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LITA: Drag-and-Drop Outlook Calendar Hack

planet code4lib - Thu, 2016-11-17 15:00

That image is the insanity that is my Outlook calendar. There’s a lot of stuff going on in it. We’ve talked about hacking Outlook before here at LITA blog, but there’s a ton you can do with Outlook to help organize yourself and become more productive. While Whtini talked about using the calendar to track projects which helps greatly for year-end reviews, monthly reports, and project management, I’ve got a simple ‘hack’ that I learned accidentally that helps me keep on top of all the things I need to do:

You can drag emails out of your inbox to your calendar or your to-do list

This works slightly differently depending on the version of Office you’re running but in every version you can drag the email to the calendar or to-do list icon in the lower left of you screen and then create a new item from there.

For example, let’s say I’ve had a back and forth email discussion about our public fax service with the vendor. I want to look into the problem before we open. I drag the latest email to the calendar icon and create an appointment for myself for the next morning using that email. The entire email discussion is part of that appointment and I can set reminders, categories, etc. just like creating an appointment from scratch without losing the thread of the discussion.

It’s not just appointments either. Recently several staff and I talked about the need for RFID check-out/check-in training. I dragged that email to the calendar, invited attendees, and created a meeting so that we could sit down and do the training. All the discussion we had was in the meeting request so that everyone had that available to them.

My library uses email reminders for almost-due books, so I drag those emails to my to-do list, create a reminder date and time, and then I get a nice pop-up so that I can renew or return my books as needed.

If you use Gmail and Google Calendar, you can do a similar thing except you don’t drag and drop, you use the ‘more’ drop-down menu when you either select an email or open it. Under that drop-down you’ll see Add to Tasks or Create event. You can add tasks to your default list or create new lists for projects or categories. Similarly, you can create events from emails and put them into your own calendar, a shared calendar, add guests, etc.

I love being able to take an email thread and move it into a meeting or a to-do list without having to recreate the conversation. It’s so easy to do and makes it do that I don’t lose track of what I have to do.

How are you using Outlook or your mail client to increase your productivity?

Jonathan Rochkind: Rubyland: A new ruby news and blog feed aggregator

planet code4lib - Thu, 2016-11-17 03:00

So I thought there should be a site aggregating ruby rss/atom feeds. As far as I’m aware, there hasn’t been a really maintained one for a couple years now.

So in my spare time on my own, I made one, that worked the way I wanted. http://www.rubyland.news.

The source is open at github.

I’ve got a few more features planned still.

It’s running on a free heroku dyno with a free postgres. This works out — the CPU needs of an RSS aggregator are not very high, so this works out. But it does limit things in some ways, such as no SSL/https.  If any organization is interested in sponsoring rubyland for a modest contribution to pay for hosting costs and make more things possible, get in touch.

Most people seem to approach feed aggregators with a tool that produces static HTML. I decided to make a dynamic site to make certain things possible/easier, and use the tools I knew. But since the content is of course mostly static, there’s a lot of caching going on. Rails fragment caching over the entire page, as well as etags delivered to browsers.

Some other interesting features of the code include: flexbox for responsive display with zero media queries, which was fun (although I think I’ll have to add a media query for the a UI element I’m going to add soon); reddit API for live comments count on /r/ruby; and feedjira providing a great assist in dealing with feed idiosyncracies.

But beyond the code (which was fun to write), I’m hoping the Rubyland aggregator can be a valuable resource for rubyists and help (re-)strenghten the ruby online community, which is in a bit of a weird state these days.


Filed under: General

Evergreen ILS: Evergreen 2.10.8 and 2.11.1 released

planet code4lib - Wed, 2016-11-16 22:36

We are pleased to announce the release of Evergreen 2.10.8 and 2.11.1, both bugfix releases.

Evergreen 2.10.8 fixes the following issues:

  • A fix to that provides alphabetical sorting to the fund selector in the Acquisitions Selection List -> Copies interface.
  • The addition of a progress bar that displays when conducting a patron search in the web client.
  • A fix to the web client patron interface so that total Items Out in the patron summary now includes overdue and long overdue items. It will also include Lost and Claims Returned items when the appropriate library setting is enabled.
  • A change to the public catalog My Account screen where the font for leading articles will now be smaller when sorting a list by title.
  • A fix to subject links in the catalog’s record summary page so that periods are no longer stripped from resulting subject searches, leading to more accurate results when those links are clicked.
  • A fix to avoid avoid unint warnings in the logs for prox_cache in open-ils.circ.hold.is_possible.
  • A fix to rounding errors that occured when summing owed/paid totals for display in the catalog’s credit card payment form.
  • A change to sort behavior in the My Account screens. Previously, a third click on a column header returned the list to its original sort order. Clicking column headers will now simply toggle the sort between ascending and descending order.
  • The Permalink option on the catalog’s record summary page will now be hidden in the staff client because clicking the link in the client led to no discernable change for users.
  • A fix to the text of a notice that displays when migrating circulation history during the upgrade to 2.10.
  • An improvement to the performance for the lookup of a user’s circ history by adding an index on action.usr_circ_history(usr).
  • A fix so that when a bib record’s fingerprint changes, it gets correctly moved to a different metarecord.

In additional, the Spanish translation is now fully enabled.

Evergreen 2.11.1 fixes the same issues fixed in 2.10.8, and also fixes the following:

  • A fix to the display of permanent lists in the catalog, which had broken in 2.11.0.
  • A fix to the web client checkin screen allowing users to click the title of the checked-in item to retrieve the bib record for that item.

Please visit the downloads page to retrieve the server software and staff clients.

District Dispatch: Living in a bubble: Lawmakers clash with technology

planet code4lib - Wed, 2016-11-16 22:00

Today the R Street Institute’s Zach Graves moderated “When Lawmakers Clash with Technology,” a panel discussion exploring the consequences of a technology-illiterate Congress. I think most people would understand that Congress (with everyone else they have going on) might not be early adopters of technology, but learning that some do not yet use e-mail is disconcerting. When asked to make policy decisions regarding digital surveillance, national security and the U.S. Patriot Act, Congress does not have the knowledge necessary to legislate. Robyn Greene, Policy Counsel at New America’s Open Technology Institute, added that evidence of legislator incompetency is apparent. Just consider the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) legislation that would have allowed authorities to block entire Internet domains (among other things), or the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) that has had no effect on making the country less susceptible to terrorist attacks.

Photo credit: Pixabay

Adam Keiper, Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, pointed out that established ways of learning about issues are limited. Congressional hearings are no longer held for Congress to learn about an issue but rather “attention getting” platforms. The times have changed. Adam cited a 1955 “Automation and Technology” hearing that lasted two weeks with days of testimony from a great number of experts. No longer does Congress take a deep dive into any issue. Moreover, the 1995 closing of the Office for Technology Assessment (OTA), the only government agency that thoroughly analyzed scientific and technological issues, was not a prudent decision.

Daniel Schuman, Policy Director at Demand Progress reminded us that technology-illiteracy impacts all three branches of government. The speed of technological change is a part of the problem, but lawmakers indeed live in a “bubble.” Unlike Silicon Valley’s highly iterative process of testing and failing and gaining new understandings to try again, lawmakers have an undeclared mandate to pass legislation that gets it right the first time.

It was an interesting program that, unfortunately, added to my doubts of the efficacy of the government, but there is a bright side. Now more than ever, grassroots advocacy holds a better chance of being successful. The government is going to need us to show them the way.

The post Living in a bubble: Lawmakers clash with technology appeared first on District Dispatch.

District Dispatch: Open Data – from EO to Law

planet code4lib - Wed, 2016-11-16 18:56

With President Obama’s imminent departure from the White House, it is essential that we make into law the important Executive Orders (EO) that he has issued.  Each president has the ability to create their own or delete a previous president’s EO.  We hope to ensure that President Obama’s EO, Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information, is made permanent through the OPEN Government Data Act (S. 2852 / H.R. 5051).
This bi-partisan legislation:

  • Requires data to be machine-readable and use open formats that are based on standards.
  • It requires data to use open licenses and include metadata.
  • It requires the data be interoperable and accessible.
  • Calls for the creation and maintenance of an enterprise data inventory.
  • Strengthens privacy and confidentiality.
  • Offers OMB the opportunity to exempt national security systems like what is in the policy but it does not exempt the DOD.

On May 6, ALA joined with coalition partners to send a letter of support to both the House and Senate. While we know that there is support for these bills, given how few legislative days remain in the 114th Congress, we are concerned that they may fall through the cracks.

Today the Washington Office sent a targeted alert to three specific congressional districts (Reps. Hurd (R-TX), Meadows (R-NC), and Connolly (D-VA)). If you did not receive this alert, it does not mean that we do not need your help!  We are hoping to garner co-sponsorship from these Representatives and will then move on to the rest of the House. Keep an eye out and fingers crossed that things will continue to move forward and we will be calling on you next!

The post Open Data – from EO to Law appeared first on District Dispatch.

DPLA: Meet the Winners of GIF IT UP 2016

planet code4lib - Wed, 2016-11-16 15:45

First and foremost, we want to send a huge thank you to all of the gif-makers and gif-lovers who participated in this year’s GIF IT UP competition and a special shout-out to the other participating GIF IT UP digital libraries: Europeana, Trove, and DigitalNZ. As you browse the entries, you will see an amazing array of cultural heritage materials re-mixed and re-made into fun, creative and inspired animated gifs.

For this year’s competition, the grand prize and runners up were determined by judges Adam Green of The Public Domain Review and Sarah Schaaf of Imgur. The People’s Choice Award was determined by most notes on Tumblr as of November 14, 2016. Europeana and Trove have also awarded prizes for best reuse of materials from their collections.

Without further ado, meet the winners of GIF IT UP 2016:

Grand Prize Winner

This entry was created by Kristen Carter and Jeff Gill from Los Angeles, California using source material from the National Library of France via The European Library via Europeana.

This gif is made available under a CC-BY-SA license.

Runners Up

This entry was created by Julien Brachhammer from Rouen, France using source material from Moderna Galerija, Project DCA via Europeana.

This gif is made available under a CC-BY-SA license.

This entry was created by Lorena Colme (Rosa Fiori) from Lavis, Trento, Italy using source material from the Yale University Art Gallery via ArtStor via DPLA.

This gif is made available under a CC-BY-SA license.

This entry was submitted by Kristen Carter and Jeff Gill from Los Angeles, California using source material from Norsk Folkemuseum via Arts Council Norway via Europeana.

This gif is made available under a CC-BY-SA license.

This entry was created by Juan Ibanez from Seville, Spain using source material from Libraries Australia via Trove.

This gif is made available under a CC-BY-SA license.

This entry was created by Richard Naples from Washington, D.C. using source material from The New York Public Library via DPLA.

This gif is made available under a CC-BY-SA license.

Europeana Winner

A Europeana-sponsored prize for best reuse of materials from the Europeana 280 campaign.

This entry is by A. L. Crego from A Coruña, Galicia, Spain using source material from BRANDTS and the Wellcome Library via the European Library via Europeana.

This gif is made available under a CC-BY-SA license.

Trove General Prize

A Trove-sponsored prize for best reuse of materials found in Trove.

This entry was created by Tim Highfield from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia using source material from Libraries Australia via Trove.

This gif is made available under a CC-BY-SA license.

From the Trove Judges:  There’s nothing more Australian than Parliament House, with its massive white and steel building buried beneath green lawns and set against the backdrop of Red Hill as the flag flies high . The work that has gone into animating this GIF is quite intricate up close and we really liked that. There’s great visual appeal with catchy colours like the bright pink of her dress, the iconic image of a giant, and the “attack of the election woman” feel captures the mood of the moment.

This entry was created by Heather Simpson from Canberra, Australia using ource material from CSIRO ScienceImage, Flickr user Kris McCracken, and Gosford Library via Flickr via Trove.

This gif is made available under a CC-BY-NC-SA license.

From the Trove Judges: It was the juxtaposition of the formal dancers against the rugged Australian landscape that screamed ‘Wow factor’! Though the background image is from the Central Highlands in Tasmania, the Canberra-dwelling judges could have sworn they were looking at the very familiar Brindabellas. The re-creation of the ballroom dress out of butterfly wings, the movement of both dancers’ legs and the amount of creativity when compared to the originals made this one a stand out for us.

This entry was created by Seinerzeitung from Vienna, Austria using source material from Flickr user Trainiac via Trove.

This gif is made available under a CC-BY-SA license.

From the Trove Judges: There is clearly so much work in the movement of each of these planes over a number of frames that this entry begged to be chosen. The scene is utterly emblematic of a WW2 dogfight, we were shocked to  find out it was actually in Tasmania.

