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Stuart Yeates: Whither TEI? The Next Thirty Years

planet code4lib - Sat, 2016-10-01 20:38

This post is a direct response to some of the organisational issues raised in
I completely agree that we need to significantly broaden the base of the TEI. A 200 x 500 campaign is a great idea, but better is a 2,000 x 250 goal, or a 20,000 x 250 goal. If we can reduce the cost to the normal range of a hardback text, most libraries will have delegated signing authority to individuals in acquisitions and only one person will need to be convinced, rather than a chain of people.
But how could we scale 20,000 institutions? To scale like that, we to think (a) in terms of scale and (b) in terms of how to make it easy for members to be a part of us.
Scale (1)A recent excellent innovation in the the TEI community has been the appointment of a social media coordinator. This is a great thing and I’ve certainly learnt about happenings I would not have otherwise been exposed to. But by nature the concept of ‘a social media coordinator’ can’t scale (one person in one time zone with one set of priorities...). If we look at what mature large-scale open projects do for social media (debian, wikimedia, etc), planets are almost always part of the solution. A planet for TEI might include (in no particular):
  1. 20x blog feeds from TEI-specific projects
  2. 20x blog feeds from TEI-using projects (limited to those posts tagged TEI)
  3. 1x RSS feed for changes to the TEI wiki (limited to one / day each)
  4. 1x RSS feed for jenkins server (limited to successful build only; limited to one / day each; tweaked to include full context and links)
  5. 20x RSS feeds for github repositories not covered by jenkins server (limited to one / day each)
  6. 10x RSS feeds for other sundry repositories (limited to one / day each)
  7. 50x blog feeds from TEI-people (limited to those posts tagged TEI)
  8. 15x RSS feeds from TEI-people’s zotero bibliographic databases (limited to those bibs tagged TEI; limited to one / day each)
  9. 1x RSS feed for official TEI news
  10. 7x RSS feed of edits for the TEI article on each language wikipedia (limited to one / day each)
  11. 1x RSS feed of announcements from the JTEI
  12. 1x RSS feed of new papers in the JTEI
The diversity of the planet would be incredible compared to current views of the TEI community and it’s all generated as a byproduct of what people are already doing. There might be some pressure to improve commit messages in some repos, but that might not be all bad.
Of course the whole planet is available as an RSS feed and there are RSS-to-facebook (and twitter, yammer, etc) converters if you wish to do TEI in your favourite social media. If the need for a curated facebook feed remains, there is now a diverse constant feed of items to select within.
This is a social media approach at scale.
Scale (2)There is an annual international conference which is great to attend. There is a perception that engagement in the TEI community requires attendance at the said conference. It’s a huge barrier to entry to small projects, particularly those in far-away places (think global south / developing world / etc). The TEI community should seriously consider a policy for decision making that explicitly removes assumptions about attendances. Something as simple as requiring draft papers intended for submission and agendas to be published and 30 days in advance of meetings and a notice to be posted to TEI-L. That would allow for thoughtful global input, scaling community from those who can attend an annual international conference to a wider group of people who care about the TEI and have time to contribute.

Make it easy (1)Libraries (at least the library I work in and libraries I talk to) buy resources based on suggestions and lobbying by faculty but renew resources based largely on usage. If we want 20,000 libraries to have TEI on automatic renewal we need usage statistics. The players in the field are SUSHI and COUNTER (SUSHI is a harvesting system for COUNTER).
Maybe the TEI offers members stats at 10 diverse TEI-using sites. It’s not clear to me without deep investigation whether the TEI could offer these stats to members at very little on-going cost to us, but it would be a member benefit that all acquisitions librarians, their supervisors and their auditors could understand and use to evaluate their TEI membership subscription. I believe that that comparison would be favourable.
Of course, the TEI-using sites generating the traffic are going to want at least some cut of the subs, even if it’s just a discount against their own membership (thus driving the number of participating sites up and the perceived member benefits up) and free support for the stats-generating infrastructure.
For the sake of clarity: I’m not suggesting charging for access to content, I’m suggesting charging institutions for access to statistics related to access to the content by their users.
Make it easy (2)Academics using computers for research, whether or not they think or call the field digital humanities face a relatively large number of policies and rules imposed by their institutions, funders and governments. The TEI community can / should be selling itself as he approach to meet these.
  1. Copyright issues? Have some corpora that are available under a CC license.
  2. Need to prove academic outputs are archivable? Here’s the PRONOM entry (Note: I’m currently working on this)
  3. Management doesn’t think the department as the depth of TEI experience to enroll PhDs in TEI-centric work? Here’s a map of global TEI people to help you find local backups in case staff move on.
  4. Looking for a TEI consultant? A different facet of the same map gives you what you need.
  5. You’re a random academic who knows nothing about the TEI but assigned a TEI-centric paper as part of a national research assessment exercise? Here’s an outline of TEI’s academic credentials.
  6. ....
Make it easy (3)Librarians love quality MARC / MARCXML records. Many of us have quality MARC / MARCXML records for our TEI-based web content. Might this be offered as a member benefit?
Make it easy (4)As far as I can tell the TEI community makes very little attempt to reach out to academic communities other than ‘literature departments and cognate humanities disciplines’ attracting a more diverse range of skills and academics will increase our community in depth and breadth. Outreach could be:
  1. Something like CSS Zen Garden only backed by TEI rather than HTML
  2. A list of ‘hard problems’ that we face that various divergent disciplines might want to set as second or third year projects. Each problem would have a brief description of the problem, pointers to Things like:
    1. Transformation for display for documents have five foot levels of footnotes, multiple obscure scripts, non-Unicode characters, and so forth.
    2. Schema / ODD auto-generation from a corpus of documents
    3. ...
  3. Engaging with a group like to ubiquify TEI training
  4. ..
End NoteI'm not advocating that any particular approach is the cure-all for everything that might be ailing the TEI community, but the current status-quo is increasingly seeming like benign neglect. We need to change the way we think about TEI as a community.

