Library of Congress: The Signal: FADGI MXF Video Specification Moves Up an Industry-organization Approval Ladder
The following is a guest post by Carl Fleischhauer, who organized the FADGI Audio-Visual Working Group in 2007. Fleischhauer recently retired from the Library of Congress.
The Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative Audio-Visual Working Group is pleased to announce a milestone in the development of the AS-07 MXF video-preservation format specification. AS-07 has taken shape under the auspices of a not-for-profit trade group: the Advanced Media Workflow Association. AS-07 is now an official AMWA Proposed Specification, and the current version (CC by SA Creative Commons license and all) has been posted at the AMWA website. Although this writer retired from the Library in April, he helped shepherd the specification through this phase.
AS-07 is one of three new AMWA specifications announced in June. Another one is the organization’s new process rule book. The new AMWA process is patterned on the Requests for Comment approach used by the Internet Engineering Task Force. In the new AMWA scheme, there are three levels of maturity:
- Work in Progress
- Proposed Specification
Two earlier versions of AS-07 were exposed for community comment at the AMWA website, beginning in September 2014, and this met the requirements for a Work in Progress. For more information about the history of AS-07, refer to the FADGI website.
AS-07 is a standards-based specification. For the most part it is a cookbook recipe for a particular subtype of the MXF standard. MXF stands for Material eXchange Format, and that format’s complex and lengthy set of rules and options is spelled out in more than thirty standards from the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. AS-07 also enumerates a number of permitted encodings and other components, each of which is based on other standards from SMPTE, the International Organization for Standardization and International Electrotechnical Commission, the European Broadcast Union, and special White Paper documents from the British Broadcasting Corporation. It is no wonder that a cookbook recipe is called for!
Why the emphasis on standards? The short answer is that standards underpin interoperability, in the digital world just as surely as they have for, say, the dimensions of railroad tracks, so my boxcar will roll down your rail line. It is worth saying that, in our preservation context, interoperability has both current and future dimensions. Today, cooperating archives may exchange preservation master files and these must be readable by both parties. More important, however, is temporal interoperability: today’s content must be readable by the archive of tomorrow. AS-07’s extensive use of standards-based design supports both types of interoperability.
At a high level, the objectives for video archival master files (aka preservation masters) are like those for the digital preservation reformatting for other categories of content. Archives want their masters to reproduce picture and sound at very high levels of quality. In addition, the preservation masters should be complete and authentic copies of the originals, i.e., in the case of video, they should retain components like multiple timecodes, closed captions and multiple soundtracks. And–back to temporal interoperability–the files must support access by future users.
What are some of the features of AS-07? The specification emphasizes encodings that ensure the highest possible quality of picture and sound, including requirements for declaring the correct aspect ratio and handling the intricacies of interlaced picture, a characteristic of pre-digital video. Beyond those elements, AS-07 also specifies options for the following:
- Captions and Subtitles
- retain and provide carriage for captions and subtitles
- translate binary-format captions and subtitles to XML Timed Text
- Audio Track Layout and Labeling
- provide options for audio track layout and labeling
- Content integrity
- provide support for within-file content integrity data
- provide coherent master timecode
- retain legacy timecode
- label multiple timecodes
- Embedding Text-Based and Binary Data
- provide carriage of supplementary metadata (text-based data)
- provide carriage of captions and subtitles in the form of Timed Text (text-based data)
- provide carriage of a manifest (text-based data)
- provide carriage of still images, documents, EBU STL, etc. (binary data)
- Language Tagging
- provide a means to tag Timed Text languages
- retain language tagging associated with legacy binary caption or subtitle data
- provide a means to tag soundtrack languages
- provide support for segmented content
AS-07 has not been exclusively developed in writing (“on paper,” in oldspeak). The format is based on pioneering work done by Jim Lindner in the early 2000s, when he developed a system called SAMMA (System for the Automated Migration of Media Archives). SAMMA produces MXF files for which the picture data is encoded as lossless JPEG 2000 frame images. It also operates in a robotic mode, to support high-volume reformatting.
Jim’s design for SAMMA was motivated by the forecasts for high-volume reformatting at the Library’s audio-visual center in Culpeper, Virginia (today’s Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation), which was then in its planning phase. The Packard Campus began operation in 2007 and, since then, more than 160,000 videotapes have been reformatted using the SAMMA system. AS-07 is very much a refinement and elaboration of the SAMMA format. In order to get a better look at those refinements, in 2015, the AS-07 team commissioned the production of custom-made sample files.
