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Tara Robertson: How to organize an inclusive and accessible conference

planet code4lib - Fri, 2017-06-30 17:31

I was asked by Brady Yano to offer feedback on the awesome OpenCon Diversity, Equity and Inclusion report that will be publishing as a PDF document in the second week of July.

I love that OpenCon is making their values explicit and transparent and connecting them to how they do their work:

Central to advancing Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education is the belief that information should be shared in an equitable and accessible way. It is important to us that OpenCon reflects these values—equity, accessibility, and inclusion—both in our communities and in the design of our conference. We recognize that although the Open movements are global in nature, privileged voices are typically prioritized in conferences while marginalized ones are excluded from the conversation. To avoid creating an environment that replicates power structures that exist in society, OpenCon does its best to design a meeting that (1) is accessible and inclusive, (2) meaningfully engages diverse perspectives, and (3) centers conversations around equity.

I also love that they’re being transparent about their process and self assessment publicly. I’d love to see more organizations do this.

In preparing feedback on this document I found myself referencing other documents that I’ve found useful. April Hathcock recently seeded a list of women who work in “open” and put it out for the wider community to add to.

Inspired by April’s approach I’ve put some resources for event organizers on inclusion and accessibility together in a Google Doc. This is open for editing, so please add other resources, beef up the annotations or organize the content in a more useful way.


DuraSpace News: Announcement: Fedora API Specification Initial Public Working Draft

planet code4lib - Fri, 2017-06-30 00:00

From Andrew Woods, Fedora Tech Lead, on behalf of the Specification Editors and the Fedora Leadership

After much discussion and iteration, the initial public working draft of the Fedora API Specification is now available for broader public review.

DuraSpace News: LAST CHANCE to Save on VIVO Conference Registration

planet code4lib - Fri, 2017-06-30 00:00

Registration prices for the VIVO Conference go up from $275 to $375 after today, June 30.

David Rosenthal: "to promote the progress of useful Arts"

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-06-29 15:00
This is just a quick note to say that anyone who believes the current patent and copyright systems are working "to promote the progress of useful Arts" needs to watch Bunnie Huang's talk to the Stanford EE380 course, and read Bunnie's book The Hardware Hacker. Below the fold, a brief explanation.

Carefully and in detail Bunnie explains "gongkai", the Chinese approach to intellectual property in the technology space. He shows how a focus on capabilities rather than products, on embodiment rather than licensing, has led to a technology ecosystem that is faster and more customer-focused than the Western system. Because it doesn't have the Western focus on legal means to exclude competition, it is much more competitive. It is capable of supporting both large companies, such as Xiaomi, Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu, but also a vibrant mass of smaller and smaller companies, down to one-man garage shops, all making money. Bunnie uses many examples, including:
  • The fact that it is essentially impossible for a small Western company to build a cheap smartphone because of the IP licensing involved, whereas in China a complete smartphone motherboard costs $12 quantity one from any number of manufacturers, ready for the case of your dreams. He compares this with a $29 Arduino, with only a fraction of the capability.
  • The comparison between Ailibaba's Alipay ($700B in 2015) system and Apple Pay ($11B in 2015). Note that Alipay is an open platform, Apple Pay is a walled garden.
  • The difficulty Western companies have in monetizing consumer technology products, because it takes only a few weeks from the product becoming available on Amazon to its being swamped by similar, but cheaper, products from Chinese companies. See, for example, the hoverboard:
    Shane Chen patented a device of this type in January 2013 but in 2015 stated that he had not earned anything from sales and would litigate. Separately Segway Inc. sued various manufacturers for infringement of their patents in 2014, before itself being acquired by one of them, Ninebot, in 2015. Note that patent litigation was filed just as the product died in the market; it was basically irrelevant.
This reminds me of John Boyd's OODA loop; observation leads to action in the Chinese ecosystem so much faster than in the Western ecosystem. No need to negotiate for IP, and no exclusion, mean that the gongkai ecosystem is far more competitive, and thus values fast response much more. Note also how much better suited it is to a world of 3D printing.

The function of systems based on legal exclusion, such as patents and copyrights, is to prevent competition and implement monopolies. No system of this kind can survive against a truly competitive system because it cannot respond fast enough. A 20-year patent or a 120-year copyright on technology is guaranteed to be obsolete  long before it expires.

pinboard: LODLAM Challenge Winners

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-06-29 14:06
RT @LODLAM: #LODLAM Challenge prize winners congrats to DIVE+ (Grand) & WarSampo (Open data) teams #DH #musetech #code4lib

Open Knowledge Foundation: Updates from Open Knowledge Portugal

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-06-29 10:35

This blog post is part of our summer series featuring updates from local groups across the Open Knowledge Network and was submitted by Open Knowledge Portugal team.

