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LITA: Jobs in Information Technology: September 6, 2017

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-09-06 20:41

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

Purdue University Northwest, Reference/Instruction Librarian, Westville, IN

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

Islandora: CLAW Install Sprint Recap

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-09-06 15:09
We've just wrapped up our first community sprint on providing a more modular and flexible installer using Ansible, and it was totally awesome. Our team of active community volunteers tackled Ansible head on and nearly brought claw-playbook to feature parity with claw_vagrant. This means that once a few outstanding issues are resolved, claw-playbook will not only replace claw_vagrant for development environments, but can also be used to install CLAW on bare metal! This is what we've all been waiting for! This giant leap forward could not have happened without our talented and dedicated community volunteers. We'd like to thank each and every one of you (and your bosses!) for generously donating your time and talents to our casue:
  • Bryan Brown (Florida State University)
  • Jared Whiklo (University of Manitoba)
  • Adam Soroka (Smithsonian Institution)
  • Natkeeran Kanthan (University of Toronto Scarborough)
  • Marcus Barnes (University of Toronto Scarborough)
  • Jonathan Green (LYRASIS)
  • Diego Pino (Metropolitan New York Library Council)
  • Rosie Le Faive (University of Prince Edward Island)
  • Brian Woolstrum (Carnegie Mellon)
  • Yamil Suarez (Berklee College of Music)
  • Gavin Morris (Born-Digital)
And remember folks, we still have more devops goals to reach for, like muli-server setups and containerization. So be on the lookout for another call for stakeholders soon!

In the Library, With the Lead Pipe: From AASL Standards to the ACRL Framework: Higher Education Shifts in Pedagogical Strategies

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-09-06 15:00
In Brief

How does the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education function in relation to the information literacy standards used with students in K-12 schools and how does it inform academic librarians’ pedagogical strategies? While these documents are strongly related, there are large differences in their theoretical approach to information literacy, which are revealed in their definitions, treatment of dispositions, and approach to measurement. This leaves gaps in instructional approaches and student learning. Understanding these differences enables librarians in higher education to leverage the Framework to teach all students and fill in instructional gaps, regardless of how much information literacy instruction they have received in the past.

Introduction

I became an academic librarian in August 2016, shortly after the ACRL formally adopted the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. The Framework is a fundamentally different document than the AASL Standards for 21st Century Learners, the standards from which I worked as library media specialist in a college preparatory high school. While the student population in that high school was fairly homogeneous (racially, socio-economically, etc), the students in my college classes were from all over the world, had any background imaginable, and were at different skill levels. They had unique K-12 experiences and vastly varying degrees of information literacy instruction prior to coming to campus. I needed to work effectively with the Framework in planning lessons and assessing student learning to properly support all of these students. To better understand a new guiding document, I did close readings, comparing and contrasting the two documents, and delved into articles discussing their usage and teaching philosophy; however, I found no literature on how the two functioned together. In this paper, I use the final draft of The Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education (2015) and the current 2009 version of the AASL Standards for 21st Century Learners and examine them independently from how they are utilized in classrooms. I set out to compare and contrast the theory behind each of the documents, AASL relying on behaviorist theory and the Framework relying on critical librarianship and social constructivism. These theories speak very different ideas about how students learn about information, creates learning gaps, and effects our pedagogy practices in the classroom.

Theoretical Approaches

Each document presents a set of beliefs and a definition of information literacy that provides groundwork for the formation of their objectives (the Standards for AASL and the Knowledge Practices for ACRL). The AASL Standards’ Common Beliefs are a series of statements placed in the beginning of the document without any introduction as to their meaning or purpose. I am writing with the assumption that these present an underlying philosophy for the standards. The Common Beliefs include statements like “ethical behavior in the use of information must be taught,” “school libraries are essential to the development of learning skills,” and “technology skills are crucial for future employment needs” (AASL, 2009, pg. 2-3). The AASL Standards’ definition of information literacy, placed within the Common Beliefs and further explained directly after, states that “Information literacy has progressed from the simple definition of using reference resources to find information. Multiple literacies, including digital, visual, textual, and technological, have now joined information literacy as crucial skills for this century.” Each of the Standards begin with “Learners use skills, resources, and tools to: [action word here]” (AASL, 2009, pg. 3).

This definition and standard set is skills focused, emphasizing the use of tools and technological skills to find information. This approach, like the older ACRL Standards, views information as “a commodity external to the learner, which can be sought out, possessed, and used” and portrays the students as individuals who acquire information skills through practice (Foasberg, 2015, pg. 702). These foundational principles are much more reflective of behaviorist theory, a teaching theory that asserts that is “typified by rote learning, drill-and-practice” and “manifests itself through changed bahaviours such as the acquisition of new practical abilities” (Elliot, 2009, pg. 1). This approach typically views the instructor as the ultimate authority within the classroom and that teaching and learning is sequential. What this means in information literacy is that if a student acquires the skills to access information through a variety of avenues, in a particular order, then they will have achieved information literacy. Behaviorist focus on sequence is seen through the Standards’ structure. They approach each measure in a highly structured, nested fashion that provides a clear order in which students are to approach research and information. Standard 1.1.1 states students should “follow an inquiry-based process in seeking knowledge in curricular subjects, and make the real-world connection for using this process in own life” (AASL, 2009, p. 3). The rest of the standards in section 1 then present an ordered, linear list of actions students are to take for this “inquiry-based process.”

The Standards for the 21st-Century Learner in Action defines dispositions as “learning behaviors, attitudes, and habits of mind that transform a learner from one who is able to learn to one who actually does learn”, states that they can be taught through assignment structure (i.e., building in activities that require persistence), and “can be assessed through documentation that proves the student has followed the behavior during the learning process” (2009, p. 8). This is reiterated in the Standards document itself which defines dispositions as “ongoing beliefs and attitudes that guide thinking and intellectual behavior that can be measured through actions taken” (AASL, 2009, pg. 8). But does a student’s action and behavior truly reflect an inward attitude? While the actions prescribed in the AASL Standards should not be ignored or undervalued, it is problematic to assume that an attitude can be measured through action or that learning can only occurs with the “right” attitude. Many students learn to simply act the way they think they are supposed to act (I was one of these students!). The Standards also have a tendency to hide additional physical, observable skills within the Dispositions sections, further confusing inward attitudes and outward behavior.

While the AASL Standards mention social context, working together, and thinking skills that launch independent learning, they do not place a lot of focus on student reflection. The Framework’s beliefs explicitly address both the faculty and student roles and responsibilities, reflecting on their own behaviors and actions with the academic community, and how information functions in a cultural landscape. Each of the frames within the Framework provides a concise statement and provides a list that begins with “Learners who are developing their information literate abilities [action word here]” (AASL, 2009, pg. 3). The Standards focus on the student using a tool or someone else’s expertise to complete their tasks; the Framework places the focus on what the student is doing and thinking. The difference is subtle and simple, but significant.

The Framework defines information literacy as a social practice, emphasizing “dynamism, flexibility, individual growth, and community learning.” It reaches beyond skills in locating information and addresses how information is created, how the students use the information to create their own knowledge, and students’ responsibilities to participate in the learning community. This is strongly reflective of critical librarianship and social constructivist pedagogy, a theory that emphasizes how a student’s language and culture, as well as context (of the information and the student’s role in society) affects learning. Critical Librarianship is the “inflection of critical theory in library and information science” (Garcia, 2015, par. 6) and has been defined as “a movement of library workers dedicated to bringing social justice principles into our work in libraries” (Critlib, n.d., par. 1). It states that “critical self-reflection is crucial in becoming more self-directed in the rapidly changing ecosystem.” Critical self-reflection depends heavily on student engagement and requires librarians to create lessons that focus more on the nature of information as opposed to lessons that focus on extracting information (articles and resources) from a system. The Frames, or threshold concepts (ideas that enlarge ways of thinking) are arranged in alphabetical order, providing no sequence and implying that each concept is equal in importance. While some order of research process is provided within the Research as Inquiry and Searching as Strategic Exploration frames, there are major language differences. Instead of emphasizing order (there are no numbers in the Frames’ lists), the Framework breaks down cognitive skills that are at play in searching:

Comparison between AASL Standards and ACRL Framework Standards: Standard 1.1.8 Framework: Searching as Strategic Exploration “Learners demonstrate mastery of tech tools for accessing information and pursuing inquiry.” “Match information needs and strategies to appropriate search tools.”
“Design and refine needs and search strategies as necessary, based on search results.”
“Understand how information systems (i.e. collections of recorded information) are organized in order to access relevant information.”
“Use different types of searching language (e.g., controlled vocabulary, keywords, and natural language) appropriately.”

Staying true to its focus on self-reflection, The framework defines dispositions quite differently than the Standards. Dispositions are a “tendency to act or think in a particular way. More specifically, a disposition is a cluster of preferences, attitudes, and intentions, as well as a set of capabilities that allow the preferences to becomes realized in a particular way” (Salomon, 1994). The Framework views dispositions as a dimension of learning, implying that the student’s attitudes and values are present and active at all times (ACRL, 2015, pg. 2). Because the Framework acknowledges that these attitudes are ongoing, the dispositions set forth are to be born out of, or at the very least, influenced by, the knowledge practices. They are not meant to be a set of measurable outcomes but a set of “good ideas” that instructors are trying to grow within students’ mental landscape during instruction.

Instructional and Learning Gaps

These differences in approach leave gaps within student learning. These gaps include the issue of authority, age-appropriate cognitive awareness, creating personal connections with information, information privilege, awareness of the creation process, and how information is used.

Perhaps the largest gap in focus between the documents is the issue of authority, which is largely absent in the Standards. It is briefly mentioned in Standard 1.1.5: learners “evaluate information found in selected sources on the basis of accuracy, validity, appropriateness for needs, importance, and social and cultural context.” There is no information on how students should determine accuracy or validity, and so it implies that sources should be chosen prior to identifying where authority comes from in their chosen research subject. Because the Standards are largely behavior based, this pedagogical approach relies on the instructor. This is not a comment on the professional knowledge of the instructor but of the tradition of placing authority solely in instructors and in academic resources found through library databases. In addition, this leaves very little room for choosing an informally packaged source, such as social media.

The Framework provides an entire frame on authority, discusses how students will define different types of authority, and acknowledges that different disciplines have accepted authorities. It highlights how the social nature of the information ecosystem effects where researchers go to discuss findings and connect with each other. The Framework also invites students to consider their own views, giving them authority in the research process as well as those who guide them through it. Teaching concepts of authority could lead students to first identify authority figures prior to beginning research; however, the Framework does not prescribe an order in which research should be approached in this area.