What next? The interesting — and I think proper — feature of the new AMWA process concerns the movement from Proposed Specification to Specification. The rulebook lists several bullets as requirements but the gist is this: you gotta have implementation and adoption. AS-07 at this time is, metaphorically, a recipe ready to test in the kitchen. Now it is time to cook and taste the pudding. After there are instances of implementation and adoption, these will be reported to the AMWA board with a request to advance AS-07 to the level of [approved] Specification. (Of course, if the process reveals problems, the specification will be modified.)
The first steps toward implementation are under way. On FADGI’s behalf, the Library has contracted with Audiovisual Preservation Solutions and EVS to assemble additional test files, and to have them reviewed by an outside expert. At the same time, James Snyder, the Senior Systems Administrator at the Packard Campus, is working with vendors to do some actual workups. (James oversees the campus’s use of SAMMA and has been an active AS-07 team member.) We trust that these implementation efforts will bear fruit during the remaining months of 2016.
D-Lib Magazine has just published my analysis of the 2015 International Linked Data Survey for Implementers.* I published the results of the 2014 linked data survey in a series of blog posts here between 28 August 2014 and 8 September 2014 (1 — Who’s doing it; 2 — Examples in production; 3 — Why and what institutions are consuming; 4 — Why and what institutions are publishing; 5 — Technical details; 6 — Advice from the implementers). Discussions with OCLC Research Library Partners metadata managers prompted these surveys, as they thought there were more linked data projects that had been implemented than they were aware of.
I had two objectives for repeating the 2014 survey in 2015:
- Increase survey participation, especially by national libraries.
- Identify changes in the linked data environment, as described in my 1 June 2015 posting, What’s changed in linked data implementations?
We met the first objective. Few national libraries were represented in the 48 responding institutions to the 2014 survey (those that had implemented or were implementing linked data projects or services), and several commentators noted their absence. To address this gap, we conducted the 2015 survey earlier, between 1 June and 31 July (rather than 7 July and 15 August in 2014). We were also more pro-active in recruiting responses. We indeed had increased participation, receiving responses from 71 institutions that had implemented or were implementing linked data projects or services, including 14 from national libraries (compared to just 4 in 2014). The number of projects described also increased, from 76 in 2014 to 112 in 2015.
The idea that we could compare responses to the same set of questions to identify changes or trends proved to be unrealistic for three reasons:
- Although I asked each responding institution in 2014 to also respond to the 2015 survey, only 29 did so. This is too small a pool to provide any over-arching “changes in the linked data environment.”
- One year is insufficient to note significant changes.
- Although repeat respondents had access to their responses in 2014, a number of their 2015 responses differed in areas that were not likely to change within a year (such as licenses, platforms, serializations, vocabularies used). It was unclear whether they really represented a change or just a different answer.
It is easier to note what did not change between the two surveys. For example:
- Most linked data projects or services both consume and publish linked data. Those that publish linked data only (and not consume it) are relatively few in both survey results.
- The chief motivations for publishing linked data are the same: expose data to a larger audience on the Web and demonstrate what could be done with datasets as linked data (80% or more of all respondents in each survey).
- Similarly, the chief motivations for consuming linked data are the same: provide local users with a richer experience and enhance local data by consuming linked data from other sources (74% or more of all respondents in each survey).
- Most respondents in each survey were libraries or networks of libraries. We had few responses from outside the library domain. In hindsight this is not surprising, as our social networks are with those who work in, for or with libraries
The 2015 survey results may be considered a partial snapshot of the (mostly) library linked data environment. Museums and digital humanities linked data projects are not well represented. I have been asked whether I plan to repeat the survey. I haven’t decided – what do you think?