Information Technology and Libraries: Editorial Board Thoughts: Requiring and Demonstrating Technical Skills for Library Employment

planet code4lib - Sat, 2016-10-01 00:14
Editorial Board Thoughts: Requiring and Demonstrating Technical Skills for Library Employment

Information Technology and Libraries: President's Column: Reflections on LITA's Past and Future

planet code4lib - Sat, 2016-10-01 00:14
President's Column: Reflections on LITA's Past and Future

Information Technology and Libraries: Critical Success Factors for Integrated Library System Implementation in Academic Libraries: A Qualitative Study

planet code4lib - Sat, 2016-10-01 00:14

Integrated library system (ILS) supports the entire business operations of an academic library from acquiring and processing library resources to making them available to user communities and preserving them for future use. As libraries’ needs evolve, there is a pressing demand for libraries to migrate from one generation of ILS to the next. This complex migration process is often the single largest investment in both budget and personnel involvement, but its success is by no means guaranteed. We draw upon enterprise resource planning (ERP) and critical success factors (CSFs) literature to identify the most salient CSFs for ILS migration success through a qualitative study with four cases. We identified that top management involvement, vendor support, user involvement, selection process, project team competence, project management and tracking, interdepartmental communication, data analysis and conversion, user education and training, and user emotion management are the CSFs that determine a migration project success. 

Keywords: Integrated library systems, information systems, library automation, critical success factors, and academic libraries.

Information Technology and Libraries: Library Discovery Products: Discovering User Expectations through Failure Analysis

planet code4lib - Sat, 2016-10-01 00:14

As the new generation of discovery systems evolve and gain maturity, it is important to continually focus on how users interact with these tools and what areas they find problematic. This study looks at user interactions within SearchWorks, a discovery system developed by Stanford University Libraries, with an emphasis on identifying and analyzing problematic and failed searches. Our findings indicate that users still experience difficulties conducting author and subject searches, could benefit from enhanced support for browsing, and expect their overall search experience to be more closely aligned with that on popular Web destinations. The article also offers practical recommendations pertaining to metadata, functionality, and scope of the search system that could help address some of the most common problems encountered by the users.

Information Technology and Libraries: Identifying Key Steps for Developing Mobile Applications & Mobile Websites for Libraries

planet code4lib - Sat, 2016-10-01 00:14
Mobile applications and mobile websites (MAMW) represent information systems that are increasingly being developed by libraries to better serve their patrons. Due to a lack of in-house IT skills and the knowledge necessary to develop MAMW, a majority of libraries are forced to rely on external IT professionals, who may or may not help libraries meet patron needs but instead may deplete libraries’ scarce financial resources. This paper applies a system analysis and design perspective to analyze the experience and advice shared by librarians and IT professionals engaged in developing MAMW. This paper identifies key steps and precautions to take while developing MAMW for libraries. It also advises library and information science (LIS) graduate programs to equip their students with the specific skills and knowledge needed to develop and implement MAMW.

Brown University Library Digital Technologies Projects: A Note on Policy

planet code4lib - Fri, 2016-09-30 19:55

My biggest priority as Brown’s first Digital Preservation Librarian is the implementation of a Digital Curation Policy Framework. The workflows and tools I wrote about last week are certainly very important, but without a policy framework, we as a Library will continue to ask the same questions over and over. Without a framework, projects seem ad hoc and feel like you’re repeatedly re-inventing the wheel. During the past year and a half, I’ve asked (and been asked) the same questions over and over again: “what are our access priorities?”, “what level of preservation are we committed to?”, “what are the standards we strive to maintain?”, etc.. A policy framework asks those questions ahead of time and supplies a ruler for assessing the viability or progress of a project.

I assumed framework implementation would need a seven person committee from the very beginning; we would workshop an initial draft as a group and pass it around the Library for feedback. Thankfully, some colleagues of mine also recognized the need for policy and suggested a different path. Rather than assemble a large committee as step 1, three of us put together the initial draft using the DPM Workshop’s Model Document as a guide. This way we could get something in black and white that people could comment on and revise. We could avoid having too many cooks in the kitchen as we put something together from scratch.

