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Open Knowledge Foundation: Bridging the gap between journalism and data analysis

Thu, 2017-10-05 12:15

This blogpost was written by Chikezie Omeje,  Kunle Adelowo and Vershima Tingir as part of the Open Data for Development (OD4D) embedded fellowship programme. This recently initiated programme is designed to build the organisational capacity of civil society organisations to use data effectively by raising the level of data literacy of the staff of the partner organisation(s), supporting the organisation(s) to deliver a specific data project, and developing an initial data strategy for the organisation’s future engagement. Chikezie Omeje is a journalist at the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), Kunle Adelowo and Vershima Tingir are developers at the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC). They are all based in Abuja.

OD4D is a global network of leaders in the open data community, of which Open Knowledge International forms part, working together to develop open data solutions around the world. For this fellowship the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) will develop the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) capacity to investigate and report on open contracting related stories. 

The threat to traditional journalism

Older journalists will agree that journalism is no longer what it used to be. It is rapidly changing. Within the past decade, the profession has been disrupted to the extent that the question of who is a journalist is now difficult to answer. Technology has democratised journalism in a way that is now within the reach of anyone who is interested. The rise of social media and digital publishing platforms have made it easier for those who were formally referred to as audience to become news producers.  Members of the audience who are interested in journalism can now do the work of a journalist comfortably. The traditional line between journalists and audience has been blurred. Anyone who has the digital tools can produce and publish news without the help of a journalist.

This disruption in the media industry presents both a threat and an opportunity for journalists. This threat can be seen in the declining  revenue of legacy media organisations  which means traditional journalists now stand to lose their jobs. The old business model of journalism is no longer sustainable and journalists are facing fierce competition from a multitude of individual, online publishers. The implication is that being just a journalist who covers and writes news stories is no longer enough. Anybody who is willing and able can do that now.

To survive the existential threat facing traditional journalism, journalists need to build new skills that were not even taught in journalism schools a decade ago. The emergence of  buzz words such as “tech-savvy journalist” and  “data journalist”  in the newsroom is evidence of this shift. To practice journalism, every journalist needs to have digital skills that are imperative for 21st century journalism. As ordinary citizens are increasingly able to perform the work of journalism, a professional journalist  needs to take  further steps to acquire the necessary skills beyond the old concept of journalism.  Therefore, a journalist must have both the reporting and technical skills.

Among the skills that a journalist should have is the ability to process, analyse and visualise data. Despite the increasing amount of information that is now available to the citizens, people are still not adequately informed on critical issues bordering on data. This is why data journalism is receiving attention around the world. Data analysis and visualisation are useful skills for today’s journalist. A lot of critical information is buried in data and a journalist must now have the skills (or access to the skills)  to harness and report the data.

When journalists have data skills, it will facilitate timely production of high value and impactful information. But many journalists have been complaining on why they should acquire these technical skills. They often complain that the new skills being demanded of them are too technical and complicated.  For example, some journalists usually want to know why should they learn certain aspect of computer programming, arguing that it is so difficult.  The truth is that there are a growing number of digital tools that have made these essential skills easy to acquire which reduces the initial technical barrier for most journalists.

To become proficient in data journalism, there are three essential technical skills we think journalists would need.

Data Gathering, Conversion and Extraction Techniques

Reporters often get information from different sources. Information may be presented in different formats, some of which may not be directly usable until they are converted to another format. File formats like PDFs, HTML, hard copy documents makes it hard to gather data in a structured and reusable way. Therefore data presented in these formats have to be converted to more flexible, structured and reusable formats such as Excel, Word, and CSV. There are tools that make conversion easier and they require minimal technical capabilities to use. Some of these tools include Tabula for extracting tables from PDF to CSV, online optical character recognition (OCR) which is a handy tool for converting tables in scanned document to csv, small PDF etc.

Screenshot of Tabula interface

Screenshot of Online OCR web application

 Data cleaning tools

After gathering, conversion and extraction you would have all the data you want and more at your fingertips. Most times, the data you are looking for often come in large datasets and the data that you need might be a small portion of it.  Essentially, another set of skills that you will need to get exactly what  you are looking for will be how  to use data cleaning tools. Data cleaning is the process of correcting wrong fields by removing  or adding, rearranging a dataset. For this purpose, the go-to tool is Microsoft Excel. It is very powerful and can be used for simple tasks like sorting, filtering, simple maths and text functions, pivot tables and data validation.

Sort and filter buttons on Microsoft Excel

Visualisation tools

So now you have your data and it makes sense to you, but your job as a journalist is to gather this information and present to your audience. Among your audience you have people who like numbers: they like to see the exact digits in its rawest form while others are suckers for aesthetics. They want to see colors and animations that tell stories. For the latter, the solution would be visualisations and as you would guess, data visualisation would be to transform and present datasets in form of graphical representation. A typical example of this would be creating a bar chart out of the annual salary received by each employee of an organization. Simple tools that can be used to create data visualization include Microsoft Excel, Google charts.

To be a tech-savvy journalist, you need to step out of your comfort zone to acquire these essential skills. Journalism is changing rapidly and nobody has complete idea how journalism will be practiced in the next decade. This change  will not slow down as long as there are emerging technologies.The internet has made basic information readily and easily available, anybody with a computer and internet access can start a blog become a journalist. This has lowered the value of basic everyday information.Therefore journalist have to go the extra mile in using technology to do more factual reporting. Journalism is at the mercy of technology and those who cannot master these new technical tools can not report on more meaningful, factual and high value information. The worst thing that can happen to a journalist is to be outdated or irrelevant in the new demands of the profession.

