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Access Conference: Call for proposals *extended* to Apr 12

planet code4lib - Mon, 2017-04-03 15:00

The CFP for Access 2017 has been extended for an extra week – you have until April 12th to submit your proposal.

We are looking for ideas for:

  • 20 min presentations (15 min presentation, ~5 min questions)
    • These could be demos, theory or practice, case studies, original research, etc.
    • These submissions will be double blind peer-reviewed
  • 30 min panel sessions
  • 5 min lightning talks

Questions? Contact us at

Open Knowledge Foundation: Hacker Bus on tour for Open Data Day 2017

planet code4lib - Mon, 2017-04-03 14:46

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

This blog was first published on LabHacker’s Facebook page

The Open Data Day, also known as the International Open Data Day, took place on the first Saturday of March, the 4th. This date was chosen to celebrate initiatives that use open data generated by public bodies, helping to build services and solutions so the society can function in a more integrated and inclusive way.

Many are the benefits and beneficiaries of a more transparent government that provide its data objectively. Even the government itself is a beneficiary when it allows for a more efficient and democratic operation. The open sharing of data is an incentive for the emergence of the innovation potential through analysis and combination of data from different sources, with new interpretations and applications.

Data are open when they are published in a simple way and accessible under an open license, for any end. The access to such information, even though it is public, is not always possible or sometimes works through complicated ways. With the passing of the Freedom of Information Law in 2011, the Government made an important step towards resolving technical and infrastructural difficulties with presenting the data, and also advanced in the strengthening of the public integrity.

For the seventh year, groups of different countries were invited to do activities using open data with their communities; the Hacker Bus was one of them. It left the LabHacker (in São Paulo) and travelled to Guarulhos (a nearby city, ~50 km from SP), setting up its tent on the Maia Square (Guarulho’s largest public park, with 170,000 km2) and realised many activities. It was a full day filled with workshops like Electronics for the little, Makey Makey, Little Bits, Be the Mayor, How to build a homemade composter, Electronic percussion and, last but not least, the Game of Politics app, which aims not only to awake little hackers, but teaches people about using open data and understanding its importance.

The Game of Politics is an immersion into the complexities of politics and is divided in three plays (Executive, Legislative and Judiciary). The game focuses on teaching young people starting from high school and puts them in a protagonist role, letting them decide. During Open Data Day, through the Executive game, the residents thought about how the public budget works using open data, reflected on where and how they believe their money was applied in their city based on their daily experiences, and on how they wished it was applied. In the end, they compared their budget with the real budget available on the city council’s website at From the game, it is possible to understand how the city’s budget works, which are its main investments and how much is spend in each area.

The development of this game is made possible by the accessibility of data in the transparency portals of the city, states and federal government and from the audit offices. The availability of information encourages the participation of citizens in the government’s management and allows citizens to follow the impact of the public politics.

Apart from the workshops, demonstrations and a lot of music, the Hacker Bus also received a new graffiti, and became even prettier!


Library of Congress: The Signal: Software Carpentry at the Library of Congress

planet code4lib - Mon, 2017-04-03 14:40

In February, we hosted 40 librarians, archivists and data wranglers at the Library of Congress to learn advanced skills in managing digital collections.

National Digital Initiatives (NDI/NP/NIO) hosted a Software Carpentry workshop, inviting staff from the Library, the DC Public Library and federal libraries for hands-on learning in the programming language Python, the version-control software Git, and the command-line interface Bash.

Software Carpentry trainer Mark Laufersweiler conducts programming and coding workshop at the Library of Congress, February 16, 2017. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Software Carpentry is a volunteer, non-profit organization that provides short, intensive workshops to help researchers automate tasks and manage information. It started with scholars in the physical sciences who found that traditional graduate programs were not preparing them for the challenges of working with data for their research products. Software Carpentry workshops have lately been adapted for social sciences, the humanities, and libraries.

“Librarians and archivists are already using these tools to accession and manage digital collections,” said Jaime Mears, who helped organize the event. “They are mostly self-taught, looking to get a job done. I am constantly inspired by the resourcefulness and ingenuity of my colleagues. NDI wants to help give the profession a boost when it comes to learning, and we think Software Carpentry is a good model for that.”

The goal of the workshop isn’t to teach librarians to become application developers but to give them greater fluency with or new uses for tools they are usually already using.

Julia Kim, Digital Assets Specialist for the American Folklife Center searches for a string of characters in the command line, February 16, 2017. Photo by Shawn Miller.

“I can see an opportunity to use scripts to improve researchers’ experience in the reading room,” said Kathleen O’Neill, a senior archives specialist in the Manuscript Division. “For those researchers with limited experience with digital collection material, we could provide a library of simple scripts to search, analyze and report on the born-digital collection material.”

The workshop was taught by Mark Laufersweiler and Mark Stacy of the University of Oklahoma Libraries. Also on hand for the day were professional coders who could help students as they got stuck. Mostly from the Repository Development Group and Web Services in OCIO, these staff members have worked closely with the curatorial divisions and have seen their challenges firsthand.

“Joining the workshop as helpers encouraged the mutual understanding between my staff and the curatorial staff – probably the most valuable part of the experience for us,” said David Brunton, Supervisory IT Specialist.

