Much has been happening behind-the-scenes to prepare for Core’s upcoming launch on September 1st, so we want to update you on the progress we’ve made.
At the 2020 ALA Virtual Conference Council meetings, the ALA Council approved the creation of Core, so we’re official! It’s been a difficult summer for everyone given the global situation, but this was a milestone we’re excited to reach.
What We’ve Been Doing
In May, the Core Transition Committee (the 9 division presidents plus senior staff) formed 11 working groups of members from all 3 divisions to make recommendations about how to proceed with our awards/scholarships, budget/finance, committees, communications, conference programming, continuing education, fundraising/sponsorships, interest groups, member engagement, nominations for 2021 president-elect, publications, and standards. These groups have done an amazing amount of work in a very short time period, and we’re grateful to these members for their commitment and effort.
We’re happy to report that each group will be submitting its final report in the next week. Throughout August, the CTC will direct the implementation of recommendations in the reports. We’ll document the implementation so that we can share the process publicly and transparently with members. We’ll send you another update when we start posting this information on the current Core website later this month.
Behind the scenes, Core staff members have been working with ALA staff to build new systems and structures so that we can start the day on September 1 as a (relatively!) organized Core community. So far work has been done on changes in the member database, budget lines, our new sections, membership dues, and the like. During August, staff will be working on our new website, Connect site, committee rosters, online learning setup, new communication channels, and other infrastructure pieces.
What’s Happening in September
On September 1, your current division membership(s) will automatically switch to a Core division membership. You won’t have to do anything: your ALA username and password won’t change, and your membership expiration date will remain the same. As the date gets closer, we’ll provide more information about how to access your existing groups and join new ones.
A Nominating Committee of the 3 division Past Presidents, led by member Ted Quiballo, issued a call for nominations for President-Elect last month. In September, we’ll announce and provide information about the two candidates who will be running for this position. The President ballot will include the 3 current Presidents of our divisions (the 2 not elected will remain on the Board).
We’ll run an election for President and President-Elect in October using our ALA Connect community. As described in the Core Proposal, this will provide us with the 17 members of the transitional Board of Directors (2020-21) who will begin governing in November. We’ll be announcing the election through email, on the website, on social media, and everywhere else we can to make sure you have a chance to vote, so watch for more details next month.
If you want to help shape the next phase of Core, you can volunteer to be on a working group to make recommendations for how we proceed with advocacy, content coordination, the Virtual Exchange, the in-person Forum, Leadership Development and Mentoring, Preservation Week, and Sustainability.
We fully expect that the first year of Core will be transitional, and for some areas the transition will continue into the second year. That’s expected and a part of the process, though it can feel uncomfortable at times. We’re on this journey together, and we can’t do this without you, so please reach out to us with any questions, suggestions, or concerns you have.
We invite your participation in Endangered Data Week (EDW), a distributed network of events running from September 21-25, 2020. This year’s Endangered Data Week will look different than previous years, as we focus on ways to respond to the present moment and have the biggest impact given the current circumstances.
EDW is an annual, grassroots effort to foster an environment of data consciousness through distributed conversations, workshops, and political activism. The topics we’ve covered include: raising awareness about risks to public data, workshops to teach data literacy, discussions of civic data, FOIA, online privacy, and many others.
However, as organizers in this present moment, we find ourselves increasingly focused less on threats to publicly available data, but instead on data collection practices that threaten the public. As millions of people across the country have taken to the streets to protest police and vigilante brutality and structural racism in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others, they find themselves tracked by an increasingly prevalent, and increasingly intelligent, surveillance infrastructure. Local and federal police are using film of protests, combined with facial recognition software, to attempt to identify protestors. They are also using so-called “open source intelligence”—social media profiles and other publicly available information—to identify, monitor, and develop criminal charges against protestors. Last year, the DLF Government Records Transparency and Accountability expert panel focused on governmental data, highlighting the ways in which data serves as a medium of state violence. In 2020, we see that conversations on data literacy, privacy, and activism are not only timely, but also have immediate ramifications on the safety and political agency of marginalized communities.
While government collection of data represents the clearest threats to privacy and well-being, we would be remiss not to look further. Tech companies, including but not limited to social media, track and aggregate our communication, browsing history, and purchases to better serve us ads, and brick-and-mortar businesses also rely on increasingly complex and invasive surveillance technology in the name of “loss prevention.” As a community composed of mostly academics and information professionals, we also hope participants will look closer into the surveillance we are enacting upon patrons and students, in the form of logging digital resource access information, contact tracing, or through learning management systems at our institutions.
While we don’t plan to stop discussing threats to public data, we want to encourage more events that focus on raising awareness of this type of data collection, retention, and analysis, discussions of how to protect ourselves and our communities, and ways that our work can more directly contribute to a more just society.
How to Get Involved
In previous years, EDW has consisted primarily of small, in-person workshops and discussions, but obviously that will have to change this year. We are looking to have a scaled-down, all virtual Endangered Data Week, including panel discussion broadcasts, asynchronous writing or resource collection activities, and virtual/asynchronous workshops.
We will be tweeting updates with the hashtag#EndangeredData and adding events to the website and as they are planned, so please keep an eye on the events list for ways to participate. If you are interested in putting together an event, want to suggest an idea, or have any questions or comments, please get in touch! If you’re planning an event, you can add it to the website usingour form.
There is no reason to fear that sites cannot still make money with advertising. That’s because there are already two kinds of highly profitable online ads: contextual ads, based on the content being shown on screen, and behavioral ads, based on personal data collected about the person viewing the ad. Behavioral ads work by tracking your online behavior and compiling a profile about you using your internet activities (and even your offline activities in some cases) to send you targeted ads.
He argues that the creepiness of behavioral ads isn't necessary for sites to make money from ads. Below the fold I look at the evidence that Weinberg is right.
Google's post was blasted by a pair of Princeton computer scientists who have long advocated for stricter browser privacy protections. ...
The researchers disputed Google's claim that nuking tracking cookies would undermine the economic foundation of the online advertising industry. They point out that after the EU adopted the General Data Protection Regulation, the New York Times discontinued its use of tracking cookies in Europe. The Grey Lady shifted to using contextual and geographic ad targeting—and its ad revenue hasn't suffered as a result.
behaviourally targeted advertising had increased the publisher’s revenue but only marginally. At the same time they found that marketers were having to pay orders of magnitude more to buy these targeted ads, despite the minuscule additional revenue they generated for the publisher.
“What we found was that, yes, advertising with cookies — so targeted advertising — did increase revenues — but by a tiny amount. Four per cent. In absolute terms the increase in revenues was $0.000008 per advertisment,” Acquisti told the hearing. “Simultaneously we were running a study, as merchants, buying ads with a different degree of targeting. And we found that for the merchants sometimes buying targeted ads over untargeted ads can be 500% times as expensive.”
This shift back to contextual advertising need not reduce profitability. A recent poll by Digiday of publishing executives found that 45 percent of them saw no significant benefit from behavioral ads, and 23 percent said they actually caused a decline in revenue. What about compliance costs? Companies are quickly realizing that good privacy practices are a boon for business. People increasingly want to reduce their digital footprint and so choose companies that help them do so. Companies with good privacy practices in their DNA do not face significant compliance costs.
When you enter a search request in Google, it displays ads that are relevant to that particular search, without needing to collect information about your search, location, purchase or browsing history. However, Google still collects all this information because it also powers non-search behavioral ads across the whole internet, on more than two million websites and apps that use Google’s ad services and on Google’s non-search properties, such as YouTube.
So Google's data collection creates a "premium" product that they can sell to marketers who don't believe the research showing that it isn't worth buying. As I wrote in Advertising Is A Bubble:
Facebook and Alphabet (Google’s parent), which rely on advertising for, respectively, 97% and 88% of their sales.
depend on the idea that targeted advertising, exploiting as much personal information about users as possible, results in enough increased sales to justify its cost.This is despite the fact the both experimental research and the experience of major publishers and advertisers show the opposite. Now, The new dot com bubble is here: it’s called online advertising by Jesse Frederik and Maurits Martijn provides an explanation for this disconnect.
Frederik and Martijn's article is a must-read, full of pithy quotes such as:
Marketers are often most successful at marketing their own marketing.
The fact that targeting doesn't work shouldn't be a surprise to any Web user. Two universal experiences:
I buy something on Amazon. For days afterwards, many of the ads that make it past my ad blockers are for the thing I just bought.
For weeks now, about half the videos I watch on YouTube start by showing me exactly the same ad for Shen Yun. Every time I see it I click "skip ad", so YouTube should have been able after all this time to figure out that I'm not interested and show me a different ad.
But note that the ad platforms don't care. They can't be bothered to enhance their targeting algorithms to exploit what they know. Why? They get paid in both cases.
But banning tracking, or at least requiring it to be opt-in, which would both be good things to do, wouldn't address the fundamental problem I outlined in Google's Fenced Garden:
So we can make the following statements:
Search is essential to the usefulness of the Web, and thus the Internet.
US Web search is dominated by a single search engine, and there is no realistic prospect of displacing it.
The dominant search engine is funded by advertising, which involves a fundamental conflict of interest; the results users see are not the best answers to their query but those that are most profitable for the search engine.
The most profitable searches reflect the interests of the wealthiest companies (and of the politicians they fund). Accurate information about "controversial" issues, such as climate change, becomes hard to find.
Weinberg's op-ed is a good read, and he is right as far as it goes. But, for obvious reasons, he doesn't want to point to the conflict of interest underlying all advertiser-funded search engines.
The OCLC Research Library Partnership is offering an upcoming series of webinars focusing on cross-campus collaboration in research support, in conjunction with the forthcoming OCLC Research report, Social Interoperability in Research Support: Cross-campus partnerships and the university research enterprise (to be published later this month). This report examines the growing imperative for cross-campus, cross-domain institutional collaboration in the provision of successful research support services.
The webinar series offers two different perspectives on cross-campus collaboration in research support:
“Stakeholder spotlight” webinars in which panels of experts from non-library research stakeholder communities share relevant information about their work, and how they are eager to partner with libraries. This will include stakeholders such as research development, faculty affairs, and communications.
The OCLC report and webinar series offers a valuable professional development opportunity for our partners, and we encourage institutions to organize group discussions around this series.
Cross-institutional collaboration is more important than ever, and will likely be amplified due to the current pandemic and its longer-term effects. The OCLC report and webinar series offers a valuable professional development opportunity for our partners, and we encourage institutions to organize group discussions around this series. And, as a note, these webinars are only a part of our ongoing Works in Progress webinar offerings for RLP institutions.
Series kick-off: Cross-campus partnerships, the library, and the university research enterprise
Case study: Implementing a shared GIS position at Rutgers University through cross-campus collaboration
On September 23, representatives from Rutgers University will share how the Rutgers New Brunswick Libraries has partnered with the systemwide Office of Advanced Research Computing to develop a shared GIS specialist position. This position is part of a campus-wide approach to the provision of research support services at Rutgers, and the speakers will share how campus stakeholders transformed informal collaborations into formal agreements in order to provide much needed services. This presentation will discuss cross-institutional synergies and the challenges and opportunities of developing a shared position.
Stakeholder spotlight:Research development and synergies with the library
Later this fall (time and date TBD), research development officers from three research intensive universities will form a panel to share information about what research development is, how it supports the campus research enterprise, their past experiences collaborating with the library, and how they are eager for further library collaboration to advance institutional research goals.
Additional webinars: coming soon
More webinar presentations are forthcoming, with details to be announced in the coming weeks. Here’s a sneak preview:
A case study about how the Syracuse University Libraries has collaborated closely with the Office of Research on topics including grant proposal development, RIM, open access compliance, ORCID, and more.
A case study by the University of Arizona about its close partnership with the Office of Research and campus IT in the development of research data management (RDM) services.
A stakeholder spotlight on campus communications professionals, who are eager consumers of information about research activities in order to support institutional storytelling to both internal and external audiences.
A stakeholder spotlight exploring faculty affairs offices, which are frequent partners with libraries on research information management and consumers of research analytics information.
We encourage our RLP partners to follow our listservs for the announcement of future webinars on this theme. I also encourage our partners to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a case study you’d like to include in our series!
On Friday and Saturday, my Twitter feed was full of anger and frustration over a blog post on the ALSC (Association for Library Services to Children) Blog. Entitled “How Motherhood Has Influenced Me as a Children’s Librarian,” the post was problematic because it suggested (probably unintentionally) that childless children’s librarians could not connect with patrons as much or have the level of insight about babies that the author got from having a baby. Many of these so-called insights seemed like things anyone should know (I’m not a children’s librarian, but even I didn’t try reading Corduroy to my son until he was 2 or 3!), but many librarians without kids felt that the message of the piece was that they would never be as good a children’s librarian because they don’t (or can’t) have kids.
I wish the author had considered how writing something like “the children seem to know a mommy when they see one, and relationships are forged quicker” would impact a children’s librarian who desperately wanted to be a parent but couldn’t. Or devoted children’s librarians who have decided not to have children. To make childless librarians feel like they could never have the level of passion for the work, the insights, and the relationships you do with patrons because they don’t have children is wrong-headed (even if it wasn’t her intent). I 100% believe that the author did not intend to make anyone feel excluded, but the simple fact is, she did. If something you write makes people feel hurt and excluded — especially on the official blog of your membership organization — the right thing to do is apologize. I hope she will and I hope ALSC will address this issue on the blog.
Even as a mother, I get annoyed by the “transformed by having a child” trope. It promotes the idea that a woman isn’t truly whole and fulfilled until she has had children. I had a wonderful and fulfilling life before my son was in it and I have a wonderful and fulfilling life now. Sure, having a baby changed me. So did moving in with my partner. So did college. So did working in a toxic environment. So did working with fantastic colleagues. So did every episode of depression I’ve had. So did having migraines. Every major experience I’ve had in my life has altered me and made me who I am today. It was, undoubtedly, a HUGE change in my life and one that enriches and challenges me every day, but I’m still me.
I get especially frustrated when I hear from men that having a baby made them more empathetic or that having a daughter made them a feminist. What the fuck is up with that? If you couldn’t imagine another person’s struggles or couldn’t care about women having equal rights before you had a child, there is something seriously wrong with you.
I think if you just read the article without an understanding of the culture we live in, the blog post would seem innocuous. However, if you haven’t spent your life living under a rock, you couldn’t help but see the intense societal pressure placed on women to have children. It’s relentless and women without children are frequently portrayed as selfish and/or incomplete. Women who do not fit the mold are not only pressured, but are often excluded. Even I, as a mother, have encountered this. In my community, we are literally the only people we know (of all the families we have known over 6 years of schooling) who have one child. Every other family has two or more. And I’ve seen how we’re sometimes treated like oddities for having one child, like there’s something deficient about our family. Whatever…
The funny thing is, for all the pressure women receive to have children, the minute they do, that fact is suddenly a liability in their worklife. You realize the world is still designed under the assumption that women will stay home with their kids, even though most mothers now work. Any mom who has had to pump breastmilk in a public restroom can tell you that the world isn’t set up to support working moms. And that’s never been more obvious than right now. My son came home from school on March 13th and never went back. But somehow my husband and I were expected to work the same amount as we did before. At my job, it wasn’t even discussed. No one asked how they could help those of us with kids (a surprisingly small number of people at my place of work actually). My boss didn’t ask me how I was balancing work and schooling my child. And in Spring I did work my usual hours (and then some). I just gave up doing anything other than my job and supporting my child’s emotional well-being and schooling. And I didn’t spend nearly as much time with my son as I should have. I put work first as if we were living our pre-pandemic lives because I didn’t feel supported to do anything else. I worked myself to the bone and short-changed my son and for what?
For all that pressure we get for having kids, the minute a woman seeks support because their children’s needs are interfering with their ability to work, the message becomes “you chose to have kids.” I’ve covered for colleagues who had to be out for so many different reasons. And yet I feel shame if I want to flex my time so I can see my son perform in his play. Or if I can’t teach a class because my son is sick. Because women are supposed to be both 100% devoted mothers at home and 100% unencumbered devoted workers at work and those two paradigms should never meet. We can never be our full authentic selves as mothers at work if we want to be taken seriously. I’ll never forget when a library dean told me that people who want to have families and spend time with them shouldn’t take tenure track jobs. That was in my first week in a tenure-track job when my son had just turned two. Wow, ok.