Raffaele Messuti: Anonymous webarchiving

Thu, 2017-10-05 09:00

Webarchiving activities, as any other activity where an HTTP client is involved, leave marks of their steps: the web server you are visiting or crawling will save your IP address in its logs (or even worse it can decide to ban your IP). This is usually not a problem, there are plenty of good reasons for a webserver to keep logs of its visitors.
But sometimes you may need to protect your own identity when you are visiting or saving something from a website, and there a lot of sensitive careers that need this protection: activists, journalist, political dissidents.
TOR has been invented for this, and today offer a good protection to browse anonymously the web.
Can we also archive the web through TOR?

Islandora: Islandora CLAW Install Sprint 2 - Call for Stakeholders

Wed, 2017-10-04 19:57

After a very successful sprint install sprint, we now have a functional Ansible installer, claw-playbook, which is very close to feature parity with our original vagrant installer, claw_vagrant.  In order to take claw-playbook over the finish line and continue its development, the Islandora Foundation is seeking volunteers for stakeholders in a community sprint.  Topics to be covered on the sprint are left up to the discretion of the stakeholders, though obvious next steps would be RHEL/CENTOS support and multi-server setups.

We're scheduling the work for the weeks of November 6th and 13th, after the 7.x-1.10 release and before American Thanksgiving. If you or your organization are interested in helping us advance the current state of CLAW and picking up some valuable experience, please add your name to the signup sheet.  If you want to learn more about becoming a stakeholder, please check this document for more information.


LITA: Jobs in Information Technology: October 4, 2017

Wed, 2017-10-04 19:13

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

New This Week

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Director of Library Information Technology, San Luis Obispo, CA

Meridian Library District, Digital Services Librarian, Meridian, ID

JKM Library, Digital Instruction Librarian, Chicago, IL

Kansas State University Libraries, Systems Administrator, Manhattan, KS

Hofstra University Law Library, Assistant Director for Access & Collection Services, Hempstead, NY

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


Islandora: We didn't stop to think if we should: Islandora 7.x-1.10 RC1 VM is available

Wed, 2017-10-04 18:01
A new Islandora 7.x-1.10, Release Candidate 1, Virtual Machine is ready to be downloaded. An updated islandora_vagrant GitHub branch available for cloning. Both waiting for you to start testing.   Final call! Gathering all testers, documenters, maintainers, committers, users, lurkers and their families. Let the chase for mighty bugs and un-documented features begin!   Notes: If you signed up and forgot what you signed up for: Release Sign-up Spreadsheet   If you want to make testing more reliable and systemic: (Thanks so much, Kim Pham++!) Experimental Testing Framework Spreadsheet   Before going crazy testing remember (no need to print, global warming etc)   What to expect: just a working, clean, vanilla Islandora 7.x-1.10 VM RC1 machine. RC1 means there can be bugs, things can misbehave, etc.  What is new?: this VM makes use of recent improvements coming from our DevOps IG's hard work, including a newer version of Tomcat, Solr 4.10.4 (new base box) + other goodies. In our humble opinion, a fuller, richer, more evolved Islandora experience. How to use: Passwords, which URL, other Questions, are answered here.   VirtualBox
  • ETag = "3cde80414cd567584038bceee7bd06df"
  • Download the OVA file (1.9 Gbytes)! (reduce by 1.3Gb!!)
  • md5 hash of that ova file is:PN6AQUzVZ1hAOLzu570G3w== (base64)
  • and import as usual into your VirtualBox app.
  Vagrant + VirtualBox as provider  Open your favorite Terminal and execute (won't go into many details here)    git clone -b 7.x-1.10
 cd islandora_vagrant
 vagrant up 

  prepare a single shot coffee, cream 2x sugar and look for some warnings.. there are some new JIRA tickets already for those
  (once finished)

 vagrant ssh   And enjoy Islandora 7.x-1.10, a gentle giant surviving modern times.   Don't hesitate to reach out and contact us (Rosie or Diego) if you have questions (email, IRC or Skype, Twitter, pigeons and smoke signals).   We are here to help and to facilitate this one being another successful and trusted Islandora community release   Thanks again for being such an amazing community of free-thinking repository-involved opensource-open-minded people.   Best! Gracias!   Rosemary Le Faive + Diego Pino Navarro (any order or none at all), both Islandora 7.x-1.10 release managers

Library of Congress: The Signal: Take the NDSA 2017 Web Archiving Survey

Wed, 2017-10-04 16:43

This is a guest post co-written by Grace Thomas, Data Specialist for Web Archiving at the Library of Congress, and Maria Praetzellis, Program Manager for Web Archiving at the Internet Archive, on behalf of the NDSA Web Archiving Survey Working Group. This announcement originally appeared on the Archive-It Blog on October 3, 2017.

Image from NDSA. CC BY-SA 4.0 License

Calling all web archivists: it’s that time again! The National Digital Stewardship Alliance is sponsoring a survey of organizations in the United States who are actively involved in or planning to archive content from the web. The survey is the fourth in a longitudinal study  to track the evolution of web archiving programs and activity in the United States, focusing on similarities and differences in programmatic approaches, types of content being archived, tools and services being used, access modes being provided, and emerging best practices and challenges. The results of the survey will be reported to NDSA members and summary results will be shared publicly in 2018.

