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LITA: Getting Rid of Distractions

Thu, 2017-01-19 15:00

<Photo copyright 2006 by Jon Bell; used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)>


So you’ve finally finished all your meetings, answered all your phone messages, helped the line of people outside your office, and wrangled your inbox under control. Now you can focus on some actual work.

Except, your friend just shared a new meme on Facebook. Instagram and Snapchat pinged a few updates so it wouldn’t hurt to just take a quick peek. And maybe you should check and see if you can still reach that Pokestop from your office. Hours later you haven’t done any work but you have read a bunch of interesting Wikipedia articles.

Pomodoro Technique

Let’s investigate ways you can avoid distractions. The first line of defense is self-control. That works most of the time. If your day is like mine there’s too much to do. I’ve used the Pomodoro Technique in the past to help break up larger tasks while keeping up with ongoing smaller tasks—e.g., email—and at the same time providing time for breaks.

The technique’s name is derived from a tomato-shaped kitchen timer the developer used when he came up with the idea. It works like this: you set the timer for 25 minutes and work; take at least a five-minute break when the timer goes off; after four cycles of this take a longer break. This is a great way to train your brain to focus on tasks and keep deadlines.

Browser Extensions

Occasionally you need a little support in avoiding distractions. There are three browser extensions—one each for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari; sorry IE—that all do essentially the same thing: they let you block websites either completely or after a certain amount of time has elapsed.

I used LeechBlock for Firefox to great success in the past. For example, I created a group called ‘social media’ and put in URLs for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and Youtube and then configured the extension to allow me fifteen minutes of access to those websites every four hours. If I used up my time those sites became blocked. There are more options including which days or time of day the block comes into effect, whitelisting sites that are allowed, and so on.

If you’re a Chrome user, StayFocusd is an extension that does essentially the same thing as LeechBlock. WasteNoTime is available for both Chrome and Safari. All three of these extensions are great ways to avoid the siren call of the Internet when you need to focus.


Need something more serious that you can run across devices and platforms? Freedom is a piece of software that does the same thing the three extensions do but it will run on all your computers and devices. It can also be set up to block the entire Internet, including email, which is great if you really need to focus.

The one drawback to Freedom is that it’s not free. Prices run from $6.99 for a single month of access, $2.42/month for a year of access, or $119.99 for access to Freedom forever. They often run sales at up to 50% off the price of the forever option.

Freedom might be a better option for personal use but it’s something you can look into for work, too. Of course, you could accomplish the same thing by turning off your WiFi/Internet but Freedom lets you automate turning things off and on. I’ve used Freedom at home for writing projects when I don’t want anything to disturb me.

The Hosts File

Finally, if you keep circumventing the extensions by turning them off and the price of Freedom is too high, you can modify your computer’s hosts file. The hosts file predates TCP/IP and DNS and was used to map hostnames to IP addresses. When I worked as a computer programmer we used the hosts file to connect to our clients’ servers.

To block a site, you would set the hostname to the IP address of (the localhost). When you try to go to the website you added to the hosts file your computer tries to find it on your computer and fails. That is, assuming your computer doesn’t actually host the website.

Obviously this last option is extreme and should be used with caution. The hosts file is a common target for computer viruses as it effects how the machine works with regards to the Internet. This is an instance where I’d recommend disconnecting from the Internet before modifying the hosts file but there could be reasons to use this option.

What are some things you’ve tried to avoid distractions?

Open Knowledge Foundation: Network update from OK Japan: Corporate transparency and taxpayers’ money ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Thu, 2017-01-19 10:00

This blog post is part of our on-going Network series featuring updates from chapters across the Open Knowledge Network and was written by the Open Knowledge Japan team.

The OK Japan chapter has been active in the open data space in activities such as the promotion of open data use and policy discussions. Since we formed the team in 2012, our members have been instrumental in promoting International Open Data Day in Japan and OpenSpending/ Where Does My Money Go. We published use cases and other notable developments in the space through our blog. Our members also took part in many different government boards, advised or worked with municipalities and departments on open data implementation. Below is some news about us and open data developments in Japan.

Transparency discussed

Late October, Open Knowledge Japan has co-organized, with OpenCorporates Japan an event discussing corporate ID and transparency issues, including the Panama Papers. The keynote talk was given by Chris Taggart, CEO and founder of OpenCorporates, who was visiting Tokyo that time.

Chris Taggart and Japanese experts discussing transparency issues in Tokyo

Work meeting held for Global Open Data Census

We hosted an informal meeting inviting key government officials to work on the Global Open Data Census. The Census scores and Japan’s ranking have been discussed in the open data policy circle.

Relevance of open knowledge for Japan

Aside from what we did lately, there are recent news reports that make open knowledge issues very relevant in the country. Related to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, we have been learning about many allegations of shady processes. For example, some large sums of tax money reported going from our government to an unnamed “consultant” so that Tokyo could become the host city for the 2020 Olympics. Tokyo has also been involved in other transparency issues – the governor resigned this year after criticisms related to his spending and lack of clear explanations on those, and was given a vote of no-confidence. The new governor uncovered additional problems with the ongoing project of relocating the Tsukiji market, the largest fish market in Tokyo, including potential underground water contamination.

Image Credit: Tokyo Tower Special Lightup <Invitation for 2020 Olympic Games> (Shibakouen, Tokyo, Japan) (CC BY)

In the early part of 2017, we will be working towards International Open Data Day 2017. Japan has been one of the most active countries in terms of the number of localities participating in IODD in the past few years (with more than 60 cities participating in 2016!). Some of the issues we will be discussing through this and other occasions include the above-mentioned data plans that the national and prefectural governments will create, as well wider use of Open Spending Next that some of our members have started learning.

District Dispatch: Getting connected with Google Fiber at Midwinter 2017

Wed, 2017-01-18 23:54

In the ICYMI file, take note of a session newly added to OITP’s lineup at Midwinter – Getting Connected with Google Fiber: Libraries Leading the Way to Digital Inclusion.

Using the internet is obviously not just a matter of a connection. Library professionals know very well that many people in their communities struggle to gain access to online resources and turn to the library for help finding health information, employment, education opportunities, government services and connecting with family or friends far away. Libraries are emerging as a key community platform for digital inclusion – one that is critical in surmounting the gap in digital equity and literacy while simultaneously moving communities forward (see our Digital Inclusion issue brief for more details, including data from the Digital Inclusion Survey).

At this new Midwinter session, learn about what some libraries are doing to make sure their communities are digitally inclusive through the Google Fiber work underway in cities across the country. Join Google Fiber Community Impact Manager Fabiola Charles Stokes as she moderates a panel that will discuss how libraries are serving as hubs for digital inclusion and developing partnerships promoting digital literacy. Panelists include:

  • Frank Blair, Director of Technology and Operations, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library;
  • Emma Hernandez, Digital Inclusion Fellow, San Antonio Public Library;
  • Shauna Edson, Digital Inclusion Fellow, Salt Lake City Public Library; and
  • Daynise Joseph, Community Impact Manager, Nashville Public Library.

Bring your own experiences and questions to this session on Sunday from 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM in the Georgia World Congress Center, A315.

See you there!

The post Getting connected with Google Fiber at Midwinter 2017 appeared first on District Dispatch.

LITA: Jobs in Information Technology: January 18, 2017

Wed, 2017-01-18 20:33

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



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

Tara Robertson: The Women’s March changing Unity Principles

Wed, 2017-01-18 17:40

I was really excited to see that the Women’s March’s Unity Principles said that they “stand in solidarity with sex workers’ rights movements”. To my knowledge this is the first time such a big feminist gathering has explicitly acknowledged and included sex workers. It’s a really big deal. The Unity Principles really inspired me with how broad, inclusive and intersectional they were.

Yesterday the language on the website changed several times and there was a lack of transparency about the changes and why they happened. Refinery 29 does a good job of summarizing what happened. As a feminist, a librarian and former sex worker I was so pissed. Discussing and debating with friends on Facebook about what was and wasn’t in the Unity Principles felt like being gaslit.

Once my anger levels had dropped I realized that some librarian skills might be useful in documenting what kind of changes were happening, as organizers were not being transparent. I wish I had the foresight to set up something to monitor changes to the website in the morning. I asked on Twitter for recommendations on how to do this and got some great suggestions.

