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planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-04-20 12:48

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Open Knowledge Foundation: This is how Guatemala joined the worldwide celebration of Open Data

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-04-20 09:21

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

This blog has been translated from this Spanish blog at Medium.

In parallel, in five continents, activists, public officials and researchers gathered to have 345 different activities on #OpenDataDay 2017. This is what we did in Guatemala.

It was a Saturday, it was early, but that didn’t prevent us from gathering to talk about data. The morning of March 4 – Open Data Day– started with two proposals from civil society researchers who reminded us that the conversation about open data isn’t only a matter of government.

At the start, Ronal Ochaeta from Open Knowledge in Guatemala reminded us that information can contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. He spoke about the need to close the gap between what technology can create and the needs of users: “it’s useless having a really good open data portal that people don’t use”. Ochaeta emphasized the power of data literacy and how these should be adapter for a broad population, so they can make knowledge important for themselves.  

Silvio Gramajo, an experienced researcher of the public sector, gave us a list of ideas about how to generate data that the open government initiatives aren’t producing. We also need to develop indicators to measure its performance. Gramajo also called to push not only government but other sectors that can join the wave, like universities, think tanks, colleges and companies.

After these presentations we changed the direction and went from civil society to government so three institutions could share their progress on this matter.

Zaira Mejía, in charge of the Open Government Partnership in Guatemala, emphasized that when you go in to portal you can find how the Third Action Plan – a document created by the government and civil society organizations to promote transparency, accountability and citizen participation – advances. In this website the user can search in the 5 core lines of work (access to information, citizen participation, innovation, fiscal transparency and accountability) and the 22 commitments that were made to follow how these goals move forward, as well as to keep this government initiative accountable.

Later, Carlos Dubón, the director of the access to information unit of the Ministry of Finance mentioned that they have managed to change their information delivery policy. As a result, they can respond with editable files instead of PDFs in approximately 80% of the requests they get. He specified that even though they are advancing, they not only have access and availability gaps but they also need to let citizens know what they can request and what this information means. In one word: understanding.

Tenemos mucha información pero cuando una persona accede a los portales, no siempre se entiende. —Carlos Dubón

— Dani Villatoro G (@danyvillatoro) March 4, 2017

Last but not least, Edgar Sabán from the National Secretary of Science and Technology mentioned that they are working on an unified open data portal (one of the Open Government Partnership commitments) and mentioned they will use open source code.

Carlos Dubón, the director of the access to information unit of the Ministry of Finance; Zaira Mejía, in charge of the Open Government Partnership in Guatemala, and Edgar Sabán from the National Secretary of Science and Techology

We had assistance from journalists, communications and political science students and officials in charge of processing the information requests, as well as other people interested in the subject. Along with Red Ciudadana and Escuela de Datos we managed to gather a community to meet and learn.

Thus, while chatting, drinking coffee and having some pastries the morning went by. What’s next is working in generating a culture of access and transparency from our positions and push for the commitments to be fulfilled. Hopefully, for Open Data Day 2018 we’ll have more progress made and more projects to show.

Also, we hope in next year’s photo, the group photo will have more people. The more, the merrier ;)

DuraSpace News: The DSpace 7 Project–A Simple Summary

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-04-20 00:00

From Tim Donohue, DSpace Tech Lead and the DSpace 7 UI Outreach Group. DSpace 7 development will be highlighted at OR2017 next month including demonstrations. Recordings and slides from the recent Hot Topics webinar series, "Introducing DSpace 7: Next Generation UI" are available here.

Background to the DSpace 7 project

Cynthia Ng: BCLA 2017: IT in the Library: The Power of Networks

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-04-19 23:14
Notes from the BCLA pre-conference session. Survey Results Respondents: mostly public, sizable academic; equal number of technical and IT, most said “all of the above” 41% have IT services in the library, 30% shared or centralize, 32% combination, 5% contracted Quality of relationship: 14% excellent, 80% good or fair, only 1 rating of poor. Documents: … Continue reading BCLA 2017: IT in the Library: The Power of Networks

LibUX: Listen: Ugh, UX Ph.D’s (25:55)

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-04-19 21:10

This episode of Metric is a little special: no guests, no post, just loaded questions and loaded answers. In the actual recording I was thinking about dubbing these question-and-answer episodes “coffee breaks,” but I over-thought this and now feel like that suggests it’s a super short episode. It’s not. It’s regular length. So, we’re going with “over coffee” — which it was.

I tackle three questions about

  • 6:04 the value of UX certification
  • 16:20 a UX Ph.D who makes decisions about visual designs – but bad ones, and
  • 19:46 guerrilla usability testing.


You can also  download the MP3 or subscribe to Metric: A UX Podcast on OverCastStitcher, iTunes, YouTube, Soundcloud, Google Music, or just plug our feed straight into your podcatcher of choice.

David Rosenthal: Emularity strikes again!

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-04-19 17:00
The Internet Archive's massive collection of software now includes an in-browser emulation in the Emularity framework of the original Mac with MacOS from 1984 to 1989, and a Mac Plus with MacOS 7.0.1 from 1991. Shaun Nichols at The Register reports that:
The emulator itself is powered by a version of Hampa Hug's PCE Apple emulator ported to run in browsers via JavaScript by James Friend. PCE and PCE.js have been around for a number of years; now that tech has been married to the Internet Archive's vault of software.Congratulations to Jason Scott and the software archiving team!

LITA: Jobs in Information Technology: April 19, 2017

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-04-19 16:49

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

New This Week

Rice University, Fondren Library, Head of Cataloging & Metadata Services, Houston, TX

University of Rhode Island – University Libraries, Associate Professor (Scholarly Technology Librarian), Kingston, RI

University of California, Davis, Life Sciences Librarian, Davis, CA

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

Open Knowledge Foundation: Collaborating For A Greater Good

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-04-19 16:14

Open Knowledge International is a member of Open Data for Development (OD4D), a global network of leaders in the open data community, working together to develop open data solutions around the world. In this blog, Nana Baah Gyan talks about his work carrying out an embedded data fellowship with Advocates for Community Alternatives (ACA) in Ghana as part of the OD4D programme. 

Generally, information needs often require different strategies in order to meet them satisfactorily. And this is even more the case in circumstances where technology know-how needs to be taught and gradually introduced to fit a particular setting of would-be technology adopters. Often, this case presents its own unique and (quite frankly speaking) exciting challenges for technology enthusiasts. It opens up otherwise largely unexplored avenues for technology innovation and learning in new communities. And this is exactly how I thought of it when I was first invited by Open Knowledge International (OKI) to be part of the  Open Data for Development (OD4D) embedded fellowship  working with Advocates for Community Alternatives (ACA) in Ghana for three months.

Some of the ACA team members in Ghana. From the right to left): Nimako, Naomi and Jonathan.

Registered as an non governmental organisation (NGO), ACA has as its main task, among other things, to help — through trainings and frequent community engagements — rural communities to independently explore for the themselves possible alternative livelihoods, especially in situations where these communities are threatened by big mining firms. In Ghana, the story has not always been a pleasant one whenever some such firm shows up at the door of the community with heavy machinery and equipments ready to mine. Often, mining companies have ended up destroying livelihoods by taking away farmlands, polluting drinking waters and significantly altering the way of life of people in the these communities for the worse. However, for some four villages in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana this was actively stood against by members of the communities, and their resolve to prevent one such mining giant in their communities presented, by itself, a fascinating story which attracted the engagement of ACA.

The OKI Fellowship

The fellowship took the form of being embedded as a data expert in an existing organisation, and comprised a 3-month contract with ACA facilitated by Ghana’s representative of OKI. OKI made all the pre-contract engagements and agreements for the project. My main role was to identify data needs of ACA and suggest and/or implement open standards-compliant tools to meet this need, including the training of staff to use these tools too.

ACA was just at that moment of exploring the proper collection and use of data in their work. They had realised the important role proper data management had begun to play in their work and also seen that, in order for them to succeed in their efforts in the villages, the timely collection, collation and delivery and analysis of information from the field was essential. This they saw to be crucial also for the purposes of monitoring and evaluating interventions over time as well as ensuring data integrity for its analyses and reporting needs.