If you’re interested in looking at the responses from institutions you consider your peers, or would like to analyze the results for yourself, all responses to both the 2015 and 2014 surveys (minus the contact information which we promised to keep confidential) are available at: http://www.oclc.org/content/dam/research/activities/linkeddata/oclc-research-linked-data-implementers-survey-2014.xlsx
* Full citation: Smith-Yoshimura, Karen. 2016. Analysis of International Linked Data Survey for Implementers. D-Lib Magazine 22 (7/8) doi:10.1045/july2016-smith-yoshimuraAbout Karen Smith-Yoshimura
Karen Smith-Yoshimura, senior program officer, works on topics related to creating and managing metadata with a focus on large research libraries and multilingual requirements.Mail | Web | Twitter | More Posts (68)
DuraSpace News: VIVO Updates for July 10–VIVO16 Conference News, VIVO 1.9 and Vitro 1.9 Release Candidates, OpenVIVO Update
From Mike Conlon, VIVO Project Director
Apps Contest and Linked Data Contest. Do you have an application that uses VIVO data? Do you have a set of linked data that you can share? The VIVO Conference is holding its annual Application Contest and Linked Data Contest. You will receive an email this week with instructions for applying. Applications will be due August 1. It's easy to apply. Winners will be recognized in the program and recognized in OpenVIVO!
Before we can posit any solutions to the problems that I have noted in these posts, we need to at least know what questions we are trying to answer. To me, the main question is:
What should happen between the search box and the bibliographic display?
Or as Pauline Cochrane asked: "Why should a user ever enter a search term that does not provide a link to the syndetic apparatus and a suggestion about how to proceed?" I really like the "suggestion about how to proceed" that she included there. Although I can think of some exceptions, I do consider this an important question.
If you took a course in reference work at library school (and perhaps such a thing is no longer taught - I don't know), then you learned a technique called "the reference interview." The Wikipedia article on this is not bad, and defines the concept as an interaction at the reference desk "in which the librarian responds to the user's initial explanation of his or her information need by first attempting to clarify that need and then by directing the user to appropriate information resources." The assumption of the reference interview is that the user arrives at the library with either an ill-formed query, or one that is not easily translated to the library's sources. Bill Katz's textbook "Introduction to Reference Work" makes the point bluntly:
"Be skeptical of the of information the patron presents" 
If we're so skeptical that the user could approach the library with the correct search in mind/hand, then why then do we think that giving the user a search box in which to put that poorly thought out or badly formulated search is a solution? This is another mind-boggler to me.
So back to our question, what SHOULD happen between the search box and the bibliographic display? This is not an easy question, and it will not have a simple answer. Part of the difficulty of the answer is that there will not be one single right answer. Another difficulty is that we won't know a right answer until we try it, give it some time, open it up for tweaking, and carefully observe. That's the kind of thing that Google does when they make changes in their interface, but we haven't got either Google's money nor its network (we depend on vendor systems, which define what we can and cannot do with our catalog).
Since I don't have answers (I don't even have all of the questions) I'll pose some questions, but I really want input from any of you who have ideas on this, since your ideas are likely to be better informed than mine. What do we want to know about this problem and its possible solutions?
(Some of) Karen's QuestionsWhy have we stopped evolving subject access?Is it that keyword access is simply easier for users to understand? Did the technology deceive us into thinking that a "syndetic apparatus" is unnecessary? Why have the cataloging rules and bibliographic description been given so much more of our profession's time and development resources than subject access has? 
Is it too late to introduce knowledge organization to today's users?The user of today is very different to the user of pre-computer times. Some of our users have never used a catalog with an obvious knowledge organization structure that they must/can navigate. Would they find such a structure intrusive? Or would they suddenly discover what they had been missing all along? 
Can we successfully use the subject access that we already have in library records?Some of the comments in the articles organized by Cochrane in my previous post were about problems in the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), in particular that the relationships between headings were incomplete and perhaps poorly designed. Since LCSH is what we have as headings, could we make them better? Another criticism was the sparsity of "see" references, once dictated by the difficulty of updating LCSH. Can this be ameliorated? Crowdsourced? Localized?
We still do not have machine-readable versions of the Library of Congress Classification (LCC), and the machine-readable Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) has been taken off-line (and may be subject to licensing). Could we make use of LCC/DDC for knowledge navigation if they were available as machine-readable files?
Given that both LCSH and LCC/DDC have elements of post-composition and are primarily instructions for subject catalogers, could they be modified for end-user searching, or do we need to develop a different instrument altogether?
How can we measure success?Without Google's user laboratory apparatus, the answer to this may be: we can't. At least, we cannot expect to have a definitive measure. How terrible would it be to continue to do as we do today and provide what we can, and presume that it is better than nothing? Would we really see, for example, a rise in use of library catalogs that would confirm that we have done "the right thing?"
