Wandora is a general purpose information extraction, management and publishing application based on Topic Maps and Java.
Wandora is a general purpose information extraction, management and publishing application based on Topic Maps and Java.
Last updated July 25, 2014. Created by Jim Craner on July 25, 2014.
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The suite of programs retrieves bibliographic data and Open Library pages for a set of identified books, organizes these for selection based on quality, and makes appropriate changes to the MARC records based on the library's requirements. In addition, statistics about book downloads are obtained via simple integration with the bit.ly URL shortening service.
This project was supported by a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) granted to Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD) from the California State Library to fund the exploration of the effect of including public domain e-books in the library's catalog for discovery by users, and to observe whether e-book use would increase for the selected books. The project was conducted between July 2013 and June 2014.
Last updated July 24, 2014. Created by Peter Murray on July 24, 2014.
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Essentially this release adds embargo and lease support. Details of the change are documented at https://github.com/projecthydra/hydra-head/wiki/Embargos-and-Leases and the release notes can be found at https://github.com/projecthydra/hydra-head/releases/tag/v7.1.0
Last updated July 24, 2014. Created by Peter Murray on July 24, 2014.
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Hydra Connect (hashtag #HydraConnect) is a chance for Hydra Project participants to gather in one place at one time, with an emphasis on synchronizing efforts, technical development, plans, and community links. As the community expands, it is becoming clear that not every Partner will make every meeting, but there is value in ensuring cross-connections across the community, and we'd be well served to have at least one meeting where everyone shows up.
Today I found the following resources and bookmarked them on <a href=
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My colleague Leslie Meltzer Henry and I have sent letters asking three institutions—the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the federal Office for Human Research Protections, and the Federal Trade Commission—to investigate the Facebook emotional manipulation study. We wrote three letters, rather than one, because responsibility for the study was diffused across PNAS, Cornell, and Facebook, and it is important that each of them be held accountable for its role in the research. The letters overlap, but each has a different focus.
Our letters deal with cleaning up the mistakes of the past. But they also look to the future. The Facebook emotional manipulation study offers an opportunity to put corporate human subjects research on a firmer ethical footing, one in which individuals given meaningful informed consent and in which there is meaningful oversight. We invite PNAS, OHRP, and the FTC to take leading roles in establishing appropriate ethical rules for research in an age of big data and constant experiments.
UPDATE, July 17, 2014, 1:30 PM: I am reliably informed that Cornell has “unchecked the box”; its most recent Federalwide Work Agreement now commits to apply the Common Rule only to federally funded research, not to all research undertaken at Cornell. (I made the mistake of relying on the version of its FWA that the Cornell IRB posted on its own website; I regret the error.) This affects the issue of the OHRP’s jurisdiction, but not the soundness of the Cornell IRB’s reasoning, which rested on the activities of Cornell affiliates rather than on the source of funding.
UPDATE, July 24, 2014, 2:00 PM: The letter to the FTC overstates the effects of the Bakshy et al. link-removal study when it describes the study as making some links “effectively unshareable.” Links were removed from News Feeds on a per-user basis, so removed links were still seen by other users.
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I am an eighth grade Language Arts teacher working at the DPLA this summer, researching ways the DPLA is useful for instructors and students alike. My exploration of Japanese Internment revealed how the DPLA’s wealth of primary sources can help engage students and promote deeper understanding. In this post, I will examine resources related to a different period of American history – Slavery in the U.S. These texts and images may be useful to Social Studies classes focusing on the antebellum period, or to Language Arts classes reading slavery-related texts (e.g. Laurie Halse Anderson’s Chains, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, etc.) For purposes of clarity, I’ve organized my discussion into four sections: the experiences and perspectives of slaves themselves; fugitive slaves; abolitionism; and government response.
Getting students to empathize with victims of slavery could seem a daunting task, as the period may immediately feel too foreign or cruel for middle or high school students to imagine. However, by presenting the slave story through a variety of media, including drawings, paintings, and personal accounts, teachers can begin to bring slaves’ perspectives and experiences to life. Drawings like this one, for instance, of a family being showcased and sold like cattle, reveal how slaves were dehumanized and often helpless. Images in this anti-slavery children’s book, of slaves being sold, whipped, and chased with torches, further reveal how owners tried to strip victims of agency and dignity. Teachers might encourage students to compare this book to those from their own childhood, and imagine how even goods marketed to children can become politicized. Students could also examine this oil painting of a man in shackles in order to infer an overall mood of the period; the man’s stooped position and pained stare powerfully illustrate his sense of entrapment.
The DPLA’s text-based resources on slaves’ experiences include these firsthand accounts, which paint a brutal and honest picture of how slaveholders treated women. Additionally, the DPLA contains links to important slave narratives, including Booker T. Washington’s Up From Slavery and William Henry Singleton’s Recollections of My Slavery Days. Students will likely appreciate these individual tales of struggle and triumph, as many feel most connected to history when it’s presented through personal stories.
As part of a unit on slavery, teachers might be interested in incorporating information on runaway slaves and their pursuers. After examining the text of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, the law that required escaped slaves to be returned to their masters, students could consider how this act broadened the slavery’s impact: escaped slaves now feared for their future, while previously uninvolved northerners were forced to either return captured slaves or break the law. These ads, showing pictures of runaway slaves and offering rewards for their capture, may remind students, sadly, of today’s ads for missing pets, and dramatically reveal how people were viewed as property. Students interested in hearing a fugitive slave’s perspective would appreciate this account, detailing one man’s thought process as he finds places to hide. Lastly, this image, depicting soldiers returning captured slaves among angry onlookers in Boston, reveals the passionate public reaction in certain cities.
After learning about slaves, fugitives, and the injustice they experienced, students will surely feel inspired by the abolitionist movement. One poster to share announces a vehement anti-slavery stance, while another one proclaims that the institution is not religiously sound. Teachers might also be interested in this advertisement for a rally in Massachusetts, where famous abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison, Sojourner Truth, and Henry David Thoreau spoke. Students may enjoy reading this anti-slavery acrostic, the “Alphabet of Slavery,” which details the evils of slavery through memorable rhymes. Other unique resources include this “Moral Map of the U.S.,” which depicts slavery as a dark, immoral mark on our country. The DPLA also provides access to documents revealing women’s active involvement in the abolitionist movement. For example, this 1864 address from the Women’s National League, signed by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, articulates a clear and powerful message: “While slavery exists anywhere, there can be freedom nowhere.”
Finally, units on slavery might culminate with a discussion of how the U.S. government abolished slavery once and for all. Students can read President Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, declaring the freedom of slaves in rebellion states. This next document includes the text of the Thirteenth Amendment that followed, outlawing slavery completely.
The DPLA’s primary sources related to slavery in America are numerous, informative, and powerful. The variety of resources – including texts, songs, maps, and storybooks – promises to reach students with a range of learning styles and interests. I hope that this post helps teachers present a vivid and accurate picture of slavery, and brings students a deeper understanding of this dark period in our past.
Cover image: “The child’s anti-slavery book: containing a few words about American slave children and stories of slave life.” Courtesy The New York Public Library.
All written content on this blog is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. All images found on this blog are available under the specific license(s) attributed to them, unless otherwise noted.
This post rolls up all of the major primary sources for the Facebook emotional manipulation study, along with selected news and commentary.
UCSF: (Guillory became affiliated with UCSF only after the study was conducted)
Previous Facebook studies:
Who says that Republicans and Democrats can’t work together? Last week, bipartisan legislation was passed by the Senate! The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act (S. 517) allows cell phone users—once their contract term with a service provider expires—the right to circumvent technology in order to use their existing phone with a new service provider. But wait, there’s more. The House passed bipartisan legislation (H.R. 1123) on the same topic on February 29th.Now we await the House to pass the Senate bill and on the way to the President for signature. Who said nothing gets done in Washington?
That’s the glass half-full story, now for the half-empty accompaniment. This legislation was only necessary because the Librarian of Congress, under the advisement of the U.S. Copyright Office, did not renew the exemption that allowed such circumvention in 2010. Instead the exemption was limited to “legacy” phones—those purchased before the rulemaking, making unlocking of newly purchased phones a violation of the anti-circumvention provision. The Register of Copyrights considered changes in providers’ policies that often allow unlocking as evidence that the unlocking provision was no longer necessary.
Now you might be saying, “Why the hell are we even talking about this?” Bear with me because there is a library connection.
Due to a provision in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA), people who can demonstrate that technological protection measures—used by rights holders to limit piracy—prevent lawful uses of digital content or technology can get a three-year exemption to circumvent. Hack away, my friend! Recently, the libraries have successfully proved that there is an adverse effect due to a technological protection measure—specifically the “content scrambling system” (CSS)—used by rights holders to lock DVDs, preventing faculty from extracting clips for use in the face-to-face classroom.
Again, you might be saying, “Why the hell are we even talking about this?”
