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District Dispatch: The Congressional App Challenge: Connecting today’s Congress with tomorrow’s coders

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-03-09 15:09

Today’s guest post is contributed by Rhianon Anderson, Executive Director of the Congressional App Challenge, which is sponsored in part by the Washington Office of the American Library Association. The Challenge is a perfect way for libraries to connect teens to coding and civic participation – and to engage our members of Congress in the ways that libraries are serving the communities of today and tomorrow.  

Libraries have always served as a resource for those seeking to learn new skills. Today, one of the most valuable skills that a student can learn is how to code. America’s future economic well-being depends on the skill of our next generation of coders, computer scientists and engineers. These are the jobs of the future, and by 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer science related jobs available in America. However, there will only 400,000 computer science graduates with the skills to fill those roles.

Libraries can get ready now for the 2017 Congressional App Challenge, which runs from July 26 to November 1.

Many libraries, recognizing the growing importance of computer science education, have already implemented programs to teach coding skills to the community. The U.S. House of Representatives has also launched its own effort to address the shortage of technical literacy: the Congressional App Challenge.

Officially launched in 2015 through the efforts of Reps. Bob Goodlatte (VA-06), Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18) and the Congressional Internet Caucus, the Congressional App Challenge (CAC) is a national effort to encourage students to learn how to code. With support from the Internet Education Foundation, Congressional Representatives participating in the CAC host annual competitions for their students, who code and submit original apps for a chance to win their district’s Challenge. The winning apps are put on display in the Capitol for the following year, while winners(s) from each district receive prizes; are honored by their Member of Congress; and are invited to demo their work at #HouseOfCode, a reception held in their honor on Capitol Hill.

The Congressional App Challenge brings exposure and opportunities in coding to students who might otherwise never receive such attention. During the program’s first two cycles, nearly 4,000 students from 33 different states competed in their district competition, submitting over 1,000 original apps. Students learn introductory computer science skills, express their creativity and receive recognition for their efforts to pursue valuable professional skills. Over 78% of the student participants reported that they would continue their coding education, and over 97% of the student participants said they learned new skills through their participation in the Challenge.

Creativity in coding

Students are encouraged to think originally and work on projects that mean something to them. The winners of 2016 created applications ranging from games, to virtual medical aids, to language translators, with nearly 35% of students creating some type of educational tool. The CAC gave these students an opportunity to put their problem-solving skills to use while developing new and tangible skills for the future. Some winning projects include:

Pocket Doctor (Kaitlyn Chan and Priya Koliwad)
The winners from Rep. Jackie Speier’s district (CA-14) set out to create an application that would reduce the impact of disease in developing countries. Pocket Doctor provides a guide to common symptoms and treatments in addition to offering advice on when to seek the care of a medical professional. Topics like infant care and personal hygiene are also covered for preventative measures.

Hill Happenings (Alexander Frolov, Mohnish Sabhani and Kevin Zhang)
Hill Happenings is an application designed to engage the electorate in political news through clear and simple summaries of the congressional record. From the Rep. Leonard Lance’s New Jersey district (NJ-07), this team developed a source for unbiased updates directly from the Hill. Users can receive these notifications throughout the day on the desktop plug-in, which includes links to social network sites for simple sharing.

Talk to the Hand (Riya Danait and Shambhavi Badi)
Congressman Sam Johnson selected Riya and Shambhavi as the winners of Texas’ 3rd district for their sign language translator. Users can select from over 90 languages that will be translated into English and then American Sign Language. With a simple visual guide to the hand gestures, users can now communicate with deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals regardless of their knowledge of ASL.

Starting the 2017 CAC

This summer, the House of Representatives will launch the third Congressional App Challenge. From July 26 to November 1, 2017, eligible students will be invited to code and submit their own original apps, either on their own or as part of a team. (Students may compete in teams of up to four, provided at least 2 of the teammates live or attend school within the district they’re competing in).

Given ALA’s Libraries Ready to Code initiative, libraries are a natural fit as partners for the CAC, offering students resources, guidance, a place to work, and a place to ask questions about the things they’re learning. As such a valuable community resource, we hope to see many libraries work with their congressional offices to offer information and resources to students participating in the 2017 Congressional App Challenge.

Visit the CAC website (congressionalappchallenge.us) to get more information, and then let your Congressional office know that you’d like them to host the CAC in your district! Most offices are happy to participate if they know there’s interest. You can find email templates on the CAC website, and you can also call or message your Representative on social media.

Since students can submit projects they previously created, the CAC can easily be incorporated into existing programs. If your library already has a coding/CS program, propose the idea to your students, and have them work on an app to submit in July!

 

The post The Congressional App Challenge: Connecting today’s Congress with tomorrow’s coders appeared first on District Dispatch.

Open Knowledge Foundation: New site SubsidyStories.eu shows where nearly 300bn of EU subsidies go across Europe

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-03-09 15:03

Open Knowledge Germany and Open Knowledge International launched SubsidyStories.eu: a database containing all recipients of EU Structural Funds, accounting for 292,9 Billion Euros of EU Subsidies.

The European Union allocates 44 % of its total 7-year budget through the European Structural Funds. Who received these funds – accounting for 347 Billion Euro from 2007 – 2013 and 477 Billion Euro from 2014 – 2020 – could only be traced through regional and local websites. Subsidystories.eu changes this by integrating all regional datasets into one database with all recipients of the European Structural and Investment Funds from 2007 onwards.

“SubsidyStories is a major leap forward in bringing transparency to the spending of EU funds,” said Dr Ronny Patz, a researcher focused on budgeting in the European Union and in the United Nations system at the Ludwig-Maximilans-Universität (LMU) in Munich. “For years, advocates have asked the EU Commission and EU member state governments to create a single website for all EU Structural and Investment Funds, but where they have failed, civil society now steps in.”

Subsidystories.eu makes the recipients of the largest EU subsidies program visible across Europe. Recent and future debates on EU spending will benefit from the factual basis offered by the project, as spending on the member state, regional and local level can be traced. Subsidystories.eu makes it possible to check which projects and organisations are receiving money and how it is spent across Europe. For example, the amounts given per project are vastly different per country; in Poland, the average sum per project is 381 664  € whereas in Italy this is only 63 539 €.

The data can be compared throughout the EU enabling a thorough analysis of EU spending patterns. Subsidystories.eu gives scientists, journalists and interested citizens the direct possibility of visualising data and running data analytics using SQL. The data can be directly downloaded to CSV for the entire European Union or for specific countries.

Beneficiary data, which was previously scattered across the EU in different languages and formats, had to be opened, scraped, cleaned and standardised to allow for cross-country comparisons and detailed searches. That we are now able to run detailed searches, aggregate projects per beneficiary and across countries, is a big step for financial transparency in Europe.

Subsidystories.eu is a joined cooperation between Open Knowledge Germany and Open Knowledge International, funded by Adessium and OpenBudgets.eu. 



Jonathan Brinley: Create and Trust Local SSL Certificate

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-03-09 13:39

I use Jason Wilder’s nginx reverse proxy container as the gateway to my various Docker dev environments. Among it’s other services, it provides SSL termination, so I don’t need to worry about configuring SSL in every container I run.