Notes*Modern Subject Access in the Online Age: Lesson 3
Author(s): Pauline A. Cochrane, Marcia J. Bates, Margaret Beckman, Hans H. Wellisch, Sanford Berman, Toni Petersen, Stephen E. Wiberley and Jr.
Source: American Libraries, Vol. 15, No. 4 (Apr., 1984), pp. 250-252, 254-255
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25626708
 Katz, Bill. Introduction to Reference Work: Reference Services and Reference Processes. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1992. p. 82 http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/928951754. Cited in: Brown, Stephanie Willen. The Reference Interview: Theories and Practice. Library Philosophy and Practice 2008. ISSN 1522-0222
 One answer, although it doesn't explain everything, is economic: the cataloging rules are published by the professional association and are a revenue stream for it. That provides an incentive to create new editions of rules. There is no economic gain in making updates to the LCSH. As for the classifications, the big problem there is that they are permanently glued onto the physical volumes making retroactive changes prohibitive. Even changes to descriptive cataloging must be moderated so as to minimize disruption to existing catalogs, which we saw happen during the development of RDA, but with some adjustments the new and the old have been made to coexist in our catalogs.
 Note that there are a few places online, in particular Wikipedia, where there is a mild semblance of organized knowledge and with which users are generally familiar. It's not the same as the structure that we have in subject headings and classification, but users are prompted to select pre-formed headings, with a keyword search being secondary.
 Simon Spero did a now famous (infamous?) analysis of LCSH's structure that started with Biology and ended with Doorbells.
One of my favourite exercises from library school is perhaps one that you had to do as well. We were instructed to find a particular term from the Library of Congress Subject Heading “Red Books” and develop that term into a topic map that would illustrate the relationships between the chosen term and its designated broader terms, narrower terms and related terms. Try as I might, I cannot remember the term that I used in my assignment so many years ago so, here is such a mapping for existentialism.
Recently we’ve been spending much attention on the language of these subject headings as we come to recognize those particular headings that are reductive and problematic. For example, undocumented students are denied their basic humanity when they are described as illegal aliens. And as most of you already know, the act of reforming this particular heading was seriously hindered by Republicans in the House of Representatives.
As troubling as this interference is, this is not what I want to write about LCSH for you today. For this post, I want to bring greater attention to something else about subject headings. I want to share something that Karen Coyle has pointed out repeatedly but that I have only recently finally grokked.
When we moved to online library catalogues, we stripped all the relationship context from our subject headings — all those related terms, broader terms, all those relationships that placed a concept in relationship with other concepts. As such, all of our subject headings may as well be ‘tags’ for how they are used in our systems. Furthermore, the newer standards that are being developed to replace MARC (FRBR, Bibframe, RDF) either don’t capture this information or if they do, the systems being developed around these standards do not to use these subject relationships or hinder subject ordering [ed. text corrected].
From the slides of “How not to waste catalogers’ time: Making the most of subject headings“, a code4lib presentation from John Mark Ockerbloom:Here’s another way we can view and explore works on a particular subject. This is a catalog I’ve built of public domain and other freely readable texts available on the Internet. It organizes works based on an awareness of subjects and how subjects are cataloged. The works we see at the top of the list on the right, for instance, tend to be works where “United States – History – Revolution, 1775-1783” was the first subject assigned. Books where that subject was further down their subject list tend to appear appear further down in this list. I worry about whether I’ll still be able to do this when catalogs migrate to RDF. [You just heard in the last talk] that in RDF, unlike in MARC, you have to go out of your way to preserve property ordering. So here’s my plea to you who are developing RDF catalogs: PLEASE GO OUT OF YOUR WAY AND PRESERVE SUBJECT ORDERING!
I highly recommend reading Karen Coyle’s series of posts on Catalog and Context in which she patiently presents the reader the history and context of why Library of Congress Subject Headings were developed, how they were used and then explains what has been lost and why.
It begins like this:
Imagine that you do a search in your GPS system and are given the exact point of the address, but nothing more.
Without some context showing where on the planet the point exists, having the exact location, while accurate, is not useful.
In essence, this is what we provide to users of our catalogs. They do a search and we reply with bibliographic items that meet the letter of that search, but with no context about where those items fit into any knowledge map.
And what was lost? While our online catalogs make known-item searching very simple, our catalogues are terrible!dismal!horrible! for discovery and exploration.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why there is so much interest in outsider-libraries that are built for discovery, like The Prelinger Library.