Why do we spend so much time, energy, and money arguing for these tiny exemptions that are so detailed, prescriptive, and only last 3 years? Well, ALA and many others are saying much the same thing. I can’t imagine that anyone—even rights holders—involved in this process can think it is worthwhile. Consider the fact that piracy has not been deterred by the technological protection provision. Contemplate the absurdity of arguing for an exemption that you haven’t even exercised because, if you did so, you would be violating the law. Imagine going through this process every three years even to retain exemptions that were previously accepted. And after this long drawn out process—including a week-long public roundtable deliberation and a reply comment period, you have to wait another year for the Librarian of Congress to make his recommendation. It’s insane!
But, back to the glass half-full: The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Court, Intellectual Property, and the Internet is conducting a wide scale review of the copyright law. One can anticipate that this loony triennial review process will be discussed and surely, improvements will be made. One can hope. I know I do.
What would happen if your library’s website disappeared? You’d probably get a lot of phone calls. If I had to guess, most would be about:
To a lesser extent, there might be questions about:
However, I’d guess you would not receive many calls about:
This thought experiment gives us some perspective about the things library websites should be focusing on—the critical tasks users are trying to accomplish. It also offers perspective on the aspects of our websites that are comparatively unimportant—everything else.
Plainly, a lot of the content on your library’s website could be a complete waste of time and effort. Are your users looking at it? Check your analytics. Are those who do deriving any value from it? One way to find out is to remove it temporarily and see if anyone speaks up. Given the hard work it takes to create and maintain content, you might find that your return on some investments is low.
Why do some libraries insist on developing website content that is not being used? There’s no doubt it would be great if library users came to our sites to read book reviews, listen to podcasts, and calculate the value that the library delivers to them. We want to be a valuable resource. We want people to trust our opinions and rely on us for guidance. But just because this would be wonderful doesn’t mean it is going to happen.
We’re ever hopeful that if we advertise our websites in the right way, or create the right sort of graphic, or make the visual design more attractive, people will begin to use our content. This is pure fantasy. We need a healthy dose of reality.
By living in this dream world, we’re doing ourselves and our members a disservice. It is time for us to adjust our expectations about what it means to create and maintain a library website. If we liberate ourselves from producing scads of content that no one wants, we’ll have some surplus resources. We can use this extra horsepower to achieve other library priorities that meet user needs, such as improving our catalog interfaces.
I’m not yet aware of any libraries sending out great niche newsletters; please get in touch if you’re doing so. But here are three libraries that have reduced the scope of their sites and focused on what’s important.
Addison Public Library, IL
A very lean (and attractive) website.
Lane Public Library, Hamilton, OH
This site’s content is quite restrained and presented in an effective, attractive manner.
Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, KS
There’s still a decent amount of content on this site, but the staff have done a lot of whittling down from the previous iteration. The result is an easy-to-grasp understanding of what users can find on the site and targeted information that’s worthwhile to those interested.
Instead of creating content for your website and hoping people will visit, consider delivering it to their inboxes. Email newsletters are experiencing a renaissance and for good reason. Nearly everyone uses email. And sending an email is a sure way to get something in front of someone’s eyeballs. Marketing experts have observed that people are much more likely to take action as the result of an email than a tweet.
I’m not advocating spamming your users’ in-boxes with generic library information. Instead, consider creating one or two newsletters based on the interests of your community. These newsletters will not appeal to everyone, and that’s the point. Find a niche—such as cooking, gardening, or hiking—and invest your efforts in developing a relationship with the folks who are passionate about that activity. It is a lot easier and more effective to deliver value to a select group of people about a specific topic than it is to create a website that appeals to everyone. Start small, and if you’re successful and have extra time, create a newsletter for another group.
Library print newsletters face the same problem as library websites. While they’re useful for providing a comprehensive look at what’s going on at a library, they’re too general for anyone to get excited about. Consider rolling your newly developed niche content into a complementary print newsletter, too.
The following is a guest post from Julia Fernandez, this year’s NDIIPP Junior Fellow. Julia has a background in American studies and working with folklife institutions and is working on a range of projects related to CurateCamp Digital Culture. This is part of an ongoing series of interviews Julia is conducting to better understand the kinds of born-digital primary sources folklorists, and others interested in studying digital culture, are making use of for their scholarship.
Anyone who has ever liked a TV show’s page on Facebook or proudly sported a Quidditch t-shirt knows that being a fan goes beyond the screen or page. With the growth of countless blogs, tweets, Tumblr gifsets, Youtube videos, Instagram hashtags, fanart sites and fanfiction sites, accessing fan culture online has never been easier. Whether understood as a vernacular web or as the blossoming of a participatory culture individuals across the world are using the web to respond to and communicate their own stories.
As part of the NDSA Insights interview series, I’m delighted to interview Henry Jenkins, professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and self-proclaimed Aca-Fan. He is the author of one of the foundational works exploring fan cultures, “Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture,” as well as a range of other books, including “Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide,” and most recently the co-author (with Sam Ford and Joshua Green) “Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture.” He blogs at Confessions of an Aca-Fan.
Julia: You state on your website that your time at MIT, “studying culture within one of the world’s leading technical institutions” gave you “some distinctive insights into the ways that culture and technology are reshaping before our very eyes.” How so? What are some of the changes you’ve observed, from a technical perspective and/or a cultural one?
Henry: MIT was one of the earliest hubs in the Internet. When I arrived there in 1989, Project Athena was in its prime; the MIT Media Lab was in its first half decade and I was part of a now legendary Narrative Intelligence Reading Group (PDF) which brought together some of the smartest of their graduate students and a range of people interested in new media from across Cambridge; many of the key thinkers of early network culture were regular speakers at MIT; and my students were hatching ideas that would become the basis for a range of Silicon Valley start ups. And it quickly became clear to me that I had a ringside seat for some of the biggest transfomations in the media landscape in the past century, all the more so because through my classes, the students were helping me to make connections between my work on fandom as a participatory culture and a wide array of emerging digital practices (from texting to game mods).
Studying games made sense at MIT because “Spacewar,” one of the first known uses of computers for gaming, had been created by the MIT Model Railroad club in the early 1960s. I found myself helping to program a series that the MIT Women’s Studies Program was running on gender and cyberspace, from which the materials for my book, “From Barbie to Mortal Kombat” emerged. Later, I would spend more than a decade as the housemaster of an MIT dorm, Senior House, which is known to be one of the most culturally creative at the Institute.
Through this, I was among the first outside of Harvard to get a Facebook account; I watched students experimenting with podcasting, video-sharing and file-sharing. Having MIT after my name opened doors at all of the major digital companies and so I was able to go behind the scenes as some of these new technologies were developing, and also see how they were being used by my students in their everyday lives.
So, through the years, my job was to place these developments in their historical and cultural contexts — often literally as Media Lab students would come to me for advice on their dissertation projects, but also more broadly as I wrote about these developments through Technology Review, the publication for MIT’s alumni network. It was there where many of the ideas that would form “Convergence Culture” were first shared with my readers. And the students that came through the Comparative Media Studies graduate program have been at ground zero for some of the key developments in the creative industries in recent years — from the Veronica Mars Kickstarter campaign to the community building practices of Etsy, from key developments in the games and advertising industry to cutting edge experiments in transmedia storytelling. The irony is that I had been really reluctant about accepting the MIT job because I suffer from fairly serious math phobia.
Today, I enjoy another extraordinary vantage point as a faculty member at USC, who is embedded in both the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism and the Cinema School, and thus positioned to watch how Hollywood and American journalism are responding to the changes that networked communication have forced upon them. I am able to work with future filmmakers who are trying to grasp a shift from a focus on individual stories to an emphasis on world-building, journalists who are trying to imagine new relationships with their publics, and activists who are seeking to make change by any media necessary.
Julia: Much of your work has focused on reframing the media audience as active and creative participants in creating media, rather than passive consumers. You’ve critiqued use of the terms “viral” and “memes” to describe internet phenomena as “stripping aside the concept of human agency,” and that the biological language “confuses the actual power relations between producers, properties, brands and consumers.” Can you unpack some of your critiques for us? What is at stake?
Henry: At the core of “Spreadable Media” is a shift in how media travels across the culture. On the one hand, there is distribution as we have traditionally understood it in the era of mass media where content flows in patterns regulated by decisions made by major corporations who control what we see, when we see it and under what conditions. On the other hand, there is circulation, a hybrid system, still shaped top-down by corporate players, but also bottom-up by networks of everyday people, who are seeking to move media that is meaningful to them across their social networks, and will take media where they want it when they want it through means both legal and illegal. The shift towards a circulation-based model for media access is disrupting and transforming many of our media-related practices, and it is not explained well by a model which relies so heavily on metaphors of infection and assumptions of irrationality.
The idea of viral media is a way that the broadcasters hold onto the illusion of their power to set the media agenda at a time when that power is undergoing a crisis. They are the ones who make rational calculations, able to design a killer virus which infects the masses, so they construct making something go viral as either arcane knowledge that can be sold at a price from those in the know or as something that nobody understands, “It just went viral!” But, in fact, we are seeing people, collectively and individually, make conscious decisions about what media to pass to which networks for what purposes with what messages attached through which media channels and we are seeing activist groups, religious groups, indie media producers, educators and fans make savvy decisions about how to get their messages out through networked communications.