The organizers were pleased to see such a range of experience and perspectives among the attendees, which included librarians from NIST and the Peace Corps and executive management at the Library.

NDI, which hosted the event as part of its mission to provide digital leadership for libraries and archives throughout the country, is considering hosting more Software Carpentry events in the future. The staff of the division can be contacted at

FOSS4Lib Recent Releases: Zebra - 2.1.0

planet code4lib - Mon, 2017-04-03 12:25

Last updated April 3, 2017. Created by Peter Murray on April 3, 2017.
Log in to edit this page.

Package: ZebraRelease Date: Monday, April 3, 2017

District Dispatch: Decision makers: libraries are ready to code

planet code4lib - Sun, 2017-04-02 20:27

Released today, ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy latest brief explores how libraries are increasingly offer programs in coding and computational thinking and are poised to do much more.

Computing jobs represent the largest source of new jobs and are among the highest paying, yet hundreds of thousands of openings go unfilled. And such employment needs are projected to continue growing in the coming years. Libraries are part of the solution in preparing more of America’s youth for these jobs

Libraries are ideal venues to provide career opportunities for youth in the digital age, explains a newly-released brief from the American Library Association (ALA). In “Careers for America’s Youth in the Digital Age: <libraries / ready to code>,” libraries are found to increasingly offer programs in coding and computational thinking—the broader intellectual skills behind coding—and are poised to do much more.

The brief is being released at the #HouseOfCode demo, panel and reception event on Capitol Hill on April 3-4. Nearly 100 students from over 50 Congressional districts will participate to demo their winning apps from the 2016 Congressional App Challenge. ALA is a sponsor of this event and we will have an exhibitor table and strong representation including our coding policy extraordinaire Marijke Visser as well as Shawnda Hines and Emily Wagner of the ALA Washington Office.

“Careers for America’s Youth in the Digital Age: <libraries / ready to code>,” discusses how libraries stimulate youth awareness in coding, serve as innovation labs to develop coding skills and leverage their national reach to encourage youth engagement from groups under-represented in tech careers. Perspectives from industry leaders such as Michael Petricone of the Consumer Technology Association (and a member of ALA’s Public Policy Advisory Council) and Mo-Yun Lei Fong of Google are included in the brief.

This brief is the sixth one in a new series targeted to national decision makers and influencers. ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy gratefully acknowledges the guidance and financial support of ALA President Julie Todaro for the establishment of this series. The previously published briefs are:

Libraries Help and Honor Our Veterans: Employment, Education and Community Connection
One Small Business at a Time: Building Entrepreneurial Opportunity in America’s Communities
The Manufacturing Sector & The Knowledge Economy: Expanding Opportunity through Libraries
Digital Empowerment and America’s Libraries
From Baby’s First Words: Libraries Promote Early Learning.

Additional briefs will be released in the coming months.

As always, we look forward to feedback. In particular, we seek to learn about compelling library programs on these topics or ideas on new topics for which briefs should be produced. Though motivated for use at the national level, much of the content and argument is applicable at the state and local levels and so we are interested in any such adaptations of this material. Let us know!

The post Decision makers: libraries are ready to code appeared first on District Dispatch.

Andrew Pace: Fake News Forever!

planet code4lib - Sat, 2017-04-01 11:32

Librarians were among the first to join the call to arms and combat the onslaught of fake news that has permeated our political discussions for the last several months. Frankly, it seems hard for anyone to be on the other side of this issue. But is it?

Librarians wish they had collected this fake news from 1949.

Not long after the effort to stop fake news in its tracks, a group of librarians began to consider the long-term implications of eradicating an entire body of content from history. Thus began a concerted effort to preserve all the fake news that a vigilant group of librarians could gather up. Building on other open source applications to store and preserve data, software and uploading code for a DisInformation Repository is well underway. Mendacity 1.0 should be available on Github later this month. My attempts to download and use the beta version only redirected me to the Bing search engine homepage.

It’s also rumored that an ALA Round Table might also be in the works. Proponents of the FNRT want to make sure that the effort not only focuses on completely eliminating the dissemination of Fake News but also on preserving the content that slips through the cracks.

“Freedom to read means protecting even the most obvious fallacies,” said Martin Garnar, President of the Freedom to Read Foundation. “In a post-truth society,” continued Garnar, librarians have to stay vigilant in preserving the anti-intellectual content that got us to this point.”

“It’s got to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of,” said Yonkers librarian, Christian Zabriskie. “Librarians have done some pretty awesome and crazy things in the past, but this one has to take the cake. I could not take part in it.”

So while many front-line librarians will continue the fight against the proliferation of internet falsehoods, now there’s a new library collections front to consider. It will be interesting to watch the untruth unfold.