This remarkable library – which is run by only two people – turns a collection of ephemera, found material and of library discards into a collection built for visual inspiration and support of the independent scholar through careful selection and an unique arrangement that was developed by Megan Prelinger:
Inspired by Aby Warburg’s “law of the good neighbor” the Prelinger Library’s organization does not follow conventional classification systems such as the Dewey Decimal System. Instead it was custom-designed by Megan Shaw Prelinger in a way that would allow visitors to browse and encounter titles by accident or, better yet, by good fortune. Furthermore, somewhat evoking the shifts in magnitudes at play in Charles and Ray Eames’s Powers of Ten (1977) the shelves’ contents are arranged according to a geospatial model departing from the local material specifically originating from or dealing with San Francisco and ending with the cosmic where books on both outer space and science fiction are combined with the more ethereal realms of math, religion, and philosophy.
Of particular note: The Prelinger Library does not have a library catalogue and they don’t support query based research. They think query based research is reductive (Situated Systems, Issue 3: The Prelinger Library).
One thing I wonder: why do we suggest that catalogers work the reference desk but don't suggest that reference folks work in cataloging?
— Erin Leach (@erinaleach) June 26, 2016
Frankly, I’m embarrassed how little I know about the intellectual work behind our systems that I use and teach as a liaison librarian. I do understand that libraries, like many other organizations such as museums, theatre and restaurants, have a “front of house” and “back of house” with separate practices and cultures and that there are very good reasons for specialization. That being said, I believe that the force of digitization has collapsed the space between the public and technical services of the library. In fact, I would go as far to say that the separation is largely a product of past organizational practice and it doesn’t make much sense anymore.
Inspired by Karen Coyle, Christina Harlow, and the very good people of mashcat, I’m working on improving my own understanding of the systems and if you are interested, you can follow my readings in this pursuit on my reading journal, Reading is Becoming. It contains quotes like this:
GV: You mentioned “media archeology” and I was wondering if you’re referring to any of Shannon Mattern’s work…
RP: Well, she’s one of the smartest people in the world. What Shannon Mattern does that’s super-interesting is she teaches both urban space and she teaches libraries and archives. And it occurred to me after looking at her syllabi — and I know she’s thought about this a lot, but one model for thinking about archives in libraries — you know, Megan was the creator of the specialized taxonomy for this pace, but in a broader sense, collections are cities. You know, there’s neighborhoods of enclosure and openness. There’s areas of interchange. There’s a kind of morphology of growth which nobody’s really examined yet. But I think it’s a really productive metaphor for thinking about what the specialty archives have been and what they might be. [Mattern’s] work is leading in that position. She teaches a library in her class.
I understand the importance of taking a critical stance towards the classification systems of our libraries and recognizing when these systems use language that is offensive or unkind to the populations we serve. But critique is not enough. These are our systems and the responsibility to amend them, to improve them, to re-imagine them, and to re-build them as necessary- these are responsibilities of those of our profession.
We know where we need to go. We already have a map.
Fellow LITA Members:
By now you are aware of the violence that occurred overnight in Dallas, Texas. Five police officers were killed and nine officers and civilians were wounded when a gunman opened fire during a peaceful protest about the recent deaths of black men at the hands of police in other cities. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who have had loved ones killed or injured, as well as to the residents of Dallas who will be facing a great deal of uncertainty in the coming days.
As you may know, LITA will hold its annual LITA Forum in Dallas’ sister city, Fort Worth, this November. LITA staff and leadership will monitor events in the Metroplex over the coming weeks and will stay in communication with our contacts at the Forum venue. We will pass along any LITA-related news or opportunities to support the community as they become available.
In the meantime, I would ask that you reach out to friends, family members, and colleagues who may be distressed by last night’s events. As we learned from the recent shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, you don’t have to be physically near to this kind of violence to be deeply affected by it. Often the most powerful thing we can do is to reach out with compassion to those who are hurting.
Be well. – Aimee
Aimee Fifarek, LITA President
If you’d told me upon joining the staff of ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) two-plus years ago that I’d be invited to spend a workday mulling over the proper way to credit creators of 3D printed objects, I would have told you to take your time machine back to Tomorrowland for repairs…It must be on the blink, because it transported you to a universe separate from our own…And if you’d informed me I’d spend that day with a gaggle of intellectual property lawyers and digital designers, I would have told you to scrap your time machine altogether. Luckily, I’ve had the privilege of immersing myself in the 3D space as a member of the OITP team, so when I found myself in this exact situation last week, I was confident I hadn’t lost my cosmic bearings.
