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District Dispatch: Coding in libraries is not just for experts

Mon, 2016-12-05 21:56

This post was written by Crystle Martin, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of California, Irvine and member of OITP’s Libraries Ready to Code project Advisory Committee. This is one of several blog posts coming this week in recognition of Computer Science Education Week and the work libraries are engaged in providing coding opportunities for youth. Follow along with #ReadytoCode @youthandtech. Check out #CSforAll too!

Diversity issues persist in the field of computer science. Early exposure of youth to computer science ideas can lead to envisioned futures in technology. Research has shown that youth as young as elementary age begin to form career plans. If youth do not receive exposure to activities like coding and computer science, then they are less likely to envision computer science as a career. This type of exposure is less available for youth who are from lower-quintile income households, which are continually, and by a growing margin, outspent by upper-quintile income households. This creates a residual equity gap for computer science as well as other fields. However, libraries are well positioned to help with this issue of exposure to coding through programs and workshops.

Los Angeles Public Library Coder Time

Creating programs and workshops within libraries may seem daunting with technology constraints and the even bigger issue of lack of staff expertise, but both of these issues can be easily gotten around. There are many coding activities which have minimal technology requirements, like free online coding programs such as Scratch and Spark. However, the bigger challenge may seem to be filling gaps in expertise among the staff. But it is not necessary for library staff to be experts in coding to run coding programs. Instead, what is necessary is for librarians to be willing to learn alongside the youth they teach and to be willing to try new things (and sometimes fail).

There are several avenues through which novice librarian coders can implement coding programs and workshops in their libraries. One way would be to invite older teens with the skill or interest to facilitate or help facilitate the workshops and programs. This allows the librarian to provide support in an area they may not feel they have the expertise in and also creates opportunities for youth to develop leadership skills and expand their own coding knowledge through teaching. A second approach is to use existing programs like those offered by the Coding for All project, a project undertaken by the Digital Media and Learning Hub at the University of California, Irvine; the Lifelong Kindergarten group at MIT; and the Berkman Center at Harvard University, and funded by the National Science Foundation. This project created workshops designed to be implemented by librarians with little to no coding experience. A third option is to frame the programs as co-learning experiences between the youth and the librarian. How can a librarian co-learn during a program? By using skills they use in all parts of their practice. Instead of having the answers, the librarian can say to a youth, “I don’t know the answer but we can figure it out together.” Because coding is about computational thinking, about iteration and problem solving, co-learning is an effective method of instruction.

In order for exposure to coding to become a long-term interest and then a career path, many different opportunities and components need to fall in place. However, libraries and library staff can create the initial stepping stone opportunities for youth to gain basic exposure and a basic interest in coding. From there, with support and mentorship from librarians and library staff, youth have the opportunity to develop long-term engagement and possibly envision a future career in computer science.

For more on the impacts and benefits early exposure to CS, see Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. For more information about early career path exploration, see The Development of Elementary-Aged Children’s Career Aspirations and Expectations.

The post Coding in libraries is not just for experts appeared first on District Dispatch.

District Dispatch: White House highlights Libraries Ready to Code for CSEdWeek

Mon, 2016-12-05 17:16

Los Angeles Public Library Coder Time

Marking the first day of Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek), today the White House issued a Fact Sheet: A Year of Action Supporting Computer Science for All celebrating the past year’s progress and announcing new actions in support of #CSForAll. Federal agencies like the Department of Education and the Institute of Museum and Library Services as well as national and local organizations are creating new or expanding current CS programs for youth. These efforts make a significant statement about the importance of all youth – regardless where they live, what school they attend, or where and when they choose to learn –  having access to CS, coding and programs that promote computational thinking skills.

On libraries, from the Fact Sheet (pdf):
“A broad range of organizations are responding to the President’s call to action by taking specific steps during CSEdWeek 2016 to help more students get exposure to computer science”:

American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy will release a new video demonstrating how libraries advance CS opportunities for youth for CSEdWeek 2016. Later this month, ALA is releasing the Ready to Code: Connecting Youth to CS Opportunity through libraries summary research report on CS education in library settings, sharing best practices and recommendations for increasing the pool of libraries providing activities that foster computational thinking skills.”