I’m glad we built the initial draft this way. Once we had something on paper, the three of us went through the document section by section and got a clearer view of its breadth. We noted specific decisions outside the purview of our individual jobs, and we listed a series of specific questions that will be useful conversation starters as we pass the draft around. We’re now in the very early stages of soliciting external feedback and plotting a path forward for further revisions, but I’m hopeful that, once implemented, the policy will live as an elastic document that bolsters and informs decision-making across the Library and University.

DPLA: On Your Mark, Get Set… GIF!

planet code4lib - Fri, 2016-09-30 14:00
GIF IT UP 2016 officially kicks off tomorrow, October 1!

We are thrilled to be hosting our third annual GIF IT UP contest and are already eager to see your great submissions.  To get the ball rolling, here’s your one-stop guide to everything you need to get started:


GIF IT UP is DPLA’s annual international gif-making competition.  A GIF (or Graphics Interchange Format) is an image format that supports using multiple frames to create motion graphics in a continuous loop, allowing us to seemingly bring still images and other cultural heritage materials to life. To get up to speed on what gifs are and how to make them, watch our recent workshops presented by a fantastic team of talented gif-makers.

To get the scoop on this year’s contest, continue reading this post or visit the GIF IT UP page of our website.


You! All are invited to participate – from pro gif-­makers, creatives, history nuts, and animators to first-time gif-ers, students, and lovers of internet fun.  Spread the word and tell your friends.

Even if you’re not quite ready to try your hand at gif-making, participate by following the submissions on the GIF IT UP Tumblr and casting votes for the People’s Choice Award (most likes on Tumblr).


October 1 – 31, 2016.  People’s Choice Award voting on Tumblr will continue until mid-November, when the winners will be announced.


Choose public domain and openly-licensed materials from DPLA, Europeana, DigitalNZ, or Trove. Submit your gifs using the form on the submission page.


GIF IT UP was created to promote appreciation of the public domain and creative engagement with digitized cultural heritage materials.  The most important part is to have fun and to share cool stuff in awesome ways.

If you’re in it for the prizes, entries will be judged at the end of the competition to determine the winners, but all submissions will be winners of internet glory.

  1. Find material you would like to work with on DPLA, Europeana, DigitalNZ, or Trove.
  2. Make sure it’s copyright free. It must be:
    • in the public domain;
    • have a ‘no known copyright restrictions’ statement;
    • or have a Creative Commons license which allows for reuse.
  3. Create your gif.
  4. Send it our way using the submission form.
  5. Keep an eye out for your gif on the GIF IT UP 2016 Tumblr.

The above gifs were made using this 1917 poster from the collections of North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources via North Carolina Digital Heritage Center and this calendar poster from the collections of New York Public Library.

Ed Summers: Nicolini (7)

planet code4lib - Fri, 2016-09-30 04:00

Chapter 7 is largely about Theodore Schatzki’s theory of practice. At its simplest his idea of practice is comprised of tasks and projects. Tasks are things like opening a can which could be part of a project like cooking a meal. Assemblages of tasks and projects are practices. Actions can be linked together by rules. All practices involve goals or ends that the participants may or may not be fully aware of: a teleo-affective structure. Discussion, contestation and conflict around these goals are part of practice. Practices are continued through repeated performance and collective/social memory (Schatzki, 2006).

The presence of objects in practices has a variety of interpretations. Notably Latour makes the case for objects as participants in activity (or practices). This is opposed to Schatzki who says that only humans carry out practices. Other theorists such as Barad (2007) take a position somewhere in the middle by arguing that the position of objects with respect to humans is a function of the discursive and material practices that are being examined. I’m noticing from my bookmarks that I’ve run across Karen Barad before, perhaps because of her work around STS and feminism. This might be an interesting pathway, I’m always drawn to approaches that take a middle path through extremes. Nicolini offers his own synthesis of these two viewpoints:

When we examine the world in terms of a (multiplicity of) practice, we cannot avoid taking into consideration the central role of artefacts and the entanglement between human and non-human performativity. More than this, the practice approach warns us that the nature and identity of objects cannot be apprehended independently of the practice in which they are involved—just as we cannot make sense of our practices without taking into account the materials that enter it. Objects,materials, and technology need thus to be studied “in practice” and with reference to the practices in which they are involved. (p. 171)

He attributes the neologism sociomateriality to Orlikowski (2010), which might could be a good paper to follow up on for my work, since that idea figures so prominently in the way I’ve been thinking about my interviews with web archivists.

Practices unfold in contextual spaces where it they are situated with other practices, which in turn provide understanding about what objects are for, how they can be used, what actions can be performed with them, and what actions follow those actions, etc. Heidegger calls these spaces clearings; Foucault calls them discursive spaces/positions; Schatzki calls them sites. Wittgenstein used this idea of context when describing how people follow rules. Context provides intelligibility.

Practices require a social dimension: they must be shared amongst a collective of participants. Nicolini calls this sociality or a horizon of intelligibility. These collectives have an ordering, or a particular arrangement of people, artifacts, organisms: for example in workplaces like an office or a factory. For Schatzki sites are the outcome and effect of practices that entangled with material arrangements. This recursivity seems to directly recall Giddens idea of structuration.