I set up accounts with both Versionista (thanks Andrew Berger for the suggestion!) and OnWebChange (thanks Peter Binkley!) Both were easy to set up. For Versionista there was a 7 day free upgrade that I’ll need to cancel so I’m not billed. With the free version on OnWebChange it will only check the website I’m tracking once every 24 hours. I’m assuming you need to upgrade to access the greyed out options of 5 min, 30 min, 1 hour, 2 hours, 6 hours, 12 hours. You also need to upgrade to the paid version to access Diff Reports. I was only concerned about how the language around sex workers’ rights was changing in the Unity Principles, so this wasn’t a deal breaker for me.

With the upgrade Versionista had more functionality. This morning I manually ran a check and saw that a new page for sponsors has been added to the Women’s March website. I couldn’t see how to automatically schedule checks.

DocNow has created a tool called DiffEngine that I think does something similar. Unfortunately I don’t have the technical skills required to set this up and run it. Still, I’m glad it’s out there.

I wanted to also track the versions of the longer 5 page PDF of the Guiding Vision and Definition of Principles as people reported that it had also changed throughout yesterday. I didn’t get around to this.

Janet Mock’s beautiful statement was much needed heart balm for me. This is the bit that made me cry:

We will not be free until those most marginalized, most policed, most ridiculed, pushed out and judged are centered. There are no throwaway people, and I hope every sex worker who has felt shamed by this momentarily erasure shows up to their local March and holds the collective accountable to our vast, diverse, complicated realities.

In the preface to How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir, Amber Dawn writes:

…it revealed a larger truth—that to listen to and include sex workers’ voices in dialogue is a skill that we have not yet developed, just as we have not learned how to include the voices of anyone who does not conform to accepted behaviours or ideas.

Here are some of the amazing sex workers and sex worker activists I follow on Twitter. I encourage you to listen to what they have to say: Amber Dawn, Mistress Matisse, PACE SocietyLorelei Lee, Chanelle Gallant.


The Women’s March website was edited again between 11:45am and 12:15pm to add “disabled women” in the first paragraph before Muslim women and lesbians. Here’s a screenshot. 

While I appreciate the coalition of organizers are handling a bunch of logistics for the march in Washington the way this page is being edited is a reflection of what’s been going on in mainstream feminist organizations for a long time. Who is included and who are the people who are being thrown away?

OCLC Dev Network: Save the Date

Wed, 2017-01-18 16:00

Library developers be sure to mark your calendar for the first annual OCLC DevCONnect conference to be held at OCLC headquarters in Dublin, Ohio on May 8 and 9, 2017

OCLC Dev Network: WorldCat knowledge base API Maintenance

Wed, 2017-01-18 16:00

To allow for system maintenance, WorldShare Collection Manager, the WorldCat knowledge base API, and related services will be unavailable from 9:00 pm to approximately 10:30 pm US EST today, 18 January 2017.

Tim Ribaric: Junk records in Discovery Platforms

Wed, 2017-01-18 15:55


I got a problem with a couple of junk records in our discovery platform. Slow down that bandwagon I need to jump on it.

read more

DPLA: Catch up with DPLA at ALA Midwinter in Atlanta

Wed, 2017-01-18 15:00

The American Library Association’s 2017 Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits  takes place this weekend in Atlanta, Georgia and DPLA staffers are excited to connect with a fantastic community of librarians and share updates on the exciting projects underway and upcoming at DPLA in 2017.  Here’s your guide to when and where to catch up with DPLA’s staff and community members at ALA Midwinter.  If you’ll be following the conference from afar, connect with us on Twitter and follow the conference at #alamw17.

[S] = DPLA Staff Participating, [A] = DPLA Affiliate, [H] = DPLA Hub represented

FRIDAY, January 20, 2017

2:30pm – 4:00pm: Consortial Ebooks Interest Group Meeting (ASCLA) [S]
Location: Georgia World Congress Center, B216

A meeting to discuss issues and challenges for shared ebook collections by statewide, network and consortial groups

DPLA Staff participating: Michelle Bickert, Ebook Program Manager

SATURDAY, January 21, 2017

1:00pm – 2:30pm: New Initiatives and Milestones at the Digital Public Library of America [S]
Location: Georgia World Congress Center, B407

DPLA Executive Director Dan Cohen and Director for Content Emily Gore will highlight some of the recent new initiatives and milestones at the Digital Public Library of America, including the launch and progress of, an international standard for rights statements for libraries; the growth of DPLA’s network in states across the country; DPLA’s work in ebooks and education, including exhibitions and primary source sets; and the growth of DPLA’s staff. There will also be ample time for questions and interactions with DPLA staff on hand.

DPLA Staff presenting: Dan Cohen, Executive Director and Emily Gore, Director for Content

SUNDAY, January 22, 2017

10:30am – 11:30am: Bridging the Digital Divide with Open Ebooks [S]
Location: Georgia World Congress Center, A403

Open eBooks is an app containing thousands of popular and award-winning titles that are free for kids from in-need communities, without holds or late fees. Since First Lady Michelle Obama announced its launch in February 2016, Open eBooks has received overwhelming feedback from teachers, librarians and students praising the initiative. Attendees will learn more about how the program is being utilized in school classrooms and libraries, how public libraries can help, and best practices for implementation. Attendees will also have a chance to demo the app.

DPLA Staff presenting: Michelle Bickert, Ebook Program Manager

10:30am – 11:30am: Collaborating on Libraries Digital Futures: A Conversation with New York Public Library’s Anthony W. Marx [H]
Location: Georgia World Congress Center, A411/A412b

Access to knowledge has never been faster or more ubiquitous, making the role of public and research libraries ever more essential. Dr. Anthony Marx will discuss the collaborative vision for all libraries in this digital age and a path forward to ensure that the reading public — students, life-long learners, researchers and scholars — truly benefit from online access to information.

1:30 – 2:30 – Collude! Resist! Collaborate! ebook strategies for the modern revolutionary [A]
Location: Georgia World Congress Center, A411/A412b

Do you want to be a revolutionary? Join our digital posse in our prime directive to experiment and innovate with how libraries acquire, access and deliver econtent to the masses.

We work with forward thinking publishers, geeky and entrepreneurial ebook vendors, fabulous grant funders and out of this world authors to co-create models that deliver ebooks and other content in ways that position libraries as the go-to source for econtent by leveraging library expertise about the community to connect the public to their next great read. Our goal is to rock the reading ecosystem.Our outcomes so far: an ereader app for seamless access across multiple ebook platforms, statewide ebook programs that include simultaneous use to eliminate friction and attract new audiences to libraries, developing a national voice for libraries in the econtent marketplace and co-conspiring to build a better ebook experience. We need you.  Join us.

4:30 – 5:30: Digital Literacy Training Resources Update [A]
Location: Georgia World Congress Center, B405

Community members who lacking basic computer or Internet skills can’t find and apply for jobs online, learn more about health conditions, connect to their grandchildren via Facebook, or look up new recipes. Your public library helps them develop technology skills – whether it’s standing over a computer user’s shoulder to answer a question, or teaching a scheduled class. At this session, representatives from the Public Library Association, Anneal and leading public libraries will discuss some of the main technology training resources available to support your library’s efforts, including, Microsoft Digital Literacy, JobScout, and Interested in basic computer literacy classes in Spanish? Need resources for entry-level learners? Interested in getting help to develop your own courses? Join this session to learn from experts and share your ideas and experiences with other public library staff. You will also learn how PLA’s can be personalized for your library to help reduce one-on-one time with learners; provide access to a range of quality training and the ability for libraries to create their own; report out data on who and what you are teaching; and allow community members to benefit from your library’s digital literacy training they are in the branch or at home.

DPLA Board Member presenting: Jamie Hollier, Co-CEO, Anneal/Commerce Kitchen

In the Library, With the Lead Pipe: Social Media at The College of New Jersey Library

Wed, 2017-01-18 14:00

In Brief: This article discusses how and why The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) Library decided not to develop library-specific social media channels and why other academic institutions should consider a similar approach. For many years, most literature on social media was how-to based (Jacobson, 2011); as a result, when academic librarians discuss engaging students, they start with a presumptive answer of “social media” and then work backwards to the how and why. In contrast, TCNJ’s Library addressed the question: “Should the Library actively develop its social media presence?” We first looked at the social media channels already supported by the college, and considered whether our audience was already being reached by other well-maintained sources. Second, we looked at what students were already posting on social media about TCNJ’s Library, both publicly and anonymously. Finally, we surveyed the students to better understand their social media usage, concerns, and desired method of interaction with the Library. Considering all of these factors, the Library decided not to develop or maintain its own social media channels.