We are taking small but significant steps toward building excitement around Libraries as institutions committed to providing access to coding activates, increasing opportunities for youth to explore opportunities and interests enhanced through coding. Many libraries across the country are already Ready to Code. Is yours?

Follow OITP throughout the week @youthandtech #ReadytoCode and #CSForAll to share what you’re doing to be Ready to Code. Join the Thursday TweetChat from 3:00-4:00 eastern. We want to hear from you!

The post White House highlights Libraries Ready to Code for CSEdWeek appeared first on District Dispatch.

DPLA: Teagle Foundation Announces New Grant Supporting Education at DPLA

Mon, 2016-12-05 16:45

The Digital Public Library of America is delighted to announce that it has received a generous $150,000 grant from the Teagle Foundation to extend its work around curated sets of primary source materials for the classroom. For the last two years, with funding from the Whiting Foundation, DPLA has built Primary Source Sets with a diverse group of educators in K-12 and higher ed.

The new grant from the Teagle Foundation will allow for additional curation, professional development, conference presentations, and other outreach efforts to ensure that these sets are used widely and effectively in colleges and universities.

“We are tremendously excited to extend our work in education around primary source curation and inquiry-based learning to new audiences by continuing to work with our Education Advisory Committee,” said DPLA Curation and Education Strategist Franky Abbott. “This committee has provided invaluable service to DPLA over the past 18 months and we are so pleased to continue our collaboration with them.”

“Education is so important to DPLA’s mission,” said Executive Director Dan Cohen, “and we relish the opportunity to better reach a huge audience of students with free, open content. We are deeply grateful to the Teagle Foundation for this wonderful support.”

Although this grant focuses on higher ed, DPLA will continue to pursue activities in K-12 instruction, and continue to connect these sets with teachers and students across the country through outreach and partnerships such as PBS LearningMedia.

As part of the Teagle grant, DPLA will be opening a call for additional members of the Education Advisory Committee in early 2017.

District Dispatch: ConnectED Library Card Challenge seeks new recruits

Mon, 2016-12-05 15:41

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Urban Libraries Council (ULC) are seeking 60 new communities to participate in the second round of the ConnectED Library Card Challenge. The program will expand on the successes from the first round of the program by “documenting successful partnership models and practices, continuing to provide a space for participating communities to work together, and involving national organizations to expand the impact of the challenge.”

As part of the initiative, library executives, school superintendents, and elected officials are asked to worked together to align programs and resources in such a way that every student in their respective schools will be able to receive a library card and have access to the learning resources of America’s public libraries.

IMLS and ULC are also releasing Stepping Up to the ConnectED Library Challenge: A Call to Action, a report that highlights efforts by the first round of challenge communities and outlines strategies for successful partnerships.

“We are delighted to be continuing this groundbreaking work with the Urban Libraries Council,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. “All children should have access to the resources they need for success in school and life. The ConnectED Library Challenge is already making a real difference for students in communities across the country by connecting them to the valuable resources of their public libraries.”

“The work of the first 60 communities is just the tip of the iceberg in ensuring equal access to vital learning resources, closing achievement gaps, and providing a more integrated approach to education,” said ULC President and CEO Susan Benton. “We look forward to working with IMLS to broaden the impact by engaging more communities in building powerful partnerships to improve education outcomes.”

Below are several success stories shared by previous participants:

* Kansas City Public Library in Missouri shifted from signing students up for conventional cards to making school IDs into library cards. The initial change automatically enrolled about 10,000 K-12 students who previously did not have library cards. Now, all public school students in the Kansas City area have full access to public library resources, day or night, using their student IDs.

* When the mayor of Washington, D.C. prioritized connecting school IDs with library access, more than 70,000 middle- and high-school students received immediate access to the District of Columbia Public Library using their DC One Card student IDs. The effort also aimed to remove all barriers to participation, including fear of fines. Students under the age of 20 do not incur any fines or fees when using their DC One Cards for library access.

* In Ohio, Columbus Metropolitan Library and Columbus City Schools distributes “Kids Cards,” a library card that does not require a parent’s signature, during school visits to the local public library to encourage immediate use.

* In Arizona, Pima County Public Library and the Tucson Unified School District’s partnership includes training for more than 200 school staff, ranging from the superintendent and principals to learning support coordinators. The training familiarizes school personnel with a wide range of library learning resources that support student achievement.