For Schatzki Social arrangements are made of three things: chains of actions, orchestration of ends or projects, prefiguration actions (actions that determine future actions). Nicolini adds a fourth: material arrangements. It’s not clear here exactly what Nicolini is doing here. From the way this chapter is put together in the sequence of the book he appears to be aligning his own theoretical viewpoint very closely to Schatzki, but also seems to be modifying or amending/appending to Schatzki’s ideas of what constitutes practice. He also seems to cite Joseph Rouse quite a bit for interpretation of Schatzki.

Putting Schatzki’s ideas to work in studying organizations involves participant observation to:

  • identify actions
  • identify practice-arrangement bundles (that enclose those actions)
  • identify other nets of practices that are tied to those bundles

Funnily enough Nicolini goes on to say that part of the problem with Schatzki is that it is difficult to apply his theory in an empirical way. Researchers don’t really have an idea of what to go out looking for during participant observation when using Schatzki. He contrasts this situation with Latour’s idea of ANT which isn’t so much a theory as it is a way of working: follow the actors.


Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Duke University Press.

Orlikowski, W. J. (2010). The sociomateriality of organisational life: Considering technology in management research. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 34(1), 125–41.

Schatzki, T. R. (2006). The time of activity. Continental Philosophy Review, 39(2), 155–182.

LITA: Learn “Online Productivity Tools” – a LITA webinar

planet code4lib - Thu, 2016-09-29 18:41

Online Productivity Tools: Smart Shortcuts and Clever Tricks

Presenter: Jaclyn McKewan
Tuesday November 8, 2016
11:00 am – 12:30 pm Central Time

Register Online, page arranged by session date (login required)

Become a lean, mean productivity machine!

In this 90 minute webinar we’ll discuss free online tools that can improve your organization and productivity, both at work and home. We’ll look at to-do lists, calendars, and other programs. We’ll also explore ways these tools can be connected, as well as the use of widgets on your desktop and mobile device to keep information at your fingertips. Perfect for any library workers who spend a significant portion of their day at a computer.

Details here and Registration here

Webinar takeaways will include:

  • Keep track of regular repeating tasks by letting your to-do list remember for you
  • Connect your calendars and to-do lists
  • Use mobile and desktop widgets to keep information at your fingertips

Jaclyn McKewan is the Digital Services Coordinator at WNYLRC, where she has worked since 2008. Her job duties include managing the Ask Us 24/7 virtual reference program, New York Heritage Digital Collections, and internal networking/IT.

And don’t miss other upcoming LITA fall continuing education offerings:

Social Media For My Institution; from “mine” to “ours”
Instructor: Plamen Miltenoff
Starting Wednesday October 19, 2016, running for 4 weeks
Register Online, page arranged by session date (login required)

Beyond Usage Statistics: How to use Google Analytics to Improve your Repository
Presenter: Hui Zhang
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
11:00 am – 12:30 pm Central Time
Register Online, page arranged by session date (login required)

Questions or Comments?

For questions or comments, contact LITA at (312) 280-4268 or Mark Beatty,

SearchHub: Be A Winner In Boston: Stump The Chump Prizes

planet code4lib - Thu, 2016-09-29 17:12

As previously mentioned: On October 13th (two weeks From tonight) I’ll be on the main stage at Lucene/Solr Revolution 2016 once again answering tough Solr questions — submitted by users like you — live, sight unseen.

A panel of judges will be on hand to mock me when I flounder, and award prizes to the folks who submitted the top 3 questions that stumped me the most:

  • 1st Prize: $100 Amazon gift certificate
  • 2nd Prize: $50 Amazon gift certificate
  • 3rd Prize: $25 Amazon gift certificate

Even if you can’t make it to The Revolution, you can still submit questions and to try and stump me. Information on how to submit questions can be found on the session agenda page, and I’ll be posting more details with the Chump tag as we get closer to the conference.

(And if you do plan to attend, don’t forget to register for the conference ASAP!)

The post Be A Winner In Boston: Stump The Chump Prizes appeared first on

District Dispatch: Library heroes reunite to defeat FBI surveillance

planet code4lib - Thu, 2016-09-29 16:49

For library professionals, civil rights advocates and Americans everywhere, the members of the “Connecticut Four” epitomize the word “hero.” Twelve years ago, Peter Chase, Barbara Bailey, Jan Nocek and George Christian fearlessly faced down the FBI by refusing to comply with a National Security Letter (NSL) demanding that they divulge patron borrowing and internet search records in the absence of a judicially-issued warrant. As later detailed in the New York Times, they and the ACLU then sued the FBI over the legality of such NSLs and the related gag orders that prevented them from speaking out publicly at the time. Once the government retreated, and they thus no longer faced jail time and criminal fines for doing so, they spoke out immediately and as one against these inquiry-chilling provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act.

Librarians continue to embrace the responsibility to raise our own powerful voices to protect constitutional rights.

