack the time to learn new tools or methodologies while keeping up with their routine work assignments. We should promote metadata as an exciting career option to new professionals in venues such as library schools and ALA’s New Members Roundtable. Emphasizing that metadata encompasses much more than library cataloging can increase its appeal, for example: entity identification, descriptive standards used in various academic disciplines, and describing born-digital, archival and research data that can interact with the semantic Web. As one participant noted, “We bring order out of a vacuum.”

Metadata increasingly is being created outside the library by academics and students who receive minimal training, leading to a need for more catalogers with record maintenance skills. Participants noted the need for technical skills such as simple scripting, data remediation, and identity management to reconcile equivalents across multiple registries.  Frequently mentioned sources of instruction include Library Juice Academy, MARCEdit tutorials,, Library of Congress Training Webinars, ALCTS Webinars, Code Academy, Software Carpentry and conferences such as Code4Lib and Mashcat. W3C’s recently published Data on the Web Best Practices and Semantic Web for the Working Ontologist were recommended reading. Crucial to the success of such training is to be able to quickly apply what has been learned. If new skills are not used, people forget what they have learned. Staff feel frustrated when they have invested the time to learn something that they cannot use in their daily work regularly.

We’ve seen a big shift from relying on instructions from the Library of Congress to self-education from multiple sources. Some approaches mentioned by participants:

  • Emphasize continuity of metadata principles when introducing an expanded scope of work.
  • Take advantage of the Library Workflow Exchange, a site designed to help librarians share workflows and best practices across institutions, including scripts.
  • From the recent Electronic Resources & Libraries Conference: “Don’t wait; iterate!” In other words, rather than waiting until staff have all the required skills, let them do tasks iteratively, learning as they go, so they are ready for new tasks when the time comes.
  • Have small groups of metadata specialists take programming courses together, after which they can continue to meet and discuss ways to apply their new skills to automate routine tasks.
  • Send staff to events such as OCLC’s DEVCONNECT, OCLC Developer Conference being held on 8-9 May 2017 to learn from libraries using OCLC APIs to enhance their library operations and services.
  • Create reading and study groups that include cross-campus or cross-divisional staff.
  • Expand the scope of current work to enable metadata specialists to apply their skills to new domains or terminology, such as using Dublin Core for digital collections. Involve staff in digital projects from the conceptual stage to developing project specifications, quality assurance practices and tool selection. As an added bonus, this fosters collaborative teamwork relationships.
  • Hire graduate students in computer science for short-term tasks such as creating scripts. The students need money and the library needs their skills.

The extent of collaboration with IT or systems staff varies among institutions. Such collaboration is necessary for many reasons, including managing data that is outside the library’s control. Some noted that “cultural differences” exist between the professions: developers tend to be more dynamic and focus on quick prototyping and iteration, while librarians focus first on documenting what is needed and are more “schematic.”  Which is more likely to be successful: teaching metadata specialists IT skills or teaching IT staff metadata principles?  The “holy grail” is to recruit someone with an IT background interested in metadata services. Retaining staff with IT skills is difficult—if they are really good, they can find higher-paying jobs in the private sector. Ideally, metadata managers would like a few staff who have the technical skills to take batch actions on data, or at least know how to use the external tools available to automate as many tasks as possible.

About Karen Smith-Yoshimura

Karen Smith-Yoshimura, senior program officer, works on topics related to creating and managing metadata with a focus on large research libraries and multilingual requirements.

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Terry Reese: MarcEdit Updates Posted

Sun, 2017-04-16 21:12

Change log below:


Mac Updates: 2.3.12 ************************************************** ** 2.3.12 ************************************************** * Update: Alma Integration Updates: New Create Holdings Record Template * Update: Integration Framework refresh: corrects issues where folks were getting undefined function errors. * Update: the #xx field syntax will be available in the Edit field and Edit indicator functions. This means users will be able to edit all 6xx fields using the edit field function by using 6xx in the field textbox. * Update: SRU Library updates to provide better error checking (specific for Windows XP) * Update: Adding support for the Export Settings command. This will let users export and import settings when changing computers. Windows Updates: 6.3.2 * Update: Alma Integration Updates: New Create Holdings Record Template * Update: Integration Framework refresh: corrects issues where folks were getting undefined function errors. * Update: the #xx field syntax will be available in the Edit field and Edit indicator functions. This means users will be able to edit all 6xx fields using the edit field function by using 6xx in the field textbox. * UI Updates: All comboboxes that include 0-999 field numbers in the Edit Field, Edit Subfield, Swap Field, Copy Field, etc. have been replaced with Textboxes. Having the dropdown boxes just didn't seem like good UX design. * Enhancement: RunAs32 bit mode on the 64 bit systems (for using Connexion) has been updated. Also, I'll likely be adding a visual cue (like adding * 32 to the Main window title bar) so that users know that the program is running in 32 bit mode while on a 64 bit system. * Enhancement: MarcEdit 7 Update Advisor * Update: SRU Library updates to provide better error checking (specific for Windows XP)