This entry was created by Hannah Shelley from Sydney, Australia using source material from Museum Victoria via Trove.

This gif is made available under a CC-BY license.

From the Trove Judges: This scene is strikingly familiar to the childhood of millions of Australians: a hot summer’s day on the backyard grass, squeals of laughter ringing out as you’re running and jumping while the sprinkler sprays cold water everywhere. The more we looked at this image the more impressed we became by the technical work to make it so smooth and the background so consistent.

Trove Student Winner

A Trove-sponsored prize for best reuse of materials found in Trove by an Australian secondary school student.

This entry is by Bella Luciani from Australia using source material from Flickr user PJ R via Trove.

This gif is made available under a CC-BY-NC license.

From the Trove Judges: The idea of a cat capturing its own fish dinner then cooking it with its laser eyes cracked us up.

Trove Librarian Grand Prize

This category was created to recognize the fantastic gif entries submitted by librarians.
           

These entries were created by Queensland University of Technology Library from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia using source material from the Queensland University of Technology Digital Collections via Trove.

This gif is made available under a CC-BY-SA license.

From the Trove Judges: These 3 GIFs together tell a story like no other entry ever has. It was utterly unexpected and delightful. The individual animation and creativity that has gone into each of the GIFs is astounding. Even the dog runs into the lighthouse right before it becomes a rocket ship and takes off. The middle image where the lighthouse pops open like a bin lid made us laugh out loud. This series was the most creative GIFs Australia has seen – well done Queensland University of Technology Digital Collections!

Trove Librarian Runners Up

This entry was created comes from Ipswich Libraries from Ipswich, Queensland, Australia using source material from Picture Ipswich via Trove.

This gif is made available under a CC-BY-SA license.

This entry was created by Monash University Library in Victoria Australia using source material from Monash University Library Rare Books Collection via Trove.

This gif is made available under a CC-BY-SA license.

This entry was created by the Digitisation Team University Of Queensland Library of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia using source material via University of Queensland Library via Trove.

This gif is made available under a CC-BY-SA license.

This entry was created by Monash University Library in Melbourne, Australia using source material from Monash University Library Rare Books Collection via Trove.

This gif is made available under a CC-BY-SA license.

and last, but not least… People’s Choice Award

This entry is by Nono Burling of Olympia, Washington using source material from the collection of The New York Public Library via Digital Public Library of America.

This GIF is made available under a CC-BY-SA license.

Thanks again to everyone who participated in GIF IT UP 2016 – this year’s entries were truly fantastic!

View all 2016 entries on Tumblr   View all 2016 entries on GIPHY

DPLA: Michael Della Bitta Named DPLA Director of Technology

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-11-15 15:45

The Digital Public Library of America is pleased to announce that Michael Della Bitta has been named Director of Technology.

“As a longtime fan of DPLA, I’m very excited to take on the responsibility of Director of Technology,” said Della Bitta. “We have a wonderful team here and a lot of unique challenges to tackle, but more importantly, a tremendous opportunity to provide services to our community.  I’m looking forward to being a part of showing what we can accomplish for our partners and patrons.”

As DPLA’s Director of Technology, Michael will work with the Technology team to improve the design, implementation, and improvement of DPLA’s core infrastructure, user-facing applications, and back-end systems. Michael will also continue to cultivate and develop the culture and values of the DPLA Technology team and the larger organization and support the philosophy of open source, shared, and community-built software, frameworks, and technologies.

Michael joined DPLA’s team in September 2016 as Developer for Data and Usage Analytics, playing a key role in improving data ingestion systems and working in close collaboration with the Tech team led by Interim Director of Technology Mark Breedlove.

“We’re delighted to see Michael step into this critical role at DPLA. He impressed everyone with his immediate and profound impact since joining us this fall, and we’re glad that he can work with the technology group and DPLA community in this broader new capacity,” said Executive Director Dan Cohen.

Prior to joining DPLA, Michael worked in software development, publications, and in the startup, library, and education spaces for nearly twenty years. Michael most recently worked as the engineering manager at the content marketing company ScribbleLive. Prior to that, Michael worked as a developer and architect on the repository and Digital Gallery teams at The New York Public Library, and built content management, online learning, and semantic metadata applications at Columbia University. Michael holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Bates College.

Congratulations, Michael!

ACRL TechConnect: Finding the Right Words in Post-Election Libraries and Higher Ed

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-11-15 14:55

This year’s election result has presented a huge challenge to all of us who work in higher education and libraries. Usually, libraries, universities, and colleges do not comment on presidential election result and we refrain from talking about politics at work. But these are not usual times that we are living in.

A black female student was shoved off the sidewalk and called the ‘N’ word at Baylor University. The Ku Klux Klan is openly holding a rally. West Virginia officials publicly made a racist comment about the first lady. Steve Bannon’s prospective appointment as the chief strategist and senior counsel to the new President is being praised by white nationalist leaders and fiercely opposed by civil rights groups at the same time. Bannon is someone who calls for an ethno-state, openly calls Martin Luther King a fraud, and laments white dispossession and the deconstruction of occidental civilization. There are people drawing a swastika at a park. The ‘Whites only’ and ‘Colored’ signs were put up over water fountains in a Florida school. A Muslim student was threatened with a lighter. Asian-American women are being assaulted. Hostile acts targeting minority students are taking place on college campuses.

Libraries and educational institutions exist because we value knowledge and science. Knowledge and science do not discriminate. They grow across all different races, ethnicities, religions, nationalities, sexual identities, and disabilities. Libraries and educational institutions exist to enable and empower people to freely explore, investigate, and harness different ideas and thoughts. They support, serve, and belong to ‘all’ who seek knowledge. No matter how naive it may sound, they are essential to the betterment of human lives, and they do so by creating strength from all our differences, not likeness. This is why diversity, equity, inclusion are non-negotiable and irrevocable values in libraries and educational institutions.

How do we reconcile these values with the president-elect who openly dismissed and expressed hostility towards them? His campaign made remarks and promises that can be interpreted as nothing but the most blatant expressions of racism, sexism, intolerance, bigotry, harassment, and violence. What will we do to address the concerns of our students, staff, and faculty about their physical safety on campus due to their differences in race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, gender, and sexual identity? How do we assure them that we will continue to uphold these values and support everyone regardless of what they look like, how they identify their gender, what their faiths are, what disabilities they may have, who they love, where they come from, what languages they speak, or where they live? How?

We say it. Explicitly. Clearly. And repeatedly.

If you think that your organization is already very much pro-diversity that there is no need to confirm or reaffirm diversity, you can’t be farther from the everyday life minorities experience. Sometimes, saying isn’t much. But right now, saying it out loud can mean everything. If you support those who belong to minority groups but don’t say it out loud, how would they know it? Right now, nothing is obvious other than there is a lot of hate and violence towards minorities.

The entire week after the election, I agonized about what to say to my small team of IT people whom I supervise at work. As a manager, I felt that it was my responsibility to address the anxiety and uncertainty that some of my staff – particularly those in minority groups – would be experiencing due to the election result. I also needed to ensure that whatever dialogue takes place regarding the differences of opinions between those who were pleased and those who were distressed with the election result, those dialogues remain civil and respectful.

Crafting an appropriate message was much more challenging than I anticipated. I felt very strongly about the need to re-affirm the unwavering support and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion particularly in relation to libraries and higher education, no matter how obvious it may seem. I also felt the need to establish (within the bounds of my limited authority) that we will continue to respect, value, and celebrate diversity in interacting with library users as well as other library and university staff members. Employees are held to the standard expectations of their institutions, such as diversity, equity, inclusion, tolerance, civil dialogue, and no harassment or violence towards minorities, even if their private opinions conflict with them. At the same time, I wanted to strike a measured tone and neither scare nor upset anyone, whichever side they were on in the election. As a manager, I have to acknowledge that everyone is entitled to their private opinions as long as they do not harm others.

I suspect that many of us – either a manager or not – want to say something similar about the election result. Not so much about who was and should have been as about what we are going to do now in the face of these public incidences of anger, hatred, harassment, violence, and bigotry directed at minority groups, which are coming out at an alarming pace because it affects all of us, not just minorities.

Finding the right words, however, is difficult. You have to carefully consider your role, audience, and the message you want to convey. The official public statement from a university president is going to take a tone vastly different from an informal private message a supervisor sends out to a few members of his or her team. A library director’s message to library patrons assuring the continued service for all groups of users with no discrimination will likely to be quite different from the one she sends to her library staff to assuage their anxiety and fear.

For such difficulty not to delay and stop us from what we have to and want to say to everyone we work with and care for, I am sharing the short message that I sent out to my team last Friday, 3 days after the election. (N.B. ‘CATS’ stands for ‘Computing and Technology Services’ and UMB refers to ‘University of Maryland, Baltimore.’) This is a customized message to address my own team. I am sharing this as a potential template for you to craft your own message. I would like to see more messages that reaffirm diversity, equity, and inclusion as non-negotiable values, explicitly state that we will not step backwards, and make a commitment to continued unwavering support for them.

Dear CATS,

This year’s close and divisive election left a certain level of anxiety and uncertainty in many of us. I am sure that we will hear from President Perman and the university leadership soon.

In the meantime, I want to remind you of something I believe to be very important. We are all here – just as we have been all along – to provide the most excellent service to our users regardless of what they look like, what their faiths are, where they come from, what languages they speak, where they live, and who they love. A library is a powerful place where people transform themselves through learning, critical thinking, and reflection. A library’s doors have been kept open to anyone who wants to freely explore the world of ideas and pursue knowledge. Libraries are here to empower people to create a better future. A library is a place for mutual education through respectful and open-minded dialogues. And, we, the library staff and faculty, make that happen. We get to make sure that people’s ethnicity, race, gender, disability, socio-economic backgrounds, political views, or religious beliefs do not become an obstacle to that pursuit. We have a truly awesome responsibility. And I don’t have to tell you how vital our role is as a CATS member in our library’s fulfilling that responsibility.

Whichever side we stood on in this election, let’s not forget to treat each other with respect and dignity. Let’s use this as an opportunity to renew our commitment to diversity, one of the UMB’s core values. Inclusive excellence is one of the themes of the UMB 2017-2021 Strategic Plan. Each and every one of us has a contribution to make because we are stronger for our differences.

We have much work ahead of us! I am out today, but expect lots of donuts Monday.

Have a great weekend,
Bohyun

 

Monday, I brought in donuts of many different kinds and told everyone they were ‘diversity donuts.’ Try it. I believe it was successful in easing some stress and tension that was palpable in my team after the election.

Photo from Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vnysia/4598569232

Before crafting your own message, I recommend re-reading your institution’s core values, mission and vision statements, and the most recent strategic plan. Most universities, colleges, and libraries include diversity, equity, inclusion, or something equivalent to these somewhere. Also review all public statements or internal messages that came from your institution that reaffirms diversity, equity, and inclusion. You can easily incorporate those into your own message. Make sure to clearly state your (and your institution’s) continued commitment to and unwavering support for diversity and inclusion and explicitly oppose bigotry, intolerance, harassment, and acts of violence. Encourage civil discourse and mutual respect. It is very important to reaffirm the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion ‘before’ listing any resources and help that employees or students may seek in case of harassment or assault. Without the assurance from the institution that it indeed upholds those values and will firmly stand by them, those resources and help mean little.

Below I have also listed messages, notes, and statements sent out by library directors, managers, librarians, and university presidents that reaffirm the full support for and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. I hope to see more of these come out. If you have already received or sent out such a message, I invite you to share in the comments. If you have not, I suggest doing so as soon as possible. Send out a message if you are in a position where doing so is appropriate. Don’t forget to ask for a message addressing those values if you have not received any from your organization.

Karen G. Schneider: With a pin and a prayer

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-11-15 14:52

“The KKK-endorsed president-elect of the United States just appointed a white nationalist to his cabinet and has promised to deport or incarcerate two to three million undocumented immigrants as soon as he’s inaugurated, but here’s what the left is arguing about: safety pins.” — Heather Dockray, Mashable

Pin display.

On Sunday I did something I haven’t done in almost a decade. I intentionally avoided Twitter for 24 hours because it was starting to feel like what a witty colleague refers to as a “circular firing squad.”

A year ago almost to the day, after blocking two alt-righters whose racist comments I didn’t want to read,  I had experienced being showered with hundreds of virulent Tweets. But even that didn’t drive me off Twitter, even though the anti-Semitism, which I had never experienced before, was particularly disturbing (the rest was pro forma: ugly, dyke, etc.).

No, what drove me off Twitter to focus on other parts of my life for a day was a series of tweets from various people scoffing at the appropriateness of wearing safety pins in a show of solidarity with people made more vulnerable by the election of He Who Shall Not Be Named and setting higher and higher bars for what an appropriate response looks like.