This week, for the first time in over a decade, the Connecticut Four once again came together to oppose proposals percolating in the U.S. Senate to expand significantly the kinds of information that the FBI can compel libraries and others to produce when handed an NSL. This time proudly affixing their names to an op-ed printed in the Hartford Courant, “Librarians Stand Again Against FBI Overreach,” the Connecticut Four again answered the call of history in defense of freedom of inquiry and the civil liberties of millions of library patrons everywhere.

And they won again, at least for now. The Senate adjourned without introduction of any bill, or consideration of any legislative language, proposing expansion of the FBI’s PATRIOT Act authority.

The Connecticut Four’s principles, passion and willingness to participate in the legislative process reminds us all of something vital: the role that librarians historically have played in protecting our constitutional rights. We aggressively opposed mass surveillance under Section 215 (which consequently became known as the “library provision”) of the PATRIOT Act in 2002 and again in 2015. This week, librarians returned to oppose the latest efforts to broaden powers under NSLs.

Librarians know that freedom of inquiry, thought and speech require freedom from the fear of inadequately checked and overbroad surveillance and the self-censorship that such fear breeds. This week’s events also stand as a powerful example of the power of library advocacy—one of the three pillars of ALA’s new strategic priorities—and the power of individual librarians engaged in the legislative process to make a real and lasting difference. The battle over overbroad surveillance authorities, or for many other principles we hold dear, isn’t nearly over.

We thank the Connecticut Four, yet again, for taking a stand. Let us honor them by following their example. We too should embrace the responsibility to raise our own powerful voices when the time comes.

The post Library heroes reunite to defeat FBI surveillance appeared first on District Dispatch.

LITA: Digital Displays on a Budget: Content

planet code4lib - Thu, 2016-09-29 15:00

In my previous post I showed how we turned a Raspberry Pi into a digital display device by installing a Video Looper application. Now let’s take a look at how to fill that display with content. First, do yourself a favor and read fellow writer Leanne Mobley’s wonderful post on design resources for librarians. She provides a great overview of tools out there that can add some polish do your content and provide a starting point.

The focus of this post is how I used Microsoft PowerPoint to create the content for our Digital Displays. I went with PowerPoint as it met two major requirements: low cost and user familiarity. Like most projects I create, my aim is to be able to hand this off to another user and bring them up to speed quickly. By going with a program that is available on every system on lab, it reduced the headache of transferring licenses or vetting software that is platform neutral; as we have users on Mac OS and Windows. Additionally, there are tons of resources available online that can introduce users to PowerPoint, cover advanced topics, and a robust reference/support site.

With that said I’ll look at:

  • Availability – What versions of PowerPoint have export and where to get it.
  • Templates – Why they are important and how to create them.
  • Working in PowerPoint – Covering simple one slide movies and how to utilize animations to bring your video to life.
  • Raspberry Pi – Geared towards those using the Video Looper technique I covered in my previous post.
  • Fine Tuning – The importance of viewing on end device and being okay with tinkering.

While I do love that Raspberry Pi holds onto the dream of Libre Office, as this was my primary writing program while college, by now the Microsoft Office Suite has become the de facto productivity package, so most users should have access to a version of it. In order for this project to work you would need to have access to at least PowerPoint 2007, as this is when the video creation option was introduced. Unfortunately, PowerPoint web users (available through Office 365) will not have the video creation option.

Templates Benefits

Creating a new video from scratch each time can seem like a daunting task. Indeed, the first batch of videos can take up hours of your day. To reduce this added stress, I opt to create templates for each video category I have. In addition to making it easier to update for each new video, templates also allow your videos to maintain a consistent look, which is great for extending your existing branding. If your library or institution has a style guide, I highly recommend sticking to it to help reduce the amount of work.

For example, here is the New Book template I use:

It contains library information that remains static; the book cover and call number which are the most prominent features; and, to add some animation, I have book review quotes slide in every 20 seconds. The entire movie lasts one minute, which is plenty of time to digest each quote and not completely annoy patrons.


I use to create my templates, but really any design program or even PowerPoint itself can be used. The templates just need to be:

  1. Easily imported into PowerPoint
  2. Editable text and image areas
  3. Configured to house static information

The reason for #1, is that I like to make each template the background image of a slide. I have LucidPress export the template as a PNG and then, in PowerPoint, set that PNG as the slide background. Going back to the New Books movie, here is the background image I use.

For #2, we want the template to do the heavy lifting. It needs to show where the customized text boxes and images should go. Here is a workflow that works for me:

  • Repurpose: Start with a flyer from previous iteration of the category, such as a past event. This will give you a great starting point, as you will not have a blank page mocking your efforts.
  • Scrape the need-to-know information of category and try out a few placements and ideas. I clump bits of info together and move them around, while keeping the main image as centered as possible to keep it as the focal point.
  • Aim for a template that has as few editable sections as possible; when you have +5 areas you need to update for each new video, you really aren’t saving that much time with a template. Going back to the New Book template, for every new book I only have three sections to update: Book Cover, Review Quotes, and Call Number. It took me an hour to create the template and takes about five minutes to create a video for a new book. The template should let the user easily know where the custom text and image areas are.