But now we’re in a situation where these roles that were supposed to magically be hermetically sealed off from each other are colliding in epic fashion and in most cases, we have no safety net. No one with kids under high school-aged (and many with high schoolers too) will be able to work a full-time job at full capacity and adequately support their kid(s) without help. And most places of work I’ve heard about are either being extremely insensitive/terrible about caregiving or aren’t mentioning the issue at all (which honestly feels worse). Are any workplaces doing this well? I’d love to hear about them. I’m incredibly lucky that my place of work is still going to be remote at least through Fall, but I’m still expected to work a full-time job.
Please know that your colleagues with children are extremely stressed right now and for good reason. And it’s more than just the time it takes to help students with school. It’s stressing about your kid’s socio-emotional well-being and finding ways to keep them safe and emotionally well. It’s a million little decisions that always feel terrifying. Many parents have faced decisions this summer that no parents have faced before. My husband and I had to choose between sending our son to school half-time (with half the time online) or committing to fully online learning for at least half the year while coronavirus cases were steadily increasing. We had to think about logistics, safety, our son’s socialization and mental health, and our ability to visit my husband’s elderly parents who live nearby. And it’s not like any of the options were good — we were ultimately just choosing the best of the worst. And it was work! I was listening to every school board meeting and writing letters to the Superintendent, school board members, and other parents when their original plan was to outsource online schooling to a sketchy company. And when my advocacy work succeeded and we finally decided to have him learn online and felt ok-ish about our decision, the governor declared that K-12 schools couldn’t open until counties met pretty stringent benchmarks, so most of that agonizing had been for nothing.
Now, we have to figure out how we’re going to do our jobs while helping our son (who needs a lot of support getting a handle on what needs to be done, staying on-task, and getting organized) with fully online school. And, in the grand scheme of things, I recognize that my job is less important for our family than my husband’s. I know I’m the one who is going to have to do the bulk of the support when it comes to my son’s schooling and I’ll do it gladly. But as someone who is struggling to recover from work addiction, I’m worried about my ability to set boundaries on my work and time. And at a college where no one seems to have given thought to supporting working parents (or at least no one is talking about it beyond HR sending out the boilerplate about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act), I’m worried about whether I will get the support I need. If I’m asked to go back to work before my son is back in school face-to-face, I don’t know what I’ll do. And I think many mothers (and some fathers too) will be in the same situation, but this could have a significant and long-term impact on women’s careers and that is really fucking scary. Here are some bleak stories/studies from the New York Times, Fast Company, The Atlantic and USC on the subject.
This pandemic has been hard for everyone, but I think it’s been uniquely difficult for people who are caregivers, whether that is for a child, an elderly relative, or someone with a life-threatening or chronic illness. Making decisions for another human being who is dependent on you is daunting at any time, but particularly now when there is no history to rely on in making these decisions. My mental bandwidth is so maxed out right now. And I’d like to hope that people will recognize that it’s in the best interests of our society to have emotionally-healthy and well-educated children (and sane long-term colleagues) and will support working parents. If you have colleagues with kids (especially those with very young kids — I honestly don’t know how people with babies and toddlers are even working at all with them at home), try checking in with them. Try to help lighten their load at work. Working moms often have a hard time asking for help because we’re traditionally supposed to pretend our kids don’t make demands on our work time. If you’re a supervisor of people with kids or other caregivers, have open and frank conversations with them about their situation, their needs, and how you can support them. Make it clear that you believe their family should come first (in word and deed). And absolutely cut people, all people, slack right now. This is a time for maximum flexibility and humanity.
This crisis will eventually (hopefully) end and those working parents will (hopefully) still be at your place of work. How loyal will they feel and how much of a team player will they be if they were forced to make a choice between their job and their kid(s)? We are seeing people’s and companies’ true colors now. We’re seeing the very best and the very worst of humanity. Which side of that do you want to be on? Let’s be the village that working parents and other caregivers need right now. The last thing any organization should want right now is for their employees who are parents to take all of the 12 weeks of leave guaranteed by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act come Fall, so try to find other ways to proactively support them in finding a balance.
The holiday shopping season is critical, like always, but this year has added pressures. Here’s a strategic checklist for clothing companies prepping for the most important quarter of the year, in the middle of a pandemic.
The United Kingdom still doesn’t have a National Data Strategy.
The idea has been stuck in development hell for years, and the delay has already had an impact. Had a strategy been in place before the coronavirus pandemic, there would have been rules and guidelines in place to help the sharing of data and information between organisations like, for example the Department of Health and Social Care and the NHS.
A recent opinion poll for the Open Knowledge Foundation found that nearly two-thirds of people in the UK believe a government data strategy would have helped in the fight against COVID-19.
Just over a year ago, we submitted a written submission to the UK Government’s consultation on the National Data Strategy, which can be read here.
We stressed that the UK National Data Strategy must emphasise the importance and value of sharing more, better quality information and data openly in order to make the most of the world-class knowledge created by our institutions and citizens. Without this, we warned, businesses, individuals and public bodies would not be able to play a full role in the interconnected world of today and tomorrow.
Allowing people to make better decisions and choices informed by data will boost the UK’s economy through greater productivity, but not without the necessary investment in skills.
Our proposals included:
A data literacy training programme open to local communities to ensure UK workers have the skills for the technological jobs of the future.
Greater use of open licences, granting the general public rights to reuse, distribute, combine or modify works that would otherwise be restricted under intellectual property laws.
With a clear commitment from the Government, the UK has an opportunity to be at the forefront of a global future that is fair, free and open.
Inevitably, the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the work of government. But a parliamentary question from Labour MP Ian Murray, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, has revealed the government still ‘aims’ to publish the strategy in 2020.
It’s disappointing that this is not a cast-iron commitment, although it is certainly a target that we hope will be achieved, not least because at the end of this year the Brexit transition period comes to an end and there are serious question to be addressed about the post-Brexit landscape in the UK. Last year, an updated directive on open data and the re-use of public sector information was entered into force by the European Commission. As part of this directive, EU member states – which at the time included the UK – agreed that a list of ‘high-value’ datasets would be drawn up to be provided free of charge.
These high-value datasets will fit into the following categories:
Earth observation and environment
Companies and company ownership
A research team is currently working to create this list of high-value datasets, with the aim of publishing a draft report by September 2020. An Implementing Act is due to be placed before the European Commission for approval in 2021 and EU Member States have until July 2021 to make sure that these datasets are available as open data and published via APIs.
What we don’t know is if the UK Government will adopt these same datasets to help business and civil society create new opportunities post-Brexit, and in a COVID-19 landscape. Another parliamentary question from Ian Murray asked this, but the answer doesn’t commit the government to following suit. The question was answered by the Minister of State for Media and Data, but it was announced earlier this month that the Prime Minister has taken away responsibility for the government use of data from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and handed it to the Cabinet Office. What happens next will therefore be of huge interest to all of us who work to promote open data.
This week the European Commission published a roadmap on the digital economy and society. It is vital the UK is not left behind on the road to a more open society.
This week we upgraded a couple of our applications to Ruby 2.7 and Bundler 2.1.4 and one of the changes that we noticed was that Bundler was complaining about not being able to write to the /opt/local directory.
Turns out this problem shows up because the account that we use to run our application is a system account that does not have a home folder.
This is how the problems shows up:
$ su - system_account
$ mkdir test_app
$ cd test_app
$ gem install bundler -v 2.1.4
$ bundler --version
`/opt/local` is not writable.
Bundler will use `/tmp/bundler20200731-59360-174h3lz59360' as your home directory temporarily.
Bundler version 2.1.4
Notice that Bundler complains about the /opt/local directory not being writable, that’s because we don’t have home for this user, in fact env $HOME outputs /opt/local rather than the typical /home/username.
Although Bundler is smart enough to use a temporary folder instead and continue, the net result of this is that if we set a configuration value for Bundler in one execution and try to use that configuration value in the next execution Bundler won’t be able to find the value that we set in the first execution (my guess is because the value was saved in a temporary folder.)
Below is an example of this. Notice how we set the path value to vendor/bundle in the first command, but then when we inspect the configuration in the second command the configuration does not report the value that we just set:
# First - set the path value $ bundle config set path 'vendor/bundle' `/opt/local` is not writable. Bundler will use `/tmp/bundler20200731-60203-16okmcg60203' as your home directory temporarily.
# Then - inspect the configuration $ bundle config `/opt/local` is not writable. Bundler will use `/tmp/bundler20200731-60292-1r50oed60292' as your home directory temporarily. Settings are listed in order of priority. The top value will be used.
Ideally the call to bundle config will report the vendor/bundle path that we set, but it does not in this case. In fact if we run bundle install next Bundler will install the gems in $GEM_PATH rather than using the custom vendor/bundle directory that we indicated.
Working around the issue
One way to work around this issue is to tell Bundler that the HOME directory is the one from where we are running bundler (i.e. /opt/local/test_app) in our case.
# First - set the path value
# (no warning is reported)
$ HOME=/opt/local/test_app/ bundle config set path 'vendor/bundle'
# Then - inspect the configuration
$ bundle config
`/opt/local` is not writable.
Bundler will use `/tmp/bundler20200731-63230-11dmgcb63230' as your home directory temporarily.
Settings are listed in order of priority. The top value will be used.
pathSet for your local app (/opt/local/test_app/.bundle/config): "vendor/bundle"
Notice that we didn’t get a warning in the first command (since we indicated a HOME directory) and then, even though we didn’t pass a HOME directory to the second command, our value was picked up and shows the correct value for the path setting (vendor/bundle).
So it seems to me that when HOME is set to a non-writable directory (/opt/local in our case) Bundler picks up the values from ./bundle/config if it is available even as it complains about /opt/local not being writable.
If we were to run bundle install now it will install the gems in our local vendor/bundle directory. This is good for us, Bundler is using the value that we configured for the path setting (even though it still complains that it cannot write to /opt/local.)
We could avoid the warning in the second command if we pass the HOME value here too:
$ HOME=/opt/local/test-app/ bundle config
Settings are listed in order of priority. The top value will be used.
Set for your local app (/opt/local/test-app/.bundle/config): "vendor/bundle"
But the fact the Bundler picks up the correct values from ./bundle/config when HOME is set to a non-writable directory was important for us because it meant that when the app runs under Apache/Passenger it will also work. This is more or less how the configuration for our apps in http.conf looks like, notice that we are not setting the HOME value.
Perhaps a better solution would be to set a HOME directory for our system_account, but we have not tried that, we didn’t want to make such a wide reaching change to our environment just to please Bundler. Plus this might be problematic in our development servers where we share the same system_account for multiple applications (this is not a problem in our production servers)
We have no idea when this change took effect in Bundler. We went from Bundler 1.17.1 (released in October/2018) to Bundler 2.1.4 (released in January/2020) and there were many releases in between. Perhaps this was documented somewhere and we missed it.
In our particular situation we noticed this issue because one of our gems needed very specific parameters to be built during bundle install. We set those values via a call to bundle config build.mysql2 --with-mysql-dir=xxx mysql-lib=yyy and those values were lost by the time we ran bundle install and the installation kept failing. Luckily we found a work around and were able to install the gem with the specific parameters.
Libraries are taking the necessary precautions to create a safe environment during the pandemic. Social distancing isn’t the only solution, but providing access to loanable technologies, including handling and quarantine of equipment, cleaning, and other safety and health concerns are just some of the measures put in place.
With the ongoing disruption to library services caused by COVID-19, what reopening planning policies should be considered for usage?
In this free 90-minute presentation, our presenters will share tips that might be helpful to other librarians before they reopen.
The presenters will also talk about the evolution of the phased plan from the establishment of a temporary computer lab in the library as COVID-19 began to spread in March 2020, to the current phased approach for gradual reopening. Justin will also offer insight into managed access, technology and services, workflows, messaging, and expectations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Happy LIS Mental Health Week friends! I want to start this post by recognizing someone who has done a great deal to support library workers’ mental health in the face of toxic workplaces, Kaetrena Davis Kendrick. Kaetrena has done some incredibly valuable research on low morale and toxic workplaces in librarianship and has created an awesome supportive community on Facebook (awesome praxis, Kaetrena!). I love the generosity she exhibits in sharing her insights and observations on Twitter as she is conducting research. This particular observation, however, stopped me in my tracks —
1/ LISTEN: I just talked someone who works in libraries and has been moved to attempt suicide due to workplace abuse/neglect. I cannot emphasize this enough: COLLEAGUES: YOU ARE MOST IMPORTANT!!! YOU! BELIEVE IT! I’d rather you walk away from LIS than consider such a decision. pic.twitter.com/E6FUHz3jnL
I wasn’t the person she met with, but it hit me hard because I came very close to the same thing when I worked in a toxic environment. Even though writing this is bringing up a lot of trauma, I want to share this experience because I’m sure there are people experiencing similar things in libraries right now who might be blaming themselves for systemic issues that would be toxic and problematic whether they were there or not. I want you to know that it’s not your fault. And that there is hope, even when it doesn’t feel that way.
I had worked as a social worker (psychotherapist) with children and teens in extremely stressful (sometimes life-and-death) situations and I’d worked in a small, cash-strapped library that required constant ingenuity, so I felt like I had a pretty good handle on work stress. But I’d never previously worked with people who actively disliked me. In fact, I’ve always been one of those people who works really hard to get along with everyone (thanks anxiety brain). I remember living in a house in my Sophomore year of college that basically was broken up into two factions who couldn’t stand each other. I was the person who was friends with people on both sides and somehow managed to skirt all the conflicts. But in this previous job, I was placed in a pretty impossible situation; one I know many other “coordinators” can understand.
My position was created because library administration wanted to build a culture of instructional assessment and they weren’t making any headway because there was significant distrust of administration. The idea that sending someone in to achieve this who not only did not have any authority over the liaisons (I had four library faculty reporting to me, but they were not the majority of liaisons) but also was on the tenure track and at the mercy of these same colleagues was laughable. It’s no surprise that my colleagues largely saw me as the enemy since I was trying to achieve the things administration wanted. And when I came back to administration, they balked at the idea that they should need to provide any support to build a culture of assessment. It felt like it was all on me. Everything, from developing learning outcomes for our program to getting people to document doing any assessment work at all was a battle. I spent so much time lobbying colleagues one-on-one to allay concerns about things only to find them resisting the very things we’d discussed in group meetings. My supervisor (the AUL) and I would come up with a game plan in a meeting together and then when I presented it, he’d sit there with his mouth shut while I got pummeled for it. I will fully admit that I wasn’t perfect, I reacted badly to things sometimes, and I would have approached this work differently knowing what I do now, but the resistance was extreme.
And it was more than just the resistance. There was also the backstabbing, which was like something from a TV show — not something I’d ever seen in real life. This was something I was totally unprepared for. I’m not particularly politic. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m incapable of manipulating or sucking up to people. Artifice is not my jam. But I had a colleague who was expert at making friends with administrators and then using those relationships to bad-mouth people and try to harm those they didn’t like. They had a habit of writing what a few of us called “gotcha emails,” where they’d write the email in a way designed to make us look bad and would cc: our common supervisor even though there was no reason to do so. Even though they were not on the committee, one of their complaints about me (which was demonstrably false) ended up in my third year review letter for tenure and I had to spend tons of time (with deep anxiety) gathering evidence and asking colleagues to write letters on my behalf to rebut it. Trying to call the person on the things they did pretty much blew up in my face. By the time I left the job, that person had pretty much been ostracized by most of the liaison librarians for their bad behavior, but administration somehow managed to see them as the victim.
I think the worst part was how people would support me in private, and then throw me under a bus in public. They’d come to me before meetings and tell me they supported my ideas and then sit silently while I was pummeled in public or even side with others. Or they’d come to me after a meeting and tell me how awful it was and how badly they felt for me. But NEVER, NOT ONCE, did anyone have my back in those meetings. No one stood up for me. The message I got was that I wasn’t worth standing up for. It made me feel so small. Last summer, I ran into a colleague I’d worked with there who told me that they’d felt really badly for how I was treated and hoped I would consider coming back to work there in the future as the culture had changed. At the time, I’d had literally no idea they were sympathetic. This person had tenure and little to lose in defending me, but they didn’t.