Julia: Cases like the Harry Potter Alliance suggest the range of ways that fan cultures on the web function as a significant cultural and political force. Given the significance of fandom, what kinds of records of their online communities do you think will be necessary in the future for us to understand their impact? Said differently, what kinds of records do you think cultural heritage organizations should be collecting to support the study of these communities now and into the future?
Henry: This is a really interesting question. My colleague, Abigail De Kosnik at UC-Berkeley, is finishing up a book right now which traces the history of the fan community’s efforts to archive their own creative output over this period, which has been especially precarious, since we’ve seen some of the major corporations which fans have used to spread their cultural output to each other go out of business and take their archives away without warning or change their user policies in ways that forced massive numbers of people to take down their content.
The reality is that it is probably already easier to write the history of the first decade of American cinema, because of the paper print collection at the Library of Congress, than it is to write the history of the first decade of the web. For that reason, there has been surprisingly little historical research into fandom — even though some of the communication practices that fans use today go back to the publication practices of the Amateur Press Association in the mid-19th century. And even recently, major collections of fan-produced materials have been shunted from library to archive with few in your realm recognizing the value of what these collections contain.
Put simply, many of the roots of today’s more participatory culture can be traced back to fan practices over the last century. Fans have been amongst the leading innovators in terms of the cultural uses of new media. But collecting this material is going to be difficult: fandom is a dispersed but networked community which does not work through traditional organizations; there are no gatekeepers (and few recordkeepers) in fandom, and the scale of fan production — hundreds of thousands if not millions of new works every year — dwarfs that of commercial publishing. And that’s to focus only on fan fiction and would does not even touch the new kinds of fan activism that we are documenting for my forthcoming book, By Any Media Necessary. So, there is an urgent need to archive some of these materials, but the mechanisms for gathering and appraising them are far from clear.
Julia: Your New Media Literacy project aims in part to “provide adults and youth with the opportunity to develop the skills, knowledge, ethical framework and self-confidence needed to be full participants in the cultural changes which are taking place in response to the influx of new media technologies, and to explore the transformations and possibilities afforded by these technologies to reshape education.” In one of your pilot programs, for instance, students studied “Moby-Dick” by updating the novel’s Wikipedia page. Can you tell us a little more about this project? What are some of your goals? Further, what opportunities do you think libraries have to enable this kind of learning?
Henry: We documented this project through our book, “Reading in a Participatory Culture,” and through a free online project, Flows of Reading. It was inspired by the work of Ricardo Pitts-Wiley, the head of the Mixed Magic Theater in Rhode Island, who was spending time going into prisons to get young people to read “Moby-Dick” by getting them to rewrite it, imagining who these characters would be and what issues they would be confronting if they were part of the cocaine trade in the 21st century as opposed to the whaling trade in the 19th century. This resonated with the work I have been doing on fan rewriting and fan remixing practices, as well as what we know about, for example, the ways hip hop artists sample and build on each other’s work.
So, we developed a curriculum which brought together Melville’s own writing and reading practices (as the master mash-up artist of his time) with Pitts-Wiley’s process in developing a stage play that was inspired by his work with the incarcerated youth and with a focus on the place of remix in contemporary culture. We wanted to give young people tools to think ethically and meaningfully about how culture is actually produced and to give teachers a language to connect the study of literature with contemporary cultural practices. Above all, we wanted to help students learn to engage with literary texts creatively as well as critically.
We think libraries can be valuable partners in such a venture, all the more so as regimes of standardized testing make it hard for teachers to bring complex 19th century novels like “Moby-Dick” into their classes or focus student attention on the process and cultural context of reading and writing as literacy practices. Doing so requires librarians to think of themselves not only as curators of physical collections but as mentors and coaches who help students confront the larger resources and practices opened up to them through networked communication. I’ve found librarians and library organizations to be vital partners in this work through the years.
Julia: Your latest book is on the topic of “spreadable media,” arguing that “if it doesn’t spread, it’s dead.” In a nutshell, how would you define the term “spreadable media”?
Henry: I talked about this a little above, but let me elaborate. We are proposing spreadable media as an alternative to viral media in order to explain how media content travels across a culture in an age of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, Tumblr, etc. The term emphasizes the act of spreading and the choices which get made as people appraise media content and decide what is worth sharing with the people they know. It places these acts of circulation in a cultural context rather than a purely technological one. At the same time, the word is intended to contrast with older models of “stickiness,” which work on the assumption that value is created by locking down the flow of content and forcing everyone who wants your media to come to your carefully regulated site. This assumes a kind of scarcity where we know what we want and we are willing to deal with content monopolies in order to get it.
But, the reality is that we have more media available to us today that we can process: we count on trusted curators — primarily others in our social networks but also potentially those in your profession — to call media to our attention and the media needs to be able to move where the conversations are taking place or remain permanently hidden from view. That’s the spirit of “If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead!” If we don’t know about the media, if we don’t know where to find it, if it’s locked down where we can’t easily get to it, it becomes irrelevant to the conversations in which we are participating. Spreading increases the value of content.
Julia: What does spreadable media mean to the conversations libraries, archives and museums could have with their patrons? How can archives be more inclusive of participatory culture?
Henry: Throughout the book, we use the term “appraisal” to refer to the choices everyday people make, collectively and personally, about what media to pass along to the people they know. Others are calling this process “curating.” But either way, the language takes us immediately to the practices which used to be the domain of “libraries, archives, and museums.” You were the people who decided what culture mattered, what media to save from the endless flow, what media to present to your patrons. But that responsibility is increasingly being shared with grassroots communities, who might “like” something or “vote something up or down” through their social media platforms, or simply decide to intensify the flow of the content through tweeting about it.
We are seeing certain videos reach incredible levels of circulation without ever passing through traditional gatekeepers. Consider “Kony 2012,” which reached more than 100 million viewers in its first week of circulation, totally swamping the highest grossing film at the box office that week (“Hunger Games”) and the highest viewed series on American television (“Modern Family”), without ever being broadcast in a traditional sense. Minimally, that means that archivists may be confronting new brokers of content, museums will be confronting new criteria for artistic merit, and libraries may be needing to work hand in hand with their patrons as they identify the long-term information needs of their communities. It doesn’t mean letting go of their professional judgement, but it does mean examining their prejudices about what forms of culture might matter and it does mean creating mechanisms, such as those around crowd-sourcing and perhaps even crowd-funding, which help to insure greater responsiveness to public interests.
Julia: You wrote in 2006 that there is a lack of fan involvement with works of high culture because “we are taught to think about high culture as untouchable,” which in turn has to do with “the contexts within which we are introduced to these texts and the stained glass attitudes which often surround them.” Further, you argue that this lack of a fan culture makes it difficult to engage with a work, either intellectually or emotionally. Can you expand on this a bit? Do you still believe this to be the case, or has this changed with time? Does the existence of transformative works like “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” on Youtube or vibrant Austen fan communities on Tumblr reveal a shift in attitudes? Finally, how can libraries, museums, and other institutions help foster a higher level of emotional and intellectual engagement?
Henry: Years ago, I wrote “Science Fiction Audiences” with the British scholar John Tulloch in which we explored the broad range of ways that fans read and engaged with “Star Trek” and “Doctor Who.” Tulloch then went on to interview audiences at the plays of Anton Checkov and discovered a much narrower range of interpretations and meanings — they repeated back what they had been taught to think about the Russian playwright rather than making more creative uses of their experience at the theater. This was probably the opposite of the way many culture brokers think about the high arts — as the place where we are encouraged to think and explore — and popular arts — as works that are dummied down for mass consumption. This is what I meant when I suggested that the ways we treat these works cut them off from popular engagement.
At the same time, I am inspired by recent experiments which merge the high and the low. I’ve already talked about Mixed Magic’s work with “Moby-Dick,” but “The Lizzie Bennett Diaries” is another spectacular example. It’s inspired to translate Jane Austen’s world through the mechanisms of social media: gossip and scandal plays such a central role in her works; she’s so attentive to what people say about each other and how information travels through various social communities. And the playful appropriation and remixing of “Pride and Prejudice” there has opened up Austen’s work to a whole new generation of readers who might otherwise have known it entirely through Sparknotes and plodding classroom instruction. There are certainly other examples of classical creators — from Gilbert and Sullivan to Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle — who inspire this kind of fannish devotion from their followers, but by and large, this is not the spirit with which these works get presented to the public by leading cultural institutions.
I would love to see libraries and museums encourage audiences to rewrite and remix these works, to imagine new ways of presenting them, which make them a living part of our culture again. Lawrence Levine’s “Highbrow/Lowbrow” contrasts the way people dealt with Shakespeare in the 19th century — as part of the popular culture of the era — with the ways we have assumed across the 20th century that an appreciation of the Bard is something which must be taught because it requires specific kinds of cultural knowledge and specific reading practices. Perhaps we need to reverse the tides of history in this way and bring back a popular engagement with such works.
Julia: You’re a self-described academic and fan, so I’d be interested in what you think are some particularly vibrant fan communities online that scholars should be paying more attention to.