While I wasn’t bewildered, I certainly was honored. The day consisted of a series of legal, design and technology discussions on the NASA Ames Campus in Mountain View, California. The discussions were sponsored by Creative Commons (CC) – the non-profit that offers standard open licenses for the use and remixing of copyrighted content. They brought together representatives from some very recognizable players in the 3D printing realm: MakerBot, Shapeways, Aleph Objects and the National Institutes of Health 3D Print Exchange, to name a handful.
In addition to feeling honored, I was just a bit tired. I arrived at the discussions straight from the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando. After tramping about the Orange County Convention Center and its expansive environs for six days, swinging out to The Golden State had me craving a jet-fuel-grade cup of coffee. But I digress.
The principal question at hand over the course of the day: How to create a standard method of author attribution for CC-licensed 3D designs once they’ve been built by a printer. Attributing the CC-licensed design in digital form is relatively straightforward. As Creative Commons staffer Jane Park mentions in a recent blog post, major digital design-sharing platforms allow for design files to be marked with Creative Commons licenses that include source metadata. But once a printer converts a CC-licensed design into physical form, the design’s Creative Commons and source information are lost.
Although it’s technically an open question whether or not clear attribution must be present on physical representations of CC-licensed designs, all but one Creative Commons license – CC0 – includes an attribution requirement. So, Creative Commons and all those supportive of the pro-information-access value on which they were founded, have a vested interest in finding a standard attribution mechanism for 3D printed objects. A standard attribution mechanism of this kind would also help 3D designers track when and how their designs are being used after the print button is pushed.
I wish I could say we found one, but we didn’t get that far. Last week’s discussions were only the beginning of what will surely be a robust and deliberative discourse. Several possible solutions were propounded – e.g., the use of RFID tags or barcodes (à la Thingiverse’s “print tag things”) – but none were explored from all angles. Nonetheless, one thing that gained significant traction was the idea that all of the attribution information that is gained about 3D printed objects moving forward should be indexed in a registry of some kind.
So, mile one of the marathon is in the books. ALA appreciates the opportunity to participate in the attribution discussion for 3D printed objects from the starting line. We – and I personally – would like to thank Creative Commons and Michael Weinberg of Shapeways for organizing and hosting the event. You can read Michael’s thorough overview on the challenge of attribution in 3D printing here. Do you have ideas on how to solve the challenge? Share them in the comments section.
The post California talks address challenge of attribution in 3D printing appeared first on District Dispatch.
Back in December I read an article about Seattle Public Library’s WiFi HotSpot lending program. At the time of the article they had 325 devices available for checkout and a waiting list of more than 1,000 patrons. The program was started via a grant with Google but at the end of the year SPL needed to find a permanent solution for paying for the program, which they did. Their goal is 775 units in all. You can see in the graphic above SPL has 566 HotSpots (as of July 7, 2016) with 1,211 holds.
It’s an ambitious program but given the size of the population they serve it may be too small. The New York Public Library has 10,000 devices in its HotSpot program, but again that’s probably not enough. In fact, according to their website all the devices are out (they’re doing a program where patrons get the HotSpot for up to a full year). Of course, comparing Seattle to New York City isn’t exactly apples to apples, but the goal is the same: providing home internet access to people who currently don’t have it.
Both SPL and NYPL started their programs with grants. They also have large taxing bodies in order to support such large programs. I opted to dedicate a portion of my budget to start a pilot program with five devices running unlimited data on both 5G and 2.4G networks. With practically no marketing—we put up signs in the library and included it in our newsletter—the HotSpots were all checked out on the first day they were available. Patrons check them out for one week at a time and can renew the HotSpot up to three times as long as there are no holds.
We have 37 holds on those five devices.
Clearly we need to expand the program. Almost immediately after launching our five HotSpots I got an email from TechSoup—they’re a non-profit who provides technology for other non-profits including libraries—detailing an offer for HotSpots through a company called Mobile Beacon. I requested maximum number of devices, ten, through TechSoup. We are cataloging and processing the HotSpots so we can get them into our patrons’ hands as quickly as possible.