Another gap between these documents is the issue of age appropriate cognitive process. Standard 2 states that “learners use skills, resources, and tools to: draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge.” This standard is all about drawing conclusions and synthesis. This standard is one of the most difficult to address with younger students. Bloom’s Taxonomy, published in 1956 and revised in 2001, is a framework created to classify thinking into six cognitive levels of complexity. This framework begins at a rote level of thinking (remembering) and works its way up through understanding, applying, analyzing, and evaluating, up to the highest level (creating) (Anderson, et al., 2001, p. 31). K-12 pedagogy still relies heavily on Bloom’s Taxonomy, and while most of the Standards focus heavily on the bottom layers of cognition (using tools, retrieving information, following procedures, etc.), Standard 2 primarily focuses on higher levels of cognition. While this provides one of the best parallels between the Standards and the Framework, and is one of the best transitions between high school and college level thinking, this standard can be challenging when working with younger students. Because the Standards are meant to be applied to a 13 year span of students, librarians must be fully aware of child and adolescent development at multiple stages and be able to apply it with full flexibility—something not expected of classroom teachers. Unless a school librarian has a full pedagogical background in K-12, this can be very difficult.

To make personal connections and organize knowledge in useful ways, students must confront their own thoughts and ideas about how they will use their resources. This reinforces the idea that authority does not lie within information itself but also within those who created it and how they fit into scholarship. This also means that individuals must make decisions about what types of information they are receiving and how to deal with it. The Information Has Value frame calls students to recognize issues of access and their own information privilege, something that is felt long before college (ACRL, 2015, pg. 6). The Common Beliefs of the Standards state that “all children deserve equitable access to books and reading, to information, and to information technology in an environment that is safe and conducive to learning,” but this statement is only presented to the professional and does not directly appear in the standards list. The Framework takes this further, stating that the professional must “acknowledge biases that privilege some sources of author over others, especially in terms of others’ worldviews, gender, secual orientation, and cultural orientations” (ACRL, 2015, pg. 4). This is supporting in targeted objectives by saying learners “understand how and why some individual or groups of individuals may be underrepresented or systematically marginalized within the systems that produce and disseminate information” and that students should “develop awareness of the importance of assessing content…with a self-awareness of their own biases” and “examine their own information privilege” (ACRL, 2015, pg. 6). While these discussions may be happening in K-12 schools, there is no expectation of it as it is absent from the actual set of standards. This is a large step away from a behaviorist approach and toward critical library pedagogy. In thinking about what voices may or may not be represented and the ability (or lack of ability) of some groups to access information, students can begin to understand that they are only finding information that represents certain ideas. This could encourage them to dig deeper when researching and find alternative points of view. Middle and high school students not only deal with academic literature but must deal with the high influence of social media and need to be able to recognize any manipulation that may be occurring in information they encounter outside the classroom.

For students to understand how information can be manipulative, they must understand the nature of how different resources are created and for what purpose. The Framework specifically addresses information creation. It says that learners must “articulate the traditional and emerging processes of information creation and dissemination in a particular discipline” and “recognize that information may be perceived differently based on the format in which it is packaged” (ACRL, 2015, pg. 5). Students are often told that they cannot use resources on the internet or that they can only use resources found through the library’s database and rely on a “model of information literacy instruction which universally praises scholarly research and devalues alternative venues of information dissemination” (Seeber, 2015, pg. 162). This is often for the sake of guiding the students toward only information that is accurate and reliable, however, students must resist this assumption. Library databases (K-12 database packages included) access information that comes from news sources, websites, non-peer reviewed journals, and portions of peer-reviewed journals that are not refereed. The Standards state that students should “make sense of information gathered from diverse sources” but the Framework explicitly points to the information creation process as a guide for students to determine accuracy, not where it appears (AASL, 2009, pg. 3). In terms of learning, students are at a distinct advantage if they know, explicitly, that “information is made in different ways, valued for different reasons, and used to achieve different ends” (Seeber, 2015, p. 161). Identifying how a resource was created lets them more readily see bias, holes in arguments, and author agendas over those who rely on prescribed sources. This also means that students can then more easily justify using resources they have found on social media if they can determine that the author and process of creation was accurate. It shifts the authority of the information away from its packaging and onto the actual process of creation.

Closely akin to how information is created is how information is used. Most teenagers have social media accounts and are actively sharing information (personal or otherwise) on these platforms. Information Has Value directs students to “understand how the commodification of their personal information and online interactions affects the information they receive and the information they produce or disseminate online,” an issue wholly absent from the Standards. Research has demonstrated how impactful our emotions can be on social media. A 2014 study detailed how Facebook’s control of the emotional nature of a person’s newsfeed impacted their interaction with the media platform and how this control affected the tone of the information that the individual would share (Kramer, Guillory, & Hancock). This and similar research (Detecting emotional contagion in massive social networks by Coviello et al., 2014, and Measuring emotional contagion in social media by Ferrara & Yang, ) shows the large-scale impact that social media can have on people, particularly young individuals. The impact of this type of manipulation may be tempered by a systematic, curricular awareness through information literacy standards.

Effects on Pedagogy

Skills-focused teaching is the simplest way to create lessons from the Standards since they provide point-by-point, measurable actions. This style of teaching relies heavily on database demonstrations, point-and-click skills practice, checklist-style website tests, and worksheets. While some activities can be built to push students to think critically, most of the standards point to abilities and dispositions that are visible. Assessments in skills-focused lessons often focus on if the student was able to find a source for a paper or project that the instructor or librarian deems “reliable,” or if the student was able to cite the source correctly. The end result is king; anything else is rarely assessed, even the steps in the middle. If those steps are assessed, it is typically in the fashion of a yes-or-no formula of the students performing particular actions and in the “right” order.

The following is an example of a skills-focused activity that was embedded into a 65 minute workshop I created in the fall of 2014 for a middle school Social Studies class:

Lecture & Activity:
  • Go through the research process using the 7 (altered) steps of research:
    • identify your topic
    • create a keyword list
    • find background info
    • find resources (websites) on your topic
    • evaluate your findings
    • publish your project
    • cite your resources
  • After an explanation of each step, the students will do an activity to respond to, thus completing that step of their project. These include:
    • a keyword building activity
    • locating an encyclopedia article
    • finding websites and applying a checklist-style evaluation
    • recording information about the site and how they will use it, and finally,
    • creating citations for any resources they plan to use.

This workshop was built on a scaffolding method referred to as the “I Do, We Do, You Do” method. The idea is that students see a concept first, then practice it with guidance, and finally do it on their own. I embedded this method into each step with the exception of publishing. This method is useful for all age levels, but especially for a class of 6th grade students who are, developmentally, operating heavily in the stages 2 and 3 of Bloom’s Taxonomy, a framework published in 1956 and revised in 2001. This framework begins at a rote level of thinking (remembering) and works its way up through understanding, applying, analyzing, and evaluating, to the highest level (creating) (Anderson, et al., 2001, p. 31). There are some higher-level elements, but the lesson relies heavily on observable actions and the hands-on skills that students need to practice. As a high school librarian, I struggled with providing enough higher level activities for my students while still following the behaviorist standards. I often had discreetly file lesson plans that did not actually follow the true activities that I was utilizing in the classroom.

Some high school students receive basic instruction in database use only or no information literacy instruction at all. According to a 2013 study done by the National Center for Education Statistics, only around 62% of reporting traditional public schools and 16% of reporting charter schools in the United States employed a full-time, paid, state-certified library media specialist (Bitterman, Gray, & Goldring, 2013, pg. 3). We do not know if these professional are providing information literacy instruction according to the AASL Standards. This creates a necessity for higher education librarians to teach information literacy “from scratch.” While academic librarians cannot change gaps in the Standards or the fact that many of our students have never met with a librarian in a classroom setting, we can build a bridge between skills-focused instruction and student-centered activities to meet the needs of young adults and adults, particularly in their first year.

The use of a First Year or Foundational Experiences program is an example of how some universities support the transition between high school and college information literacy. These programs typically focus on students who are transitioning from high schools and community colleges and those who are first generation students in their families. Another method of supporting this transition is through programmatic assessments of basic information skills. These assessments provide insight to the librarians and faculty about the nature and level of student information literacy. The Framework calls librarians to a greater responsibility in “identifying core ideas within their own knowledge domain” and “collaborating more extensively with faculty” (ACRL, 2015, pg. 2). Moving away from the traditional point-of-service for First Year classes and toward a programmatic approach not only increases collaboration with subject faculty, but also ensures better library exposure to students who may not be inclined to walk through the doors which may result in greater library use through their college years.

Because of the swiftly changing nature of information and how we interact with it, academic librarians have a greater responsibility to teach skills that can be applied outside the institutional walls, particularly with regard to issues of information creation, access, and motives within the publishing process. While it is safe to assume that incoming students know how to perform basic searches using internet search engines, they may not be able to know what to do with that information or distinguish the differences between scholarly and popular materials. The Framework, being supported by social constructivist ideas, moves beyond skills-based instruction requires us to ask students to think critically, to utilize their own experiences, and to use resources that could have been previously prohibited, such as social media.

To include more hands-on, directly applicable activities, and incorporate more critical information literacy theory into my lesson plans demanded that I refocus lessons on the “why” instead of the “what.” This effectively shifted my role from “expert” to “guide.” This is supported by andragogy, one of the most well-known adult learning theories. Andragogy, or the methods and principles of adult learning, leans on the principles that adult learners are self-directed and responsible for learning, work best under problem solving and hands-on practice, and seek information that has direct application to their immediate situations (Knowles, 1980, p. 44). The Research Process was a very common request for lesson topics in my university teaching. Below is how I restructured the K-12 Research Process activity to focus on the Framework.

K-12 Research Process Activity
  • Activity: Students are given 2 popular articles and 2 scholarly articles. They are tasked with creating two short lists of common features for each of the categories. Each group has a student come up to the board and records their list (the result will be a large list for each category).
  • Discussion: Librarian calls the class together to discuss the lists. Questions could include:
    • Who write scholarly articles? Popular articles?
    • What kind of credentials (degrees, jobs, etc.) do they have to have to write these?
    • Who do they write for? Why do they write these?
    • How long does it take for a scholarly article to be written? A popular article?
  • Short video on peer-review process (creation, purpose, etc.)
    • Librarian draws a timeline on the board for the peer-review process
    • Discussion: Let’s talk about the timeline for peer-review articles.
      • What is peer-review? Who are the author’s peers?
      • What are reviewers looking for when they read an article?
      • How long does this process take?
      • How might a peer-review article from one discipline look different from another discipline?
    • Add to the timeline by including popular articles, books, and other types of resources
      • How does the length of time each resources takes to create affect how you use it for your paper/project?
  • Demo of main database search tool:
    • Using one of the student’s topics, demonstrate the usage of the library’s discovery tool, its filters, and its citation tool, pointing out the difference in search terms with the database vs Google. This should only take 5-10 minutes.
  • Student searching:
    • Students are directed to search either the main database tool or the internet (or both) for a source they may want to use.
    • Remind them to think about HOW the information was created, WHO created it, and WHY when determining if they will use the source.