The set up is pretty simple. Make a directory of certificates and mount it into the container at /etc/nginx/certs. In docker-compose.yml, it would look something like:

version: "2" services: proxy: image: jwilder/nginx-proxy ports: - "80:80" - "443:443" volumes: - ./nginx/certs:/etc/nginx/certs - /var/run/docker.sock:/tmp/docker.sock

You’ll need to create a new certificate for each domain you want to serve. Add them to the certs dir, and the proxy will find them and serve those domains with SSL.

I’ve created a script that will create the certificate and, on OS X at least, add it to your login keychain as a trusted certificate so you can avoid SSL warnings from your browser. Create the file create-cert.sh in your certs directory and run it from there. E.g., certs/create-cert.sh mysite.dev.

#!/bin/bash     CERTDIR=$( cd "$( dirname "${BASH_SOURCE[0]}" )" && pwd ) DOMAIN=$1   if [ $# -lt 1 ]; then echo 1>&2 "Usage: $0 domain.name" exit 2 fi   cd ${CERTDIR}   cat > ${DOMAIN}.cnf < <-EOF [req] distinguished_name = req_distinguished_name x509_extensions = v3_req prompt = no [req_distinguished_name] CN = *.${DOMAIN} [v3_req] keyUsage = keyEncipherment, dataEncipherment extendedKeyUsage = serverAuth subjectAltName = @alt_names [alt_names] DNS.1 = *.${DOMAIN} DNS.2 = ${DOMAIN} EOF   openssl req \ -new \ -newkey rsa:2048 \ -sha1 \ -days 3650 \ -nodes \ -x509 \ -keyout ${DOMAIN}.key \ -out ${DOMAIN}.crt \ -config ${DOMAIN}.cnf   rm ${DOMAIN}.cnf   if [[ $OSTYPE == darwin* ]]; then sudo security add-trusted-cert -d -r trustRoot -k $HOME/Library/Keychains/login.keychain ${DOMAIN}.crt fi

Reload your proxy, and you can now visit https://mysite.dev/.

DuraSpace News: WATCH a Hyku Demo: ResourceSync Change Lists, Bulk Import, Admin Dashboard++

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-03-09 00:00

From Mike Giarlo, Technical Manager, Hydra-in-a-Box project, on behalf of the Hyku repository tech team

Stanford, CA  Here's the latest demo of advances made on Hyku.

District Dispatch: Appropriations season is under way

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-03-08 20:23

Congress failed to close the books on the FY 2017 appropriations by October 1 of last year so it was forced to pass a temporary funding measure called a Continuing Resolution, or “CR.” That stopgap measure kept the government running until November 18. Just before that deadline, they passed a second CR, which is set to expire on April 28, and Congress must act by then or risk an actual government shutdown.

Congress’ work on FY 2017 appropriations is further complicated by the fact that it already has started considering FY 2018 appropriations bills. That’s a very rare circumstance.

Usually, the President begins the annual appropriations cycle by submitting a budget request to Congress (a kind of non-binding “wish list” or message document) the first week of February. The FY 2018 appropriations season is beginning slowly this year, however, because the President has not yet submitted a budget to Congress. That’s likely true for several reasons: the White House transition, many vacancies in senior government agency positions, and the “outsider” perspective of the new administration. When the administration’s budget is ultimately transmitted to Congress (probably in mid-March), it’s expected to propose deep cuts in many (if not all) non-military domestic spending programs. As was widely reported, it may even suggest eliminating some government agencies entirely, like the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities.

Thus far, however, there is no indication that the President will suggest abolishing the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the independent agency that administers the bulk of federal library funding under the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). Nor have there been any specific calls by the administration or in Congress to cut funding for LSTA (which was $183 million in FY 2016) or the $27 million Innovative Approaches to Literacy program, which historically have enjoyed substantial bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.

Ultimately, it’s not what’s in the President’s non-binding budget that counts, it’s what Congress appropriates money for that matters . . . and that’s where you come in!

As the FY 2018 appropriations process unfolds in the next few months, we must be ready for and responsive to efforts in Congress to reduce, or even completely “zero out,” LSTA (including its vital “Grants to States” program) and IAL, which helps buy reading materials for the nation’s neediest kids. What’s kept LSTA and IAL (mostly) safe from the budget axe in past years is that thousands of library advocates have contacted their Members of Congress at the right moment with a very specific request that they show their support for LSTA and IAL.

That moment, once again, will arrive in a matter of days.

Specifically, at the very beginning of every fiscal year’s appropriations cycle, our champions in the House and Senate circulate what we call “Dear Appropriator” letters to all of their colleagues. One letter in each chamber asks the Appropriators to support LSTA funding, and a second letter in each chamber requests funds for IAL (that’s four letters total). The more Members who sign the LSTA and IAL letters, the better the chance that the Appropriators will look elsewhere to cut.

Dear Appropriator letters will likely begin circulating in the House and Senate next week. It’s imperative that we generate more support for LSTA and IAL among Members of Congress than ever before. LSTA and IAL

Every ALA member, and everyone an ALA member can think to enlist, must contact their Members of Congress to ask specifically that they sign both the LSTA and IAL letters making the rounds in their chamber of Congress. What’s more, we have to ask Members to sign right away because Dear Appropriator letters must be received by the Appropriations Committees in early to mid-April, just a few weeks away, or they won’t be considered at all.

As always, the Office of Government Relations will make it easy to contact your Representatives in the House and both your Senators at our Legislative Action Center. Please, watch for our alert and be prepared to make your three contacts with Capitol Hill (your House Member and both Senators), but please don’t stop there. Get at least five of your friends and colleagues to do the same! Your support, and theirs, is more critical now than ever.

The post Appropriations season is under way appeared first on District Dispatch.

Andrew Pace: How will you be remembered?

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-03-08 20:07

My grandfather had a sizable library when he passed away, and his son (my father) would wind up with roughly half of it. I remember shelves and shelves of books of quotations. He was a criminal lawyer with a love of quotes. I either inherited this love or caught it through the osmosis of being surrounded by these books throughout my childhood.

Most of the books were ruined over the years by mold and silverfish and a dose of neglect. But I managed to save a few handfuls of eclectic titles. Their smell still transports me to the basement of my childhood home. Here’s a picture of one of my favorites.

 

 

President Coolidge and Senator Spencer of Missouri were talking together one evening. They passed the White House.

“I wonder who lives there?” joked the Senator.

“Nobody,” said the President. “They just come and go.”

from Calvin Coolidge: Wit and Wisdom, 1933.

 

 

 

 

I consider myself a history buff, but even I fall victim to cliché and popular notions, so I’m willing to admit that my first impression of President Coolidge is “Silent Cal.” Who among my contemporaries would have imagined that Calvin Coolidge would have been remembered for his wit? Silent and dour, his own contemporary,  Alice Roosevelt Longworth, said, “When he wished he were elsewhere, he pursed his lips, folded his arms, and said nothing. He looked then precisely as though he had been weaned on a pickle.”