Information Technology and Libraries: President's Message: For The Record

planet code4lib - Fri, 2017-03-31 21:55
President's Message: For The Record

Information Technology and Libraries: Editorial Board Thoughts: Arts into Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics – STEAM, Creative Abrasion, and the Opportunity in Libraries Today

planet code4lib - Fri, 2017-03-31 21:55
By actively seeking out opportunities to bring art into traditionally STEM-focused activity, and vice-versa, we are deliberately increasing the diversity of the environment. Makerspace services and activities, to the extent they are open and visibly accessible to all, are a natural for the spontaneous development of trans-disciplinary collaboration. Within the spaces of the library, opportunities to connect individuals around shared avocational interest might range from music and spontaneous performance areas to spaces salted with LEGO bricks and jigsaw puzzles; the potential connections between our resources and the members of our communities are as diverse as their interests. Indeed, when a practitioner from one discipline can interact and engage with others from across the STEAM spectrum, the world becomes a richer place – and maybe, just maybe, we can fan the flames of curiosity along the way.

Information Technology and Libraries: TV Whites Spaces in Public Libraries: A Primer

planet code4lib - Fri, 2017-03-31 21:55

TV Whitespace (TVWS) represents one new wireless communication technology that has the potential to improve internet access and inclusion. This primer describes TVWS technology as a viable, long-term access solution for the benefit of public libraries and their communities, especially for underserved populations.  Discussion focuses first on providing a brief overview of the digital divide and the emerging role of public libraries as internet access providers.  Next, a basic description of TVWS and its features is provided, focusing on key aspects of the technology relevant to libraries as community anchor institutions. Several TVWS implementations are described with discussion of TVWS implementations in several public libraries.  Finally, consideration is given to first steps that library organizations must take when contemplating new TVWS implementations supportive of Wi-Fi applications and crisis response planning.

Information Technology and Libraries: Reference Rot in the Repository: A Case Study of Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETDs) in an Academic Library

planet code4lib - Fri, 2017-03-31 21:55

This study examines ETDs deposited during the period 2011-2015 in an institutional repository, to determine the degree to which the documents suffer from reference rot, that is, linkrot plus content drift. The authors converted and examined 664 doctoral dissertations in total, extracting 11,437 links, finding overall that 77% of links were active, and 23% exhibited linkrot.  A stratified random sample of 49 ETDs was performed which produced 990 active links, which were then checked for content drift based on mementos found in the Wayback Machine.  Mementos were found for 77% of links, and approximately half of these, 492 of 990, exhibited content drift. The results serve to emphasize not only the necessity of broader awareness of this problem, but also to stimulate action on the preservation front.   

Information Technology and Libraries: Facilitating Research Consultations Using Cloud Services: Experiences, Preferences, and Best Practices

planet code4lib - Fri, 2017-03-31 21:55
The increasing complexity of the information ecosystem means that research consultations are increasingly important to meeting library users' needs. Yet librarians struggle to balance escalating demands on their time. How can we embrace this expanded role and maintain accessibility to users while balancing competing demands on our time? One tool that allows us to better navigate this shifting landscape is Google Appointment Calendar, part of Google Apps for Education. It makes it easier than ever for students to book a consultation with a librarian, while at the same time allowing the librarian to better control their schedule. Our research suggests that both students and librarians felt it was a useful, efficient system.

District Dispatch: How libraries can respond to the repeal of the FCC privacy rules

planet code4lib - Fri, 2017-03-31 20:16

This blog is cross-posted from the Intellectual Freedom Blog, written by the Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association.

This week Congress, voting along party lines, passed a resolution that repealed the groundbreaking privacy rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission last October under the Obama administration. The new rules would have required ISPs to adopt fair information privacy practices in regards to their customers’ data, including a requirement that the ISP obtain affirmative “opt-in” consent from their customers before using, sharing or selling sensitive information, including geo-location information, financial information, health information, children’s information, social security numbers, web browsing history, app usage history and the content of communications. In addition, the rules would have imposed data breach notification requirements and required ISPs to adopt reasonable data security measures.

If the privacy rules had been left alone, they would have gone into effect at the end of this year. But because of the way the new resolution was written, the FCC will likely be barred from writing any similar rules in the future. And the Federal Trade Commission, which otherwise has broad authority to regulate unfair and deceptive business practices like inadequate privacy protections or deceptive privacy policies, is likely barred from regulating ISPs, which are classified as telecommunication common carriers only subject to FCC regulation. Thus, those Congressional representatives voting to roll back the FCC privacy rules have likely skewed the privacy playing field in favor of the ISPs for a long time to come.

This means service providers like Verizon are free to install apps like AppFlash, a new Android app launcher and search tool designed to collect information like a user’s mobile number, device identifier, device type and operating system, location information, installed apps, and contacts and share that information with advertisers without the customer’s consent.

How can libraries respond to the rollback of the FCC privacy rules? Start with the Library Privacy Guidelines and the accompanying Library Privacy Checklists, which outline the steps libraries should take to protect users’ data and provide a secure online experience in the library.

More specific steps libraries can take to protect themselves and help users protect themselves from data collection by ISPs include:

  • Participating in the movement to encrypt all web traffic by moving library websites and services to HTTPS, a protocol which prevents intermediaries like ISPs from eavesdropping. ALA is a sponsor of the Let’s Encrypt initiative which provides free and easy to install certificates for HTTPS websites.
  • Negotiating contracts with ISPs that forbid the collection of browser history and other activity data of Internet users in the library.
  • Providing anonymous Internet access in library using the Tor browser or similar technologies.
  • Teaching users to protect themselves from online surveillance by using technologies such as public proxies, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) services, and anonymity networks such as Tor, as well as educating and encouraging patrons to exercise their ability to opt-out of behavioral tracking, adopt do-not-track tools, and employ encryption technologies. San Jose Public Library’s Virtual Privacy Lab provides one model for providing patrons with the information they need to protect their privacy.