The ConnectED Library Challenge, a part of the ConnectED initiative, was developed with IMLS direction and support. President Obama announced the initiative in 2015, along with the IMLS-supported Open eBooks initiative.

For more information about the ConnectED Library Challenge, see the IMLS website. To learn more about how to join round two of the Library Challenge, email Colleen Bragiel at the Urban Libraries Council.

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Terry Reese: MarcEdit Windows/Linux Update

Mon, 2016-12-05 06:17

I’ve posted a small update over the weekend to correct an encoding issue when using the Z39.50 client in batch mode and doing a raw query.  You can get the download from the downloads page ( or via the automated update tool.


Terry Reese: MarcEdit Mac Update

Mon, 2016-12-05 05:39

Posted a MarcEdit Mac update.  This syncs the task management and Edit shortcuts with the Windows version.

** 1.9.45
* Enhancement: Task Manager: Implemented the ability to include Edit Shortcuts in Tasks
* Enhancement: Task Manager: Updated Task Manager to complete  network task clean up (error messages, file locking)
* Enhancement: Preferences: Updated preferences to include dialogs to find files and folders.

You can get the file from the downloads page: or via the automated update tool.


Jonathan Rochkind: “Internet Archive Successfully Fends Off Secret FBI Order”

Sat, 2016-12-03 16:12

A DECADE AGO, the FBI sent Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, a now-infamous type of subpoena known as a National Security Letter, demanding the name, address and activity record of a registered Internet Archive user. The letter came with an everlasting gag order, barring Kahle from discussing the order with anyone but his attorney — not even his wife could know.

But Kahle did eventually talk about it, calling the order “horrendous,” after challenging its constitutionality in a joint legal effort with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union. As a result of their fight, the FBI folded, rescinding the NSL and unsealing associated court records rather than risk a ruling that their surveillance orders were illegal. “This is an unqualified success that will help other recipients understand that you can push back on these,” Kahle told reporters once the gag order was lifted.

The bureau continued to issue tens of thousands of NSLs in subsequent years, but few recipients followed in Kahle’s footsteps. Those who did achieved limited but important transparency gains; as a result of one challenge, a California District Court ruled in 2013 that the everlasting gag orders accompanying NSLs are unconstitutional, and last year Congress passed a law forcing the FBI to commit to periodically reviewing such orders and rescinding them when a gag is no longer necessary to a case.

Now, Kahle and the archive are notching another victory, one that underlines the progress their original fight helped set in motion. The archive, a nonprofit online library, has disclosed that it received another NSL in August, its first since the one it received and fought in 2007. Once again it pushed back, but this time events unfolded differently: The archive was able to challenge the NSL and gag order directly in a letter to the FBI, rather than through a secretive lawsuit. In November, the bureau again backed down and, without a protracted battle, has now allowed the archive to publish the NSL in redacted form.…

Filed under: General

William Denton: Laptop stickers

Fri, 2016-12-02 22:53

Today I finished wiping the hard drive on my old work laptop (by booting Ubuntu from a USB stick and running shred --verbose --iterations=25 --zero /dev/sda for complete and utter bit destruction) and handed it back in to library IT. Here are the stickers on the old one:

Old laptop.

And I’m off to a good start with the new one, with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Free Software Foundation, Tor and Zotero: four important allies in the modern library.

New laptop.

There’s a tiny Tor sticker over the webcam, too.

Jonathan Rochkind: “Harvesting Government History, One Web Page at a Time”

Fri, 2016-12-02 22:50

With the arrival of any new president, vast troves of information on government websites are at risk of vanishing within days. The fragility of digital federal records, reports and research is astounding.

No law protects much of it, no automated machine records it for history, and the National Archives and Records Administrationannounced in 2008 that it would not take on the job.

“Large portions of dot-gov have no mandate to be taken care of,” said Mark Phillips, a library dean at the University of North Texas, referring to government websites. “Nobody is really responsible for doing this.”

Enter the End of Term Presidential Harvest 2016 — a volunteer, collaborative effort by a small group of university, government and nonprofit libraries to find and save valuable pages now on federal websites. The project began before the 2008 elections, when George W. Bush was serving his second term, and returned in 2012.