Any United States organization involved in web archiving or in the process of planning a web archive is encouraged to take the survey. The survey will close November 17, 2017.

Results and observations from the three previous surveys (2011, 2013, 2016) are available.

LITA: Call for Preconference Proposals, LITA @ ALA Annual 2018

Wed, 2017-10-04 15:52
Submit Your Preconference ideas for the 2018 ALA Annual Conference 

New Orleans, LA, June 21-26, 2018

LITA is now accepting innovative and creative preconference proposals for the 2018 Annual American Library Association Conference. We’re looking for either full day or half day sessions to take place on Friday, June 22, 2018. Preconferences should emphasize hands on and interactive experiences. The focus should be on technology in libraries, whether that’s use of, new ideas for, trends in, or interesting/innovative projects being explored – it’s all for you to propose. Programs should be of interest to all library/information agency types, that inspire technological change and adoption, or/and generally go above and beyond the everyday.
  • Submission Deadline: November 6, 2017
  • Final Decisions: November 15, 2017

Proposals will be accepted via our online form

Submissions are open to anyone, regardless of ALA membership status. We welcome proposals from anyone who feels they have something to offer regarding library technology. We look forward to hearing the great ideas you will share with us this year.


Questions or Comments?


Contact LITA at (312) 280-4268 or Mark Beatty,

Evergreen ILS: On the Road to 3.0: Digital Bookplates

Wed, 2017-10-04 14:21

In our next installment of the On the Road to 3.0 video series, we take a look at a new feature that allows libraries to apply digital bookplates to their donated materials.

Many thanks to everyone who has subscribed to the new Evergreen YouTube channel! You can now find the channel at

In the Library, With the Lead Pipe: Modular Short Form Videos for Library Instruction

Wed, 2017-10-04 13:00

In Brief

Expensive software isn’t necessary to create effective tutorials. Quick, unedited tutorials created on social media, such as on Instagram or Snapchat, may be more effective. These short form videos (SFVs) combine the advantages of animated GIFs with the advantages of screencasts: modularity, repetition of steps, and animated visuals supported by pertinent audio. SFVs are cheap (or free) and easy to make with materials libraries already possess, such as Internet access, computers, and smartphones. They are easily replaceable if the subject changes. The short form forces librarians to get right to the point. Finally, SFVs are easily disseminated on social media and have the potential to go viral.

by Cindy Craig


In this article, I describe how I came to use social media videos to teach library skills and abandon the screencasting format. I describe some key learning theories for effective tutorials and how various tutorial formats fit those theories. Finally, I provide some tips for making tutorials in Instagram or Snapchat.


Screencast tutorials, such as those made with Camtasia Studio and Adobe Captivate, have become a staple for instruction librarians. Over the course of my academic library career, I’ve made dozens of screencast tutorials on a variety of topics such as avoiding plagiarism, using subject databases, printing from library computers, and reserving study rooms. The advantage of video tutorials is their ability to provide library instruction around the clock. And with enrollment in online courses at an all-time high, online instruction is more important than ever.

However, there are significant drawbacks to screencast tutorials. One is that they can be difficult to make. If your library has the budget for a professional screen capture program, the learning curve for using it may be too high. Also, when a vendor decides to change a database platform a week before the new semester starts, your carefully made tutorial is instantly stale.

Another, and perhaps more significant, issue is: are students actually using online tutorials? In one survey of undergraduates by Colosimo and Kasuto (2012), one third reported they would not watch screencast tutorials for a variety of reasons, among them “no need,” “no time,” and “no interest.” This finding points to some worrying issues regarding online tutorials (and information literacy instruction in general). Many undergraduates, especially those new to college level research, tend to overestimate their information literacy skills, a phenomenon known as calibration (Yates, 1990). Another is that today’s students are used to a high level of human-centered design in their computing devices. Library tutorials seem clunky and confusing compared to the seamless app interfaces they take for granted on their mobile phones and tablets. Students will ignore screencasts if they are over three minutes long, take too long to load, don’t play well on a mobile device, or are not available at the point of need (Plumb, 2010; Slebodnick & Riehle, 2009).

How can instruction librarians overcome these barriers and create tutorials that are effective and engaging? Two learning theories may be of help: cognitive load theory and dual coding theory.

Key Learning Theories

Cognitive load theory asserts that, for learning to take place, the demand on working memory must be minimized. Working memory, which is our mind’s temporary sketchpad, can only hold about seven units of information for about a maximum of twenty seconds. Information not encoded into long term memory disappears from one’s mind (Miller, 1956; Peterson & Peterson, 1959). Think about being introduced to someone new, only to forget their name moments later. Researcher John Sweller (1994) found that novice learners, such as undergraduates, are especially vulnerable to cognitive overload. He recommends decreasing cognitive load by putting smaller bits of information together into chunks. For example, a seven-digit phone number is easier to remember because it is clustered into two chunks. Ideally, tutorials would demonstrate step-by-step how to perform a task, known as a worked example. A library tutorial about a database, for example, would show each step to finding and using the thesaurus feature.