Here is a run-down of our recent activities:

Open Data Day 2017

In March, we joined the international community and organised a local Open Data Day. Unlike the previous two years, we decided to forgo an application to the generous OKI mini-grant scheme since we felt that none of the areas of focus would fit our current practice, and we didn’t want to squander the initiative by shoehorning a subject that we hadn’t developed so far.

Instead, we invited speakers from OpenStreetMap Portugal, Wikimedia and the Lisbon City Hall Open Data Initiative to allow us to touch many facets of open culture. The event was divided into two parts: a Mapping Party and a Discussion & Quiz session. The Mapping Party was aimed at OpenStreetMap newbies (most of us!) who wanted to learn how to contribute to the OSM community mapping initiative. The afternoon session was focused on the nitty-gritty of open data, featuring talks from guest such as Jorge Gustavo Rocha [OpenStreetMap Portugal], João Tremoceiro [Lisbon City Council] and André Barbosa [editor and administrator of Wikipedia] and a conversation between the guest speakers and audience. The day ended on a lighter note with a Quiz dedicated to open culture subjects.

Participants at the Open Data Day event organised by Open Knowledge Portugal

The event was in our view a great success, having served its main purpose of strengthening the national network around open knowledge and open data and cementing OKI-PT’s role in that field. You can read a machine-translated write-up of the details of the event here; for some reason, the photos are missing from the translated version so you can read the original post here for those fluent in Portuguese.

Other Updates…

As showcased in the Open Data Day post, we also had some interesting developments on our projects; our data-package related project Datacentral was adopted by the folks at Open Knowledge Switzerland for their Open Food initiative. We also launched, a central location to provide Portuguese-language information about what exactly is open data — a resource that we had been lacking for years.

We have also been maintaining Central de Dados, our independent data portal built on Datacentral and the data package standard developed by Open Knowledge Labs, and have been assessing ways to move to a more community-centered management for this resource.

We’ve been keeping up as well with our monthly Date With Data meetups, which are dedicated to the collective development of civic tech tools, apps and sites around Portuguese public information and open data.

We have also started a new monthly initiative, OKcafé (where the OK naturally stands for Open Knowledge ;-) ) which we intend to build into a meetup which, unlike the Date With Data meetups, is less focused on hands-on development and more about higher-level discussion and exchange between people interested in open data, and who might want to get closer to OKI. We’re hoping to get the interest of people who can help us develop efforts on the side of advocacy and local/national policy related to open data, which is a field that we haven’t had the manpower to develop properly over the recent years.

Finally, we took part in a debate, representing Open Knowledge Portugal, about the potential and perils of data mining and machine learning in an initiative promoted by the local Google Developers & Users Group in Porto.

Follow OK Portugal’s Twitter page for more information about the team and their projects. For anything specific concerning the team, contact the group leads Ricardo Lafuente and Marta Pinto.

Information Technology and Libraries: Privacy and User Experience in 21st Century Library Discovery

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-06-29 00:10

Over the last decade, libraries have taken advantage of emerging technologies to provide new discovery tools to help users find information and resources more efficiently. In the wake of this technological shift in discovery, privacy has become an increasingly prominent and complex issue for libraries. The nature of the web, over which users interact with discovery tools, has substantially diminished the library’s ability to control patron privacy. The emergence of a data economy has led to a new wave of online tracking and surveillance, in which multiple third parties collect and share user data during the discovery process, making it much more difficult, if not impossible, for libraries to protect patron privacy. In addition, users are increasingly starting their searches with web search engines, diminishing the library’s control over privacy even further.

While libraries have a legal and ethical responsibility to protect patron privacy, they are simultaneously challenged to meet evolving user needs for discovery. In a world where “search” is synonymous with Google, users increasingly expect their library discovery experience to mimic their experience using web search engines. However, web search engines rely on a drastically different set of privacy standards, as they strive to create tailored, personalized search results based on user data. Libraries are seemingly forced to make a choice between delivering the discovery experience users expect and protecting user privacy. This paper explores the competing interests of privacy and user experience, and proposes possible strategies to address them in the future design of library discovery tools.