In spite of it all, I didn’t give up. After two years of this, I felt like I’d finally gotten to an okay place. Instead of trying to get people to do things, I’d repositioned myself as a resource to the liaison librarians; here to help them with teaching or assessment. I created meetings where we could workshop instructional issues. I’d developed a guide full of different classroom assessment techniques they could try. I’d also developed or got involved in large-scale assessment projects and invited colleagues to join in scoring so that they could get their feet wet with assessment without having to do a lot. I rebranded my team as the Instructional Design Team, supporting the creation of tutorials and other learning objects for our colleagues. That same team had just started work on my baby, Library DIY. We’d just hired a new AUL for Public Services (my boss) who was really into instruction and it felt like we might finally be ready to make headway on things.
Less than one month after my new boss started her job, I was summoned to a meeting with her and our AUL who handled library HR. The meeting seemed ominous, but I was told by my boss “don’t worry, it’s nothing bad.” So imagine my surprise when I arrived and was handed a brand-new job description: General Education Instruction Coordinator and Social Sciences Librarian. My new AUL said she felt that it made more sense for her to be in charge of the overall instruction program and for all of the public services librarians to report directly to her. But I knew how things worked at this place. If you didn’t meet expectations, no one worked with you. No one coached you. You were shunted off to something less important in the hopes that you’d take the hint and leave. (A year later, ironically, the same thing would happen to the boss who did this to me.) But I’d uprooted my family and made them move across the country to a much more expensive city (and one in which finding another library job was next-to impossible). I had a young child who I wanted to grow up rooted in a community. We’d just bought a house! I felt trapped. I felt like I’d let my family down. I felt like a failure. I felt like I’d destroyed my entire career; that it was over. All I could feel was intense shame and I couldn’t stop perseverating over what happened and blaming myself for all of it. In spite of the fact that I could clearly see that I was working in a toxic situation, I blamed myself 100% for all of it. I internalized everything.
I spent the next year in a deep and relentless depression. It was, without question, the worst I’ve ever felt in my life. I felt worthless. I felt like I didn’t deserve to be happy; like I didn’t deserve to exist. I couldn’t sleep. I obsessed about dying. I felt like I was already dead. I went to work like a robot and did my job and felt like I was rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic because the world had already ended and why couldn’t everyone else see that? I spent my weekends lying in bed staring at the ceiling or crying hysterically or yelling at my poor husband. I talked to my husband about quitting, trying to do consulting, teaching more online, ANYTHING, but it wasn’t really economically feasible. I wanted out of the pain and out of that job and I couldn’t see any way forward. I am pretty sure I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t had my husband and son to anchor me, but I still felt like I had let them down utterly and ruined all their lives by coming here and failing so spectacularly. My husband was the only one who really knew what I was going through. I didn’t even tell my work colleagues who I was friends with, because I was afraid that if I told them and they didn’t care or didn’t try to help me, I’d feel even more lost. I just went through the motions.
I don’t know what I would have done had I not gotten my current job. I couldn’t have survived another year there. Even six years later, I feel tremendously lucky to be here, not only because I’m not there anymore, but because I get to work with amazing and dedicated colleagues and the great students we have here. Looking back now, I can see how impossible the situation was and it’s telling that I was the first and last head of instruction that library had. But at the time, I was absolutely demoralized and I took everything as a referendum on my worthlessness. As someone who experienced trauma growing up, my brain has been primed to see failures as being all my fault (and successes as being caused by external factors beyond my control). Self-blame comes very naturally to me.
While I was grateful to get out of that work environment, I recognized that there were a lot of things about how I positioned work in my life that weren’t healthy and needed to change. I’m sharing some of the work I’ve been doing on myself here in case others could benefit:
I recognize that most issues in libraries are systemic in nature, NOT individual – instead of blaming myself for everything, I try to see the big picture; how the problems I’m facing might be related to forces bigger than me. While I love my current job, every library has baggage and I am better now at seeing now how resistance I sometimes face is related to that baggage more than it is to me personally. I think library workers who get burned out feel even worse because they blame themselves for feeling that way. It’s like the Buddhist concept of the second arrow — we’re already in pain and we increase our pain by blaming ourselves for it. Things like burnout are very much a systemic failure, not a personal one, and seeing that, instead of blaming yourself, is one of the keys to emerging from burnout.
I don’t let achievement culture tell me what I’m worth – I’ve written about not chasing success anymore before, but I promise you, letting go of achievement culture is one of the most freeing things you can do. So much of what I do now is really valuable, but deeply unflashy. A lot of it is that maintenance work that makes a library run — like instruction scheduling or running our learning assessment project. I’m not going to win awards for anything I’m doing now, but I also don’t really care. If I’m happy with what I’m doing and I feel like I’m doing good, that’s enough.
I try to step back and look mindfully at situations – people who have survived trauma tend to get stuck in a lot of knee-jerk cycles of self-blame and self-harm. Mindfulness can help us look beneath anger, hurt, fear, and self-blame at the assumptions about others and ourselves that underlie those feelings. Meditation and tools like RAIN have really helped me to slow down and stop beating myself up all the time. It’s helped me deepen my compassion towards myself and others. I try to avoid the fight-or-flight thinking that makes me feel like I have to react, respond to that email, do, do, do right away.
Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of talking to my (imagined) future self. Looking back, I have so much compassion for me in my previous job and hindsight helps me to see the big picture and what really matters. I’ve started trying to conjure my future self when I’m struggling with something, both for compassion and to ask “is this something that is going to matter a year from now? Is this worth getting worked up over?” More often that not, it isn’t. If you’re uncomfortable imagining a conversation with your future self, you could imagine talking to a person who you feel loves you unconditionally. In my case, it’s my Abuela, who passed away several years ago. Seeing myself the way she saw me always helps to increase my compassion for myself.
I try to be less attached to outcomes — the negative part of being really dedicated to and passionate about work is that you also get attached to the projects you’re working on, especially things you believe will really be important for patrons. And it can viscerally hurt when people stomp all over the things you’ve built. Over the past few years, I have learned how to let go, which has definitely changed my work style, but it’s decreased my anxiety enormously. It’s made accepting no’s and negative changes that I have absolutely no control over much easier. I still care deeply about our students and I still advocate for things, but I see my place in a much larger system and recognize that there is only so much I can control.
I try to see people as whole people with their own insecurities and fears — When we are caught in anger, hurt, or insecurity, it becomes much more difficult to see people we perceive as harming us as whole people. A brilliant book I read recently, Radical Compassion by the incredible psychologist and meditation teacher Tara Brach, called this phenomenon “unreal others:”
When we’re caught in the trance of anger and blame, our survival brain shapes every dimension of our experience. Our bodies are tense, our hearts numb or constricted; our thinking is agitated and rigid… This cutoff from our whole brain dramatically impacts how we perceive others. Rather than real beings with subjective feelings like ourselves, they become what I call Unreal Others. Our attention focuses on their faults, their differences from us, on how they are threatening or impeding us.
By stepping back from survival brain mode, I’m now better able to let go of hurt and anger. When I’ve felt harmed by someone at work, I’ve made an effort to try and understand why they did or said what they did. More often than not, it has little to do with me or my worth and a lot more to do with them and their own insecurities. I used to really hold onto my hurts because it felt like people should be held accountable for the harmful things they did, but I’ve learned that it doesn’t serve me. Being angry and hurt just makes me feel like crap. Feeling compassion, forgiving, and letting go feels freeing, even if sometimes it means not holding people accountable.
I try to cultivate gratitude and appreciation – this summer, I listened to an episode of my favorite podcast, Hurry Slowly that featured the organizational psychologist Adam Grant. In it, he talked about the benefits of explicitly expressing gratitude towards people and how it not only makes the recipient (who likely didn’t know how you felt about them) feel great, but it also has positive impacts for the sender. And he’s right; it feels great! I’ve been making this a part of my practice bit-by-bit and it has led to some really special moments and heart-to-hearts with my colleagues. I don’t know what it is about our profession that there isn’t a lot of formal or informal recognition provided (as if it’s not an infinitely renewable resource, come on!), but I’m not going to wait for a culture change to start behaving the way I know we should.
I’d love to hear what strategies you’ve used to improve your relationships with work and with yourself. I won’t be able to make the #LISMentalHealth chat tonight because I’m going to be at the Buddhist meditation class my husband and I started attending last Spring; one of my self-care and community-care strategies. Whoever you are, I wish you peace and greater compassion for yourself and others.
Libraries, as most organizations and businesses, are heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only do libraries offer information and resources on many topics from multiple viewpoints, but also serve as community centers and welcoming environments on campuses and in communities. However, with the pandemic, many libraries have had to close their doors to in-person gatherings and services and transition to an online environment, often within hours. Librarians have had to make decisions and changes very quickly and continually during the current environment.
Because of these changes and adaptations to provide services, resources, and information, we at OCLC Research have identified a new research area, titled the New Model Library. We have conducted individual discussions with approximately 20 public and academic (community college, 4-year college, and university and research institutions) library leaders from different countries and regions throughout the world to identify how they envision libraries will emerge as short-term responses to the COVID-19 pandemic are converted into positive, long-term change.
Our broad questions include: • Will the current environment of physical distancing and precautions persist in the post-pandemic era? • If so, will most of our services and programs continue to be offered in an online environment? • How will we – or can we? should we? – create experiences similar to the physical spaces in our libraries in our virtual library spaces?
We have learned that library leaders are making continuous changes and are interested in sharing and learning from each other in order to provide resources and assistance to their communities in this new environment. The New Model Library project is an opportunity to identify a version of libraries based on changes made to accommodate a new way of life.
Most library leaders had to make changes within 24-48 hours, with some discussing how the pandemic forced transformations that may have taken much longer to implement. When talking about the changes a community college in North America had to make very quickly, the Head Librarian referenced previous change efforts, saying of the past, “If we weren’t pushed, we would be doing smoke signals with the students.” In many cases, the pandemic has not allowed us to wait for that kind of “evolutionary” change—library operations have been “pushed” into immediate innovation.
Some of the themes that library leaders have discussed include both the challenges and opportunities of retraining and reassigning staff in either all online environments or in a hybrid environment that includes some in-person services as well as online services. Many librarians are “doing more with less,” i.e., less staff are available to duplicate services both for in-person and online users, hence, many staff are working harder to meet library users’ needs and expectations.
Library leaders described partnerships and collaborations with other departments within their communities, local businesses and industries, professional associations, and library consortia. Some library leaders have partnered with industry to acquire sponsored keyboard covers for library workstations to make it easier to sanitize. Others have become more dependent upon assistance from professional associations and regional or national consortia. All in all, library leaders recognize that cultivating already existing collaborations and partnerships and creating and developing new collaborations and partnerships have become extremely important.
When discussing collaborations and partnerships developed during COVID-19, the Chief Executive Officer of a large metropolitan public library in North America, stated “… I think that is the beauty of virtual – it is much easier to share. I think that will become more prevalent going forward.”
Some staff have been loaned to other community agencies and some libraries are lending sewing machines and 3-D printers to industry partners to make masks and PPEs. Many libraries have offered hot spots, laptops, chrome books, and tablets to their public and academic communities. However, the need for this equipment has increased and if there are funds to purchase more of this equipment, there is a great demand for them and a short supply available for purchase. Some students, faculty, and library staff had limited or no Wi-Fi service at home. Librarians stepped in to provide equipment and technology access enabling individuals to teach, learn, and work from home, highlighting the digital divide for both community members and library staff.
Some library staff have been retrained so they were able to transition their workflows to an online environment. Some library leaders perceived this as an opportunity to try new ways of working and providing programs, resources, and services. Others identified this transition as a challenge, such as creating metadata for open content, making physical resources available with no or minimal metadata, and providing library users the capabilities to order materials and to have them directly shipped to their homes. Most library leaders feel the intensified pressure of the challenges associated with e-resources, e-textbooks, e-book loan restrictions, and copyright and licensing agreements.
Reference services that were offered in person or as hybrid models (both in person and virtual) immediately switched to virtual. Chat and email reference services have increased, with library staff having to set up and learn virtual reference services. Reference consultations are being conducted through video conferencing tools or telephone.
Library programs, such as story times, author talks, artist exhibitions, and information literacy instruction, now are being offered through video conferencing and webinars. Academic library leaders have discussed how faculty have asked librarians to assist with preparing online courses and to embed information literacy instruction into courses and virtual learning environments. Librarians’ skills and comfort in the digital world have positioned them as key leaders on the instructional teams, often more difficult to accomplish prior to the pandemic.
For some libraries, interlibrary loan (ILL) has become more heavily used and depended upon, while others indicate that ILL has ceased. For some, patron-driven acquisition has taken the place of ILL. This means that library users are able to directly order materials from certain online sites and have the materials delivered to the individuals’ homes. The library staff retain records of the purchases and provide metadata for discovery based on the order information.
Many library leaders have mentioned decreased or limited budgets and staff attrition. Although library budgets and staffing restrictions and limitations have been challenges to the operation of libraries for quite some time, these uncertain times have made these pressures more concerning.
Articulating the library’s value has resonated throughout our discussions. A major concern is how to make the case that the physical library still is very important in a community. Some ideas include promoting and marketing the library’s offerings in the online environment as well as cultivating and developing online communities.
When discussing the changes implemented at a 4-year college library in North America during the pandemic, the University Librarian said, “The library is not just a place over there, the library is all around us. It is where you need to be wherever you are.”
Some of OCLC Research’s previous work is relevant to some of the changes and challenges mentioned. The challenges associated with “container collapse” in online resources may become more important when identifying and discovering resources in our current online environment. Our work with Digital Visitors and Residents (V&R) may be an interesting lens in which to view the challenge of transitioning to an online teaching and learning environment. The changes being made in libraries in response to the COVID-19 pandemic resonate with the V&R framework.
While the shift to online has certainly presented challenges, librarians also have found opportunities in these new circumstances. As the CEO of a large, urban public library in North America stated, there are “silver linings” that will come from this experience.
Anthony Cocciolo won a 2012 Innovation Award in the Individual category. He was recognized for his innovative approaches to teaching digital preservation practices, in particular his work partnering classes with archival institutions to work on the digitization and digital preservation of analog audio collections. Cocciolo is currently the Dean of the Pratt Institute School of Information.
What have you been doing since receiving an NDSA Innovation Award?
In 2012, I was an Assistant Professor at Pratt Institute School of Information. In 2020, I am still at Pratt, but now I am the Dean of the School. I still teach the course “Projects in Digital Archives,” where the class is teamed up with a local archive to do digital archives projects, and what I had received the NDSA award for. You can find this recent article from Pratt about some of the recent work going on in the class, which has included a lot of early LGBTQ+ radio and TV preservation work.
These days I oversee the School of Information, which is the oldest information school in North America, having started training librarians in 1890. Today the school is based in Manhattan and enrolls about 230 graduate students across several Masters programs. The pandemic has kept things challenging, as we work to return to campus in the fall, address issues for international students, and work to keep each other healthy and safe.
What did receiving the NDSA Innovation award in 2012 mean to you?
I think it really helped solidify my interests in digital preservation. I am still very much involved with digital preservation work. Pratt, in collaboration with NYU’s Moving Image Archiving and Preservation program (MIAP), has taken over the Digital Preservation Outreach and Education (DPOE) program from Library of Congress in 2018. Just recently we received a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to restore activity to the project, relaunching it as DPOE Network (DPOE-N), which is exciting. You can find out more about the project at dpoe.network.
What efforts, advances, or ideas over the last 5-8 years have caught your attention or interest in the area of digital stewardship?
I think that audiovisual preservation is finally getting more attention now than it did back in 2012. I wrote a book back in 2017 called Moving Image and Sound Collections for Archivists that argued that analog audio and video needed to be digitized, and I am happy to see that idea is viewed as more positively these days.
Overall, I am just happy to see the spread of digital stewardship and the notion that digital materials do not just preserve themselves, and that digital devices are where information of enduring value is largely created.
As the Dean at Pratt Institute School of Information, how has pedagogy grown and/or innovated as it relates to digital stewardship and digital preservation?
What are some priorities or challenges you see for digital stewardship?