Dual coding theory, developed by Allen Paivio (1975), asserts that students learn more effectively if their visual and verbal channels are engaged at once. Pairing words and images in a meaningful way, such as with a mnemonic device, decreases the demand on working memory. In a screencast tutorial created in Camtasia, for example, one could use the callout feature to highlight a key concept, such as the word “abstract”, and pair it with footage of a database record. Even better is to pair audio narration with moving images, since only using visual elements can still overwhelm working memory. Think about the extra effort it takes to watch a film with subtitles.

Choosing the Best Tutorial Format

Taking these learning theories into account, one might think the best choice for tutorials would be the screencast, since it combines moving database footage with audio narration. My own research found that this was the case. I compared two tutorials on a biology database: one a screencast featuring audio narration and callouts of important concepts, the other a series of web pages with static screenshots that students could click through. In a follow up quiz, the students who watched the screencast scored higher than the other group (Craig & Friehs, 2013).

However, a 2012 study by Lori Mestre found the opposite. Most of her students also preferred using a tutorial with static screenshots than watching a screencast. Their reasons included:

  • Ability to quickly return to a section explaining a step.
  • Ability to skip around sections instead of watching a video beginning to end.
  • Ability to get the big picture by scanning the whole page, then returning to individual steps.
  • The screencast was tedious to sit through.

The few students who preferred the screencast liked the mouse movements and the highlighting. They also found the voice narration explaining each step to be helpful.

So, considering these conflicting findings, I wondered what format would combine the best aspects of a screencast with the best parts of a static web page tutorial. That’s why I was intrigued when I came across a 2014 article in Lead Pipe by Karl Suhr about using animated GIFs for library tutorials. Suhr noticed that animated GIFs, which he considered antiquated and distracting, had recently made a comeback as a storytelling device in the form of jokes and memes. As information literacy instruction is also a form of storytelling, animated GIFs might be a good format for library tutorials. Suhr’s reasons included:

  • A group of pictures gives immediate feedback as to how much information is being conveyed. A screencast, on the other hand, doesn’t give much of a clue as to what the user is committing to.
  • Pictures have natural break points between steps.
  • A series of images enhances closure, which is the phenomenon of observing the parts but perceiving the whole. Comics artists employ closure by carefully sequencing panels and knowing what to keep “off-screen.”
  • A series of animated GIFs combines closure with the dynamic element of video.

Suhr recommended making a series of animated GIFs displayed in a sequence on one screen. This could help users understand “a multistep process that depends on properly executing the one before it,” such as searching for a book in the library catalog. Animated GIFs are also a good choice for practical reasons in that they are easy and cheap to make and don’t require a broadband connection to view.

Trying Short Form Videos

At that point, I decided screencasting might be dead and to switch to another online tutorial format. I wanted to combine the best aspects of animated GIFs and Camtasia videos. Also, I wanted to reach students through their smart phones, which were seemingly ubiquitous. So, I turned to social media.

I decided to try Vine as a format for library tutorials. At the time, Vine was still a very popular video sharing service that at its peak had 40 million users. The videos were only six seconds long and played in a continuous loop. The constraints of this format enhanced creativity by requiring users to tell stories with quick cuts and non-sequiturs (Hern, 2014). Some users gathered millions of followers by becoming masters of short-form storytelling, such as Gainesville, Florida native Thomas Sanders, who, incidentally, developed a comic series called “Storytime” (Fenn, 2014).

I planned out a series of Vine videos showing each step in a research process.

  • Step one/Video one: Locate the PsycINFO database on the Psychology LibGuide.
  • Step two/Video two: Perform a search and browse the records.
  • Step three/Video three: Use PsycINFO’s Term Finder to find relevant results.

A colleague, April Hines, and I created this series using her smartphone and my computer screen. April narrated the videos while I clicked through the relevant screens. She approached the narration as an undergraduate student browsing through the library’s website doing research. For instance, in the first video, she says “I need articles on pet therapy” as a mouse cursor clicks on the PsycINFO link. The second video shows the list of PsycINFO results as she says, “These are all about PET scans. Am I using the right terms? Let me try the Term Finder.” The cursor clicks on the Term Finder link at the top of the screen. The third video shows the thesaurus terms for pet therapy. April’s voice says, “Oh, Animal Assisted Therapy” as the cursor clicks on the thesaurus term. As a new list of records pops up on the screen, she says, “Much better!”

This process was much more difficult to coordinate than we thought and took several tries to get right. However, we were able to load the videos onto a Vine account. I also made a LibGuide and embedded each video so they would appear in order on one screen. Users could easily scan the whole series, view them in order, or skip around to different steps.

To assess the new videos, April and I showed them to a focus group of students from our library’s booster club. These students have helped with assessing library services in the past, so they were eager to help. I asked the students to view the PsycINFO tutorial series on their own mobile devices, then attempt to search the database for an article. They had trouble navigating to the LibGuide where I embedded the videos. It was much easier for them to watch the videos on Vine. The students were able to follow the PsycINFO tutorial series to the end and successfully locate articles, but they needed to watch the videos over and over. The students found the narration useful and they liked that the videos automatically repeated.