Terry Reese: MarcEdit 7 Upgrade Advisor

Sun, 2017-04-16 19:12

This post is related to the: MarcEdit and the Windows XP Sunsetting conversation

I’ll be updating this periodically, but I wanted to make this available now.  One of the biggest changes related to MarcEdit 7, is that I’m interested in building against an updated version of the .NET framework.  Tentatively, I’m looking to build against the 4.6 framework, but would be open to building against the 4.5.2 framework.  To allow users to check their local systems, and provide me with feedback — I’m including an upgrade advisor.   This will be updated periodically as my plans related to MarcEdit 7 come into shape.

You can find the upgrade advisor under the Help menu item on the Main MarcEdit Window.

Upgrade Advisor Window:





As I’ve noted, my plan is to build against the 4.6 .NET Framework.  This version of the .NET framework is supported on Windows Vista-Windows 10.



Library of Congress: The Signal: Identity Crisis: The Reality of Preparing MLS Students for a Competitive and Increasingly Digital World

Fri, 2017-04-14 12:57

This is a guest post by Mary Kendig, a student of the Master of Information Science program and the research coordinator for the DCIC Center at the University of Maryland.

The Problem                                                   

With the explosive emergence of computers and information technology since the 1960’s, electronic records have overwhelmed librarians and archivists. Federal agencies have responded in kind as evidenced by 30 years of investments in research partnerships and e-records. Over $11 million and 90 projects have been counted from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and tens of millions more from NARA, NEH, IMLS, LOC, Mellon, and others.

As access portals are built and information infrastructure is constructed, is vital for librarians, archivists, and curators to collaborate in the design of digital archives and repositories, in concert with computer engineers, data scientists, and programmers. However, when digital software or information system projects are required to sustain online collections, programmers and computer scientists are at the helm to update, migrate, and build these storage systems.

The trend to not hire librarians and archivists for libraries and archives is not limited to information infrastructure. Upper management and project leader positions are filled with business majors and project management institute certificates, regardless of their experience with libraries or MLS education. Even simple website modifications to increase online traffic and digital record use is offered to social media coordinators and basic programmers rather than public outreach librarians. The data and computational social science librarian for Stanford University Libraries is Dr. Ken Nakao, a Stanford graduate with a chemical engineering degree. The research data manager for New Castle Libraries in the United Kingdom, Dr. Chris Emmerson, gained his doctorate in Transportation Engineering.

Greg Jensen, software architect, working with UMD’s Cyberinfrastructure Center to store records gifted by NARA.

I correlate this recent trend to the current education offered in Master of Library of Science (MLS) programs. Despite our awareness in the 60’s and efforts in the 90’s to maintain electronic records, MLS programs have been slow to enact major modifications to their programs that will train students for the future. Interview current MLS students and those who received their degree in the last 5 years, and they quietly confess their degree did not adequately prepare them for the electronic record influx. Monitor any MLS program in the United States and abroad, and one will notice name modifications as well as slow yearly program revisions.

In the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland, the MLS program has undergone multiple iterations through their “re-envisioning the MLS” efforts; this is reflected in the program’s Fall 2016 name change from Master of Library Science to Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS). While previous coursework centered on traditional archiving, the program now embraces more electives in digital curation and data management for libraries, offering a specialization in Archives and Digital Curation. Several universities have dropped “library” or “archival” from the name all together; for instance, the University of Iceland now offers the Master of Information Science with specialization options such as Electronic Records Management. When asked about the removal, Dr. Jóhanna Gunnlaugsdóttir admitted that employers outside libraries were confused or uninformed regarding the degree. Furthermore, graduates could only attain small reference positions within their own library institutions and failed to gain upward mobility.