It got me thinking about how I remember people and how I will remember people. It also made me curious about how people might remember me. I used to worry that I would be remembered as “The OPAC sucks” guy. Many of you will remember that meme which I will take credit for starting, but for the record, what I actually said at that 2005 ALA Midwinter LITA Top Tech Trends session was: “There’s so much talk about portals, metasearch, learning objects—the list goes on—that we have been distracted from the fact that the OPAC still sucks.” It was a throw-away line that I actually  wrote in the taxi on the way to the event. Others got mileage from my bluntness. And while there’s even a song still on YouTube to go with the meme, dare I say it’s not a story my mother tells about her son’s great achievements in library technology. “He’s well known for his potty mouth,” Andrew’s mother said proudly to her Bridge club.

I’d rather be remembered for helping to build things that didn’t suck. One of the first ERMs, “Next-gen” OPACs, the WorldShare platform, the OCLC Community Center. Or, more importantly, for building and leading the teams that actually built those things. God willing, I’ll be remembered for something that happens in the next 20 years because that’s how much longer I need to get out of this gig. If I’m as lucky as Cal, I’ll be remembered for wit and wisdom.

What do you want to be remembered for? Will someone remember you for something the world wasn’t expecting, like John Hiram McKee remembered Coolidge? I invite you to post here and tell the world how you want to be remembered. Or how you remember someone for something we wouldn’t expect.

Cynthia Ng: Reviewing and Improving Workflow and Productivity: Methods and Tools

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-03-08 18:17
Most of our libraries and organizations have been around for numerous years, sometimes hundreds. Often that means many processes are created, changed as needed, and left in place long past their due date. Unfortunately, that means we are frequently working inefficiently, following old processes or cobbled together workflows. The first part of the presentation will … Continue reading Reviewing and Improving Workflow and Productivity: Methods and Tools

pinboard: Participatory User Experience Design with Underrepresented Populations: A Model for Disciplined Empathy

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-03-08 18:09
Am honored & humbled to see #c4l17 Glad my talk/article was helpful! Wish I were at #code4lib to thank you in person

LITA: Jobs in Information Technology: March 8, 2017

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-03-08 17:30

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

New This Week

Yale University Library, Digital Scholarship Project Manager, New Haven, CT

Texas State University – Alkek Library, Librarian Digital Collections, San Marcos, TX

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

District Dispatch: The Tessera: a ghost story to spark computational thinking

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-03-08 16:47

Inspire yourself and your teens to try something new during Teen Tech Week. Today’s guest post for #TTW17 comes from the team that designed The Tessera, an Alternative Reality Game (ARG) that introduces computational thinking concepts and computer history to teen players who solve challenges to defy the chaos triggered by the sinister “S.”

by Elizabeth Bonsignore, Katie Kaczmarek, Kari Kraus and Anthony Pellicone from the University of Maryland; and Derek Hansen from Brigham Young University

The Tessera “Wunderkammer,” or Cabinet of Curiosities, and its card catalog that holds a ~500-word “book cipher” players must decode.

The following scenario offers a glimpse into gameplay for ARG The Tessera:

Ms. Edmunds is a middle school librarian running a #ReadyToCode after-school club that has been playing The Tessera, an interactive online mystery that introduces teens to foundational computational thinking concepts and key individuals from the history of computing. Her 8th graders have just entered a room within the game world that contains materials curated by members of a secret organization called the Tessera. Here, they discover an old library catalog whose cards contain “book ciphers” that, once decoded, will reveal a letter from Ada Lovelace, a Tessera leader who is known today as the author of the world’s first computer program. The teens must work together to find the books listed in the catalog cards, then follow the encoded clues to locate the words within those books that comprise the contents of Ada’s letter. Ms. Edmunds helps her club members to find several of the books in their media center or online via resources like Project Gutenberg. They page through the books together, compiling a growing list of words that disclose the letter’s contents. Once complete, Ada’s letter rewards players with key details about the Tessera’s secret mission against the evil “S.” During after-school sessions, Ms. Edmunds shows her teens how they can share their questions, frustrations, and successes with others in-game, through the Tessera players’ forum. She also encourages them to contribute their own findings and musings on the public-facing Tessera community wiki. Like the teens in her club, Ms. Edmunds has a player profile, which she uses to respond to players’ questions and share her own thoughts. Over the course of 8-12 weekly after-school sessions, Ms. Edmunds facilitates online and face-to-face meetups with teens in her media center as they tackle the multi-level computational thinking challenges in this interactive, multiplayer mystery.

A card from the catalog, with the ISBN, page, line, and word location from a published book that will lead players to the “right word” for this particular Tessera puzzle.

What is an Alternate Reality Game?

An ARG is a multi-platform interactive story that empowers players to tackle real-world issues in a fictional scenario. In an ARG, players must work collaboratively to uncover clues and solve puzzles that can be hidden in multiple media and physical spaces, such as text messages, print novels, museum exhibits and the Web. Instead of assuming the role of a fictional character or guiding the actions of an avatar through a controller, ARG players play as themselves, using everyday tools (e.g., phones, desktop/laptops). ARGs should not be confused with video games; while most of the dialogue and storyline in a videogame is contained within one game interface (e.g., console), the dialogue and backstory for an ARG character could be presented in a blog post or graphic novel installment, shared secretly with players via online chat, or even staged as a live, interactive scene with players. Because ARGs naturally invite players to search for and share information to solve a mystery, they can engage teens in collaborative, analytical problem-solving.

A Tessera caretaker’s logbook, containing hints on how to use the card catalog to decode the words in Ada’s letter.

What is The Tessera?

Brigham Young University, the University of Maryland, and Tinder Transmedia have collaborated with the Computer History Museum to design The Tessera, an educational ARG for middle school and early high school students. The Tessera is funded by the National Science Foundation. We designed many of The Tessera’s interactive features with teens, for teens. The Tessera is designed to expose teens to computer history while engaging them in computational-thinking activities. However, it’s important to note that The Tessera does not include explicit “learn-to-code” activities like those hosted by Code.org (Hour of Code) or the Scratch community. Instead, its goal is to introduce teens to foundational computing concepts like problem decomposition, pattern recognition, and abstraction as they explore an interactive ghost story. The activities themselves are similar to those found in online spaces like CS-unplugged or similar logic puzzle game sites. In many ways, The Tessera’s education philosophy echoes and promotes ALA literacy learning goals like “Dispositions in Action” (i.e., ongoing beliefs and attitudes that guide thinking and intellectual behavior). Our design team creates immersive, interactive narratives like The Tessera to help teens who don’t think of themselves as “computer scientists” to realize that computing concepts can be relevant to their lives and interests.

The Tessera’s story revolves around a mysterious collective of historically significant innovators, known as “The Tessera,” hunted by the inscrutable, sinister “S.” Players navigate real-world and online computational thinking puzzles with the help of the ghosts of these famous men and women who are trying to save everything their think-tank stands for from S’s destructive tendencies.