This activity takes students through the principles of information creation and forces them to consider how the information fits into the cultural landscape of higher education and society, leveraging the highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy at almost every step. One of the ending measurements is the same as my original K-12 lesson (a useful source for their project), but the cognitive demands and understanding of information are vastly different. Instead of being told to simply evaluate information for accuracy, students must consider the context in which the writer’s authority resides. From this, students can then reason why different points of view (academic and non-academic) matter in research. If students do not understand the nature of authority and focus on the skills of retrieval only, they run the risk of devaluing a professional’s knowledge simply because they do not work in an academic field or because the information is coming from a website. While I do recognize that this lesson is built for college students, this is not beyond the cognitive levels of high school students.

Structurally, the Framework alleviates obstacles in lesson planning in terms of targeting specific objectives. For example, Standard 3.2.3 states that a student should “demonstrate teamwork by working productively with others” (AASL, 2009, pg. 5). While working productively with others is a good social skill, it has no specific placement in information literacy without bringing in at least one other Standard for context. The Framework, focused on principles, reworks the idea of cooperation into students seeing themselves as “contributors to the information marketplace/scholarship rather than only consumers of it” (ACRL, 2015, pg. 8). This can be a teachable objective on its own without having to be paired with another standard or objective. The practices and dispositions with the Framework can be utilized and targeted alone and can be taught within the context of school or outside of it. The Framework “contains ideas that are relevant for anyone interacting with information in a contemporary society” (Seeber, 2015, pg. 159). Moving from a statement of action (behaviorist) to a statement of metacognition (constructivist) moves the standards out of isolation and into a larger context. It allows me to take a frame as a whole or a particular Knowledge Practice and embed it into a course assignment because I am not teaching a discipline—I am teaching ideas that nest within any circumstance, both academically and personally. This results in net gains for our students, empowering them in their research, in their interactions on social networks, and in their encounters with media.

While the Framework does not provide point-by-point measureable activities, it does not run counter to measurable assessments, and it can be situated into any library’s missions and goals and lends itself to working with inclusive populations. It allows for one lesson to be applied to multiple classes regardless of the students that make up that particular class, that particular day. Support level can be changed, students can “drive” more or less, activities and tools can be exchanged, all while teaching to the same frame. Because the Framework addresses almost every single area of the Standards (the exception is some of the standards pertaining to personal growth), even students who have never had information literacy instruction during K-12 aren’t “behind” students who have. All students benefit from thinking about why and how they, and others, make information choices.

Discussion

While the observable, measureable skills in the AASL Standards are positive skills to have, being based on behaviorist-style ( lecture, point-and-click demonstrations, and students’ abilities to simply find information) does not prepare students properly for modern university level instruction. By drawing on social constructivist and critical librarian pedagogy, the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education encourages student self-reflection and examining how information functions in a greater context beyond an assignment. It pushes librarians to create learner-centered and authentic activities through which finding information becomes a cognitive process, not just a physical one. By being more aware of how information is used socially, politically, and culturally, students are empowered to understand how articles are created, how to evaluate arguments, and how to apply new knowledge to their own scholarly work. Skills like these are vital in our everyday, technology-driven, socially connected world.

Examining these documents and their theories brings to light a number of issues that I simply cannot address in one paper: 9-12 students could benefit from having a separate higher-level set of Standards; how the American Association of School Libraries and the Association of College & Research Libraries are failing to work together to create cohesive standards; how much pressure is being put on K-12 librarians to have a more thorough knowledge of child and adolescent development than classroom teachers; how high school students should also receive the benefit of being taught in a constructivist manner through the lens of social equality; etc. While these issues that have been brought to the surface through this process, we can and should be taking immediate steps in our pedagogy practices to help alleviate that the strain in K-12 to college transition in our students. By understanding how our students have been taught, we can build on this to create lessons that take information literacy further.

How these two documents function together will change soon. AASL is currently in the process of revising the Standards for the 21st Century Learner. The new Standards are forecasted to be launched in the fall of 2017. I am very interested to see the changes and how they might affect our K-12 colleagues and their students and, a few years down the line, academic librarians who work with these same students in higher learning.

Many thanks to my publishing editor, Ian Beilin, and my peer-reviewers, Amy Koester and Kyle Harmon, for working so hard to put out great material. A special thanks as well to Kevin Seeber for all of your advice and guidance, particularly in the beginning stages of this publication journey. I greatly appreciated all the wonderful feedback from all of you!

References

American Association of School Librarians. (2007). Standards for the 21st-century learner. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/aasl/standards/learning

American Association of School Librarians. (2009). Standards for the 21st-century learner in action. Chicago: ALA.

Anderson, L.W. & Krathwohl, D. R. (Eds.) (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Addison Wesley Longman.

Association of College & Research Libraries (2015). Framework for information literacy for higher education. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework

Bitterman, A., Gray, L., & Goldring, R. (2013). Characteristics of public elementary and secondary school library media center in the United States: Results from the 2011-12 schools and staffing survey (NCES 2013-315). U. S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2013/2013315.pdf

Coviello, L., Sohn, Y., Kramer, A. D. I., Marlow, C., Franceschetti, M., Christakis, N. A., & Fowler, J. H. (2014). Detecting emotional contagion in massive social networks. PLoS One, 9(3), 1-6. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0090315

Critlib. (n.d.) About/Join the conversation. Retrieved from http://critlib.org/about/

Elliot, B. (2009). E-pedagogy: Does e-learning require a new approach to teaching and learning? Scottish Qualifications Authority, January 2009. Retrieved from https://www.scribd.com/document/932164/E-Pedagogy

Ferrara, E., & Yang, Z. (2015). Measuring emotional contagion in social media. PLoS One, 10(10), 1-14. https://10.1371/journal.pone.0142390

Foasberg, N. (2015). From standards to frameworks for IL: How the ACRL framework addresses critiques
of the standards. Portal-Libraries and the Academy. 15(4). 699-717. doi:10.1353/pla.2015.0045

Garcia, K. (2015). Keeping up with…critical librarianship. Keeping up with…, June 2015. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/acrl/publications/keeping_up_with/critlib

Knowles, M. S. (1980). The modern practice of adult education: From pedagogy to andragogy. Chicago: Association Press.

Kramer, A. D. I., Guillory, J. E., & Hancock, J. (2014). Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks. PNAS, 111(24). 8788-8790. http://www.pnas.org/content/111/24/8788.full

Salomon, G. (1994). To be or not to be (mindful). Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Meetings, New Orleans, LA.

Seeber, K. P. (2015). This is really happening: Criticality and discussions of context in ACRL’s framework for information literacy. Communications in Information Literacy, 9(2), 157-163. Retrieved from http://www.comminfolit.org/index.php?journal=cil&page=article&op=view&path%5B%5D=v9i2p157&path%5B%5D=218

Open Knowledge Foundation: Research call: Mapping the impacts of the Global Open Data Index

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-09-06 07:35

Note: The deadline for proposal submission has been extended until Sunday, 17 September, 21:00 UTC.

The Global Open Data Index (GODI) is a worldwide assessment of open data publication in more than 90 countries. It provides evidence how well governments perform in open data publication. This call invites interested researchers and organisations to systematically study the effects of the Global Open Data Index on open data publication and the open data ecosystem. The study will identify different actors engaged around GODI, and how the information provided by GODI helped advance open data policy and publication. It will do so by investigating a sample of three countries with different degrees of open data adoption. The work will be conducted in close collaboration with Open Knowledge International’s (OKI) research department who will provide guidance, review and assistance throughout the project.  

We invite interested parties to send their costed proposal to research@okfn.org. In order to be eligible, the proposal must include research background, a short description why they are interested in the topic and how they want to research it (300 words maximum), a track record demonstrating knowledge of the topic, as well as a written research sample around open data or related fields. Finally, the proposal must also specify how much time will be committed to the work and for what cost (in GBP or USD). Due to the nature of the funding supporting this work, we unfortunately cannot accept proposals from US-based people or organisations. Please make sure the submission is made before the proposal deadline of Wed 13 Sept, 21:00 UTC Sunday 17 Sept, 21:00 UTC.

Outline

Background

The Global Open Data Index (GODI) is a worldwide assessment of open data publication in more than 90 countries. It provides evidence how well governments perform in open data publication. This includes mapping accessibility and access controls, findability of data, key data characteristics, as well as open licensing and machine-readability.

At the same time GODI provides a venue for open data advocates and civil servants to discuss the production of open data. Evidence shows that governance indicators drive change if they embrace dialogue and mutual ownership of those who are assessed, and those who assess. This year we wanted to use the launch of GODI to spark dialogue and provide a venue for the ensuing discussions.

Through this dialogue, governments learn about key datasets and data quality issues, while also receiving targeted feedback to help them improve. Furthermore, every year many interactions happen outside of the GODI process, not including the GODI staff or public discussions. Instead results are discussed within public institutions, or among civic actors and public institutions. Some scarce evidence of GODI’s outcomes is available, yet a systematic understanding of the diverse types of effects is missing to date.

Scope of research

This research is intended to get a systematic understanding of the effects of the Global Open Data Index on open data publication and the open data ecosystem. It addresses three research questions:

  1. In what ways does the Global Open Data Index process mobilize support for open data in countries with different degrees of open data policy and publication? How does this support manifest itself?
  2. How does the Global Open Data Index influence open data publication in governments both in terms of quantity and quality of data?
  3. How do different elements of the Global Open Data Index help governments and civil society actors to drive progress  around question 1 and 2?