I do think that audiovisual continues to be a challenge and priority. Trying to buy U-Matic VTRs for digitization is getting increasingly difficult. I think web archiving, while with some exciting newer advancements (like the WebRecorder), still needs more attention and coordinated work. Digital preservation education is still a needs area, as we do still see examples where archives/special collections have not made the transition to collection born-digital materials. I am hopeful that the DPOE-N project mentioned earlier will help address this need.
The Evergreen Outreach Committee is pleased to announce that July’s Community Spotlight is Linda Jansová. Linda is an information specialist for the Librarianship Institute, which is a part of the National Library of the Czech Republic. Linda is also the founder and current vice president of the nonprofit Osvobozená knihovna, z. s., which is an Evergreen service provider for Czech libraries.
Linda and her husband Václav Jansa have been involved with Evergreen since all the way back in 2008. She was the initial coordinator of translations of Evergreen strings into Czech. According to Launchpad, the Czech translation has the highest rate of completion of any of the translation projects – a mere 70 strings out of over 18,000 are all that remain untranslated. Linda has also participated in several Bug Squashing Weeks, testing patches and commenting on bugs.
Thanks to her community work with Evergreen, Linda has helped organize an annual seminar in Prague for library information technology with a focus on free software. Linda learned how to use DokuWiki from contributing to the Evergreen DokuWiki, and together with Eva Cerni?áková, leveraged that experience to create and maintain a set of library automation tips for Czech librarians.
While Linda has not been able to attend an in-person Evergreen event in North America, she was happy to participate in this year’s Online Conference. “I felt we could fully participate alongside all the community members from the US and Canada who usually attend the conference in person,” she says.
Linda finds it very rewarding to be involved with the Evergreen community. “You can help shape the product,” she tells us. “You can meet like-minded people and compare the way you handle various processes in your libraries.”
She cites the diversity of experience among Evergreen community members as one of the community’s strengths. “You do not have to be a developer to become a community member, [which] may be easy to overlook, especially for those who have not been involved in any free software project yet,” Linda reminds us. “There are many ways in which one can make a useful contribution – from translations to reporting and solving bugs or sharing experience via the community mailing lists.”
Linda leaves us with a final piece of wisdom: “Making a contribution to a free software project – be it a piece of code or a piece of user experience shared via the mailing list – is something that lasts.”
Do you know someone in the community who deserves a bit of extra recognition? Please use this form to submit your nominations. We ask for your email in case we have any questions, but all nominations will be kept confidential.
Tell us what you want for Islandora 8 v1.2.0!dlambWed, 07/29/2020 - 15:12
After releasing Islandora 8 1.0.0, we at the Islandora Foundation surveyed the community for what features folks wanted next. We were pleasantly surprised to see a total of 76 responses, which is a large chunk of the 300+ Islandora instances that we know of. In fact, it was a new record for one of our community surveys. Because of such an amazing response, the community came together and delivered on several features from the survey, including 5 out of the top 10 most requested! Now that those features have been released as version 1.1.0, we're back again to ask what you need from Islandora.
The format this time is similar, except we've added one more possible response per feature. We're asking you to tell us one of four responses for each feature.
My organization needs this feature to consider/continue using Islandora 8
This feature is nice to have, but is not neccessary for my organization's current needs
My organization do not care about this feature at all
It's not exactly clear what this feature is
We've tried to group related features and describe them with as little tech speak as possible. And for each section of the survey, there's also a text area for you to suggest any other features we may have neglected. The poll will close on Friday, August 14th. Once we've tallied the results, we'll publish an anonymized version of them here for the sake of transparency.
The community's input is extremely important to us, so please take the time to fill it out if you can. The responses to this survey will set development priorities for community sprints and build out our road map for the future. If you are a user of Islandora 8, this is a chance to make your voice heard. If you are evaluating Islandora 8, this is a chance to let us know what you would need before migrating. Please share this survey with your colleagues! The more responses we get, the more accurate view we'll get of everyone's common needs.
You can fill out the survey here. And thanks as always for being involved with our awesome community. I know I say this every time, but we literally could not do this without you.
At the 2009 Library of Congress workshop on Architectures for Digital Preservation, Dave Anderson of Seagate presented the company's roadmap for hard disks He included this graph projecting that the next recording technology, Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR), would take over in the next year, and would be supplanted by a successor technology called Bit Patterned Media around 2015.
I started expressing my gradually increasing skepticism the following year. Now, nearly eleven years after Dave's talk, it is time to follow me below the fold for another update. At last year's Library of Congress workshop on Architectures for Digital Preservation Seagate reported that:
Seagate is now shipping HAMR drives in limited quantities to lead customers
But volume shipments were, as they had been for a decade, "next year".
Seagate has been trialing 16TB HAMR drives with select customers for more than a year and claims that the trials have proved that its HAMR drives are "plug and play replacements" for traditional CMR drives, requiring no special care and having no particular poor use cases compared to the drives we're all used to.
Western Digital has announced 18 and 20TB disk drives using a partial microwave-assisted magnetic (MAMR) recording technology implementation (ePMR). Sample shipments are due by the end of the year. ... The Ultrastar data centre DC HC550 is a helium-filled drive in 16TB and 18TB versions. It uses either 8 or 9 platters and has conventionally recorded tracks. The drive implements a form of energy-enhanced perpendicular magnetic recording (ePMR) which has not been explained.
The 20TB DC HC650 has 9 platters and uses shingled magnetic recording (SMR), with zones of partially overlapping tracks, to cram in an extra 2TB of capacity over the HC550.
Earlier this month, Western Digital announced retail availability of its Gold 16TB and 18TB CMR drives, as well as an upcoming 20TB Ultrastar SMR drive. These nine-platter disks are the largest individual hard drives widely available today.
Earlier this year, rival drive vendor Seagate promised to deliver 18TB and 20TB drives in 2020, but they have not yet materialized in retail channels.
Seagate's largest drives, like Western Digital's, needed a new technology to overcome the Magnetic Recording Trilemma—but Western Digital's EAMR (Energy Assisted Magnetic Recording) is considerably less-exotic than the HAMR (Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording) used by Seagate. That more conservative approach likely helped Western Digital beat its rival to market.
He also provides the explanation of what "ePMR" is, and makes it clear that it isn't actually "near-MAMR":
Although Western Digital is continuing its research into MAMR technology, the tech used in this month's new drives—EAMR, or Energy Assisted Magnetic Recording—is considerably less exotic. Rather than alter the magnetic properties of the medium with microwave or laser emissions, EAMR simply stabilizes the write field more rapidly and accurately, by using a bias current on the main pole of the write head as well as the current on the voice coils.
The key point here is that heads are hard. HAMR requires a new head design to include the laser, and MAMR requires a new head design to include the microwave generating "spin torque oscillator", but EAMR is a tweak on an existing head design. So it is "considerably less exotic" technology.
WDC has given up on heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) and is developing a microwave-assisted technique (MAMR) to push disk drive capacity up to 100TB by the 2030s.
Note the claim in Western Digital's marketing slide "1st product anticipated in 2019". It is midway through 2020 and they're just shipping a stopgap on the way to MAMR. And Seagate has yet to ship volumes of HAMR drives. Both are still probably "next year". As I wrote a year ago:
Industry projections should always be taken with many grains of salt, as my earlierpostsabout the good Dr. Pangloss indicate.
When we think about work in OCLC Research and in the OCLC Research Library Partnership, we take a number of different things into consideration. We think about how we are positioned to make a distinctive contribution; we reflect on how new work may build on or draw from previous work; we also consider if a new project is a good fit for our strengths as a team. And of course, we weigh how much any new work will benefit the RLP.
A project combining archives and special collections with linked data is about as perfect a combination that we could hope for! Discussions and actions around linked data have been going on for over a decade (including activities within the OCLC RLP’s Metadata Managers Focus Group, OCLC Technical Research, and OCLC Global Product Management). At many points during that history, special collections materials were part of experimentations and investigation.
Work on unique and distinctive collections is a hallmark of the OCLC RLP, and we boast an impressive body of foundational work spanning back decades. In terms of the importance for the OCLC RLP, as libraries and other cultural heritage organizations shift to a linked data future, it critical that special collections materials (rare books, manuscripts, photographs, institutional archives, etc.) that may be unique or may have special physical characteristics are included in that future.
In order to advance this work we put out a call to the OCLC RLP in 2019 and recruited 16 professionals to form the Archives and Special Collections Linked Data Review Group. The power of the group was the representation of varied strengths. We included people who had deep expertise in describing archives, or digital collections or rare books. Some members had engaged with linked data deeply, while others were relatively new to linked data. The group, supported by OCLC staff, explored key areas of concern for special collections in transitioning to a linked data environment. We met monthly, with members of the group presenting on a variety of projects to help showcase promising areas for linked data for special collections, as well as to explore areas of friction. Conversations covered a wide array of topics and ultimately culminated in the publication of the position paper, Archives and Special Collections Linked Data: Navigating between Notes and Nodes. The paper outlines both challenges and opportunities for representing archives and special collections using linked data.
We are grateful to those that participated in this work, and want to recognize that the group faced a special challenge as libraries globally shifted gears dramatically due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. This came right as we were finishing up the work and drafting the findings. This could have easily (and understandably) derailed the group but it did not. Thank you to all who contributed generously and thoughtfully:
• Erin Blake, Folger Shakespeare Library • Itza Carbajal, University of Texas Austin • Regine Heberlein, Princeton University • Sarah Horowitz, Haverford College • Jason Kovari, Cornell University • Vanessa Lacey, University of Cambridge • Cory Lampert, University of Nevada, Las Vegas • Darnelle Melvin, University of Nevada, Las Vegas • Holly Mengel, University of Pennsylvania • Cory Nimer, Brigham Young University • Maria Oldal, Morgan Library and Museum • Merrilee Proffitt, OCLC • Nathan Putnam, OCLC • Arielle Rambo, Library Company of Philadelphia • Elizabeth Roke, Emory University • Eric de Ruijter, International Institute of Social History • Dan Santamaria, Tufts University • Karen Smith-Yoshimura, OCLC • Weatherly Stephan, New York University • Bruce Washburn, OCLC • Chela Scott Weber, OCLC
Mat Kelly won a 2012 Innovation Award in the Future Steward category when he was a graduate student at Old Dominion University. He won the award in recognition of his work on WARCreate, a Google Chrome extension that allows users to create a Web ARChive (WARC) file from any browsable web page. Kelly is currently an assistant professor in the Information Science department at Drexel University’s College of Computing and Informatics.
What have you been doing since receiving an NDSA Innovation Award?
I was a Master’s degree student at Old Dominion University’s Web Science and Digital Libraries (WS-DL) Research Group when I received the award. The award brought to light in the web archiving community some aspects of preservation that were being neglected due to technical difficulties and the need for more work and research on web archiving. My MS thesis partially entailed the work for which I received the NDSA Innovation Award. After receiving my MS in 2012, I continued onto my PhD with the same group and defended my PhD dissertation, pertaining to the same subject for which I received the award, in 2019. I have since taken a position as a tenure track assistant professor in the Information Science department at Drexel University’s College of Computing and Informatics. I continue to focus my research of neglected aspects of web archiving that continue to remain a difficult area to explore due to the nature of the medium.
What did receiving the NDSA award mean to you?
The award gave credence that the programmatic work I was doing was worthwhile. The focus of the tool for which I was awarded was not just to create software, but demonstrate the need for simple user interfaces with powerful, standards-based approaches to encourage individuals to be able to archive the part of the web they care about. This helped to seed further research in the area, both for myself as well as others.
What efforts/advances/ideas of the last few years have you been impressed with or admired in the field?
I am in awe at the Webrecorder project, particularly the work of Ilya Kreymer. I appreciate the efforts the organization has done to encourage personal preservation and to do so with with usable software that does not need to rely on a central endpoint or institution for web archiving. Additionally, I have also been impressed with the breadth of the research performed by the other members of the WS-DL research group under the supervision of Drs. Michael L. Nelson and Michele C. Weigle. They have managed students taking interdisciplinary approaches toward neglected but necessary areas of research beyond the computer science area under which they are housed.
What advice do you have for future stewards in the digital preservation field?
The project for which I was awarded did not have an end-goal of attaining notoriety, though it was a pleasant surprise early in my career as a graduate student. It was a passion project to fill a need for those that want to accomplish something but may not have the technical know-how. This is a common occurrence. I would encourage others to further explore the area and exercise the skills for which they have expertise to determine a niche to which they can contribute.
Is there anything else we didn’t ask that you’d like to add?
I am thankful for the NDSA for considering me for the award early in my academic career and for my research group fostering innovation and enabling the opportunity to use what was once a passion project to have greater impact than it would have originally.
Creating a data analytics strategy can feel overwhelming, and many of them end up failing before they get off the ground. Here’s what to do to ensure your project is focused, worthwhile, and highly successful.
As we close in on the end of July we celebrate 10 years of the NDSA!!
NDSA was initiated by the Library of Congress as a way to sustain and increase partnerships created through the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP). Participants of NDIIPP were many of the initial members of NDSA. There were 58 members in 2010, with membership now standing at over 250 in 2020. Bill LeFurgy, one of the creators of NDSA, discusses the development and history of NDSA as part of NDIIPP, which, incidentally, would have turned 20 in December, and has a report on their first 10 years available as well.
NDSA started with four groups developed to foster communication and partnerships which has grown in ten years to include three standing Interest groups and at least nine Working groups. Working groups allow members to focus on specific activities of interest which often produce reports or documentation for the wider community to benefit from.
In 2016 the Library of Congress passed along the role of Host Institution to the Digital Library Federation (DLF). The DLF has been a good home for the NDSA as well as including DigiPres, the annual NDSA Digital Preservation conference, in their own conference activity planning.
NDSA is well known for the Agenda for Digital Stewardship and the Levels of Preservation, both with recent updates and publications. NDSA Interest and Working groups have also been busy over the years publishing survey reports (9), case studies (5), and topical interest research pieces (4). These materials can be found on the NDSA OSF site and the Publications section of the website. We have taken a renewed approach to strategic planning and transparency to the wider preservation community. We have also expanded significantly into the international scene with new members and partners from across the globe. There is also increased representation at the leadership level, including the elected Coordinating Committee as well as the co-chairs for Interest and Working groups, bringing the Leadership Team to over 20 individuals.
Moving into the next 10 years, we recognize preservation is a global challenge and as such, we hope to continue expanding our international collaborations and increase our research output and advocacy to help all levels within our preservation community. NDSA would not exist without you and we want to thank you for 10 amazing years and look forward to approaching the next ten together!
We always welcome new ideas and perspectives, so please feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, and feedback! Email us email@example.com.
I spent a little time over the last day or so trying to bodge together a shortcode for Hugo to embed an instance of Mirador. While it’s not quite as simple (or full-featured) as I’d like, it’s nonetheless a starting point. The shortcode generates a snippet of HTML that gets loaded into Hugo pages, but (unfortunately) most of the heavy lifting is done by a separate static page that gets included as an <iframe/> within the page. That page parses URL parameters to pass some of the parameters when Mirador gets instantiated.
Getting a consistent way to load multiple IIIF manifests, either into comparison view or for populating a resource list also needs some work, which also led me to grapple with thinking through the IIIF Content State API spec, which will require some more attention, too.
Say we have these fields – and the pattern I want to create is a 999 field, and in that field, I want to create a new 999 field for each 040$a – but I would also like to have the 090$a to be a part of the pattern.
The program falls back to use the current functionality (only one field is created).
Please note, you cannot ask for a specific 040 to be used (outside of using find/reg functions inside the pattern) – the data inside the [x] isn’t an integer you can set. It is a value that indicates to MarcEdit that the subfield should be tracked and multiple fields are desired.
The [x] syntax works both after the subfield or after the field number, with data being scoped based on the location of the [x]. Any other value other than [x] will likely result in inconsistent results. The [x] bracket is a reserved element within the field to indicate that multiple field generation is desired, and to tell the program to tokenize the data marked.
Finally – the tool placed data in the index range of the new field being generated. So, consider this example:
Why? Because the tool will slot values marked with the multi-field value [x] into the same field groups. Since only one 090$a exists, the tool only updates the field group that it belongs. However, if I had the following data:
Again – internally, MarcEdit is creating tokens of data with the [x] and placing them within the same scope. So, the tool would create new fields, placing data within the same scope onto the new fields.