It recorded, for example, the home page of the United States Central Command on Sept. 16, 2008, and the State Department’s official blog on February 13, 2013. The pages are archived on servers operated by the project, and are available to anyone.

The ritual has taken on greater urgency this year, Mr. Phillips said, out of concern that certain pages may be more vulnerable than usual because they contain scientific data for which Mr. Trump and some of his allies have expressed hostility or contempt.

Filed under: General

District Dispatch: Libraries work toward #CSForAll during CS Education Week

Fri, 2016-12-02 20:30

When this year’s Computer Science (CS) Education Week launches on Monday, December 5, we will celebrate the progress of CS and coding organizations, tech companies, youth-serving organizations and school and public libraries over the last year to help youth gain access to CS Education and develop computational thinking skills. Libraries are also active in developing coding programs for youth and through our Libraries Ready to Code project, we will be highlighting some of what we’ve learned throughout the week.

Computer Science Education Week is December 5-9, 2016

Why are we excited to take part in CS Education Week? While much of the national conversation about CS and coding centers around the K12 classroom, research shows that there are gaps in what’s available across the country and barriers preventing some kids from participating when there are options in school. We also know kids learn throughout the day, in and out of the classroom, on their own, with peers and in informal spaces like the library. Libraries can increase exposure to coding, inspire kids to explore their personal interests enhanced through coding, and help break down barriers to entry among certain groups – youth of color, low economic background and girls – who remain underrepresented in tech fields.

Why should we all be talking about libraries and coding? Libraries provide technology access, have trained information professionals and offer rich informal learning programs for youth. Libraries partner with community organizations and individuals who can bring their expertise into the library; in turn, librarians can go out into their communities to bring their programs to where the kids are. With more jobs coming from the tech sector than any other field, specifically those that include coding and require computational thinking skills, libraries are poised to help prepare youth for college and these emerging careers. Libraries Ready to Code can give a head start to kids in their communities.
Ready to Code? Here’s a taste of what you can expect next week:

  • Follow along all week using the #CSForAll hashtag.
  • Share what you do in your library using #ReadyToCode and @youthandtech.
  • Read a blog post or two and comment on the District Dispatch
  • Participate in the Libraries Ready to Code tweet chat Thursday, December 8 from 3:00-4:00 eastern time
  • Check ALA social media channels for an exciting announcement

Read about #CSForAll and check out this year’s call to action!

The post Libraries work toward #CSForAll during CS Education Week appeared first on District Dispatch.

DPLA: Mapping the Future of DPLA and Library of Congress Collaboration

Fri, 2016-12-02 19:52

As we announced earlier this week, we are excited and honored to welcome the Library of Congress as the newest member of the DPLA network. As a Content Hub, the Library of Congress will make a significant portion of its rich digital collections discoverable in DPLA, beginning with a series of 5,000 historical maps and eventually including a broad array of materials including images, music, and more.

DPLA Executive Director Dan Cohen, Board President Amy Ryan, board member Mary Minow, and former board member Laura DeBonis traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden as she signed the agreement Tuesday. While there, Cohen, Ryan, and Minow were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at a selection of the maps that will soon be available to all in DPLA alongside treasured historical resources from libraries, museums and historical societies across the country.

Hayden showed Cohen A plan of my farm on Little Huntg. Creek & Potomk. R., dating to 1766, which is part of the Library’s Revolutionary War map collection. That “farm” was Mount Vernon and the surveyor who created this map was George Washington.


A Library of Congress staff member introduces a 1776 reconnaissance map showing entrenchments at Princeton, NJ map to Ryan, Hayden, and Minow during their visit.


The DPLA team and Dr. Hayden took a look at a bird’s eye view of the Gettysburg Battlefield, part of the Civil War maps collection, soon to be accessible in DPLA.


This week’s partnership agreement represents a first step in what we plan to be a long term and multifaceted collaboration with the nation’s library. DPLA will offer the public – from students, to family researchers, to scholars – even more avenues through which to discover, explore, and use not only maps, but a diverse array of the Library of Congress’s unique collections.

Photos courtesy of Library of Congress.