GODI’s effects can tentatively be grouped into high-level policy and strategy development as well as strategy implementation and ongoing publication. This research will assess how different actors such as civil servants, high-level government officials, open data advocates and communities engage with different elements of GODI and how this helps advancing open data policy and publication. The research should also, whenever applicable, provide a critical account of GODI’s adverse effects. This can include ‘ceiling effects’, tunnel vision and reactivity, or other effects. The research will assess these effects in three countries. These may include Argentina, Colombia, Ukraine, South Africa, Thailand, or others. It is possible to propose alternative countries, if the researcher has strong experience in those or if it would help gathering data for the research. Proposals should specify which three  countries would be assessed. If alternative countries are proposed, they should meet the following criteria:

  1. One country without national open data policy, one country with a recent open data policy (in effect between 3 months and 2 years), as well as countries with established open data policies older than 2 years)
  2. A mix of countries with different endorsement for GODI, including countries who actively announced to increase their ranking (high importance) and countries where no public claims for open data improvement are documented
  3. Presence of country in past two GODI editions
  4. May include members of the Open Government Partnership and Open Data Charter adopters, as well as non-members.
Deliverables

The work will provide a written report between 5000 and 7000 words length addressing each of the research questions. The report must include a clearly written methodology section and country sampling approach. The desired format is a narrative report in English. A qualitative, critical assessment of GODI’s effects on open data policy and publication is expected. It needs to describe the actors using GODI, how they interacted with different aspects of GODI, and how this helped to drive change around the first two research questions outlined above. Furthermore following deliverables are expected:

  • Interviews with least four interviewees per country
  • A semi-structured  interview guide
  • Draft report by 15 October, structured around country portraits for three sample countries.
  • Weekly catch-ups with the Research team at OKI
  • Final report by 1 November
Methods and data sources

The researcher can draw from several sources to start this research, including OKI’s country contacts, Global Open Data Index scores, etc. Suggested methodology approaches include interviews with government officials and GODI contributors, as well as document analysis. Alternative research approaches and data sources shall be discussed with OKI’s research team. The research team will provide assistance in sampling interviewees in the initial phase of the research.

Activities

It is expected that this work is conducted in close contact with OKI’s research department. We will arrange a kick-off meeting to discuss your approach and have weekly calls to discuss activity and progress on the work. Early drafts will be shared with the OKI team to provide comments and discuss them with you. In addition we will have a final reflection call. Remote availability is expected (via email, Skype, Slack, or other channels). Overall research outline and goals will be discussed and agreed upon with the research lead of GODI who will help in sampling countries and will review project progress.

Decision criteria

We will base our decision of selecting a research party on following criteria:

  • Evidence of an understanding of open data assessments and indicators, and their influence on policy development and implementation.
  • Track record in the field of open data assessment and measurement.
  • Clarity and feasibility of methodology you propose to follow.

Due to the nature of the funding supporting this work, we unfortunately cannot accept proposals from US-based people or organisations. Please make sure the submission is made before the proposal deadline of Wed 13 Sept, 21:00 UTC Sunday 17 Sept, 21:00 UTC.

ACRL TechConnect: Working with a Web Design Firm

planet code4lib - Tue, 2017-09-05 15:01

As I’ve mentioned in the previous post, my library is undergoing a major website redesign. As part of that process, we contracted with an outside web design and development firm to help build the theme layer. I’ve done a couple major website overhauls in the course of my career, but never with an outside developer participating so much. In fact, I’ve always handled the coding part of redesigns entirely by myself as I’ve worked at smaller institutions. This post discusses what the process has been like in case other libraries are considering working with a web designer.

An Outline

To start with, our librarians had already been working to identify components of other library websites that we liked. We used Airtable, a more dynamic sort of spreadsheet, to collect our ideas and articulate why we liked certain peer websites, some of which were libraries and some not (mostly museums and design companies). From prior work, we already knew we wanted a few different page templates types. We organized our ideas around how they fit into these templates, such as a special collections showcase, a home page with a central search box, or a text-heavy policy page.

Once we knew we were going to work with the web development firm, we had a conference call with them to discuss the goals of our website redesign and show the contents of our Airtable. As we’re a small art and design library, our library director was actually the one to create an initial set of mockups to demonstrate our vision. Shortly afterwards, the designer had his own visual mockups for a few of our templates. The mockups included inline comments explaining stylistic choices. One aspect I liked about their mockups was that they were divided into desktop and mobile; there wasn’t just a “blog post” example, but a “blog post on mobile” and “blog post on desktop”. This division showed that the designer was already thinking ahead towards how the site’s theme would function on a variety of devices.

With some templates in hand, we could provide feedback. There was some push and pull—some of our initial ideas the designer thought were unimportant or against best practices, while we also had strong opinions. The discussion was interesting for me, as someone who is a librarian foremost but empathetic to usability concerns and following web conventions. It was good to have a designer who didn’t mindlessly follow our every request; when he felt like a stylistic choice was counterproductive, he could articulate why and that changed a few of our ideas. However, on some principles we were insistent. For instance, we wanted to avoid multiple search boxes on a single page; not a central catalog search and a site search in the header. I find that users are easily confused when confronted with two search engines and struggle to distinguish the different purposes and domains of both. The designer thought that it was a common enough pattern to be familiar to users, but our experiences lead us to insist otherwise.

Finally, once we had settled on agreeable mockups, a frontend developer turned them into code with an impressive turnaround; about 90% of the mockups were implemented within a week and a half. We weren’t given something like Drupal or WordPress templates; we received only frontend code (CSS, JavaScript) and some example templates showing how to structure our HTML. It was all in single a git repository complete with fake data, Mustache templates, and instructions for running a local Node.js server to view the examples. I was able to get the frontend repo working easily enough, but it was a bit surprising to me working with code completely decoupled from its eventual destination. If we had had more funds, I would have liked to have the web design firm go all the way to implementing their theme in our CMS, since I did struggle in a few places when combining the two (more on that later). But, like many libraries, we’re frugal, and it was a luxury to get this kind of design work at all.

The final code took a few months to deliver, mostly due to a single user interface bug we pointed out that the developer struggled to recreate and then fix. I was ready to start working with the frontend code almost exactly a month after our first conversation with the firm’s designer. The total time from that conversation to signing off on the final templates was a little under two months. Given our hurried timeline for rebuilding our entire site over the summer, that quick delivery was a serious boon.

Code Quirks

I’ve a lot of opinions about how code should look and be structured, even if I don’t always follow them myself. So I was a bit apprehensive working with an outside firm; would they deliver something highly functional but structured in an alien way? Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised with how the CSS was delivered.

First of all, the designer didn’t use CSS, he used SASS, which Margaret wrote about previously on Tech Connect. SASS adds several nice tools to CSS, from variables to darken and lighten functions for adjusting colors. But perhaps most importantly, it gives you much more control when structuring your stylesheets, using imports, nested selectors, and mixins. Basically, SASS is the antithesis of having one gigantic CSS file with thousands of lines. Instead, the frontend code we were given was about fifty files neatly divided by our different templates and some reusable components. Here’s the directory tree of the SASS files:

components     about-us     blog     collections     footer     forms     header     home     misc     search     services fonts reset settings utilities

Other than the uninformative “misc”, these folders all have meaningful names (“about-us” and “collections” refer to styles specific to particular templates we’d asked for) and it never takes me more than a moment to locate the styles I want.

Within the SASS itself, almost all styles (excepting the “reset” portion) hinge on class names. This is a best practice for CSS since it doesn’t couple your styles tightly to markup; whether a particular element is a <div>, <section>, or <article>, it will appear correctly if it bears the right class name. When our new CMS output some HTML in an unexpected manner, I was still able to utilize the designer’s theme by applying the appropriate class names. Even better, the class names are written in BEM “Block-Element-Modifier” form. BEM is a methodology I’d heard of before and read about, but never used. It uses underscores and dashes to show which high-level “block” is being styled, which element inside that block, and what variation or state the element takes on. The introduction to BEM nicely defines what it means by Block-Element-Modifier. Its usage is evident if you look at the styles related to the “see next/previous blog post” pagination at the bottom of our blog template:

.blog-post-pagination {   border-top: 1px solid black(0.1);     @include respond($break-medium) {     margin-top: 40px;   } }     .blog-post-pagination__title {     font-size: 16px;   }     .blog-post-pagination__item {     @include clearfix();     flex: 1 0 50%;  }     .blog-post-pagination__item--prev {     display: none;   }

Here, blog-post-pagination is the block, __title and __item are elements within it, and the --prev modifier effects just the “previous blog post” item element. Even in this small excerpt, other advantages of SASS are evident: the respond mixin and $break-medium variables for writing responsive styles that adapt to differing device screen sizes, the clearfix include, and these related styles all being nested inside the brackets of the parent blog-post-pagination block.

Trouble in Paradise

However, as much as I admire the BEM class names and structure of the styles given to us, of course I can’t be perfectly happy. As I’ve started building out our site I’ve run into a few obvious problems. First of all, while all the components and templates we’d asked for are well-designed with clearly written code, there’s no generic framework for adding on anything new. I’d hoped, and to be honest simply assumed, that a framework like Bootstrap or Foundation would be used as the basis of our styles, with more specific CSS for our components and templates. Instead, apart from a handful of minor utilities like the clearfix include referenced above, everything that we received is intended only for our existing templates. That’s fine up to a point, but as soon as I went to write a page with a HTML table in it I noticed there was no styling whatsoever.

Relatedly, since the class names are so focused on distinct blocks, when I want to write something similar but slightly different I end up with a bunch of misleading class names. So, for instance, some of our non-blog pages have templates which are littered with class names including a .blog- prefix. The easiest way for me to build them was to co-opt the blog styles, but now the HTML looks misleading. I suppose if I had greater time I could write new styles which simply copy the blog ones under new names, but that also seems unideal in that it’s a) a lot more work and b) leads to a lot of redundant code.

Lastly, the way our CMS handles “rich text” fields (think: HTML edited in a WYSIWYG editor, not coded by hand) has caused numerous problems for our theme. The rich text output is always wrapped in a <div class="rich-text">, which made translating some of the HTML templates from the frontend code a bit tricky. The frontend styles also included a “reset” stylesheet which erased all default styles for most HTML tags. That’s fine, and a common approach for most sites, but many of the styles for elements available in the rich text editor ended up being reset. As content authors went about creating lower-level headings and unordered lists, they discovered that they appeared just as plain text.

Reflecting on these issues, they boil primarily down to insufficient communication on our part. When we first asked for design work, it was very much centered around the specific templates we wanted to use for a few different sections of our site. I never specifically outlined a need for a generic framework which could encompass new, unanticipated types of content. While there was an offhand mention of Bootstrap early on in our discussions, I didn’t make it explicit that I’d like it or something similar to form the backbone of the styles we wanted. I should have also made it clearer that styles should specifically anticipate working within our CMS and alongside rich text content. Instead, by the time I realized some of these issues, we had already approved much of the frontend work as complete.

Conclusion

For me, as someone who has worked at smaller libraries for the duration of their professional career, working with a web design company was a unique experience. I’m curious, has your library contracted for design or web development work? Was it successful or not? As tech savvy librarians, we’re often asked to do everything even if some of the tasks are beyond our skills. Working with professionals was a nice break from that and a learning experience. If I could do anything differently, I’d be more assertive about requirements in our initial talks. Outlining expectations about that the styles include a generic framework and anticipate working with our particular CMS would have saved me some time and headaches later on.