I started making these changes with the last update – and have finished updating the tokenization algorithms so that the tracking of the data is correct. I’ll be turning this new option on with the next update – and across both the Windows and Mac version.
Since the presence of the [x] is necessary to turn on the multi-field generation, any existing patterns within tasks shouldn’t be impacted by the changes. They will work as they had previously. Only patterns with the new [x] structure will activate the new processing logic.
Full info about the new virtual DLF Forum CFP is here, but we can’t resist sharing some other details with you here:
Our guiding focus for this year’s Forum is building community while apart, chosen as a top priority by respondents to our recent DLF community survey. As one step to this end, all of our 2020 events will be free of charge, and resources will be made widely available after our events. Later this summer we’ll share information about how to register for our events.
While we welcome proposals from anyone with interesting work to share, this year the planning committee will prioritize submissions from BIPOC people and people working at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other BIPOC-centered libraries, archives, and museums, in alignment with our commitment to do more to ensure marginalized voices have better and more central representation.
Accepted presentations and panels will be delivered via pre-recorded video that will “go live” at specific times during the conference, and there will be some method for community discussion during “watch parties” as videos are posted.
Because of our virtual format and our emphasis on bringing our community together, we will be offering a greatly reduced number of sessions than we typically offer in our traditional in-person DLF Forum. To make space for as many voices as possible, individuals may present only once on the conference program. However, we will offer additional ways for community members to share content and resources whether conference proposals are accepted or not.
A quick browse through the App Store and aspiring language learners will find themselves swimming in useful programs.
But for experienced linguaphiles, the never-ending challenge is finding enough raw content and media to consume in their adopted tongue. Open Library can help.
Earlier this year, Open Library added reading levels to their catalog for more than three thousand books. The ability to search by reading level, combined with filtering by language, provides the savvy patron a convenient way to find, read, and listen to handfuls of elementary books in their desired language.
Getting the most out of Open Library’s BookReader
One of the most valuable settings of Internet Archive’s BookReader for language learners is Read Aloud. I highly recommend using this feature while reading to ensure your pronunciation is perfect. Just about any modern browser supports Read Aloud out of the box.
Tip: If you want the most natural sounding voices, believe it or not, Microsoft Edge is your best choice. If Microsoft Edge isn’t available on your platform, there are likely ways to install more natural voices via plugins or other methods.
You’ll next be presented with a Student Library where you may choose books by “reading level” or “grade”. In my experience, selecting by reading level offers more non-English options. Also in my experience, the higher the reading level, the more non-English options are available. Your mileage may vary.
Let’s pick “Grade 12” for now. We should see books tagged at a 12th grade reading level, predominantly in English. Let’s change that by scrolling and adding a filter for only Spanish books on the right sidebar.
Now our results show Spanish editions at a 12th grade reading level! You may notice many of these available books are out-of-copyright translations of the “literary canon.” This is largely what’s available in Open Library’s non-English k-12 catalog at the time of writing this post. Let’s select Hamlet by William Shakespeare.
To select the Spanish edition of Hamlet, scroll to the editions table and type “Spanish” into the edition search bar. Then, click “Read” to open the BookReader.
Because this is an unrestricted book, you may click the Read button to begin reading. If you want to take advantage of the Read Aloud feature, hover over the headphones icon on the right side of the Read button and click Listen.
BookReader should automatically narrate the book in the text’s native language. The passages will be highlighted as they are read aloud. If the voice appears to be incorrect, this may means your browser does not have access to a suitable digital voice to read aloud the book’s language. We’ve found Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome to be reliable options.
Now you have all the tools you need to find and read books in other languages. I cannot stress the Read Aloud feature enough as it allows me to hear new words spoken as I’m introduced to them. No matter where you are in your language learning journey, reading and listening to books in your target language can only accelerate your progress. Let Open Library help you along the way. ¡Disfrutar!
In this blogpost we share our experiences at King’s Digital Lab (KDL). While we can call the process a success overall (and you can read more about it in this article and in the summary of our current archiving and sustainability approach), the road has been bumpy and we stumbled across some interesting challenges along the way. In this blogpost we talk about how we made use of the Open Knowledge Foundation’s open source data portal platform CKAN to catalogue and make visible some of our legacy projects’ data.
KDL adopted CKAN following assessment of the institutional repository in place at the time as well as comparisons of research data management platforms in the literature (e.g. on ‘data FAIRification’ see van Erp, J. A. et al. 2018). While this is a solution that might encounter changes over time (including data migration or mapping to and aggregation in other repositories), at the moment it is fit for purpose in that it provides a metadata catalogue to store or to point to some of our legacy projects datasets – and associated contextual documentation – which were not accessible before, expanding substantially the potential for data and resources to be discovered, re-used and critiqued.
First things first, a step back to what KDL is about and what the data we inherited and produced entail. KDL builds on a recent yet relatively long history – for the field of Digital Humanities – of creating tools and web resources in collaboration with researchers in the arts and humanities as well as the cultural heritage sector. While KDL started operation as a team of Research Software Engineers within the Faculty of the Arts and Humanities at King’s College London (UK) in 2015, some of the projects we inherited were developed 5, 10 or even 20 years before the Lab’s existence. Out of the ca. 100 legacy projects, some started in the late 1990s or early 2000s out of many collaborative projects led or co-led by the Department of Digital Humanities (DDH). The tools and resources KDL inherited span a wide spectrum from text analysis and annotation tools, digital corpora of texts, images and musical scores to digital editions, historical databases and layered maps.
The datasets and resources we collected and catalogued range from summarised (so called ‘calendared’) editions of medieval documents to collections of modern correspondence, from ontologies adapted to express complex entities and relations in medieval documents to corresponding guides for encoding and data modelling. The default CKAN mask mapped to international cataloguing standards allows the capture of important dataset information such as creator and maintainer details, version etc. However, given that our legacy datasets are mainly project-based, we also decided to enhance the catalogue with project metadata (see related code at our github repository) ranging from information about the collaborative teams (typically including academics, archivists, designers, software engineers, analysts) to details on funders and period of activity. This slight modification of the data ingest form was then re-used in a currently active project – MaDiH (مديح): Mapping Digital Cultural Heritage in Jordan – which is looking at scoping the landscape of Jordanian cultural heritage datasets and also opted for a KDL-hosted CKAN instance as its core solution architecture (the code associated to other MaDiH-specific CKAN extensions including detailed tagging for time periods and data types is available at this other github repository).
The CKAN mask for KDL instance (part 1)
The CKAN mask for KDL instance (part 2)
What follows is the workflow we implemented for our cataloguing project:
Dataset and resource selection
Preliminary data entries by analyst and/or supervised student
Internal peer review
Communications with partners providing project overview, outline of benefits, some technical details (information on CKAN, list of resources to be exposed, license for the data, preview details) and requesting consent
Data publication (if consent obtained)
Public comms and dissemination (e.g. on social media)
Creation of Digital Object Identifier at dataset level via DataCite membership of King’s College London library
Update of citation field when DOI obtained
With respect to point 1 and 2, the cataloguing information provided for each project (equivalent to dataset in CKAN parlance) is rather high level; however, even at this rather minimally functional level, more often than not, digging into legacy documentation is not trivial and requires making tacit knowledge within the lab explicit or contacting partners to elicit further context, information and rationale for resource selection and ingestion.
For example, despite KDL legacy projects being informed by best practices in digital humanities such as use of standards and general openness to data re-use, licences were not always agreed at the time of data creation, in some cases leaving room for interpretation or substantial discussions regarding data ownership and exposure. In addition, in academic research, even when projects are long completed and unfunded, often collected and created data continue to be manipulated and analysed to inform further research and new arguments. While we had agreed to expose data which were considered ‘complete’, often multiple versions of the ‘same’ resource co-exist (adequately time-stamped or contextualised in narrative form) to showcase the constructed nature of this material and their workflows.
Data exposure and publication has now become a key element in King’s Digital Lab’s approach to project development as well as to our archiving and sustainability model. Dataset deposit within the Lab or as part of institutional technical systems as well as external repositories is an option assessed at several stages of a project lifecyle, from initial conversations with project partners when discussing a new project idea to post-funding phase and maintenance of legacy projects (see more on our approach on this guidance to research data management). Data publication on the KDL CKAN instance addresses mainly the issue of hidden datasets for our legacy projects at the moment; however, cataloguing projects metadata and exposing project datasets via CKAN is one of the options KDL currently offers also to new project partners.
Not only can shifting from systems to data ease the maintenance burden of many long-running projects, but it opens up possibilities for data re-use, verification and integration beyond siloed resources. Data exposure is however not enough to ensure access, and should not mask the need for attention to standards, workflows, systems and services (see recent ALLEA report on “Sustainable and FAIR Data Sharing in the Humanities”). This is where attention to tailored project solutions to research questions and domains while at the same time attempting to align to existing community standards within the Linked Open data paradigm continues to be a challenging yet fruitful area of research and ongoing activities at KDL. For example, our research software engineers are currently working towards integrating the web framework application most used in KDL’s technical stack – Django – with relevant APIs to align to specific standards (e.g. bibliographic RDF data models; Linked Open Data resources for people and location entities) or to extend them as needed with project code published on relevant software repositories (see https://github.com/kingsdigitallab/) under an open licence.
Sleeves up as there is a lot of work still to be done…
Conceiving of student employment in academic libraries as an educationally purposeful experience requires adopting a learner-centered pedagogical approach to student employee job training. Adopting such an approach is triply beneficial: it makes that job training more effective; it identifies training as an opportunity to pursue learning goals that support the growth of students as information literate critical thinkers; and it emphasizes the distributed nature of teaching and learning in the library, pointing to the need to support supervisors of student employees as educators and learners themselves. Focusing on the pedagogy of workplace training for student employees thus provides a point from which to redefine the community of learners the library supports, and disrupt hierarchical distinctions among the library’s many teachers and learners.
Teaching and learning happen in more ways, and in more places, in the academic library than we commonly assume. And one of the most obvious and overlooked arenas of teaching and learning in the academic library is student employee training. Training and learning are frequently set at odds with one another. Training is often devalued because it happens in the workplace rather than the classroom, and is perceived as having limited aims and scope, not necessarily being overseen by experts, and not prioritizing the needs of learners. But to view training and learning as separate domains elides the fact that, for both trainee and trainer, training is learning. If we say that our aim is to help a specific group of people “develop a set of key component skills, practice them to the point of automaticity, and know when and where to apply them appropriately,” are we describing workplace training or classroom learning?1 To separate or oppose them is to create a false dichotomy that obscures the rich educational opportunity presented by the seemingly mundane task of ensuring that student employees know how to do their job.
We can more fully realize that opportunity by approaching training with a learner-centered mindset, and utilizing evidence-based practices not just from the academic library literature, but the scholarship on teaching, the science of learning, and the fields of instructional and training design. In this article I argue that explicitly thinking of job training as learning, and approaching it from a pedagogical orientation, is imperative because it makes for more effective training, identifies a valuable opportunity for libraries to achieve their learning objectives and support student success, and can foster an organizational culture of care and learning that encompasses all staff. Training is an unexplored site for expanding where, how, and for whom the library is a partner in learning.
Improving job performance
The most immediate and, for busy supervisors, pragmatically compelling reason for conceiving of training as learning is to increase its effectiveness. Reconceiving of training as learning emphasizes the need for thoughtful design of both form and content, and points to the benefits of training that is learner-centered and evidence-based—that is, grounded in proven approaches to learning. These are approaches that libraries use to support student learning in other contexts, and that in this instance might draw not just on the scholarship around teaching and learning, but also on workplace training and instructional design, which frequently overlap and intersect in their findings and recommendations. Though their end goals might differ, there are practical commonalities aplenty between Teaching With Your Mouth Shut and Telling Ain’t Training—between problem- and inquiry-based approaches to classroom learning, and learner-centered approaches to workplace training, that both move away from the instructor as the principal conduit of enlightenment.2
Having an effective learning-oriented training program sets student employees up for success in their job, to the obvious benefit of the library. Attention to questions of retaining and transferring knowledge, to achieving what Wiggins and McTighe identify as “understanding,”3 increases the likelihood of satisfactory job performance. It’s true that, even without formal training, student employees will learn on the job, will pick things up as they go along, and Baldwin and Barkley suggest that “that’s the danger.”4 Is that really the only way we want them to learn? Taking a learner-centered approach, we can recognize that no training program is fully comprehensive or sufficient unto itself, and that informal, on-the-job learning will happen, for good or ill, regardless. But supervisors can incorporate both modes of learning in intentional structures of reflection that encourage students to take a considered approach to both work and learning. We can provide opportunities to talk about how training does or does not match up with on-the-job reality; we can foster supported on-the-job learning through peer mentoring; we can give students means to record or track what they’re learning, no matter how they’re learning it; we can have more experienced employees lead a discussion on a topic such as “The Most Important Things You Need to Know That Aren’t Addressed in Training.” In these ways, formal learner-centered training can work with informal experiential learning to support student employee work performance, and improve the efficacy of our training programs.
A learner-centered, evidence-based approach to training that takes seriously student employees, their learning, and their jobs also has positive ramifications beyond how well they are able to do those jobs. An investment in training pays dividends not just in terms of performance, but also in reducing turnover of student employees, and increasing their engagement in and ownership of their work.5 As Melilli and colleagues note, investing in student employees increases their investment in their work.6 Training offers a tangible means of demonstrating that investment at the outset of a student’s work experience, creating a virtuous feedback loop of mutual reward that ultimately improves the consistency, efficiency, quality, and continuity of the work the library does.
Designing effective training on proven learning principles, and gaining the benefits in terms of student employee competence, confidence, and commitment, also serves to mitigate many of the issues raised in the literature of complaint regarding student employees in academic libraries—a literature that extends from the early part of the twentieth century to the present day.7 Framing training in terms of learning encourages supervisors to reflect on their own practices, rather than despairingly assume that employing students means tolerating high turnover, mediocre performance, and patchy attendance. Successful college teachers don’t blame their students for difficulties they encounter in the classroom, and are willing to “confront their own weaknesses and failures.”8 Likewise, it would behoove supervisors to reflect on their approaches to student employment before reflexively finding fault with student employees: “if librarians are not happy with the performance of their student staff, then the fault lies with the librarians.”9 To see whether we’re actively supporting the job success of our student employees, we might look first at the training we provide them.
The extensive body of literature that focuses on the specific details of managing and training students in academic libraries generally fails to connect training to learning at all, or does so in inconsistent or superficial ways. In fact, there often remains a sense in this and related work that training students is onerous and that it distracts and diverts librarians and library staff from more substantive and important work.10 One inevitable outcome of viewing training in this way is an approach to training design that is motivated as much by convenience as efficacy and by the misguided hope that student employees will teach themselves. Though sometimes accompanied by pedagogically-inflected language around, for example, autonomous, self-paced, or even active learning, these training approaches nevertheless feature a preponderance of passive learning via PowerPoints, Prezis, and in-person presentations, and share with the literature at large a marked and pervasive attachment to training student employees by having them read manuals or handbooks.11
Evidence abounds as to the efficacy of classroom interventions that draw on research into how learning happens, and that utilize learner-centered approaches. Brown and colleagues identify ways in which businesses such as Jiffy Lube have transferred these methods to workplace training with the effect of reducing staff turnover and improving customer satisfaction.12 Given how infrequently such approaches are documented in the literature on training student employees in libraries, it’s not surprising that there is less evidence that points to their effectiveness in this specific context. There are a few examples, nevertheless, that indicate the rewards of deploying learner-centered, evidence-based training methods for both students and supervisors. Surtees, for instance, “reduced lecture-style teaching of circulation and reference services in favor of a non-hierarchical peer-learning and active learning model,” and student employees have subsequently retained more information, are more confident and prepared, perform better on quizzes, and have a deeper understanding of the library.13 The literature also yields telling examples of training programs whose success is hampered by their failure to implement learner-centered principles, such as Kohler’s conclusion that students found online training presentations unhelpful, didn’t learn enough to be able to answer quiz questions, and that this training method “did not solve the problems of student engagement and providing excellent training in patron service.”14 Allied with the results of research from other learning contexts on and off campus, these examples demonstrate the value of learner-centered approaches to training, and of building assessment into training programs in order to be able to gauge whether and what student employees are in fact learning.