While universities attempt to rebrand their programs to give students competitive advantage, course revisions arise slower. For many MLS programs, database or information system design is not a mandatory requirement, even though catalog records and digital collections are managed through these systems. Programming is an afterthought, despite many repositories and catalogs now providing Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). With probabilistic methods and algorithms, researchers in

Students attending an ArchivesSpace lecture by Dr. Adam Kriesberg outside of normal coursework

the Traces through Time project at the National Archives (UK) are attempting connect people within genealogical records across collections and assign confidence that the connection is accurate, requiring major coursework in data science. Only recently have MLS programs strived to embed technology and data intensive skills into their programs, and many students elect to enroll by their own desire to attain well-paying jobs following graduation.

The opportunity to work with medieval transcripts in the rare book special collections is limited to a select few. It is time for MLS students to fully embrace available digital jobs and data management positions. As educators and industry professionals, it is time we admit that across the United States, Europe, South America, and Asia, the Master of Library and Information Science program is facing an identity crisis amongst the digital revolution, and students are facing the consequences.

Please take a moment to catch your breath and reflect on my message, however controversial you feel it is!

Good. I am aware that stating a problem is vastly different than solving a problem, in regards to simplicity and bureaucratic politics across the profession. With this in mind, I will be reflecting on existing/potential solutions over the next several paragraphs, which will include three major statements and explanations.

1. We need to offer and encourage students to enroll technology intensive courses and programs.

There was a time when textual processing and special collection courses supported students entering libraries and archives. However, as budgets are cut and libraries go digital, the path to sustainable and well-paying careers involves co-developing infrastructure to hold, curate, and provide access to online collections and data. To qualify for these careers, job listings require various programming languages, experience in information system design or web enabled databases, automation techniques, and data analysis.

There is an emerging coalition of librarians, archivists, and computer scientists, composed of researchers and educators from Canada, the UK, and the US, who are responding to the technological challenges by introducing computational methods to libraries and archives. Under the moniker of Computational Archive Science (CAS), the coalition is promoting an interdisciplinary field concerned with the application of computational methods and resources to sustain large-scale records/archives processing, analysis, storage, long-term preservation, and access. In this vein, the Library of Congress has recently explored the theme of “collections as data”, as seen in its conference September 27, 2016 titled Collections as Data: Stewardship and Use Models to Enhance Access. In the past two years, this coalition has strived to develop novel coursework to sustain MLS students in electronic record management and information careers.

Based on present research and problems faced by modern institutions, the coursework ranges from computational linguistics and network analysis to graph databases and big data infrastructure. To better equip students, MLS programs must introduce the theory and practice of managing digital born records and information objects at scale. The courses must expose students to technology, software, and techniques utilized by computer engineers and data scientists to sustain large record collections. Exposure includes physically working with these tools on existing collections and repositories at scale. A semester long practicum with institutional collections may be necessary to give students hand on experience with electronic record accession, processing, maintenance, migration, and storage.

In addition to offering more technologically intensive courses, MLS programs must mandate basic online information infrastructure courses. At a minimum, relational database or information system design should represent a core requirement. Electronic record management in digital repositories should take its place amongst the introduction courses. Even if students are disinterested in building infrastructure for online collections, they must be exposed to the technology.

2. We need research organizations/projects for students to gain digital skills and hands on experience

With coursework reflecting digital provenance theory, appraisal techniques, and OAIS standards, students need time to work through the motions of physically implementing digital projects and electronic preservation. This must include exposure to existing software and computer skills necessary to move electronic objects through the record lifecycle; this includes born-digital records and paper records digitized for preservation purposes. For optimum experience, students must be involved from project conception to completion and lessons learned, and have the opportunity to lead the project or make major project decisions

I work for the Digital Curation Innovation Center (DCIC) at the University of Maryland, an iSchool center dedicated to integrating research and education through Big Record and Archival Analytic partnerships. We have over 50 student volunteers who work on these projects to gain hand

Visualization analyzing archival data from US Holocaust men and women in 1940 France by created Yuting Lao, PhD, Information Science at University of Maryland

s on experience with curating digital collections, both born-digital and digitized, or building infrastructure to maintain records at scale. Students volunteer for the DCIC because they are able to experiment with industry software and techniques on projects provided by library and archival institutions. For example, in the Mapping Inequality Project, students digitize historical maps and stretch them across modern

google maps to understand geographical and societal changes. These maps were collected from the US National Archives through team digitization efforts. In the Overseas Pension Project, students digitally reunify US Civil War letters from foreign soldiers attempting to collect their veteran pensions, health records describing their various conditions, and state pension tables through graph and relational databases to improve genealogical services and understand important economic data. In the St. Louis Voyage Project, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum supplied data from patrons and users so that students could visualize the experience of the SS St. Louis and its passengers. Finally, in the DRAS-TIC Project (Digital Repository at Scale That Invites Computation), students are engaged in developing and testing innovative cyberinfrastructure that scales to billions of records and leverages distributed scalable NoSQL frameworks. In each project, MLS students are working with institutional professionals, fellow data scientists, and programmers to curate these historical collections and build infrastructures to maintain them.  Our institution is not unique in its endeavors, as the Digital Curation Centre in Edinburgh explores data curation and management in academic libraries.