By Amanda Cowell


This paper discusses how and why The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) Library decided not to develop library-specific social media channels. For many years, most literature on social media was “how-to based” (Jacobson, 2011); as a result, when academic librarians discuss engaging students, they start with a presumptive answer of “social media” and then work backwards to the how and why. The understanding is that since students are on social media, librarians should be too.

In 2014, TCNJ Library had an abandoned Twitter account and was absent from all other social media outlets. At that time, the Library Steering Committee (LSC) issued a charge to the Library Web Committee that stated “TCNJ Library does not have an official policy for participating in social media. The LSC has received a suggestion to consider the nature and extent of the Library’s online presence in social media venues.”  The Library governance process requires a three step process for any charge to ensure that there are opportunities for formal testimony and open comment from affected individuals. The steps are:

  1. Identifying and reporting the problem. If necessary, the Library Steering Committee (LSC) will prepare a charge identifying the issue for the appropriate committee.
  2. Preparing a preliminary recommendation.
  3. Making a final recommendation.

Committees are expected to be proactive in inviting stakeholder groups to provide testimony at both steps # 2 and #3 of the process. This type of feedback is usually gathered through open forums in the Library, but attendance by undergraduates at these forums tends to be very low. Instead, a survey was created to better understand undergraduate preferences and potential levels of engagement.

Literature Review

For the last decade, libraries have investigated how to best make use of social media for everything from marketing and outreach to information literacy and instruction. In a 2006 article published in Library Journal, Beth Evans of Brooklyn College declared that the best way to reach students at her institution was Myspace (Evans, 2006). The same year Brian Matthews of Georgia Tech declared “Among college students, Facebook is king” (Matthews, 2006).

In 2010, Andy Burkhardt published guidelines for a library’s social media presence. In the article, he points out that when libraries are planning to use social media, or any technology they should first ask “Why are we doing this, and what do we hope to gain from it?” (Burkhardt, 2010).  While he offers no specific examples of what a library’s social media goal might be, he discusses its use as a tool for marketing new products or initiatives. He further explains that libraries should devise concrete goals for social media. One potential goal he cites is “after one year we will have 100 fans” (Burkhardt, 2010).

In her 2013 book entitled The Librarian’s Nitty-Gritty Guide to Social Media, Laura Solomon defined specific goals for social media usage. She recommends setting tangible goals such as “more people at events and programs” and “new knowledge about your patrons and how they view the library” (Salomon, 2013). Laura Solomon also reminds users that to accomplish the goal of getting more people at events through social media, it is not enough to just announce the event as a library would in a newsletter. Effective social media requires a lot of time, effort and planning in order to build connections and community (Salomon, 2013).

Following Burkhardt’s model, Montana State University (MSU) Library created guidelines for building community and developing engagement online with social media. Between April 2012 and August 2013, they were able to nearly double their Twitter followers, growing from 514 to 937. As of November 26th, 2016, their Twitter account has nearly 7,000 followers. While this is a massive increase, the student population at MSU in 2015 was 15,688 and the MSU Library indicates that only about 28% of its followers are students (Young & Rossmann, 2015).

Social Media at The College of New Jersey Library

In order to better understand the Library’s social media needs, the first step was to examine the social media policy of the College as a whole. The College publishes guidelines for creating a social media presence. TCNJ’s Office of Communications, Marketing, and Brand Management ask that the following questions be answered before starting any new social media channel on campus.

  1. What do you hope to achieve?
  2. Who is your audience?
  3. What channels would reach them most effectively?
  4. Do you have the resources and commitment to run these channels well?
  5. Are other related departments already doing something similar?
  6. Do you need multiple channels?  Would few, stronger channels be better?

The Library Web Committee first considered the question: “Who is our audience?”  To find the answer, the committee looked at TCNJ Library’s mission statement: “The College of New Jersey Library, in support of the College’s mission, provides high-quality information resources, expertise and a learning environment that enhances the search for knowledge and understanding. The Library serves as an intellectual, cultural and social center for the College, empowering TCNJ community members to become self-directed, lifelong learners and responsible citizens” ( Based on the mission statement, the Library’s audience is the entire TCNJ community.

The committee next looked at the question: “Are other related departments already doing something similar?” The committee found that the College was, and is, aggressively pursuing an active social media presence. For example, TCNJ created a page for use by faculty, staff, students and alumni called TCNJ Today. TCNJ Today is designed to share campus news, and pulls data from all of TCNJ’s social media accounts. TCNJ also has many official social media channels designed to reach the entire campus, including a Facebook page, Twitter account, YouTube channel, Instagram account, etc. All of these channels are already designed to reach the Library’s audience and the Office of Communications encourages individual departments to share their information on these already established channels. Many TCNJ schools and departments also have their own social media channels, targeting specific groups.

The next question the Library Web Committee evaluated was whether the Library had the resources to create and maintain social media channels of its own. Maintaining social media channels requires large investments in time and maintenance. Social media managers are frequently reminded of the Pareto principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 rule (Matei & Bruno, 2015). This rule states that only 20% of social media content should be about the brand – in this case the Library – and the other 80% should be other content that is interesting to and shareable by users. The type of posting required to keep a social media site relevant and interesting requires a significant amount of personnel hours and expertise, particularly in finding non-promotional material. As the library had no additional funding to hire new personnel, social media content would need to be generated by existing librarians and staff. This would require shifting responsibilities and would take librarians and library staff away from other ongoing and proposed projects.

Around the same time, other departments on campus began encouraging the Library to develop an institutional repository and digital archive. While these projects were not related to social media, limited resources and manpower made it impossible to continue with both of these efforts simultaneously. It was likely that these two projects would require the same librarians and staff to be successful. There was a great need to preserve and archive student and faculty research and material was being lost. Additionally, the demand for digital materials related to college history was growing as the need for fundraising on campus increased.

Finally, the Library looked at the most important question which asked: “What do we hope to achieve?” This came last because it was the least clear. TCNJ’s Library currently does not do any library programming throughout the year. While there are some events held inside the Library, the Library does not organize or sponsor them financially. Any promotion that the Library did was to advertise services and resources and to develop relationships with the TCNJ community.

The Committee also recognized that the Library markets itself and supports its community through building and maintaining strong relationships. The Library prioritizes face-to-face interactions to build relationships with students and faculty. An information literacy course is taught every semester by a librarian and is required of all incoming students. Subject liaisons teach dozens of library sessions throughout the semester. The liaisons also work individually with faculty and staff members to market our services by building relationships. In 2015 alone, librarians answered 5,600 reference and informational questions. Librarians also serve on college-wide committees and planning councils, insuring that no matter what is being discussed, the Library is always part of the conversation.

Research Methods

Faculty and staff opinions were gathered during open forums in the Library as part of the governance process. Open forums are held during open campus meeting times and allow interested faculty, staff and students to weigh in on proposed policy changes. Anonymous questions are gathered through a web form before the forum to frame the discussion. Participants are encouraged to give feedback at the forums or to provide it anonymously through the webform afterwards. This data is compiled and used during the decision making process, however due to Institutional Review Board (IRB) constraints, those comments cannot be shared publicly.

Student attendance at the open forums was predictably low so the Library decided to conduct a survey to assess specific undergraduate social media behavior. 86 undergraduate students were surveyed at TCNJ in the spring 2016 semester. Researchers obtained permission from professors to distribute surveys in randomly selected courses during regular scheduled meeting times. Students were then given the option to spend the first five minutes of class either completing the survey or working on other course work. All survey participation was optional, and the college’s IRB reviewed and approved the survey. The survey used the following definition: “Social media refers to any commercial product through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content. Examples include, but are not limited to Facebook, Instagram, Yik Yak, Snapchat and Twitter.”

The survey addressed the following research questions:

  1. For what purposes do students use social media applications?
  2. What are the students’ privacy concerns when using social media both personally and professionally?
  3. What are the students’ expectations for social media interactions?
  4. Is social media the best way to reach our audience?

The survey was designed to determine why TCNJ students use social media. Results showed that, while 97% of students utilized social media for personal use, the numbers were lower for professional, academic and college-related activities. 78% of students surveyed indicated that they used social media for academic course work, 70% used social media for professional purposes and 60% indicated that they used social media to interact with non-academic areas of the college such as housing or dining services.

In addition to assessing students’ social media habits, the survey also asked about their privacy concerns and how often they post publicly or anonymously on various topics. A Likert scale ranging from “very comfortable” to “not comfortable at all” was used to assess how willing students were to make public posts on various topics.