For those who are interested in learning more about these tools and tactics, the Office for Intellectual Freedom and the IFC Privacy Subcommittee are sponsoring a webinar on Practical Privacy Practices for Choose Privacy Week on Thursday, April 13 at 2:00 PM Eastern/1:00 PM Central/12 Noon Mountain/11:00 AM Pacific. The webinar will provide information on how to configure and manage your integrated library system to preserve patron privacy, how to install free HTTPS certificates on your websites using the Let’s Encrypt services, and how to provide anonymous web browsing using TOR and other tools.

Finally, advocacy on behalf of data privacy, transparency, and customer choice is always an option. Minnesota and Illinois have already introduced legislation that would require ISPs providing services in those states to abide by a set of rules comparable to the FCC privacy rules repealed by Congress. While the FCC may be barred from adopting new privacy rules, Congress itself can propose and adopt a privacy regime that will protect individuals’ data. Librarians and patrons alike can let their elected officials know that they support laws that protect individuals’ online privacy.

The post How libraries can respond to the repeal of the FCC privacy rules appeared first on District Dispatch.

LITA: Travel scholarships available for LITA’s AdaCamp

planet code4lib - Fri, 2017-03-31 17:51

Do you want to participate in LITA’s AdaCamp, a one-day unconference for women in library technology, at ALA Annual in Chicago? Would travel funding help you to attend? Thanks to support from our sponsors, LITA is offering several $500 travel scholarships (apply here).

Scholarships will be awarded competitively based on the committee’s ranking of applications received by the deadline (April 15, 2017).

Get your unconference on! Photo courtesy of

Scholarship Eligibility

ALA Attendees are encouraged to participate in LITA AdaCamp if they:

  • Identify as a woman in a way that is significant to them;
  • Participate in library technology (in any role);
  • Can actively participate in discussions about women’s experiences in library technology, including talking about women’s achievements and the challenges they face;
  • Want to work together and share strategies to support and promote women in the field;
  • Are young or old; students or professionals; from a diverse range of backgrounds and types of libraries; and reflective of the breadth of librarianship.

Scholarship applications will be ranked highly if they:

  • Belong to a group not well-represented in LITA, including but not limited to: people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+;
  • Demonstrate an interest in actively contributing during the LITA AdaCamp.

These scholarships are intended for people who couldn’t otherwise attend AdaCamp. LITA can’t assess your financial need; we trust you to self-identify accurately.

How to apply

Please fill out this google form.

Applications are due April 15, 2017.

We will notify you by May 1, 2017.

Scholarship selections will be made by the LITA AdaCamp steering committee: Abigail Goben, Aimee Fifarek, Amy Buckland, Andromeda Yelton, Becky Yoose, Carolyn Coulter, Elizabeth Peele Mumpower, Evviva Weinraub, Jenny Levine, Jessica Hayden, Margaret Heller, Mark Beatty, Natalie DeJonghe, Nicole Sump-Crethar, Rosalyn Metz, and Zoe Stewart-Marshall.


Thank you to our generous sponsors: OCLC Research, Digital Public Library of America, and EBSCO, for your support of LITA’s AdaCamp and the Women in Information Technology Interest Group.

LITA: LITA AdaCamp preconference at the 2017 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago

planet code4lib - Fri, 2017-03-31 16:00
Don’t miss this exciting networking and learning opportunity to attend the LITA AdaCamp

Friday June 23, 2017, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Northwestern University Libraries, Evanston, IL

Discover ALA Annual Ticketed Events
Register for ALA Annual events

Women in technology face numerous challenges in their day-to-day work. If you would like to join other women in the field to discuss topics related to those challenges, AdaCamp is for you. This one-day LITA preconference at ALA Annual in Chicago will allow female-identifying individuals employed in various technological industries an opportunity to network with others in the field and to collectively examine common barriers faced.

This day will follow the unconference model allowing attendees the power to choose topics most relevant to their work and their lives. Participants will have the opportunity to propose lightning rounds and session proposals on a variety of topics such as salary negotiation, creating inclusive job postings, and getting involved in open source software development. Please come prepared with ideas for discussion topics! The opening session, led by Margaret Heller, will address imposter syndrome, the feeling that you aren’t actually qualified for the work you are doing and will be discovered as a fraud. Evviva Weinraub will be our facilitator for the day. We look forward to having you join us for this important event!

Find out more about AdaCamp.


Margaret Heller is Digital Services Librarian at Loyola University Chicago. She works on web development, the discovery layer, digital collections, the institutional repository, and digital preservation. She also researches and presents about social justice in digital collections and issues for working parents in library technology. She enjoys working with students and new professionals, and only recently figured out how to beat her own imposter syndrome.

Evviva Weinraub is the Associate University Librarian for Digital Strategies at Northwestern University. She provides leadership and advocacy for Information Technology, Digital Initiatives, Repository and Digitization Services, Metadata and Resource Discovery, User Experience, and Access Services. In addition, she serves as the co-Director of the Avalon Project. She holds numerous offices in library professional associations and projects including the American Library Association, IFLA, and the Fedora Project. She has published and spoken extensively on library management, open source development, user experience, and digital publishing.