The online game is known as The Tessera: A Light in the Dark. It includes an in-museum component, The Tessera: Ghostly Tracks, which is hosted by the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. In Ghostly Tracks, teens solve puzzles related to the museum’s exhibits to identify Tessera members who are “haunting” the museum. Players can also interact with in-game characters through social media, to reinforce the sense that the gameworld has spilled out into the “real world.” There’s a character-based Instagram account and a pair of twitter accounts, too: one for the Tessera’s nemesis, S, and one controlled by the ghosts of the Tessera. We also host a Tessera Facebook page for parents and educators.

Currently, The Tessera’s live game is in full swing. Teen Tech Week may be the perfect time for public libraries and school media centers to register their teens and get started!

After the live launch ends, a replayable version will be available for classroom/home use. The replayable version can be played in modules as a semester-long after-school club, as part of a summer reading program at a public library, or condensed into smaller teaching units. Librarians and educators who are interested in the replayable version of the game should contact the Tessera design team for information on how to facilitate the game and how its activities relate to curricular standards on computational thinking. More information can be found on our Educator Guide/FAQ, linked here.

Whether you’re interested in registering and joining forces with The Tessera during Teen Tech Week, or need to wait a bit for the replayable version, here are some ideas for how librarians and educators can best support teen players as they take on “S” in computational thinking activities and assume active roles in preserving the history of computing!

What does a Tessera Gamerunner do?

A gamerunner acts as a facilitator for players, encouraging and sustaining their participation throughout the game. Although gamerunners are privy to the overall storyline and puzzles, they participate alongside players. As you might imagine, librarians can make the best gamerunners! Tessera gamerunners engage their players by:

Giving clear calls-to-action and promoting player contributions: Gamerunners can use the in-game chat room and forum to help players manage tasks, share resources, and give positive feedback.

Moderating negative/unproductive behavior: Like any other online forum, The Tessera can spark heated debate. In these instances, gamerunners can reinforce community norms about respectful responses to other points of view.

Collaborating in world-building: ARGs are participatory narratives, meaning that players can contribute to the story. The public wiki on Fandom provides a platform for players to share their research about the lives of The Tessera members, to imagine how these real-life innovators might have contributed to their secret society, and to describe how they may have encountered “S” in their own lives.

Give The Tessera a try with your teens. Act quickly, though. Time is running out. “S” is moving in. We need help. We need you. We are The Tessera. We’re waiting for you.

The post The Tessera: a ghost story to spark computational thinking appeared first on District Dispatch.

Jonathan Rochkind: searching through all gem dependencies

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-03-08 16:46

Sometimes in your Rails project, you can’t figure out where a certain method or config comes from. (This is especially an issue for me as I learn the sufia stack, which involves a whole bunch of interrelated gem dependencies).  Interactive debugging techniques like source_location are invaluable and it pays to learn how to use them, but sometimes you just want/need to grep through ALL the dependencies.

As several stackoverflow answers can tell you, you can do that like this, from your Rails (or other bundler-using) project directory:

grep "something" -r $(bundle show --paths) # Or if you want to include the project itself at '.' too: grep "something" -r . $(bundle show --paths)

You can make a bash function to do this for you, I’m calling it gemgrep for now. Put your in your bash configuration file (probably ~/.bash_profile on OSX):

gemgrep () { grep "$@" -r . $(bundle show --paths); }

Now I can just gemgrep something from a project directory, and search through the project AND all gem dependencies. It might be slow.

I also highly recommend setting your default grep to color in interactive terminals, with this in your bash configuration:

export GREP_OPTIONS='--color=auto'
Filed under: General

Evergreen ILS: Evergreen Community Survey

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-03-08 16:16

Once again Spring comes around and with it the Evergreen International Conference. With the conference a month away we are preparing to do the second Evergreen Community Annual Report to be distributed at the conference and online.

The Outreach Committee is working to make this happen but one of the most important parts is capturing a picture of the libraries who make up our community and that is where we need your help! As we did last year we have a survey for Evergreen libraries to respond to : https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YS5RLRG

Whether you are one location, a large consortium, a corporate library or anything else, if you use Evergreen we want to hear from you. We got great responses last year so I hope everyone who responded does so again. However, there are also parts of the community that I know did not get a chance to respond so don’t assume that someone else from your library will. Make sure your library is represented!

Again: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YS5RLRG

Also, if you don’t already follow the community Evergreen account on twitter please do so, @EvergreenILS and follow the #evgils hash tag. Conference tweets are going out with the #evgils17 hashtag including recognizing our great conference sponsors and exhibitors so let them know you care about their support of the conference.

David Rosenthal: The Amnesiac Civilization: Part 2

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-03-08 16:00
Part 1 of The Amnesiac Civilization predicted that the state of Web archiving would soon get much worse. How bad it is right now and why? Follow me below the fold for Part 2 of the series. I'm planning at least three more parts:
  • Part 3 will assess how practical some suggested improvements might be.
  • Part 4 will look in some detail at the Web DRM problem introduced in Part 1.
  • Part 5 will discuss a "counsel of despair" approach that I've hinted at in the past.

In my talk at the Fall 2014 CNI, based on The Half-Empty Archive, I noted some estimates of how likely a given URI was to be archived:
  • The Hiberlink project studied the links in 46,000 US theses and determined that about 50% of the linked-to content was preserved in at least one Web archive.
  • Scott Ainsworth and his co-authors tried to estimate the probability that a publicly-visible URI was preserved, as a proxy for the question "How Much of the Web is Archived?" They generated lists of "random" URLs using several different techniques including sending random words to search engines and random strings to the bit.ly URL shortening service. They then:
    • tried to access the URL from the live Web.
    • used Memento to ask the major Web archives whether they had at least one copy of that URL.
    Their results are somewhat difficult to interpret, but for their two more random samples they report: URIs from search engine sampling have about 2/3 chance of being archived [at least once] and bit.ly URIs just under 1/3.
I then pointed out a number of reasons why these estimates were likely to be optimistic. So, back in 2014 more than, probably much more than, half the Web wasn't archived. The fundamental reason why so little was archived was cost, and in particular the cost of ingesting Web content, which is the largest single component of Web archiving cost.

I've written many times about one of the major reasons for the high cost of ingest, for example in a 2011 post inspired by a concert Roger McNamee's band Moonalice played in Palo Alto's Rinconada Park:
I've been warning for some time that one of the fundamental problems facing digital preservation is the evolution of content from static to dynamic. The evolution of the Web from interlinked static documents to a JavaScript programming environment has greatly increased the cost of ingesting the surface Web, and decreased both its reliability and its representative nature. This process has continued since 2014.