We had planned a second focus group, but the Vine service was discontinued and our videos were no longer accessible. April and I recreated the series, as well as some new tutorials, using Instagram and Snapchat. These programs have a little more flexibility than Vine. Instagram allows 15 second videos while Snapchat videos are 10 seconds maximum. Snapchat also allows you to add annotations and captions, which makes videos more accessible for users who cannot hear audio narration. In one of our videos showing how to access the list of Project Starter databases, we added an annotation at the bottom showing the library’s web address. Instagram has the Boomerang app, which bounces a two-second clip back and forth. In one of our videos, we drew an arrow to the Off-Campus Access link on the library’s home page. The Boomerang app moves this arrow back and forth, highlighting the link. The full series of videos is located here:

We showed this second series to a different group of Library Ambassador volunteers. This group was also able to successfully use PsycINFO after viewing the video series. However, some of their responses pointed to some possible challenges that instruction librarians should keep in mind. One is that the Library Ambassadors, already avid users of the library, were very confused by the library’s website. They were unsure how to even find the library’s home page without Googling it. Once they were at the home page, they were unsure how to find and use databases appropriate to their subject areas, often defaulting to the favorite of professors everywhere, JSTOR. One student demonstrated calibration when she claimed to not need library instruction, but showed the most surprise at the skills she learned from the videos.

At this point, my use of social media tutorials is still in the testing phases and has not yet been adopted by my library. However, I believe, based on my analysis and on focus group feedback, that this format has great potential to teach information literacy skills. Going forward, I plan to further explore how best to deliver short form video tutorials so that they are available to students at the point of need. Based on what I’ve learned so far, here are my recommendations for best practices:

  • Carefully map out the research process from start to finish. Don’t assume users will even know how to find your library’s website.
  • Break up the research process into smaller chunks. Think about where users are likely to get stuck or confused. Your videos should help users over these hurdles.
  • If you plan to capture screens from a database, have a partner click through the screens while you hold the smartphone or tablet.
  • As you film, add simple narration to clarify what is being shown. Avoid distracting music or sound effects.
  • Use captions to make your videos more accessible and to reinforce the message.

The best short form videos adhere to dual coding theory in that they combine visuals with just the right audio for immediate impact. Also, the brevity and repetition of short form videos require little demand on working memory. Short form videos on social media are a part of what Juhlin et al. (2014) call the new video culture, which has been made possible by cheap video production tools and high bandwidth. Camera phones have replaced digital cameras for taking photos and videos in everyday use. The image quality of camera phones has increased to a level of quality that was only available to professionals just a few years ago. This has led to video consumers also becoming producers and sharers of content, or “prosumers.” Social media sites provide outlets for prosumer content. The result is a dynamic and diverse video medium that has become a form of dialog. In this new medium, spontaneity and authenticity of videos are more important than careful editing, which helps explain the enormous appeal of services like Vine, Snapchat, and Instagram.

Acknowledgements: Thank you to my internal reviewer, Bethany Messersmith, my external reviewer, Renee Romero, and publishing editor, Sofia Leung for your support and helpful advice. Special thanks to my colleague April Hines for her assistance with creating the videos and with conducting the focus groups. Special thanks to Curt Friehs, my colleague and longtime collaborator on research with online tutorials. And thank you to Lori Mestre and Karl Suhr, whose articles inspired me to take a new direction with online tutorials.


Colosimo, A. L., & Kasuto, E. (2012). Library video tutorials to support large undergraduate labs: Will they watch? Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, 68.

Craig, C. L., & Friehs, C. G. (2013). Video & HTML: Testing online tutorial formats with biology students. Journal of Web Librarianship, 7(3), 292-304.

Fenn, M. (2014). Thomas Sanders’ bold, gate-crashing comedy shines in Vine compilation. Retrieved from:

Hern, A. (2014). Vine’s co-founder Colin Kroll: ‘Six seconds just feels right’. Retrieved from:

Juhlin, O., Zoric, G., Engstrom, A., & Reponen, E. (2014). Video interaction: A research agenda. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 18(3), 685-692.

Mestre, L. S. (2012). Student preference for tutorial design: A usability study. Reference Services Review, 40(2), 258-276.

Miller, G. A. (1956). “The magical number seven, plus or minus two: Some limits on our capacity for processing information”. Psychological Review. 63(2), 81-97. doi:10.1037/h0043158.

Paivio, A. (1975). Coding distinctions and repetition effects in memory. In K. W. Spence (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation (pp. 179-214). New York: Academic Press.

Peterson, L., & Peterson, M. J. (1959). Short-term retention of individual verbal items. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 58(3), 193-198.

Plumb, T. K. (2010). Creating electronic tutorials: On your mark, get set, go! Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship, 22(1), 49-64.

Slebodnik, M., & Riehle, C. F. (2009). Creating online tutorials at your libraries: Software choices and practical implications. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 49(1), 33-37, 51.

Sweller, J. (1994). Cognitive load theory, learning difficulty, and instructional design. Learning and Instruction, 4(4), 295-312.

Suhr, K. (2014). Using animated GIF images for library instruction. Retrieved from:

Yates, J. F. (1990). Judgment and decision making. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

District Dispatch: Dr. Renate Chancellor talks with staff about library luminaries

Wed, 2017-10-04 12:00

The ALA Washington Office was very happy to welcome and learn from Dr. Renate Chancellor (upper row on the left), Associate Professor of Library and Information Science at Catholic University.

Yesterday the Washington Office welcomed Associate Professor Renate Chancellor of The Catholic University of America’s Department of Library and Information Science for a breakfast discussion on the history of library advocacy and activism. Her presentation spanned the decades, from the work of E.J. Josey to the legacies left and continued by Augusta Baker and Sandy Berman.