There are undoubtedly logistical difficulties associated with training part-time, limited-term student employees, and these are certainly exacerbated by budgetary pressures and the many and varied demands on supervisors’ time. But foregrounding training as learning makes it clear that this is part of the educational work of the academic library. It’s an extension of one of its principal functions and reasons for being, and as such is not a distraction from the important work of the library, but a fundamental part of it (on which, more below). It also, however, points to ways in which supervisors can work smart, make adjustments to how they train that leverage what we know about retention and transfer, and utilize “methods that have seen success within other instructional venues.”15 These adjustments might take the form of large-scale overhauls of training programs, but they can also be made through focused, incremental changes, or what, in parallel to Lang’s concept of “small teaching,” we might call “small training.”16
Small training can provide achievable ways to move training plans that currently depend on passive consumption of content in more learner-centered and evidence-based directions. A handbook or manual can be deployed not as something to be read from cover to cover, but as a key, or one of a set of tools, that new employees use to solve realistic problems they may encounter on the job. Existing presentations or tutorials can be revised to open with a question, problem, or puzzle that engages learners’ attention, and invites them to activate existing knowledge; other quick revisions might include building in brief opportunities for learners to summarize, reflect on, or respond to the content—variations, for example, on the “muddiest point” technique. Those presentations or tutorials can be followed up a few days later with a short exercise that asks employees to retrieve and apply what they learned to a situation authentic to their job. Other concrete small training practices might include: identifying specific learning objectives; chunking material in logical and digestible ways; designing tests, assessments, or knowledge checks that utilize the retrieval practice effect; providing opportunities to practice in contexts that resemble on-the-job reality and feature authentic scenarios and examples; using guideposts or touchstones that point us in the direction of effective, learner-centered training design, such as the empathetic question, “What is it like to be a person learning something?”17 These and many other interventions drawn from the literature on both classroom learning and workplace training are achievable through small-scale changes, and translate the recognition of training as learning into more effective job preparation for student employees.18
Advancing student learning
Designing effective training invests in the job success of student employees. However, if we approach student employment itself as a structured learning experience—as an increasingly substantive cross-disciplinary body of work compellingly argues we should—then there is an additional imperative to conceive of training as learning. Within the context of academic libraries, authors have emphasized the value of viewing student employment from a more holistic learning perspective, identifying it as an opportunity for libraries to make a meaningful contribution to student success.19 This integrative, learning-focused approach to student employment extends to aligning student employment with High-Impact Practices (HIPs)—educational practices that research shows have a particularly strong relationship with student engagement and retention.20 Though not on the original list of recognized High-Impact Practices, student employment has since been identified as a possible HIP both by student affairs and education researchers and by academic librarians.21 If we approach student employment as a whole as a learning experience, then every element of that experience should be viewed through a learning lens—including, and perhaps especially, the most obvious and direct scene of learning in any work experience: job training.
However, the literature that advocates for student employment in libraries as a rich learning opportunity frequently either does not address training, or suggests that a broader focus on student learning is at odds with a reductive attention to training. Bussell and Hagman, for example, title their book chapter “From Training to Learning,” and suggest that “student employment is an opportunity for libraries to go beyond training and explicitly encourage learning,” setting training and learning apart, or at a distance from one another along a spectrum that has training at one end and “real” learning at the other.22 Evanson suggests a tension between long-term learning objectives oriented to student employees as students and the more “employee-type skills” necessary for them to do their jobs.23 And while McGinniss recognizes the importance of continuing to think about job skills, he suggests that considering student development in only this way “impoverishes the library’s potential to challenge and grow its student staff,” again positing a value difference between “just” job training and additional forms of experiential development.
Thinking of student employment as an enriched learning experience, or as a HIP, should not render the details of training obsolete. Job training itself can be educationally purposeful as well as an integral part of student employment as a larger educational practice. Job skills training cannot, indeed, be easily or usefully separated from the other, possibly more recognizable forms of learning that academic libraries can support through student employment. Job training is, or should be, a feature of all student employee positions, whether or not those positions meet the criteria to be considered HIPs, and is thus an important location for advancing both specific job knowledge and broader learning goals for a wide range of student employees. It’s a place where we can work to “honor the essential learning outcomes while balancing the need for student employees to learn specific knowledge and behaviors that will enable them to perform their job responsibilities.”24 As Scrogham and McGuire note, the clear relationship between training and learning makes training “an excellent opportunity for many seamless connections to students’ classroom learning, personal development, and citizenship.”25 The hybrid training method they identify as combining specific job tasks and skills with broader personal and professional development, from orientation onwards, provides a useful template that academic libraries might follow.26
However, to appreciate the potential deep learning value of job training requires dealing with training’s baggage. Training has a connotation problem—training a dog, training for a marathon, potty training, basic training, HR-mandated training… It comes with some regimented and less-than-positive associations: “Some people cringe at the word ‘training’: ‘Training is what you do to monkeys; development is what you do to people.’”27 The very construct of “doing to” runs counter to what we know about best learning practices and how to nurture critical thinkers. It speaks to a perception of training as a unidirectional transfer of knowledge from experts to novices, designed for the benefit of the employer and very much aligned with Paulo Freire’s notion of the “banking” model of education, wherein knowledge is “bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those whom they consider to know nothing.”28 Baird finds evidence of this approach in relation to student employees in libraries, whose “training is often minimal and directed from the trainer (top-down), feeding them skills that serve the library’s need.”29 In this version, training often occurs in a limited timeframe and is concerned with standardization rather than individuation, organizational effectiveness rather than personal growth. It centers on the expertise and authority of the trainer and posits the trainee as a passive blank slate. It is, in this rendition, a narrow form of learning focused only on inculcating consistently reproducible behaviors.
But we can think of training, and of those who train, in more expansive and nuanced ways—and in ways that identify and make the most of the very real connections between training student employees and the larger educational objectives of academic libraries. That might involve, at one level, deploying proven pedagogical practices to increase the effectiveness of training. But at another level it means recognizing that training can have a purpose larger than just effective job performance. McClellan and colleagues identify training as a “structured learning opportunity.”30 But that structure doesn’t have to be characterized by hierarchical knowledge transmission, and that learning does not have to be restricted to the mechanics of accomplishing a specific task.
Indeed, besides the fact that such decontextualized learning is less likely to be effective, it also represents a naive appraisal of what’s happening during job training. Student employees are always inevitably learning more than “just” how to shelve, or discharge returned materials, or scan documents. We are always already conveying more than how to accomplish a task when we train. To that end, it’s worth considering what our student employees are learning about the library and the workplace when we don’t devote care and attention to training. But if we provide that care and attention, are intentional in how we frame training, and connect it to the organization’s key learning goals, then training student employees more obviously becomes an opportunity not just to improve their performance as employees, but to shape their thinking as students. And it’s an opportunity shared by all student employees, whether they’re in a position or program crafted to function as a HIP or not. Setting its connotative baggage aside, training then is simply a word that signals that we’re concerned with learning in a workplace context.31 Training can combine both the short-term goal of enabling someone to independently do something required of them as part of their job, and broader aims around supporting the growth of critical and information-literate thinkers.
Approaching training as learning prompts us not just to think about what student employees need to know or be able to do, but also about how we want them to approach problems, what questions we want them to be able to ask, and how we want them to reflect on their work and learning. Learning, as Stolovitch and Keeps note, is change, and in training employees we’re concerned not simply with the transmission of information, but with changing people, with transforming learners.32 That change—which challenges, modifies, and extends the mental models of learners—can be informed by student learning outcomes that exceed job requirements and align with the stated educational goals of academic libraries and the colleges and universities they serve. Mapping the alignment between training goals and institutional learning outcomes is beneficial on a number of levels. It provides a framework in which student employees can identify the educational value of their work, and connect it to and integrate it with other learning experiences; it provides objectives for supervisors to build training and employment experiences around, and avenues for reflecting on how to make those experiences educationally purposeful; it furnishes concepts that can be folded into an expanded approach to performance evaluation, and can be used in assessing the learning impact of training and employment programs; and it enables the library to discuss its support for student success in language shared across campus.
Starkel affords an example of what such goal alignment might look like in practice in her description of how student employment and training in Butler University’s Information Commons program is aligned with the university’s values and its nine institutional learning outcomes.33 And Grimm and Harmeyer have recently mapped the tasks, knowledge, and skills required of student employees at Purdue University Archives and Special Collections against the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, demonstrating that information professionals can create work environments “built to impart educational growth, critical-thinking, and problem-solving skills.”34 As Grimm and Harmeyer show, those skills are in fact required to successfully accomplish many of the jobs students hold in academic libraries, which makes incorporating them in job training imperative for student success at multiple scales. The Framework “envisions information literacy as extending the arc of learning throughout students’ academic careers and as converging with other academic and social learning goals”35 — and it converges too with training competent student library employees.
That convergence can involve building out training to accomplish student learning outcomes through “a syllabus-like professional development program” mapped out over the course of a semester.36 But it can also mean looking at the ways in which we currently train, and making adjustments that recognize the wider learning potential of training, while improving that training’s efficacy. For instance, learning scientists have shown that successful learners put newly acquired knowledge into a larger context; they improve transfer by recognizing underlying principles, rules, and patterns in what they’re learning, create connections between new and existing knowledge, and organize those ideas in mental models.37 Hawks and Mestre and LeCrone provide examples of what that might look like in a library training context—such as focusing on generalizable principles, or explaining why as well as how to do something, in order to improve transfer and the creation of mental models by making explicit the assumptions underlying a particular task, process, or approach. 38 While Hawks doesn’t address student employment, and Mestre and LeCrone don’t frame their intervention explicitly in terms of learning, both suggest approaches to training that reflect learning research and workplace training literature, offering indications of how academic libraries might more intentionally and overtly incorporate those ideas within student employee training.
Translating these ideas into concrete features of training can be as simple as remembering to provide learners with rationales that explain why a particular skill or task is important, and how it fits into the big picture of the employee’s job and library’s mission. It might also include, for example, creating brief two- or three-question reflection prompts, and providing a couple of minutes for students to respond to them at the end of a training session—prompts that ask them about what they’re learning, and how it connects to, adds to, or changes what they already know. It could involve learners practicing and applying what they’re learning in a range of different situations, or providing outlines or maps that student employees can fill out or create as they learn, in order to draw connections between and suggest a structure for what they’re learning. Such interventions support student employees in successfully learning how to do their job, but they also support their learning about how to learn, and encourage them to make connections among the skills, concepts, and ideas they encounter across their academic and non-academic experiences. The result is training that both effectively deepens job learning and fosters metacognitive skills, integrated learning, and an awareness of how certain principles or approaches might apply across a multitude of scenarios. And these are features of educational practices—like HIPs—that strongly support student engagement and accomplishment.
We also know that learner-centered approaches are more effective—that they “promote a different, deeper, and better kind of learning […] a kind of learning that lasts” and that “enables higher education to achieve some of its broadest and highest goals.”39 Recognizing that, and taking the constructivist approach that emphasizes learners’ active construction of knowledge also points to ways in which training can both be more effective and support learners in developing autonomy and problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. And, furthermore, it does so without reinforcing hierarchies of knowledge and authority that actually hinder learning. If effective teachers “think about what they do as stimulating construction, not ‘transmitting knowledge,’”40 then successful trainers too need to work with the idea that, as Hawks notes, “Engaged learners don’t just passively receive knowledge, they construct knowledge.”41
This approach makes training an exercise not in student employees “teaching themselves,” but one that can incorporate specific practices that encourage autonomy and foster higher-order thinking. We can create structured opportunities for learners to discover information about the library, explore the parts of a process, or investigate a database for themselves, perhaps even with the goal of having them share what they’ve learned with their peers. We can design training activities that ask student employees to make decisions, use their judgment, and grapple with the kinds of problems germane to their position. We can provide space for them to fail, reflect on what went wrong, and try again. In following this path, the trainer doesn’t abdicate responsibility or operate solely from a “hands-off” position, but provides guidance and structure within which student employees can exercise their autonomy and agency, and work with the trainer to build the skills necessary not just to their job but to their development as learners.
A critically-informed training pedagogy also foregrounds the reciprocity of the teacher-learner relationship, emphasizing that those roles are fluid rather than fixed. Throughout the term of a student’s employment, we can learn from their lived experiences, their perceptions of the library, and the knowledge they bring with them from other arenas of work and learning. In the context of job training specifically, we can learn from student employees about that training itself—about the experience of participating in it, its effectiveness, its ellisions or omissions, and how to do it better. Both new and continuing student employees can and should be co-creators and critics of their work-learning experience at the library, including training. Activating student employees’ existing expertise in the course of training, and having them contribute to rather than just receive that training, realizes the two-way learning opportunities that inhere in both student employment and job training. They point to student employment as a catalyst for change in the library, and student employee training as a learning moment that can exceed hierarchical models of knowledge transmission.
Creating organizational change
Thinking of student employee training as learning reorients it from being a peripheral chore that gets in the way of the real and important work of the academic library, to something that is actually at the very heart of the academic library’s educational mission—directly connected to supporting student success not just in the very particular and local context of the job they’ve been hired to do, but in the broader arc of their college and life journey. And identifying the work of student employees, and of training student employees, as educationally purposeful redraws the boundaries of teaching and learning in the library. In particular, it highlights the importance of supervisors—many of whom are not librarians—to student learning, and the need in turn to support their learning. The fact that student employees are students is generating an increasing amount of thought about how to make their work experience educationally valuable. The fact that student employees are employees, however, might also create a route via which to think about the learning of other library employees, and develop continuities between the care taken with, and the practices and models used in, student and staff learning—which coincide at the point of the student employee and their supervisor. Thinking about the learning of student staff might prompt us to consider further supporting the learning and success of all library staff, especially those who supervise student employees, and to recognize that the community whose learning the library supports is not just “out there.” As Wilkinson and Lewis note, “Education is a core mission of all libraries. Libraries should make the same commitment to educating their personnel that they have made to educating their users.”42
If training is learning, supervisors are themselves, of course, not just learners but also educators, a designation that disrupts typical demarcations around who in the library teaches. McClellan and colleagues suggest that a good supervisor can operate like a good professor in creating “a positive and open atmosphere for learning.”43 However, Markgraf notes there may be “hesitation among some staff to refer to themselves as educators, and […] resistance among faculty to cede any part of that role to colleagues outside of the classroom.”44 Student employee training highlights, nevertheless, that clear distinctions between these terms and roles do not hold—supervisors “train, instruct, and educate […] One is not more important than the other. All three work together.”45 Indeed, as Reed and Signorelli point out, “almost everyone within a library or non-profit organization is a trainer-teacher-learner.”46 Our official titles and place within the library hierarchy don’t map in obvious and straightforward ways onto the work around learning that we actually do. Thinking of supervisors as teachers might produce some dissonance and difficulties.47 But supervisors are already fulfilling that role and doing that work: “we spend more time with the student employees on average than any one professor, counselor, or advisor,” and spend that time “educating, training, helping to form students’ work ethics and habits.”48 Burke and Lawrence refer to this as “accidental mentorship,” but if we recognize the work of supervisors as directly contributing to student learning, then we can be more intentional about supporting them in this role, and untangling the “mixed signals” they receive “regarding the time that they spend training and managing student employees.”49 Thinking about effective, pedagogically-informed student employee training requires conceiving of supervisors as both teachers and learners and seeing the learning of students, student employees, and full-time staff as interconnected and integral to the learning mission of the library.