Last month Kalev Leetaru added a third installment to his accurate but somewhat irritating series of complaints about the state of Web archiving:
My irritation with Leetaru isn't because his descriptions of the deficiencies of current Web archives aren't accurate. As I described in You Get What You Get And You Don't Get Upset, it stems from his unwillingness to acknowledge the economics of Web archiving:
Web archives, and the Internet Archive in particular, are not adequately funded for the immense scale of their task, ... So better metadata means less data. It is all very well for researchers to lay down the law about the kind of metadata that is "absolutely imperative", "a necessity" or "more and more imperative" but unless they are prepared to foot the bill for generating, documenting and storing this metadata, they get what they get and they don't get upset.John Berlin at Old Dominion University has a fascinating detailed examination of why CNN.com has been unarchivable since November 1st, 2016:
CNN.com has been unarchivable since 2016-11-01T15:01:31, at least by the common web archiving systems employed by the Internet Archive, archive.is, and webcitation.org. The last known correctly archived page in the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine is 2016-11-01T13:15:40, with all versions since then producing some kind of error (including today's; 2017-01-20T09:16:50). This means that the most popular web archives have no record of the time immediately before the presidential election through at least today's presidential inauguration.The TL;DR is that:
the archival failure is caused by changes CNN made to their CDN; these changes are reflected in the JavaScript used to render the homepage.The detailed explanation takes about 4400 words and 15 images. The changes CNN made appear intended to improve the efficiency of their publishing platform. From CNN's point of view the benefits of improved efficiency vastly outweigh the costs of being unarchivable (which in any case CNN doesn't see).

Clearly, scaling this kind of detailed analysis to all major Web sites that use CDNs (content delivery networks) is infeasible. Among these Web sites are the major academic publishing platforms, so the problem Berlin describes is very familiar to the LOCKSS team. It isn't as severe for us; there are a limited number of publishing platforms and changes they make tend to affect all the journals using them. But it still imposes a major staff cost.

It is important to note that there are browser-based Web archiving technologies that are capable of collecting CNN in a replay-able form:
The solution is not as simple as one may hope, but a preliminary solution (albeit band-aid) would be to archive the page using tools such as WARCreate, Webrecorder or Perma.cc. These tools are effective since they preserve a fully rendered page along with all network requests made when rendering the page. This ensures that the JavaScript requested content and rendered sections of the page are replayable. Replaying of the page without the effects of that line of code is possible but requires the page to be replayed in an iframe. This method of replay is employed by Ilya Kreymer's PyWb (Python implementation of the Wayback Machine) and is used by Webrecorder and Perma.cc.But these techniques are too expensive for general Web archives to apply to all Web sites, and it is difficult to distinguish between sites that need them and those that don't. For general Web archives this is an increasingly serious problem that is gradually eroding the coverage they can afford to maintain of the popular (and thus important for future scholars) Web.

Leetaru concludes:
the web archiving community is still stuck in a quarter-century-old mindset of how the web works and has largely failed to adapt to the rapidly evolving world of video, social media walled gardens, dynamic page generation and the mobile webThis is ludicrous. The LOCKSS team published our work on crawling AJAX-based academic journals in 2015, and it started more than three years earlier. Even then, we were building on work already done by others in the Web archiving community.
The reason these efforts haven't been more widely applied isn't because Web archives are "stuck in a quarter-century-old mindset". Its because applying them costs money.

The Internet Archive's budget is in the region of $15M/yr, about half of which goes to Web archiving. The budgets of all the other public Web archives might add another $20M/yr. The total worldwide spend on archiving Web content is probably less than $30M/yr, for content that cost hundreds of billions to create. The idea that these meager resources would stretch to archiving sites the size of YouTube or FaceBook to Leetaru's satisfaction is laughable.

It is true that the current state of Web archiving isn't good. But Leetaru's suggestion for improving it:
greater collaboration is needed between the archiving community and the broader technology industry, especially companies that build the state-of-the-art crawling infrastructures that power modern web services. doesn't begin to address the lack of funding. Nor does it address the problem of the motivations of web sites like CNN:
  • Being archived doesn't do anything for a site's bottom line. It may even be a negative if it exposes machinations such as the notorious "Mission Accomplished" press release.
  • They don't see any of the costs they impose on Web archives, so they don't weigh in the scale against the benefits of "optimizing the user experience". Even if they did weigh in the scale, they'd be insignificant.
There is no way to greatly improve Web archiving without significantly increased resources. Library and archive budgets have been under sustained attack for years. Neither I nor Leetaru has any idea where an extra $30-50M/yr would come from. Much less isn't going to stop the rot.

DPLA: DPLA Board Call: March 15, 2017, 3:00 pm Eastern

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-03-08 14:49

The next DPLA Board of Directors call is scheduled for Wednesday, March 15 at 3:00 PM Eastern. Agenda and dial-in information is included below. This call is open to the public, except where noted.

Agenda
  • [Public] Welcome
  • [Public] General Updates from Executive Director, Dan Cohen 
  • [Public] DPLAfest 2017
  • [Public] Education Advisory Committee
  • [Public] Questions/comments from the public
  • Executive Session to follow public portion of call  
Dial-in

In the Library, With the Lead Pipe: Nothing Tweetable: A Conversation or How to “Librarian” at the End of Times

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-03-08 14:00

In Brief

In 2015, Joshua Finnell (JF) was appointed data librarian at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Shortly thereafter, in 2016, Lareese Hall (LH) was appointed Dean of Libraries at the Rhode Island School of Design. Lareese and Josh first met as newly appointed liaison librarians at Denison University in 2009. Since that time, they have remained friends and professional confidants. In early 2017, as they find themselves working on opposite sides of the arts and sciences spectrum, Josh and Lareese reflect on the perils, frustrations, hopes, and passions they still encounter and stoke in the library profession and in the off centered world in which we find ourselves.

Note:  We have taken the opportunity to add links to many topics, people, and resources throughout the text. These can be distracting:  “People who read text studded with links, the studies show, comprehend less than those who read traditional linear text,” said Nicholas Carr in an essay that asked “Does the Internet Make You Dumber?” (Carr, 2010).  We do not want to make you dumber. We see these links as something to come back to, not something you need to click on immediately. Proceed accordingly…

LH: My first question to you is one that I come to again and again: Why do we care about libraries? We complain and try, I think, to make each other laugh with the most ridiculous stories possible.

JF: Yeah, this is usually how we end our epic library-related conversations, so it is only fitting to start with this question. We complain because we care deeply about libraries. Like most librarians, I am hopelessly in love with the multiple functions and possibilities a library provides: shelter, inspiration, self-improvement, discovery, community. There’s that Kurt Vonnegut quote from A Man Without a Country, “So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries” (Vonnegut, 2005, 103). That line resonates deeply with me in our current political climate. I suppose, like you, I complain about libraries because I see the unlimited potential and it never ceases to amaze me how much of it is squandered.

JF: What tethers you to the library world?

LH: I honestly don’t know. On one hand I believe in the work that I do and care deeply about the potential for information and knowledge to transform people’s lives, and on the other hand are the actual people. I believe in the possibilities, like you, do but I wonder sometimes if that isn’t just my ego.  Who am I to say what is possible for someone else?  But it’s who I am and what I dream about. I have had heartbreaking professional experiences and they have often been the result of my unwavering idealism faced with the crushing reality of pedestrian things like indifference (other people’s), incompetence (other people’s and sometimes my own), budgets, and reality. And egos, again. Libraries have always been a constant for me – they have always been the places where I was most comfortable dreaming. That dreaming has kept me sane and, to this day, is the thing I rely on when the world is too heavy. I don’t dream to retreat from the world, but to run towards it. And on some level, I suppose, I always want to be a part of creating spaces for dreamers.  