Information Technology and Libraries: An Evidence-Based Review of Academic Web Search Engines, 2014-2016: Implications for librarians’ practice and research agenda

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-06-29 00:10

Academic web search engines have become central to scholarly research. While the fitness of Google Scholar for research purposes has been examined repeatedly, Microsoft Academic and Google Books have not received much attention. Recent studies have much to tell us about the coverage and utility of Google Scholar, its coverage of the sciences, and its utility for evaluating researcher impact. But other aspects have been woefully understudied, such as coverage of the arts and humanities, books, and non-Western, non-English publications. User research has also tapered off. A small number of articles hint at the opportunity for librarians to become expert advisors concerning opportunities of scholarly communication made possible or enhanced by these platforms. This article seeks to summarize research concerning Google Scholar, Google Books, and Microsoft Academic from the past three years with a mind to informing practice and setting a research agenda. Selected literature from earlier time periods is included to illuminate key findings and to help shape the proposed research agenda, especially in understudied areas.

Information Technology and Libraries: Up Against the Clock: Migrating to LibGuides v2 on a Tight Timeline

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-06-29 00:10

During Fall semester 2015, Librarians at the United States Naval Academy were faced with the challenge of migrating to LibGuides version 2 and integrating LibAnswers with LibChat into their service offerings.  Initially, the entire migration process was anticipated to take almost a full academic year; giving guide owners considerable time to update and prepare their guides.  However, with the acquisition of the LibAnswers module, library staff shortened the migration timeline considerably to ensure both products went live on the version 2 platform at the same time. The expedited implementation timeline forced the ad hoc implementation teams to prioritize completion of the tasks that were necessary for the system to remain functional after the upgrade.  This paper provides an overview of the process the staff at the Nimitz Library followed for a successful implementation on a short timeline and highlights transferable lessons learned during the process.  Consistent communication of expectations with stakeholders and prioritization of tasks were essential to the successful completion of the project.    

Information Technology and Libraries: Picture Perfect: Using Photographic Previews to Enhance Realia Collections for Library Patrons and Staff

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-06-29 00:10

Like many academic libraries, the Ferris Library for Information, Technology, and Education (FLITE) acquires a range of materials, including learning objects, to best suit our students’ needs. Some of these objects, such as the educational manipulatives and anatomical models, are common to academic libraries but others, such as the tabletop games, are not. After our liaison to the School of Education, Kristy Motz, discovered some accessibility issues with Innovative Interfaces' Media Manager module, we decided to examine all three of our realia collections to determine what our goals in providing catalog records and visual representations would be. Once we concluded that we needed photographic previews to both enhance discovery and speed circulation service, choosing processing methods for each collection became much easier. This article will discuss how we created enhanced records for all three realia collections including custom metadata, links to additional materials, and photographic previews. 

Information Technology and Libraries: Editorial Board Thoughts: Developing Relentless Collaborations and Powerful Partnerships

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-06-29 00:10
Editorial Board Thoughts: Developing Relentless Collaborations and Powerful Partnerships

Information Technology and Libraries: President's Column: For The Record

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-06-29 00:10
President's Column: For The Record

DuraSpace News: Samvera Launches Web Site

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-06-29 00:00

From Richard Green, Consultant to the University of Hull Library

The new Samvera (formerly Hydra) website is now live at

DuraSpace News: A Deep Dive into DSpace and Angular 2 at OR2017

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-06-29 00:00

Open source software development takes commitment, an understanding of the benefits of participation, and a sense of adventure with regard to making something good happen for a wide community of stakeholders.

DuraSpace News: VIVO Updates June 25–Become an Ontology Reviewer/Committer

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-06-29 00:00

From Mike Conlon, VIVO Project Director

Ontology improvements.  Interested in ontology?  We need volunteers to become VIVO ontology reviewers and committers. Sign up at

LITA: Jobs in Information Technology: June 28, 2017

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-06-28 19:08

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

The Walters Art Museum, Librarian/Archivist, Baltimore, MD

NC LIVE / NCSU Libraries, Web and Database Development Librarian, NC LIVE, Raleigh, NC

City of Jacksonville, Library Director, Jacksonville, FL

Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Beinecke Information Technology Project Manager, New Haven, CT

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

In the Library, With the Lead Pipe: Neurodiversity in the Library: One Librarian’s Experience

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-06-28 12:00

In Brief:

The literature about neurodiversity and libraries is heavily skewed toward libraries accommodating neurodivergent patrons. There is little written about librarians who are neurodivergent and their professional experiences. In this interview, Charlie Remy, an academic librarian who has autism, discusses his autism, his professional experience, and what others can do to create a more inclusive neurodiverse profession.