Identifying Appropriate Tools

Right from the onset, R came up as the tool of choice for working with data. This was particularly because of R’s suitability in terms of its vast pool of packages to choose from for different analysis and modelling. But almost about a week or so into the fellowship this had to be reconsidered because of a number of issues. In order to deploy an R application for the needs described above for ACA, not only did R offer more than was wanted, it also presented unique challenges overcoming of which required significant investment (time, technical infrastructure, etc) — far more than necessary for a small organisation as ACA. For this fellowship, KoBo offered far more desirable advantages which made it the tool of choice. KoBo’s biggest advantage over R in this project was its ability to support offline form filling and, for the conditions which prevailed in the areas of ACA’s interest, this was especially useful. With it’s simple drag and drop interface for form design, and dual support for both mobile and non-mobile devices, KoBo presented all the was needed for ACA’s work. For that main reason, KoBo was the tool of choice for designing and sending out questionnaires, interviewing stakeholders in the villages for onward submission to ACA’s head office in Accra. It’s mobile/smartphone-capable tools only meant that end-users only needed SIM-enabled tablets to work with.

Training Stakeholders

Although KoBo is extremely useful and easy to use, it is still not largely known, and especially among non-technology inclined users. Therefore, stakeholders in the project had to be trained to use the tool. This included taking them through registering on the KoBo platform, designing and building questionnaire forms, deploying forms for use in the field, and analysing data sent by field workers on the KoBo platform.

A session with a farmer group in Kyeredeso, Brong Ahafo Region, Ghana. Here, I was explaining to the farmers, who are more than likely to become respondents to questionnaires in the future, how the new platform was going to be used by ACA’s field workers.

The trainees were of two categories: those who design and deploy questionnaires to the platform for use. These are the ones who decide on strategy and planning and are responsible for the kinds of data that should be collected. The other category consists of those who do the actual face-to-face interviews and fill out deployed forms answers from respondents. As expected, both categories of trainees required different training needs hence its design had to reflect these needs. Of particular mention is also the fact that, for some of the users, the training had to include basic instructions such as how to navigate the questions on a tablet or smartphone.  KoBo’s unique suitability for such purposes, among other things, is anchored on its superb ‘rural conditions support’ and the ability to operate the software offline.

What I thought also useful, and therefore put together, was a manual for using some of the basic features of KoBo. It contained, simple, straight-to-the-point steps for registering, designing and deploying forms, filling out questionnaires and using the platform for data analysis. It took such format that both categories of trainees would find it useful.

In total, five people were trained in the use of KoBo: two persons to design questionnaires and three in the field who would use them.

Looking Ahead

The training was successful in terms of explaining to end-users how the KoBo platform works and can be used. However, limited time would not permit at least one use case where that could be tested. It’s left to see how the training acquired could translate into actual use and practice — just as it is generally with the use of technology. However, there are good indications that the fellowship has been a success. There’s has been some increased awareness about data needs and tools such as KoBo that greatly help in its management. This, I hope, will go a long way in aiding ACA in their planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of projects.


In conclusion, the entire fellowship sponsored by OKI has been, in my experience of this nature as a data expert, a good experience. Every project of this kind that I’ve worked has had it’s own unique form and execution and this was no different. The whole idea of embedding or sponsoring experts in organisations with data needs is innovative and should be commended. It provides rare opportunities, in such developing countries as Ghana, to make the benefits of proper data management available to those who actually need them. This translates into better monitoring and evaluation strategies and decision making such as with ACA Ghana.

The data needs of Ghana, in general, are immense but it is also a largely unexplored territory lying dormant. Freely available tools and technologies for dealing with this problems are largely unknown and unused. Only few organisations and private individuals are now warming up to this idea of data management. If this hurdle can be overcome, a number of initiatives such as this are crucial. What would perhaps speed up the process is identifying the particular groups with such needs and matching them with experts who would share and engage communities on this need and, thus, creating a necessary, much-needed awareness.

Mark E. Phillips: Compressibility of the DPLA Creator Field by Hub

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-04-19 14:30

This is the second post in a series of posts exploring the metadata from the Digital Public Library of America.

In the first post I introduced the idea of using compressibility of a field as a measure of quality.

This post I wanted to look specifically at the dc.creator field in the DPLA metadata dataset.

DC.Creator Overview

The first thing to do is to give you an overview of the creator field in the DPLA metadata dataset.

As I mentioned in the last post there are a total of 15,816,573 records in the dataset I’m working with.  These records are contributed from a wide range of institutions from across the US through Hubs.  There are 32 hubs present in the dataset with 102 records that for one reason or another aren’t associated with a hub and which have a “None” for the hub name.

In the graph below you can see how the number of records are distributed across the different hubs.

Total Records by Hub

These are similar numbers to what you see in the more up-to-date numbers on the DPLA Partners page.

The next chart shows how the number of records per hub and the number of records with creator values compare.

Total Records and Records with Creators by Hub

You should expect that the red columns in the table above will most often be shorter than the blue columns.

Below is a little bit different way of looking at that same data.  This time it is the percentage of records that contain a creator.

Records with Creator to Total Records

You see that a few of the hubs have almost 100% of their records with a creator, while others have a very low percentage of records with creators.

Looking at the number of records that have a creator value and then the total number of names you can see that some hubs like hathitrust have pretty much a 1 to 1 name to record ratio while others like nara have multiple names per record.

Total Creators and Name Instances

To get an even better sense of this you can look at the average creator/name per record. In this chart you see that david_rumsey has 2.49 creators per record, this is followed by nara at 2.03, bhl with 1.78 and internet_archive at 1.70. There are quite a few (14) hubs that have very close to 1 name per record on average.

Average Names Per Record

The next thing to look at is the number of unique names per hub.  The hathitrust hub sticks out again with the most unique names for a hub in the DPLA.

Unique Creators by Hub

Looking at the ratio between the number of unique names and number of creator instances you can see there is something interesting happening with the nara hub.  I put the chart below on a logarithmic scale so you can see things a little better.  Notice that nara has a 1,387:1 ratio between the number of unique creators and the creator instances.

Creator to Unique Ratio

One way to interpret this is to say that the hubs that have the higher ratio have more records that share the same name/creator among records.


Now that we have an overview of the creator field as a whole we want to turn our attention to the compressibility of each of the fields.

I decided to compare the results of four different algorithms, lowercase hash, normalize hash, fingerprint hash, and aggressive fingerprint hash. Below is a table that shows the number of unique values for that field after each of the values has been hashed.  You will notice that as you read from left to right the number will go down.  This relates to the aggressiveness of the hashing algorithms being used.

Hub Unique Names Lowercase Hash Normalize Hash Fingerprint Hash Aggressive Fingerprint Hash artstor 7,552 7,547 7,550 7,394 7,304 bhl 44,936 44,927 44,916 44,441 42,960 cdl 47,241 46,983 47,209 45,681 44,676 david_rumsey 8,861 8,843 8,859 8,488 8,375 digital-commonwealth 32,028 32,006 32,007 31,783 31,568 digitalnc 31,016 30,997 31,006 30,039 29,730 esdn 22,401 22,370 22,399 21,940 21,818 georgia 21,821 21,792 21,821 21,521 21,237 getty 2,788 2,787 2,787 2,731 2,724 gpo 29,900 29,898 29,898 29,695 29,587 harvard 4,865 4,864 4,855 4,845 4,829 hathitrust 876,773 872,702 856,703 838,848 780,433 il 16,014 15,971 15,983 15,569 15,409 indiana 6,834 6,825 6,832 6,692 6,650 internet_archive 105,381 105,302 104,820 102,390 99,729 kdl 3,098 3,096 3,098 3,083 3,066 mdl 69,617 69,562 69,609 69,013 68,756 michigan 2,725 2,715 2,723 2,676 2,675 missouri-hub 5,160 5,154 5,160 5,070 5,039 mwdl 49,836 49,724 49,795 48,056 47,342 nara 1,300 1,300 1,300 1,300 1,249 None 21 21 21 21 21 nypl 24,406 24,406 24,388 23,462 23,130 pennsylvania 10,350 10,318 10,349 10,056 9,914 scdl 11,976 11,823 11,973 11,577 11,368 smithsonian 67,941 67,934 67,826 67,242 65,705 the_portal_to_texas_history 28,686 28,653 28,662 28,154 28,066 tn 2,561 2,556 2,561 2,487 2,464 uiuc 3,524 3,514 3,522 3,470 3,453 usc 10,085 10,061 10,071 9,872 9,785 virginia 3,732 3,732 3,732 3,731 3,681 washington 12,674 12,642 12,669 12,184 11,659 wisconsin 19,973 19,954 19,960 19,359 19,127

Next I will work through each of the hashing algorithms and look at the compressibility of each field after the given algorithm has been applied.