LITA: The Lost Art of Creation

planet code4lib - Tue, 2017-09-05 14:29

While technology is helpful, it also contributes to people becoming, well, more robotic. Siri can define the word “banausic,” eliminating the need to pull out a dictionary; while Google Maps can help you navigate to the closest ramen bowl spot, eliminating the need to look at an actual map. This series looks at technology that counteracts this trend, tools that help spark conversation, create 3-D designs, and encourage creativity. This month’s post explores YouTube and specifically the combo video/blog known as “vlog.”

Launched in 2005, YouTube is a free video sharing website where users can easily upload videos and subscribe to channels.  Many libraries and library associations have dedicated YouTube Channels and it’s the 3rd most popular media outlet used by digital natives (behind Facebook & Twitter). Some people might dismiss the site as just a repository of silly videos but the site’s wide reach has sparked careers and even business ventures.

Salman Khan speaking at a TED Conference

Sal Khan, the creator of Khan Academy, got started by posting tutoring videos for his cousins on YouTube.  Discussing the appeal of this tech tool at a recent TED Conference, Khan explains that his cousins preferred watching videos, over face-to-face tutoring sessions. This is a major benefit of YouTube, people watch instructional videos at their own pace and re-visit whenever they need a refresher.

Within the YouTube world there are specific types of videos known as vlogs. Just how popular are video blogs? PewDiePie, a Swedish comedian, has over 56 million subscribers and the teaching vlog AsapScience has over 6 million subscribers. The content isn’t important, vlogs are simply video productions with a host (or hosts) that might incorporate music, animation, or memes. Video blogging has been around for at least 10 years. The launch of YouTube, combined with the increased use of social media and smartphones created the perfect atmosphere for vlogs to thrive.

Skeptical about vlogs, its popularity or ability to be an effective marketing tool? So was I. Most of the YouTube library vlogs I found feature trips to the library or studying at the library as part of a personal video blog, rather than a series published by a library.  That being said, some major organizations use vlogs.

The American Library Association (ALA) has a vlog series and a major reason they started the series is that they love watching YouTube videos. ALA also recognizes the potential for connecting with members by answering questions, promoting ALA initiatives, and introducing staff members. Other practical uses can be found on David Lee King’s list of vlogging ideas for libraries.

How can you get started vlogging? Similar to considering a blog or podcast the first step is to decide on a focus and audience. A major factor that separates vlogs from other social media is that the host needs to be comfortable talking in front of the camera to an imaginary audience.  If you want to explore vlogging, below are some things to consider:

  1. Equipment- Basic videos can be created on a smartphone- allowing you to vlog from anywhere. For a more polished broadcast you’ll need a camera, lighting, a mic, and a tripod. Amazon’s top rated vlogging products and reviews is a good place to start.
  2. Software– Simple editing can be done right on YouTube but more advanced editing requires software. CamtasiaScreenFlow,Final Cut, and Sony Vegas Studio are a few options.
  3. Extras- YouTube offers a Free Music channel with “uncopyrighted music for commercial use.” Free Music Archive & Bensound also offer “free” music. Another option is to make and record your own music. Software, such as Camtasia comes with animations, annotations, media, and other fancy features that can be incorporated into the video.
  4. Publishing/Storage– YouTube is the most popular, but those averse to YouTube can check out VimeoStreamable,Vidme, or Dailymotion.

 Are you vlogging? What has the experience been like? Share some of your favorite vlogs.  

I am very excited to announce the next series, which will star tech librarians. Have you ever looked at a job title and wondered how the person got there? I virtually interviewed librarians working in academic, public, and special libraries to learn more about their journey. Stay tuned to hear from Digital Services, Library Systems, and Innovation Librarians from all over the U.S.

 

 

Library of Congress: The Signal: Using data from historic newspapers

planet code4lib - Tue, 2017-09-05 13:57

This post is derived from a talk David Brunton, current Chief of Repository Development at the Library of Congress, gave to a group of librarians in 2015. 

I am going to make a single point this morning, followed by a quick live demonstration of some interfaces. I have no slides, but I will be visiting the following addresses on the web:

The current Chronicling America API: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/about/api/

The bulk data endpoint: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/batches/

The text only endpoint: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ocr/

As you can probably tell already, there is a theme to my talk this morning, which is old news. I’ve participated in some projects at the Library of Congress that involve more recent publications, but this one is my favorite. I will add, at this point, that I am not offering you an official position of the Library of Congress, but rather some personal observations about the past ten years of this newspaper website.

For starters, complicated APIs are trouble.

You may be surprised to hear that from a programmer, but it’s true. They’re prone to breakage, misunderstanding, small changes breaking existing code, backward-incompatible changes (or forward-incompatible features), and they inevitably leave out something that researchers will want.

I don’t mean to suggest that nobody has gotten good use out of our complicated APIs, many people have. But over time it has been my unscientific observation that researchers are, in general, subject to at least three constraints that make simplification of APIs a priority:

  • Most researchers are gathering data from multiple sources
  • Most researchers don’t have unlimited access to a group of professional developers
  • Most researchers already possess a tool of choice for modeling or visualization

I’m not going to belabor the point, because I think anyone in this room who is a researcher will probably agree immediately. There is an even more important constraint in the case where researchers are using data as a secondary or corollary source, which is that they may not be able to pay for it, and they may (or may not) be able to agree to any given licensing terms of the data. But I digress.

Multiple sources, no professional developers, and a preferred tool for modeling and visualization.

Interestingly, there is some research about that last point that we may come back to if there is time. So on to the demonstration.

The first URL, the API. This is an extremely rich set of interfaces. As you can tell from the length of this help page (which is far from exhaustive), we have spent a lot of effort creating a set of endpoints that can provide a very rich experience. You can’t blame us, right? We’re programmers, so we made something for programmers to love!

Chronicling American API

Now, lest anyone misconstrue my description of this application programming interface, I want to stress this point: it is a truly wonderful Application Programming Interface. Unfortunately, an Application Programming Interface isn’t exactly what researchers want most the time. This is not to say that folks haven’t written some lovely applications with this API as a backend, because they have. But any time there is lots of network latency between their servers and ours, or any time our site is (gasp!) slow, it slows down those applications.

Over time, it has been my unscientific observation that when it is an option, it’s generally better for all parties involved to simply have their own copy of the data. This lets them do at least three cool things:

  • Mix the data with data from other sources.
  • Interact with the data without intermediation of custom software.
  • Use their tools of choice for modeling the data.

Sound familiar?

I’ll continue by directing everyone’s attention to the next two endpoints, which seem to be getting an increasingly large share of our use. The first is the place where someone can simply download all our data in bulk.

Chronicling America batch data download

So, the only problem we’ve discovered about this particular endpoint is that researchers would just as soon not pore through everything, which leads me to the next one, where researchers can download the newspaper text only, but still in bulk.

It’s perfectly reasonably to go to these pages, and tell some poor undergraduate to click on all the links and download the files, maybe put them on a thumb drive. But we’ve also made a very minimal layer on top of this, which makes them available as a feed. Since I’ve just finished saying how important it is to keep these things simple, I won’t belabor this addition too much, but I will point out that there is support in nearly every platform for the “feed” format.

Chronicling America text download

The last point I will make is that for a library, in particular, these three points are critical: when was it made, where was it obtained, and has it maintained fixity?

Mark E. Phillips: Metadata Interfaces: Search Dashboard

planet code4lib - Tue, 2017-09-05 13:26

This is the next blog post in a series that discusses some of the metadata interfaces that we have been working on improving over the summer for the UNT Libraries Digital Collections.  You can catch up on those posts about our Item Views, Facet Dashboard, and Element Count Dashboard if you are curious.

In this post I’m going to talk about our Search Dashboard.  This dashboard is really the bread and butter of our whole metadata editing application.  About 99% of the time a user who is doing some metadata work will login and work with this interface to find the records that they need to create or edit. The records that they see and can search are only ones that they have privileges to edit.  In this post you will see what I see when I login to the system, the nearly 1.9 million records that we are currently managing in our systems.

Let’s get started.

Search Dashboard

If you have read the other post you will probably notice quite a bit of similarity between the interfaces.  All of those other interfaces were based off of this search interfaces.  You can divide the dashboard into three primary sections.  On the left side there are facets that allow you to refine your view in a number of ways.  At the top of the right column is an area where you can search for a term or phrase in a record you are interested in.  Finally under the search box there is a result set of items and various ways to interact with those results.

By default all the records that you have access to are viewable if you haven’t refined your view with a search or a limiting facet.

Edit Interface Search Dashboard

The search section of the dashboard lets you find a specific record or set of records that you are interested in working with.  You can choose to search across all of the fields in the metadata record or just a specific metadata field using the dropdown next to where you enter your search term.  You can search single words, phrases, or unique identifiers for records if you have those.  Once you hit the search button you are on your way.

Search and View Options for Records

Once you have submitted your search you will get back a set of results.  I’ll go over these more in depth in a little bit.

Record Detail

You can sort your results in a variety of ways.  By default they are returned in Title order but you can sort them by the date they were added to the system, the date the original item was created, the date that the metadata record was last modified, the ARK identifier and finally by a completeness metric.   You also have the option to change your view from the default list view to the grid view.

Sort Options

Here is a look at the grid view.  It presents a more visually compact view of the records you might be interested in working with.

Grid View

The image below is a detail of a record view. We tried to pack as much useful information into each row as we  could.  We have the title, a thumbnail, several links to either the edit or summary item view on the left part of the row.  Following that we have the system, collection, and partner that the record belongs to. We have the unique ARK identifier for the object, the date that it was added to the UNT Libraries’ Digital Collections, and the date the metadata was last modified.  Finally we have a green check if the item is visible to the public or a red X if the item is hidden from the public.

Record Detail

Facet Section

There are a number of different facets that a user can use to limit the records they are working with to a smaller subset.  The list is pretty long so I’ll first show you it in a single image and then go over some of the specifics in more detail below.

Facet Options

The first three facets are the system, collection and partner facets.  We have three systems that we manage records for with this interface, The Portal to Texas History, the UNT Digital Library, and the Gateway to Oklahoma History.

Each digital item can belong to multiple collections and generally belongs to a single partner organization.  If you are interested in just working on the records for the KXAS-NBC 5 New Collection you can limit your view of records by selecting that value from the Collections facet area.