Thanks to support from our sponsors, LITA is offering several $500 travel scholarships. Look for application details very soon on the LITA Blog.

Travel information will be sent to participants upon registration. Workshop space is ADA accessible. Please contact regarding other needed accommodations.

Note that you do not need to register for the ALA Annual Conference in order to attend LITA’s AdaCamp. You’ll need to use the regular registration process on the ALA Annual website, but once you’re logged in to the system you’ll have the option to skip full registration and select a ticketed event. Please contact if you run into any problems registering for just AdaCamp.

Open Knowledge Foundation: Accountability Lab Celebrated Open Data Day Mapping Migration in Nepal

planet code4lib - Fri, 2017-03-31 13:00

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

Saturday is a holiday across the country of Nepal. For many, it’s the only day they get off from work. Streets are quiet, shops are closed, and you would certainly have difficulty getting any business done. Yet, on Saturday, 4th March, one office was not only open but hosted a bustling co-creation session for ideas around migration in Nepal.

To celebrate Open Data Day, the Accountability Lab welcomed to the OpenGov Hub Kathmandu eight of our Community Frontline Associates (CFAs), our “accountapreneur,” Yubaraj Nepal, and his colleague Basanta Ghimire from the Center for Migration and International Relations (CMIR) for an interactive event, Open Data in Migration. This event was funded by Open Knowledge International’s mini-grants scheme.

The event focused on migration issues in Nepal and the problems that migrant workers and their families face due to a lack of information. Labour migration began growing in Nepal during the Maoist insurgency when young men started leaving the country in order to avoid participating in the conflict. The trend continues today with increasing numbers leaving Nepal to work in countries in the Gulf region and Malaysia.

In the past nine years, 2.7 million Nepalis have gone abroad for work due to lack of economic opportunities in many villages. In a country of just 27.8 million people and with so many foreign labourers going undocumented, this means that over a tenth of Nepal is directly involved with the migration labour sector. Underlying causes of this phenomenon include a lack of accountability for those in power as well as the deep corruption of public resources, leaving abject poverty that forces the movement of millions.

Some labour migrants go through recruitment agencies, while others go to individuals who promise to find them a job abroad. Since many aspiring migrants are unaware which individuals and/or recruitment agencies are authorised by the government, many have been victims of fraud with no avenues to bring the fraudsters to justice. Some recruitment agencies and individuals take advantage of people’s lack of knowledge about foreign employment and charge them hefty fees to secure a job abroad or simply disappear after accepting the fees.

Being knowledgeable and up to date about different realised and avenues to seek help if misled or mistreated while trying to go abroad to work will not only save the migrants money but will allow them to make an informed and safe decision. Many migrant workers have been cheated during their foreign employment journey, or in the worst cases, have gone missing or died working in unbearable conditions abroad, leaving their families in Nepal without any answers or ways to seek justice.

The Accountability Lab already addresses much of the confusion in the post-earthquake recovery and rebuilding processes with community meetings hosted by our Citizen Helpdesk CFAs. Through those meetings, we have also realised just how pervasive an issue foreign labour migration is in those communities. So, for Open Data Day, we brought our CFAs to our Kathmandu office to interact with one of the social entrepreneurs from our Accountability Incubator working at the Center for Migration and International Relations (CMIR), to help inform migrant workers about their rights and existing policies to ensure a safe foreign employment process and various ways to address problems that may arise while working abroad.

The day opened with each of the CFAs sharing the specific issues of migration they encountered in their villages. Our CFAs are skilled journalists, but they are also members of these communities themselves and the stories they shared were deeply personal. Several had seen half of their village leave for foreign employment, while others had heard of families losing touch after years of separation. Others had stories of workers who had given everything to go abroad and still returned empty-handed. There are stories of fraud and legal troubles, as well as deaths abroad leaving families unable to claim their bodies or any government funds.

Everyone participated in “Mapping the Journey of a Migrant Worker,” an activity in which they all identified the steps in the process of leaving for foreign employment and the numerous information gaps in this process. Yubaraj and Basanta directed the CFAs to the websites available to identify which recruitment agencies are authorised by the government and which are not.

They advised the participants on the three critical things to remember when advising community members on foreign migration:

  1. It is important to get a receipt for any fees charged by the recruitment agency to avoid overcharging or fraud.
  2. If the recruitment agency requires that the migrant worker hand over their passport, the worker should have a receipt of that transaction, copies of their passport, or at the very least texts and emails proving the agency’s possession of the passport.
  3. Finally, family members should also have copies of all the documents involved in the process of leaving for foreign employment to ensure future processes are easier.

By the end of the day, our team had printed key documents that CMIR had found and identified as important, and which many citizens often need but are unable to access. The CFAs left with copies of those documents to distribute to the various villages and the three critical pieces of advice CMIR encouraged them to keep in mind. Our team, too, left with a reminder of the importance of our work providing people in need with accurate information and connecting them to the relevant stakeholders. The lessons from our Open Data Day will no doubt shape the future work of the Citizen Helpdesk, Accountability Lab, and OpenGov Hub Kathmandu.  