Dr. Chancellor led a discussion that covered luminary library activists and dived into issues in the profession, from intellectual freedom to diverse books to bias in subject headings. She also provided some insight about how her students are learning about activism in libraries, from her current cohort’s desire to talk about librarians’ foreseeable role in social justice issues happening on campuses and in neighborhoods across the country today, to the concepts of John Kingdon around becoming a “political entrepreneur,” a term which she defined as someone “who, from the outside of the formal position of government, introduce, translate, and help implement new ideas into public practice.”

At Catholic, Dr. Chancellor oversees the law librarianship program. Her research interests include legal information seeking behavior, social justice in library and information services, multicultural library and information services, and transformative leadership. She also writes and publishes on issues of diversity in the field. She is now working on a book about E.J. Josey—a pioneering librarian, instrumental in integrating the American Librarian Association and founding its Black Caucus—documenting his life as a civil rights activist and leader in the modern library profession.

The Washington Office appreciated the opportunity to hear Dr. Chancellor’s insights on a range of critical issues that have shaped the history of advocacy within the field.

The post Dr. Renate Chancellor talks with staff about library luminaries appeared first on District Dispatch.

Open Knowledge Foundation: OKFestival 2018  – It’s time for a competition!

Wed, 2017-10-04 08:36

Over the last couple of months we have been examining the concept of OKFestival 2018 to create a backdrop for what will be an innovative, collaborative and inspiring event.  With collaborative input from networks, chapters and other interested parties, a concept has been developed.  This concept will shape all aspects of the event and will grow with the creation of the programme and the participation of communities.

We now need your help. OKFestival 2018 needs a “motto”, a “tagline”, a headline grabbing title that will encompass what we are trying to do and what the event stands for.  The motto for OKFestival 2014 was “Open Minds to Open Action”. We would like you to read the concept below and come up with a short sentence that we could use in all the publicity and throughout the event.

Possible suggestions include:

  • Open Knowledge Without Borders
  • Open Knowledge Without Barriers
  • Towards Open Knowledge Without Barriers

Once inspiration has struck please email your idea through to or post it on our Facebook page

You have until Wednesday 11th October so get those creative juices flowing!

What is Open Knowledge Festival 2018 about?

The leading concept of Open Knowledge Festival in 2018 is fostering a cross-exchange of ideas between members and groups that make up the open knowledge movement in all its diversity, as well as by bringing new communities into the conversation.

This concept seeks to work towards a vision of “open knowledge without barriers”, where a range of actors from diverse backgrounds – domain-driven CSOs, open data organisations, open government experts, data journalists, and so on – can learn and collaborate towards shared knowledge and strong and sustainable social change.


When we host Open Knowledge Festival in 2018, it will have been nearly 4 years since the last festival in Berlin, and in that time, the open knowledge movement has evolved. Other events have taken up and pushed forward different elements of open knowledge agenda. These events have been effective in bringing together communities focusing on a specific topic within the movement but this has come at the expense of a cross-exchange of ideas.

At Open Knowledge International, we have been asking ourselves, how can we best add to the dialogue, and further the evolution of the movement, through Open Knowledge Festival?

  • Open Knowledge Festival in 2012 helped to mark the open knowledge movement.
  • Open Knowledge Festival in 2014 helped catalyse the open knowledge movement.
  • In 2018, Open Knowledge Festival seeks to grow, expand the open knowledge movement and convince society and general public to embrace it.

Open Knowledge Festival, as a community-driven event hosted by a civil society organisation, is well placed to focus more on the questions, needs and interests of civil society. For years now, as a community, we have been making the argument to governments and other powerful institutions that there are immense societal benefits to opening up their data and information, with distinctive results in different countries.

However, our ultimate goal – achieving a more open society – cannot be achieved with open data and open knowledge advocates alone. In increasingly digitalised societies, data becomes an increasingly powerful instrument for positive change. At the same time, we are conscious that this creates new gaps between those who can come along in a digitalised societies, and those who struggle with these new technologies. We strive for nothing less than making digital societies work for everyone, and therefore need as many as we can on board as part of the open knowledge movement. Therefore, we need to enlist, as partners, our fellow civil society actors to join our effort and to push for more, and better, information and data on the issues that directly impact our lives. Open Knowledge Festival presents a unique opportunity to convene a broad range of civil society actors to work towards a shared strategy for liberating or generating the data and information we need to shape our society. 

William Denton: Information literacy on What's New podcast

Wed, 2017-10-04 02:08

I recommend Fake News and the Next Generation, the second episode in Dan Cohen’s new What’s New podcast. One of the guests is Alison Head, of Project Information Literacy, who gives real-life applicatons of the ACRL’s Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. This episode is a chance to hear an IL expert talking about her research and how it can be taken to the daily life of students to help with the current state of events.

(There’s no RSS feed for the podcast on the site yet, but this will get you the SoundCloud feed. I use gPodder, so I always look for direct RSS feeds.)

William Denton: Laurentian strike

Wed, 2017-10-04 00:19

The Laurentian University Faculty Association is out on strike, which means my friend and fellow librarian Dan Scott is on strike. In fact, he’s the strike co-ordinator! Good on you, Dan! We’re with you at York, and if YUFA hasn’t sent money already, they will soon if things don’t settle. If it goes on, I’ll come up to walk the picket line.