Never mind that such well-respected groups as the Southern Poverty Law Center, which just might know a thing or two about activism, had promoted the idea, or that the safety pin idea has honorable origins, coming  from England in the wake of Brexit as a gesture toward their immigrant populations. Never mind that I have spent four years conducting doctoral-level research into the significance of signaling sexual identity, so maybe, just maybe I know something about the value of representation, just a tiny bit?

Losing feels awful, particularly this loss, but it should not become our Donner Pass.

The previous afternoon, I had been moved to tears when I realized the local crafts and sewing store was almost out of safety pins. As I put two packets of #3 safety pins in my basket (safety pins have standard sizes, it turns out, and #3 is, by gum, the largest), I saw a couple conferring quietly in the aisle, and realized they were on the same errand. It doesn’t matter if I was wrong about the reason for the rush on safety pins, though I’ve been sewing for almost 50 years, and I’ve never seen a notions section cleaned out like that before. What matters is the first law of motion and how anything, however small, even the size of a pin, can be the unbalancing force that sets us into action.

All of us need to find that unbalancing force. For me, the safety pin is a lot like prayer (or, insert your favorite means of meditation). People sometimes say “prayer changes things” as if there were some trickster God who could magically reverse tragedy if you asked the right way. I believe that the true power of prayer is that it changes me and my relationship to the world. Prayer humbles me and it gives me strength and perspective. It reminds me that we are all responsible for one another. It is preparation. It is why Sandy and I say grace at every meal, however briefly.

When I woke up November 9, I made one tiny prayer: “get me through this day.” As prayers go, that was more like a #1 safety pin, but (echoing a beautiful story shared on Facebook by Sarah Einstein) sometimes that tiny pin is exactly what we need. Then I dried my eyes and blew my nose, got up, made my cuppa joe, went to work early, and before 9 am had sent a message to my library, which you can read at the end of this post.

All day I heard from people: “That was beautiful.” “That was important.” “I needed that.” Just yesterday, a woman in another department leaned forward and said, “thank you.” Because there are things I am good at and things I am not good at, but as a writer, one of my strengths is speaking into a terrible silence.

I am not saying this message is nearly enough. But it was one small important thing I could do, and if I could do this one thing, I could do other things. Nobody says safety pins are “enough,” in the same way that nobody with any lick of common sense would substitute prayer for professional healthcare. Nobody says starting with kindness is enough (to bring up another idea I saw belittled). But horrible things happen in a world without it.

Yesterday there was yet another boatload of scary and sad news. First I heard of a white nationalist appointed to a key position in the White House, surely the monitory canary of the effluvia about to spew from that mine. Then there was the death of Gwen Ifill, one of the class acts of our era. Next I read a memo cautioning DACA students about overseas travel that scared the bejeezus out of me on behalf of these kids.

I walked around all day with my Number 3 Safety Pin on my lapel, and no one noticed. Nobody except me. It felt like a small prayer on my chest, across from my beating heart.

Memo sent to all-library, 8:59 am, November 9, 2016

I spent early morning today wrapping my head around what to say, because not saying anything in this historic moment feels like a lapse in leadership, and yet what I say needs to be framed in what we do as a library, not political positions.   I came to this profession decades ago with an activist agenda, believing that information changes lives, and I do not believe libraries operate from positions of neutrality. As a white person, able-bodied, with full citizenship, I know privilege and live it every day. As a woman, a lesbian, and someone of Jewish heritage, I have seen the other side of that coin. I operate in that dual world, one of privilege and one of other-ness, and it drives my leadership agenda.   I believe in advocating for all libraries—including ours—because libraries change lives.  I know we make a difference for our users, and I appreciate every one of you who take every opportunity to be a voice for the role our library plays in helping our users succeed and in creating lifelong learners. I remember with pride the strong stances we have taken—from exhibiting the politically powerful photography of John LeBaron, to the Amache exhibit and the reception where I watched students listening to Dr. Sakaki speak truth to power and share her own history. I marveled at the turnout we have seen for our Pan y Cafes and how thrilled our Latino/a communities were to have their identities embraced and upheld. I have watched books fly off our special displays for GLBT Month, the Sonoma County Reads display, and the Latino/a display. So much we have done, so much we will do.   As we look toward the future, I ask us to recommit to taking care of one another, to do everything within our power to preserve the dignity of ourselves and our users, and to provide refuge and support social justice. Let us keep building OUR wall, our activist agenda of information, knowledge, and empowerment. Help our library continue to be a citadel defending our users against ignorance and hate, and providing hope and support for the undocumented, the different, and the oppressed.   In 1980 I listened to a concession speech. The stakes were not as high as this election, but I still felt sad and defeated. Then the candidate spoke words I committed to memory. “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”   I am doubling down on my leadership of this library. I feel a commitment as I have never felt before. I celebrate what we do, our users, our history, our services, and yes, especially, our future.    In the meantime, at the [front desk], find donut holes for all: those of us in the library, and those who walk through our doors. Let their sweetness stand for all we do for everyone. Let their whimsy stand for regaining our optimism. Let their abundance stand for our radical hospitality.  Let their ephemeral nature help us move past this morning, and onward.   Yes we can! , se pueda!  

 

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Bohyun Kim: Post-Election Statements and Messages that Reaffirm Diversity

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-11-15 14:48

These are statements and messages sent out publicly or internally to re-affirm diversity, equity, and inclusion by libraries or higher ed institutions. I have collected these – some myself and many others through my fellow librarians. Some of them were listed on my blog post, “Finding the Right Words in Post-Election Libraries and Higher Ed.” So there are some duplicates.

If you think that your organization is already so much pro-diversity that there is no need to confirm or re-affirm diversity, you can’t be farther from the everyday reality that minorities experience. Sometimes, saying isn’t much. But right now, saying it out loud can mean everything. If you support those who belong to minority groups but don’t say it out loud, how would they know it? Right now, nothing is obvious other than there is a lot of hate and violence towards minorities.

Feel free to use these as your resource to craft a similar message. Feel free to add if you have similar messages you have received or created in the comments section.

If you haven’t heard from the organization you belong to, please ask for a message reaffirming and committing to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

[UPDATE 11/15/2016: Statements from ALA and LITA have been released. I have added them below.]

I will continue to add additional statements as I find them. If you see anything missing, please add below in the comment or send it via Twitter @bohyunkim. Thanks!

From Librarians From Library Associations From Libraries From Higher Ed Institutions

Drexel University

Moving On as a Community After the Election

Dear Members of the Drexel Community,

It is heartening to me to see the Drexel community come together over the last day to digest the news of the presidential election — and to do so in the spirit of support and caring that is so much a part of this University. We gathered family-style, meeting in small, informal groups in several places across campus, including the Student Center for Inclusion and Culture, our residence halls, and as colleagues over a cup of coffee. Many student leaders, particularly from our multicultural organizations, joined the conversation.

This is not a process that can be completed in just one day, of course. So I hope these conversations will continue as long as students, faculty and professional staff feel they are needed, and I want to assure you that our professional staff in Student Life, Human Resources, Faculty Affairs, as well as our colleagues in the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement, will be there for your support.

Without question, many members of our community were deeply concerned by the inflammatory rhetoric and hostility on the campaign trail that too often typified this bitter election season.

As I wrote over the summer, the best response to an uncertain and at times deeply troubling world is to remain true to our values as an academic community. In the context of a presidential election, it is vital that we understand and respect that members of our broadly diverse campus can hold similarly diverse political views. The expression of these views is a fundamental element of the free exchange of ideas and intellectual inquiry that makes Drexel such a vibrant institution.

At the same time, Drexel remains committed to ensuring a welcoming, inclusive, and respectful environment. Those tenets are more important than ever.

While we continue to follow changes on the national scene, it is the responsibility of each of us at Drexel to join together to move ahead, unified in our commitment to open dialogue, civic engagement and inclusion.

I am grateful for all you do to support Drexel as a community that welcomes and encourages all of its members.

Lane Community College

Good Morning, Colleagues,

I am in our nation’s capital today. I’d rather be at home! Like me, I am guessing that many of you were glued to the media last night to find out the results of the election. Though we know who our next President will be, this transition still presents a lot of uncertainty. It is not clear what our future president’s higher education policies will be but we will be working with our national associations to understand and influence where we can.

During times like this there is an opening for us to decide how we want to be with each other. Moods will range from joy to sadness and disbelief. It seems trite but we do need to work together, now more than ever. As educators we have a unique responsibility to create safe learning environments where every student can learn and become empowered workers and informed citizens. This imperative seems even more important today. Our college values of equity and inclusion have not changed and will not change and it is up to each of us to assure that we live out our values in every classroom and in each interaction. Preparing ourselves and our students for contentious discussions sparked by the election is work we must do.

It is quite likely that some of our faculty, staff and students may be feeling particularly vulnerable right now. Can we reach out to each other and let each other know that we all belong at Lane? During my inservice remarks I said that “we must robustly reject the calculated narrative of cynicism, division and despair. Instead of letting this leak into our narratives, together we can bet on hope not fear, respect not hate, unity not division.” At Lane we have the intellect (and proud of it) and wherewithal to do this.

I am attaching a favorite reading from Meg Wheatley which is resonating with me today and will end with Gary Snyder’s words from To The Children …..stay together learn the flowers go light.

Maryland Institute College of Art

Post-Election Community Forums and Support

Dear Campus Community,

No matter how each of us voted yesterday, most of us likely agree that the presidential campaign has been polarizing on multiple fronts. As a result, today is a difficult day for our nation and our campus community. In our nation, regardless of how one has aligned with a candidate, half of our country feels empowered and the other half sad and perhaps angry. Because such dynamics and feelings need to be addressed and supported on campus, this memo outlines immediate resources for our community of students, faculty and staff, and describes opportunities for fashioning dialogues and creative actions going forward.

Before sharing the specifics, let me say unambiguously that MICA will always stand firm in our commitment to diversity and inclusion. This morning’s Presidential Task Force on Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Globalization meeting discussed measures to ensure that, as a creative community, we will continue to build a culture where everyone is honored and supported for success. The impact of exhibitions such as the current Baltimore Rising show remains as critical as ever, and MICA fosters an educational environment that is welcoming of all.

In the short term our focus is to support one another. Whether you are happy or distressed with the results, there has been sufficient feedback to indicate that our campus community is struggling with how to make sense of such a divisive election process. You may find the following services helpful and are encouraged to take advantage of them:

For Students: Student Counseling maintains walk-in hours from 3:00 – 4:00 pm every day. Students are welcome to stop by the Student Counseling Center (1501 Mt. Royal Avenue) during that time or call 410-669-9200 and enter x2367 once the recording begins to schedule an appointment.
For Faculty and Staff: The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to provide free, confidential support 24 hours a day. The EAP can be reached by calling 1-866-799-2728 or visiting HealthAdvocate.com/members and providing the username “Maryland Institute College of Art”.
For all MICA community members: MICA’s chaplain, the Rev, maintains standing hours every Monday and can be reached in the Reflection Room (Meyerhoff House) or by calling the Office of Diversity and Intercultural Development at 443-552-1659.

There are three events this week that can provide a shared space for dialogue; all are welcome:

The “After the Baltimore Uprising: Still Waiting for Change” community forum attached to the Baltimore Rising exhibition takes place tonight from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm in the Lazarus Center.
An open space for all MICA community members will be hosted by the Black Student Union tonight at 10:00 pm in the Meyerhoff House Underground.
In partnership with our student NAMI group, MICA will host a “Messages of Hope” event for the entire MICA community that will allow for shared space and reflection. This event will be on Friday, November 11th, and will begin at 3:00 pm in Cohen Plaza.

In various upcoming meetings we look forward to exploring with campus members other appropriate activities that can be created to facilitate expressions and dialogues.

A separate communication is coming from Provost David Bogen to the faculty regarding classroom conversations with students regarding the election.

Northwestern University Women’s Center

Dear Northwestern students, faculty, staff and community members:

The Women’s Center is open today. Our staff members are all here and available to talk, to provide resources and tools, or to help however you might need it. Most importantly, the space itself is available for whatever you need, whether that is to gather as a group, to sit alone somewhere comfortable and quiet, or to talk to someone who will listen. We are still here, and we are here for all people as an intentionally intersectional space. You are welcome to drop by physically, make a call to our office, or send an email. Know that this space is open and available to you.

Portland Community College to the PCC Staff

As someone who spent the last several years in Washington D.C. working to advance community colleges, I feel a special poignancy today hearing so many students, colleagues, and friends wonder and worry about the future—and about their futures.