Henry: The first thing I would say is that librarians, as individuals, have long been an active presence in the kinds of fan communities I study; many of them write and read fan fiction, for example, or go to fan conventions because they know these as spaces where people care passionately about texts, engage in active debates around their interpretation, and often have deep commitments to their preservation. So, many of your readers will not need me to point out the spaces where fandom are thriving right now; they will know that fans have been a central part of the growth of the Young Adult Novel as a literary category which attracts a large number of adult readers so they will be attentive to “Harry Potter,” “Hunger Games,” or the Nerdfighters (who are followers of the YA novels of John Green); they will know that fans are being drawn right now to programs like “Sleepy Hollow” which have helped to promote more diverse casting on American television; and they will know that now as always science fiction remains a central tool which incites the imagination and creative participation of its readers. The term, Aca-Fan, has been a rallying point for a generation of young academics who became engaged with their research topics in part through their involvement within fandom. Whatever you call them, there needs to be a similar movement to help librarians, archivists and curators come out of the closet, identify as fans, and deploy what they have learned within fandom more openly through their work.
I like thrillers. Good thrillers. Not the slightly expanded movie scripts that they all seem to write now, but real novels that happen be exciting adventure stories. Like Alistair MacLean wrote. Through the sixties he did a string of excellent thrillers one after the other. He’s not read much now, but he should be.
I think of his novels in these editions, Fontanas with photographic covers. No one makes covers like this any more.
I just reread The Golden Rendezvous (1962), one of his best and showing all his hallmarks, with a sailor on a luxury cruise ship getting caught up in a takeover of the ship by some very dangerous customers. The sailor is smart, fast-thinking, extremely competent, keeps his wits, and most importantly, like in all the best thrillers, he just doesn’t give up.
For me the key to a great thrilling novel or movie is a main character who isn’t particularly special in any way getting caught up in something and deciding to see it through to the end and not give up. (This is one of the reasons Children of Men is such a fine movie: the scene at the farmhouse where Clive Owen’s character realizes what he’s gotten into and that he has to save the pregnant woman. After that, there’s no going back and he never, ever stops.) The sailor here is a very good sailor, but he’s no super-spy. He’s a good sailor.
One of MacLean’s trademarks was keeping secrets from the reader, holding back information in order to reveal it either in an offhand way that makes you think back to what had to happen to set it up, or in a larger way where it’s revealed the narrator is not who you thought he was. I won’t give away examples of the latter, but there are a number of the former in The Golden Rendezvous.
For example, the sailor was hurt and is in sick bay with a few others. A chapter begins a few hours after the last one finished, and the sailor gets out of sick bay to do something on the ship without being seen. While he’s out a part of his plan is revealed to have been set up with one of the other injured sailors. There was no mention of this when we saw them both in sick bay, or when the sailor was narrating the beginnings of his plan; it’s only mentioned when that part of the action happens. Because, after all, shouldn’t we realize they would have been talking and plotting in the unrepresented time between chapters? MacLean doesn’t need to spell it all out like we’re fools. We need to keep our wits about us while reading, too.
I’m struck by the density of the text, which is nothing like thrillers nowadays. Here is page one of my edition of Ice Station Zebra:
How would Dan Brown or James Patterson handle an opening like this?
Command James D. Swanson of the United States Navy was short, plump and crowding forty. He had jet black hair topping a cherubic face, and with the deep permanent crease of of laughter lines radiating from his eyes and curving round his mouth he was a dead ringer for the cheerful, happy-go-lucky extrovert who is the life and soul of the party where the guests park their brains long with their hats and coats. That, anyway, was how he struck me a first glance but on the reasonable assumption that I might very likely find some other qualities in the man picked to command the latest and most powerful nuclear submarine afloat I took a second and closer look at him and this time I saw what I should have seen the first time if the dank grey fog and and winter dusk settling down over the Firth of Clyde hadn’t made seeing so difficult. His eyes.
(A page or two later, the narrator is lying to Swanson about why he needs to be on his submarine and make a trip under the ice and break through high the Arctic … but we don’t know why.)
Look at that third sentence! Eighty-two words! Look at pages two and three:
Most of the thrillers I see in the stores now, not only is the reading level juvenile, every paragraph is two sentences long and every chapter is three pages long.
There was a good piece by J. Kingston Pierce in Kirkus Reviews last year: Fit to Thrill: Alistair MacLean Deserves to Be Read Again:
MacLean’s male protagonists were typically cool, morally resolute and prodigiously skilled, often harboring secret knowledge crucial to the plot’s resolution. The odds against them were predictably astronomical, and their physical and mental stamina might be sorely tested; but no matter the cruelty of their foes (Nazis, drug dealers, foreign agents, gun runners, etc.), MacLean’s heroes eventually prevailed. His female characters didn’t often enjoy such complexities of character. While they might display a flash of steel in their spines and barbs on their tongues, they were usually sexier than they were self-reliant—though not alluring enough to distract the leading men from their duties; unlike many of his contemporaries, MacLean believed that fictional love-making and romance were needless fetters on a story’s pace.
The 1970s was a great decade for adventure novels. There was a wave of writers, mostly British, who were writing suspense adventure—generally featuring a common man in very uncommon trouble—as well as the genre as ever been written. The most popular, and the most remembered, is Alistair MacLean, but there were others. Men named Desmond Bagley, Gavin Lyall and Jack Higgins. These writers were very nearly MacLean’s equal; if Mr MacLean’s early work is the measuring stick.
Visit to Abilene Christian University Library added to photodatabase
According to a new study from the American Library Association (ALA), nearly 100 percent of America’s public libraries offer workforce development training programs, online job resources, and technology skills training. Combined with maker spaces, coding classes, and programs dedicated to entrepreneurship and small business development, libraries are equipping U.S. communities with the resources and skills needed to succeed in today’s – and tomorrow’s – global marketplace.
President Obama and Congress recently acknowledged the vital contributions of libraries by enabling them—for the first time—to be considered One-Stop partners and eligible for federal funding to support job training and job search programs. The bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act also authorizes adult education and literacy activities provided by public libraries as an allowable statewide employment and training activity.
“Senator Jack Reed and I led the effort to include public libraries in this important new law because they are often the first places Americans go for skill development and job search assistance,” said Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ). “I’ve seen this firsthand with NJWorks@yourlibraryproject, which used federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) funding to help get job seekers back to work with access to online job resources and training in every community in New Jersey.”
Overall, libraries report technology improvements—including nearly ubiquitous public wi-fi, growing mobile resources and a leap in e-book access—but the ALA’s 2014 Digital Inclusion Survey also documents digital differences among states and an urban/rural divide.
“Until the Digital Inclusion Survey, no national study has shown in such detail the extent to which libraries complete education, jumpstart employment and entrepreneurship, and foster individual empowerment and engagement, or the E’s of Libraries™,” said ALA President Courtney Young. “The study also begins to map new programs and technology resources that range from STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) maker programming to 3D printing to hackathons.”
Among the study findings:
“Changes in technology—whether internet speeds, or new devices or new applications—are racing faster all the time,” said IMLS Director Susan Hildreth. “Libraries are ideally positioned to help everyone in our communities get up to speed. This is the heart of digital inclusion—equitable access to internet-connected devices and online content plus the skills to take advantage of the educational, economic and social opportunities available through these technologies.”
Funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and managed by the ALA Office for Research & Statistics and the Information Policy and Access Center at the University of Maryland, the Digital Inclusion Study provides national- and state-level data. The International City/County Management Association and ALA Office for Information Technology Policy are partners in the research effort.
While most libraries marked progress from the last national library technology study in 2012, advances are uneven. Less than half of rural libraries reported they increased bandwidth speeds in the last 24 months, compared with 64 percent of urban libraries and 56 percent of suburban libraries. Fewer than two-thirds of rural libraries report having access to information technology (IT) staff, far behind their counterparts. A vast majority of all libraries (66 percent), though, agree they would like to increase their broadband capacity, and that cost is the leading barrier to doing so.
“It is increasingly understood that access to broadband is the critical success factor across our society, and we must do more to connect all of our communities,” said ICMA Executive Director Robert J. O’Neill, Jr. “Libraries play an essential role in helping local governments meet their greatest challenges by connecting their services to critical community priorities.”
The study provides a first national look at emerging trends, from STEM maker spaces (17 percent, or about 3,000 libraries), to wireless printing (33 percent) to 3D printers and hosting hackathons or other coding/application development events (about 2 percent each, or roughly 260 libraries). Creation and making activities already are transforming what is possible for communities through libraries. At the Johnson County Library in Kansas, for instance, a library patron printed a mechanical hand for a family friend. High school student Mason Wilde loaded needed blueprints onto library computers and used the library’s 3D printer to create the necessary parts. Wilde then decided to start a nonprofit to make 3D prosthetics for other children, and he is now considering a career in the biomedical field.
“Creating is becoming a new digital competency, and libraries are building and expanding their programs and services to meet these changing community needs,” said Ann Joslin, President of the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies. Joslin also is the state librarian in Idaho, which currently has a pilot program underway to support library maker activities and encourage the use of new technologies and tools.