Lowercase Hash: This hashing algorithm will convert all uppercase characters to lowercase and leave all lowercase characters unchanged.  The result of this is generally very low amounts of compressibility for each of the hubs.  You can see this in the chart below.

Lowercase Hash Compressibility

Normalize HashThis has just converts characters down to their ascii equivalent.  For example it converts gödel to godel.  The compressibility results of this hashing function are quite a bit different than the lowercase hash from above.  You see that hathitrust has 2.3% compressibility of its creator names.

Normalize Hash Compressibility

Fingerprint Hash: This uses the algorithm that OpenRefine describes in depth here.  In the algorithm it incorporates a lowercase function as well as a normalize function in the overall process.  You can see that there is a bit more consistency between the different compressibility values.

Fingerprint Hash Compressibility

Aggressive Fingerprint Hash: This algorithm takes the basic fingerprint algorithm described above and adds one more step.  That step is to remove pieces of the name that are only numbers such as date.  This hashing function will most likely have more false positives that any of the previous algorithms, but it is interesting to look at the results.

Aggressive Fingerprint Hash Compressibility

This final chart puts together the four previous charts so they can be compared a bit easier.

All Compressibility


So now we’ve looked at the compressibility of the the creator fields for each of the 32 hubs that make up the DPLA.

I’m not sure that I have any good takeaways so far in this analysis. I think there are a few other metrics that we should look at before we start saying if this information is or isn’t useful as a metric of metadata quality.

I do know that I was with the compressibility of the hathitrust creators. This is especially interesting when you consider that the source for most of those records are MARC based catalog records that in theory should be backed up with some sort of authority records. Other hubs, especially the service hubs tend to not have records that are based as much on authority records.  Not really ground breaking but interesting to see in the data.

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

In the Library, With the Lead Pipe: Hush… : The Dangers of Silence in Academic Libraries

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-04-19 13:00

In Brief

This article critiques the idea that civility rhetoric decreases workplace bullying or discrimination. We use Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to do a rhetorical analysis of a campus-wide civility campaign in contrast with literature about civility in libraries. To combat discrimination and bullying, we need to be attentive to systemic power dynamics and to rhetoric designed to enforce compliance and conformity. We conclude with recommendations about how to raise our voices instead of silencing our peers.

By Jessica Schomberg and Kirsti Cole


In this article, we use Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to compare the rhetoric of a campus-wide civility campaign with literature related to civility in libraries. The civility campaign was prompted by concerns about discrimination and bullying at a mid-sized public university in the Midwest. Within the particular context of academic libraries, we examine how the rhetoric of civility has historically been used to control behaviour. There is no evidence that this civility discourse has improved the situations of already-marginalized populations or reduced bullying. Instead, it has contributed additional silencing rhetoric, which could have dangerous implications for the well-being of library employees and the patrons we serve. We will conclude this article with ideas about how librarians might go beyond performative civility to acknowledge the structural and cultural differences that exist within their communities.

The campus civility campaign was a top-down attempt to control individual behaviour. It was introduced as follows:

When civility is present in a community such as ours, it becomes a healthy, vibrant and rewarding place to live and work. Without civility, it fails to thrive…we believe that civility comes down to treating everyone with respect. Each of us is responsible for showing civility in our own actions.That’s why you’ll see a series of posters, table tents and electronic messages across our community challenging you to think about your choices. You can choose to be civil in a certain situation. Or not. Who will you decide to be?

By placing the rhetorical focus on individuals, the campaign points to a compelling dynamic in the relationship between power and language. If the goal of the civility campaign is to provoke members of our community to speak and listen in particular ways, and about particular things, it is setting in place a series of rules for that community (Glenn 1–2).

Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) helps us understand the relationships between language, culture, and inequality within a particular context (Gee 23). In this context, the ethical uses of language brought up by the civility campaign are not reflected in the campaign itself.

Below is a table outlining the frame through which we understand this issue. These concepts guide and structure our analysis of the reaction to the campus civility campaign compared with existing literature about civility in libraries. On the left side of the table are the critiques our faculty association, which includes librarians, had about the civility campaign conducted on our campus. These concerns were taken from the recorded minutes of the April 2015 faculty association executive meeting. On the right side of the table are the themes that came out of a literature search conducted using the keywords silencing, civility, and professionalism.

Figure 1. Civility Framing

Faculty Comments Themes Literature Review Themes What civility or politeness might mean in different cultures Civility Problems with moving from anti-bullying focus to civility focus Bullying Singular culture vs. the diverse cultures our campus represents Monoculturalism Posters encourage passive aggressiveness, not empathy or civility Silencing Microaggressions Gatekeeping The 100% whiteness of the president’s cabinet. That people of color are held accountable but white people are not Power and (White) Privilege Empty rhetoric of the civility campaign: it exists solely for “CYA” so the university doesn’t get sued; protects the institution only but it’s empty, no real promotion of change Empty Rhetoric of Academic Freedom Attention to constant administrative focus on budgetary constraints, and the cost of producing the posters Precarity/Job insecurity



To explore the civility campaign and understand the possible impacts of such initiatives in academic library spaces, we turn to Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA). CDA “looks systematically at one or more of the often unnoticed details of grammar and word choice” (Zdenek and Johnstone 25). Linguists and other researchers use CDA to analyze large textual corpuses, as well as long stretches of discourse that include text, talk, image, and gesture. It is a methodology to find patterns that create, circulate, reinforce, and reflect societal norms and ideology (Huckin et al 119).

Within the larger umbrella of CDA, “recontextualization looks for and interrogates chains of events and texts” (Fairclough 420). Recontextualization considers the ways in which language is taken from its original context and transformed into different messages in different contexts. Through that process, texts “are articulated together in new ways according to the logic of the recontextualising practice; and transformed from real to imaginary, and brought into the space of ideology” (Fairclough 399). An example of recontextualization that we examine is how selected quotes from famous writers and philosophers are used to control how civility is defined. In this way, CDA is valuable for examining ways in which power is constructed rhetorically (Huckin et al. 114).

Critical discourse analysis is particularly useful for situations in which researchers wish to examine the relationship between institutional power and rhetoric (Fairclough and Wodak 271-80; Lewis 374). CDA allows us to explore the textual “silences, implicatures, ambiguities, and other covert but powerful aspects of discourse” (Huckin et al. 110). The ambiguities of the civility campaign we analyze are particularly compelling because the faculty association unanimously opposed the administrative agenda surrounding the campaign despite sharing the goal of improving the campus climate.

We use CDA to coordinate the analysis of larger purposes for the civility campaign with the smaller details of the language used to represent civility to the campus community, particularly in the library. CDA gives us the opportunity to look at the indirect or implicit meanings that the posters relay to us: how they shape us and our academic library space.


In analyzing the civility campaign, we rely on cues from the design and the alphabetic text of the posters in order to determine how meaning is made or how expectations for behaviour are established. The civility campaign ran from 2012 to 2015 and produced 49 unique posters. The posters were put up throughout campus buildings, small table tents for each of the posters were placed on tables in common areas, and both were prominently displayed in the library.