Mashcat: Registration open for the 24 January 2017 Mashcat event in Atlanta

Fri, 2016-12-02 19:48

We are excited to announce that registration is now open for the second face-to-face Mashcat event in North America, which be held on January 24th, 2017, at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia. We invite you to view the schedule for the day as well as register at We have a strict limit on the number of participants who can attend in person, so register early!

The event will also be streamed as a free webinar, so if you cannot attend in person, registration for the webinar will open in January.

If you run into any issues with registering, you can email gmcharlt AT

Cynthia Ng: Code4libBC Day 2: Lightning Talks

Fri, 2016-12-02 19:35
Day 2 of Code4libBC lightning talks! A Coal Miner’s History: Mapping Digitized Audio Interviews (Daniel Sifton) digitized audio interviews of coal miners need to build support and resources for class use built tool to visualize distribution of subjects in d3 maps of base locations using mapping tool and a lot of CSS with student summaries … Continue reading Code4libBC Day 2: Lightning Talks

District Dispatch: Be “more library” than ever

Thu, 2016-12-01 22:52

In trying to make sense of the election results, a lot of people – including librarians – have wanted to “do” something to preserve democratic values. Increased civic engagement and advocacy is perhaps the obvious way to “do” something, but it is not effective unless many people are engaged, have a shared message and get off the couch. The March on Washington, Take Back the Night and peaceful Vietnam era “end the war” demonstrations are prime examples of what mobilization can achieve, but does today’s public really have the willpower and enthusiasm to take collective action? Or can we take baby steps as librarians to incrementally make a difference? 

One thought is to be “more library” than ever. You are at work anyway so it’s not really a big lift, right? Being more library means ensuring and increasing access to information for all people; building the digital and physical infrastructure to use technology to enhance learning and creativity; defending freedom of speech, intellectual freedom, and fair use; and protecting the very notion of sharing.

Here’s a great example of being “more library.”

The Wayback Machine of the Internet Archive, founded by Brewster Kahle, was mentioned on The Rachel Maddow Show last Tuesday. The Wayback Machine with its stored web page history was used by Rachel to uncover statements that Alabama Governor Bentley — embroiled in a sex scandal — now swears he never said. When Bentley’s longtime security chief Wendell Ray Lewis revealed details of the scandal for the investigation, he was terminated and filed an unlawful termination suit. The Governor said that “all of the outrageous claims” made by Lewis were “based on worn-out internet rumors, fake news and street gossip.” The Wayback Machine proved otherwise. (One could say that the Wayback Machine revealed “pre-truth.”) By archiving the nation’s web history, Kahle continues to advance the mission of libraries (aka “more library”), and it makes a difference every day.

Now Kahle is seeking funds to make an archived copy of the Wayback Machine and store it in Canada to protect its existence.

Kahle said “On November 9th in America, we woke up to a new administration promising radical change,” writes founder Brewster Kahle. “It was a firm reminder that institutions like ours, built for the long-term, need to design for change. For us, it means keeping our cultural materials safe, private and perpetually accessible. It means preparing for a web that may face greater restrictions. It means serving patrons in a world in which government surveillance is not going away; indeed, it looks like it will increase.”

No matter what political party a librarian may be affiliated with, librarians believe in the fundamental tenets of librarianship (which look a lot like the fundamental tenets of our democracy). We all want fairness, public access to information and preservation of the cultural record. We know that libraries matter more now than ever before. My hope is that we will take this opportunity to shine, to protect the public interest and to really be “more library.”

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Cynthia Ng: Code4libBC Day 1: Lightning Talks

Thu, 2016-12-01 21:33
Lightning talks from the first day of Code4libBC. Provincial Digital Library Update (Daniel Sifton/Caroline Daniels) Looking at what others have done * DPLA: gave presentation at code4lib portland about old system. New system based on PostgreSQL, Solr, Ruby-driven… * testing with VM using vagrant, ansible, elasticsearch, solr, ruby, rail console * Supplejack: 2nd generation platform, … Continue reading Code4libBC Day 1: Lightning Talks

District Dispatch: CopyTalk webinar rescheduled

Thu, 2016-12-01 19:24


The Thursday, December 1 CopyTalk webinar has been rescheduled for Thursday, January 5.