“Whether it’s a class on internet safety, an entrepreneur who identifies potential customers from databases or a class on digital content creation, libraries continue to establish themselves as digital leaders in communities,” Young concluded. “This study demonstrates how technology investments benefit our libraries and our patrons, and keep our communities thriving.”
Methodology: The Digital Inclusion Survey collected data from a nationally representative sample of public libraries at the branch/outlet level between September 3 and November 30, 2013. The survey was open to all public libraries to participate. However, the analysis conducted used only sampled libraries. The survey received 3,392 responses, for a 70.1 percent response rate. For more information, please visit http://www.ala.org/research/digitalinclusion and http://digitalinclusion.umd.edu/. Past related reports on public library technology are available at www.ala.org/plinternetfunding.
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This week, American Library Association (ALA) President Courtney Young appeared on an episode of Comcast Newsmakers, a national interview program that airs on the Headline News (HLN) network. Highlighting new data from the 2014 Digital Inclusion Survey, Young discussed the plethora of digital learning opportunities available in libraries and detailed the ways that libraries have transformed into tech classrooms for young students and adult learners nationwide.
The news segment, titled “Modern Libraries, will air on HLN from today until July 27, 2014.
As their page states: “Serendip-o-matic connects your sources to digital materials located in libraries, museums, and archives around the world. By first examining your research interests, and then identifying related content in locations such as the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), Europeana, and Flickr Commons, our serendipity engine helps you discover photographs, documents, maps and other primary sources.
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.
Visit the LITA Job Site for more available jobs and for information on submitting a job posting.
When artists, both amateur and professional, create original works, the Internet is an obvious choice for sharing that work with the largest audience possible. But copyright law is anything but uniform around the world, and the Internet is nothing if not a worldwide forum. Creative Commons (CC) is a nonprofit organization that offers a range of free, internationally recognized, easy-to-use licensing options for making content available on the Internet. The organization provides a “simple, standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work—on conditions of your choice…[changing] your copyright terms from the default of ‘all rights reserved’ to some rights reserved.’” CC licenses are not designed to be an alternative to copyright, but rather work alongside existing laws that vary among countries and regions.
Many CC licenses allow for open use and modification with a caveat of attribution, or allow non-commercial use only, and some include both non-alteration and attribution clauses. The key is flexibility; artists and professionals can mix and match licenses for different projects in several different mediums—photography, music, video, blog post, etc. In turn, users can seek out materials that offer explicit alteration permissions to use for future projects (this is especially helpful when using content that originated in countries that don’t have a Fair Use copyright exception). Each license has three parts: a legalese description, a plain language explanation, and machine-readable text for easy indexing by sites like Google or Flickr. You can read more about each individual license option here.
CC licenses are already being used for several high profile projects. Some of the more famous uses of CC licensing include:
Of course, licensing is simply another part of the copyright toolkit; CC licenses aren’t intended to replace fair use, but rather offer a third option for international sharing and distribution. They offer a solution that is both easy to understand and easy to use by content creators all over the world.
For some time now, we have been doing an OCLC Research Update at the American Library Association meeting (both ALA Annual and Midwinter) in order to, well, give an update on our work. Which is quite wide ranging. Last month several of my colleagues participated in the update. Eric Childress played MC, giving a variety of mini-updates on OCLC Research — for example, Lorcan’s honorary doctorate from the Open University, the ALCTS Presidential Citation, awarded to OCLC Research for the compendium, Understanding the Collective Collection, our What in the WorldCat? lists, and a teaser for Lorcan’s forthcoming book, The Network Reshapes the Library. In addition, meatier presentations were featured during the update:
The presentations, with speaker notes, are available on Slideshare. I’ve given you plenty of links to follow but you can also look for more blog postings on these projects in the future!
The online portal of the Swedish National Heritage Board (SOCH) www.kringla.nu allows users to search in both the national heritage repository ‘SOCH’ and the Europeana repository presenting the search results in different tabs.
Culture Collage is developed by Monique Szpak (@zenlan) and started as a simple exercise in mashing up a few web technologies, including those of Europeana API.
The National Library of Spain has implemented the Europeana API in their online portal, Biblioteca Digital Hispánica. The portal now enables their users to access related Europeana content via a single link on their search results header.
Islandora is pleased to announce the availability of 2 bursaries to cover the $495.00 registration cost for Islandora Camp GTA. We welcome applications from all those who are interested in attending camp. Please send a one-page letter telling us why you want to come and what you hope to learn by attending Islandora Camp.
You can submit letters of interest to email@example.com by July 29th
Recipients of the bursaries will be notified by July 31st.
Each year, the NDSA Innovation Working Group reviews nominations from members and non-members alike for the Innovation Awards. Most of those awards are focused on recognizing individuals, projects and organizations that are at the top of their game.
The Future Steward award is a little different. It’s focused on emerging leaders, and while the recipients of the future steward award have all made significant accomplishments and achievements, they have done so as students, learners and professionals in the early stages of their careers. Mat Kelly’s work on WARCreate, Martin Gengebach’s work on forensic workflows and now Emily Reynolds work in a range of organizations on digital preservation exemplify how some of the most vital work in digital preservation is being taken on and accomplished by some of the newest members of our workforce.
I’m thrilled to be able to talk with Emily, who picked up this year’s Future Steward award yesterday during the Digital Preservation 2014 meeting, about the range of her work and her thoughts on the future of the field. Emily was recognized for the quality of her work in a range of internships and student positions with the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research, the University of Michigan Libraries, the Library of Congress, Brooklyn Historical Society, StoryCorps, and, in particular, her recent work on the World Bank’s eArchives project.
Trevor: You have a bit of experience working with web archives at different institutions; scoping web archive projects with the Arab American National Museum, putting together use cases for the Library of Congress and in your coursework at the University of Michigan. Across these experiences, what are your reflections and thoughts on the state of web archiving for cultural heritage organizations?
Emily: It seems to me that many cultural heritage organizations are still uncertain as to where their web archive collections fit within the broader collections of their organization. Maureen McCormick Harlow, a fellow National Digital Stewardship Resident, often spoke about this dynamic; the collections that she created have been included in the National Library of Medicine’s general catalog. But for many organizations, web collections are still a novelty or a fringe part of the collections, and aren’t as discoverable. Because we’re not sure how the collections will be used, it’s difficult to provide access in a way that will make them useful.
I also think that there’s a bit of a skills gap, in terms of the challenges that web archiving can present, as compared to the in-house technical skills at many small organizations. Tools like Archive-It definitely lower the barrier to entry, but still require a certain amount of expertise for troubleshooting and understanding how the tool works. Even as the tools get stronger, the web becomes more and more complex and difficult to capture, so I can’t imagine that it will ever be a totally painless process.
Trevor: You have worked on some very different born-digital collections, processing born-digital materials for StoryCorps in New York and on a TRAC self-audit at ICPSR, one of the most significant holders of social science data sets. While very different kinds of materials, I imagine there are some similarities there too. Could you tell us a bit about what you did and what you learned working for each of these institutions? Further, I would be curious to hear what kinds of parallels or similarities you can draw from the work.
Emily: At StoryCorps, I did a lot of hands-on work with incoming interviews and data, so I saw first-hand the amount of effort that goes into making such complex collections discoverable. Their full interviews are not currently available online, but need to be accessible to internal staff. At ICPSR, I was more on the policy side of things, getting an overview of their preservation activities and documenting compliance with the TRAC standard.
StoryCorps and ICPSR are an interesting pair of organizations to compare because there are some striking similarities in the challenges they face in terms of access. The complexity and variety of research data held by ICPSR requires specialized tools and standards for curation, discovery and reuse. Similarly, oral history interviews can be difficult to discover and use without extensive metadata (including, ideally, full transcripts). They’re specialized types of content, and both organizations have to be innovative in figuring out how to preserve and provide access to their collections.
ICPSR has a strong infrastructure and systems for normalizing and documenting the data they ingest, but this work still requires a great deal of human input and quality control. Similarly, metadata for StoryCorps interviews is input manually by staff. I think both organizations have done great work towards finding solutions that work for their individual context, although the tools for providing access to research data seem to have developed faster than those for oral history. I’m hopeful that with tools like Pop Up Archive that will change.
Trevor: Most recently, you’ve played a leadership role in the development of the World Bank’s eArchives project. Could you tell us about this project a little and suggest some of the biggest things you learned from working on it?
Emily: The eArchives program is an effort to digitize the holdings of the World Bank Group Archives that are of greatest interest to researchers. We don’t view our digitization as a preservation action (only insofar as it reduces physical wear and tear on the records), and are primarily interested in providing broader access to the records for our international user base. We’ve scanned around 1500 folders of records at this point, prioritizing records that have been requested by researchers and cleared for public disclosure through the World Bank’s Access to Information Policy.
The project has also included a component of improving the accessibility of digitized records and archival finding aids. We are in the process of launching a public online finding aid portal, using the open-source Access to Memory (AtoM) platform, which will contain the archives’ ISAD(G) finding aids as well as links to the digitized materials. Previously, the finding aids were contained in static HTML pages that needed to be updated manually; soon, the AtoM database will sync regularly with our internal description database. This is going to be a huge upgrade for the archivists, in terms of reducing duplication of work and making their efforts more visible to the public.