***Images are currently unavailable on our site. We are working to fix this issue as quickly as we can. We apologize for the disruption!***

In order to understand what type of communication the students expected to receive, we used a Likert scale asking students to rate how likely they were to expect a response to different types of feedback. 46.5% of students surveyed stated that they agreed or strongly agreed with this statement “When I post a comment or complaint about a customer service experience to their social media channels, I hope to get a response.”  Fewer, only approximately 37%, said that they agreed or strongly agreed with statements asking if they expected to receive a comment when posting to their own page, a third party or in an anonymous forum.

While, approximately 78% of students said that they use social media for academic course work, only about 50% were comfortable or very comfortable having professional or academic discussions on social media. Furthermore, students expressed less comfort using social media for activities related to course work, grades and teacher reviews. Therefore, while it was apparent that students were using these channels regularly, in view of the expressed discomfort with social media for academic and professional purposes, the Library determined that student needs could best be met through face-to-face interactions and other channels.

What Patrons Were Already Doing

If the Library was not going to create our own social media channels, the question then became how could existing channels best be used to reach the Library’s users? To do this, it was important to identify where TCNJ community members were online and more importantly where they wanted to find the Library online.

In order to find where TCNJ faculty, staff and students were and had been online, the committee did targeted searches of various social media accounts looking for posts mentioning both the words, TCNJ and Library. All of the posts shown in this paper were found in 2016, anywhere between one year and four years after they were posted. While too much time had passed to effectively respond to these individual posts, they were evaluated to better understand how the Library could respond to these types of postings in the future.

The posts reviewed were gathered from a variety of sources, including student-run and personal Twitter and Facebook accounts. While some of the posts addressed real or serious problems in the Library, others did not. It also was not always clear if the user expected a response. These posts could generally be categorized as related to facilities issues, noise and other student behavior complaints, and directional questions. Some examples of the posts are shown below.

***Images are currently unavailable on our site. We are working to fix this issue as quickly as we can. We apologize for the disruption!***

Currently, the Library provides several ways for students to report problems or request information. There is a Send-A-Suggestion form located on the Library website that allows users to send in comments or questions about the library. There is also a chat box, email form and SMS number on the Library website as part of our Ask-A-Librarian service. All of these methods allow the user to either comment anonymously or include their name. Issues raised on social media are already handled through these other channels. Students are also encouraged to come to the reference, circulation or IT help desk to ask questions and to report problems.


After evaluating the student survey, faculty feedback and existing social media interactions, the Library Web Committee concluded that there was not a sufficient need to justify creating Library-specific social media channels. Like most libraries, TCNJ Library has limited time and resources to accomplish its goals while meeting the needs of all of its patrons.

While the Library strives to keep up with ever changing technology, decisions need to be made that best meet the needs of the majority of the TCNJ community. For now, developing library-specific social media channels has been put aside so the Library’s efforts can stay focused on moving forward in other directions. Projects that are more highly demanded on campus, such as the Library’s institutional repository and digital archive need to take priority.

Despite the decision not to create library-specific social media channels, social media is a platform that cannot be ignored. The Library Web Committee determined that the Library can reach a wider audience through already established channels, without spending time and effort to develop and maintain Library-specific channels. The Committee continues to develop better relationships with TCNJ campus social media coordinators to ensure that news items get shared on the well-maintained channels that already exist. When trying to reach the campus community, librarians and library staff are encouraged to send newsworthy information to TCNJ’s Office of Communication, Marketing and Brand Management. This information will then be shared through social media channels already created and maintained by the College. In order to do this, the Library created a social media policy to encourage and to set guidelines for these types of communications. The policy is currently under review by Library administration.


Thank you to my reviewers Bethany Messersmith and Leah White and publishing editor Sofia Leung for their time and assistance with this project. Also, thank you to The College of New Jersey Library Web Committee for believing in me when I said it would be okay to not do something, even if it seemed as though everyone else was doing it.

  1. Burkhardt, A. (2010). “Social media: A guide for college and university libraries.” College & research libraries news, 71(1), 10-24.
  2. Constine, Josh (2016). “Yik Yak’s CTO drops out as the hyped anonymous app stagnates.” Tech Crunch. Retrieved from
  3. Digital Trends Staff (2016). “The history of social networking.” Digital Trends. Retrieved from
  4. Evans, B. (2006). “Your space or MySpace?” Library Journal, 37, 8-13
  5. Jacobson, T. B. (2011). “Facebook as a library tool: Perceived vs. actual use.” College & Research Libraries, 72(1), 79-90..
  6. Matei, S. A., & Bruno, R. J. (2015). “Pareto’s 80/20 law and social differentiation: A social entropy perspective.” Public Relations Review, 41(2), 178-186.
  7. Mathews, B. S. (2006). “Do you Facebook? Networking with students online.” College & Research Libraries News, 67(5), 306-307.
  8. Solomon, Laura. (2013). The Librarian’s Nitty-Gritty Guide to Social Media. Chicago, IL: ALA Editions
  9. Young, S. W., & Rossmann, D. (2015). “Building library community through social media.” Information Technology and Libraries, 34(1), 20-37.

Open Knowledge Foundation: 10 Critical Insights for Democratising the Data Revolution

Wed, 2017-01-18 13:00

This week marks the launch of the first-ever UN World Data Forum, aimed at bringing together data experts and sustainable development leaders. Danny Lämmerhirt shares findings from a new research series on citizen-generated data, how it can be used to monitor and drive change for sustainable development, and why this matters for civil society.

Image credit: Aotora (CC BY)

With the advent of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and evaluation of progress around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), actions around sustainability have increasingly centred around data collection, monitoring, and key indicators. The United Nations called for a data revolution – tapping into the vast trove of existing and emerging data sources – in order to prevent the marginalised and most vulnerable from being hidden behind national average numbers. 

This is a major step forward to promote concerted efforts around sustainability on an international stage. It acknowledges the role of information to change the way we live. But it leaves the questions open on how nation-wide monitoring can be translated into local action. How can the data revolution drive progress around sustainability? Will it foreground the issues that matter to the most vulnerable and marginalised?

The role of data for sustainable development

Data is not only a mere camera to look unto the world. By determining what is measured and how, data writes a certain story–and leaves out many others that could be written. Citizens and civil society increasingly recognise the value that data holds in tackling the issues affecting our lives – whether they are collecting evidence on oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, running surveys to understand the satisfaction of local communities with health facilities, or challenging existing statistics about politicised topics.

“Citizens and civil society increasingly recognise the value that data holds to tackle the issues affecting our lives…”

These projects prove the need for, what Jonathan Gray calls, a democratised data revolution – enabling citizens to ‘read’ and understand governance issues, providing them with evidence to engage with politics, or sparking their imagination to design and implement a solution to a problem.

Research series on Citizen-Generated Data can be found here.

This blogpost seeks to broaden our imagination of the role of data for sustainable development and provoke thinking on how to democratise the data revolution. Open Knowledge International teamed up with the DataShift to understand how citizens and civil society can create their own data to foreground the problems that matter most to them, and to directly monitor, demand or drive change on issues affecting them.

The series discusses three topics: Our first research piece sheds light on the incentives to produce citizen-generated data. The second research piece dives into the question how citizens generate data to inform decision-making and drive sustainability. If and how citizen data can be linked to the Sustainable Development Goals was subject of research piece three.

What follows is a list of ten provocations for a sustainability agenda that reflects the needs of civil society inspired by our research.

10 Critical Insights for Democratising the Data Revolution 1. Data needs to resonate with human problems, perceptions, and knowledge, to drive sustainability

In order to progress sustainability, support decision-making, and trigger action, the problems facing different stakeholders need to be well understood. Stakeholders have different priorities, values, or responsibilities, and are affected differently by an issue. Some actors may lack the literacy, knowledge, time, or interest to engage with complicated data.

Civic initiatives are most successful if they understand these nuances, and translate their data into digestible, easily understandable, and relevant messages. We observed that citizen-generated data transports the issue into other people’s minds by using a common framing, a narrative, or a story that resonates with other people’s priorities. Some case studies showed that the SDGs can be a useful common framing for collaboration between citizens, civil society, government, and the private sector –  enabling buy-in from decision-makers, funding, or other support for the cause of a civic project.

2. We must be more sensitive to figuring out which types of information is most useful for different types of decision-making

Of paramount importance are questions around what type of information is most useful and for whom. National government bodies may be responsible for allocating money to regions for water-point construction. Responsibility for their maintenance may reside with local districts. While the national government needs comparative data across regions to allocate infrastructure investments, local districts need hyperlocal water-point information.