By Alice Eng

Diversity is a word frequently used in the library profession. The literature that currently exists typically focuses on gender, ethnic, cultural, and sexual diversities. One group rarely mentioned is the neurodivergent. According to the National Symposium on Neurodiversity at Syracuse University, the neurodivergent “include those labeled with Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyscalculia, Autistic Spectrum, Tourette Syndrome, and others.”1

The neurodivergent have always been a part of the community but are now formally recognized as a group of the U.S. population. A 2014 survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that 1 in 45 children, ages 3-17, have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.2 Yet the neurodivergent are noticeably absent in the library workforce and literature. Emily Lawrence’s essay, “Loud hands in the library: Neurodiversity in LIS theory & practices,” offers one theory as to why: an overall lack of diversity within librarianship itself.3 Other reasons might include people not disclosing their autism or people not self-identifying as having autism.

This prompted me to interview Charlie Remy.4  Charlie is the Electronic Resources and Serials Librarian at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) and happens to have autism. He was willing to share his professional experiences with me with the intention of bringing attention to this overlooked group.

When were you diagnosed with Autism?

Charlie: I was diagnosed at the age of 23 when I was in library school. Several years earlier my parents suggested I read Beyond the Wall by Stephen Shore. It’s a memoir written by an adult on the spectrum. My parents immediately thought of me when they read it and I concurred with them! It described a lot of experiences similar to those in my childhood (intense special interests, social awkwardness, sensory sensitivities, etc.). By the time I received the diagnosis, it was just a confirmation of what I already knew. I just wanted to make it official in case I needed accommodations in the future. It also felt somewhat awkward to participate in autistic organizations without an actual diagnosis. Learning about autism in my early 20s was comforting because I now understood the why for many things in my life. The dots were starting to connect. My childhood in the 1980s and 1990s occurred when there was limited knowledge in the medical community about “high functioning” autism. Part of me was somewhat frustrated by finding out about this so late, but it’s not productive to focus on something which was out of my control.

What drew you to the field of librarianship?

Charlie: I decided to become a librarian for 3 primary reasons: early childhood exposure to public libraries, an extremely positive undergraduate library experience, and my love for information in all formats.

My parents took me to the public library at least once a week when I was a child. They exposed me to the many wonderful things libraries offer such as access to information, technology training, interesting people, a culture of lifelong learning, etc. I feel fortunate that my parents demonstrated the value of libraries to me as some kids have never set foot in libraries. Back in 1995 I learned how to use the Internet at my local public library. I participated in summer reading programs and enjoyed conducting research for school projects.

I attended Elon University in North Carolina where I had an amazing undergraduate library experience. Endearingly called “Club Belk” by students, Belk Library was my home base during college. I practically lived there. It had comfortable furniture and was inviting, innovative, and featured great print and electronic resources. I considered many of the librarians to be my mentors. Being socially awkward with unique interests, I didn’t participate much in the collegiate social scene, so the library was where I did a lot of my socializing. Elon invested a great deal of money into library acquisitions at the time since they had to reach a certain book volume count in order to meet Phi Beta Kappa’s library requirement as part of the chapter application process. This resulted in me requesting many, many books (and even databases!), most of which were purchased. I feel like I had somewhat of an impact on that library collection. As an alumnus, I choose to earmark my donations to the library where they use the money to purchase Spanish language materials (I was a Spanish major). They send me a list of the titles they purchase so I know exactly how my money is used.

Finally, I love information in all formats. In particular, I’m a “news junkie” who obsessively consumes local, national, and international news, mostly in the form of online video (I love newspapers but, unfortunately, I don’t have the time to keep up with them). I entered college wanting to be a broadcast journalist but after taking a few introductory courses, I quickly realized that it wasn’t for me. Too much of a focus on appearance, ratings, and profits and not enough on the public good. Being a librarian lets me surround myself with information and satisfies my intellectual curiosity.

It sounds like you had already decided to become a librarian before being diagnosed. After receiving a formal diagnosis, how did you decide to go forward with applying for jobs and interviewing? Did you think this was something you wanted to disclose early in the process or not at all?

Charlie: Yes, my decision to become a librarian wasn’t directly related to my autism diagnosis but I will say that libraries can be good places for autistic people to work!