The posters from 2012-2014 presented a scenario in which the purple side presented the “civil” or preferred response, while the gold side presented the “uncivil” response. At the bottom of each poster was the appeal “Who are YOU?”



Civility scene 16 To express frustration… Keep your language respectful. OR… Curse a blue streak—it’s great linguistic therapy. Who are YOU?


After faculty voiced their disapproval, the civility posters were modified. The 2014-2015 campaign posters include quotes from famous scholars, artists, writers, and thinkers.



Civility scene 49 Respect yourself and others will respect you. – Confucius Who are YOU?



As we analyzed the posters, we turned to word choice as an important category through which to understand possible themes. In coding the language used in the posters, we identified five thematic categories. For each poster theme, there is a corollary to one or more of the faculty comments identified in Figure 1.


Figure 2. Poster themes

Poster categories Faculty comments Polite Communication Bullying, passive aggressiveness, and gatekeeping Community Interactions Protecting the university instead of faculty and students Respectful Behaviour Silencing, ableism, and microaggressions Social and Cultural Awareness Reinforcing monoculturalism Power Dynamics Privilege, precarity, intellectual freedom


It is worth noting that many of the scenarios presented in the posters created intersections between the thematic categories. We review the thematic categories in context of the scholarship surrounding the issue in order to locate the interplay of such things as privilege and ableism, microaggressions and gatekeeping, and monoculturalism and precarity. Because the discussion surrounding many of these issues is contentious, we believe it is important to look at the analysis of the texts in the specific context of the scholarship.


In this section, we interweave themes identified from faculty responses to the civility campaign with themes from relevant library literature.


Civility does not have a universal meaning. In her exploration of civility in diverse organizations, Sampson takes a multicultural approach to civility in the library. She explores several definitions of civility. These range from “deference or allegiance to the social order” to “acknowledgement of equality between citizens in private, public or official interactions” (Sampson 94). However, she notes that we can’t truly achieve this ideal until full societal equality is a reality. She also notes that in a more diverse environment, there will be conflicting social norms. This means that individuals have to self-regulate their own behaviour rather than relying on social support to interpret and guide behaviour. While shared experiences make it easier to have shared expectations, operating in a diverse environment means working without those shared norms.

In Farrell’s discussion of collegiality in library workplaces, she utilizes civility in a way more in keeping with the idea of allegiance to the social order, with librarians as role models. The idea of high standards and role model behaviour is a clear component of the civility campaign. The campaign presents the audience with didactic recommendations about behaviours or actions. There is no nuance, no space for cultural variance, and no attempt to educate the community about those behaviours.

In Civility Scene 28, the audience is told to “Model civil behavior.”


Civility scene 28

Model civil behavior….

Demonstrate it, day after day

Or… Pay lip service—activating your mouth is way easier than activating behavior Who are YOU?


What is the “it” we are meant to demonstrate? Is it in action and language? Only in language? The scenario presented commands us to do, but does not help us learn how.

Some librarians take a more critical perspective to calls for civility, viewing them as attempts to silence dissent. Shockey cites Joan W. Scott’s discussion of the Steven Salaita/University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign controversy, in which Salaita’s offer of a tenured position was rescinded after he Tweeted negative comments about Israel. The UIUC chancellor decided those Tweets provided enough evidence that his behaviour would threaten “the comfort, safety, and security of his students” (Scott “New Thought Police”). Elsewhere, Schlesselman-Tarango argues that historically, rhetoric about civility has been used as an assimilationist strategy (676). In this conceptualization of civility, the focus is on standardizing language, being respectful of authority, maintaining traditional gender roles, and creating a labor force that works hard without being disruptive.

Status quo maintenance is at the forefront of the civility campaign. In Civility Scene 11, the audience is targeted: supervisors.


Civility scene 11 If you’re at the top of a hierarchy…Model civility for those who work with you. Act as if you’re exempt, civility is for suckers. Who are YOU?


We don’t know exactly what this outdated colloquialism is meant to invoke. Though the poster lacks clarity, it attempts to focus on respectful authority and a non-disruptive labor force.

Sloniowski presents the rhetoric around civility as being a standard by which to demand affective labour and “service with a smile” (660). She engages in a Marxist critique of the affective labour involved in librarians’ roles as “civilizers” or what Farrell calls “role models” by observing how this form of labour is expected, but not valued as labour. In other words, while affective labour is a necessary part of maintaining cooperative efforts, it is often invisible, correlating “to an estranging, sexist, colonization of life by work” (Sloniowski 655-656).

Interestingly, the shadow labour of civility is acknowledged by one of the quotes used in the 2015 civility campaign. A quote by Ellen Goodman says, “Civility, it is said, means obeying the unenforceable.” If a librarian’s perceived role is as emotional labourer, then the manipulative forces of such requirements put individuals in a position where they are constantly working to be seen as pleasant. We know this is not civility in the sense of creating a space where all members are treated with dignity. In fact, policing oneself and one’s environment in such a way may lead to microaggressions (sometimes coded as polite behaviour policing) or to outright bullying.


While they are often conflated, the difference between bullying and incivility rests in power. Both can cause interpersonal challenges and both are interpreted through one’s own cultural prism, but when looking at how power is constructed rhetorically, there are differences. In the way that we use these terms in this article, bullying tends to appear in peer-to-peer or supervisor-to-employee relationships. Incivility tends to be a component of relationships in which individuals who feel powerless in their role push back against those in power. Hicks argues that concepts such as civility are promoted by organizations as a way of conscribing the rhetorical techniques allowed, making it more difficult to challenge those in power (Hicks 251).

Several types of behaviours are typical of bullying, including “yelling, screaming, threatening… aggressive gossip, refusing to communicate, criticizing or humiliating someone in front of others, insults, isolation and/or withholding information or resources” (Matesic 164). Mobbing is a type of bullying done by a group rather than by a single person. Examples of such behaviour includes excessive monitoring of break times, walking past an individual without acknowledging them, punitive desk schedules, withholding communication, and not providing sufficient resources to complete work tasks (Matesic 164). While these descriptions focus on individual behaviours, keep in mind that they may be the results of structural problems (Galoozis “Me and You”).

In the university context, our human resources department and unions recognize these bullying behaviours as a problem. While there are federal protections against harassment, bullying is much harder to identify, define, and understand. This makes it difficult for workplace hostility policies to consistently account for it (Sepler 1). In most cases, organizations identify a vague list of behaviours that contribute to a hostile work environment, but that are also difficult to prove. However, a civility campaign functions beyond the realm of policy and enforcement. How administrators define bullying behaviours can shed light on the organization itself.

When looking at how bullying is operationalized, we find that that victims of bullying are often productive. However, they have found themselves in organizations with low tolerance for diversity and rigid cultural norms. Those in power, organizationally or in the social hierarchy, engage in bullying behaviour to enforce conformity or simply force out the outliers (Fox and Spector 254).

Using civility rhetoric to accomplish anti-bullying goals is the wrong technique. Civility rhetoric as used in the civility campaign attempts to force all members of the community into a single acceptable pattern of behaviour. In order to counteract bullying one must acknowledge that bullying occurs when rigid norms exclude individuals who don’t fit into the dominant culture.


Monoculturalism is the expectation that all individuals conform to one worldview, which assumes itself to be neutral. In North America, monoculturalism1 prioritizes whiteness. As Hathcock says in her examination of the failure of diversity initiatives in librarianship, whiteness is “a theoretical concept that can extend beyond the realities of racial privilege to a wide range of dominant ideologies based on gender identity, sexual orientation, class, and other categories” (“White Librarianship”). In the context of campus civility, monoculturalism emphasizes one right way to be civil for the one campus community. This ignores that campuses, and libraries, are made up of individuals from many different communities with many different ideals of civility.

Though two of the civility scenes encourage a broadly accepting point of view (“Be gender-inclusive in your language” and “Recognize how different each individual is”), most of the posters project a nebulous definition of civility that does not take into account what civil behaviour looks like in different cultures. This campaign was approved by a largely white and male administration. As such, it is perhaps unsurprising that many more marginalized community members perceived the campaign recommendations as disrespectful. One example is Civility Scene 19.