Through the lens of a learner-centered approach to training student employees, the academic library emerges as an organization whose support for learning isn’t restricted to instruction or public-facing services, and where responsibility for that support lies with both librarians and non-librarian staff. A distributed, shared attention to learning provides opportunities for groups within the library to gain from each other’s learning regardless of status and role, to the benefit of individuals and the organization as a whole. It might foster workplace learning programs like the one detailed by Decker and Townes, where librarians and non-librarian staff take turns sharing their knowledge with one another; this “vertically integrated” instruction model, with learning moving across hierarchical divisions within the library, aims to bridge the work divide between librarians and other library staff.50 That instruction model could easily extend to encompass student staff, and both Baird and See and Teetor provide accounts of training programs in which student and full-time staff participate together—a practice which, as Baird notes, is “not commonly done,” but which can improve student employee motivation by creating stronger connections with the organization’s culture and objectives.51 Why not, indeed, further recognize the distribution of knowledge and expertise throughout the library organization, and have student employees contribute to training new full-time staff, as Mestre and LeCrone recount?52
McClellan et al. identify seven qualities that all student employment programs should have. One of them is meaningful relationships between student employees and their employers, focused on teaching and learning; another is that they “must have caring as an embedded and essential value.” Caring, as they show, has a demonstrable impact on student success.53 Investing in both initial and on-going training and development that is thoughtfully designed to support personal growth and broader learning goals manifests an affective orientation of care for student employees. Paying attention to the quality and effectiveness of student employee job training, and to that job training as a specific and widely shared learning experience, grounds the supervisor-supervisee relationship in teaching and learning that moves in both directions. It also creates a bridge between the library’s often outward-oriented educational mission and nurturing an internal culture of learning and care for all library employees that can be integrated into our very operational fabric. Reframing student employee training as a particular learning occasion within the broader work-learning experience, and insisting on the need for and benefits of approaching it with pedagogical care, in fact serves as a demonstration of what Meulemans and Matlin identify as “organizational care,” which supports change that benefits library workers “in an equitable, inclusive, and socially just fashion.”54
This article advocates incorporating not just student employment in general, but job training for student employees specifically, into academic libraries’ educational practices. Such an argument points to a need for further research on and assessment of the relationship between student employment, training methods and programs, and student and supervisor learning. What support do supervisors need to effectively facilitate training as a learner-centered experience? How do we reconfigure the structure of our organizations to recognize supervisors as educators? How can we track the impact—on student employees, supervisors, and the work of the library—of adopting a learner-centered approach to work and training? Answering those questions, and others, will work to shift hierarchized distinctions between types of learning within the library, and allow us to identify further overlooked educational opportunities and other arenas in which we might bring learner-centered approaches to bear to the benefit of library staff and users, as does looking anew at job training for student employees. Reexamining student employee training from a learning perspective can not only improve job performance and advance key learning outcomes; it can also reconfigure assumptions about who “does” teaching and learning in the library, confound hierarchical distinctions that hinder organizational learning, and contribute to a reflective, learner-centered library, characterized by care, in which the learners are both patrons and staff.
With many thanks to publishing editor Jaena Rae Cabrera, internal reviewer Ian Beilin, and external reviewer Cindy Pierard for the many generous and insightful comments that have enriched my thought and writing on this topic; to Paul Moffett, for his time, support, encouragement, and getting excited about doing new stuff in Access Services; to Michelle Niemann, in-home writing coach and interlocutor par excellence; and to the student employees in Access Services at IUPUI University Library, from whom I learn so much, and who make going to work a pleasure.
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Donald L. Finkel, Teaching With Your Mouth Shut (Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook, 2000); Harold D. Stolovitch and Erica J. Keeps, Telling Ain’t Training: Updated, Expanded, and Enhanced (Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press, 2011).
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James William III, “Starting Off On the Right Foot: A Library New Student Employee Orientation,” South Carolina Libraries 1, no. 2 (2015): http://scholarcommons.sc.edu/scl_journal/vol1/iss2/7;George S. McClellan, Kristina Creager, and Marianna Savoca, A Good Job: Campus Employment as a High-Impact Practice (Sterling, VA: Stylus, 2018); Cara Evanson, “‘We Aren’t Just the Kids That Sit at the Front’: Rethinking Student Employee Training,” College and Research Libraries News 76, no. 1 (2015): 30-33; Beth Hoag and Sarah Sagmoen, “Leading, Learning, and Earning: Creating a Meaningful Student Employment Program,” in Students Lead the Library: The Importance of Student Contributions to the Academic Library, ed. Sara Arnold-Garza and Carissa Tomlinson (Chicago: ACRL, 2017), 1-20.
Amanda Melilli, Rosan Mitola, and Amy Hunsaker, “Contributing to the Library Student Employee Experience: Perceptions of a Student Development Program,” Journal of Academic Librarianship 42, no. 4 (2016): 435.
David Gregory quotes a librarian in 1910 conceding that student employment might be “far less of an evil than it appeared” (5), and suggests that unenthusiastic “characterizations of student help […] will always be with us” (Gregory, “The Evolving Role of Student Employees in Academic Libraries,” Journal of Library Administration 21, no. 3/4 (1995): 21); those characterizations certainly persist in articles such as Bella Karr Gerlich, “Rethinking the Contributions of Student Employees to Library Services,” Library Administration and Management 16, no. 3 (2002): 146-50, and Laura Manley and Robert P. Holley, “Hiring and Training Work-Study Students: A Case Study,” College and Undergraduate Libraries 21, no. 1 (2014): 76-89.
Ken Bain, What the Best College Teachers Do (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004), 19.
Jeremy McGinniss, “Working at Learning: Developing an Integrated Approach to Student Staff Development,” In the Library with the Lead Pipe, April 9, 2014, http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2014/working-at-learning-developing-an-integrated-approach-to-student-staff-development/
As even a quick scan of titles such as “Retraining is Draining,” “Searching for Solutions,” and “So Many Students, So Little Time” suggests.
For training presentations see: Kindra Becker-Redd, Kirsten Lee, and Caroline Skelton, “Training Student Workers for Cross-Departmental Success in an Academic Library: A New Model,” Journal of Library Administration 58, no. 2 (2018): 153-165; Cinnamon Hillyard and Katharine A. Whitson, “A Multi-Unit Approach to Interactive Training of Student Employees,” Library Administration and Management 22, no. 1 (2008): 37-41; Manley and Holley, “Hiring and Training,” 76-89; Jamie P. Kohler, “Training Engaged Student Employees: A Small College Library Experience,” College and Undergraduate Libraries 23, no. 4 (2016): 363-380. For examples of the use of manuals and handbooks see: Kohler, “Training Engaged Student Employees”; Jane M. Kathman and Michael D. Kathman, “Training Student Employees for Quality Service,” Journal of Academic Librarianship 26, no. 3 (2000): 176-182; Sandy L. Farrell and Carol Driver, “Tag, You’re It: Hiring, Training, and Managing Student Assistants,” Community and Junior College Libraries 16, no. 3 (2010): 185-191; Lisa Vassady, Alyssa Archer, and Eric Ackermann, “READ-ing Our Way to Success: Using the READ Scale to Successfully Train Reference Student Assistants in the Referral Model,” Journal of Library Administration 55, no. 7 (2015): 535-548; Hoag and Sagmoen, “Leading, Learning, and Earning”; Jessica M. Drewitz, “Training Student Workers: A Win-Win,” AALL Spectrum (2013): 22-24.
Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel, Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2014), 247.
Laura Surtees, “Training to Learn: Developing an Interactive, Collaborative Circulation-Reference Training Program for Student Workers,” Proceedings of the ACRL 2019 Conference, Cleveland, OH, April 2019, 814-815, http://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/conferences/confsandpreconfs/2019/TrainingtoLearn.pdf
Kohler, “Training Engaged,” 377.
Amanda D. Starkel, “Investing in Student Employees: Training in Butler University’s Information Commons Program,” Indiana Libraries 33, no. 2 (2014): 84.
James M. Lang, Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2016).
Carl Rogers, quoted in Kevin Michael Klipfel and Dani Brecher Cook, Learner-Centered Pedagogy: Principles and Practices (Chicago: ALA Editions, 2017), 8.
Overviews of effective practices, how to implement them, and why they work include: Stolovitch and Keeps, Telling Ain’t Training; Lang, Small Teaching; Julie Dirksen, Design for How People Learn 2nd ed. (San Francisco: New Riders, 2016); Brown, Roediger III, and McDaniel, Make It Stick; Cathy Moore, Map It: The Hands-On Guide to Strategic Training Design (Montesa Press, 2017); Ambrose et al., How Learning Works.
See: Hoag and Sagmoen, “Leading, Learning, and Earning,” 11; Melilli, Mitola, and Hunsaker, “Library Student Employee Experience,” 436; Joshua B. Michael and Jeremy McGinniss, “Our Student Workers Rock! Investing in the Student Staff Development Process,” Library Faculty Presentations 17 (2013), https://digitalcommons.cedarville.edu/library_presentations/17
George D. Kuh, High-Impact Practices: What They Are, Who Has Access to Them, and Why They Matter (Washington, DC: American Association of Colleges and Universities, 2008), 14-16.
See: George D. Kuh, “Maybe Experience Really Can Be the Best Teacher,” Chronicle of Higher Education, November 21, 2010, https://www.chronicle.com/article/Maybe-Experience-Really-Can-Be/125433; McClellan, Creager, and Savoca, A Good Job; Marianna Savoca and Urszula Zalewski, “The Campus as a Learning Laboratory: Transforming Student Employment,” NSEA Journal 1 (2016): 3-11; Brett Perozzi,ed., Enhancing Student Learning Through College Employment (Bloomington, IN: Association of College Unions International, 2009); Sarah L. Hansen and Beth A. Hoag, “Promoting Learning, Career Readiness, and Leadership in Student Employment,” New Directions for Student Leadership no. 157 (2018): 85-99; Jill Markgraf, “Unleash Your Library’s HIPster: Transforming Student Library Jobs into High-Impact Practices,” Proceedings of the ACRL 2015 Conference, Portland, OR, March 2015, 770-777, http://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/conferences/confsandpreconfs/2015/Markgraf.pdf; Rosan Mitola, Erin Rinto, and Emily Pattni, “Student Employment as a High-Impact Practice in Academic Libraries: A Systematic Review,” Journal of Academic Librarianship 44, no. 3 (2018): 352-373; Erin Rinto, Rosan Mitola, and Kate Otto, “Reframing Library Student Employment as a High-Impact Practice: Implications From Case Studies,” College and Undergraduate Libraries 26, no. 4 (2019); Elizabeth L. Black, “Library Student Employment and Educational Value Beyond the Paycheck,” in Learning Beyond the Classroom: Engaging Students in Information Literacy Through Co-curricular Activities, ed. Silvia Vong and Manda Vrlkjan (Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2020), 57-73.
H. Bussell and J. Hagman, “From Training to Learning: Developing Student Employees Through Experiential Learning Design” in Pete McDonnell, ed.,The Experiential Library: Transforming Academic and Research Libraries Through the Power of Experiential Learning (Cambridge, MA: Chandos, Publishing, 2017), 147.
Evanson, “We Aren’t Just the Kids,” 33.
McClellan, Creager, and Savoca, A Good Job, 96.
Eva Scrogham and Sara Punsky McGuire, “Orientation, Training, and Development” in Brett Perozzi, ed., Enhancing Student Learning Through College Employment (Bloomington, IN: Association of College Unions International, 2009), 200.
Scrogham and McGuire, “Orientation,”
Baldwin and Barkley, Complete Guide, 161.
Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970), trans. Myra Bergman Ramos (New York: Continuum, 2005), 72.
Lynn N. Baird, “ALOHA to New Learning: Uniting Student and Career Staff Through Training, Journal of Access Services 5, no. 1/2 (2007): 122.
McClellan, Creager, and Savoca, A Good Job, 143.
Stolovitch and Keeps, Telling Ain’t Training, 13.
Stolovitch and Keeps, Telling Ain’t Training, 13.
Starkel, “Investing,” 83-84.
Tracy Grimm and Neal Harmeyer, “On-the-Job Information Literacy: A Case Study of Student Employees at Purdue University Archives and Special Collections” in Learning Beyond the Classroom, 87.
Association for College and Research Libraries, Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education (Chicago: Association for College and Research Libraries, 2015): 8, http://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/issues/infolit/framework1.pdf
McClellan, Creager, and Savoca, A Good Job, 144.
Brown, Roediger III, and McDaniel, Make It Stick, 4-6.
For example: Melanie Hawks, Designing Training (Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2013), 44; Lori S. Mestre and Jessica M. LeCrone, “Elevating the Student Assistant: An Integrated Development Program for Student Library Assistants,” College and Undergraduate Libraries 22, no. 1 (2015): 13.
Maryellen Weimer, Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice, 2nd ed. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2013), 33.
Bain, Best College Teachers, 27.
Hawks, Designing Training, 34.
Frances C. Wilkinson and Linda K. Lewis, “Training Programs in Academic Libraries: Continuous Learning in the Information Age,” College and Research Libraries News 67, no. 6 (2006): 365.
McClellan, Creager, and Savoca, A Good Job, 151.
Markgraf, “Unleash,” 773.
Keeps and Stolovitch, Training Ain’t Telling, 12.
Lori Reed and Paul Signorelli, Workplace Learning and Leadership: A Handbook for Library and Nonprofit Trainers (Chicago: American Library Association, 2011), 2.
Bussell and Hagman point out, for example, that experiential learning requires that learners be able to challenge teachers, and as “tricky as it is to establish this level of trust between learner and teacher in a normal classroom, it can be even more difficult when the learner/teacher relationship is also an employee/supervisor relationship.” Bussell and Hagman, “Training to Learning,” 152.
Kate Burke and Belinda Lawrence, “The Accidental Mentorship: Library Managers’ Roles in Student Employees’ Academic Professional Lives,” College and Research Libraries News 72, no. 2 (2011): 100.
Kathman and Kathman, “Quality Service,” 177.
E.N. Decker and J.A. Townes, “Going Vertical: Enhancing Staff Training Through Vertically Integrated Instruction” in The Experiential Library, 139.
Baird, “ALOHA,” 122-3; Andrew See and Travis Stephen Teetor, “Effective e-Training: Using a Course Management System and e-Learning Tools to Train Library Employees,” Journal of Access Services 11, no. 2 (2014): 66-90.
Mestre and LeCrone, “Elevating,” 13.
McClellan, Creager, and Savoca, A Good Job, 196-7.
Yvonne Nalani Meulemans and Talitha R. Matlin, “Are You Being Served? Embracing Servant Leadership, Trusting Library Staff, and Engendering Change,” Library Leadership and Management 34, no. 1 (2020): 3-4.
As part of the Frictionless Data for Reproducible Research project, funded by the Sloan Foundation, we have started a Pilot collaboration with the Data Readiness Group at the Department of Engineering Science of the University of Oxford; the group will be represented by Dr. Philippe Rocca-Serra, an Associate Member of Faculty. This Pilot will focus on removing the friction in reported scientific experimental results by applying the Data Package specifications. Written with Dr. Philippe Rocca-Serra.
Publishing of scientific experimental results is frequently done in ad-hoc ways that are seldom consistent. For example, results are often deposited as idiosyncratic sets of Excel files or tabular files that contain very little structure or description, making them difficult to use, understand and integrate. Interpreting such tables requires human expertise, which is both costly and slow, and leads to low reuse. Ambiguous tables of results can lead researchers to rerun analysis or computation over the raw data before they understand the published tables. This current approach is broken, does not fit users’ data mining workflows, and limits meta-analysis. A better procedure for organizing and structuring information would reduce unnecessary use of computational resources, which is where the Frictionless Data project comes into play. This Pilot collaboration aims to help researchers publish their results in a more structured, reusable way.
In this Pilot, we will use (and possibly extend) Frictionless tabular data packages to devise both generic and specialized templates. These templates can be used to unambiguously report experimental results. Our short term goal from this work is to develop a set of Frictionless Data Packages for targeted use cases where impact is high. We will first focus first on creating templates for statistical comparison results, such as differential analysis, enrichment analysis, high-throughput screens, and univariate comparisons, in genomics research by using the STATO ontology within tabular data packages.
Our longer term goals are that these templates will be incorporated into publishing systems to allow for more clear reporting of results, more knowledge extraction, and more reproducible science. For instance, we anticipate that this work will allow for increased consistency of table structure in publications, as well as increased data reuse owing to predictable syntax and layout. We also hope this work will ease creation of linked data graphs from table of results due to clarified semantics.
An additional goal is to create code that is compatible with R’s ggplot2 library, which would allow for easy generation of data analysis plots. To this end, we plan on working with R developers in the future to create a package that will generate Frictionless Data compliant data packages.
This work has recently begun, and will continue throughout the year. We have already met with some challenges, such as working on ways to transform, or normalize, data and ways to incorporate RDF linked data (you can read our related conversations in GitHub). We are also working on how to define a ‘generic’ table layout definition, which is broad enough to be reused in as wide a range of situation as possible.