We must acknowledge that this political season has highlighted deep divisions in our society. Today I spent time with Cabinet speaking about how we can assert our shared values and take positive action as a PCC community to deepen our commitment to equity, inclusion and civic engagement.

PCC will always welcome students and colleagues who bring a rich array of perspectives and experiences. That diversity is among our greatest strengths.

Today it is imperative that we stand by faculty, staff and students who may be experiencing fear or uncertainty—affirming with our words and deeds that PCC is about equitable student success and educational opportunity for all. Never has this mission been more powerful or more essential.

I have only been here a few months, but have already learned that PCC is a remarkable and caring community. Much is happening right now in real time, and I appreciate the efforts of all. For my part, I promise to communicate often as we continue to plan for our shared future.

P.S. Today and in the days ahead, we will be holding space for people to be together in community. Here are a few of the opportunities identified so far.

Portland Community College to Students

Dear Students:

As someone who spent the last several years working in Washington D.C., I feel a special poignancy this week hearing many of you express worry and uncertainty about the future.

There is little doubt that this political season has highlighted some deep divisions in our society. Both political candidates have acknowledged as much.

At the same time, people representing the full and diverse spectrum of our country come to our nation’s community colleges in hopes of a better life. PCC is such a place – where every year thousands of students find their path and pursue their dreams. All should find opportunity here, and all should feel safe and welcome.

The rich diversity of PCC offers an amazing opportunity for dialogue across difference, and for developing skills that are the foundation of our democratic society.

Let this moment renew your passion for making a better life for yourself, your community and your country and for becoming the kind of leader you want to follow.

Rutgers University AAUP-AFT
(American Association of University Professors – American Federation of Teachers)

Resisting Donald Trump

We are shocked and horrified that Donald Trump, who ran on a racist, xenophobic, misogynist platform, is now the President of the US. In response to this new political landscape, the administrative heads of several universities have issued statements embracing their diverse student, faculty, and staff bodies and offering support and protection. (See statements from the University of California and the California State University). President Barchi has yet to address the danger to the Rutgers community and its core mission.

This afternoon, our faculty union and the Rutgers One Coalition held an emergency meeting of students, faculty, and community activists in New Brunswick. We discussed means of responding to the attacks that people may experience in the near future. Most immediately, we approved the following statement by acclamation at the 100-strong meeting:

“Rutgers One, a coalition of faculty, staff, students and community members, calls upon the Rutgers administration to join us in condemning all acts of bigotry on this campus and refuse to tolerate any attacks on immigrants, women, Arabs, Muslims, people of color, LGBTQ people and all others in our diverse community. We demand that President Barchi and his administration provide sanctuary, support, and protection to those who are already facing attacks on our campuses. We need concrete action that can ensure a safe environment for all. Further, we commit ourselves to take action against all attempts by the Trump administration to target any of our students, staff or faculty. We are united in resistance to bigotry of every kind and welcome all to join us in solidarity.”

We also resolved to take the following steps:

We will be holding weekly Friday meetings at 3pm in our Union office in New Brunswick to bring together students, faculty and staff to organize against the Trump agenda. We hope to expand these to Camden and Newark as well. (If you are willing to help organize this, please email back.)
We will be creating a list serve to coordinate our work. If you want to join this list, please reply to this email.
We are making posters and stickers which declare sanctuaries from racism, xenophobia, sexism, bigotry, religious intolerance, and attacks on unions. Once these materials are ready we will write to you so that you may post them on windows, office doors, cars etc. In the meantime, we urge you to talk to your students and colleagues of color as well as women and offer them your support and solidarity.

As you may recall, the Executive Committee issued a denunciation of Donald Trump on October 10, 2016. Now our slogan, one from the labor movement, is “Don’t mourn. Organize!” That is where we are now – all the more poignantly because of Donald Trump’s appeal to workers. Let us organize, and let us also expand our calling of education. In your classrooms, your communities, and your families, find the words and sentiments that will redeem all of us from Tuesday’s disgrace.

University of Chicago

Message from President and Provost

Early in the fall quarter, we sent a message welcoming each of you to the new academic year and affirming our strong commitment to two foundational values of the University – fostering an environment of free expression and open discourse; and ensuring that diversity and inclusion are essential features of the fabric of our campus community and our interactions beyond campus.

Recent national events have generated waves of disturbing, exclusionary and sometimes threatening behavior around the country, particularly concerning gender and minority status. As a result, many individuals are asking whether the nation and its institutions are entering a period in which supporting the values of diversity and inclusion, as well as free expression and open discourse, will be increasingly challenging. As the president and provost of the University of Chicago, we are writing to reaffirm in the strongest possible terms our unwavering commitment to these values, and to the importance of the University as a community acting on these values every day.

Fulfilling our highest aspirations with respect to these values and their mutual reinforcement will always demand ongoing attention and work on the part of all of us. The current national environment underscores the importance of this work. It means that we need to manifest these values more rather than less, demand more of ourselves as a community, and together be forthright and bold in demonstrating what our community aspires to be. We ask all of you for your help and commitment to the values of diversity and inclusion, free expression, and open discourse and what they mean for each of us working, learning, and living in this University community every day.

University of Illinois, Chicago

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

The events of the past week have come with mixed emotions for many of you. We want you to know that UIC remains steadfast in its commitment to creating and sustaining a community that recognizes and values the inherent worth and dignity of every person, while fostering an environment of mutual respect among all members.

Today, we reaffirm the University’s commitment to access, equity, inclusion and nondiscrimination. Critical to this commitment is the work of several offices on campus that provide resources to help you be safe and successful. If you have questions, need someone to talk to, or a place to express yourself, you should consider contacting these offices:

Office for Access and Equity (OAE). OAE is responsible for assuring campus compliance in matters of equal opportunity, affirmative action, and nondiscrimination in the academic and work environment. OAE also offers Dispute Resolution Services (DRS) to assist with conflict in the workplace not involving unlawful discrimination matters.

UIC Counseling Center. The UIC Counseling Center is a primary resource providing comprehensive mental health services that foster personal, interpersonal, academic, and professional thriving for UIC students.
Student Legal Services. UIC’s Student Legal Services (SLS) is a full-service law office dedicated to providing legal solutions for currently enrolled students.

Office of Diversity. The Office of Diversity leads strategic efforts to advance access, equity, and inclusion as fundamental principles underpinning all aspects of university life. It initiates programs that promote an inclusive university climate, partner with campus units to formulate systems of accountability, and develop links with the local community and alumni groups.
Centers for Cultural Understanding and Social Change. The Centers for Cultural Understanding and Social Change (CCUSC) are a collaborative group of seven centers with distinct histories, missions, and locations that promote the well-being of and cultural awareness about underrepresented and underserved groups at UIC.

UIC Dialogue Initiative. The UIC Dialogue Initiative seeks to build an inclusive campus community where students, faculty, and staff feel welcomed in their identities, valued for their contributions, and feel their identities can be openly expressed.

Through whatever changes await us, as a learning community we have a special obligation to ensure that our conversations and dialogues over the next weeks and months respect our varied backgrounds and beliefs.

University of Maryland, Baltimore

To the UMB Community:

Last week, we elected a new president for our country. I think most will agree that the campaign season was long and divisive, and has left many feeling separated from their fellow citizens. In the days since the election, I’ve heard from the leaders of UMB and of the University of Maryland Medical Center and of the many programs we operate that serve our neighbors across the city and state. These leaders have relayed stories of students, faculty, staff, families, and children who feel anxious and unsettled, who feel threatened and fearful.

It should be unnecessary to reaffirm UMB’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and respect — these values are irrevocable — but when I hear that members of our family are afraid, I must reiterate that the University will not tolerate incivility of any kind, and that the differences we celebrate as a diverse community include not just differences of race, religion, nationality, gender, and sexual identity, but also of experience, opinion, and political affiliation and ideology. If you suffer any harassment, please contact your supervisor or your student affairs dean.

In the months ahead, we will come together as a University community to talk about how the incoming administration might influence the issues we care about most: health care access and delivery; education; innovation; social justice and fair treatment for all. We will talk about the opportunities that lay ahead to shape compassionate policy and to join a national dialogue on providing humane care and services that uplift everyone in America. For anyone who despairs, we will talk about building hope.

Should you want to share how you’re feeling post-election, counselors are available. Please contact the Student Counseling Center or the Employee Assistance Program to schedule an appointment.

I look forward to continuing this conversation about how we affirm our fundamental mission to improve the human condition and serve the public good. Like the values we uphold, this mission endures — irrespective of the person or party in political power. It is our binding promise to the leaders of this state and, even more importantly, to the citizens we serve together.

University of West Georgia

Dear Colleagues,

As we head into the weekend concluding a week, really several weeks, of national and local events, I am reminded of the incredible opportunity of reflection and discourse we have as a nation and as an institution of higher learning.

This morning, we held on campus a moving ceremony honoring our Veterans–those who have served and who have given the ultimate sacrifice to uphold and protect our freedoms.  It is those freedoms that provide the opportunity to elect a President and those freedoms that provide an environment of civil discourse and opinion.  Clearly, the discourse of this election cycle has tested the boundaries.

This is an emotional time for many of our faculty, staff, and students.  I ask that as a campus community we hold true to the intended values of our nation and those who sacrificed to protect those values and the core values of our institution–caring, collaboration, inclusiveness, and wisdom.  We must acknowledge and allow the civil discourse and opinion of all within a safe environment.  That is what should set us apart.  It is part of our DNA in higher education to respect and encourage variance and diversity of belief, thought, and culture.

I call on your professionalism during these times and so appreciate your passion and care for each other and our students.

Virginia Commonwealth University to Staff

Election Message

Dear VCU and VCU Health Communities,

Yesterday, we elected new leaders for our city, commonwealth and nation. I am grateful to those of you who made your voice heard during the electoral process, including many of our students who voted for the first time. Whether or not your preferred candidate won, you were a part of history and a part of the process that moves our democracy forward. Thank you. I hope you will always continue to make your voice heard, both as voters and as well-educated leaders in our society.

As with any election, some members of our community are enthusiastic about the winners, others are not.  For many, this election cycle was notably emotional and difficult.

Now is the time, then, to demonstrate the values that make Virginia Commonwealth University such a remarkable place.  We reaffirm our commitment to working together across boundaries of discipline or scholarship, as members of one intellectual community, to achieve what’s difficult.  We reaffirm our commitment to inclusion, to ensuring that every person who comes to VCU is respected and emboldened to succeed.  We reaffirm that we will always be a place of the highest integrity, accountability, and we will offer an unyielding commitment to serving those who need us.

History changes with every election. What does not change are the commitments we share as one community that is relentlessly focused on advancing the human experience for all people.

You continue to inspire me.  And I know you will continue to be a bright light for Richmond, Virginia, our nation and our world.

Virginia Commonwealth University School of Education to Students

Election Message

Dear students,

On Tuesday we elected new leaders for our city, our commonwealth and our nation. Although leadership will be changing, I echo Dr. Rao’s message below in that our mission outlined by the Quest for Distinction to support student success, advance knowledge and strengthen our communities remains steadfast.

At the VCU School of Education, we work to create safe spaces where innovation, inclusion and collaboration can thrive. We actively work across boundaries and disciplines to address the complex challenges facing our communities, schools and families. The election of new leaders provides new opportunities for our students, faculty and staff to build bridges that help us reach our goal of making an impact in urban and high need environments.

I encourage you to engage in positive dialogues with one another as the city, commonwealth and nation adjust to the change in leadership, vision and strategy.

Virginia Commonwealth University Division of Student Affairs

Dear Students,

We are writing to you, collectively, as leaders in the Division of Student Affairs.  We acknowledge that this election season was stressful for many individuals in our VCU community, culminating with the election of the next president.  Some members of our campus community have felt disrespected, attacked and further marginalized by political rhetoric during the political process.  We want to affirm support of all of our students while also recognizing the unique experiences and concerns of individuals. We want all students to know that we are here to support you, encourage you and contribute to your success.

We now live in a space of uncertainty as we transition leadership in our nation.  Often, with this uncertainty comes a host of thoughts and feelings.  We hope that you will take advantage of some of the following services and programs we offer through our division to support your well-being, including: Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, Self-Care Space, University Counseling Services , The Wellness Resource Center, Trans Lives Matter Panel and Survivor Solidarity Support, Recreational Sports, Restorative Yoga and Mind & Body Classes.

We encourage students to express their concerns and engage in conversations that further the core values articulated in Quest, the VCU Strategic Plan. We continue to have an opportunity to make individual and collective choices about how we work to bridge differences in a manner that builds up our community.

Our staff will have a table each day next week on the VCU Compass from noon to 1:00 p.m. ­­­to receive your concerns, suggestions and just listen.  Please stop by to meet us.  We want you to know you have our full support.