I usually disclose to people after I get to know them for a couple reasons:

  • I want them to get to know all aspects of me and not just think of the diagnosis. Autism is just one part of my identity. It doesn’t completely define who I am.
  • I want to be sure they’re mature enough to “handle” this information. Some people don’t seem to understand the significance of this diagnosis.
  • Sometimes it’s really not important that they know. Especially in the case of acquaintances with whom I have more of a surface relationship.

I did disclose my autism once during an on-campus interview at another library. The interview was going so well and I felt genuinely comfortable with the search committee, so I disclosed when a pertinent question came up (I think they were asking me about some of my autism-related [professional] scholarship on my CV). After disclosing, they remarked that there were likely many faculty on the spectrum at their university (whether diagnosed or not) which was probably true!

I disclosed when I was offered my current job here at UTC since I requested a special schedule accommodation (a compressed workweek of Monday-Thursday, 4 ten-hour days). This hadn’t been done before at my library and once I explained the reason for why I was requesting it they allowed me to have this schedule. A compressed schedule gives me an extra day to rest from work, both physically and emotionally. It really works well for me and I’m fortunate that they’ve been willing to accommodate this request. Other than that, I don’t receive any formal accommodations.

How did the interviewers telling you that they suspected many of their faculty to be on the spectrum make you feel?

Charlie: Their response was validating. I felt a sense of acceptance for who I was and it was refreshing that I could be so open with them. I didn’t end up getting the job. The chair of the search committee personally contacted me and explained that they offered it to someone with more supervisory experience. I thought it was kind of them to tell me exactly why they chose someone else. I couldn’t offer them that part of what they were looking for.

You mentioned people not understanding the significance of the diagnosis. Can you tell me more about that?

Charlie: I’m on the “high functioning” end of the spectrum which means that I can easily blend in as neurotypical. It’s not that I purposefully try to hide my autism, but my characteristics are more subtle. Once people get to know me they can start seeing my autistic quirks. Therefore, sometimes when I tell people I’m on the spectrum, they might say “Really? Are you sure?” or “I never would’ve known!” I realize that they’re probably trying to be nice but it comes across as dismissive and patronizing and causes me to feel like I need to prove my diagnosis. It also makes for an awkward conversation because it’s hard to easily respond to those comments, especially if you don’t know the person well. Autism can be very much misunderstood. Many associate it with characteristics such as being completely non-verbal, of physically rocking back and forth or flapping hands, which don’t apply to me.

Can you describe the characteristics of your autism? I know some of the more well- known characteristics include sensitivity to sound and touch, but obviously every person is different.

Charlie: Yes—we like to say that when you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism. Each person’s characteristics are different and of varying intensities. Here are some characteristics that I have:

  • Linear, concrete thinking. It’s challenging for me to conceptualize abstract concepts or ambiguity. I can struggle to process complex information that I’m not familiar with and might need it explained multiple times. Math was extremely challenging for me in school and to this day I prefer to avoid math if possible.
  • Sensitivity to sudden loud sounds that I’m not expecting (noisy motorcycles, sirens, dogs barking, phone suddenly ringing, etc.).
  • High anxiety overall.
  • Easily overwhelmed; when I have a lot of things to accomplish, I get very overwhelmed because everything has the same sense of urgency to me. It’s challenging for me to prioritize sometimes.
  • Poor gross and fine motor skills. I received occupational therapy in middle school.
  • Obsessive compulsive/perfectionistic. I constantly check over the work I do to make sure there aren’t any mistakes. I check my alarm clock multiple times before I go to bed to make sure it’s set properly.
  • Transitions between tasks are challenging, especially if I’m not done with a task and need to move on to something else. I prefer to finish my current task and then move on to the next one.
  • I often speak what’s on my mind and have trouble filtering my thoughts. It’s hard for me to adapt to expectations in certain social situations (you don’t say this that way to that person, etc.) since I tend to act the same way in all situations. I’m an open book and often state the obvious even if it’s considered rude.
  • Special interests. Most people on the spectrum have intense interests where they become very knowledgeable on certain topics since they spend so much time researching and thinking about them. My special interests include television news and the media in general, current events, Spanish language, and world travel. When I was a child I used to love to collect things like keychains, small flags of countries around the world, coffee mugs from TV stations across the country, etc.
  • I’m a very intellectually curious person so I ask a lot of questions, some of which can be quite detail oriented. This can annoy others in a meeting or classroom environment.
  • I’m detail oriented. I tend to focus on the minutiae and lose the forest for the trees. This can be an asset in librarianship where little details can be important.