The main purpose of the SDGs is to advance progress on sustainable development, which first and foremost requires action. However, the main focus lies on how to monitor actions on a national scale. A democratised data revolution would be more sensitive towards the data needed to enhance action at different geographic scales – but particularly on a local scale, in the realm of the everyday, where sustainable actions eventually have to be enrolled. It would start with the question which collaborations and governance arrangements are required to tackle which kinds of problems, and what data is needed to do so.

3. A democratised data revolution understands the vast array of actions needed to drive sustainability.

Citizen-generated data can inform diverse types of human decision-making that go beyond monitoring. Besides agenda setting and the flagging of problems, citizen-generated data can inspire citizens to design their own solutions. It can also give citizens the literacy to ‘read’ and understand governance issues and thereby provide confidence to engage with politics. Sometimes data can be used to directly implement a solution to a problem.

Citizen-generated data can directly steer behaviour and enable better actions by giving stakeholders relevant information to enable actions. It can also help taking decisions, or rewarding certain actions as performance indicators do. The value of citizen-generated data is fairly broad and depends largely on the issue it is used for and the individuals, groups, organisations, and networks using it.

4. National Statistics Offices are important for national monitoring – but actual action towards sustainable development is born on the shoulders of strong collaborations between governments, civil society, and others.

Given the holistic nature of sustainable development, achieving the SDGs requires concerted efforts. Projects working with citizen-generated data are exemplary for cross-sectoral collaborations. They often bring together actors from government, the private sector, and civil society, all of which have very different interests in the same data. Different actors can value different aspects of the data; understanding how actors perceive this value is key to build multi-stakeholder partnerships.

The right degree of participation is essential to manage collaborations: Should citizens or policy-makers be engaged in the definition of data? How does this affect the credibility of data and buy-in? Who should be engaged in the dissemination of findings? Does the project benefit collaborate with a ‘knowledge broker’ like an experienced advocacy group, a university, or a newspaper?

5. A democratised data revolution has a user-centric vision of data quality.

The SDGs argue that data needs to be accurate, reliable, disaggregated, and timely to be useable for SDG monitoring. Often citizen-generated data is refuted as lacking representativity and accuracy, or as not meeting other features of ‘good quality data’. This is only partly true: In practice, data is of ‘good quality’ if it is fit for purpose. If data shall drive action on the ground it often needs to match with the action at hand. Long-term monitoring needs reliable, accurate, and standardised data.

Setting the agenda for a formerly unknown issue may require a citizen-generated data project to build trust, and to ensure credibility. Some projects might need to produce highly disaggregated data, other tasks only require rough indications of trends. Successful citizen-generated data projects embrace these nuances instead of refuting data. It does not mean that methodological rigour is irrelevant for citizen-generated data. The opposite is the case. Data should be thoughtfully designed in order to address specific tasks and to respond to more ‘human criteria’ of data quality like issues of trust. What matters is that citizens collect data in a systematic way that demonstrates how the data was collected, and processed in the first place.

6. A democratised data revolution embraces the value of ‘soft data’.

Different types of data have different usefulness. The term ‘data’ itself seems to suggest a very narrow notion of numbers, figures, and statistics. Actors involved in policy-making seem to prefer ‘hard’ evidence (e.g. quantitative data from researchers and government agencies) over ‘soft’ evidence (e.g. narrative texts, personal perceptions, or autobiographical material). The soft evidence is often neglected,  in favour of numbers which become a main argumentative device. Debates around the data revolution or sustainable development data should not gloss over the fact that narrative texts, individual perceptions, interviews, images or video footage all count as ‘data’ – which might be best understood broadly as a building block of human knowledge, decision-making, and action.

In observed case studies, we found that soft data residing in written reports sparked investigations, guided civil society to spot the facts in official government documents and flag issues. In other cases, personal perceptions gave contextual information on why high-level policies succeeded or failed. A fixation on numbers is likely to hamper the quality of policy-making. Soft evidence, such as personal qualitative stories (including from marginalised groups), should, therefore, be more readily considered in policy decisions.

7. Passive monitoring, analysing, and visualising will not help to tackle sustainable development – targeted engagement strategies are needed.

Targeted engagement strategies do not end with publishing reports or visualising data online. Instead, the engagement methods need to be suitable for individual stakeholders and often involve public hearings, educational meetings with local decision-makers, on-site visits with decision makers, hackathons, or others. The engagement strategies should fit with the desired change, be it to change policies, perceptions, or individual behaviour.

8. Citizen-generated data provides contextual information around an SDG indicator and can prevent silo thinking

Given, that a fair amount of citizen-generated data projects is grounded in sub-national contexts, it can provide a baseline to understand (the absence of) progress around the SDGs. For instance, citizen-generated data projects working on disaster risk reduction may conduct hazard risk mapping, indicating local vulnerabilities to environmental disaster. The maps can be a baseline used to understand the outcomes of natural disasters. In other cases, citizens can collect data that is relevant across SDGs. In this way, citizen-generated data can contribute to preventing silo-thinking. For instance, data on land acquisition may be usable to understand gender-disaggregated land ownership, as well as the amount of arable land.

9. A democratised data revolution needs trust and credibility if it is to leverage the voices of the marginalised

Emerging data sources and practices put into question the monopoly of established data producers and routines. Big data, small data, citizen science, or social media are all examples of a reconfiguration how data becomes trustworthy information. Citizen-generated data can be leveraged to build trust with different communities, but a lack of official recognition or credibility can hamper uptake. What is needed is a culture of openness among governments, high-level decision-makers, and others towards emerging data sources that are not administered by established data producers.

10. The politics of data are crucial – a democratised data revolution acknowledges that some data does not represent sterile facts, but matters of concern.

The very process of creating data is born out of priorities over what to measure and how. The same applies to citizen-generated data which is intended to be a direct reflection of citizen’s issues. Sometimes citizens might want to highlight the magnitude of a problem and scale their data production across local regions. In order to scale citizen-generated data projects, collective data standards can be developed to render citizen-generated data comparable – sometimes at the expense of evening out local differences between data. A democratised data revolution would be more attuned to the political processes behind standardisation and would embrace the fact that sustainable development will not solely be built on one-size-fits-all solutions.

You can find all three reports on Citizen-Generated Data on the DataShift website.

HangingTogether: Can we measure and demonstrate the value of sharing collections?

Wed, 2017-01-18 08:30

“Value of Resource Sharing” discussion word cloud

In the spring of 2016, Brandeis University’s interim university librarian Matthew Sheehy and I engaged in some informal back-and-forth about the kinds of questions that can be answered about collection-sharing using data. We share an overlapping interest in finding ways in which data can be used to demonstrate or even measure the impact that library resource sharing operations have on the ability of a parent organization to fulfill its mission.

Our correspondence progressed to a point where we wanted to include more voices in the discussion. The idea was to get a number of stakeholders with various perspectives in a room to discuss the value of resource sharing. The 2016 American Library Association Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida, provided an ideal opportunity. Matthew and I took turns inviting colleagues whom we a) knew would be in Orlando, and b) thought would bring something essential to the conversation. We then settled on this starter set of four questions to kick off the meeting:

1) What is the value of resource sharing?
2) To whom?
3) Can it be measured?
4) How do we expect it will change?

The group gathered for 90 minutes at the Rosen Hotel in Orlando on Friday, June 24, 2016, which gave us just enough time to eat lunch, introduce ourselves, and say a bit about our top-of-mind issues. In spite of our limited amount of time together, we managed to produce what I think is a fairly detailed snapshot of the environment in which we work and laid the groundwork for a second discussion that will take place this coming Saturday at ALA Midwinter in Atlanta.

I thought our first pass at describing that environment might be worth sharing more broadly.

Our comments and questions can be sorted into seven main categories, or themes (which are listed below, along with what might arguably be considered the group’s top takeaway for each category).

We also noted some essential facts about metrics, came up with an inventory of ways that collection sharing is valued by three different sets of constituents, and made a few predictions about where the current roil of institutional, technological and economic forces might take us in the near future.

First, our seven categories of comments and questions, and our top takeaway for each:

1. Seeking to understand the current collection-sharing environment.

Top takeaway: We noted that ease of access tends to determine whether research materials get used.

2. Seeking to improve the current collection-sharing environment.

Top takeaway: Several participants noted that we don’t always know exactly what it is that our patrons value, and that it may actually vary in different situations; sometimes it’s speed, while at other times a longer use period or the ability to renew may weigh more heavily on a patron’s wish list. A better understanding of patron desires, expectations, and overall information-gathering behaviors would definitely be a big step toward improving our current sharing environment.