Civility scene 19 If a colleague shows signs of stress…Ask if you can help. Ignore it–feeling stress is natural, showing stress is weak. What will you choose?


As suggested above, this didactic framing allows for no subtlely in an individual’s behaviour and ignores social power dynamics totally. Imagine, for example, that your boss excuses themselves for making inappropriate comments because of stress; imagine the expectation to provide emotional support to a supervisor or chairperson who is emotionally abusing you; imagine civil behavior being defined by the expectation that you intercede without any thought to the inherent risks in doing so. This scenario also ignores cultural power dynamics that may discourage someone from directly interceding in such a situation.

Rhetoric about diversity and multiculturalism is often used to reaffirm the neutrality of whiteness while simultaneously ignoring structural oppressions (Brook et al. 247). These power dynamics punish people who do not comply with white norms when conflict arises. For example, when critiquing the idea that reference librarians smiling at patrons is universally perceived as welcoming, Brook et al. state that “this apolitical conception of responsiveness limits reference librarians’ ability to serve patrons of diverse racial backgrounds because it does not guide us toward a more nuanced, political assessment of individual and collective needs” (272).

By only acknowledging superficial politeness norms, we don’t recognize the structural layers and nuances that underlie our interactions. We don’t allow people to be their real selves with us, which makes people more susceptible to the negative effects of overwork (Mountz et al. 1248-1249). By creating environments where people are not allowed to behave in ways that reflect the communities to which they belong, we are in effect asking people to silence significant parts of themselves — especially when they don’t fit into monocultural norms.


Silencing prevents people from engaging with difficult and controversial ideas, which runs counter to the goals of higher education. As O’Donnell notes “Education is not a space of absolute control. It has to permit unpredictability and surprise [and allow for transformation] through the encounter with a subject and the perspectives of others” (70-71). This is only possible when we allow space to make personal connections and become open to learning from people unlike ourselves; it cannot be imposed on us from above; it cannot happen when we’re not allowed to speak.

In the area of silencing aspects of one’s own identity in an effort to deflect negative professional consequences, b. binaohan notes that “we have a professional environment where many people feel very comfortable saying some really heinous things but those whose lives are negatively impacted by those words must always smile and remain silent. Because calling out oppression is almost always punished more heavily than being oppressive” (binaohan, “Gender and Presenting”). The poster campaign as a whole showcases silent passivity as a positive trait. Passivity however, can be a problematic civil ideal, particularly if an individual is faced with threatening or harassing behaviour.


Civility scene 14 Mind your own business and keep quiet when a rumor comes your way. Text the details to all of your friends immediately–with a big LOL. What will you choose?


Civility Scene 14 is again didactic, again extreme, but what if the rumor is addressed to a reference librarian? Maybe a student reported to you that she witnessed another student being harassed while using the computers. Is minding your own business the ethical response in that situation? Though there is a clear indication in the posters that civility is a value on our campus, the passivity demonstrated on the positive side of the posters undermines the possibilities of community-building in favor of silence.

Power and Privilege

Privilege is a complicated topic with multiple facets, including race, sex, ability, economic class, and more. In Sayer’s book on the moral aspects of class, he notes that often those in power demand respect — not in the moral sense of respecting fellow humans, but in an amoral sense of global efficiency. When the expectation of respect for authority crosses multicultural lines without an understanding of those different cultures or a shared understanding of why certain qualities deserve respect, it creates a situation in which superficial politeness norms and showing leadership in a good light at all times becomes increasingly important (Sayer 178).

Farrell argues that prioritizing collegiality creates a sense of shared purpose that helps libraries achieve their goals and also supports the work of individual library personnel (173). Matesic’s research, on the other hand, found that poor behaviour “breeds in chaotic environments with weak leadership, some degree of job insecurity, nebulous task or work roles, indistinct performance measures and strong conformity to organizational culture” (165-166). In that scenario, trying to force feelings of collegiality rather than working to improve structural problems actually impedes civility.

Existing library and university structures were designed to maintain the status quo (de jesus, “Institutional Oppression”). While ideals about service and access are commonly discussed, actually making changes that don’t benefit those in power can be difficult, even when those in power claim to want to reach related goals. As Chris Bourg notes in her post on the whiteness of librarianship, our professional rhetoric claims that we reflect the nation’s diversity, but we don’t actually hire people of colour (“Unbearable Whiteness”). And even when we do hire people of colour, we don’t retain them (Vinopal, “Quest for Diversity”). Within the context of power and privilege, race is not the only factor we contend with.


Civility scene 22 When talking to someone, be present in all senses. Be there in body only—and twiddle away with your gadget du jour. Who are YOU?


Civility Scene 22 focuses on the role of technology in our face-to-face interactions. This recommendation is ableist, ignoring how embodied experiences vary. For example, common self-calming techniques for someone with autism are stimming or fidgeting, which in some cases involves “twiddling” with a gadget.

In Civility Scene 49, Confucius is quoted, “Respect yourself and others will respect you.” For a person with disabilities, the social and cultural power dynamics; the inaccessible physical spaces in which they must operate; and the struggle with their specific impairments or body image can have lasting impacts on how they perceive themselves, on how others perceive them, and on how they understand the ways in which others perceive them. This double- or sometimes triple-consciousness impairs the ability to comply with a simplistic directive to respect oneself.


Civility scene 1 When you want to get a point across… be calm, clear, and coherent. OR… Raise your voice—makes you sound like The Intimidator. Who are YOU?


Demands for verbal clarity ignore individuals who may be learning the primary language of the community. It may also silence someone who speaks with a louder voice. Civility Scene 32 repeats this simplistic approach to speech differences.


Civility scene 32 In any conversation… Listen to the tone of your voice. OR… Ignore it—it’s all in the words. Who are YOU?



Women are frequently referred to as “shrill” when they speak, particularly when they are in positions of authority (West). They may not raise their voice at all and be perceived as aggressive. Gendered communication expectations can result in impossibly conflicted recommendations about how to behave in professional settings. This is especially damaging when this tone policing is used by a person in a position of authority, against someone with less power. As the Library Loon notes in her post on silencing and gender: “Asking a potential or actual target to buck the system—not to mention assuming it’s their fault if they don’t, or if they do and are punished for it—piles responsibility in entirely the wrong place.” (Library Loon, “Silencing”)


In August 2015, after the faculty union’s continued objections to the campaign, the Vice President of Student Affairs reported that the civility campaign posters would be replaced with “general university belief statement posters.” As such, posters produced in 2015-2016 include the mission of the institution, the goals of various departments, and some of our institutional student learning outcomes. While this was ostensibly a victory for the union, in actuality our requests for a focus on intersectional anti-bullying was ignored.

Next Steps

Recognize how we reinforce silence

  • If our discourse is based on prioritizing passivity and squashing dissent, the squeaky wheel gets replaced while non-challenging people get promoted in an endless cycle of bad civility campaign rhetoric.
  • By eliminating people who challenge the status quo instead of spending time on doing the real work of combating oppression, we train newcomers to the profession to continue engaging in that silencing behaviour.

Seek remedies to performative civility

  • Protect library employees from threats of precarity through collective action and unionization of workers. We both work in an institution where tenure is protected by an active faculty bargaining unit. This means that during times of campus budget reductions, the process of cutting resources and positions is clearly articulated beforehand, and reduces the ability of administration to engage in retaliatory action against any single individual or group of individuals who choose to speak out. Because librarians are part of the faculty union, they also receive these protections. This gives us the freedom to speak out against initiatives like the civility campaign and advocate for better methods.
  • Prioritize support for librarian scholarship and political engagement. Writing, researching, learning new skills, and being intellectually challenged helps us develop a sense of self-efficacy and become better, more critical thinkers. Prioritizing learning to use our voices, instead of learning to silence ourselves, allows us to become better advocates for ourselves and others.