With realistic research organizations and projects, students are equipped to handle the problems faced in implementing digital projects and preserving electronic records within their institutions. Furthermore, the students can point to physical project deliverables to say, “I designed that and I can design it for you.”

3. We need to collaborate with institutions to provide beneficial learning environments for students

The MLS field study can be the core foundation to student success in locating employment opportunities following graduation. Sadly, so many students view the field study as another program checkbox rather than the opportunity of a lifetime. This is likely due to the common practice of pairing students with institutions that give students the “busy work” of our profession or are unable to handle a student for the semester.

If MLS programs are demanding students to enroll in semester long courses that require 120 hours of

onsite institution work, then the environment must be rich and beneficial to the student, especially if the work is unpaid. Ideally, the environment must include technological elements and introduction to

St. Louis Voyage Project students meeting with USHMM coordinators and archivists

systems for maintaining records. Furthermore, the student must work with employees facing modern institution problems, such as budget cuts or locating resources for funding. These experiences must instill leadership and decision making skills into the students so they are equipped to handle electronic record influxes with a diminishing budget.

In addition to rich internship experience, institutions must actively engage with MLS programs through coursework, projects, and funding. The DCIC actively works with the National Archives, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Library of Congress, and National Park Service to provide collections, experience, and funding for MLS students. The Michigan State Archives actively engages with the school of Information at the University of Michigan. In the summer, students at the University of Iceland can enroll into a course that involves visiting and researching libraries across the country. The need for collaboration was further echoed by US National Archives specialist Mark Conrad at IEEE Big Data conference in December. In his presentation Collaboration is the Thing Conrad encourages researchers and institutions to “kick the tires” on new technology and notes several examples of collaboration in action with NARA. When institutions interact with academic programs, the active learning benefits both organizations. Students are exposed to the modern problems facing archives and libraries and are equipped to tackle them while institutions have access to advantageous research and work pools.

Final Thoughts

I am not afraid to admit that my analysis could very well be incorrect or jaded. In the end, the separation between librarians/archivists and computer/data scientists might have value.  Recently, attending the 12th International Digital Curation Conference in Edinburgh, my attention was directed to applying digital curation workflows to data science, academic libraries, and STEM research. Following several presentations on data management plans, text mining, and archival software storage for biological data

Overseas Pension Project students presenting digital archive research to the International Digital Curation Conference

, I commented to one of my student researchers, “I wish these types of courses were required in MLS programs so students could learn to work with this data and feel comfortable with such advance techniques.” I was shocked when they did not agree and responded that students did not necessarily join the MLS programs to build infrastructure for historical records or work in STEM driven libraries. After the conference, a different student admitted that they may drop the archives and digital curation specialization altogether because the presentations greatly modified their perception of working in modern libraries and archives.

As a previous NARA employee, federal librarian, and one semester MLS student, the student complaints of ill preparedness for library and archival careers in digitally motivated institutions haunts educators and research coordinators. I stand by my analysis; if we continue to separate librarians and archivists from technology, we put students at a severe disadvantage as archives, libraries and museums increasingly become digital, both through the influx of born-digital records and digitization of existing analogy collections.

It is time for library educators, archival professors, and program advisors to break from the past and modify their courses to include hand on experience with technology and project management. There is an urgency for MLS students to go beyond the theoretical study of provenance theory, OAIS standards, and managing textual records in cultural institutions. The MLS programs must swiftly implement information system courses, database design, and big data infrastructure into their programs, or at least offer a more technologically driven path. If current practice continues, we are knowingly setting up the students for failure despite our awareness of what the future holds.

As I read about the digital lab projects and library consortiums discussed in the Signal, I know universities and institutions are arming themselves for the digital revolution. I look forward to educators, industry professionals, and administrators collaborating to better train and equip their students to prepare for the fight. Librarians’ and archivists’ identity will remain constant as their mission is to preserve and provide access to information. The identity crisis is in the ability to continue the mission.