It’s been really interesting to collaborate with the archives staff throughout the process of launching our AtoM instance. I’ve been thinking a lot about how compliance with archival standards can actually make records less accessible to the public, since the practices and language involved in finding aids can be esoteric and confusing to an outsider. It has been an interesting balance to ensure that the archivists are happy with the way the descriptions are presented, while also making the site as user-friendly as possible. Anne-Marie Viola, of Dumbarton Oaks, has written a couple of blog posts about the process of conducting usability testing on their AtoM instance, which have been a great resource for me.
Trevor: As I understand it, you are starting out a new position as a program specialist with the Institute for Museum and Library Services. I realize you haven’t started yet, but could you tell us a bit about what you are going to be doing? Along with that, I would be curious to hear you talk a bit about how you see your experience thus far fitting into working for the federal funding for libraries and museums?
Emily: As a Program Specialist, I’ll be working in IMLS’s Library Discretionary Programs division, which includes grant programs like the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program and the National Leadership Grants for Libraries. Among other things, I will be supporting the grant review process, communicating with grant applicants, and coordinating grant documentation. I’ll also have the opportunity to participate in some of the outreach that IMLS does with potential and existing grant applicants.
Even though I haven’t been in the profession for a very long time, I’ve had the opportunity to work in a lot of different areas, and as a result feel that I have a good understanding of the broad issues impacting all kinds of libraries today. I’m excited that I’ll be able to be involved in a variety of initiatives and areas, and to increase my involvement in the professional community. I’ve also been spoiled by the National Digital Stewardship Residency’s focus on professional development, and am excited to be moving on to a workplace where I can continue to attend conferences and stay up-to-date with the field.
Trevor: Staffing is a big concern for the future of access to digital information. The NDSA staffing survey gets into a lot of these issues. Based on your experience, what words of advice would you offer to others interested in getting into this field? How important do you think particular technical capabilities are? What made some of your internships better or more useful than others? What kinds of courses do you think were particularly useful? At this point you’ve graduated among a whole cohort of students in your program. What kinds of things do you think made the difference for those who had an easier time getting started in their careers?
Emily: I believe that it is not the exact technical skills that are so important, but the ability to feel comfortable learning new ones, and the ability to adapt what one knows to a particular situation. I wouldn’t expect every LIS graduate to be adept at programming, but they should have a basic level of technical literacy. I took classes in GIS, PHP and MySQL, Drupal and Python, and while I would not consider myself an expert in any of these topics, they gave me a solid understanding of the basics, and the ability to understand how these tools can be applied.
I think it’s also important for recent graduates to be flexible about what types of jobs they apply for, rather than only applying for positions with “Librarian” or “Archivist” in the title. The work we do is applicable in so many roles and types of organizations, and I know that recent grads who were more flexible about their search were generally able to find work more quickly. I enjoyed your recent blog post on the subject of digital archivists as strategists and leaders, rather than just people who work with floppy discs instead of manuscripts. Of course this is easy for me to say, as I move to my first job outside of archives – but I think I’ll still be able to support and participate in the field in a meaningful way.
Way back in 2005, I wrote a post about tenure for librarians in which I argued against it. Since then, I’ve spent six years as a librarian with faculty rank and no tenure and three years as a librarian on the tenure track, and I can say that my feelings against tenure status for librarians has only grown stronger.
When I told one of my colleagues that I was leaving for Portland Community College, she said “are you sad you’re not going to be doing scholarship anymore?” Why wouldn’t I? Portland Community College already has 3 Library Journal Movers and Shakers (I’ll be #4!) and faculty who’ve published and presented some really thought-provoking work. I wrote a book and a bunch of articles and presented a ton when I wasn’t on the tenure track. I did plenty of it on my own time and some of it while at work. As a tenure-track librarian, I do plenty of scholarship on my own time and some of it while at work. I know at some places, librarians are told that they can take x% of their time for scholarship or that they can take one day/week for it. At most places, that isn’t the case. You try to fit it into your work week while you’re doing your “real work” and are expected to take it home with you because it’s how you’re going to keep your job. And expectations around time for research change with different library administrations, which can be stressful (says the woman on her third UL and AUL for public services in 3 years).
For me, doing scholarship is actually fun. I’ve enjoyed the articles I’ve written and the research I’ve done. I may not have done all of it had I not been tenure-track, but this kind of stuff is fun for me. However, there are lots of people for whom the idea of research, writing, and presenting at conferences is horrifying. There are even more people who just have no interest in doing it. And this is why we have a literature with a small number of gems amongst a whole lot of of mediocrity. There are many studies that are so poorly designed that they do more to obfuscate knowledge than to advance it. I recently read an article that concluded that an one method of instruction was no more effective than another. The authors had a tiny sample size (one class with each methodology — 2 classes total), had a person teach the class who’d never used one of the chosen methods before, and based effectiveness on recall (using a poorly-designed quiz) rather than the students’ ability to actually do research or satisfaction with the session. In the end, the authors didn’t even seem to have confidence in their own findings. What can anyone actually learn from this??? And yet this was published in one of our profession’s top journals. There are so many articles out there in the library literature exactly like this. Librarians get little education in research design and then are told they must do research to keep their jobs. If we can barely find the time to do our scholarship, is it any wonder that we don’t have time to become good researchers? I would argue that the library literature would be much better (though smaller) if not for the tenure track and that many of those who have published the gems would have done so with or without a mandate to do so.
The idea that librarians need tenure to be on faculty-level committees seems like a red herring to me, because there are so many institutions at which librarians who are not tenure-track (and even not faculty) serve on these committees. I chaired an academic committee of disciplinary faculty members at Norwich and served on another faculty senate committee, all while being “staff with faculty rank.” I wasn’t thought of as less than, but as different. Then again, I’m also ok with being seen as different from disciplinary faculty, which some librarians seem uncomfortable with. I know we are different. I think librarians are much more effective when they show what unique value they bring to a collaboration with faculty than when they try to show how they’re just like disciplinary faculty. We’re just not.
I’ve come to find that we have a lot more in common with some student affairs units than we do with disciplinary faculty. Units like the writing center, the learning/tutoring center, and the career center provide a mix of point-of-need and course-integrated instruction as well as significant outreach. Some even teach credit courses (our College Success classes are taught by student life faculty). The staff or faculty in these units are not tenure-track, yet they often serve on faculty senate committees because they have a valuable POV. The Director of PSU’s Learning Center shares knowledge and presents at conferences. She’s very involved in assessment. I kind of wish more academic librarians would see themselves as having a kinship with student affairs (and vice versa) because there are some valuable collaborations that can happen between those units. We really do share the same goals.
One of the biggest arguments for tenure is academic freedom, but I have felt less free to write and say what I think over the past three years than I did at any other point in my career. I don’t think it has to be this way, but tenure can push people to take the safe route, which Nicole Pagowsky alluded to in her most recent post. I think the tenure process can silence librarians early in their careers when they’re most likely to want to challenge the status quo. By the time a librarian has achieved tenure, he or she has a specific scholarly agenda and most will not likely make a radical u-turn in what they research and write/speak about. Also, over time, it’s easier to become complacent about things that would have fired you up five or six years before.
I thought I’d have no problem sailing through the tenure process since I give a lot of talks and have no problem writing a lot (as you’ve probably noticed), but then I learned that it wasn’t just about having x# of presentations and peer-reviewed publications (in fact, I got dinged for giving too many presentations in my first year). It was about doing it all the “right way.” And figuring out what the “right way” is can be just about impossible, because what’s right is in the eye of the beholder. One person may value being on certain committees more than scholarship. Someone else may feel entirely opposite. For some it’s about national service and for others it’s local/state service. In some cases it may be about how well-liked you are. For me, having a blog with a national audience was more of an albatross than an asset. I’m ashamed to admit that I considered shuttering this blog after my last promotion and tenure review, because the feedback I received was so vague that it wasn’t clear to me what specifically I’d done wrong and how I could fix it. I felt paralyzed.
At Norwich, I did write one or two things on my blog that got me into trouble. My Director was a great protector of intellectual freedom, so she didn’t sell me down the river when a vendor rep called her to complain about a blog post I’d written about them. But when I did write something my Director or a colleague didn’t like or felt was inappropriate, they discussed it with me directly and was able to talk it out and apologize for anything that might have been inappropriate or hurtful. And I learned from those experiences how to be more politic in writing about work. I still don’t know specifically what I wrote over the past three years that was wrong and who was bothered by it. I wish I did because I’d gladly apologize to them and improve based on their feedback.
I believe that academic freedom can be protected contractually. If it’s in your contract, it’s law. At PSU, we’re union-represented and if something is done that violates the union contract (which includes academic freedom), we can file a grievance. Even without a union, a contract is a contract. And let’s not forget that tenure seems to be no guarantee of full academic freedom (see Kansas, the University of Saskatchewan, etc.). Also, what good is academic freedom when it only protects a small percentage of the workforce? Oh, I deserve academic freedom, but my fixed-term and adjunct faculty colleagues don’t?