System, Collections and Partners Facet Options

Next are the Resource Type and Visibility facets.  It is often helpful to limit to just a specific resource type, like Maps when you are doing your metadata editing so that you don’t see things that you aren’t interested in working with.  Likewise there are some kinds of metadata editing that you want to focus primarily on items that are already viewable to the public and you don’t want the hidden records to get in the way. You can do this with the Visibility facet.

Resource Type and Visibility Facet Options

Next we start getting into the new facet types that we added this summer to help identify records that need some metadata uplift.  We have the Date Validity, My Edits, and Location Data facets.

Date Validity is a facet that allows you to identify records that have dates in them that are not valid according to the Extended Date Time Format (EDTF).  There are two different fields in a record that are checked, the date field and the coverage field (which can contain dates).  If any of these aren’t valid EDTF strings then we mark the whole record as having Invalid Dates.  You can use this facet to identify these and go in a correct those values.

Next up is a facet for just the records that you have edited in the past.  This can be helpful for a number of reasons.  I use it from time to time to see if any of the records that I’ve edited have developed any issues like dates that aren’t valid since I last edited them.  It doesn’t happen often but can be helpful.

Finally there is a section of Location Data.  This set of facets is helpful for identifying records which have or don’t have a Place Name, Place Point, or Place Box in the record.  Helpful if you are working through a collection trying to add geographic information to the records.

Date Validity, My Edits, and Location Data Facet Options

The final set of facets are Recently Edited Records, and Record Completeness.  The first is the Recently Edited Records which is pretty straight forward.  This just a listing of how many records have been edited in the past 24h, 48h, 7d, 30d, 180d, 365d in the system.  One note that causes a bit of confusion here is that these are records that are edited by  anyone in the past period of time.  It is often misunderstood as “your edits” in a given period of time which isn’t true.  Still very helpful but can get you into some strange results if you think about it the other way.

The last facet value is for the Record Completeness. We really have two categories, records that have a completeness of 1.0 (Complete Records) or records that are less than 1.0 (Incomplete Records).  This metric is calculated when the item is indexed in the system and based on our notion of a minimally viable record.

Recently Edited Records and Record Completeness Facet Options

This finishes this post about the Search Dashboard for the UNT Libraries Digital Collections.  We have been working to build out this metadata environment for about the last eight years and have slowly refined it to the metadata creation and editing workflows that seem to work for the widest number of folks here at UNT.  There are always improvements that we can make and we have been steadily chipping away at those over time.

There are a few other things that we’ve been working on over the summer that I will post about in the next week or so, so stay tuned for more.

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

District Dispatch: ALA appoints Alisa Holahan OITP Research Associate

planet code4lib - Tue, 2017-09-05 13:10

Alisa Holahan will serve as a Research Associate in its Office for Information Technology Policy.

Today, the American Library Association (ALA) announced that Alisa Holahan will serve as a Research Associate in its Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP). In that role, Alisa will provide policy research assistance on copyright, telecommunications and E-rate and other issues within the OITP portfolio.

Alisa just completed her term as ALA’s Google Policy Fellow for 2017, during which she explored copyright, telecommunications (especially the E-rate program) and other policy topics. Other activities as a fellow ranged from attending briefings on Capitol Hill to meeting with librarians from Kazakhstan. Google pays the summer stipends for the fellows and the respective host organizations determine the fellows’ work agendas.

During her fellow tenure, Alisa published “Lessons From History: The Copyright Office Belongs in the Library of Congress,” a report that explains how Congress repeatedly has considered the best locus for the U.S. Copyright Office and consistently reaffirmed that the Library of Congress is its most effective and efficient home. She also completed background research on the stakeholders and influencers of the E-rate program and prospective champions we may wish to cultivate.

Alisa Holahan is a second-year master’s candidate at the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin, where she serves as a Tarlton Fellow in the law library. Previously, she completed her J.D. at the University of Texas Law School where she graduated with honors and served as associate editor of the Texas Law Review. Holahan also completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Texas.

She has interned twice in Washington, D.C., at the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Holahan is licensed to practice law in Texas.

We look forward to Alisa’s contributions to our work in the coming year.

The post ALA appoints Alisa Holahan OITP Research Associate appeared first on District Dispatch.

FOSS4Lib Recent Releases: YAZ - 5.23.1

planet code4lib - Tue, 2017-09-05 12:19

Last updated September 5, 2017. Created by Peter Murray on September 5, 2017.
Log in to edit this page.

Package: YAZRelease Date: Monday, September 4, 2017

Open Knowledge Foundation: Frictionless Data v1.0

planet code4lib - Tue, 2017-09-05 07:26

 

Data Containerisation hits v1.0! Announcing a major milestone in the Frictionless Data initiative.

Today, we’re announcing a major milestone in the Frictionless Data initiative with the official v1.0 release of the Frictionless Data specifications, including Table Schema and Data Package, along with a robust set of pre-built tooling in Python, R, Javascript, Java, PHP and Go.

Frictionless Data is a collection of lightweight specifications and tooling for effortless collection, sharing, and validation of data. After close to 10 years of iterative work on the specifications themselves, and the last 6 months of fine-tuning v1.0 release candidates, we are delighted to announce the availability of the following:

We want to thank our funder, the Sloan Foundation, for making this release possible.

What’s inside

A brief overview of the main specifications follows. Further information is available on the specifications website.

  • Table Schema: Provides a schema for tabular data. Table Schema is well suited for use cases around handling and validating tabular data in plain text formats, and use cases that benefit from a portable, language agnostic schema format.
  • CSV Dialect: Provides a way to declare a dialect for CSV files.
  • Data Resource: Provides metadata for a data source in a consistent and machine-readable manner.
  • Data Package: Provide metadata for a collection of data sources in a consistent and machine-readable manner.

The specifications, and the code libraries that implement them, compose to form building blocks for working with data, as illustrated with the following diagram.

This component based approach lends itself well to the type of data processing work we often encounter in working with open data. It has also enabled us to build higher-level applications that specifically target common open data workflows, such as our goodtables library for data validation, and our pipelines library for declarative ETL.

v1.0 work

In iterating towards a v1 of the specifications, we tried to sharpen our focus on the design philosophy of this work, and not be afraid to make significant, breaking changes in the name of increased simplicity and utility.

What is the design philosophy behind this work, exactly?

  • Requirements that are driven by simplicity
  • Extensibility and customisation by design
  • Metadata that is human-editable and machine-usable
  • Reuse of existing standard formats for data
  • Language-, technology- and infrastructure-agnostic

In striving for these goals, we removed much ambiguity from the specifications, cut features that were under-defined, removed and reduced various types of optionality in the way things could be specified, and even made some implicit patterns explicit by way of creating two new specifications: Data Resource and Tabular Data Resource.

See the specifications website for full information.

Next steps

We are preparing to submit Table Schema, Data Resource, Data Package, Tabular Data Resource and Tabular Data Package as IETF RFCs as soon as possible.

Lastly, we’ve recently produced a video to explain our work on Frictionless Data. Here, you can get a high-level overview of the concepts and philosophy behind this work, presented by our President and Co-Founder Rufus Pollock.

 

DuraSpace News: VIVO Updates for Sept 3 — Participation, Membership, Camp, VIVO 1.10

planet code4lib - Tue, 2017-09-05 00:00

From Michael Conlon, VIVO Project Drector  Participation in VIVO.  The Outreach and Engagement Interest Group will have a call this Thursday at 1 PM US Eastern time.  Webex link is here:  https://goo.gl/4rjbzp Please join for a discussion regarding participation in VIVO.  What are the opportunities?  What might the opportunities be?  We look forward to sharing ideas!

District Dispatch: Take action for libraries: webinar

planet code4lib - Mon, 2017-09-04 14:00

Have you ever asked, “How do I become an advocate for libraries?” Have you ever wondered what National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) is, and how it impacts libraries? Have you ever thought, “What I can do to advocate for libraries from home?”

The COL Grassroots subcommittee is presenting a free webinar entitled Take Action For Libraries: Advocating for Libraries at National Library Legislative Day. The webinar will take place on Monday, September 11, 2:00p (EST). Seasoned NLLD state coordinators from across the country will share their experiences at NLLD. Our guests will discuss advocacy best practices as well as tips on how to advocate from home.

Our guest panelists will include:

  • Kent Oliver, Nashville Public Library, Library Director, Chair of ALA Committee on Legislation (COL)
  • Anthony S. Chow, Ph.D, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, School of Education, Department of Library and Information Studies, 2017 SOE Faculty Assembly Chair, Associate Professor, Chair, NCLA Legislative and Advocacy Committee
  • Nicolle Davies, Charleston County Public Library, Executive Director, COL Grassroots Subcommittee.
  • Mary Hastler, Hartford County Public Library, CEO, Hartford County Commission for Women Chair, Maryland Humanities Board, ALA COL, COL Grassroots Subcommittee.

The information shared in this webinar will offer great tips and tools for library advocates and supporters who want to take a stronger role in advocating for libraries, but are not sure where to start. The webcast will be viewable from the ALA YouTube channel, and will available as an archive shortly after the webinar concludes.

We hope you join us!

LaJuan S. Pringle
Chair, COL Grassroots Subcommitee

The post Take action for libraries: webinar appeared first on District Dispatch.

Evergreen ILS: Evergreen 3.0 development update #15: feature freeze

planet code4lib - Fri, 2017-09-01 21:58


A swimming Fulvous whistling duck (Dendrocygna bicolor). CC-BY-SA by Nnc.banzai via Wikimedia Commons

The past couple weeks have been a bit busy.

Since the previous update, another 199 patches have made their way into master. Today marks feature freeze; after today, no additional patches that add new features should be merged to master.

Why? September is going to be mostly concerned with making Evergreen 3.0.0 as stable and bug-free as possible, particularly with respect to the web staff client. However, there are a few exceptions to the freeze, including:

  • small additions to the web staff client that ensure that it has functional parity with the XUL client
  • improvements to the internationalization tools
  • support for the current Debian stable release, stretch.

A beta release is scheduled to be built on 6 September, and the name of the game henceforth is TEST ALL THE THINGS. I think it’s distinctly possible that a second beta release will be needed by mid-September, and I also expect one or two OpenSRF releases over the next couple weeks.

So, how have we done so far? A look at the roadmap shows a lot of things marked as done, including:

  • web staff client offline circulation and serials modules
  • metabib display fields
  • improvements to catalog search performance and completeness
  • significant improvements to headings browses in the public catalog
  • better support for multi-timezone consortia
  • batch patron editing
  • copy tags and digital bookplates
  • searching for patron records by birth date
  • adding the ability to search for a patron from the place hold interface in the staff interface
  • transits can now be canceled instead of deleted outright
  • the integration with OverDrive and OneClickDigital now allows ebook hold requests and loans to be done without leaving the Evergreen OPAC
  • patrons can now suspend their hold requests when they create them
  • report templates can now be searched

We’re well on track to meet the primary release goal of 3.0: full community support of the web staff interface. There are still some bugs to sort out, but that’s why we have Bug Squashing Weeks; the next one is scheduled for 11-15 September.