Finally, #3 is about on making use of static information areas as this is the best way to utilize a template. For example, each of my templates has a section where I list the library’s Name, Website, and Email. This is partially done for branding purposes but it also prevents the slide from being too empty. With this static info in place I don’t have to shy from just using a single image and block of text. Additionally, static information can also include color schemes and category headers, which makes it much easier when figuring out how the rest of the image should look. Reuse any content that makes your job easier and lets users know that all of the slides in this video are connected.



Working in PowerPoint Video Creation

What we want to do is have PowerPoint create an MPEG4 of the presentation, complete with timings and animations. If you already have a presentation that you think is ready for the big screen, you can try it out by simply:

  1. Click File
  2. Export
  3. Create a Video

PowerPoint will then create the video and save it to the selected directory. Depending on your computer’s processing power and the length of the presentation, you might want to give it a few minutes to process. Just keep an eye on the progress bar at the bottom of the screen and do not close PowerPoint before it completes.

Basic – Single Image Video

For simple displays, such as an event flyer, you can get away with making a single slide presentation with a set display time. Keeping things simple makes it much easier to update the slide for every new event. Pick images and titles that let you slim down the description. Did I mention Leanne’s design resources post is a great starting off point? Definitely check it out for places to find those eye-catching images and color schemes. Since I am using the generic library logo, I went with a simplistic color scheme for this Upcoming Event template:

As you can see, it has slots for just the facts; title, brief description, date, and time. I try to design flyers that are easily digestible. Here is the filled in template.


For these basic videos we can leave it as a one slide presentation and have it display for one minute. To do this:

  1. Click File
  2. Export
  3. Create a Video
    • Adjust the adjust the Seconds Spent on Each Slide option to 60.
  4. Create Video

The end result is a static 1-minute upcoming event flyer.


For videos that need to display a large amount of information, take advantage of PowerPoint’s animations and slides transitions. It can be a simple text box appearing after 20 seconds. Going back to the New Book template, I have each quote in a separate Text Box. Each box is set to appear for 20 seconds and disappear when a new one appears. This can be done by:

  1. Opening both the Animation Pane and Selection Pane. This makes it easier to select items:
    1. Animation Pane: Animation Tab -> Advanced Animation -> Animation Pane
    2. Selection Pane: Home Tab -> Editing -> Select -> Selection Pane
  2. Select Textbox 1
  3. Animation Tab -> Add Animation -> Appear
    • In the options panel, found in the Animation Pane, select Start After Previous

    • In the same options panel select Timing… and for Delay insert 3 seconds, or whatever you want the initial delay to be.
  4. Select Textbox 1
  5. Add Animation -> Disappear
    • In the options panel select Start After Previous
    • In the same options panel select Timing… and for Delay insert 20 seconds. This will make Textbox 1 disappear after 20 seconds.
  6. Select Textbox 2
  7. Add Animation -> Appear
  8. The file is now ready for video creation
    • File -> Export -> Create a Video
      • Adjust the adjust the Seconds Spent on Each Slide option to 1 minute.
    • Click Create Video

The end result is a 1 minute video with two textbox that appear 3 seconds and 23 seconds into the movie.

I use this technique to create videos that have multiple slides with varying bits of information on each slide, such as a How To for the 3D Printers or general information, like service desks available in the area and their hours of operation. As I said before, any flyer can be turned into a movie.

Raspberry Pi

Once you have your video all ready to go it is simply a matter of loading it onto a USB stick and starting up the Raspberry Pi. The Pi will detect the videos and play as usual. The Video Looper plays the videos in alphabetical order, you can use this to your advantage by using a file naming scheme to sets up the videos in a particular order. For example, I go with:

  • 01 – General – Welcome
  • 01 – New Book – Name of Book
  • 02 – Event – Summer Movie
  • 02 – New Book – Name of Book

As you can imagine, with that naming scheme the videos play in the exact order. This was particularly useful when the archives wanted to display three videos back to back.

Fine tuning

Finally, I have some words of advice culled from creating videos for the past few months.

Try it out, at least once. You won’t know how the video will turn out until you actually see it on the end device. I’ve had videos that look amazing on my laptop only to have the video show up with wonky colors or screwy text sizes. Before you throw out the video or mark it as done, load it up and even edited it on the fly while watching the video on the big screen.

Don’t be afraid to test out variations, even with a single change. This is similar to the first but you should not wait until you have a finished product. I have around 5 different versions of my “Welcome to…” videos that have large changes, such as fonts and colors, or just even a single line of text. I am not wedded to any video being the “Final” version and that is okay. It is an iterative process.

Listen to patrons and notice their movements. Like most user experience books teach us: it is valuable to see how your patrons interact with your displays. Some patrons will be vocal about the videos being too distracting, it is how I figured out I should avoid videos that last less than a minute. Others will simply continue to glance up at the screen at every video change, while it is great that they notice the videos it can also be a sign that it is distracting them from their work.

Thank you

Well that wraps up this two post look at how to create a Digital Display on a Budget. I hope there were at least a few takeaways for you.

This is also my final post for the LITA Blog, it has been an absolute pleasure sharing some of my experiences and projects. I’d like to thank my fellow writers for the wonderful experience, in particular the amazing Brianna Marshall for bringing me onto the blog. So long, and thanks for all the fish!