Other Organizations

Bohyun Kim: Finding the Right Words in Post-Election Libraries and Higher Ed

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-11-15 04:45

** This post was originally published in ACRL TechConnect on Nov. 15, 2016.***

This year’s election result has presented a huge challenge to all of us who work in higher education and libraries. Usually, libraries, universities, and colleges do not comment on presidential election result and we refrain from talking about politics at work. But these are not usual times that we are living in.

A black female student was shoved off the sidewalk and called the ‘N’ word at Baylor University. The Ku Klux Klan is openly holding a rally. West Virginia officials publicly made a racist comment about the first lady. Steve Bannon’s prospective appointment as chief strategist and senior counsel to the new President is being praised by white nationalist leaders fiercely opposed by civil rights groups. Bannon is someone who calls for an ethno-state, openly declares Martin Luther King, and laments White Dispossession and the deconstruction of Occidental civilization. There are people drawing a swastika at a park. The ‘Whites only’ and ‘Colored’ signs were put up over water fountains in a Florida school. A Muslim student was threatened with a lighter. Asian-American women are being assaulted. Hostile acts targeting minority students are taking place on college campuses.

Libraries and educational institutions exist because we value knowledge and science. Knowledge and science do not discriminate. They grow across all different races, ethnicities, religions, nationalities, sexual identities, and disabilities. Libraries and educational institutions exist to enable and empower people to freely explore, investigate, and harness different ideas and thoughts. They support, serve, and belong to ‘all’ who seek knowledge. No matter how naïve it may sound, they are essential to the betterment of human lives, and they do so by creating strength from all our differences, not likeness. This is why diversity, equity, inclusion are non-negotiable and irrevocable values in libraries and educational institutions.

How do we reconcile these values with the president-elect who openly dismissed and expressed hostility towards them? His campaign made remarks and promises that can be interpreted as nothing but the most blatant expressions of racism, sexism, intolerance, bigotry, harassment, and violence. What will we do to address the concerns of our students, staff, and faculty about their physical safety on campus due to their differences in race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, gender, and sexual identity? How do we assure them that we will continue to uphold these values and support everyone regardless of what they look like, how they identify their gender, what their faiths are, what disabilities they may have, who they love, where they come from, what languages they speak, or where they live? How?

You say it. Explicitly. Clearly. And repeatedly.

If you think that your organization is already very much pro-diversity that there is no need to confirm or reaffirm diversity, you can’t be farther from the everyday life minorities experience. Sometimes, saying isn’t much. But right now, saying it out loud can mean everything. If you support those who belong to minority groups but don’t say it out loud, how would they know it? Right now, nothing is obvious other than there is a lot of hate and violence towards minorities.

The entire week after the election, I agonized about what to say to my small team of IT people whom I supervise at work. As a manager, I felt that it was my responsibility to address the anxiety and uncertainty that some of my staff – particularly those in minority groups – would be experiencing due to the election result. I also needed to ensure that whatever dialogue takes place regarding the differences of opinions between those who were pleased and those who were distressed with the election result, those dialogues remain civil and respectful.

Crafting an appropriate message was much more challenging than I anticipated. I felt very strongly about the need to re-affirm the unwavering support and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion particularly in relation to libraries and higher education, no matter how obvious it may seem. I also felt the need to establish (within the bounds of my limited authority) that we will continue to respect, value, and celebrate diversity in interacting with library users as well as other library and university staff members. Employees are held to the standard expectations of their institutions, such as diversity, equity, inclusion, tolerance, civil dialogue, and no harassment or violence towards minorities, even if their private opinions conflict with them. At the same time, I wanted to strike a measured tone and neither scare nor upset anyone, whichever side they were on in the election. As a manager, I have to acknowledge that everyone is entitled to their private opinions as long as they harm others.

I suspect that many of us – either a manager or not – want to say something similar about the election result. Not so much about who was and should have been as about what we are going to do now in the face of these public incidences of anger, hatred, harassment, violence, and bigotry directed at minority groups, which are coming out at an alarming pace because it affects all of us, not just minorities.

Finding the right words, however, is difficult. You have to carefully consider your role, audience, and the message you want to convey. The official public statement from a university president is going to take a tone vastly different from an informal private message a supervisor sends out to a few members of his or her team. A library director’s message to library patrons assuring the continued service for all groups of users with no discrimination will likely to be quite different from the one she sends to her library staff to assuage their anxiety and fear.

For such difficulty not to delay and stop us from what we have to and want to say to everyone we work with and care for, I am sharing the short message that I sent out to my team last Friday, 3 days after the election. (N.B. ‘CATS’ stands for ‘Computing and Technology Services’ and UMB refers to ‘University of Maryland, Baltimore.’) This is a customized message to address my own team. I am sharing this as a potential template for you to craft your own message. I would like to see more messages that reaffirm diversity, equity, and inclusion as non-negotiable values, explicitly state that we will not step backwards, and make a commitment to continued unwavering support for them.

Dear CATS,

This year’s close and divisive election left a certain level of anxiety and uncertainty in many of us. I am sure that we will hear from President Perman and the university leadership soon.

In the meantime, I want to remind you of something I believe to be very important. We are all here – just as we have been all along – to provide the most excellent service to our users regardless of what they look like, what their faiths are, where they come from, what languages they speak, where they live, and who they love. A library is a powerful place where people transform themselves through learning, critical thinking, and reflection. A library’s doors have been kept open to anyone who wants to freely explore the world of ideas and pursue knowledge. Libraries are here to empower people to create a better future. A library is a place for mutual education through respectful and open-minded dialogues. And, we, the library staff and faculty, make that happen. We get to make sure that people’s ethnicity, race, gender, disability, socio-economic backgrounds, political views, or religious beliefs do not become an obstacle to that pursuit. We have a truly awesome responsibility. And I don’t have to tell you how vital our role is as a CATS member in our library’s fulfilling that responsibility.

Whichever side we stood on in this election, let’s not forget to treat each other with respect and dignity. Let’s use this as an opportunity to renew our commitment to diversity, one of the UMB’s core values. Inclusive excellence is one of the themes of the UMB 2017-2021 Strategic Plan. Each and every one of us has a contribution to make because we are stronger for our differences.

We have much work ahead of us! I am out today, but expect lots of donuts Monday.

Have a great weekend,
Bohyun

 

Monday, I brought in donuts of many different kinds and told everyone they were ‘diversity donuts.’ Try it. I believe it was successful in easing some stress and tension that was palpable in my team after the election.

Before crafting your own message, I recommend re-reading your institution’s core values, mission and vision statements, and the most recent strategic plan. Most universities, colleges, and libraries include diversity, equity, inclusion, or something equivalent to these somewhere. Also review all public statements or internal messages that came from your institution that reaffirms diversity, equity, and inclusion. You can easily incorporate those into your own message. Make sure to clearly state your (and your institution’s) continued commitment to and unwavering support for diversity and inclusion and explicitly oppose bigotry, intolerance, harassment, and acts of violence. Encourage civil discourse and mutual respect. It is very important to reaffirm the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion ‘before’ listing any resources and help that employees or students may seek in case of harassment or assault. Without the assurance from the institution that it indeed upholds those values and will firmly stand by them, those resources and help mean little.

Below I have also listed messages, notes, and statements sent out by library directors, managers, librarians, and university presidents that reaffirm the full support for and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. I hope to see more of these come out. If you have already received or sent out such a message, I invite you to share in the comments. If you have not, I suggest doing so as soon as possible. Send out a message if you are in a position where doing so is appropriate. Don’t forget to ask for a message addressing those values if you have not received any from your organization.

And a collection of more post-election statements and messages that reaffirm diversity are here: http://www.bohyunkim.net/blog/archives/3620.

Galen Charlton: Coding in an age of impunity

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-11-15 04:22

Do you prefer that your coding not be mixed with politics? That your libraries stand alone in pristine neutrality? You are already doomed to disappointment, whether you know it or not; but especially on this blog from this day forward.

Consider this: when all the laws are smashed flat, what chance do codes of conduct and codes of ethics stand?

I hope we do not all find out; I fear we might.

To say that the election of Trump marks the beginning of an age of impunity is of course a lie: the unanswered trampling of the oppressed that has been going on for years, for decades, for millennia did not start last Tuesday.

And yet, things can get worse; have gotten worse. I can link to this without betraying confidences; I can point out this for an example near my home; I can listen to my friends who walk a much more dangerous path than mine.

Suffice it to say that Trump need not sign a single law, appoint a single judge, to cause ill during his tenure — those emboldened by his ascension can act on their hate and have done so. And who is going to advise Trump to repudiate them… Stephen Bannon?

Thought not.

What follows seems almost laughable in its insufficiency, particularly if the Trump administration goes full fascist, but defense in depth, perhaps?

We need to look to our codes, and buttress what we can.

Codes of conduct for professional conferences? I’m under no illusion that the Code4Lib Code of Conduct or the ALA Statement of Appropriate Conduct guarantee safety for anyone… but implemented correctly, and with teeth, they might at least maintain spaces where hate cannot operate with complete impunity.

The ACM Code of Ethics? Principles 1.2 (avoid harm to others), 1.4 (be fair and take action not to discriminate), 1.7 (respect the privacy of others), and 1.8 (honor confidentiality) are more important than ever: nuclear weapons may kill us quick, but software is all too easily turned into an instrument of oppression.

The ALA Code of Ethics? Privacy has always been a matter of life and death for especially vulnerable library patrons. Now, we live in a time when Newt Gingrich is, unironically, suggesting that that the thing to do is to revive the House Un-American Activities Committee and Trump threatens to silence those who mock him.

What can we expect in an age of impunity? For some, the disaster is now. Trump may well lead us into a quick general disaster: nuclear war, global depression, genocide. Against that, computers and libraries may not amount to much — but we can but use whatever tools we can seize to survive and to perpetuate our stories.

A longer, slower disaster is possible — and here, we must watch for more subtle traps: compromises that may or may not mitigate immediate pain, that may or may not pave the way for worse and worse. Or perhaps, we may yet see change for the better (though climate change looms over all).

Either way, we must look to our codes, strengthen what we can, protect life where we can.

And yes, the preceding feels utterly laughable. In fact, I would relish being taken for a fool, a chicken little whose reputation for prognostication is so bad that my assertion that the sun will rise tomorrow is met with cries of “pull the other one!”

I don’t expect that hope will come so easily.

Brown University Library Digital Technologies Projects: Python/Django Quicktips: Ordered JSON Load and Django Email Testing

planet code4lib - Mon, 2016-11-14 21:50
Ordered JSON Load

Recently, I had the need to load some data from our JSON Item API in the same order it was created. When we construct the data, we use an OrderedDict to preserve the order and then we dump it to JSON.

In [1]: import json In [2]: from collections import OrderedDict In [3]: info = OrderedDict() In [4]: info['zebra'] = 1 In [5]: info['aardvark'] = 10 In [6]: info Out[6]: OrderedDict([('zebra', 1), ('aardvark', 10)]) In [7]: json.dumps(info) Out[7]: '{"zebra": 1, "aardvark": 10}'

By default, though, the JSON module loads that data into a regular dict, and the order is lost.

In [8]: json.loads(json.dumps(info)) Out[8]: {u'aardvark': 10, u'zebra': 1}

What’s the solution? Tell the json module to load the data into an OrderedDict:

In [9]: json.loads(json.dumps(info), object_pairs_hook=OrderedDict) Out[9]: OrderedDict([(u'zebra', 1), (u'aardvark', 10)]) Django email testing

Some of our django projects send out notification emails, to a user or a site admin. Django has the handy mail_admins and send_mail functions, but what if you want to test that the email was sent?

Django makes it easy to unit-test the emails – its test runner automatically uses a dummy email backend. Then you can import the mail outbox and verify its contents. Here’s a code snippet that tests an email being sent:

from django.core.mail import send_mail def send_email(): send_mail('Blog post', 'Test for the blog post', digital_technologies@brown.edu', ['public@example.com'], fail_silently=False) from django.test import SimpleTestCase from django.core import mail class TestEmail(SimpleTestCase): def test_email(self): send_email() self.assertEqual(len(mail.outbox), 1) self.assertEqual(mail.outbox[0].subject, 'Blog post') self.assertEqual(mail.outbox[0].body, 'Test for the blog post')

Note: you can’t import outbox from django.core.mail and check that len(outbox) == 1. This is because outbox is just a list, and it gets re-initialized to a new list before each test case.

FOSS4Lib Upcoming Events: Hello Islandora: Building a Digital Repository

planet code4lib - Mon, 2016-11-14 15:49
Date: Wednesday, November 30, 2016 - 10:00 to 17:00Supports: Islandora

Last updated November 14, 2016. Created by Peter Murray on November 14, 2016.
Log in to edit this page.