I sent an email letter in support of my colleagues up north, and I am posting here to say I support the striking professors, librarians and archivists. The university administration is back at the table with them today, which is good news, and I hope they are able to reach a fair and equitable settlement that addresses the issues about workload, transparency and collegiality, and the learning environment at the university. These are issues we’re facing all across Canada, but going out on strike means things are really serious.

The Dan Scott Library

I made that image just after I started working at York University Libraries (where the main branch is the Scott Library) following a chat with Dan. Fear the shush!

Evergreen ILS: Evergreen 3.0.0 released

Tue, 2017-10-03 17:57

The Evergreen community is proud to announce the release of Evergreen 3.0.0, highly-scalable software for libraries that helps library patrons find library materials and helps libraries manage, catalog, and circulate those materials, no matter how large or complex the libraries.

Evergreen 3.0.0 is a major release that includes:

  • community support of the web staff client for production use
  • serials and offline circulation modules for the web staff client
  • improvements to the display of headings in the public catalog browse list
  • the ability to search patron records by date of birth
  • copy tags and digital bookplates
  • batch editing of patron records
  • better support for consortia that span multiple time zones
  • and numerous other improvements

The release is available on the Evergreen downloads page. For more information on what’s included in Evergreen 3.0.0, please consult the release notes.

Evergreen 3.0.0 requires PostgreSQL 9.4 or later and OpenSRF 3.0.0 or later.

Evergreen 3.0.0 represents the culmination of a four-year project to create a web-based staff interface for Evergreen. It includes contributions from at least 45 individuals and 8 funding institutions across the globe.

OCLC Dev Network: OCLC APIs & The New Systems Status Dashboard

Tue, 2017-10-03 13:00

Hi everyone! This is Danny from OCLC’s Service Operations Center (SOC). I am one of four Service Delivery Managers who lead a team of analysts in the SOC all hours of the day and night, 365 days a year. Our primary purpose is to make sure you always have access to the critical services you depend on from OCLC. We are constantly monitoring the state of OCLC services and quickly acting to remediate any disruption we detect. This year was a banner year for transformation and evolution at the SOC, with us making big changes in how we execute our mission.

Access Conference: Support Access Diversity Scholarships

Tue, 2017-10-03 04:46

This year, we were proud to continue the Access tradition of offering diversity scholarships for the conference. At Access in Saskatoon, we were able to provide all-inclusive scholarships that covered registration, travel, and accommodations for two attendees.

We would like to thank the 2017 diversity committee for their work developing the proposal criteria and assessing the many strong applications this year: committee chair Maha Kumaran (University of Saskatchewan), Naz Torabi (McGill), Ying Liu (University of Victoria), and Ray Fernandez (Nova Scotia Provincial Library).

We believe in the importance and value of this program so, to ensure it will continue in 2018 and beyond, we designated the $200 raised at our Friday trivia night social to the diversity scholarship fund.

Access 2017 Trivia Night at Amigo’s Cantina, Saskatoon

We also received $100 in online donations during the conference from people following the conference on Twitter and watching the live stream. The 2017 organizers want to specially thank Tara Robertson and Francis Kayiwa for their generous support of the diversity scholarship program. 

If you would like to contribute to the scholarship fund for 2018, the 2017 organizing committee can accept e-transfers, cheques, and cash. Please get in touch via email ( or DM us on Twitter (@accesslibcon) to coordinate a donation.

Please watch the website and Twitter for information about the 2018 conference and diversity scholarship in early 2018.

Evergreen ILS: Evergreen development update #16: on the eve of release

Tue, 2017-10-03 01:14

Near-monochrome photo of a duck. CC0 image.

Since the previous update, another 134 patches have made their way into master — and we stand ready for the release of Evergreen 3.0.0 tomorrow.

Much has changed since we all started work on 3.0. In addition to the many improvements to Evergreen, Evergreen’s documentation has been reorganized into a set of manuals, each aimed at a specific audience. A shiny new version of OpenSRF, 3.0.0, is also available.

During the 3.0 release cycle, we have had two Bug Squashing Weeks, two feedback fests, and two web client documentation days.

Release day tomorrow is for the users of Evergreen — and for acknowledging the many people who have contributed to Evergreen 3.0. For this update on the eve of release, however, I’d like highlight some of the changes to Evergreen’s source code, especially as they establish or modify conventions for future changes to Evergreen.

RTL vs. LTR styles

Evergreen’s public catalog has gained better support for translating its interface into languages that use right-to-left scripts. As you might expect, RTL interfaces typically should have margins, paddings, and text alignments go in the opposite direction of LTR interfaces. To accommodate this in the public catalog, Open-ILS/src/templates/opac/css/style.css.tt2 now checks for a template variable called rtl that is set based on the current locale and uses it to choose between left-aligned and right-aligned styles. For example:

#rdetails_status tbody td { [% IF rtl == 't' -%] padding-right: 13px; text-align: right; [%- ELSE %] padding-left: 13px; text-align: left; [%- END %] }

If you add new CSS styles to the public catalog, please add left-aligned and right-aligned versions when applicable.

“Cache-busting” for the public catalog and the kid’s catalog

Static assets such as images or JavaScript files used by the public and kid’s catalogs now are consistently referred to by a URL that includes a cache key value that is updated when is run or by Evergreen administrator action. This allows these assets to be cached by web browsers for longer while allowing fresh versions to be invoked after upgrades.