LH: We are both dreamers (fools!). This quality fits pretty well (at least abstractly) within academic environments – but you are no longer working in an academic environment. Has that changed you professionally in some way? Has it had an effect on your relationship to the work you do and care about?

JF: Well, certainly moving from a small liberal arts college in Ohio to one of the nation’s nuclear labs has been an adjustment. Needless to say, this environment is narrower in scope and just a wee bit more restrictive. Throughout my career, I have always thought of my current job or institution as an incubator, providing me with the tools and support necessary to explore my interest in the profession. If an idea or project doesn’t fit within the scope of my duties or institution, I tend to find the community or group where the idea can take root. As you can imagine, working on top of a mountain behind heavily secured fences can make one feel rather isolated from the larger library community. My current work with the Santa Fe Public Library, Make Santa Fe, and Library Pipeline is certainly a direct result of needing to see, feel, and contribute to the larger community. And, obviously, I’m a humanities-trained librarian working in a nuclear physics lab who doesn’t get to wax philosophical about the digital humanities very often. I think, at least I hope, most academics chose their profession because they were in love with art history or Spanish literature, not a particular institution in which those subjects are taught. I feel the same way about librarianship (broadly defined). Though institutions have certainly impeded my day-to-day enjoyment of the profession, they rarely dim my pilot light.

 

 

JF: I know that you are also no stranger to working in, across, and between disciplines over the course of your career. Your professional experience and research, from your role as the Carnegie Science Center’s first manager of environmental education to your recent Knight’s News Challenge proposal to build a Science Library of Visual Metaphors, has seemingly always been bridging what C. P. Snow referred to as the two cultures: sciences and the humanities. What attracts and inspires you about this collision of cultures (Snow, 1959)?

LH: It should be noted that I was the first (and last) environmental education person at the Science Center. In 2006, I was working full time (going to library school part time) while also working at what I thought was my dream job. My approach at the Science Center was about understanding environmental science in a creative and social/cultural context while rethinking organizational structures to support new ideas and experiments. I kept being told that what I was proposing (bringing artists into the conversation; building a living wall that treated water runoff as it then worked its way to our riverfront through a bioremediated landscape; eliminating styrofoam from our dining hall and creating a marketing campaign about waste; developing a composting system, I could go on…) wasn’t real “science” or even science adjacent. I discovered Seed Magazine (how I loved that magazine) and was convinced the direction we were headed in was the right one.  I was particularly inspired by an article titled “The Future of Science…is Art?”.  At the same time, I took a course called “Civic Entrepreneurship in Public Institutions” with the late Taylor Willingham, and it was revelatory. This kind of collaborative and creative thinking in museums and science centers does happen, with spectacular results. By 2008 the bottom fell out of the economy, my job disappeared. I was furious, heartbroken, and yet felt a clarity.   I decided that I would never wear a suit again (this was silly, but it felt good to say). I decided that I would fully devote myself to becoming a librarian because libraries were, in my limited assessment, places for collaboration, experimentation, curiosity, and making. I wanted to work in places that were willing to take risks and try to change the world and I saw that possibility in academic environments. It was at this point that I first read the C. P. Snow book.  The desire to categorize and name ideas and disciplines (“cultures”) and to keep them separate has never made sense to me. It is in the places of intersection that real change and magic happen. We create distinctions because it is easier to manage the uncertainty of our very human existence.  It is a kind of control. Control is a mechanism for managing fear. How we define that fear is entirely our own, but having control is one way to manage the total weight of that reality.  

Libraries (and people who work in them) like to control things. We have to, on many levels, for the machine to work. Control equates order and we use that word to describe what we do – controlled vocabularies, authority control – but we also limit ourselves as organizations by letting that control dictate our behavior. I see collaboration as a way to let go of control (and fear). I spend a good deal of time getting to know people wherever I work, and in those introductory conversations projects or ideas emerge. The Science Library of Visual Metaphors grew out of meeting and talking to the incredible and wonderful Felice Frankel (a photographer and research scientist) at MIT. We have not given up on the project.  

LH: Bringing ideas to life is something we both love to do. When we were at Denison, we librarians were tasked with developing digital projects with faculty (and I won’t talk about how we didn’t get stipends but faculty did). I started with an enormous project that took almost two years to complete. But you took the opportunity to develop multiple projects and they were all so wildly different and full of hope. We both wanted to do more, to take this opportunity to push beyond just digitizing and putting things online. Looking back, how did that work shape the work you do now, if at all? Was it worth it?   

JF: Oh, you didn’t get a stipend? Kidding! I’ll try hard to not go off on a tangent about the compensation for, and value of, library work. If I remember correctly, you were the first to develop a digital project among the liaison librarians.

LH: I always have a project (or two) ready to be developed.  It’s a good practice.

JF: Your project was inspiring not only in scale and scope but also its purposeful incompleteness – allowing the collection to grow in descriptive richness as each successive course or senior project enhanced the metadata over time. What struck me about your pedagogical approach was its, perhaps unconscious, comfort and ease with incompleteness and perceived failure. Especially with grants, so much emphasis is placed on success. However, success is usually narrowly defined through the lens of completion (i.e. “Did you complete the intended project?”). Experimentation and growth, in contrast, are usually accompanied by incompleteness and failure. By disentangling the concept of failure from the perception of incompetence and lack of effort, and underscoring how an unfinished project can still be a success, you opened up a template for riskier project proposals. Failure is illuminating. Incompleteness can be powerful. As a matter of fact, there was a really great exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York last year, Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible, exploring the prowess of unfinished work.

 

In my experience, librarians are really uncomfortable with the concept of incompleteness, from serials to archives. A missing volume in a complete set represents a failure of our services to our patrons. I think that ethos, intentionally or not, framed the committee’s perception of how the library should approach digital projects. Like you, I too wanted to enhance the narrative around failure and incompleteness in my digital projects.

Allison Carr, in her great essay in support of failure writes, “Failure reverberates. It expands. And it makes visible what we often take for granted. In causing notice, it helps us see that there are other ways of moving through the world, alternative ways of coming to know lived experience” (Carr, 2013). My sincere hope is that my project focusing on campus scholarship inspired students to engage with issues of open access and spurred the library to ponder its role in content creation on campus. Hopefully the Homestead Archive taught a generation of Denison students about the inherent political power of archiving while also asking the library to consider its relationship to the community archives developed at the University. Maybe the Baptists in Burma: Midwestern Missionaries at Home and Abroad sparked a conversation about using institutional history as a pedagogical tool across disciplines. To my knowledge, none of these projects are “done” or complete. However, their encased incompleteness signify thoughts left visible to future librarians at Denison. In that sense, the effort and time put into these projects was not wasted. Though my focus has shifted to building data repositories at a national lab, I still want experimentation and incompleteness to be part of the conversation.