Just like Seattle and New York, we want to provide mobile internet access to patrons. Our program is smaller in size and ambition but no less important to the people we serve. Our school district provides iPads to all students K-12. That works great when the students are in school or at the library, but many of them do not have internet access at home. Now they can check out a HotSpot and have that access at home.
We have patrons who take HotSpots up north camping. Coverage was about what you’d expect as you get more remote so we tell patrons to check the coverage map before they check out a HotSpot. Other patrons used the HotSpot on long road trips (we assumed the driver did not also use the HotSpot).
Will 15 HotSpots be enough for our patrons? Time will tell; we can always add more. I’d rather have fewer devices that I can turn over regularly than a lot of devices sitting unused.
Have you started a HotSpot program at your library?
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is premised on the notion that sharing success stories can encourage further experimentation and reform. This is certainly true with parliaments, where the Legislative Openness Working Group (LOWG) has repeatedly witnessed the value of sharing information and experience.
To ensure that good practice is effectively captured and shared, the Working Group has collected comparative, global information on legislative openness practices. That information, which was gathered through an open survey process, is now publicly available.
Interested in comparative information on legislative openness? Curious about global good practice? Analyse the collected information, download the raw data, or contribute to this growing database at: beta.openparldata.org.
Capturing and compiling good practice can help advance reform efforts. By offering inspiration and guidance, these success stories can encourage reformers to follow in the footsteps of their colleagues. Comparing performance around the world or within a specific region can also be a useful incentive to catalyze reform efforts and empower open parliament champions.
For the Open Knowledge network, this website can serve as a jumping off point for further research into legislative data availability or advocacy around access to legislative information. Inspired in part by the Open Data Index, this crowdsourced effort represents an attempt to assess availability of legislative information. Parliaments, as the representative organ of government, stand to benefit immensely from more fully embracing open data and play an enormous role in creating a broader culture of openness across government. Hopefully, this website can inspire and inform further work in this area by members of the community.
Please note that the site is currently in beta, and the administrators expect additional changes to improve functionality and further clean the collected data. If there are specific features you would like to see added, or existing features you would like to see changed, please reach out to: firstname.lastname@example.org. This is very much a work in progress, and your contributions and suggestions are hugely appreciated.
What does the site provide?
The Legislative Openness Data Explorer provides global, comparative information on legislative openness practices. The current dataset focuses on legislative transparency, specifically what types of information are available and how the public can access that information. The core feature of the site is a customizable data table and map that presents the collected information. Using a red, yellow, green color scheme, the Explorer offers users a general summary of performance on a particular issue. For more detailed information, users can click the colored icon to see additional, detailed information.
For those interested in specific countries or regions, there is the option to generate a unique map. These visualizations make it easy to compare performance between different chambers of parliament on specific issues, either regionally or globally.
Thirty one chambers of parliament are currently covered on the site, though the administrators anticipate that many additional countries will be added in the coming months. If you are interested in adding data for a new chamber of parliament or country, please see this page. During Global Legislative Openness Week 2016 (GLOW), the Working Group will lead a campaign to collect information on all OGP member countries.
The website also includes a collection of good practice examples, drawing on the OpenGov Guide and related resources. This is of course an incomplete list, and users are able to submit additional examples here. This section is intended to help inspire and guide reform efforts. If you are interested in committee transparency, for instance, this tool will provide you with a growing collection of examples in that area.
This website can be used in a number of ways. For parliaments, the data will allow them to easily gather examples of good practice, be it publishing draft legislation in open formats or streaming video of committee meetings online. These good practices can provide reform minded parliamentarians or staff with new ideas and and guidance. For civil society, the collected data will enable simple comparisons between parliaments, which could be used to inform advocacy efforts and incentivize openness reform. Ultimately, the Working Group developed this resource to help support the creation of strong legislative openness commitments in OGP member countries.
How can I contribute?
It is important to note that this site is a work in progress. The site administrators anticipate making continual tweaks and improvements to the site and would welcome thoughts, comments, or questions. Additionally, users are able to submit new information on countries not yet covered, suggest edits to the existing data, or contribute a good practice example. For more information on how you can contribute, see this page. This resource was created by the global legislative openness community, and its usefulness will rely on the community’s continued engagement and support. For more information on the Legislative Openness Data Explorer, please see this page.
The Working Group would like to thank KohoVolit, a Czech and Slovak parliamentary monitoring organization, for their efforts and support. KohoVolit was responsible for building and supporting the design of the site.