I think most people find interviewing to be overwhelming and sometimes stressful. How do you handle the interview process?

Charlie: Interviewing in higher education settings can be very tiring and stressful, regardless of whether one is autistic or not. As I mentioned earlier, my autistic characteristics tend to be more subtle so interviews are tiring, but, other than that, not too bad. I’ve been told by several people that my phone interviews are strong which helps get me in the door. (When I was a child, my parents always made me make calls to other people and businesses myself instead of doing it for me, so I’m very comfortable on the phone.) I prepare, prepare, prepare ahead of the interview (looking at the website and taking notes on the library and parent institution, researching the presentation question and formulating my own thoughts/experience with the topic). The two most challenging aspects of interviews for me are: being scrutinized throughout the process (even if it’s during the more informal social gatherings—you’re still being judged on what you say/how you act so I need to be extra careful) and at the end when I’m waiting for a response about whether I’ve gotten the job or not. Waiting is painful for me because I tend to obsess over the unknown, second guess myself after the interview, etc. It’s always a relief to finally be told whether I have a job offer or not. Even if it’s not an offer, at least the waiting process and its uncertainty is over.5

Are there things like library projects or professional development projects which you accomplished not knowing you could?

Charlie: I have a great deal of anxiety when it comes to numbers (math calculations, e-resource usage statistics, quantitative information in general). Math has always been a weakness for me academically and I required a lot of tutoring in high school to get through it successfully. Hard work, practice, and good tutors were essential. The least favorite part of my job has to do with numbers (such as usage statistics, cost per use, inflationary increases, etc.). When I started in the profession 6+ years ago, I hardly knew how to use Microsoft Excel. Since then I have gradually developed skills and confidence with how to more effectively use this program and save myself time and effort. In my opinion, quantitative data often lacks context and can therefore offer limited insights. The reality is that libraries always need to prove their value proposition (as they don’t tend to generate revenue), especially in times of budgetary challenges, and numbers are an essential part of this.

Another area of challenge has been managing the work of others. Last spring my library created a part-time position to help me manage our electronic resources. Up until then, I was the only person managing the entire lifecycle of our e-resources (procurement, setup, maintenance, troubleshooting, assessment, etc.). We hired an awesome person who’s detail oriented, diligent, trustworthy, and efficient. In the time since, he’s gone to full-time—splitting time between e-resources and interlibrary loan.

Prior to this, I had never managed anyone on a regular basis so I’ve had quite a learning curve (not because of the person but rather myself simply learning how to manage others). I’ve noticed two challenges: assigning projects and providing him with clear instructions on what I need him to do. Assigning tasks requires time and letting go. It requires planning and clear instructions so the person understands how to complete it in the way you want. On numerous occasions I’ve found myself being unclear with him (assuming that he knows something when I shouldn’t assume, not fully planning out the task and then realizing more parts need to be added to it which results in him having to go back and redo them, etc.). I get frustrated with myself but then acknowledge that I’m new at supervising others and I have to refine my skills in this area. The other challenge is that he’s so good at accurately completing projects in a short amount of time that I struggle to keep up with him! I find it difficult to balance all the work I myself have to get done while trying to maximize his position and delegate tasks to him.

Do you look for professional groups or organizations that specifically deal with librarians and neurodiversity?

Charlie: To my knowledge, no specific organizations of this type currently exist which is why I founded a Facebook group called Autistics in Libraries and Their Allies last year. It currently has nearly 100 members but it’s not very active. I try to post relevant news articles a few times per month and occasionally others do so, but I haven’t yet figured out how to engage people on a deeper level. It can be challenging to get people’s attention these days with all the information that exists online.

Do you think groups devoted specifically to neurodiversity issues would be beneficial?

Charlie: Yes, I think a structured organization would be helpful to advocate for our interests on a number of levels such as patrons and employees. I also think it would be important for an organization like this to be actually led by autistics. I love the Autistic Self Advocacy Network’s slogan “Nothing About Us Without Us.” For too long, autism-related organizations have tended to not include our voices in the discussion or in their leadership ranks. This needs to change since we’re capable and, I would argue, know the most accurate version of our triumphs and challenges since we live them every day.

Have you ever felt discriminated against in the workplace for disclosing your autism?