Ed Summers: The Web as Performance

planet code4lib - Fri, 2017-03-31 04:00

Yesterday the Webrecorder project from Rhizome announced the v1.0.0 release of their project WebrecorderPlayer application:

Webrecorder Player Desktop App for OSX, Win & Linux released: Browse web archives in WARC, HAR, ARC formats offline!

— ((???)) March 30, 2017

Maybe I’m just a big nerd but it’s quite an amazing experience to go to Webrecorder, create a collection, download the WARC file for the collection, disconnect from the Internet, and then view and interact with the content as if I was actually online. Go on, try it out. For me it’s up there with using the Web for the first time in a terminal window with Lynx–which (for me) is saying a lot.

For example here’s a screenshot of me viewing a collection I built a few months ago when the @FBIRecordsVault Twitter account tweeted about Hillary Clinton’s emails just over a week before the US Presidential Election:

The tweets are still there on the web, but let’s imagine that they’re not, and that the Internet Archive didn’t get them (gasp), and Webrecorder’s is offline because funding has run out (never!) … but I still have the WARC data, and I can still use it. The ability to easily open a file of web archive content on my workstation and interact with it as if it was a live website is a huge win for usability … and I think it could be a game changer for web archives, scholarship and the viability of the WARC format itself.

Part of the reason why Webrecorder and WebrecorderPlayer are such a feat to me is that they capture the performative nature of the web. The web isn’t so much about data as it is about decisions, actions, interactions, software, hardware and infrastructure. Given all this complexity it’s kind of miraculous any of it works at all. This presents a really severe challenge to digital preservation because you can’t just preserve the data, there is a whole environment that needs preserving. And it’s not just a question of emulating the software because the experience is performative–it’s a particular set of contingencies that has more in common with preserving a dance piece or performance art than what we normally think of as digital preservation. It is a performance that involves many actors, but the primary role is yours. Webrecorder’s approach to web archiving centers the person making decisions about what to archive and what to do with that archive.

Of course WebrecorderPlayer is itself a piece of software. It’s an Electron application, which is essentially the Chromium open source web browser that is at the heart of the most popular web browser in use today, Google Chrome. WebrecorderPlayer also includes a platform specific binary version of the Webrecorder Python application, which itself is a combination of a bunch of different tools. But pushing the application out to the edges of people’s personal computers suddenly means there isn’t just one copy of Webrecorder running–there are many copies of Webrecorder running. This is an important step for the viability of web archiving ecosystem.

It could in fact be a step towards being able to open a WARC file directly in your browser:

(???) Any interest in adding WARC/high-fidelity archiving support directly to Chrome? Would make our work a bit easier :)

— ((???)) March 14, 2017

But we’re not quite there yet. Till we are, here’s to Rhizome’s Webrecorder team for bringing us one step closer!

Update: I feel like I subconsciously plagiarized Christie Peterson’s Web Archives, Performance & Capture which I’ve definitely read and enjoyed before. Heck I saw her present it! So if you want to read more about this idea of performance with more connections to the archival literature do check it out. Also, Mark Matienzo pointed out that this idea of performance in digital records has roots back to An Approach to the Preservation of Digital Records by Helen Heslop, Simon Davis and Andrew Wilson. There was a point in my career where discovering my ideas were neither new nor original would be disappointing. But luckily those days are past. But I do still believe it’s extremely important to give credit where credit is due!

Meredith Farkas: The dangers of the backchannel: my observations from the #ACRL2017 hashtag

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-03-30 20:43

When I took my current job at PCC almost three years ago, I gained so many things: work I love, amazing engaged colleagues, a mission I identify with, terrific students, and great faculty collaborators. One of the things I lost was sufficient professional development funding. I haven’t attended an out-of-state conference in almost three years, and while I miss my professional community, I wouldn’t trade this job for anything.

I was especially sad to miss the ACRL 2017 Conference in Baltimore, so I followed a lot of the twitter backchannel (#ACRL2017). While there were plenty of Twitter posts summarizing points from so many great presentations and keynotes as well as posts that showed me what the people I care about were up to, I was surprised by the amount of negativity, bitterness, and snark I was seeing. Some of it was around presenters (particularly about whether they should be presenting on their chosen topic and mostly targeted at white men), some of it around comments during the presentations themselves, and others around the Q&A sessions (particularly after Roxanne Gay’s keynote, but I saw quite a few other complaints from other sessions). It might just be that the people I follow make for a skewed sample, but I haven’t seen that level of negativity since Twitter first came on the scene and people didn’t know it was kind of awful to insult people while they were presenting.

Way back in 2010, I wrote about the value of Twitter at conferences and how the back-channel could just as easily become a hostile, negative, and distracting force as it could be a helpful force for connecting and sharing ideas. Back then, I shared the case of danah boyd‘s speech at the Web 2.0 Expo, which is a cautionary tale if there ever was one. In that case, the backchannel showed up on the screen behind the speaker, humiliating them in real time. At most conferences, the speaker or questioner doesn’t even know that they are being criticized, insulted, or made fun of on a publicly-accessible backchannel. Is that better? I try to consider, when live tweeting someone’s talk, how I would feel if what I wrote were projected on the screen behind them. I don’t always get it right, but I keep that in the forefront of my mind. That doesn’t mean that I never criticize via Twitter, but I try to think about how I frame it.