Remember: TEST ALL THE THINGS.

Duck trivia

The first known patent for a duck call in the U.S. was issued to Elam Fisher in 1870.

Submissions

Updates on the progress to Evergreen 3.0 will be published every Friday until general release of 3.0.0. If you have material to contribute to the updates, please get them to Galen Charlton by Thursday morning.

Brown University Library Digital Technologies Projects: Fedora Functionality

planet code4lib - Fri, 2017-09-01 20:13

We are currently using Fedora 3 for storing our repository object binaries and metadata. However, Fedora 3 is end of life and unsupported, so eventually we’ll have to decide what our plan for the future is. Here we inventory some of the functions that we use (or could use) from Fedora.  We’ll use this as a start for determining the features we’ll be looking for in a replacement.

  1. Binary & metadata storage
  2. Binary & metadata versioning
  3. Tracks object & file created/modified dates
  4. Checksum calculation/verification (after ingestion, during transmission to Fedora). Note: in Fedora 3.8.1, Fedora returns a 500 response with an empty body if the checksums don’t match – that makes Fedora’s checking less useful, since the API client can’t tell why the ingest caused an exception.
  5. SSL REST API for interacting with objects/content
  6. Messages generated whenever an object is added/updated/deleted
  7. Grouping of multiple binaries in one object
  8. Works with binaries stored outside of Fedora
  9. Files are human-readable
  10. Search (by state, date created, date modified – search provided by the database)

Meredith Farkas: Whose rights matter more?

planet code4lib - Fri, 2017-09-01 18:46

My dad recently shared with me a book, written by a distant cousin who is a professor in Israel, about her grandmother’s immigrant experience and her relatives. Her grandmother just happened to be my grandmother’s first cousin, so my grandmother, great-grand-parents, and great-great-grandmother figure in the book. Given that I knew next to nothing about my great-grandfather (who died before my dad was born), this book is like a revelation to me. There’s a picture in the book with our whole extended family in the 1930s, both relatives who had already emigrated to the United States from Bukovina (modern day Ukraine, but it was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire and then Romania and then the Soviet Union when my family lived there) and those who were visiting from there. Later in the book, we learn what happened to those relatives who stayed on their farms in Bukovina when the Nazis came, how few of them survived, and how they couldn’t go back to their homes even after because many in that area had taken Jewish homes and were killing the Jews who came back. Knowing that people who shared your blood experienced this is a weight you feel deep inside of you that never goes away.

This, and what happened in Charlottesville, were potent reminders for me that I belong to a group that has only had conditional whiteness bestowed upon us for a short period of time and that it could be taken away from us at any time. It’s a reminder that there is something innate in me (something I can’t even see or understand) that leads people to hate me. The Holocaust is only one example of the massacres and oppressions my relatives have suffered throughout history. Over the years, I’ve experienced microaggressions, overt racism, and harassment because of my Jewish heritage, so the existence of anti-semitism wasn’t a big surprise to me, but it still causes a visceral hurt every time I’m reminded of it. I think I was more hurt by the fact that so few of my non-Jewish friends expressed any support for the Jewish community after Charlottesville. This essay describes perfectly how I’ve been feeling, both recognizing my privilege and recognizing that few seem to think Jews are deserving of support. It always makes you wonder, deep down, if your non-Jewish friends hate that part of you that is Jewish.

I write this to illustrate that what is happening with this new emboldening of neo-Nazis and other hate groups is very personal for me and not just academic. So when David King published his post Ugly Beliefs, Free Speech, and Libraries, I read it both as a librarian who believes in library values and as a Jew who is hated by the groups he thinks should be allowed to speak in the library. I’m not so quick to write off what he wrote because he’s a white, male, Christian administrator and only cited other white men in his post (I saw many tweets that touched on these things). I don’t believe in writing anyone’s ideas off because they belong to certain groups, because that logic could just as easily be applied against oppressed groups. I didn’t even write him off when he compared atheists to neo-Nazis (since both groups are, according to him, “bigoted”) and then apologized not to me, but to a male colleague (and mutual friend) who called him on it after I did (I’m guessing he doesn’t even realize how offensive and hurtful to me that was). I might have written him off personally after all that, but his ideas around the Library Bill of Rights are ones that many share in our profession and deserve a rational response.

I was a card-carrying ACLU member long before I ever became a librarian. I have always believed in free speech, even when it means giving people who want me put in an oven the right to spew their hate. I am a huge supporter of intellectual freedom. I had a intellectual battle last year with a respected colleague who wanted to either withdraw Jonah Lehrer’s books (he’d just learned about the author’s fraud) or to put a warning note on them about the fabrications. I argued that we can’t guarantee the intellectual purity of our collection and putting a note on one book or withdrawing it suggests that everything else has gone through a similar process. We have books by climate change deniers, books on alternative therapies that are not supported empirically, and other books that have been shown to include plagiarism or fraud. I will go to the mat for crappy books I don’t even care about when doing so is in line with our professional values.

However, I struggle with the idea that libraries should give hate groups a platform to spew their hate if those groups request to use library space. The Library Bill of Rights says both that “a person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views” and that “libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.” What if by letting one group have a platform in the Library, other members of the community do not feel safe using the Library because the former group is arguing for the extermination of the latter? Is fear of being hurt or killed not an abridgment of their right to use the library?

David King argues for a neutrality that has never really existed in libraries. Libraries have never really been neutral. The Library Bill of Rights has existed since 1939, yet most libraries were segregated in the Jim Crow South. It wasn’t librarians, but black activists who got libraries integrated in the South. Yes, friends, in spite of whatever “vocational awe” you may have, libraries have not always been hotbeds of freedom and civil rights unless it was the civil rights of white people. Their so-called “neutrality” often reflected the racism and oppression existing in the larger society. Look at how Library of Congress subject headings have changed as they went from terms that matched racist (miscegenation, mixed blood, mammies), sexist (delinquent women, wife-beating), anti-immigrant (illegal alien, Yellow Peril), homophobic (sexual perversion) and ableist (idiocy) thinking of a time to the terms we use more commonly today. Some still reflect the whitewashing of racist injustices (Japanese Americans–Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945 anyone?). True neutrality would have meant using terms that were neutral, but libraries have long reflected the same oppressive conditions we see in the rest of civil society.

Now, many librarians are arguing that libraries must not be neutral if they want to truly provide equal access to everyone and to properly serve their diverse communities. This means making a special effort to buy diverse books to ensure that everyone in their communities has materials that are of interest to them and reflect their lives. It means focusing library hiring toward having a diverse staff that looks like the communities they serve. It also means not giving hate groups a platform to spread hate in our libraries when doing so would make the majority of our patrons feel unwelcome and unsafe. We can’t promise that libraries will be completely safe spaces — we provide access to materials that might challenge or alarm people — but we can prevent people who encourage violence against others from having a platform in our libraries. There are limits to free speech and incitement to violence and “forms of intimidation that are most likely to inspire fear of bodily harm” are included. The dividing line of what is and isn’t incitement to violence and what is and isn’t a form of intimidation that inspires fear of bodily harm have changed over time, but I think we as libraries owe it to our communities to not give a platform to any group that preaches violence and harm against another group in our community. As Barbara Fister suggests, our tolerance should stop where others’ intolerance begins.

And ALA seems to be moving towards supporting this thinking if this “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion” interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights is any indication:

Libraries should not merely be neutral places for people to share information, but should actively encourage socially excluded, marginalized, and underrepresented people to fully participate in community debates and discussions.

However, the ALA website also contains this narrower interpretation of the meeting room aspect of the Library Bill of Rights which says “if meeting rooms in libraries supported by public funds are made available to the general public for non-library sponsored events, the library may not exclude any group based on the subject matter to be discussed or based on the ideas that the group advocates.” It seems like the ideas of encouraging oppressed groups to fully participate in the library and allowing hate groups to speak in the library are in direct conflict. And I struggle with this, as a long-time civil libertarian and as a librarian who does not believe in the so-called neutrality of libraries. But, in the end, I choose to support the members of our community whose very existence is threatened by these individuals and groups.

This is not an intellectual argument for many non-white, non-Christian, non-cis-gendered, or not straight individuals; this is an existential threat. It is to me. And, in the end, I struggle to excuse the behavior of a colleague who doesn’t even seem to at least agonize over this question and what it means for members of his community who lack his privilege. Even if you come out on the other side of this question, at least recognize what it means to people who are not you to allow hate groups to spew hate in your library. I was defending David’s character on Twitter yesterday and by the end of the day I wondered why I felt the need to do this when he couldn’t even be bothered to express support for the groups targeted by hate groups in Charlottesville, which included people like me who he’s known for more than a decade.

I’d rather be on the right side of history than hide behind a neutrality that has been used to oppress and exclude marginalized groups throughout the history of libraries.

Photo credit: Jewschool

David Rosenthal: Josh Marshall on Google

planet code4lib - Fri, 2017-09-01 17:00
Just a quick note to direct you to Josh Marshall's must-read A Serf on Google's Farm. It is a deep dive into the details of the relationship between Talking Points Memo, a fairly successful independent news publisher, and Google. It is essential reading for anyone trying to understand the business of publishing on the Web. Below the fold, pointers to a couple of other important works in this area.

Josh also illuminates the bigger picture of the monopoly power of platforms, as detailed in Lina Khan's masterful Yale Law Journal article Amazon's Antitrust Paradox (also a must-read, even at 24,000 words). Josh concludes:
"It’s a structural issue. Monopolies are bad for the economy and they’re bad politically. They also have perverse consequences across the board. The money that used to fund your favorite website is now going to Google and Facebook, which doesn’t produce any news at all.

We could see this coming a few years ago. And we made a decisive and longterm push to restructure our business around subscriptions. So I’m confident we will be fine. But journalism is not fine right now. And journalism is only one industry the platform monopolies affect. Monopolies are bad for all the reasons people used to think they were bad. They raise costs. They stifle innovation. They lower wages. And they have perverse political effects too. Huge and entrenched concentrations of wealth create entrenched and dangerous locuses of political power.