Many thanks to our external reviewers for this article, Eira Tansey and Sarah Fancher; our internal reviewer, Bethany Messersmith; and to publishing editor Ian Beilin. Their work keeping us focused is much appreciated! Thanks also to nina de jesus, Kyle Shockey, and many others for critiquing early drafts and encouraging our efforts.


binaohan, b. “Gender and Presenting as Professional.” i dream of being possible, 22 Dec. 2013,

Bourg, Chris. “The Unbearable Whiteness of Librarianship.” Feral Librarian, 3 Mar. 2014,

Brook, Freeda, Ellenwood, Dave, and Althea Eannace Lazzaro. “In Pursuit of Antiracist Social Justice: Denaturalizing Whiteness in the Academic Library.” Library Trends vol. 64, no. 2, 2015, pp. 246-284.

College Portrait. “Minnesota State University, Mankato College Portrait.” 2015.

de jesus, nina. “Locating the Library in Institutional Oppression.” In the Library with the Lead Pipe, 24 Sept. 2014.

Fairclough, Norman. Critical Discourse Analysis: The Critical Study of Language. Pearson, 2010.

Fairclough, Norman, and Ruth Wodak. “Critical Discourse Analysis.” Discourse as Social Interaction. Edited by Teun van Dijk. Sage, 1996.

Farrell, Maggie. “Collegiality in the Workplace.” Journal of Library Administration vol. 56, 2016, pp. 171-179.

Fox, Suzy, and Paul E. Spector. Counterproductive Work Behavior: Investigations of Actors and Targets, American Psychological Association, Washington, DC, 2005.

Galoozis, Elizabeth. “Me and You and Everything We Know: Information Behavior in Library Workplaces.” In the Library with the Lead Pipe, 26 Feb. 2014.

Gee, James Paul. How to Do Discourse Analysis: A Toolkit. Routledge, 2010.

Glenn, Cheryl. Rhetoric Retold: Regendering the Tradition from Antiquity through the Renaissance. Southern Illinois UP, 1997.

Hathcock, April. “White Librarianship in Blackface: Diversity Initiatives in LIS.” In the Library With the Lead Pipe, 7 Oct. 2015.

Hicks, Darrin. “The Promise(s) of Deliberative Democracy.” Rhetoric and Public Affairs vol. 5, 2002, pp. 223–260.

Huckin, Thomas, Jennifer Andruss, and Jennifer Clary-Lemon. “Critical Discourse Analysis and Rhetoric and Composition.” College Composition and Communication vol. 64, no.1, 2012, pp. 107-129.

Lewis, Cynthia. “‘What’s Discourse Got to Do with It?’ A Meditation on Critical Discourse Analysis in Literacy Research.” Research in the Teaching of English vol. 40, no.3, 2006, pp. 373–79.

Library Loon. “Silencing, Librarianship, and Gender: Links, Apologies, and Suggestions.” Gavia Libraria 31 Jul. 2013.

Matesic, Gina. D. “Internal World of Libraries and the Challenge of Civility.” Strategies for Regenerating the Library and Information Profession, edited by Varlejs, J., Lewis, L. & Walton, G. Walter de Gruyter, 2009.$002fbooks$002f9783598441776$002f9783598441776.3.158$002f9783598441776.3.158.pdf?t:ac=product/41985

Mountz, Alison, Anne Bonds, Becky Mansfield, Jenna Loyd, Jennifer Hyndman, Margaret Walton-Roberts, Ranu Basu, Risa Whitson, Roberta Hawkins, Trina Hamilton, and Winifred Curran. “For Slow Scholarship: A Feminist Politics of Resistance through Collective Action in the Neoliberal University.” ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies vol. 14, no. 4, 2015, pp. 1235-1259.

O’Donnell, Aislinn. “Securitisation, Counterterrorism and the Silencing of Dissent: The Educational Implications of Prevent.” British Journal of Educational Studies, vol. 64, no. 1, 2016., pp. 53. doi:10.1080/00071005.2015.1121201.

Sampson, Zora F. “The Role of Civility in Diverse Relations.” Journal of Library Administration vol. 27, no 1-2, 2009, pp. 93-110.

Sayer, Andrew. The Moral Significance of Class. Cambridge University Press 2005.

Scott, Joan W. “The New Thought Police.” The Nation 15 April 2015.

Sepler, Fran. “Workplace Bullying: What it is and What to do about it,” Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy vol. 0, art. 42, 2015.

Schlesselman-Tarango, Gina. “The Legacy of Lady Bountiful: White Women in the Library.” Library Trends vol. 64, no. 4, 2016, pp. 667-686.

Shockey, Kyle. “Intellectual Freedom Is Not Social Justice.” Progressive Librarian vol. 44, 2016, pp. 101-110.

Sloniowski, Lisa. “Affective Labor, Resistance, and the Academic Librarian.” Library Trends vol. 64, no. 4, 2016, pp. 645-666.

Vinopal, Jennifer. “The Quest for Diversity in Library Staffing: From Awareness to Action.” In the Library with the Lead Pipe, 13 Jan. 2016.

  1. In the case of our institution, of the more than 15,000 students, we have about 2,200 students of color including 1,100 international students from 90 countries. For our populations of students, then, our campus is roughly 76% caucasian with 81% in-state undergraduates (College Portrait).

Open Knowledge Foundation: Open Data for Clean Air in Medellin – ODD2017

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-04-19 11:41

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

On March 4th, 2017 a group of citizens celebrated Open Data Day aiming “for clean air in Medellín”. This because of an alert of bad air quality registered between March 9 and March 14. With levels of air quality still in worrying levels.

In Medellín we promoted this celebration from the citizen community Datos Abierto Medellín, from the environmental premise: “Open Data Day for clean air in Medellín” to identify, discuss and share information related to air quality, while also learning about data sources and proposing actionable from the citizens, public institutions, collectives, activists and university research groups.

During the 8 hours of the event we identified three main issues:

  1. The lack of public information in terms of open data regarding air quality and other crucial matters that are crucial for the citizens.
  2. The lack of pedagogical initiatives aimed to citizens so they can learn, understand and suggest regarding the air quality issue.
  3. The lack of low-cost sensors and citizen developed devices that contribute to capturing, processing and analysing information about air quality.
Where are the data?

Right now the most reliable data sources for air quality in the city comes from the Sistema de Alerta Temprana de Medellín y el Valle de Aburrá SIATA which has 16 monitoring stations for air quality. Other official sources come from the Mayor’s office.

We found that to access the real-time data, we had to request access to it through an email to the SIATA, wishing to access this information. We did this before ODD and received a link to the data download site. Once on the platform, we had to create a user and a password, giving our personal data and whether we belong to a research group. To download this data we also need to fill a form to indicate the time interval of the data we need and what we want to achieve by downloading this data.

These steps to access air quality data were considered by many as bureaucratic restrictions that make access to information more difficult. Estefanía Acosta from SIATA explained that the portal is in an experimental phase right now and this information will help assess the needs of the citizens and researchers so that they will be able to improve the tool and use this information as leverage with other public offices to make the data available as open data.


The week before Open Data Day two citizens decided to download the data and draw some initial conclusions:

  1. Exercise with air quality data in Medellín, from February 1st to February 22nd, 2017.
  2. Exercise with air quality data in Medellín, from 1989 to March 3rd, 2017.


Besides these two exercises we showed that even having the data, there is a lack of technical knowledge to analyse this information in an optimal way since some categories or terms aren’t clear. Thus, it is important to establish more open channels for collaboration to inform and explain the conventions and relevant information when publishing the data.

Other specific information about air quality in Medellin must be requested through a “PQRS” (questions, complaints, requirements and suggestions for its initials in Spanish) to the Mayor of Medellín, mentioning all the details of time, space and format to have a complete answer. During the event, some attendants mentioned that these requests tend to be incomplete.

ODD talks: open data + air

During Open Data Day we heard from different experiences and visions regarding air quality in Medellín, about its relation to access and use of information on this topic. Here are a few ideas shared during that day (videos are in Spanish):

Ricardo Zapata – Environmental activist

The La ciudad Verde collective and AIREMedellín shared the problems around air quality in the city.