JF: At the 2015 ACRL/NY Symposium you described your librarian agenda as subversive, rebellious, and one that seeks to establish a critical consciousness about the existence and importance of art, design, and creative thinking. You also opened the session with the disclaimer that you don’t want to say anything “tweetable.” Given how embedded the hashtag is in library conference culture, can you expand on your reasoning for this humorous caveat?

LH: Twitter is both wonderful and depressing, and at any given moment I hate and love it simultaneously. I recognize that people like to live-tweet at conferences. There are also real communities and revolutionary movements that have begun and been sustained by Twitter. My comment wasn’t about any of that. I was not denouncing these things, but I find some of the live-tweeting and conference conversations, in particular, to be frustrating.  

People should do whatever makes them happy with Twitter (I mean, they will anyway) but I find it to be superficial at times. These “fluid spaces” (like Twitter) can overwhelm us with so much information and chatter that it’s impossible to process it all. I think we seek comfort and community in these spaces that sometimes allows us to not really engage with our own vulnerability or stupidity or pain or even happiness.  

You aren’t putting your thoughts on Twitter because you want to come back to them later – at least I don’t. I now have over 1400 “likes” in my Twitter profile – things I want to remember and go back to but probably never will. Yet there they sit, liked. I am pretty sure I “like” things because I want the person who posted it to know that I appreciated their sharing it.  

JF: All those likes sit at the Library of Congress too, where archivists are currently scratching their heads trying to figure out if Twitter can fit inside the Library of Congress.

LH: We should keep our fingers crossed that there remains a Library of Congress! Imagine trying to figure out how to manage the digital archive of the current administration.

I am grateful to Twitter for keeping me informed, however haphazardly. I wrestle with the tension between the opportunities, freedom, and potential in higher education and the economic and social realities in which we find ourselves and our students find themselves. The world is on fire, and it always has been. Twitter fuels the fire. It makes you feel like there is some order, that you have some sort of control.  

When I am at a symposium or a conference I benefit the most by just listening – not even taking notes. I once had a boss who never took notes but always had a grasp of what was being discussed and always spoke with incredible accuracy and nuance. She told me that the secret to remembering and being engaged was to really listen to what was being said. My job was to understand and participate. It was liberating and it taught me a great deal about listening and allowed me to actually contribute to the conversation.  

JF: I’ve actually forgotten what it’s like to attend a library-related conference that didn’t start by mentioning the “official” hashtag for a specific session. Whenever I mention this phenomenon to my colleagues in other disciplines they tend look at me funny. That’s why your quote, the exact opposite of every opening statement at a library  conference, caught my eye. It’s refreshing to hear a librarian at a conference actually speak to the equal importance of presence over participation. In an article for Inc. Magazine entitled The Art of Listening Well,” Eugene Raudsepp cautioned readers to use the speed of thought productively “because we usually think three to four times faster than we talk, we often get impatient with a speaker’s slow progress, and our minds wander. Try using the extra time by silently reviewing and summarizing the speaker’s main points” (Raudsepp, 1981). Tweeting a fragmented quote often isn’t the best summary of an entire panel presentation. Though, admittedly, sometimes it is.

With that said, I do enjoy following the hashtags of conferences that I can’t attend for links to useful resources and projects. Also, I do think the social network analysis performed on conference hashtags can help visualize the density of “conversations” happening among conference attendees, but I also think that this “network mapping” can sometimes be an abstraction away from the actual substance of what is being conveyed by the presenters, panelists, or keynotes. So much of communication is nonverbal (body language, attitude,    environment) that an aggregate of disassociated tweets runs the risk of losing context and specificity. It’s like Alfred Korzybski wrote, “A map is not the territory it represents, but if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness” (Korzybski, 1933, 751).

Of course, in the age of Trump, Twitter has become a confounding discourse on the meaning of authority, accuracy, and context.

JF:  As you know, we certainly share a healthy distrust of authority. This attribute will serve us well over the next four years as will an ability to focus on both imagination and pragmatism simultaneously.

In To Have or To Be, Erich Fromm made a distinction between rational authority, which is grounded in competence and aids a person in their development, and irrational authority, which is based on power and merely functions to subjugate and exploit (Fromm, 1976).  All too often organizational hierarchy, whether in a library or Fortune 500 company, breeds irrational authority with an emphasis on titles and roles over skills and passion. Now that you are a library administrator, how do you envision enacting a library agenda based in rational authority within the traditional structures of library organizations?

LH: It’s an impossible question to answer because the answer changes on a daily basis.  But it comes down simply to listening to people and understanding their skills and passion and having that inform their work and how the organization supports and grows from that work. Leadership is an opportunity to create community. I have used myself as a case study in how to lead with kindness and rigor and, most importantly, love. I don’t care about tradition or the way things have always been. I respect history, I want to understand where we have been but I will not accept anyone telling me that there is just one way to go from point A to point B. I just won’t. So, I will enact a collaborative and flexible agenda based on the growth and development of everyone working to bring it to fruition. The work is always in the service of our mission and vision as an institution and as an organization within the institution but also to the betterment of the world.

JF: Isn’t it funny how much we, as librarians, espouse values of love, kindness, and rigor in our personal but not our professional lives? Can you think of any library mission statement that contains the word love or kindness?

LH: No, I can’t. Libraries definitely edge towards nostalgic affection, but I wouldn’t say love. But love has strength, it can be radical. bell hooks has been writing and talking about love for some time. She says, “Whenever anyone asks me how they can begin the practice of love I tell them giving is the place to start” (hooks, 2016). Could it be that we complain about and fight what is basically our greatest love? That we make it complicated because it’s interconnected to everything we do and believe?  I truly love the concept of a library. Big or small, academic or roadside, doesn’t matter. Someone took the time to bring things together, to offer them to you.  Someone wants you to see it and experience it. Isn’t that a miracle?

Working in an art library completely shifted the way I thought about libraries and their structure and possibility. I saw/see art libraries as a creative landscape and a case study for curiosity and generosity in the manifestation of ideas. I sometimes say libraries are the liberal arts heart of an academic institution.  We have opportunities to make connections and be experimental in unusual ways and I wish more academic libraries took advantage of that. That potential is what I love the most.  As long as we provide our communities with the basic services (and do them exceptionally well) then we are free to be as wild as we want to be.

LH: We often talk about working together and frequently slip into conversations about great conferences or inspirational people, projects, and work.  “Who is doing work that inspires you?”, is a question I often get.  Or, “What other library is doing this thing you’re talking about?”  I have my own list, but I want to hear yours first.  

JF: Oh, there are so many! Admittedly, having grown up in a city between Chicago and St. Louis, my antenna is always tuned to initiatives in the Windy City and the Gateway to the West.

I am really inspired by the work of all the librarians and volunteers who built and sustain the Read/Write Library in Chicago, formerly the Chicago Underground Library. This is such an important resource for the city of Chicago and the rest of the country, especially as a singular narrative focused solely on crime statistics is being peddled by our current president.