Event details.

Brown University Library Digital Technologies Projects: What I Learned in Milwaukee

planet code4lib - Mon, 2016-11-14 14:45

From Monday to Wednesday I had the great privilege of attending the annual Digital Library Federation Forum. DLF is the brand new host of the National Digital Stewardship Alliance, which convened its first annual meeting under new leadership immediately following the Forum. Four days, two conferences, and one election later, I’d like to share some reflections about my work and the work of others in my field. A bit of a disclaimer: between this year’s election results and two powerful keynote addresses, the week was emotionally charged for myself and many of my colleagues. We continually came back to the idea of care and inclusivity in our profession and the danger of idealizing neutrality. I’d like to clearly state that any opinions I express on this post, no matter how obliquely, do not necessarily reflect the official stance or policies of Brown University or the Library.

The DLF forum and NDSA meeting certainly saw their share of tool & workflow chatter. Two librarians from the University of Miami spoke on creating rights statements for 52,000 objects in their ContentDM repository. It was not a full-time project for either of them, so their presentation doubled as a master class in project management. They diligently built a matrix for assessing each object then used that tool over the course of a year to assign statements. Project management came up over and over. Two librarians, one from the University of Iowa and another from Emerson College, detailed their experiences in digital initiatives and shared their own PM techniques. They underscored the importance of relationship in the workplace, especially when managing and encouraging the work of coworkers they did not supervise.

It was surprising to me how many people were willing to get vulnerable about their work without openly eliciting pity. The most affecting presentation in that regard came from an archivist who attempted to accession the email archive of a defunct non-profit organization. Although an authority figure from that organization encouraged the accession, former employees were troubled by the idea. Apparently a select number of employees used a secret listserv to correspond privately about confidential matters. Employees had also used their professional email for delicate personal matters. The presenter tried to adjust the scope of the accession, but ultimately abandoned the project. We often learn about our colleagues’ most notable successes at conferences, but hearing a story of failure was empowering and educational. Hindsight is always 20/20, and her willingness to share some of those lessons meant a lot.

Vulnerability, in a lot of ways, feels like the antithesis of professionalism. We’re supposed to stay neutral and focus on the work, which should, itself, be neutral. But as the two keynotes I saw so clearly outlined, we are affected by our work and our work affects others. On Monday morning, Stacie Williams’s DLF keynote outlined how work and care are seen as separate acts, when often they are inextricably bound. Preserving information and delivering it to those who seek its edification, she argued, is an act of care. It’s impossible to talk about inclusion and diversity in our workforce or collections without recognizing the care involved with that work. Williams’s talk was in direct dialogue with Bergis Jules’s NDSA keynote, who spoke on Wednesday morning.

Jules’s words came the afternoon after the U.S. election, which had visibly affected the crowd. He spoke on care in libraries and archives and insisted that historical erasure is an act of violence. Jules played an interview with Reina Gossett, a Black trans artist and activist, who spoke on the historical isolation she felt from other trans women of color. This isolation led her to the archives and motivated her to make the movie “Happy Birthday Marsha!” about trans pioneer Marsha P. Johnson. Jules drew a direct line from Gossett’s historical isolation to the epidemic of Black trans murders in 2016.

“We have to ask ourselves, what do we owe these victims and the trans community, as fellow humans, as archivists, as culture keepers, and as people who’ve charged ourselves with deciding who gets remembered and who doesn’t? What do we owe communities that are constantly victimized because of erasure and by erasure?”

Saving these legacies, Jules said, is made complicated by prioritizing standards and technology over human relationships. Although standards are important, they can lead to elitism and exclusion.

“The more selective and specialized space of digital collections, prioritizes professionalism, technical expertise, and standards, over a critical interrogation of the cultural character of our records. So this is certainly an appropriate venue to ask questions about the diversity represented in our historical records. Because for digital collections, who gets represented is closely tied to who writes the software, who builds the tools, who produces the technical standards, and who provides the funding or other resources for that work.”

Our profession tells itself we should remain neutral and that #AllLivesMatter, but without active collecting of marginalized communities, how can we ensure that collecting around a white, straight, cismale paradigm won’t persist?

Many of the people gathered there (myself included) were already feeling dread that the election outcome made vulnerable populations more vulnerable, and so Jules’s words were especially profound. After his talk, a librarian stood up and expressed concern that his brand new green card, his brand new husband, and the cultural heritage job he loves so much would all be taken away from him. It was a deeply affecting moment, and it was heartening to see the care Williams and Jules spoke about shown to him inside and outside of the ballroom.

So what now? I’m inspired by Samantha Abrams work at the University of Wisconsin and the emerging Doc Now project to rethink my role at Brown and the broader community. Now that we’re done talking, it’s time to get to work.

Terry Reese: MarcEdit Update

planet code4lib - Mon, 2016-11-14 14:40

I posted an update to the Linux and Windows versions of MarcEdit.  I had hoped to finish work on the Mac as well, but I have, I would guess, about 5 hours of interface work to finish before that is completed and ready to be made available.  I’ll be endeavoring to get that completed over this next week during my spare time in the evenings.  I think, I should be able to have it done by Wed.

The updates really are more refinements to existing functionality.  The full list:

  • Enhancement: Edit Shortcuts; added a new option to clean smart characters.
  • Enhancement: Edit Shortcuts (many) have been enable for use with the Task Manager. 
  • Enhancement: MARCNext; Updated the linking tool to enable individual processing in both the UI and the Console program.
  • Enhancement: Application Error message is now in a window that can be copied.
  • Enhancement: RDA Helper; GMD in linking fields will be deleted if the GMD is selected for deletion.
  • Enhancement: Tab Delimited Records; add multiple subfields (without the delimiter character) to pull multiple subfields into the same column.
  • Bug Fixes (miscellaneous).

While these updates represented enhancements to existing functionality, a few of them required significant work to implement – especially bringing some of the Edit Shortcuts into the task manager.  That required a significant rethinking of how these “shortcuts” get run to fit within the task infrastructure – but I think that I’ve got these set.  I will point out, that not all the edit shortcuts have been enabled.  In the task manager, you will see placeholders for the Clean Smart Characters and the Math Functions.  These were not integrated yet into the tool – I’ll complete these with an update around the same time I update the Mac version of MarcEdit – but I put this out now because folks on the listserv wanted the Clean Smart Characters function sooner than later.   

I’ve create a couple of videos to note the new functionality.  These should give a better idea as to how these refinements have been implemented and give users a good idea of how these changes are made manifest.  Please see the videos below.

If you want to download the update, you should be able to download via MarcEdit’s automated updating mechanism or through manual download at http://marcedit.reeset.net/downloads.

Questions?  Feel free to let me know.

–tr

DuraSpace News: DSpace Workshop in Chile: Innovación en Repositorios Digitales Dspace

planet code4lib - Mon, 2016-11-14 00:00

Santiago, Chile  On December 6, 2017 the Universidad La República and Prodigio Consultores, a DuraSpace Registered Service provider specializing in digital information management projects, are set to offer a one-day workshop. Highlights will include discussions of good engineering practices and examples of DSpace technical implementations including development of statistics and usage metrics.

Bohyun Kim: Say It Out Loud – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

planet code4lib - Sun, 2016-11-13 01:58

I usually and mostly talk about technology. But technology is so far away from my thought right now. I don’t feel that I can afford to worry about Internet surveillance or how to protect privacy at this moment. Not that they are unimportant. Such a worry is real and deserves our attention and investigation. But at a time like this when there are so many reports of public incidences of hatred, bigotry, harassment, and violence reported on university and college campuses, on streets, and in many neighborhoods coming in at an alarming pace, I don’t find myself reflecting on how we can use technology to deal with this problem. For the problem is so much bigger.

There are people drawing a swastika at a park. The ‘Whites only’ and ‘Colored’ signs were put up over water fountains in a Florida school. A Muslim student was threatened with a lighter. Asian-American women are being assaulted. Hostile acts targeting minority students are taking place on college campuses. A black female student was shoved off the sidewalk and called the ‘N’ word at Baylor University. Newt Gingrich called for a House committee for Un-American Activities. The Ku Klux Klan is openly holding a rally. The list goes on and on.

Photo from http://www.wftv.com/news/local/investigation-underway-after-2-racist-signs-posted-above-water-fountains-at-first-coast-high-school/466146633

We are justified to be freaking out. I suspect this is a deal breaker to not just Democrats, not just Clinton supporters, but a whole lot more people. Not everyone who voted for Donald Trump endorse the position that women, people of color, Muslims, LGBT, and all other minority groups deserve and should be deprived of the basic human right to be not publicly threatened, harassed, and assaulted. I am sure that many who voted for Donald Trump do support diversity, equity, and inclusion as important and non-negotiable values. I believe that many who voted for Donald Trump do not want a society where some of their family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors have to live in constant fear for their physical safety at minimum. There are very many white people who absolutely condemn bigotry, threat, hatred, discrimination, harassment, and violence directed at minorities and give their unwavering support to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The problem is that I don’t hear it said loudly enough, clearly enough, publicly enough.

I realized that we – myself included – do not say this enough.

One of my fellow librarians, Steve, wrote this on his Facebook wall after the election.

I am a 56 year old white guy. … I go out into the world today and I’m trying to hold a look on my face that says I don’t hate you black people, Hispanic people, gay people, Muslim people. I mean you no harm. I don’t want to deport you or imprison you. You are my brothers and sisters. I want for you all of the benefits, the rights, the joys (such as they are) that are afforded to everybody else in our society. I don’t think this look on my face is effective. Why should they trust me? You can never APPEAR to be doing the right thing. It requires DOING the right thing.

Of course, Steve doesn’t want to harm me because I am not white, I know. I am 100 % positive that he wouldn’t assault me because I am female. But by stating this publicly (I mean as far as his FB friends can see the post), he made a difference to me. Steve is not Republican. But I would feel so much better if people I know tell me the same thing whether they are Democrat or Republican. And I think it will make a huge difference to others when we all say this together.

Sometimes saying isn’t much. But right now, saying it aloud can mean everything. If you support those who belong to minority groups but don’t say it out loud, how would they know it? Because right now, nothing is obvious other than there is a lot of hate and violence towards minorities.

At this point, which candidate you voted for doesn’t matter. What matter is whether you will condone open hatred and violence towards minorities, thereby making it acceptable in our society. There is a lot at stake here, and this goes way beyond party politics.

Publicly confirming our continued support for and unwavering commitment to diversity is a big deal. People who are being insulted, threatened, harassed, and assaulted need to hear it. And when we say this together loudly enough, clearly enough, explicitly enough, it will deafen the voice of hatred, bigotry, and intolerance and chase it away to the margins of our society again.

So I think I am going to say this whenever I have a chance. To my colleagues, friends, family, neighbors, and everyone else whether formally or informally, in a written form or in a conversation. If you are a librarian, you should say this to your library users. If you are a teacher, you should say this to your students. If you run a business, you need to say this to your employees and customers.

“I support all minorities and stand for diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

“I object to and will not condone the acts of harassment, violence, hatred, and threats directed at minorities.”

“I will not discriminate anyone based upon their ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, disability, political views, socio-economic backgrounds, or religious beliefs.”

We cannot allow diversity, equity, and inclusion to become minority opinions. And it is up to us to keep it mainstream and to make it prevail. Say it aloud and act on it.

In times like this, many of us look to institutions that we belong to, the organizations we work for, professionally participate in, or personally support. We expect them to reconfirm the very basic values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Since I work for a university, I have been looking up and reading statements from higher education institutions.

So far, not a great number of universities have made public statements confirming their continued support for diversity. I am sure more are on the way. But I expected more of them to be issued more promptly. This is unfortunate because many of them openly expressed their support for diversity and even include diversity in their values, mission, and goals. If your organization hasn’t already confirmed their support for these values and expressed their commitment to provide safety for all minorities, ask for it. You may even be in a position to actually craft and issue one. For those in need of right words to express your intention clearly, here are some good examples below.