Erin Leach from Constructive Summer: Building the Unified Library Scene (one of my favorite blogs) wrote this about the Twitter backchannel at ACRL 2017:

I had a real love/hate relationship with the social media back channel at this event. I found myself using the back channel to say some things that weren’t very kind about situations and programs in which I found myself. I feel like everybody has to decide for themselves how they use social media, so this is more a self-critique than a hot take on the social media back channel writ large. At some point, in wanting to build a brand and cultivate a following, I lost track of my authentic voice in favor of something snarkier. And I don’t like how I feel when I do that. I think I need to spend time thinking critically about how I use my voice in online spaces.

I feel that. The desire to write something pithy or interesting on social media can definitely pull us towards being snarky and even mean. I’ve had moments where I’ve looked back at something I wrote on Twitter and cringe. I think Twitter can really bring out the worst in people because of the positive strokes we get from being snarky or joining in a pile-on. I appreciate Erin’s interest in reflecting on whether that is what she wants to put out there in the world. I’ve had many of the same thoughts about myself.

The awesome Zoe Fisher (who has one of my other favorite blogs) had a very valid criticism she shared on Twitter at ACRL blow up big time. She shared an appalling slide where some librarians called their students “our sweet dum dums” in response to looking at their work for assessment purposes. YIKES. I’m sure we’ve all complained about students or faculty members to our colleagues when we’re blowing off steam (though calling them dumb seems beyond the pale), but I truly cannot understand what would make a group of people think it was ok to put such a thing up on a slide. Anyways, Zoe shared it and there was an avalanche of tweeting about how horrible it was, then how one of the speakers (Erin) was running for ACRL Board and we shouldn’t vote for them. It was the typical social media pile-on, which I’ve written about before. I read it all last week and felt my usual discomfort with the pile-on, though I did think the language was egregious and deserved to be called out. What made me most uncomfortable was that no one confronted these people directly when something so offensive to students and ableist was shared. Days later, the woman running for ACRL Board was clued into the kerfuffle by a friend and posted a public apology on Twitter. Though I know Zoe had planned to contact Erin, I could very easily imagine a situation in which none of the speakers would ever find out that people were tarring and feathering them online and thus would never learn from the situation.

Some of the complaints I saw on Twitter were calling out microaggressions (generational, ableist, racial, etc.) or situations where people exercised their privilege in a way that reinforced existing power structures. It wasn’t just a sucky talk people were writing about. The biggest concern I have with that is that the message is rarely getting to the perpetrators like it fortunately did in Zoe’s case. Although it sometimes doesn’t feel that way, only a minority of our profession is on Twitter, which means that we’re usually preaching to the choir (or the echo chamber) when we post something like this.

That said, I totally understand that sometimes we’re not going to feel safe or capable of calling someone out. There are lots of reasons why people don’t confront things that are wrong and Kate Deibel articulates many of them here on Twitter. I have a really hard time holding my tongue in the moment and have often paid for it when speaking out against things I felt were wrong. I have totally been in the situation where people have said they agreed with me and had my back when I said I was going to bring an issue up in a meeting and then they sat silently making me look like a lone crank. I also suffer from social anxiety and am very much like George Costanza in this clip below — tongue-tied in the moment and then thinking of what to say after hours of rumination.

Whether we feel safe speaking out or not, I think it’s worth recognizing that the things we don’t like will continue to happen unless we educate the people doing them. This is especially true when it comes to things like microaggressions where people rarely even realize the wrongness and hurtfulness of what they’re saying.

And I think it’s more than just not feeling safe, especially for people who are in a position of privilege in a particular situation. Like so many things with social media, Tweeting about something we see that’s wrong can feel like “doing something.” And sometimes, indeed, calling it out can get someone else to act, but more often than not, it starts and ends with a Twitter storm. Certainly tweeting scratches an itch many of us have to be liked and be right. It positions us as someone who does right because we point out the wrong. We’re not like “those people who do that” because we point it out, so it distances us from people with whom we don’t want to be associated. It often results in a bunch of “I agree” and “you’re awesome”-type responses, which again hits the reward centers of our brain. It seems like a win-win, especially because the risk of putting ourselves out there in that way on Twitter is so much lower than actually saying something to the person/people you’re writing about.

And I say “us” here because I’ve done it too. I remember complaining about this guy some of us called “the mansplainer” at two successive Library Assessment Conferences because he would basically use the Q&A as an opportunity to demonstrate how much he knows and then (finally) ask a question that is designed to demonstrate that the speaker knows less and demean them. I complained about him on Twitter, but I never said anything to him. And I should have. Maybe he’s just a twerp who would write off my criticism or maybe he would realize that we all see right through him and would stop doing it. But he’s not going to learn anything if people like me just keep talking about him on the backchannel. It was a fail on my part.