I am truly in awe of the tremendous work of librarians, archivists, activists, and volunteers who created the Documenting Ferguson archive at Washington University in St. Louis. It is so important to see one of the city’s most powerful and elite universities amplify, and ally itself with, the voices of the Ferguson community. Also, the hard work of everyone at the Ferguson Municipal Public Library before, during, and after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. A great reminder that the simple act of keeping the lights on in the library, and being open to the public, can be an act of radical love.

Shanika Heyward’s work at the E. 38th Street Branch in Indianapolis feeding neighborhood children and providing educational opportunities for adult learners reaffirms my belief in the transformative power of public libraries, big and small. Also, the work of Libraries Without Borders and Philippe Starck in designing and deploying the Ideas Box in Syrian refugee camps and during the recent peace process in Colombia brings me joy. A great reminder that a library, even when ephemeral, can have a tremendous impact.

 

 

JF: I know we share an affinity for design and community engagement, so I’m curious to hear your list.

LH:  Your list reminds me of how much inspiration I get from public libraries and nonprofits in terms of space design, programming, and community engagement.  These things are important in academic libraries too, of course, but can get buried. The L!brary Initiative is a wonderful example of public/private partnerships working together to tackle systemic problems through design.

I wrote a piece in 2015 about my bookshelf that pretty much sums up my inspiration and what I am seeking at any given time. The bookshelf always changes, of course. I have always been inspired by women who are content with being on the edge of things and who head out on their own paths: Agnes Martin, Beatrice Wood, Corita Kent, Muriel Cooper, Iris Apfel.

Lynda Barry is in a class by herself, teaching and writing and drawing and always learning. James Baldwin keeps a fire lit inside.  

I am fortified and inspired by the work of the African American Intellectual Historical Society and try to keep up with what is shared on their site (and I found them through Twitter!).  Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings site is astounding. It inspires me to think more about how we shape discovery experiences for our users – through storytelling and making connections. Culture Type is another remarkable site that is a model for ways to share a library and create opportunities for discovery.  

Amos Kennedy reminds me that every day is new and you can always reinvent yourself, especially if you are on the path of something you love. Triple Canopy (which I think you introduced me to?) has been a model for thinking about new ways of publishing, writing, and sharing information. Rural Studio and the work of Sam Mockbee inspired me to study architecture and to approach it as a way to make the world a better place and events like Structures for Inclusion continue to give me hope.  Visiting the studios and campus at the Cranbrook Academy of Art inspired me to leave architecture school and see where I landed.

 

The New York Public Library is a public research library and a standard for experimentation and delight.  I have a twitter feed (hah) called #librarymaybe where I keep track of spaces and ideas that can apply to libraries but aren’t where one would necessarily look. I see a library as a laboratory, an incubator, a place for experimentation, a place of creation. I am inspired by everything. Everything relates.  

JF: One of the first conversations we ever had was about Sam Mockbee and the Rural Studio. I still have an old Architectural Digest dedicated to his work. It has also been really neat to see Triple Canopy evolve over the last few years. Everyone on your list can be considered a pioneer, articulating and discovering new possibilities within a defined set of circumstances or medium. Recalling your first question, I think most of our frustrations within the library world occur when libraries reify societal norms, as opposed to creating new possibilities and ways of being in the world.

Shirley Chisholm famously said, “You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas” (Thomas, 2015). Your own Twitter background is emblazoned with the words, “Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail. There’s only make. The only rule is work.” From where, what, or whom do you continue to derive your work ethic and drive to bring new ideas into the world?

LH:  My work ethic is a healthy balance of wonder and stubbornness. I don’t compete against other people, just myself. I have often been my own coach, football team, and cheerleader. Not all the time, but a good deal of the time. I believe in kindness. I like to work. I like to get lost in a project. I believe in the Shine Theory. I like to be spontaneous and I like rules (not to follow all the time, but as a compass).

You only get to the good ideas by working your way through the bad ones and you cannot be afraid of the bad ones. You also have to be willing to make leaps but bring your team along with you on that journey. You should surround yourself with creative and interesting people who are just a little bit rebellious but still generous with their ideas and time. As I am hiring new staff, these are qualities that I look for in other people. Work should be an inspiring space.  

That quote on my Twitter profile is from my absolute favorite list of rules by Sister Corita Kent who was an artist (also one of my absolute favorites) and an activist (and at one time a nun). These rules are ones I come back to again and again.  They are simple, and they are true.

Rule 1: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.

Rule 2: General duties of a student: pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.

Rule 3: General duties of a teacher: pull everything out of your students.

Rule 4: Consider everything an experiment.

Rule 5: Be self-disciplined. This means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them.  To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

Rule 6: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.

Rule 7: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

Rule 8: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.

Rule 9: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.

Rule 10: “We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.” (John Cage)

Hints: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything – it might come in handy later.  

 

 

 

JF: I think Rule 9 is one to hold close in the coming years. Any final thoughts on how to “librarian” going forward in our current political climate?

LH:  With love.

“I believe in living above the line.  

Above the line is happiness and love.” – Agnes Martin

 

The authors would like to thank Michael DeNotto (external peer reviewer), Annie Pho + Ian Beilin (internal peer reviewer), and members of the editorial board for reviewing drafts of this article. The authors also wish to give a special note of thanks to shared cubicles, Luxardo Cherries, the inspiring work of libraries and librarians everywhere, and the magic of serendipity for making this conversation (and our friendship) possible.

 

References

Baldwin, J. (1985). The Price of the Ticket: Collected Nonfiction, 1948-1985. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Capala, M. (2014). The Art of #LiveTweeting. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@SearchDecoder/the-art-of-livetweeting-90e93db25e22#.cql6p3hp9.

Carr, A. (2013). In Support of Failure. Composition Forum 27, n.p. Retrieved from http://compositionforum.com/issue/27/failure.php.

Carr, N. (2010). Does the Internet Make You Dumber? Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704025304575284981644790098.

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DPLA: The Importance of Women at DPLA and in Our Community

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-03-08 13:54

There shouldn’t have to be special days to reflect upon the importance of women in our society, but today’s “A Day Without a Woman” presents a good opportunity to highlight just how critical women have been and are to our organization, our community, and the broader public we serve together.

Women have played as essential role at DPLA from the start. From the very first DPLA planning meetings to the latest DPLAfest, our community has been driven by the energy, ideas, and hard work of women. Women comprise over half of the staff at our organization, and are involved with all facets of our endeavor, including software development and data management, education and outreach, and the creation of our national network of hubs. Half of the senior staff and over half of our board are women.

More broadly, we connect with thousands of libraries, archives, and museums nationwide, and those organizations involve the work of tens of thousands of women. When I speak with people outside of DPLA’s immediate community, I’m surprised by how many people do not know how predominantly female librarianship is. In the first census of librarians taken in the United States, in 1880, 52% of librarians were men. By 2011, 83% of librarians were women.

With libraries at the heart of so many communities across the country—there are nearly 17,000 public library branches in the U.S. and thousands more in schools and colleges—we should all recognize and be incredibly thankful for the crucial role women play in these central social institutions. Literacy, knowledge, and lifelong enrichment would all be impossible without them.

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