Due to technical difficulties, today’s CopyTalk webinar on the Section 108 video project has been rescheduled for January 5th at 2pm Eastern/11am Pacific. The URL for the rescheduled webinar is the same:

For additional details about the planned webinar, please check out our previous post.

The post CopyTalk webinar rescheduled appeared first on District Dispatch.

Cynthia Ng: Code4libBC Presentation: Getting Things Done: Discovering Efficiencies in Workflow

Thu, 2016-12-01 19:19
This lightning talk was presented at Code4lib BC 2016. For a copy of the slides, please see the presentation on SpeakerDeck (also below) or the version on GitHub. Context When I first started working in libraries, I did a lot of my work by myself. Certainly, I consulted other people that had an impact on … Continue reading Code4libBC Presentation: Getting Things Done: Discovering Efficiencies in Workflow

Library of Congress: The Signal: Wisdom is Learned: An Interview with Applications Developer Ashley Blewer

Thu, 2016-12-01 19:04


Blewer at the Association of Moving Image Archivists Conference, 2016

Ashley Blewer is an archivist, moving image specialist and developer who works at the New York Public Library. In her spare time she helps develop open source AV file conformance and QC software as well as standards such as Matroska and FFV1. Shes a three time Association of American Moving Image Archivists’ AV Hack Day hackathon winner and a prolific blogger and presenter who is committed to demystifying tech and empowering her peers in the library profession.

Describe what you do as an applications developer at the New York Public Library.

We have a lot of different applications here but I work specifically on the repository team and our priority right now is digital preservation and automated media ingest. So my day to day involves working on several different applications. We run different applications that run into each other — sets of microservice suites. I’m the monitor of these pipelines, getting images that have been digitized or video that has been digitized through to long-term digital preservation as well as enabling access on our various endpoints such as and This involves communicating with other stakeholders, communicating with developers on my team and writing code for each of those applications, doing code review and pushing that live to the different applications… It’s very much a full stack position.

The job is more unique on my team because we work on such a broad array of applications. What I find exciting about this job is that I get to touch a lot of different types of code in my day job and I’m not just working on one application. Right now I’m working on dealing with a couple bugs related to associating URIs to subject headings in our metadata management system. Sometimes the application doesn’t work as it should so I do bug fixes in that regard. Some things that I will be working on this week are integrating a connection between our archives portal displaying video live within it rather than linking out to a different website, automating audio transcoding from preservation assets, and contributing some core functionality upgrades to our Digital Collections site. Recently something that I did that was more access-based was we migrated our display of video assets from a proprietary closed-source system to an open-source rendering system.

We follow loosely an agile planning system. Right now we meet weekly because our priorities are very vast and they’re changing pretty quickly, so every Monday we meet with stakeholders and we talk about all the things we need to tackle over the week and what needs to be done and then we get to work. There’s around 16 total developers at NYPL but my team has three.

I was playing with some of the apps youve made, and Im fascinated with the Barthes Tarot and the Portable Auroratone. Could you walk me through your creative process for these?

A card from the Barthes Tarot app.

These are good examples because they’re different in the sense that with the Barthes Tarot I was reading Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse and thinking about how I could potentially use that in a randomized way to do fortune telling for myself. This is almost embarrassing, right, but maybe someone [would want to use it] to try to solve a romance-based problem, like getting their fortune told. I originally wanted to map it to I Ching, which was something that Barthes and other philosophers were interested in, but it ended up being too technically difficult, so I got lazy and downgraded it to tarot. And then I knew I could put this together by doing a random draw of the data and just pull that out. Technically it ended up not being too difficult of a problem to solve because I made it easier.

The Portable Auroratone is the opposite in that I found a [software] library that automatically generated really interesting colors and I wondered how I could use it in some sort of way. I thought about the Auroratone I had seen at some symposium [ Orphan Film Symposium 8, 2013 ] six years ago and I thought “Oh, ok, it kind of looked like that,” and I turned it into that. So one of these apps was me having a philosophical dilemma and the other one was me having a technical library that I wanted to integrate into something and I had to mesh an idea with that.