Open Knowledge Foundation: Turning data into action: what we learned from conducting social audits on public housing communities in Malaysia

planet code4lib - Thu, 2016-09-29 10:00

The Sinar Project in Malaysia is exploring ways of making critical information public and accessible to Malaysian citizens. The project is supported by the Open Data for Development (OD4D) programme and has been run in collaboration with OpenSpending at Open Knowledge International.

In our previous blog post, we provided an overview of the Sinar Project’s work opening budget data in Malaysia. In this second post, we would like to share what we learned through the urban poverty survey we conducted in Kota Damansara – a township located in Selangor. The survey was designed to collect information on the status and needs of citizens in this community.

“The survey was designed to collect information on the status and needs of citizens in this community…Our ability to understand [public housing] issues is severely limited by a lack of accurate, up-to-date data…”

The aim of this effort was to compare and contrast the allocation priorities of government at all levels with the on-the-ground reality of citizens living in public housing, often living below the minimum wage of MYR1,000 in Selangor state. Selangor has a reported median household income of MYR 6,214 and population distribution of 19.9%. Ultimately, our goal was to to use the data that we collected to advocate for better, more evidence based budget decisions.

Image credit: Author Collecting and organising the data

There are a number public policy challenges facing public housing in Malaysia. For example:

  1. Infrastructure development
  2. Facility accessibility for the elderly and people with disabilities
  3. Security and safety
  4. Health coverage and access
  5. Education coverage and supervision
  6. Welfare coverage and supervision for families living under the poverty line

Our ability to understand these issues is severely limited by a lack of accurate, up-to-date data. This is further complicated by the fact that it is difficult to gather budget information to understand how public funds are flowing between different levels of government and how they are intended to be used. Currently, it is very hard for policy researchers, journalists and civil society organisations to determine how allocated budgets relate to official government policies and how that translates to the implementation of government programmes on the ground.

One way to collect raw data on these issues is to run a social audit, a process of evaluating official records in order to determine whether reported expenditures match unofficial reports and surveys. The social audit process works in parallel to opening budget data and has proven effective at collecting the requisite information needed to begin to address the issues communities are facing. Our social audit was comprised of two components, an urban poverty survey and issue reports through AduanKu (a web application based on FixMyStreet).

Urban poverty survey – our data collection methods

We used the urban poverty survey to gather information on various socio-economic indicators such as poverty rate, unemployment rate, child mortality rate, crime rate and literacy rate of Kota Damansara public housing residents. We conducted a survey that included 40 questions, grouped in five categories:

  1. General
  2. Employment & Education
  3. Household Financial Management
  4. Cleanliness & Health
  5. Safety

There are 18 floors in one public housing block and on each floor there are roughly 16 residential units. According to residents of Kota Damansara public housing, there are more than 1000 residential units in the four public house blocks, which, for the urban poverty survey, were referred to as blocks A, B, C, and D.

We surveyed 415 households. The average household size was four. In order to document data from this survey, we created two forms: Household Form (in Malay) & Member Form (in Malay). Households were assigned an ID based on their address in order to easily match the data from the two forms.

Image credit: author

The survey captures data on the following for both individual members of the household and the household as a whole:

  1. Demographic profile ie gender, age, marital status, nationality, race, religion and place of birth by state
  2. Employment and Education ie unemployment, sector of employment, income, personal expenses, contributions to household, academic qualification, reading & writing skills
  3. Disability and Special Aid ie identifying persons with disabilities or family members that suffers from any severe illnesses
  4. Cellphone / Smartphone Usage

This only scratched the surface of potential information that we could collect but was sufficient for the goals of social audit. However, in conducting the survey, we identified a number of ways that the survey could have been improved both in terms of the structure and clarity of the questions. Data entry is an ongoing process and we will continue to make it publicly available on Malaysian Civil Society Open Data Portal.

Preliminary findings from the urban poverty survey

A number of socio-economic indicators were collected and analysed through the urban poverty survey. The preliminary findings show that the average household size is 4 and average income per household is MYR1,500/month. Keeping in mind that the national minimum wage is MYR 1,000/month in Peninsular Malaysia and MYR 920/month in east Malaysia, a monthly household income of MYR 1,500 is low.

Image credit: author

Examples of analysis from collected raw data are as follows:

  1. Mean household income: MYR 1814.576
  2. Mean total household expenditure: MYR 1546.1309
  3. Mean household size: 4 members

To know more detailed breakdown of statistics in Kota Damansara public housing, you can read it from here.

Image credit: author Issues reported in AduanKu – a web-based application based on FixMyStreet

In addition to the urban poverty survey, we set up an online application to report, view and discuss local issues. AduanKu allows residents to report broken infrastructure in public housing of Kota Damansara. To date, there are 18 reports from the PPR Kota Damansara zone. Once an issue is reported online, it is manually submitted to the responsible agencies, for example, the state-owned agency Property and Housing Selangor Sdn Bhd. We are continuing to collect issue reports as at present, the 18 reports collected are not considered strong enough evidence of the systemic problems faced by the residents in the housing block.