Charlie: Not that I know of. Nobody has commented anything to my face, but it’s possible that they might hold a certain set of assumptions due to my having disclosed. I’m hoping that my disclosure and openness about autism will help them better understand neurodiversity and the range of experiences of those on the spectrum. I’d rather be known for my contributions at work instead of a diagnostic label.

Why do you think there is so little literature about the neurodiversity of librarians?

Charlie: I think some of this has to do with the continued societal focus on children with autism, although this is slowly changing. Autistic kids grow up and deserve meaningful employment opportunities. In addition, professional organizations such as the American Library Association should have diversity initiatives that include neurodiversity. Many large research libraries have diversity residency programs for new graduates of library schools. I’d love to see a few neurodiverse residency programs at academic libraries. These could serve as a good professional entry point for those on the spectrum. Finally, more librarians on the spectrum need to feel comfortable enough to disclose so these conversations can happen.

What advice would you give to professionals with autism (librarians or students studying to be librarians) about finding success in the field?

Charlie: Experience, experience, experience! Whether it’s volunteering, working part-time, internship, etc., I cannot emphasize this enough. Nearly all library jobs require some kind of experience regardless of whether someone has an MLS. Even many paraprofessional jobs require library experience. Hopefully they’re attending library schools with autism support programs on their campuses that can help them prepare for the job search with mock interviews, career fairs, resume preparation, etc.

Sometimes a person’s valuable and, perhaps, unique skillset might be able to “compensate” for their social awkwardness during interviews. Therefore, it’s important that they showcase their skillsets via a website, portfolio, multimedia, etc.

What advice would you give to a manager who is hiring a librarian with autism?

Charlie: First, have an open mind and don’t define the person by their autism! Autism is an important part of our identities but it’s only a part. Some of the qualities I look for in a good boss are: ability to listen and provide reassurance when I doubt myself, patience with my quirks (such as asking endless questions), providing clear and detailed instructions, flexible and willing to make accommodations when necessary, and a clear and direct communicator who will regularly provide me with constructive feedback (especially when it comes to navigating office politics!).

What professional goals do you have that you have not yet accomplished?

Charlie: I would eventually like to work at a small, private liberal arts college that’s closer to my aging parents in the Northeast. I like the strong sense of community at these schools as well as their commitment to preparing students to be engaged global citizens who embrace lifelong learning. In many respects, higher education has become more focused on job preparation instead of liberal arts and sciences that provide students with a solid base (critical thinking, reasoning, writing, reading analytically, etc.) no matter what kind of career they choose.

As the world of e-resources and library collections in general continues to evolve, it’s important that I develop my knowledge and skillset so they don’t become stagnant. This also means exploring new technologies. Yes, I’m a millennial, but this doesn’t automatically make me a techy person. The older I get, the more flexible and open to new things I become. Hopefully, this will serve me well as librarianship and higher education progress onward.


Thank you to Charlie Remy for allowing me to interview you and sharing your very personal experiences with readers. Thank you to Craig Fansler for helping me find the right focus and the right outlet. Finally, thank you to my reviewers Bethany Messersmith and Robb Waltner.  


Lawrence, E. (2013). Loud hands in the library: Neurodiversity in LIS Theory & Practice. Progressive Librarian, 41, 98–109.

What is neurodiversity? (n.d.). Retrieved April 7, 2017, from

Zablotsky, B., Black, L. I., Maenner, M. J., Scheive, L. A., & Blumberg, S. J. (2015). Estimated prevalence of autism and other developmental disabilities following questionnaire changes in the 2014 National Health Interview Survey (National Health Statistics Reports No. 87). Retrieved from

  1. What is neurodiversity? (n.d.). Retrieved April 7, 2017, from
  2. Zablotsky, B., Black, L. I., Maenner, M. J., Scheive, L. A., & Blumberg, S. J. (2015). Estimated prevalence of autism and other developmental disabilities following questionnaire changes in the 2014 National Health Interview Survey (National Health Statistics Reports No. 87). Retrieved from
  3. Lawrence, E. (2013). Loud hands in the library: Neurodiversity in LIS Theory & Practice. Progressive Librarian, 41, 98–109.
  4. This interview was conducted via email. Any changes to the transcript for publication are minor and intended to improve clarity; the interviewee’s ideas and words have not been changed.
  5. I think many people identify with Charlie’s reaction to the interview process regardless of his neurodivergence.