It can be exceedingly difficult to do things on the tenure track that are daring or controversial or that run counter to what is valued in your library. At my current job, lower-division instruction is greatly undervalued. While these are the students with the greatest needs and at the greatest risk of leaving college, focusing on liaison instruction to upper-division undergrads and graduate students and outreach to disciplinary faculty is far more valued. As the person who coordinates our lower-division instruction and also has four disciplinary liaison areas, I constantly felt pulled in two directions by what I knew was right and what I knew was valued. I tried to find a balance between things like outreach to get my faculty to deposit their work into PDXScholar (our repository) and providing outreach to our college success classes, but I often found myself thinking about what will look good to my colleagues and I can’t say it never swayed my decisions.
I also find it strange that in the tenure process, you’re often evaluated by a group of people who may not supervise you, report to you, or have much of anything to do with your work. My direct reports were never on my P&T committee because they were not tenure-track faculty (they were fixed-term), nor were they asked for their opinions on my performance as a manager. I’ve heard horror stories from other institutions about people using the promotion and tenure process as a weapon against people they don’t like. It’s certainly a process ripe for abuse by those who are passive-aggressive or grudge-holders because so much of it is essentially about one’s personal feelings about a person and their body of work. I know there is great variety in how the tenure process is structured at different institutions, but I’ve heard too many negative things to believe it worth whatever minor gains in status we may (or may not) get from it.
From talking to people about my impending job change, I get the sense that a few people see it as a step down from what I’m currently doing. One person looked at me quizzically and said “and are you happy about this change?” Moving away from the tenure-track is not a step down in any way. In fact, I feel a freedom I haven’t felt in a long time to focus more fully on student success. I feel the same thing with the move to a community college. When you’re at a former college that is trying to become a world-class research university, you don’t have the library staffing to focus enough on either the research mission or the teaching mission. I’m so excited to be going to a place where the priority is clear. This is why I went into librarianship; not to do research or be thought of as faculty, but to teach, support teaching, and support student success. I’ve worked at a small private rural teaching university and a large public urban research university and I feel like a large urban community college combines all of the things I loved most about each of those settings.
Photo credit: Carrot And Stick by Allan on Flickr
Ed already said it much, much better. I agree with Ed, and stand by his rationale.
So, why write this?
I want to document what a wonderful example this little project is of open source software, permissive intellectual property licenses (Public Domain dedication in this instance), open data, and how all of these things together can change in the world.
In the two weeks since Ed has shared his code, it has 179 commits from 24 different contributors. It has been forked 92 times, has 33 watchers, and 460 stargazers. In addition, we've witnessed the proliferation of similar inspired bots. Bots that surface anonymous tweets from national government IP ranges (U.S., Canada, France, Norway, etc), state and provincial government IP ranges (@NCGAedits, @ONgovEdits, @lagovedits, etc), big industry IP ranges (@phrmaedits, @oiledits, @monsantoedits, etc), and intergovernmental organization IP ranges (@un_edits and @NATOedits). I'm aware of over 40 at the time of this writing, and new bots have consistently appeared daily over the past two weeks.
These bots have revealed some pretty amazing and controversial edits. Far, far too many to list here, but here are a few that have caught my eye.
Статья в Википедии Список авиационных катастроф в гражданской авиации была отредактирована ВГТРК http://t.co/peZ60q07Fj— Госправки (@RuGovEdits) July 18, 2014
Shelly Glover Wikipedia article edited anonymously by Canadian House of Commons http://t.co/Vmap9kACY7— Gov. of Canada edits (@gccaedits) July 14, 2014
Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu Wikipedia article edited anonymously by Canadian House of Commons http://t.co/zUr17E7pqn— Gov. of Canada edits (@gccaedits) July 16, 2014
Richard Conn Wikipedia article edited anonymously from Natural Resources Canada http://t.co/i46xD2kUis— Gov. of Canada edits (@gccaedits) July 21, 2014
Much more important than these selected tweets, this software surfaces "big data" in a meaningful way. It provides transparency. It empowers a citizenry. It exists as resource for research and investigative journalism. And, most important in my opinion, software written and shared like this, can push all the cynicism aside, and give one hope for the future.
What is MARCCompare/RobertCompare?
Very rarely do I create programs for individuals to meet very specific user needs. I’ve always taken the approach with MarcEdit that tools should be generalizable, and not tied to a specific individual or project. RobertCompare was different. The tool was created to support Mr.Robert (Bob) Ellett’s (ALA Tribute, Link to Dissertation Record in WorldCat) research for his Ph.D. dissertation, and only after completion, was the tool generalized for wider use.
When I moved MarcEdit from the 4.x to the 5.x codebase, I dropped this utility because it had seemed to have run its course. This was something Bob would periodically give me a hard time about — I think that he liked the idea of RobertCompare kicking around. Of course, the program was terribly complicated, and without folks asking for it, converting the code from assembly to C# just wasn’t a high priority.
Well, that changed last year when Bob suddenly passed away. I liked Bob a lot — he was immeasurably kind and easy to get along with. After his passing, I decided I wanted to bring RobertCompare back…I wanted to do something to remember my friend. It’s taken a lot more time than I’d hoped, in part due to a move, a job change, and the complexity of the code. However, after an extended absence, RobertCompare is being reintroduced back into MarcEdiit with MarcEdit 6.0.
The original version of RobertCompare was designed to answer a very specific set of questions. The program didn’t just look for differences between records, but rather, utilizing a probability engine, made determinations regarding the types of changes that had been made in the records. Bob’s research centered around the use of PCC records at non-PCC libraries, and he was particularly interested in the types of changes these libraries were making to the records when downloading them for use. The original version of RobertCompare was very good at analyzing record sets and generating a change history based on the current state of the records. But the program was incredibly complicated and slow…really, really slow.
In order to make this tool more multi-use, I’ve removed much of the code centered around probability matrix, and instead created a tool that utilizes a differential equation to generate an output file that graphically represents the changes between MARC files. The output of the file is in HTML and at this point, pretty simple – but has been created in a way that I should be able to add additional functionality if this tool proves to have utility within the community.
So what does it look like? The program is pretty straightforward. There is a home menu where in identify the two files that you want to compare, and then a place to designate a save file path.
The program can take MARC files and mnemonic files and compare them to determine what changes have been made between each record. At this point, the files to be compared need to be in the same order. This has been done primarily for performance reasons, as it allows the program to very quickly chew through very large files which was what I was looking for as part of this re-release.
As noted above, the output of the files has changed. Rather than breaking down changes into categories in an attempt to determine if changes were updated fields, new fields or deleted field data – the program now just notes additions/changes and deletions to the record and outputs this as an HTML record. Figure 2 shows a sample of what the report might look like (format is slightly fluid and still changing).
While I’m not sure that RobertCompare was ever widely used by the MarcEdit community, I do know that it had its champions. Over the past year, I’ve heard from a handful of users asking about the tool, and letting me know that they still have MarcEdit 4.0 on their systems specifically to utilize this program. Hopefully by adding this tool back into MarcEdit, they will finally be able to send MarcEdit 4.x into retirement and jump to the current version of the application. For me personally, working on this tool again was a chance to remember a very good man, and finish something that I know probably would have given him a good laugh.
Welcome to the 2nd Europeana Labs newsletter. Every few months we bring you the latest news from Europeana, focussed on showcasing the exciting opportunities available to our developer community and inspiring you to be creative with Europe’s cultural heritage!
All Web services that require user level authentication and the WorldCat knowledge base API will be down for updates beginning Sunday, July 27th, 2:00 am EDT.
I knew that the typical “spin class” that many have found to be their groove simply wasn’t for me. But finally, after trying ice skating, roller skating, and goodness knows what else, I found it. It was hiking the Sonoma Overlook Trail. It is a loop trail that winds up into the hills overlooking the town of Sonoma, gaining about 300 feet in elevation as it does. The shortest loop takes 35 minutes non-stop, the longest is 45 minutes.
So for the last several years that has been what I’ve done for exercise. I hike it whenever I can, which is anywhere from 3-5 days a week. Over time, I became a volunteer who maintains the trail, called the Sonoma Overlook Trail Stewards. It is our responsibility to keep the trail being the kind of experience we all wish to have — close to wildlife, true to the California landscape, and as free from as many human impacts — from trash to dogs — as we can.
As a part of this stewardship, we are trying to eradicate the invasive, non-native Yellow Star Thistle (see it above the California Kingsnake in the photo; believe me, I let the snake slither away before I pulled those). This is the second year that I’ve participated in pulling this weed from the Overlook Trail. It is also the first year that I’ve come to understand what we are up against. As someone I spoke to recently said, it can take at least four years of concerted effort to eradicate this weed from an area. After a season of deep commitment to eradicating it, I get it. I’ve spent a month, off-and-on, pulling it from the area, including pulling some today from areas that I’ve walked 3-4 times before. As a part of this, I’ve come to understand that we aren’t fighting a battle, but a war.
We are in a long game. And so are libraries.
So how do we best play the long game? Here are some ideas, based on both my experiences in libraries and in pulling Yellow Star Thistle:
Many of you are likely already playing the long game whether you realize it or not. I would be interested to hear your reports from the field in a comment below. Let me know about the good and the bad about playing the long game and how we can help ourselves and other libraries play it better. I’m all ears.