3. Calling some previously-shared values and assumptions into question.

Top takeaway: Once, and for the longest time, lending more than you borrow was a source of pride, but now some net lenders are beginning to think about how finite their resources have become and to wonder if their accustomed role in the sharing community is still sustainable (or desirable) in today’s environment.

4. Seeking to understand the effect of the changing environment on collection sharing.

Top takeaway: These days there are so many consortia to join and opportunities for collaborating that it is becoming essential for collection-sharing managers to carefully assess the value of each current and potential partnership and to limit themselves to participating only in those that are essential.

5. Seeking to understand the effect of the changing environment on the library overall (and, in some cases, the parent organization).

Top takeaway: We realize that, as many libraries manage down redundant print collections, fewer manifestations will have to serve as both preservation and service copies; we’ve seen that this concept works reasonably well with journals but wonder, as we move into shared management of print monographs, if it is a sustainable model for other formats.

6. Seeking to understand the effect of the changing environment on patron behaviors.

Top takeaway: We wondered what effects years of an “access over ownership” library collection-building strategy have had on research outputs at various levels and in the various disciplines.

7. Seeking to understand the effect of the changing environment on content and service providers.

Top takeaway: The increased popularity of libraries purchasing articles on demand for their patrons will lead to changes in the business models of publishers.

Next, we identified six different essential facts about resource sharing value metrics, including specific measurements that can and probably should be made, plus key ideas about why these metrics matter, and to whom.

Top takeaway regarding metrics: We know that we won’t be effective in improving the institution if we are using the wrong metrics to measure success.

Since “value” was the name of the game, we identified ten specific ways that collection sharing is valued, from three different points of view:

1. The Patron
2. ILL Staff
3. The Institution

Top takeaway regarding value: Value to the patron ultimately determines the value to the institution.

Finally, without specifically setting out to make any grand predictions, during the course of our meal four different predictions emerged – all of them having to do with resource sharing’s growing impact on collection management activities, and how that impact will affect ILL units, acquisitions, and content providers.

Top takeaway regarding our predictions: We expect resource sharing to change the course of library operations by becoming the steering mechanism for collection development and acquisitions, through purchase-on-demand for articles and patron-driven-acquisitions for loans, and also by creating effective delivery mechanisms to empower collective collection development across consortial relationships.

A fifth and final prediction came out of this initial session: that we would definitely seek to meet again in the not-so-distant future. When we gather once more this weekend in Atlanta, we’ll focus on trying to nail down ways in which we can actually measure and demonstrate the value of collection sharing to its various constituents. None of what I’ve reported above can be considered big news, but we hope that it will serve as solid ground upon which to stand for the next phase of our conversation.

Again, a detailed account of who said what that day can be found here.

About Dennis Massie

Dennis is a program officer for OCLC Research, concentrating on studies and activities involving the sharing of collections.

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District Dispatch: 7 sessions + 1 party = Washington Office at Midwinter 2017

Wed, 2017-01-18 00:15

What do Google, Inc., the Harvard School of Education, Georgia Department of Public Health and the Lakeview (Okl.) Elementary School have in common?

If you guessed “the Washington Office lineup at Midwinter 2017,” you were right! Our sessions cover topics ranging from computer science education to professional development to family engagement in libraries. For your convenience, we’ve compiled a list of events below. Note: if you plan to participate one of the CS sessions on Friday, please pre-register to ensure there will be enough laptops – and Google goodies! – for everyone.

Join us for a final conference farewell to Washington Office Executive Director Emily Sheketoff, who retires in May

Finally, please join the ALA Washington Office in celebrating Emily Sheketoff’s 17 years of lobbying chutzpah with and for libraries in a reception on Sunday, January 22, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center (International Ballroom A-C). We’ll provide light fare and beverages, and invite you to share well wishes at Emily’s last ALA conference as she retires as executive director of the Washington Office. At 11:45 a.m., people will have the opportunity to share their recollections about Emily and libraries. Please RSVP to Ros Bradley ( as soon as possible.



Libraries Ready To Code: Google’s CS First program & other free resources
Friday, 1:00-2:20 and 2:40-4:00 p.m. (offered twice); pre-registration recommended

  • Tina Ornduff, Program Manager, Engineering Education, Google
  • Hai Hong, Program Manager, Google K-12 Education Outreach, Google Education, Google Inc.
  • Marijke Visser, ALA OITP

Improving Federal and State Policy to Support Family Engagement in Libraries (joint program with PLA)
Saturday, 10:30-11:30 a.m.

  • Scott Allen, Deputy Director, American Library Association, Public Library Association
  • Larra Clark, Deputy Director, Public Library Association/ALA Office for Information Technology Policy
  • Margaret Caspe Klein, PhD, Senior Research Analyst, Harvard Family Research Project, Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Johanna Pringle, Title V Senior Manager, Georgia Department of Public Health

Are libraries ready to code?
Saturday, 3:00-4:00 p.m.

  • Linda Braun, Consultant
  • Kelsey Gourd, Teacher Librarian, Lakeview Elementary School
  • Marijke Visser, Associate Director Office for Information Technology Policy

‘I wish someone had taught me to ___’: An interactive session for children and youth librarians
Sunday and Monday, 10:30 a.m. to noon (offered twice)

  • Dr. Mega Subramaniam, Associate Professor, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland
  • Dr. Tammy Clegg, Assistant Professor, College of Education, University of Maryland.
  • Amanda Waugh, Doctoral Candidate, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland

Google Fiber libraries:Infrastructure and digital inclusion
Sunday 1:00-2:30 p.m.

  • Fabiola Charles Stokes (moderator): Google Fiber Community Impact Manager
  • Frank Blair: Director of Technology and Operations, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
  • Emma Hernandez: Digital Inclusion Fellow, San Antonio Public Library
  • Shauna Edson: Digital Inclusion Fellow, Salt Lake City Public Library
  • Daynise Joseph: Community Impact Manager, Nashville Public Library

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OCLC Dev Network: Change to Requesting Sandbox WSKeys

Tue, 2017-01-17 22:30

How Sandbox WSkeys are requested has changed. Please see the FAQ.

Brown University Library Digital Technologies Projects: Storing Embargo Data in Fedora

Tue, 2017-01-17 20:53

We have been storing dissertations in the BDR for a while. Students have the option to embargo their dissertations, and in that case we set the access rights so that the dissertation documents are only accessible to the Brown community (although the metadata is still accessible to everyone). The problem is that embargoes can be extended upon request, so we really needed to store the embargo extension information.

We wanted to use a common, widely-used vocabulary for describing the embargoes, instead of using our own terms.  We investigated some options, including talking with Hydra developers on Slack, and emailing the PCDM community. Eventually, we opened a PCDM issue to address the question of embargoes in PCDM. As part of the discussion and work from that issue, we created a shared document that lists many vocabularies that describe rights, access rights, embargoes, … Eventually, the consensus in the PCDM community was to recommend the PSO and FaBiO ontologies (part of the SPAR Ontologies suite), and a wiki page was created with this information.

At Brown, we’re using the “Slightly more complex” option on that wiki page. It looks like this:

<pcdm:Object> pso:withStatus pso:embargoed .

<pcdm:Object> fabio:hasEmbargoDate “2018-11-27T00:00:01Z”^^xsd:dateTime .

In our repository, we’re not on Fedora 4 or PCDM, so we just put statements like these in the RELS-EXT datastream of our Fedora 3 instance. It looks like this:

<rdf:RDF xmlns:fabio=“” xmlns:pso=“” xmlns:rdf=“”>
<rdf:Description rdf:about=“info:fedora/test:230789”>
<pso:withStatus rdf:resource=“”></pso:withStatus>

In the future, we may want to track various statuses for an item (eg. dataset) over its lifetime. In that case, we may move toward more complex PSO metadata that describes various states that the item has been in.

District Dispatch: Developing librarian resources to enhance patrons’ digital literacy

Tue, 2017-01-17 19:43

Guest post by Jessica Vitak

Applying for jobs, social services, or food stamps. Obtaining health care. Filing taxes. Each of these tasks requires digital skills to transmit sensitive and private information about one’s finances, health, and location in a safe and secure manner through the Web. However, many low-SES individuals face compounding problems: they must use the Web or other communication technologies to get access to important resources but they often lack both direct access to the technologies and the requisite knowledge and skills to successfully navigate them.