We were able to consult with the elected councillor for Zone 3 (PJU4 & PJU5) of Petaling Jaya, Shatiri Mansor, to roll AduanKu out to the whole of Zone 3. As a result of the roll out,  94 reports have been submitted online and these reports are under supervision of Zone 3 office. From 94 reports, 8 street problems have been fixed and this number continues to grow. However, while the Kota Damansara public housing premise is within the Zone 3 boundary, the land belongs to the state-owned agency Selangor State Development Corporation. As such, the broken infrastructure on the public housing’s premise is not under the jurisdiction of Zone 3 office and is instead under the jurisdiction of the Property and Housing Selangor Sdn Bhd.

Informing the authorities on our social audit findings

On behalf of public housing communities, a memorandum was submitted to the Selangor State Chief Minister at the Freedom of Information forum hosted by Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) and to the Speaker of Selangor at the Selangor State Legislative Assembly. As a follow up from the memorandum, a meeting was organised on August 8th, 2016 by the Board of Property and Housing Selangor to bring together several stakeholders to discuss issues faced by the communities.

The meeting gave us a forum to present concrete evidence to discuss how the budget allocated to the management company, Property and Housing Selangor Sdn Bhd (PHSSB), was being used. For example, PHSSB received MYR5 million to repair railings in all four blocks, according to 2014/2015 budgets for maintenance. However, through interviews with residents and inspection, it is not clear how these funds were used and what repairs were actually made. Many railings remain wobbly and unstable. Unfortunately, while we were able to raise these issues, authorities have maintained that we have not provided sufficient evidence to support claims raised by the communities.This demonstrates that we need to do more.

This highlights that communities still remain at a disadvantage due to inadequacy of the system. Even as we continue to collect our own data, where official government statistics are lacking, there is a risk that this evidence will not be accepted or deemed adequate by authorities. Nevertheless, the experience also demonstrates the need for transparency and the importance of Freedom of Information. For example, a list of expenses incurred by PHSSB that was obtained via a freedom of information request points to a potential discrepancy that might indicate that PHSSB is overcharging for water. Further investigation is necessary but the ability to gain access to official documents helps us know where to look.

Evidence-based data can help communities and journalists

In Malaysia, data journalism is in its earliest stages. Most data shared and visualised in media articles and research are not open data. With the results from the urban poverty survey and issue reports that we have gathered, journalists and civil society could use it as hard evidence to raise issues faced by communities on the ground, identify responsible agencies/elected representatives and place a spotlight on them. The template of the urban poverty survey is publicly available online.

With limited access to expenditure information and contracts, tools to gather evidence should be used by the communities to hold government’s accountable. We think that urban poverty surveys and issue reports on AduanKu can help in the following ways:

  1. Communities can use these tools to hold the government at all levels (including the federal/state owned agencies) accountable by showing them how policies affect citizens from the ground up.
  2. Communities can also use this data to highlight budget priorities to decision makers for future participatory budgeting sessions. To unlock the truth of what policymakers actually plan, we must look at the fiscal budgets at all governmental levels alongside the policies simultaneously.

In order to make the case to the elected representatives, public officials and the government about the reality on the ground, we will continue to collect evidence highlighting community needs.

District Dispatch: Universal Access to Information Day!

planet code4lib - Wed, 2016-09-28 21:35

I discovered this morning that today is the “International Day for Universal Access to Information” (IDUAI). Who knew? Being the OITP Director for the Program for Public Access to information, you think someone would have given me a heads up. And because it’s the first IDUAI day, it wasn’t on my calendar like “Talk like a Pirate Day” (which is on my calendar). So I am unable to plan anything “big,” like issue a special edition of American Libraries.

Today is Universal Access to Information Day!

UNESCO’s executive board proclaimed the day for many reasons. The right to information is an integral part of the right of freedom of expression, a theme in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The World Summit on the Information Society principle on “just, peaceful and inclusive societies” states that peace is not possible without access to information. The UN’s 2030 Development Agenda includes a goal to ensure and enhance access to information for people in under developed countries. Accessibility to communication technologies is a principle of the Internet Universality study on inclusive Knowledge Societies. Universal means universal: regardless of circumstance, all people – including those with disabilities – should have access to information.

ALA’s policy manual includes all of these sentiments, obviously because libraries always have been about access. Librarians are leaders in ensuring that all people have access to the Internet; that regardless of format, the public has the right to use information without violating the copyright law; that government information, including state government information should be freely accessible to all; that one’s privacy should be protected when seeking and reading; that libraries must be free and open to all people; that libraries led the movement on information literacy, including digital literacy before it was fashionable; and the list goes on.

So raise a glass or coffee cup in honor of a day that represents everything that libraries value and do. Here’s to the “International Day for Universal Access to Information,” which libraries have always valued, even without a proclamation. And by the way, next year’s National Librarian Day is April 17th.

The post Universal Access to Information Day! appeared first on District Dispatch.

LITA: Jobs in Information Technology: September 28, 2016

planet code4lib - Wed, 2016-09-28 19:40


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