“The University of California is proud of being a diverse and welcoming place for students, faculty, and staff with a wide range of backgrounds, experiences and perspectives.  Diversity is central to our mission.  We remain absolutely committed to supporting all members of our community and adhering to UC’s Principles Against Intolerance.  As the Principles make clear, the University ‘strives to foster an environment in which all are included’ and ‘all are given an equal opportunity to learn and explore.’  The University of California will continue to pursue and protect these principles now and in the future, and urges our students, faculty, staff, and all others associated with the University to do so as well.” –  University of California

“Our responsibility is to remain committed to education, discovery and intellectual honesty – and to diversity, equity and inclusion. We are at our best when we come together to engage respectfully across our ideological differences; to support ALL who feel marginalized, threatened or unwelcome; and to pursue knowledge and understanding, as we always have, as the students, faculty and staff of the University of Michigan.” – University of Michigan

“Northwestern is committed to being a welcoming and inclusive community for all, regardless of their beliefs, and I assure you that will not change.” – Northwestern University

“As a Catholic university, Clarke will not step away from its many efforts to heighten our awareness of the individuals and groups who are exclude and marginalized in so many ways and to take action for their protection and inclusion.  Today, I call on us as a community to step up our efforts to promote understanding and inclusion and to reach out to those among us who are feeling further disenfranchised, fearful and confused as a result of the election.” – Clarke University

“As President, I need to represent all of RIT, and I therefore do not express preferences for political candidates. I do feel it important, however, to represent and reinforce RIT’s shared commitment to the value of inclusive diversity. I have heard from many in our community that the result of the recent election has raised concerns from those in our minority populations, those who come from immigrant families, those from countries outside of the U.S., those in our LGBTQIA+ community, those who practice Islam, and even those in our female population about whether they should be concerned for their safety and well-being as a result of the horrific discourse that accompanied the presidential election process and some of the specific views and proposals presented.

At RIT, we have treasured the diverse contributions of members of these groups to our campus community, and I want to reassure all that one of RIT’s highest priorities is to demonstrate the extraordinary value of inclusive diversity and that we will continue to respect, appreciate, and benefit from the contributions of all. Anyone who feels unsafe here should make their feelings known to me and to others in a position to address their concerns. Concerned members of our community can also take advantage of opportunities to engage in open discourse about the election in the MOSAIC Center and at tomorrow’s Grey Matter discussion.” – Rochester Institute of Technology

Please go ahead and say these out loud to people around you if you mean them.  No matter how obvious and cheesy they sound, I assure you, they are not obvious and cheesy to those who are facing open threats, harassment, and violence. Let’s boost the signal; let’s make it loud; let’s make it overwhelming.

“I support all minorities and stand for diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

“I object to and will not condone the acts of harassment, violence, hatred, and threats directed at minorities.”

“I will not discriminate anyone based upon their ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, disability, political views, socio-economic backgrounds, or religious beliefs.”

 

Mita Williams: Why Libraries Should Maintain the Open Data of Their Communities

planet code4lib - Fri, 2016-11-11 16:10

Today I’m preparing for my participation in a seminar on Open Cities that will be held Monday at the Coach House in Toronto as part of the Monday Night Seminar series by The McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology.

As part of my preparation, I thought I would take and publish an edited version of a draft of a paper that I wrote about Why Libraries Should Maintain the Open Data of Their Communities that I wrote in 2014 but never ended up publishing.

The text that follows is loooong. For a shorter take, you can opt to check out my slides on the same topic from a presentation I gave at the Ontario Library Association Superconference in January of this year.

Introduction

Before we can have Linked Open Data, we need Open Data, and that process of education and data publishing with open licenses has been slow going (Voss 2012).

It is curious that for all the professional and scholarly conversations within librarianship about Linked Open Data there is scant attention being paid to the much simpler technology of Open Data. What literature on Open Data that is found is largely situated within the larger conversation on the preservation and management of experimental data that are now required of researchers to deposit due to changes in national-level funding mandates. Not to take away from the work being applied to both Linked Open Data and Research Data Management as these are both important developments in the work of libraries, this text will put forward that libraries are not taking advantage of an opportunity to collect and manage Open Data more widely from and for their communities. By ignoring Open Data libraries are missing an opportunity to become a platform by which new works by and about their community can be built. Indeed, there are those outside of the profession who have expressed that libraries would do well to address this need.

The Context: Open Data in Canada

It is necessary to define what is meant by the term Open Data before continuing. In this text I am going to use a stricter definition of Open Data than what is generally used in the research data management community. The Canadian’s federal research granting agencies in their consultation report “The Capitalizing on Big Data: Toward a Policy Framework for Advancing Digital Scholarship in Canada” (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council et al. 2014) use the same definition of Open Data as The Royal Society in its “Science as an Open Enterprise” report:

“Open data is data that meets the criteria of intelligent openness. Data must be accessible, usable, assessable and intelligible”(Royal Society (Great Britain) 2012).

But for the purposes that I will be making a case for in this paper, it is necessary to extend the definition of Open Data to more than merely making one’s data available online which has be construed as open-washing (Villum 2014). When using the term Open Data I will be using its definition as expressed by the Open Knowledge Foundation:

“Open means anyone can freely access, use, modify, and share for any purpose (subject, at most, to requirements that preserve provenance and openness)”(Open Knowledge Foundation 2014).

It is important to understand the consequences of using the definition of Open Data as set by the OKFN. A dataset that is made available online using the licence CC-BY-NC, or Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial, for example, would not be considered Open Data by the OKFN since it restricts the domain of data use to only non-commercial endeavors.

On the other hand, this paper will accept any data – even unstructured data in a proprietary format – that is made available freely online as long as the license has been designated as Open. This is consistent with the definition of Open Data as considered by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Web and the initiator of Linked Data. Berners-Lee holds that Open Data is a quality that can be assigned of one of five possible stars for openness (Berners-Lee 2006).

Data that is available online that has been granted an open license has a quality level of one star. Openly licensed data available in a structured form such as a table is worth two stars and data that is structured using a non-proprietary format such as within a comma delimited file earns three stars. Four star open data is open licensed data that has been assigned a URI, or uniform resource identifier, so that the data can be linked to with less likelihood of breaking. And according to Berners-Lee, data with semantic metadata or Open Linked Data would be ideal and thus earns five stars. In the course of this text it will be discussed why the work involved of adding additional metadata, structure, and programmatic access to Open Data might be a new service that librarians might want to consider providing to their communities as part of our portfolio of services.

I will also be writing about the Canadian context of Open Data. This context is significant because government produced data in Canada falls under Crown Copyright which is an arrangement that allows for perpetual copyright held by the Crown. This arrangement is unlike that of the United States where government work

“prepared by an officer or employee of the United States government as part of that person’s official duties… is not subject to copyright” and is, as such, free to copy by citizens of the United States (U.S. General Services Administration 2014).

Reproduction and other uses of Canadian government produced information, by default, requires permission and the generally involves the payment of licensing fees that have been set for the purposes of cost-recovery. That was the case until 2010, when the federal government gave notice that it was establishing a license that gave permission for non-commercial uses without the need for permission (Geist 2013). But in 2013, this notice was removed from the Public Works and Government Services site and the announcement was made that,

“as of November 18, 2013 Publishing and Depository Services no longer administers Crown Copyright and Licensing on behalf of Government of Canada departments and agencies. Should you be seeking copyright clearance for Government of Canada information, please contact the department or agency that created the information” (P. W. and G. S. C. Government of Canada 2007).

It is still unclear whether there is a consistent approach across the departments of the federal government in regards to whether prior permission is necessary for non-commercial uses of online data of the federal government.

Canadian Libraries Opening Data

Due to its cost-recovery mandate, access and use of many of the datasets produced by Canadian federal department of Statistics Canada require a licensing fee. These fees that are considered minimal by Statistics Canada have not only inhibited student use of its research data but it is thought to have limited the entire filed of quantitative social science research in Canada (Boyko and Watkins 2014). To alleviate this condition, Statistics Canada in 1996 established the Data Liberation Initiative (DLI) with Canadian post-secondary institutions to improve data access for students, staff and faculty.

“Over the years the focus of the DLI Program has evolved from purchasing access to major Canadian datasets collected by Statistics Canada to providing training services and the continuous support required for the proper understanding and usage of an ever expanding research data collection” (S. C. Government of Canada 1996).

It has been said that the fear of lost revenue inhibited efforts in the 1990s to make government-produced data from Statistics Canada more readily available to Canadian academic researchers through the Data Liberation Initiative (Boyko and Watkins 2014) despite the fact that revenue recovered from such efforts have been suggested to been limited (McMahon 2014). In order to prevent “leakage” of data from the academic sphere to the public/commercial sphere through the DLI, Statistics Canada developed and requires a license agreement to be signed by the institution’s University Librarian and designated DLI contact that makes explicit that that the data distributed by the institution are for

“exclusive purposes of teaching, academic research and publishing, and/or planning of educational services within my educational institution, and may not be used for any other purposes without the explicit prior written approval of Statistics Canada” (Boyko and Watkins 2014).

As Boyko and Watkins notes,

“This license has been remarkably effective. The penalty for a breach of the license would be the loss of data access to the offending institution. As a result DLI contacts are extremely diligent in applying the conditions and have a number of tools at their disposal to help in this regard.”

While libraries have been responsible for upholding obligations of signed license agreements for digital products for decades now, I think it’s important to take a moment to reflect on this behaviour that has been normalized. If libraries during the age of only print had decided to restrict the use of its collections to non-commercial sphere and would regularly interrogate our users of their intentions of how they planned to make use of the information that they found in the library before they were able to access those works, the practice would be dismissed immediately out of a respect for personal privacy.  The fact that this practice has been established with no known complaint is likely for several reasons. For one, the transaction of data from Statistics Canada to the user (through the proxy of the academic library) is framed as an exchange in which the promise of non-commercialization of the data and no re-distribution of the set is given in return for data without a financial cost, as opposed to an imposed restriction on one’s rights on one’s own data.

While the Data Liberation Initiative has had success in making government data more readily available for the academic researchers of Canada, it does not help bring government data to the wider public. In response, local governments, non-profit organizations and public libraries such as the Calgary Public Library, Toronto Public Library, and Regina Public Library have independently joined the Community Data Program (CDP) as established by the Canadian Council on Social Development (CCSD), to collectively acquire Statistics Canada data. It should be noted that this data is not intended to be shared with the public; rather the data is used for internal planning and decision making (Canadian Council on Social Development 2014).

At one time libraries did belong to a program that made Canadian government information freely available to the Canadian public called the Federal Depository Services Program.

“The original mandate of the DSP was to provide a central and comprehensive distribution source from which published Government of Canada (GC) information would be sent to academic, college, legislative and public libraries, as well as to federal parliamentarians and departmental libraries” (Government of Canada Publications 2014).

The program began in 1927 and ended in 1994 when the program developed into the “E-Collection” in 1995. The distribution of print publications to libraries eventually ceased as access to their PDF equivalents were made available online. While the DSP E-Collection Program is one that distributes publications and not datasets, I believe that the program is worth mentioning in this context because it was one reason given why my own place of employment (and presumably other Canadian academic libraries) have always maintain a bank of computers that are freely available to the public. Since our library was designated a Full Depository Library in the DSP program it was held that our library had an obligation to provide unfettered and free public access to our the DSP collection beyond our campus to the wider community. I would consider this a historical precedent to possible hosting of government open data in the future.

One could argue that the most significant program to make Canadian government data readily available to all of its citizens without a direct cost now comes from the government itself. It is difficult to set a precise date when it and other governments began the shift towards Open Data. It has been said that “The Open Data Movement” began in the United States in December of 2007 (Chignard 2013) when thirty prominent writers, scholars, business leaders and activists came together to form an Open Government Working Group (Malamud 2007). In May of 2009, the City of Vancouver “endorsed the principles of making its data open and accessible to everyone where possible, adopting open standards for that data and considering open source software when replacing existing applications”(CBC News 2009). By June of 2013, Canada signed on to the Open Data Charter at the G8 Summit held in Lough Erne Summit in Northern Ireland and in doing so, committed itself to the following principles:

  1. Open Data by Default – foster expectations that government data be published openly;
  2. Quantity and Quality – release quality, timely and well described Open Data;
  3. Usable by All – release as much data in as many open formats as possible;
  4. Releasing Data for Improved Governance – share expertise and be transparent about data collection, standards and publishing processes; and
  5. Releasing Data for Innovation – consult with users and empower future generations of innovators (data.gc.ca 2014).

As of October, 2014, five of our of nation’s provincial governments host an open data portal as do over fifty municipalities (Lauriault 2014).

In the next section of this text, it will be argued that there is a growing expectation that the library develops into a platform for the information needs of its community and that hosting Open Data may be one such development towards this vision.

The Library As Platform

There have been a number of prominent individuals outside of the librarian profession who have advocated that libraries must go beyond merely providing traditional collections if they are to remain a relevant and vibrant institution in the future. In May of 2011 writer Seth Godwin declared that “The library is no longer a warehouse for dead books” and instead suggested a new vision of the library: “there are one thousand things that could be done in a place like this, all built around one mission: take the world of data, combine it with the people in this community and create value” (Godin 2011). In October of 2013, MG Siegler, who is a general partner at Google Ventures, declared “The End of the Library” in a post on TechCrunch stating, “The internet has replaced the importance of libraries as a repository for knowledge. And digital distribution has replaced the role of a library as a central hub for obtaining the containers of such knowledge: books” (Siegler 2013).