So we will keep using all of Google’s gizmos and services and keep cashing their checks. Hopefully, they won’t see this post and get mad. In the microcosm, it works for us. It’s good money. But big picture … Google is a big, big problem. So is Facebook. So is Amazon. Monopolies are a big, lumbering cause of many of our current afflictions. And we’re only now, slowly, beginning to realize it."Tip of the hat to Cory Doctorow for pointing me to both Lina Kahn's work and also to the draft of On the Formation of Capital and Wealth, by Stanford's Mordecai Kurz. From the abstract:
We show modern information technology ... is the cause of rising income and wealth inequality since the 1970's and has contributed to slow growth of wages and decline in the natural rate.

We first study all US firms whose securities trade on public exchanges. Surplus wealth of a firm is the difference between wealth created (equity and debt) and its capital. ... aggregate surplus wealth rose from -$0.59 Trillion in 1974 to $24 Trillion ... in 2015 and reflects rising monopoly power. The added wealth was created mostly in sectors transformed by IT. Declining or slow growing firms with broadly distributed ownership have been replaced by IT based firms with highly concentrated ownership. ... We explain why IT innovations enable and accelerate the erection of barriers to entry and once erected, IT facilitates maintenance of restraints on competition. These innovations also explain rising size of firms.

We next develop a model where firms have monopoly power. Monopoly surplus is unobservable and we deduce it with three methods, based on surplus wealth, share of labor or share of profits. Share of monopoly surplus rose from zero in early 1980's to 23% in 2015. This last result is, remarkably, deduced by all three methods.

Terry Reese: MarcEdit 7: Startup Wizard

planet code4lib - Fri, 2017-09-01 15:57

One of the aspects of MarcEdit that I’ve been trying to think a lot about over the past year, is how to make it easier for users to know which configuration settings are important, and which ones are not.  This is the problem of writing a library metadata application that is MARC agnostic.  There are a lot of assumptions that users make because they associate MARC with the specific flavor of MARC that they are using.  So, for someone who only has exposure to MARC21, associating the title with MARC field 245 would be second nature.  But MarcEdit is used by a large community that doesn’t use MARC21, but UNIMARC (or other flavors for that matter).  For those users, the 245 field has a completely different meaning.

This presents a special challenge.  Simple things, like just displaying title information for a record, gets harder, because assumptions I make for one set of users will cause issues for others.  To address this, MarcEdit has a rich set of application settings, designed to enable users to tell the application a little about the data they are working with.  Once that information is provided, MarcEdit can configure the components and adjust assumptions so title information pulls from the correct fields, or Unicode bits get update in the correct leader locations.  The problem, from a usability perspective, is that these values are sorted into a wide range of other MarcEdit settings and preferences…which raises the question: which are the most important?

If you’ve installed MarcEdit 6 recently on a new computer, the way that the program has attempted to deal with this issue is by showing the preferences window on the application’s first run.  This means that the first time the program is executed, you see the following window:

Now, I’m not naïve.  I know that most users just click OK, and the program opens up for them, and they work with MarcEdit until they run across something that might require them to go back and look at the settings.  But when I do MarcEdit workshops, I get some specific questions related to Accessibility questions (i.e., can I make the fonts bigger or change the font), display (my Unicode characters don’t display), UNIMARC versus MARC21, etc.  From the window above, you can answer all the questions above, but you have to know which settings group handles each option.  It’s admittedly a pain, and because of that, most workshops I do include 20-30 minutes just going over the setting that might be worth considering.

With MarcEdit 7, I have an opportunity to rethink how users interact with the program, and I started to think about how other software does this successfully.  By and large, the ones that I think are more successful provide a kind of wizard at the start that helps to push the most important options forward…and the best examples include a little bit of whimsy in the process.  No, I might not do whimsy well, but I can think about the setting groups that might be the most important to bring front and center to the user.

To that end, I’ve developed a startup wizard for MarcEdit 7.  All users that install the application will see it (because MarcEdit 7 will install into its own user space, everyone will have this first run experience).  Based on the answers to questions, I’m able to automatically set data in the background to ensure that the application is better configured for the user, the first time they start using MarcEdit, rather than later, when they need help finding configuration settings.   It also will give me an opportunity to bring potential issues to the user’s attention.  So, for example, the tool will specifically look to see if you have a comprehensive Unicode Font installed (so, MS Arial Unicode or the Noto Sans fonts).  If you don’t, the program will point you to help files that discuss how to get one for free; as this will directly impact how the program displays Unicode characters (and comes up all the time given some decisions Microsoft has made in distributing their own Unicode fonts).  Additionally, I’ll be utilizing some automatic translation services, so the program will automatically react to your systems default language settings.  If they are English, text will show in English.  If they are Greek, the interface will show the machine translated Greek.  Users will have the option to change the language in the wizard, and I’ll provide notes about the translations (since machine translations are getting better, but there’s bound to be some pretty odd text. )  The hope is that this will make the program more accessible, and usable…and whimsical.  Yes, there is that too.  MarcEdit 7’s codename was developed after a nickname for my Golden Doodle.  So, she’s volunteered to help get users through the initial startup process.

The Wizard will likely change as I continue to evaluate settings groups, but at this point, I’m kind of leaning towards something that looks like this:

 

I’ve had a  few folks walk through this process, and by and large, they find it much more accessible than the current, just show the settings screen, process.  Additionally, they like the idea of the language translations, but wonder if the machine translations will be useful (I did an initial set, they are what they are)…I’ll get more feedback on that before release.  If they aren’t useful, I may remove that option, though I have to feel that for folks where English is a challenge, having anything is better than nothing (though, I could be wrong).

But this is what I’m thinking.  Its hopefully a little fun, easy to walk through, and will allow me to ensure that MarcEdit has been optimally configured for your data.  What do you think?

–tr

Mark E. Phillips: Metadata Quality Interfaces: Element Count Dashboard

planet code4lib - Fri, 2017-09-01 14:30

Next up in our review of the new metadata quality interfaces we have implemented this summer is our Element Count Dashboard.

The basics of this are that whenever we index metadata records in our Solr index we go ahead and count the number of instances of a given element, or a given element with a specific qualifier and store those away in the index.  This results in hundreds of fields that are the counts of element instances in those fields.

We built an interface on top of these counts because we had a hunch that we would be able to use this information to help us identify problems in our metadata records.  It feels like I’m showing some things in our metadata that we probably don’t want to really highlight but it is all for helping others understand.  So onward!

Element Count Dashboard

The dashboard is similar to other dashboards in the Edit system.  You have the ability to limit your view to just the collection, partner or system you are interested in working with.

Count Dashboard

From there you can select an element you are interested in viewing counts for.  In the example below I am interested in looking at the Description element or field.

Select an Element to View Counts

Once your selection is made you are presented with the number of instances of the description field in a record.  This is a little more helpful if you know that in our metadata world, a nice clean record will generally have two description fields.  One for a content description and one for a physical description of the item. More than two is usually strange and less than one is usually bad.

Counts for Description Elements

To get a clearer view you can see the detail below.  This again is for the top level Description element where we like to have two descriptions.

Detail of Description Counts

You can also limit to a qualifier specifically.  In the example below you see the counts of Description elements with a content qualifier.  The 1,667 records that have two Description elements with a content qualifier are pretty strange.  We should probably fix those.

Detail of Description Counts for Content Qualifier

Next we limit to just the physical description qualifier. You will see that there are a bunch that don’t have any sort of physical description and then 76 that have two. We should fix both of those record sets.

Detail of Description Counts for Physical Qualifier

Because of the way that we index things we can also get at the Description elements that don’t have either a content or physical qualifier selected.  These are identified with a value of none for the qualifier.  You can see that there are 1,861,356 records that have zero Description elements with a none qualifier.  That’s awesome.  You can also see 52 that have one element and 261 that have two elements that are missing qualifiers.  That’s not awesome.

Detail of Description Counts for None Qualifier

I’m hoping you are starting to see how this kind of interface could be useful to drill into records that might look a little strange.  When you identify something strange all you have to do is click on the number and you are taken directly to the records that match what you’ve asked for.  In the example below we are seeing all 76 of the records that have two physical descriptions because this is something we are interested in correcting.

Records with Multiple Duplicate Physical Qualifiers

If you open up a record to edit you will see that yes, in fact there are two Physical Descriptions in this record. It looks like the first one should actually be a Content Description.

Example of two physical descriptions that need to be fixed

Once we change that value we can hit the Publish button and be on our way fixing other metadata records.  The counts will update about thirty seconds later to reflect the corrections that you have made.

Fixed Physical and Content Descriptions

Even more of a good thing.

Because I think this is a little different than other interfaces you might be used to, it might be good to see another example.

This time we are looking at the Creator element in the Element Count Dashboard.

Creator Counts

You will see that there are 112 different counts from zero way up into way way too many creators on an item (silly physics articles).

I was curious to see what the counts looked like for Creator elements that were missing a role qualifier.  These are identified by selecting the none value from the qualifier dropdown.

Creator Counts for Missing Qualifiers

You can see that the majority of our records don’t have Creator elements missing the role qualifier but there are a number that do.  We can fix those.  If you wanted to look at those records that have five different Creator elements that don’t have a role you would end up getting to records that loo like the one below.

Example of Multiple Missing Types and Roles

You will notice that when a record has a problem there are often multiple things wrong with it. In this case not only is it missing role information for each of these Creator elements but there is also name type information that is missing.  Once we fix those we can move along and edit some more.

And a final example.

I’m hoping you are starting to see how this interface could be useful.  Here is another example if you aren’t convinced yet.  We are completing a retrospective digitization of theses and dissertations here at UNT.  Not only is this a bunch of digitization but it is quite a bit of metadata that we are adding to both the UNT Digital Library as well as our traditional library catalog.   Let’s look at some of those records.

You can limit your dashboard view to the collection you are interested in working on.  In this case we choose the UNT Theses and Dissertations collection.

Next up we take a look at the number of Creator elements per record. Theses and dissertations are generally authored by just one person.  It would be strange to see counts other than one.

Creator Counts for These and Dissertations Collection

It looks lie there are 26 records that are missing Creator elements and a single record that for some reason has two Creator elements.  This is strange and we should take a look.

Below you will see the view of the 26 records that are missing a Creator element.  Sadly at the time of writing there are seven of these that are visible to the public so that’s something we really need to fix in a hurry.

Example Theses that are Missing Creators

That’s it for this post about our Element Count Dashboard.  I hope that you find this sort of interface interesting.  I’d be interested to hear if you have interfaces like this for your digital library collections or if you think something like this would be useful in your metadata work.

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

FOSS4Lib Recent Releases: Metaproxy - 1.13.0

planet code4lib - Fri, 2017-09-01 12:39

Last updated September 1, 2017. Created by Peter Murray on September 1, 2017.
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Package: MetaproxyRelease Date: Friday, September 1, 2017

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