We’re extremely excited to welcome Gretchen Gueguen and Tom Johnson as the newest members of DPLA’s growing staff. Gretchen will supplement the work of DPLA’s content team as Data Services Coordinator, working alongside our Director and Assistant Director for Content to bring on new partners, conduct data mapping and ingest, perform quality assurance, and support several other critical projects. Tom will serve as DPLA’s Metadata and Platform Architect as part of DPLA’s technology team, and will focus on helping to further improve our metadata model and related infrastructure and expanding upon our work with linked open data.
“I am extremely thrilled to have both Tom and Gretchen join DPLA given their robust experience in digital libraries and metadata,” said Dan Cohen, DPLA’s Executive Director. “Their skills both complement and expand upon the strengths of the current DPLA staff, allowing us to go even further this year and beyond.”
Gretchen is an archivist and librarian specializing in digital libraries and technology. Prior to DPLA, Gretchen worked at the University of Virginia as Digital Archivist and at the Joyner Library Digital Collections at East Carolina University. She’s also been involved with several other digital library and digital humanities projects such as the University of Maryland Digital Collections and the Thomas MacGreevy Archive.
Tom is a digital librarian, programmer, and metadata expert with a strong commitment to open cultural heritage. He comes to DPLA from Oregon State University, where he worked on digital curation, scholarly publication, and related software and metadata issues as Digital Applications Librarian and Assistant Professor.
Both Gretchen and Tom will begin work in mid-August. We look forward to their substantial contributions to DPLA’s mission. Welcome, Tom and Gretchen!
All written content on this blog is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. All images found on this blog are available under the specific license(s) attributed to them, unless otherwise noted.
After years of inaction, legislation is finally moving forward that acknowledges the ways that libraries work to help the public gain important employment skills and find jobs. Today, President Barack Obama will sign the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, a bill that will open access to federal funding support to public libraries for effective job training and job search programs. President Obama will sign the bill into law from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. ET in the White House Oval Office in Washington, D.C. (watch the signing live).
American Library Association (ALA) President Courtney Young applauded the presidential signing of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act:
As the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act recognizes libraries as One-Stop partners and includes adult education and literacy programs offered at libraries as statewide employment and training activities. Additionally, the bill provides funding support for 21st-century digital readiness training programs that help library users learn how to use technology to find, evaluate, organize, create, and communicate information.
Today America, libraries and the people who come to us for assistance have cause for renewed optimism. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act recognizes that libraries are often the first places Americans seek when they need job training or job search assistance. We’re proud of what libraries have accomplished with meager resources over the last several years. Now, with the support of this legislation, we look forward to a brighter future for the American workforce libraries have served for more than a century.
The American Library Association would like to thank Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ) for their long time efforts to include libraries in this legislation.
Article by Hélène Prost, Institute of Scientific and Technical Information (CNRS) and Joachim Schöpfel, Charles de Gaulle University Lille 3
Article by Dominic Oldman, British Museum, London; Martin Doerr, FORTH-ICS, Crete; Gerald de Jong, Delving BV, Barry Norton, British Museum, London and Thomas Wikman, Swedish National Archives
Article by Anna Neatrour, Matt Brunsvik, Sean Buckner, Brian McBride and Jeremy Myntti, University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library
Conference Report by Darko Lacović, University of Osijek, Croatia and Mate Juric, University of Zadar, Croatia
Article by Thomas B. Hickey and Jenny A. Toves, Online Computer Library Center, Inc.
Article by Lisa Gregory and Stephanie Williams, North Carolina Digital Heritage Center
Editorial by Laurence Lannom, CNRI
Article by Jody L. DeRidder and Kathryn G. Matheny, University of Alabama Libraries
I recently had a bad experience at a programming workshop where I was the only woman in attendance and eventually had to leave early out of concern for my safety.
Having to repeatedly explain the situation to a group of men who promised me that “they were working on fixing this community” was not only degrading, but also unnecessary. I was shuttled to three separate people, eventually receiving some of my money back approximately a month later (which was all I asked for) along with promises and placating statements about “improvement.”
What happened could have been prevented: each participant signed a “Code of Conduct” that was buried in the payment for the workshop, but there was no method of enforcement and nowhere to turn when issues arose.
At one point while I was attempting to resolve the issue, this community’s Project Manager told me, “Three other women signed up, but they dropped out at the last minute because they had to work. It was very strange and unexpected that you were the only woman.” I felt immediately silenced. The issue is not numbers, but instead inviting people to safe spaces and building supportive structures where people feel welcomed and not marginalized. Increasing the variety of people involved in an event is certainly a step, but it is only part of the picture. I realize now that the board members of this organization were largely embarrassed, but they could have handled my feelings in a way where I didn’t feel like their “future improvements” were silencing my very real current concerns.
Similarly, I’ve been thinking a lot about a conversation I had with some members of the German Python community a few months ago. Someone told me that Codes of Conduct are an American hegemonic device and that introducing the idea of abuse opens the community up for it, particularly in places that do not define “diversity” in the same way as Americans. This was my first exposure to this argument, and it definitely gave me a lot of food for thought, though I adamantly disagree.
In my opinion, the open-source tech community is a multicultural community and organizers and contributors have the responsibility to set their rules for participation. Mainstream Western society, which unfortunately dictates many of the social rules on the Internet, does a bad job teaching people how to interact with one another in a positive and genuine way, and going beyond “be excellent to one another, we’re all friends here!” argument helps us participate in a way in which people feel safe both on and off the Web.
At a session at the Open Knowledge Festival this week, we were discussing accessibility and realized that the Code of Conduct (called a “User Guide”) was not easily located and many participants were probably not aware of its existence. The User Guide is quite good: it points to other codes of conduct, provides clear enforcement, and emphasizes collaboration and diversity.
At the festival, accessibility was not addressed in any kind of cohesive manner: the one gender-neutral bathroom in the huge space was difficult to find, sessions were loud and noisy and often up stairs, making it impossible for anyone with any kind of hearing or mobility issue to participate, and finally, the conference organizers did not inform participants that food would not be free, causing the conference’s ticket price to increase dramatically in an expensive neighborhood in Berlin.
In many ways, I’m conflating two separate issues here (accessibility and behavior of participants at an event.) I would counter that creating a safe space is not only about behavior on the part of the participants, but also on the part of the conference organizers. Thinking about how participants interact at your event not only has to do with how people interact with one another, but also how people interact with the space. A commitment to accessibility and “diversity” hinges upon more than words and takes concerted and long term action. It may mean choosing a smaller venue or limiting the size of the conference, but it’s not impossible, and incredibly important. It also doesn’t have to be expensive! A small hack that I appreciated at Ada Camp and Open Source Bridge was a quiet chill out room. Being able to escape from the hectic buzz was super appreciated.
Ashe Dryden writes compellingly about the need for better Codes of Conduct and the impetus to not only have events be a reflection of what a community looks like, but also where they want to see them go. As she writes,
I worry about the conferences that are adopting codes of conduct without understanding that their responsibility doesn’t end after copy/pasting it onto their site. Organizers and volunteers need to be trained about how to respond, need to educate themselves about the issues facing marginalized people attending their events, and need to more thoughtfully consider their actions when responding to reports.
Dryden’s Code of Conduct 101 and FAQ should be required reading for all event organizers and Community Managers. Codes of Conduct remove the grey areas surrounding appropriate and inappropriate behavior and allow groups to set the boundaries for what they want to see happening in their communities. In my opinion, there should not only be a Code of Conduct, but also an accessibility statement that collaboratively outlines what the organizers are doing to make the space accessible and inclusive and addresses and invites concerns and edits. In her talk at the OKFestival, Penny pointed out that accessibility and inclusion actually makes things better for everyone involved in an event. As she said, “No one wants to sit in a noisy room! For you, it may be annoying, but for me it’s impossible.”
Diversity is not only about getting more women in the room, it is about thinking intersectionally and educating oneself so that all people feel welcome regardless of class, race, physicality, or level of education. I’ve had the remarkable opportunity to go to conferences all over the world this year, and the spaces that have made an obvious effort to think beyond “We have 50% women speakers!” are almost immediately obvious. I felt safe and welcomed at Open Source Bridge and Ada Camp. From food I could actually eat to lanyards that indicated comfort with photography to accessibility lanes, the conference organizers were thoughtful, available, and also kind enough that I could approach them if I needed anything or wanted to talk.
From now on, unless I’m presented a Code of Conduct that is explicit in its enforcement, defines harassment in a comprehensive manner, makes accessibility a priority, and provides trained facilitators to respond to issues, you can count me out of your event.
We can do better in protecting our friends and communities, but change can only begin internally. I am a Community Manager because we get together to educate ourselves and each other as a collaborative community of people from around the world. We should feel safe in the communities of practice that we choose, whether that community is the international Python community, or a local soccer league, or a university. We have the power to change our surroundings and our by extension our future, but it will take a solid commitment from each of us.
Events will never be perfect, but I believe that at least in this respect, we can come damn close.