Librarians have generally not been receptive to these interjections. One of the strongest rebuttals to the MG Siegler article addresses the comfortable privilege of Siegler and other writers in the “End of the Library trope” (Berg 2013). While these writers might not need libraries personally, Berg argues, it is a mistake for them to insist that this means that everyone else in the community is in the same situation and to ignore the less fortunate. Indeed, there is still a considerably large population who need and use libraries regularly for access to reading materials or to access digital sources of information (Zickuhr, Purcell, and Rainie 2014).

While acknowledging this particular weakness and their other shortcomings I would like to suggest that within many of these “Death of the Library” pieces is also evidence that there is a segment of our population who are no longer not well served by primarily collection-based libraries of items that can be readily acquired through commercial channels. Before I extend this argument, I would like to locate this observation in the context of the Collections Grid model developed by Lorcan Dempsey and Eric Childress that takes in account the changes in library collection development that have come about in an increased networked environment (Dempsey, Malpas, and Lavoie 2014).

Unlike the writers of many of the ‘Death of the library’ pieces, I am not suggesting that hosting and managing Open Data should or will replace traditional collection building. Instead my suggestion is that libraries consider adding this responsibility as part of our collection development work. The benefit of situating Open Data work within the Collections Grid model is that it opens a conversation about where the library is currently investing its collections resources and allows us to discuss the possibility of shifting some of our resources in response. The model

 organizes resources according to two values: uniqueness and stewardship/scarcity. Resources that are unique, or rare, tend to be in one collection only. Resources that are not unique or rare tend to be in many collections. At the nonunique end of this spectrum are commodity materials, which are widely published or available through many channels. Resources that are highly stewarded are things that attract library attention, have resources and time spent on them, have systems infrastructure devoted to them, and so on. Stewardship and scarcity tend to go together: we have developed stewardship models for materials that are relatively scarce. This gives us four quadrants.

In an academic context, support for Open Data from and about the library and of its parent institution would likely be positioned in this model’s bottom right quadrant, indicating high uniqueness and low stewardship. This quadrant has been given a heading of Research & Learning Materials as this section includes “Institutional records, ePrints/tech reports, Learning objects, Courseware, E-portfolios, and Research” data. Writing about this type of collections work in an academic context, Dempsey et al. states, “This quadrant is increasingly important. We can identify various strands of activity, especially since there is increasing interest in curating and disclosing additional materials from the process of scholarly inquiry, as universities become more aware of the range of digital assets they produce and the management requirements they raise, and as making such assets more discoverable is seen as contributing to university reputation.”

One of the most succinct expressions of this growing expectation that a library should be more than traditionally collection-based comes from within librarianship. R. David Lankes, professor and Dean’s Scholar for the New Librarianship at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies wrote in 2013, “Bad Libraries build collections. Good libraries build services (of which a collection is only one). Great libraries build Communities” (Lankes 2014). This statement fits comfortably within Lankes’ larger Mission for Librarians which framed his Atlas of New Librarianship: “The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities” (Lankes 2011).

There is evidence that those from outside of librarianship are starting to understand the potential of libraries in this particular context. During the month of September 2014 the Knight Foundation began a Knight News Challenge as a means to distribute a share of $2.5 million in funding. The challenge issued was “How might we leverage libraries as a platform to build more knowledgeable communities?” (Bracken 2014). Of the 680 public entries that were submitted, 13 of the Knight Foundation Challenge entries mentioned Open Data explicitly. One such the entry was entitled “From open data to open knowledge: Using libraries to turn civic data into a valuable resource for citizens, researchers, and City Hall alike.” It, like many of these challenge responses, identify a need for librarians to improve the context of existing open data and “to help ensure that our data becomes part of the valuable collection of information they make available to their users” (Franklin-Hodge 2014).

Why Open Data

Some of the key motivations for open data initiatives are to promote transparency of decision-making, create accountability for elected and appointed officials, and spur greater citizen engagement. In addition, however, it is increasingly clear that open data can also enable the creation of economic value beyond the walls of the governments and institutions that share their data. This data can not only be used to help increase the productivity of existing companies and institutions, it also can spur the creation of entrepreneurial businesses and improve the welfare of individual consumers and citizens (Chui, Farrell, and Van Kuiken 2013).

As stated previously in the discussion of the Data Liberation Initiative of Statistics Canada, the argument that Canadian government data is best served on a cost-recovery basis has been challenged.

The little research that has been done into this subject has suggested that charging for government data almost never yields much money, and often actually serves as a loss creating mechanism. Indeed a 2001 KPMG study of Canadian geospatial data found government almost never made money from data sales if purchases by other levels of government were not included (Eaves 2013).

Proponents of Open Data argue that Open Data will release more social and economic value than cost recovery and as such, are more in line with what we understand a government should do for its citizens. Some advocates of Open Data state this conviction even more strongly:

The open data movement has propagated a shifting notion of who the users of data are. In the long history of data, citizens were always considered to be end-users who provided their data to the collector and then interfaced with the end-products of data-driven government innovations. In this new vision, government concedes that citizens can best define and resolve the problems that plague their own communities—implying that communities should take the data provided and use it to address their needs (Deahl 2014).

Alex Carruthers of the Edmonton Public Library has stated that the benefits of Open Data as given generally to governments, can also be extended to libraries:

Were a library to collect and analyze its internal data and integrate it with publicly available data, it could improve the efficiency of workflows and provide evidence-based support for program development. Sharing library data such as in-branch technology, usage, anonymized circulation statistics, and catalogue metadata improves the organization’s transparency and can provide citizens with insight into the value of the library (Carruthers 2014).

Librarians could have additional reasons why libraries should collect and might make use of Open Data to facilitate knowledge creation in their communities and this will be explored in the next section of this text.

Libraries should improve Data Literacy as a means to distribute the benefits of Open Data more equitably

At the 2014 Access Conference, there were two lightning talks that shared the experiences and lessons learned from two respective library-hosted open data hackathons, with one being from the University of Ottawa and the other hosted at the Edmonton Public Library. In her talk “#HackUOBiblio – libraries, hacking, and open data”, Catherine McGoveran told the audience that the focus of their hackathon was Open Data,

“We wanted people to understand what it is and what they could do with it all within the broader context of fostering data literacy in our community”(#HackUOBiblio – Libraries, Hacking, and Open Data 2014).

Elsewhere, she and the organizers of HackUOBiblio have stated that such hackathons are useful in as a means to teach data literacy skills (Weatherall 2014).

In their presentation “Hacking the city: Libraries and the open data movement”, Alex Carruthers of the Edmonton Public Library and Lydia Zvyagintseva, MLIS/MA Candidate of the University of Alberta and founder of HackYEG, continued the theme of the Open Data, libraries and the need for greater data literacy (Hacking the City: Libraries and the Open Data Movement 2014).

Despite the very compelling rhetoric of government transparency and civic engagement, studies suggest that in practice open data access appears to benefit government and the entrepreneurial class more than the public at large who find data difficult to interpret. The general public relies on applications developed by the entrepreneurial class to make sense of data. We believe libraries are well positioned to play a strategic role in developing skills required for citizens to navigate the expanding data landscape.

Further on in their talk, Carruthers and Zvyagintse cite the work of Prado and Marzel, “Determining Data Information Literacy Needs: A Study of Students and Research Faculty” in their conclusion that the increasing importance of data in our civic lives “require public, school and academic libraries to contribute to both data and information literacy, as part of their larger mission to further knowledge and innovation in their respective fields of action” (Calzada and Marzal 2013).

In a blog post entitled, “Learning from Libraries: The Literacy Challenge of Open Data”, David Eaves made a similar response to the problem of a public that may lack the data literacy skills to make use of Open Data:

“We didn’t build libraries for a literate citizenry. We built libraries to help citizens become literate. Today we build open data portals not because we have public policy literate citizens, we build them so that citizens may become literate in public policy” (Eaves 2014).

Eaves goes on to compare libraries and Open Data catalogues and reminds his readers that the value of libraries did not come from books alone but its additional supportive efforts to support literacy:

When we think of libraries, we often just think of a building with books.  But 19th century [libraries] mattered not only because they had books, but because they offered literacy programs, books clubs, and other resources to help citizens become literate and thus, more engaged and productive. Open data catalogs need to learn the same lesson. While they won’t require the same centralized and costly approach as the 19th century, governments that help foster communities around open data, that encourage their school system to use it as a basis for teaching, and then support their citizens’ efforts to write and suggest their own public policy ideas will, I suspect, benefit from happier and more engaged citizens, along with better services and stronger economies.

Eaves ends his post with this challenge: “So what is your government/university/community doing to create its citizen army of open data analysts?” And in response several readers commented that libraries again are well positioned to help create citizens that are data literate.

Open Data builds towards an expectation of engagement

At the 2014 Access Conference, Carruthers and Zvyagintseva framed their Open Data hackathon work in the larger context of participatory learning:

Our main argument then is that hosting and supporting hackathons aligns with larger missions of libraries which is to foster literacies and build communities and specifically, by bringing together people and information, hackathons support digital literacy, they foster civic engagement and leverage community knowledge.  And when we talk about civic engagement, building communities, we are really talking about participatory culture which is a value that the open data movement and libraries share.

Hosting hackathons may prove daunting for many libraries because, as Carruthers and Zvyagintseva put succinctly, “Libraries need participants as much as participants need libraries to support this type of event.” It is probably too soon to make such claims, but I would like to suggest that, slowly, libraries are starting to involve public participation in the building and the understanding of their collections. The experiences of the New York Public Library Lab’s “Map Warper” project, which invites users to help align digitized paper maps so they can match modern maps, and their “What’s On The Menu” Project, which invites the public to help transcribe one of the 45,000 menus in their digitized collection, have led to a such a re-thinking of their work:

Building on the Map Warper’s success, WOTM has undoubtedly impacted the internal conversation at NYPL around digital strategy, user engagement and collections policy. It has helped shift the attention, at least in part, away from static online exhibitions, which notoriously struggle to retain users’ attention, toward participation-oriented Web sites with longer life cycles, involving the public in the grand (if painstaking) work of building the digital library. It has also jumpstarted policy discussions around user-contributed content and its relation to Library-authored metadata (Vershbow 2013).

If the process of crowdsourcing digitized collections can be described as public participation in public memory (Vershbow 2013), perhaps Open Data hackathons and library support for Open Data can be framed as participation in the creation of public understanding.

Open Data as a strategy against enclosure

Many Henk in Ecology, Economy Equity dedicates a chapter to the threat of enclosure to libraries. “Enclosure is the process of taking a previously shared resource, a grazing field, a water source, or even information, and erecting barriers to use“ (Henk 2014). Henk describes the threat of enclosure by commercial publishers in scholarly publishing:

The actualization of the digital library has taken on a particular form, one that presents considerable danger to libraries and our readers. We have allowed commercial interests to claim “ownership” of the scholarly record through digitization and publishing. In doing so we have allowed an unhealthy system to grow. This system leads to libraries that have been hollowed out, reduced to access points with librarians as skilled product trainers, while the publishers themselves profit handsomely from the labour of the very scholars we support and from the citizens whose taxes support us all.

Open Data, by its very definition of being open, is resistant to enclosure while allowing for commercial use. This is because while a license is open, copies of the data are allowed to be made which can remain under open license even if the original dataset is updated with more restrictive licensing (Munro 2014). While many municipal governments and federal and provincial government departments make Open Data available, there is no promise or obligation to maintain or perpetually host those datasets, unless those governments are otherwise directed by an internal policy. This suggests that libraries may have a role in the collection and preservation of Open Data in their community, if just to be a source of dataset redundancy in case the original datasets are removed without sufficient notice.

Conclusion

At the time of this text’s composition (2014) there is only small group of public libraries, including the Vancouver Public Library and Edmonton Public Library, that host Open Data, but at this time, the data that these libraries make available are from their own organization only. The only exception that it is known to the author is the Open Chattanooga project, “a collaborative between the City of Chattanooga, the Chattanooga Public Library and the Open Chattanooga Brigade” (Open Chattanooga 2014).

But librarians, like those previously mentioned in Edmonton, Alberta and Ottawa, Ontario and others such as the Cleveland (Ohio) Public Library, have been engaged with their community’s civic hacking communities and have been helping facilitate their use of open data (Greenwalt 2014). It is hoped that the number of librarians and libraries engage in open data continue to grow so that the benefits of such collection work – increased institutional transparency, stronger community engagement, improved data literacy, and the prevention against public commons enclosure – can be open to all.

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