Digital literacy is an increasingly critical skill in modern society to ensure that sensitive personal information submitted through online channels is not compromised. That said, many Americans—and especially those in economically disadvantaged groups—lack the proper knowledge or training to safely and securely navigate the Internet.

This is where librarians enter. Public librarians serve a critical role in local communities. When it comes to engaging with technology, they act as information intermediaries, assisting patrons in exchanging and disseminating personal information, translating technical information, and making information easier to use. Librarians wear many hats in their jobs; they must manage a wide range of information sources and develop a wide range of privacy and security skills to most effectively serve patrons. This makes it essential to identify the most important challenges they face when providing services to their communities and to develop resources that counter those challenges.

Drs. Jessica Vitak and Mega Subramaniam, faculty in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland, recently received an IMLS National Leadership Grant to address this research problem. During the next three years, they will be working with key stakeholders, including public librarians and economically disadvantaged and immigrant families—as well as their children—to identify the areas of greatest need around digital literacy and privacy/security, to develop sustainable resources for each group, and to implement these resources in library settings. The project strives to build skills and abilities in the library workforce and provide ongoing and evolving resources that adapt to stakeholders’ needs over time.

Interested in contributing to this project?
During the ALA Midwinter Conference in Atlanta, Drs. Vitak and Subramaniam are conducting focus groups with public librarians to discuss the most salient challenges they face around digital literacy when serving their constituents. If you’ll be at the conference, they would love to speak with you about their experiences. They have two times available on Sunday, January 22: 8:30-10:00am and 1:00-2:30pm, both at the Georgia World Convention Center. Snacks will be provided.

To participate, sign-up is required. If you are interested, please submit your information via this Google Form.

More information can be found on the project’s website, Safe Data | Safe Families. Questions can be directed to Dr. Vitak at

Jessica Vitak (@jvitak) is an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies, studying different populations’ knowledge of, attitudes toward, and enactment of privacy strategies in online spaces. She is the Director of the Center for the Advanced Study of Communities and Information (CASCI).

Mega Subramaniam (@mmsubram) is an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies, studying young adults’ use of libraries for their development of digital literacies and information practices. She led the development of this certificate, and serves as the certification Director.

The post Developing librarian resources to enhance patrons’ digital literacy appeared first on District Dispatch.

ZBW German National Library of Economics: Economists in Wikidata: Opportunities of Authority Linking

Tue, 2017-01-17 15:53

Wikidata is a large database, which connects all of the roughly 300 Wikipedia projects. Besides interlinking all Wikipedia pages in different languages about a specific item – e.g., a person -, it also connects to more than 1000 different sources of authority information.

The linking is achieved by a „authority control“ class of Wikidata properties. The values of these properties are identifiers, which unambiguously identify the wikidata item in external, web-accessible databases. The property definitions includes an URI pattern (called „formatter URL“). When the identifier value is inserted into the URI pattern, the resulting URI can be used to look up the authoritiy entry. The resulting URI may point to a Linked Data resource - as it is the case with the GND ID property. This, on the one hand, provides a light-weight and robust mechanism to create links in the web of data. On the other hand, these links can be exploited by every application which is driven by one of the authorities to provide additional data: Links to Wikipedia pages in multiple languages, images, life data, nationality and affiliations of the according persons, and much more.

Wikidata item for the Indian Economist Bina Agarwal, visualized via the SQID browser

In 2014, a group of students under the guidance of Jakob Voß published a handbook on "Normdaten in Wikidata" (in German), describing the structures and the practical editing capabilities of the the standard Wikidata user interface. The experiment described here focuses on persons from the subject domain of economics. It uses the authority identifiers of the about 450,000 economists referenced by their GND ID as creators, contributors or subjects of books, articles and working papers in ZBW's economics search portal EconBiz. These GND IDs were obtained from a prototype of the upcoming EconBiz Research Dataset (EBDS). To 40,000 of these persons, or 8.7 %, a person in Wikidata is connected by GND. If we consider the frequent (more than 30 publications) and the very frequent (more than 150 publications) authors in EconBiz, the coverage increases significantly:

Economics-related Persons in EconBiz Number of publications total in Wikidata percentage Datasets: EBDS as of 2016-11-18; Wikidata as of 2016-11-07 (query, result) > 0 457,244 39,778 8.7 % > 30 18,008 3,232 17.9 % > 150 1,225 547 44.7 %

These are numbers "out of the box" - ready-made opportunities to link out from existing metadata in EconBiz and to enrich user interfaces with biographical data from Wikidata/Wikipedia, without any additional effort to improve the coverage on either the EconBiz or the Wikidata side. However: We can safely assume that many of the EconBiz authors, particularly of the high-frequency authors, and even more of the persons who are subject of publications, are "notable" according the Wikidata notablitiy guidelines. Probably, their items exist and are just missing the according GND property.

To check this assumption, we take a closer look to the Wikidata persons which have the occupation "economist" (most wikidata properties accept other wikidata items - instead of arbitrary strings - as values, which allows for exact queries and is indispensible in a multilingual environment).  Of these approximately 20,000 persons, less than 30 % have a GND ID property! Even if we restrict that to the 4,800 "internationally recognized economists" (which we define here as having Wikipedia pages in three or more different languages), almost half of them lack a GND ID property. When we compare that with the coverage by VIAF IDs, more than 50 % of all and 80 % the internationally recognized Wikidata economists are linked to VIAF (SPARQL Lab live query). Therefore, for a whole lot of the persons we have looked at here, we can take it for granted the person exists in Wikidata as well as in the GND, and the only reason for the lack of a GND ID is that nobody has added it to Wikidata yet.

As an aside: The information about the occupation of persons is to be taken as a very rough approximation: Some Wikidata persons were economists by education or at some point of their career, but are famous now for other reasons (examples include Vladimir Putin or the president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf). On the other hand, EconBiz authors known to Wikidata are often qualified not as economist, but as university teacher, politican, historican or sociologist. Nevertheless, their work was deemed relevant for the broad field of economics, and the conclusions drawn at the "economists" in Wikidata and GND will hold for them, too: There are lots of opportunities for linking already well defined items.

What can we gain?

The screenshot above demonstrates, that not only data about the person itself, her affiliations, awards received, and possibly many other details can be obtained. The "Identifiers" box on the bottom right shows authoritiy entries. Besides the GND ID, which served as an entry point for us, there are links to VIAF and other national libraries' authorities, but also to non-library identifier systems like ISNI and ORCID. In total, Wikidata comprises more than 14 million authority links, more than 5 millions of these for persons.

When we take a closer look at the 40,000 EconBiz persons which we can look up by their GND ID in Wikidata, an astonishing variety of authorities is addressed from there: 343 different authorities are linked from the subset, ranging from "almost complete" (VIAF, Library of Congress Name Authority File) to - in the given context- quite exotic authorities of, e.g., Members of the Belgian Senate, chess players or Swedish Olympic Committee athletes. Some of these entries link to carefully crafted biographies, sometimes behind a paywall  (Notable Names Database, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Munzinger Archiv, Sächsische Biographie, Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani), or to free text resources (Project Gutenberg authors). Links to the world of museums and archives are also provided, from the Getty Union List of Artist Names to specific links into the British Museum or the Musée d'Orsay collections.

A particular use can be made of properties which express the prominence of the according persons: Nobel Prize IDs, for example, definitivly should be linked to according GND IDs (and indeed, they are). But also TED speakers or persons with an entry in the Munzinger Archive (a famous and long-established German biographical service) are assumed to have GND IDs. That opens a road to a very focused improvement of the data quality: A list of persons with that properties, restricted to the subject field (e.g., "occupation economist"), can be easily generated from Wikidata's SPARQL Query Service. In Wikidata, it is very easy to add the missing ID entries discovered during such cross-checks interactively. And if it turns out that an "very important" person from the field is missing from the GND at all, that is a all-the-more valuable opportunity to improve the data quality at the source.

How can we start improving?

As a prove of concept, and as a practical starting point, we have developed a micro-application for adding missing authority property values. It consists of two SPARQL Lab scripts: missing_property creates a list of Wikidata persons, which have a certain authority property (by default: TED speaker ID) and lacks another one (by default: GND ID). For each entry in the list, a link to an application is created, which looks up the name in the according authority file (by default: search_person, for a broad yet ranked full-text search of person names in GND). If we can identify the person in the GND list, we can copy its GND ID, return to the first one, click on the link to the Wikidata item of the person and add the property value manually through Wikidata's standard edit interface. (Wikidata is open and welcoming such contributions!) It takes effect within a few seconds - when we reload the missing_property list, the improved item should not show up any more.