I get a lot of compliments on Twitter bots like @nypl_cats and @nypl_dogs which I also just made very quickly as a one off. I did that while I was finalizing my paperwork to work here, actually. I thought if I’m going to get this job I might as well learn how to use their API. The API is something else that I work on now so I was familiarizing myself with this tool that I will eventually push code to support.

You constantly share what youre learning and advocate for continued learning in our profession through your blog, presentations, etc.  How do you find the time to share so prolifically and why do you think its important to do so?

Yeah, I just came back from AMIA and I do really remember when at conferences why I do these things. As far as the first part of where I find the time, I don’t know, but I have been reflecting on how I’m maybe naturally introverted and this is something that I do to ramp up my own energy again, by working on something productive. Where other people might need to be out drinking with friends in order to chill, I need to be alone to chill, so it gives me more time to spend building different applications.

How do I summarize why I think this is important? I think about the positions I’ve been at and how I’ve thought about how I get to where I want to be and if those resources don’t exist then someone needs to build them. It’s so crucial to have a mentor figure in place to help you get to where you want to be and allowing people to discover that, especially related to technical issues. People just assume that the work I do in my day job now is much harder than it actually is, so if I can lower that barrier we can have more people learning to do it and more people can be more efficient in their jobs. Overall I think educating and empowering people helps the field much more substantially than if people are doing it alone in silos.

Can you talk about your career path to becoming a web applications developer?

I went to undergrad not really knowing what I wanted to do. I went to a state school because it was almost free and graphic design was the most practical of the art degrees you could get, and in a lot of ways librarianship is a practical advanced degree that people get as well. Coming to the point that I am now which is in a very technical role at a library I sort of see what I was doing as a response to the gendered feedback that I’d grown up with. I wrote an article about this before – where I didn’t necessarily feel comfortable studying something like computer science but then graphic design was still very computer- focused, technically-focused that was maybe more “appropriate” for me to do. I was encouraged to do that as opposed to being discouraged from doing something that I was already good at, which would have been something like computer science.

What skills do digital librarians and archivists need? Is learning to code necessary?

A lot of people are getting on board with learning to code and how everybody has to do that and I don’t necessarily feel that’s true, that’s not everyone’s interest and skill set, but I do think having an understanding of how systems work and what is possible is one hundred percent required. Light skills in that regard help people go a long way. I think that – and this is echoed by people similar to me – once you realize how powerful writing a script can be and automating dull aspects of your job, the more that you’re inclined to want to do it. And like what I said earlier – the more efficient we can be the better we are as archivists.

You do so much to contribute to the profession outside of your work at NYPL as well- contributing to open source formats and workflows, sharing resources, building apps. How do you find time for it all and what else do you want to do?

I feel like I waste a lot of time in my down time. I feel that I’m not doing enough and people are like “How do you do so much?” But there’s so much work to be done! As far as what I want to do,  I don’t know, everything I’m doing right now. Maybe I’m like a child that’s still feasting on an endless amount of candy. Now I have these opportunities that I’ve wanted to have and I’m taking them all and saying yes to everything.

A lot of what I do may be considered homework. As a developer, the way to get better at developing is purely just to solve more development problems. Making small applications is the only way to boost your own skills. It’s not necessarily like reading OAIS and understanding it in the same way you might if you were an archivist doing archivist homework. [Referencing graphic design background] The first design you do is not going to be good so you just do it again and you do it again and it’s the same thing with programming. One of the things I try to articulate to archivists is that programming kind of hurts all the time. It takes a really long time to overcome, because yeah, in school, you read a book or you write a paper and you’re expected to produce this result that has to be an A. With programming you try something and that doesn’t work and you try it again and you try it again and you think “Oh I’m so stupid I don’t know what I’m doing,” and that’s normal. I know this about myself and I think that’s the hardest thing to overcome when you are trying to learn these skills. It’s refreshing that even the smartest senior developers that I work with who are just incredible at their jobs all the time, still will pound the desk and be like “I’m so stupid, I don’t get this!” Knowing that’s a normal part of how things get done is the hardest thing to learn.

I’m happy to constantly be failing because I feel like I’m always fumbling towards something. I do think librarians and archivists tend to be people that had very good grades without too much effort, moving forward in life and so as soon as they hit a wall in which they aren’t necessarily inherently good at something that’s when the learning cuts off and that’s when I try to scoop people up and say “Here’s a resource where it’s ok to be dumb.” Because you’re not dumb, you just don’t have as much knowledge as someone else.