Open Knowledge Foundation: ROUTETOPA User Stories

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-06-28 09:29

ROUTETOPA is a European innovation project aimed at improving citizen engagement by enabling meaningful interaction between open data users, open data publishers and open data. Open Knowledge International is one of 12 partners working on the project and our main mandate is to build genuine and active communities around the ROUTETOPA tools. In this blogpost, we share more information on the ROUTETOPA user stories.

ROUTETOPA is an acronym that stands for Raising Open and User-friendly, Transparency Enabling Technologies for Public Administrations. It is a three-year, multidisciplinary,  European Union Horizon 2020 innovation project aimed at improving citizen engagement by enabling meaningful interaction between open data users, open data publishers and open data.

ROUTETOPA’s seeks to do this in 4 ways:

  1. Through the Social Platform for Open Data (SPOD) which seeks to enable social interactions between open data users and local Governments
  2. Through the Transparency Enabling Toolset (TET), built on CKAN and conglomerating data from existing local government open data platforms
  3. Through SIM, which seeks to provide Public Administrations with statistical analysis on user behaviour and generalized feedback from users on SPOD and TET so public administrations can understand what citizens are interested in
  4. Through GUIDE, a set of recommendations for open data publishers, extrapolated from SIM, aimed at promoting higher transparency levels through open data

Open Knowledge International works on building genuine and active communities around the ROUTETOPA tools. One of the key ways we intend to do this is by finding meaningful ways for communities to interact with data and with each other on the ROUTETOPA platforms. We have now defined the following user stories:

USER STORIES Open Data Enthusiasts
  1. I am a citizen interested in knowing what ROUTETOPA is and why I and others should care
  2. I am a citizen wondering what open data is and how transparency benefits me
  3. I am a resident in City X interested in knowing what data exists for my city.
  4. I am a resident in city X interested in tracking an ongoing project in my area.
  5. I am a graduate/post-graduate student interested in using open data for my research/ thesis/ paper
  6. I am a teacher / lecturer /professor looking to introduce / teach my class about open data
  7. I am a journalist looking to tell a data story on a City X
  8. I am a journalist looking to write an article about H2020 and the ROUTETOPA project as a beneficiary
  9. I am a media house representative looking for know more about ROUTETOPA tools
  10. I am a policy maker interested in learning how ROUTETOPA tools work so I can see if it makes sense for my local authority to take up the use of these tools.
  11. I am an activist interested in discussing issues in the community I live in with my local authority
  12. I am a business owner interested in opportunities for business with public administrations
  13. I am a data scientist looking for big, quality data from Area X for use in my work
  14. I am a developer interested in the underlying code for ROUTETOPA tools
  15. I am a developer with additional feature suggestions for ROUTETOPA tools
  16. I am a designer with UI/UX suggestions for the ROUTETOPA platform
  17. I am a non-EU open data user wondering whether I should interest myself in ROUTETOPA
  18. I am a non-EU open data user interested in replicating ROUTETOPA tools for my continent
  19. I am part of an open data community lead looking to discuss open data topics with my community
Open data publishers
  1. I am a public official wondering what ROUTETOPA is and why I should care / be involved
  2. I am a public official looking to get citizen feedback on the data our local authority has opened up
  3. I am a public administrator keen on answering questions the community has raised regarding the data my administration has published and for which I am responsible
  4. I am a public administrator looking at solutions that other public administrations have employed in publishing open data to determine what suits us best
  5. I am a public administrator keen on involving citizens in Area X in decision making that affects our community
  6. I am a public administrator and I’m new to open data and would like to get an introduction to this form of open government
  7. I am a public administrator instructed to find open data cases in other municipalities that are easy to duplicate  (low hanging fruits cases)
  8. I am a public administrator and I would like to implement a long term open government data strategy in my municipality. And I need an action plan
  9. I am a public administrator looking for easy ways to update citizens about the open government data project and progress
  10. I am a public administrator who maintains an open data platform based on CKAN and is looking for economical and easy extensions that add value to our open government data program
  11. I am a public official who is looking for ways to update and communicate with involved colleagues from other units of my administration

More information on the project and its outcomes is available from

Hydra Project: Welcome to our new website

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-06-28 08:22

If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you have found Samvera’s new website.  Welcome!

The new site has been long in the making and was much delayed by our rebranding as Samvera.  We’d like to express particular thanks to Jeremy Brant for all the work he has put into the design and for his patience over the many months since we started the process.

You might like to note that one of the “hidden” features of this work is that resolves to the Samvera wiki space – a much easier URL than was needed in the past.


The post Welcome to our new website appeared first on Samvera.


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