Instead of identifying the most prominent economics-related persons in Wikidata, the other way works too: While most of the GND-identified persons are related to only one or twe works, as an according statistics show, few are related to a disproportionate amount of publications. Of the 1,200 persons related to more than 150 publications, less than 700 are missing links to Wikidata by their GND ID. By adding this property (for the vast majority of these persons, a Wikidata item should already exist), we could enrich, at a rough estimate, more than 100,000 person links in EconBiz publications. Another micro-application demonstrates, how the work could be organized: The list of EconBiz persons by descending publication count provides "SEARCH in Wikidata" links (functional on a custom endpoint): Each link triggers a query which looks up all name variants in GND and executes a search for these names in a full-text indexed Wikidata set, bringing up an according ranked list of suggestions (example with the GND ID of John H. Dunning). Again, the GND ID can be added - manually but straightforward - to an identified Wikidata item.

While we can not expect to reduce the quantitative gap between the 450,000 persons in EconBiz and the 40,000 of them linked to Wikidata significantly by such manual efforts, we surely can step-by-step improve for the most prominent persons. This empowers applications to show biographical background links to Wikipedia where our users expect them most probably. Other tools for creating authority links and more automated approaches will be covered in further blog posts. And the great thing about wikidata is: All efforts add up - while we are doing modest improvements in our field of interest, many others do the same, so Wikidata already features an impressive overall amont of authority links.

PS. All queries used in this analysis are published at GitHub. The public Wikidata endpoint cannot be used for research involving large datasets due to its limitations (in particular the 30 second timeout, the preclusion of the "service" clause for federated queries, and the lack of full-text search). Therefore, we’ve loaded the Wikidata dataset (along with others) into custom Apache Fuseki endpoints on a performant machine. Even there, a „power query“ like the one on the number of all authority links in Wikidata takes about 7 minutes. Therefore, we publish the according result files in the GitHub repository alongside with the queries.

Wikidata for Authorities Wikidata   Authority control   Linked data  

DPLA: Arielle Perry Joins DPLA as Program Assistant

Tue, 2017-01-17 15:45

The Digital Public Library of America is pleased to welcome Arielle Perry as our new Program Assistant.

In this role, Perry will work closely with Executive Director Dan Cohen and DPLA staff to manage the efficient administration of various DPLA projects and initiatives, including DPLAfest. Perry will also serve as liaison to DPLA’s Board of Directors; facilitate communication between DPLA’s staff, partners, community, and the public; and provide administrative assistance to support the executive director, as well as other programs including the Community Reps and team meetings, trainings, and events held throughout the year.

“We are very excited to welcome Arielle to DPLA” said Executive Director Dan Cohen. “Arielle brings the skills and experience to play an essential role in the efficient administration of our organization as we embark on exciting projects in 2017.”

Perry has a diverse background in libraries, administration, and special events. Prior to DPLA, Arielle worked with the Friends of the University of Wisconsin—Madison Libraries as the Administrative Program Specialist to create special events and support collaborative educational programs. Before working with the Friends, Arielle held a number of positions with local and university libraries and worked on special event planning and implementation for community groups and educational organizations.  Arielle holds a master’s degree in Library and Information Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a BA in History from Virginia Wesleyan College.

Welcome, Arielle!

LibUX: When Native Apps are Unethical

Tue, 2017-01-17 13:10

This episode of Metric is very much a companion to last week’s post on consciously infusing the ethics of the organization into design decisions.

There is an opportunity for institutions that are positioned — either actively or by reputation — as intellectual and moral community cores (libraries) to exert greater if not just more obvious influence on the filters through which patrons access content. Critical Librarianship in the Design of Libraries

It’s been an upward battle for accessibility wresting a seat at the design table even though it’s core to the user experience. It’s now time to pull-up a chair for ethical considerations.

It’s been almost three years since I amended the UX Honeycomb with “ethical”.


The ethics of good design: a principle for the connected age by Aaron Weyenberg

Good design is ethical. The product places the user’s interest at the center of its purpose. Any effort to influence the user’s agency or behavior is in the spirit of their own positive wellbeing, and the wellbeing of those around them. Aaron Weyenberg

Listen and subscribe

If you like, you can download the MP3 or subscribe to LibUX on StitcheriTunes, YouTube, Soundcloud, Google Music, or just plug our feed straight into your podcatcher of choice.

Open Knowledge Foundation: Structuring a Global Online Survey – A Question Engine for Open Data Surveys!

Tue, 2017-01-17 10:00

The Global Open Data Index (GODI) is one of our core projects at Open Knowledge International. The index measures and benchmarks the openness of government data around the world. Brook Elgie shares a behind-the-scenes look at the technical design of how we gather the data for the Index through our extensive Open Data Survey and how other organisations can use this survey codebase for their own purposes.

The Global Open Data Index Survey is an annual survey of the state of government open data around the world. The survey asks a series of questions about the availability and quality of a set of key datasets. As well as providing a valuable snapshot of the state of open data around the world, it also promotes discussion and engagement between government and civil society organisations.

This year Open Knowledge International made changes to the methodology and structure of the survey, and it was an ideal opportunity to revisit the way questions are handled technically within the survey codebase. As well as the survey for the Global Open Data Index, the same codebase hosts surveys for ‘local’ sites, for example, an individual country, or city administration.

Previously, the questions presented for each dataset were a hard-coded feature of the survey codebase. These questions were inflexible and couldn’t be tailored to the specific needs of an individual site. So, while each local site could customise the datasets they were interested in surveying, they had to use our pre-defined question set and scoring mechanisms.

We also wanted to go beyond simple ‘yes/no’ question types. Our new methodology required a more nuanced approach and a greater variety of question types: multiple-choice, free text entry, Likert scales, etc.

Also important is the entry form itself. The survey can be complex but we wanted the process of completing it to be clear and as simple as possible. We wanted to improve the design and experience to guide people through the form and provide in-context help for each question.

Question Sets

The previous survey hard-coded the layout order of questions and their behaviour as part of the entry form. We wanted to abstract out these details from the codebase into the CMS, to make the entry form more flexible. So we needed a data structure to describe not just the questions, but their order within the entry form and their relationships with other questions, such as dependencies. So we came up with a schema, written in JSON. Take this simple set of yes/no questions:

  1. Do you like apples?
  2. Do you like RED apples? (initially disabled, enable if 1 is ‘Yes’)
  3. Have you eaten a red apple today? (initially disabled, enable if 2 is ‘Yes’)

We want to initially display questions 1, 2, and 3, but questions 2 and 3 should be disabled by default. They are enabled once certain conditions are met. Here is what the form looks like:

And this is the Question Set Schema that describes the relationships between the questions, and their position in the form:

Each question has a set of default properties, and optionally an ifProvider structure that defines conditional dependent features. Each time a change is made in the form, each question’s ifProvider should be checked to see if its properties need to be updated.

For example, question 2, apple_colour, is initially visible, but disabled. It has a dependency on the like_apples question (the ‘provider’). If the value of like_apples is Yes, apple_colour‘s properties will be updated to make it enabled.

React to the rescue

The form is becoming a fairly complex little web application, and we needed a front-end framework to help manage the interactions on the page. Quite early on we decided to use React, a ‘Javascript library for building user interfaces’ from Facebook.

React allows us to design simple components and compose them into a more complex UI. React encourages a one-way data flow; from a single source of truth, passed down into child components via properties. Following this principle helped identify the appropriate location in the component hierarchy for maintaining state; in the top level QuestionForm component.

Component’s hierarchy for the entry form:

  1. QuestionForm (red)
  2. QuestionField (orange)
  3. Sub-components: QuestionInstructions, QuestionHeader, and QuestionComments (green)

Changing values in the QuestionFields will update the state maintained in the QuestionForm, triggering a re-render of child components where necessary (all managed by React). This made it easy for one QuestionField to change its visible properties (visibility, enabled, etc) when the user changes the value of another field (as determined by our Question Set Schema).

You can see the code for the entry form React UI on Github.

Some other benefits of using React:

  • it was fairly easy to write automated tests for the entry form, using Enzyme
  • we can render the initial state of the form on the server and send it to the page template using our web application framework (Express)
Developing in the Open

As with all of Open Knowledge International’s projects, the Open Data Survey is developed in the Open and available as Open Source software: Open Data Survey on Github.