  • Fuel quality
  • Engine pollution control
  • Citizen monitoring
  • Public Health
  • Sustainable transport

José Valentín Restrepo – Researcher and professor

In Medellín there are two silent killers: air pollution and the lack of open data about it.

To analyse air quality we need to consider factors such as weather (winch, humidity, temperature) and other factors like the air, its gases and particles. The liberation of Nitrogen oxides (NOx) like monoxide and dioxide (NO and NO2), two of the most dangerous chemical compounds, air pollutants to which humans are exposed because of vehicle combustion, especially diesel. These compounds can cause grave lung diseases.

PM 100 particles are easier to dispose from the body. PM 10 and PM 2.5 stay longer, affecting our health. Fine particles like PM 2.5 are smaller than a thirtieth of the diameter of a human hair. One of the areas where we need to improve is the measurement of particles like PM 2.5.


Eileen Niemeier —Researcher

Elieen Niemeier, a German researcher living in Medellín spoke about her final work of her masters. This work from 2015 focuses on the possibility of implementing electrical mobility in Medellín, she found that since 2013 there was already a high level of pollution in the city.

Estefanía Acosta — Communications department of SIATA

SIATA is the Early Alert System which functions as a research, science and technology group for the Mayor’s office, which has contributions from EPM and ISAGEN.

Among its missions we can find:


  • Real-time monitoring of the air conditions in the region: measure different meteorological and water variables through different sensors in strategic points in the region.
  • Develop and use of forecast models, based on the conditions of the Valley of Aburrá.
  • Deliver the information promptly to the community and the entities working on risk management in the region.

During ODD we had the SIATA team to talk about the factors affecting air quality in Medellín, ask them questions, point good practices, difficulties and possibilities of access to the data that the centre produces:

Listen to audio – Estefanía Acosta on her role as citizen

Other Ideas during this session about access to data:

  • Data made available by SIATA is on a test site
  • To access the data you need to fill a form. This data has a structure defined by the researchers.
  • The data are available in CSV and you must request the link to access them.
  • There are no APIs to make the data available

Experiments with sensors from academia and citizens

Julián Gálvez — EAFIT Integrante Misión Simple-1

Missión Simple 1 is a project which provides access to space from a research seed space made of undergrads and graduate students of EAFIT University. This mission seeks to design, build, test and validate a small satellite called “CanSat” (because of its soda can shape) to be tested on a rocket platform of mid range.

During ODD we had the presence of Julián Gálvez one of the members of Misión Simple 1. He explained how nano-satellites can contribute to the remote measuring and to the actions of Earth observation, considering air quality, among others. We could also see a demo of a low-cost sensor developed using a microcontroller and a real-time visualisation of the gathered data.


Julián Giraldo – Member Un/loquer, hackerspace

We also had the presence of the Un/loquer collective. Julián Giraldo, known as Brolin, shared their projects during ODD. You can find more information about their work here:

What’s the expectation about Open Data and Air Quality?

Academia and public entities are still researching technologies that will allow us to have better data to understand the conditions of the Valley of Aburrá. The members of the Mayor’s office claim that the air quality sensor network and the network of Citizen Scientists generate relevant data with scientific accuracy. Getting to a red alert on air quality is closer than we think. The SIATA team mentioned that Medellín has had an unexpected growth in a number of motorised vehicles, this is still one of the biggest air polluters.

The Open Data Day for Clear Air in Medellín is an initiative that will give us the roadmap to continue promoting free access to environmental data in the city. Gathering and systematizing information from the public and academic entities, as well as civic organizations is a must, in order to tackle the problems of air quality. It is also necessary to create alliances between the different actors and have a constant exchange, allowing information flow to all the citizens while letting different voices be heard.


At the end of the event, we listed all the difficulties and proposals for better open data in the city:

  • Privative formats for the data, outdated data and lack of channels to access data.
  • Lack of awareness or interest from the public servants about access to information as a citizen right, written in the law, as well as their refusal to use open formats.

The main proposals are:

  • Accountability from public entities should be done based on their own data
  • Organise the data with tags, so that they can be understood by every person interested in the subject, giving context about how the data is organised.
  • Standardise the datasets based on best practices of open data, to make access and processing easier
  • Create a citizen committee that will oversee the management of public information
  • Create a multi-sector board to generate exchange and horizontal participation.




Other resources



[1] Plan Operacional de Episodios Críticos de Contaminación Atmosférica — Valle del Aburrá.

[2] Lung Cancer, Cardiopulmonary Mortality, and Long-term Exposure to Fine Particulate Air Pollution C. Arden Pope III, PhD; Richard T. Burnett, PhD; Michael J. Thun, MD; et al.

[3] Medidas de datos+modelos asimiladosDatos crudos visualizadosCubeSats.

Hydra Project: IMLS grants for two Hydra-related projects

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-04-19 08:22

We are delighted to announce that the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded grants to two Hydra-related projects.

The Boston Public Library and the University of Utah have secured funding for “Newspapers in Hydra”.

The project will create: (1) a shareable, system- and programming-language-agnostic RDF-based data model addressing structural and descriptive metadata features unique to digitized newspapers; (2) a set of modular, open-source plugins for the popular Hydra/Fedora digital repository framework for ingesting, describing, discovering, displaying, and disseminating digitized newspaper content; and (3) a community of practitioners — including developers, librarians, content specialists, and managers — dedicated to addressing challenges and collaborating on best practices associated with managing digitized newspapers.

Northwestern and Indiana Universities have secured funding for “Avalon Media System: Integrating audiovisual collections with research, digital preservation, and a sustainable developer community.”

The aim of this two-year project is to increase adoption of Avalon within the library and archives community by enhancing the value proposition of Avalon and carrying out work to help ensure sustainability: (1) Integrate Avalon within the Hydra community. We will adapt Avalon to make use of the current Hydra open source repository software stack and will engage members of the Hydra community in development through community sprints. We will also increase the modularity of Avalon so that its components can be more easily integrated into other Hydra-based repository systems, including Hydra-in-a-Box, to provide time-based media access; (2) Implement a cloud-hosted Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) version of Avalon. We will work with Lyrasis and DuraSpace on the establishment of a hosted SaaS offering by conducting pilots to help provide cost modeling for Avalon as a cloud based service; (3) Connect Avalon to media preservation systems and workflows. We will connect Avalon to long-term digital preservation solutions and improve interoperability with workflow and management tools in order to provide a complete AV preservation and access platform, by working with Artefactual Systems to integrate Avalon with the Archivematica platform; (4) Enable interoperability with scholarly tools. The Avalon technical team will take a leadership role with the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) by contributing to the creation of an AV interoperability spec and providing a demonstration implementation.

Our congratulations to both teams!

DuraSpace News: Welcome New DuraSpace Board Members Kaitlin Thaney and Wolfram Horstmann

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-04-19 00:00

Austin, TX The DuraSpace organization is pleased to announce that Kaitlin Thaney and Wolfram Horstmann have accepted appointments to the DuraSpace Board of Directors.

DuraSpace News: Welcome Erin Tripp: Business Development Manager for DuraSpace

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-04-19 00:00

Austin, TX  DuraSpace is pleased to announce that Erin Tripp will join DuraSpace as the new Business Development Manager on May 1, 2017. Her duties will include pursuing new partnerships, grants, and strategies to grow business for DuraSpace hosted services DuraCloud, DSpaceDirect, and ArchivesDirect. Working with staff and our community, Mrs. Tripp will help cultivate new business opportunities for DuraSpace.

DuraSpace News: PARTICIPATE: Beyond the Repository Survey On Distributed Preservation

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-04-19 00:00

From the "Beyond the Repository" Team: Laura Alagna, Carolyn Caizzi, Brendan Quinn, Sibyl Schaefer, Evviva Weinraub

District Dispatch: How to participate in #NLLD17 from home

planet code4lib - Tue, 2017-04-18 18:59

As library supporters from across the United States prepare to go to Washington, D.C. to participate in National Library Legislative Day, don’t forget that you can participate from home!