What do you want to do next?

Closed captioning is one of the big problems I’m excited about solving next within NYPL or outside of NYPL, whichever. If you don’t have it and you have 200,000 video items and they all need closed captioning to be accessible how do you deal with that problem?

What are five sources of inspiration for you right now? 

Recompiler: Especially the podcast since I listen to it on my commute, it’s such a warm introduction to technical topics.

Halt & Catch Fire: Trying to find another thing to watch when I am sleepy but I really just only want to watch this show. The emphasis on women’s complex narratives and struggles/growth within this show is unlike any other show I’ve ever watched.

Shishito Peppers: Dude, one in every ten are hot! I thought this was a menu trying to trick me but turns out its true! I like the surprise element of snacking on these.

Godel, Escher, Bach: I feel like this is the programmer’s equivalent of Infinite Jest. Everyone says they’ll read it one day but never get around to it. It’s such a sprawling, complex book that ties together patterns in the humanities and technology. Anyway, I am trudging through it.

AA NDSR Blog: So inspiring to read about the work of emerging professionals in the field of a/v digital preservation!


District Dispatch: New Lifeline broadband subsidy to be available 12/2—but options limited for now

Thu, 2016-12-01 19:00

Starting December 2, new rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) governing the Lifeline program for low-income consumers will go into effect. Most significantly, the program subsidy may be applied for the first time to standalone broadband offered by eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) or Lifeline Broadband Providers (LBPs). It is important to note, however, that no new LBPs have been approved yet, and ETCs may seek forbearance from these rules. For this reason, there may be few available Lifeline-eligible broadband options to low-income consumers in the immediate term.

Starting December 2, the Lifeline subsidy may be applied to standalone broadband.

Lifeline advocates (including ALA) continue to work with the FCC, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) that administers the Lifeline (and other universal service programs like E-rate) program, and internet service providers to increase the available options and public awareness of these options. The most current information available for consumers about the program, eligibility and how to apply is available at or by calling 888-641-8722 Ext. 1 or emailing for help.

For additional background, librarians and other digital inclusion advocates can review a recent archived USAC webinar, as well as read more about the program and recent rule changes here and here.

While not specific to the Lifeline program, non-profit EveryoneOn provides an online portal to explore low-cost broadband, low-cost devices and digital literacy training options by zip code, which is another resource librarians may share with patrons:

Stay tuned! Lifeline advocates are looking to spring 2017 to boost Lifeline awareness after more options have been added and new resources and information are available to help low-income people find the best service for them. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more.

The post New Lifeline broadband subsidy to be available 12/2—but options limited for now appeared first on District Dispatch.

LITA: Submit Your Nomination for a LITA Award

Thu, 2016-12-01 17:00

Did you know that LITA co-sponsors three different awards, all of which recognize achievements in the field of library technology? We’re currently accepting nominations for all of them, so nominate yourself or a colleague today!

LITA/Ex Libris Student Writing Award

The LITA/Ex Libris Student Writing Award is given for the best unpublished manuscript on a topic in the area of libraries and information technology written by a student or students enrolled in an ALA-accredited library and information studies graduate program. The winning article is published in LITA’s refereed journal, Information Technology and Libraries (ITAL). $1,000  award and a certificate.
Nomination form (PDF); February 28, 2017 deadline

LITA/Library Hi Tech Award For Outstanding Communication for Continuing Education

This Award recognizes outstanding achievement in educating the profession about cutting edge technology through communication in continuing education within the field of library and information technology. It is given to an individual or institution for a single seminal work, or a body of work, taking place within (or continuing into) the preceding five years. $1,000 award and a plaque.
Nomination form; January 5, 2017 deadline

LITA/OCLC Frederick G. Kilgour Award for Research in Library and Information Technology

This award recognizes research relevant to the development of information technologies, in particular research showing promise of having a positive and substantive impact on any aspect of the publication, storage, retrieval and dissemination of information or how information and data are manipulated and managed. $2,000 award, an expense paid trip to the ALA Annual Conference (airfare and two nights lodging), and a plaque.
Nomination instructions; December 31, 2016 deadline