This is done by appending the value of the ctx.cache_key template variable to links to static resources. For example:

<div id="homesearch_main_logo"> <img src="[% ctx.media_prefix %]/opac/images/main_logo.png[% ctx.cache_key %]" [% img_alt(l('Evergreen Logo')) %]/> </div>

If you add new static assets to the public or kid’s catalog, please append links to those resources with [% ctx.cache_key %].

Updating manifest of files needed by offline circulation interface

The web staff client template Open-ILS/src/templates/staff/base_js.tt2 now includes a manifest of files that UpUp keeps cached via service workers. For example,

<script src="/upup.min.js"></script> <script> UpUp.start({ 'content-url': '[% ctx.base_path %]/staff/offline-interface', 'cache-version': '[% USE date(format = '%Y-%m-%d'); date.format; %]', 'service-worker-url': '/upup.sw.min.js', 'assets': [ '/IDL2js', '[% ctx.media_prefix %]/js/ui/default/staff/build/css/bootstrap.min.css', '[% ctx.media_prefix %]/js/ui/default/staff/build/css/hotkeys.min.css', '[% ctx.media_prefix %]/js/ui/default/staff/build/css/ngToast.min.css', '[% ctx.media_prefix %]/js/ui/default/staff/build/css/ngToast-animations.min.css', '[% ctx.media_prefix %]/js/ui/default/staff/build/css/tree-control.css', '[% ctx.media_prefix %]/js/ui/default/staff/build/css/tree-control-attribute.css', '[% ctx.media_prefix %]/js/ui/default/staff/build/css/tablesort.css', '[% ctx.base_path %]/staff/css/print.css', '[% ctx.base_path %]/staff/css/cat.css', '[% ctx.base_path %]/staff/css/style.css', '[% ctx.base_path %]/staff/css/circ.css', '[% ctx.media_prefix %]/js/dojo/opensrf/md5.js', '[% ctx.media_prefix %]/js/ui/default/staff/build/js/moment-with-locales.min.js', '[% ctx.media_prefix %]/js/ui/default/staff/build/js/moment-timezone-with-data.min.js', '[% ctx.media_prefix %]/js/ui/default/common/build/js/jquery.min.js', '[% ctx.media_prefix %]/js/ui/default/staff/build/js/angular.min.js', ...

If you add new core dependencies or services that are needed by the offline interface, reminder to update the manifest in base_js.tt2.

Formatting date and time values in the web staff client

New Angular filters are available for ensuring that date and time values are formatted correctly based on the library’s preferred locale settings. For example:

<div>{{current_location.shortname}} {{today | date:$root.egDateAndTimeFormat}}</div>

Are there other changes worth noting as affecting coding conventions? Please let me know in the comments.

Duck trivia

Some ducks have a field of vision that spans 360 degrees horizontally and 180 degrees vertically.

DuraSpace News: UPDATE: DuraSpace Migration/ Upgrade Survey: Call for Participation

Tue, 2017-10-03 00:00

From Erin Tripp < >, Business Development Manager

The DuraSpace community is sharing their migration and upgrade stories.  Now let's hear from you!

Tara Robertson: new job on Mozilla’s Diversity and Inclusion team

Mon, 2017-10-02 21:52

October 16th will be my first day in my new career at Mozilla on the Diversity and Inclusion team. I’ve been telling people I’m going to be a feminist data driven storyteller, but the scope of the job is a little bigger than that. I’m really excited to learn more about the connections between diversity, inclusion and innovation. I’m also excited to figure out how to operationalize research on diversity and inclusion and support culture change. Until very recently I couldn’t have imagined a career in HR, but the People Team at Mozilla is not your typical HR group:

At Mozilla, we need a certain, special kind of “HR”. We are an organism more than an organization. We are bumpy, and rough, and strong, and unique. We’re powerful, and generous, and open, and brave. We respect iteration, failure, choice, and inclusion and care little for convention, rigidity, or compliance. We are wicked smart and imperfect. And we are all of these words and many more.

An experiment in open

Through the recruitment process I experimented with being really open with my Facebook friends about all my excitement, questions, insecurities and fears. I’ve curated my Facebook friend-list to be people I know and trust (my criteria is that we’ve met in person, I’d invite this person over to my house and feel comfortable talking about sex or poop with them). My friends are generous and helped by encouraging, cheerleading, helping me beat back impostor syndrome, sending me research articles and tips for data analysis and storytelling, offering me feedback on my written work and presentation deck, and coaching me through explicitly connecting the dots from my library experience to this job. People also introduced me to friends who are current or past Mozillians who also agreed to chat with me. There were a few really delightful serendipitous connections. I know lots of smart, helpful and generous people in various industries and it was so awesome to have all kinds of support through this process. It was awesome having friends cheer me on as I made it through to the next round and have them reflect back all the positive things they see in me when I was having self doubts. This experiment turned out really well.

Crowdsourced travel tips

I’ll be travelling a bit more than in my previous job. I’m really excited to go to London for MozFest and then to Berlin for Open Con. I’ll also be going to Austin for All Hands and doing my orientation in the Bay Area. One of my favourite ways to travel has been to live somewhere and have regular life, so I’m pretty excited to get to spend a week in each of these places working and having everyday life. I asked friends and colleagues who travel a lot for work for their travel tips in this document: I’ve edited things down to advice that I think will be useful for me.