All week long (May 1-5th), we’re asking library supporters to email, call, and tweet their Members of Congress about federal library funding and other key library issues. Register now, and you will receive an email on May 1st reminding you to take action, along with a link to the livestream from National Library Legislative Day, so you can hear our keynote speaker and the issue briefings live.

This year’s keynote speaker will be Hina Shamsi, Director of the ACLU National Security Project, and the issue briefings will be provided by the staff of the ALA Washington Office. Check out our earlier post to see the full list of panels at National Library Legislative Day this year.

This year, we’re asking Congress to:

House: Save IMLS; Fully Fund LSTA & IAL
Senate: Sign LSTA & IAL “Dear Appropriator” Letters
House/Senate Reauthorize MLSA (incl. LSTA)

We’ll have talking points and background information available on the Action Center starting May 1st, to help you craft your message. You can use the event tag #NLLD17 to join in the conversation.

Looking for other ways to participate? Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr users can sign up to participate in our Thunderclap.

Questions? Email

The post How to participate in #NLLD17 from home appeared first on District Dispatch.

LITA: Universal Design for Libraries and Librarians a popular repeat LITA web course

planet code4lib - Tue, 2017-04-18 15:06

Don’t miss your chance to participate in the repeat of this popular web course. Register now for this  LITA web course:

Universal Design for Libraries and Librarians


  • Holly Mabry, Digital Services Librarian, Gardner-Webb University; and
  • Jessica Olin, Director of the Library, Robert H. Parker Library, Wesley College

Offered May 15 to June 19, 2017.

A Moodle based web course with asynchronous weekly content lessons, tutorials, assignments, and group discussions.

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

Universal Design is the idea of designing products, places, and experiences to make them accessible to as broad a spectrum of people as possible, without requiring special modifications or adaptations. This course will present an overview of universal design as a historical movement, as a philosophy, and as an applicable set of tools. Students will learn about the diversity of experiences and capabilities that people have, including disabilities (e.g. physical, learning, cognitive, resulting from age and/or accident), cultural backgrounds, and other abilities. The class will also give students the opportunity to redesign specific products or environments to make them more universally accessible and usable.


By the end of this class, students will be able to…

  • Articulate the ethical, philosophical, and practical aspects of Universal Design as a method and movement – both in general and as it relates to their specific work and life circumstances
  • Demonstrate the specific pedagogical, ethical, and customer service benefits of using Universal Design principles to develop and recreate library spaces and services in order to make them more broadly accessible
  • Integrate the ideals and practicalities of Universal Design into library spaces and services via a continuous critique and evaluation cycle

Here’s the Course Page

Holly Mabry

Holly Mabry received her MLIS from UNC-Greensboro in 2009. She is currently the Digital Services Librarian at Gardner-Webb University where she manages the university’s institutional repository, and teaches the library’s for-credit online research skills course. Since finishing her MLIS, she has done several presentations at local and national library conferences on implementing universal design in libraries with a focus on accessibility for patrons with disabilities.

Jessica Olin

Jessica Olin is the Director of the Library, Robert H. Parker Library, Wesley College. Ms. Olin received her MLIS from Simmons College in 2003 and an MAEd, with a concentration in Adult Education, from Touro University International. Her first position in higher education was at Landmark College, a college that is specifically geared to meeting the unique needs of people with learning differences. While at Landmark, Ms. Olin learned about the ethical, theoretical, and practical aspects of universal design. She has since taught an undergraduate course for both the education and the entrepreneurship departments at Hiram College on the subject.


May 15 – June 19, 2017


  • LITA Member: $135
  • ALA Member: $195
  • Non-member: $260

Technical Requirements:

Moodle login info will be sent to registrants the week prior to the start date. The Moodle-developed course site will include weekly new content lessons and is composed of self-paced modules with facilitated interaction led by the instructor. Students regularly use the forum and chat room functions to facilitate their class participation. The course web site will be open for about a week prior to the start date for students to have access to Moodle instructions and set their browser correctly. The course site will remain open for 90 days after the end date for students to refer back to course material.

Registration Information:

Register Online, page arranged by session date (login required)
Mail or fax form to ALA Registration
call 1-800-545-2433 and press 5

Questions or Comments?

For all other questions or comments related to the course, contact LITA at (312) 280-4268 or Mark Beatty,

Open Knowledge Foundation: Open Research event in Yaoundé, Cameroon

planet code4lib - Tue, 2017-04-18 09:02

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

On 6th April 2017, I was finally to organise an Open Research Data event in Yaoundé, Cameroon to train the young and next generation of social scientists on transparency and reproducibility tools to enhance the openness of their research. Of a pool of 80 applicants, about 40 participants were carefully selected based on their gender, their field of study as well as their previous knowledge and interest towards research replicability and openness.

In spite of the heavy rainfall that preceded the opening ceremony, about 30 participants from various Cameroonian universities and disciplines ranging from economics, political science to psychology were able to attend the event. We were also lucky to have among the attendees about 4 participants originally from Benin. The event kicked off with an introduction of the topics intended to be covered.

The first part of the presentation focused on sensitising participants on the different forms of academic research misconducts, with concrete examples of research falsifications with regards to economics and psychology over the last decade.  

We also discussed the various types of academic research misconducts, such as publication bias, p-hacking, failure to replicate, unreproducible workflow as well as the lack of sharing and openness in research. At the end of this first part of the workshop, a lively discussion arose with participants, especially on the difficulties for young PhD students to deviate from the traditional “hidden”  and “lack of sharing” behaviour inherited from their senior mentors.

Some attendees also mentioned bottlenecks to access data from National Statistical Offices (NIS), that are meant to be opened and freely accessible to the academic research community, as one of the key impediment to pursuing their respective research. They also raise the difficulty they face in getting access to publication (not even raw or cleaned datasets) from their peers/colleagues.

The second half of the day centred on introducing participants to different solutions that could be undertaken to enhance the openness of their research, such as pre-registration, pre-analysis plan, data sharing and the construction of a reproducible and transparent workflow, dynamic documents etc. An example on how to pre-register a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) or a research undertaken with secondary data was made under the American Economic Association (AEA) Social Science Registry as well as the Open Science Framework (OSF). A compelling presentation of what is a Pre-Analysis Plan (PAP) was done by the BITSS (Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences) catalyst Faha Nochi Dief Reagen.

Dief Reagen Nochi Faha of Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences leading a presentation.

After that, STATA Do files and R Markdown codes along with R, R studio and STATA 13 set up were distributed to participants with useful assistance from Mr Cyrille Moise Touk and Mr Dief Reagan Nochi Faha.

The internet connection was a bit of a challenge, especially when it came to loading up some of the R packages to build dynamic documents in R (R Markdown, Foreign, Stargazer, Sandwich) and Stata (Markdoc). The practical sessions, however, went very well and almost all the participants were able to successfully run the code and get their dynamic documents done either in R or STATA.

At the end of the workshop, students were encouraged to apply for the forthcoming OpenCon2017 conference to learn more about Scholarly Publishing and Altmetrics and also apply to the BITSS summer institute of UC Berkeley.

The views of two participants:

“I really wish I knew about all those bottlenecks to research openness (Publication bias, P-hacking, failure to replicate, unreproducible workflow, lack of data sharing and transparency) at the very beginning of my PhD, I would have been more cautious. However, now that the workshop has raised my awareness on the necessity to be more transparent and open in research, I could use the knowledge acquired to enhance the quality of my current and forthcoming publications.” – Mr Armand Mboutchouang Kountchou; Final year PhD Student in economics, University of Yaounde II-SOA and African Economic and Research Consortium (AERC)

“Research transparency, reproducibility and openness tools should be integrated into the academic curriculum of our universities from the undergraduate level. This could enable the next generation of African economic researchers to embrace a different path in order to enhance the credibility and quality of their research outputs.” – Mr Nochi Faha Dief Reagen; PhD Student in economics, University of Yaounde II-SOA and University of Rennes 1, France.



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