In her blog post, Zoe quoted something valuable Roxanne Gay said in her keynote: “‘I don’t want your shame,’ she said. ‘I want your fight.” Zoe meant that in terms of the people who wrote the “dum dum” comment taking action to be on the side of their students. I want to see that fight come out when people see someone doing wrong in a conference presentation (or really anywhere). Especially when we are in a situation where we have privilege, we are being a good ally when we use that privilege to call out people for microaggressions against or disrespect of people with less privilege. It might be uncomfortable for us to do that publicly, but consider how much more uncomfortable it is for the target of the microaggression or disrespect. This post on Allies and Microaggressions describes what it feels like to experience microaggressions when their “allies” don’t speak up until after the fact. We need to not just point out on Twitter the sucky things people do, but to actually confront the perpetrators publicly about it when we can. A whole lot of people complained about the Q&A sessions at the conference: maybe they should have been seen as opportunities to confront speakers about issues with their presentations.

It would be lovely if this were all clear-cut, but it isn’t. It would be great if we could just say Twitter=bad or suggesting people directly call out offensive things=tone policing. Twitter sometimes can be a great force for good and change. It can also bring out the absolute worst in really nice people because of how snark, meanness, and cattiness is rewarded. Twitter can help bring to light bad actors. Twitter can also sometimes make people think they’re making a difference as an ally when they’re not really being one in real life. Tone policing is bad. But so is silence when you have privilege and someone you know who doesn’t is being made the target of a microaggression. We’re not going to be perfect all the time. We’re going to get it wrong sometimes. But I think recognizing the importance of confronting wrong in a way that educates the person who did wrong and encourages change is the key. For someone like the incredible Emily Drabinski (who is active on Twitter and was confronted there for something she said in a conference session) that might be a fine way to deliver the message. But especially when the things someone said may have hurt people in the audience, calling them out publicly in the session both educates them about the wrong they did and makes the injured parties feel supported. We won’t always be able to do this, of course, but let’s never stop wanting to do better.

HangingTogether: Metadata for archival collections

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-03-30 18:24

That was the topic discussed recently by OCLC Research Library Partners metadata managers, initiated by Roxanne Missingham of Australian National University and Stephen Hearn of the University of Minnesota. Archival collections are in many ways the jewels in the crown of collections as they are unique research resources that provide insights into the world across many centuries, the fodder for creating new research. Creating visibility for these collections reaps significant benefits for both researchers and libraries/archives. Archives are, however, complex, and present different metadata issues compared to traditional library collections. As institutions turn to ArchiveSpace and other content management systems to provide infrastructures for structured archival metadata, various issues are emerging.

OCLC Research Library Partners use a variety of standards to describe archival collections: Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS), Encoded Archival Description (EAD) and MARC are common in the United States; Rules for Archival Description (RAD) in Canada; and the International Council on Archives’ (ICA) International Standard Archival Description (ISAD) in Australia, the United Kingdom and other Western nations. Discovery is through local portals and regional networks, and aggregations such as the Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC), ArchiveGrid, Trove (in Australia) and WorldCat.

Some highlights from the discussions:

  • Identifiers: Many would like to assign identifiers to parts of a collection in addition to the overall collection. The Smithsonian has been using ARKs (Archival Resource Key), assigning the same stem to parts of a collection providing a type of hierarchical approach to constructing identifiers. The number of personal names in archival collections can be so large that most are uncontrolled and without identifiers. George Washington University is experimenting with automatically generating entities from finding aids with good results.
  • Improving exposure to archival collections: RAMP (Remixing Archival Metadata Project), developed by the University of Miami Libraries, is a tool that extracts biographical and historical data from EAD finding aids and then generates enhanced authority records and publishes the content as Wikipedia pages. (OCLC Research sponsored a webinar in 2014, “Beyond EAD: Tools for Creating and Editing EAC-CPF Records and ‘Remixing’ Archival Metadata” featuring a demonstration of RAMP.) The Wikipedia Library’s 1Lib1Ref campaigns encourage librarians to add one reference to an existing Wikipedia article, which could be to an archival collection. OCLC recently won a Knight News Challenge to promote collaboration between public libraries and Wikipedia, which could also include more exposure to archival collections. (See 16 June 2016 news release and WebJunction’s project page, Wikipedia + Libraries: Better Together.)
  • Differences between archivists and librarians: Archives have had more autonomy than libraries within their institutions because they have unique collections with their own population of users. Some institutions have integrated archival processing within technical services, but most maintain a separate unit. Even so, a significant shift to metadata standardization from “artisanal archival approaches” has been occurring. Archivists do not have the tradition of creating authority records and sharing identifiers for the same entity as is common among librarians. Archivists tend to use the fullest form of a name based on the information found in collections, while librarians focus on “preferred” form found in publications. Some differences arise from the technology used; for example, ArchiveSpace does not connect authority records to collection descriptions, a major hindrance to data integration.

Among the questions raised:

  • How can archivists and librarians best integrate their data and name authority practices when their administrative units are separate?
  • The contextual information that archivists provide for personal and organizational entities would enrich the information provided in authority files – how could they be linked?
  • Do different needs arise when describing born-digital archival materials? Physical “extent” does not apply, while the original “carrier” may be considered a crucial element. The work underway by the OCLC Research Web Archiving Metadata Working Group led by my colleagues Jackie Dooley and Dennis Massie may address some of these differences.


About Karen Smith-Yoshimura

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

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