Covid-19 has impacted operations for 78% of businesses, with 62% experiencing a fall in employee productivity. Learn how businesses are working to distribute information to their virtual digital workforces and customers seeking information online.
Are you a book lover looking to contribute to a warm, inclusive library community? We’d love to work with you: Learn more about Volunteering @ Open Library
Behind the scenes of Open Library is a whole team of developers, data scientists, outreach experts, and librarians working together to make Open Library better and easier for patrons to use. Today, we’d like to introduce to you and celebrate some of the librarians on the team who work to keep data organized, accurate, and easy to find. Here are their stories, how they discovered Open Library, and what motivates them to help make it better every day.
Since 2017, GLBW has applied their specialized knowledge of works related to new social movements by adding and enhancing information about associated works and authors. GLBW also edits on Wikidata and Inventaire.io and adds books to archive.org. GLBW is the user name of the Gustav-Landauer-Bibliothek Witten in Witten, Germany. Thank you GLBW!
Daniel Capilla lives in Málaga, Spain and has been contributing to Open Library since 2013. Daniel’s interest in contributing to Open Library was sparked by his joy of reading and all things library-and-book-related as well as the satisfaction he gets from contributing to open source projects and knowing that everyone will be able to freely enjoy his contributions in the future. Daniel states:
“I began contributing to the Open Library in a very modest way. When I would borrow a book from my local library or when I finished reading a book, I would always check the Open Library to see if there was a record for that book. If there was, I would complete it as best I could, adding a description, the cover, and so on. And if there wasn’t, I would create a new record for it. Later, I became interested in creating book lists. I have always liked the thematic reading lists that libraries make for their readers and I began to create my own lists in Open Library.
I have only recently begun to be interested in improving the Open Library metadata in a more systematic way, completing author records, correcting the list of their works, or improving the records of books available for loan in the Internet Archive. I have also made a first modest contribution to the Open Library code by adding a first Spanish translation of the website. It is not yet complete and is something I would like to continue collaborating on. The issue of the internationalization of the Open Library seems to me to be a fundamental issue for the project to have more acceptance, especially in non-English speaking countries. This is an issue on which there is still much to be done.”
Guy joined Open Library as a volunteer in 2019 to help with project management, data engineering, and bot development. He is an engineer, book-lover, and a global citizen that believes open knowledge and open data contributes to the greater common good. Guy likes his data like he likes his teeth: squeaky clean. His recent projects include adding covers to more than 700k editions, as well as making thousands of editions searchable by fixing and normalizing their ISBNs. By the end of 2020, Guy wants to make it easier for new contributors to enrich and sanitize Open Library’s data using bots. Interested in helping? View this open issue on Github.
Blair recently became an Open Librarian and has done tremendous work to enhance and consolidate various juvenile and young adult series. Most recently she consolidated and added information to all the volumes in the popular Rainbow Magic book series.
Nick Norman is a content strategist and librarian for Open Library. By helping to develop a Cultural Resource page on Open Library, Nick aims to “make it easier for readers and learners to discover new things about people and the world around them” and “reveal how equally amazing culture is–from every part of the world.” Follow Nick on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/imnick/
As a lover of short stories and collector of the series Best American Short Stories (BASS), Kathy Ahlering was interested in finding a way to catalog her library and had been trying out various apps and websites designed for the purpose. As she became more knowledgeable about the history of the BASS series, its origins, the editors involved, etc., she became frustrated that no single site had fully accurate data. Volumes were treated as editions of a single work which made it difficult to accurately catalog each volume’s unique contents and bibliographic data. Describing what led her here, she states:
“I began to “friendly edit” data on sites that allowed it, but quickly realized that it would be smarter to clean up the info at the top of the “food chain”… OpenLibrary.
My first “edit”, actually, was the act of clicking on “Please Note: Only Admins can delete things. Let us know if there’s a problem.” and letting ‘someone’ know that a bunch of BASS editions were coming up under the wrong work.
“I assumed my message would go directly and without delay, to the -by now bursting at the seams- blackhole of “let us know!” messages, never to be heard from again. I was also certain, having been well trained by the hundreds of site admin I’ve had the folly idea of sending a ‘let us know!’ message to in the past, that absolutely zero effort would be made to rectify the incorrect data.
Imagine my squeals of delight when I received a personal and lengthy email reply just two days later! The email addressed every issue I’d raised in my ‘let us know!’ message and welcomed my efforts to help. The rest, as they say, is his-tore-eee!”
Drini joined and made his first edit on Open Library on July 22, 2011 (almost 9 years ago today!). He loves reading, and loves data, so Open Library was a good match. In 2017, while finishing his undergrad in Computer Science, he began to contribute code to the project for combining duplicate works and for linking editions to Wikidata. In 2019, he was able to join the staff of Open Library’s development team full-time. Between balancing interests in design, information science, and human computer interaction, Drini’s most recent contribution to librarianship has been the work-merge tool used by librarians to combine duplicate works together. He is currently working on creating a new interaction experience for browsing (as opposed to searching) the books of Open Library, and on modernizing Open Library’s search infrastructure. He looks forward to continuing to build tools to help make librarians more productive and to help push the frontier of what a digital catalogue and library can be.
Charles Horn is passionate about early printed classical Greek works, Greek typography, and classical languages and literature. Charles began volunteering on Open Library around 2015, by writing bots to catch & clean-up spam edits and clean millions book and author catalog entries record. In 2017, he joined the Internet Archive as a member of staff and made fundamental improvements to Open Library’s MARC & json book import system. On top of this revitalized import infrastructure, Charles has imported tens of thousands of modern books catalog records, added hundreds of thousands of partner records into Open Library’s catalog, fixed millions of orphaned edition records, and has helped Open Library use Wikidata and VIAF data to merge almost 100k author records.
Lisa Seaberg has been an active contributor to Open Library since 2017 and Lead Community Librarian since 2019.
Lisa’s life-long obsession with books and book metadata is what initially attracted her to Open Library. Similar to Daniel, she initially started by making small contributions by making lists and adding book information. Soon after, she discovered the repository on GitHub and started reporting errors, suggesting features, and contributing to discussions about the site. As Lead Community Librarian, Lisa helps site users with questions about editing and best practices and provides guidance to new librarians learning how to use the tools. Additionally, Lisa tries to help make it easier for patrons to find what they are looking for by consolidating duplicate works and authors, fixing conflated records, and making sure information is complete. Besides reading, Lisa’s other interests include FRBR, board games, and pub trivia. She currently lives in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Working on an innovative project using search and AI? You now have until August 7th to submit your talk and get the opportunity to share with more than 1,000 tech and business leaders at Activate 2020.
It was about 4 in the afternoon on Wednesday on the East Coast when chaos struck online. Dozens of the biggest names in America — including Joseph R. Biden Jr., Barack Obama, Kanye West, Bill Gates and Elon Musk — posted similar messages on Twitter: Send Bitcoin and the famous people would send back double your money.
Mr. O'Connor said other hackers had informed him that Kirk got access to the Twitter credentials when he found a way into Twitter’s internal Slack messaging channel and saw them posted there, along with a service that gave him access to the company’s servers. People investigating the case said that was consistent with what they had learned so far. A Twitter spokesman declined to comment, citing the active investigation.
Below the fold, some commentary on this and other stories of the fiasco. First, this isn't the first illustration that Twitter's security is based on the long outdated idea that anyone inside the firewall is trusted:
In 2013, an attacker took over the Associated Press Twitter account and posted that the White House had been bombed and Barack Obama injured and Wall Street flash-crashed.
Seriously, WTF Twitter? Despite these warnings, it appears credentials giving almost unrestricted access to Twitter's systems were posted on their Slack system! This is the enterprise version of the user's password on a PostIt stuck to their monitor.
Any company that took security seriously would have implemented token-based two-factor authentication for access to all internal systems, as for example Google has done since 2017:
Google has not had any of its 85,000+ employees successfully phished on their work-related accounts since early 2017, when it began requiring all employees to use physical Security Keys in place of passwords and one-time codes, the company told KrebsOnSecurity. ... A Google spokesperson said Security Keys now form the basis of all account access at Google.
“We have had no reported or confirmed account takeovers since implementing security keys at Google,” the spokesperson said. “Users might be asked to authenticate using their security key for many different apps/reasons. It all depends on the sensitivity of the app and the risk of the user at that point in time.” ... prior to 2017 Google employees also relied on one-time codes generated by a mobile app — Google Authenticator.
So even long before 2017 no-one could have gained access to Google's systems by phishing an employee. Twitter's board should fire Jack Dorsey for the fact that, after at least seven years of insider attacks, their systems were still vulnerable.
The hacker used that access to send tweets from a variety of popular and trusted accounts, including those of Joe Biden, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk, as part of a mundane scam—stealing bitcoin—but it’s easy to envision more nefarious scenarios. Imagine a government using this sort of attack against another government, coordinating a series of fake tweets from hundreds of politicians and other public figures the day before a major election, to affect the outcome. Or to escalate an international dispute. Done well, it would be devastating.
Whether the hackers had access to Twitter direct messages is not known. These DMs are not end-to-end encrypted, meaning that they are unencrypted inside Twitter’s network and could have been available to the hackers. Those messages—between world leaders, industry CEOs, reporters and their sources, heath [sic] organizations—are much more valuable than bitcoin. (If I were a national-intelligence agency, I might even use a bitcoin scam to mask my real intelligence-gathering purpose.) Back in 2018, Twitter said it was exploring encrypting those messages, but it hasn’t yet.
Internet communications platforms—such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube—are crucial in today’s society. They’re how we communicate with one another. They’re how our elected leaders communicate with us. They are essential infrastructure. Yet they are run by for-profit companies with little government oversight. This is simply no longer sustainable. Twitter and companies like it are essential to our national dialogue, to our economy, and to our democracy. We need to start treating them that way, and that means both requiring them to do a better job on security and breaking them up. ... There are many security technologies companies like Twitter can implement to better protect themselves and their users; that’s not the issue. The problem is economic, and fixing it requires doing two things. One is regulating these companies, and requiring them to spend more money on security. The second is reducing their monopoly power.
The security regulations for banks are complex and detailed. If a low-level banking employee were caught messing around with people’s accounts, or if she mistakenly gave her log-in credentials to someone else, the bank would be severely fined. Depending on the details of the incident, senior banking executives could be held personally liable. The threat of these actions helps keep our money safe. Yes, it costs banks money; sometimes it severely cuts into their profits. But the banks have no choice.
The opposite is true for these tech giants. They get to decide what level of security you have on your accounts, and you have no say in the matter. If you are offered security and privacy options, it’s because they decided you can have them. There is no regulation. There is no accountability. There isn’t even any transparency. Do you know how secure your data is on Facebook, or in Apple’s iCloud, or anywhere? You don’t. No one except those companies do. Yet they’re crucial to the country’s national security. And they’re the rare consumer product or service allowed to operate without significant government oversight.
In addition to security measures, the other solution is to break up the tech monopolies. Companies like Facebook and Twitter have so much power because they are so large, and they face no real competition. This is a national-security risk as well as a personal-security risk. Were there 100 different Twitter-like companies, and enough compatibility so that all their feeds could merge into one interface, this attack wouldn’t have been such a big deal. More important, the risk of a similar but more politically targeted attack wouldn’t be so great. If there were competition, different platforms would offer different security options, as well as different posting rules, different authentication guidelines—different everything. Competition is how our economy works; it’s how we spur innovation. Monopolies have more power to do what they want in the quest for profits, even if it harms people along the way.
Schneier is right that these companies need to be both regulated and broken up. Alas, regulation and anti-trust are both moribund in the current administration. Given the immense lobbying power of the Internet platforms, neither is likely to be revived in the foreseeable future.
All scams are old scams. The words “double your money” are perfectly designed to catch the eye of the gullible. These days, money moves at the speed of light. So the scams work as a widely spammed numbers game: If you come up with something that looks like an obvious scam, only the gullible respond.
Bitcoin was designed to be unstoppable electronic money, with no central controller. Nobody can stop you sending your bitcoins anywhere you want to, and transactions are irreversible by design—a feature that was argued to be one of Bitcoin’s advantages.
Bitcoin doublers have been around since bitcoins could first be exchanged for real money—and earlier versions of the doubling scam ran in online games, such as “ISK doublers” in Eve Online or “coin doublers” in RuneScape. Send in a small amount of bitcoins, and you’ll get double the coins back! Send a larger amount straight after, and you won’t.
No reason is given for why anyone would just double your money. You’d think people would catch on, but, years later, this scam keeps popping up and finding suckers.
After the scam runs for the first time, there’s often a second layer: The doubler never sends back coins. But the doubling site is publicized with a “warning” about the scam. Others think: “If I only send coins once, the site will never see me as a repeat user!” They send in a small amount of coins—and never get anything back, even once. Like all the best scams, it’s a scam that relies on the sucker thinking they’re the scammer.
The social media platform has let coin doubling scams for Ethereum, another prominent cryptocurrency, run rampant for the past few years. Tweet with an avatar and a display name imitating some famous person, saying you’ll double people’s ether. Add some replies thanking the famous person for the money. These could pull in up to $5,000 a day in ether. Ethereum’s creator, Vitalik Buterin, eventually added “Not giving away ETH” to his Twitter display name for a time.
Elon Musk has long been another favorite target—to the point where Twitter would stop users from changing their display name to “Elon Musk.” One 2018 Musk scam pulled in $180,000 in bitcoins.
Overall, this is a depressing situation. There is the potential for a truly catastrophic Twitter hack. Twitter has demonstrated that they don't care enough about security to implement basic precautions. There's no incentive for them to change this attitude, because neither regulation nor anti-trust willbe applied to them. All we can do is to wait for the explosion that is bound to come.
Nominations are now open for the NDSA 2020 Innovation Awards! The NDSA established the Awards in 2012 to encourage innovation in the field of digital preservation by highlighting and commending creative individuals, projects, organizations, educators, and future stewards demonstrating originality and excellence in their contributions to the field. The 38 past winners are a veritable who’s-who of impactful leaders advancing digital stewardship theory and practice.
Please help acknowledge and celebrate a new cohort of innovation by submitting worthy nominees via this form by Friday, September 4, 2020. Nominees do not have to be NDSA member institutions or individuals or project staff affiliated with members. Similarly, nominators do not need NDSA affiliation. Self-nominations are accepted and we encourage submission of nominees from historically underrepresented communities and their allies.
The Awards will be presented during the upcoming NDSA Digital Preservation conference, to be held online in November.
University libraries find it increasingly necessary to collaborate with non-library campus stakeholder. This is particularly true for developing research support services such as data management, RIM systems, and campus-wide ORCID adoption.
But this type of collaboration isn’t easy. For instance, a librarian leading the implementation of a campus-wide RIM system half-jokingly referred to this effort as “herding flaming cats,” to express the significant challenges of trying to coordinate highly independent individuals with different goals and interests, spread across a large, decentralized organization. In my previous career as assistant dean of graduate studies at a US research university, I also had both successes and failures in developing relationships with other campus units and leading enterprise-wide projects.
Why is intra-campus collaboration sometimes so hard?!
A lot of this has to do with the very nature of the university system. I’ve found extremely useful the description of universities as “complex adaptive systems” by systems engineering expert and former university leader William B. Rouse. Similar in complexity to urban systems, he describes universities as sharing these six main characteristics of complex adaptive systems:
Nonlinear, dynamic behavior. The behaviors in the university can appear random and chaotic. Individuals in the system may ignore stimuli, remaining oblivious to activities outside of their immediate purview, reacting infrequently, inconsistently, and perhaps overzealously when they do take notice.
Independent agents. Individuals, and especially faculty, have a lot of freedom to be self-directed: in research, teaching and course development, and behaviors. Their behaviors are not dictated by the university, and in fact, the independent agents may feel free to openly resist institutional initiatives.
Goals and behaviors that differ or conflict. The interests and needs of the independent agents acting within the university are highly heterogeneous, leading to internal conflicts, professional discourtesy, and sometimes outright competition.
Intelligent and learning agents. Not only are people independent agents, they’re also smart independent agents, who can learn how the complex university works and adapt their behaviors to achieve their personal goals. With such heterogeneous goals across the enterprise, individuals can end up working at odds with each other.
Self-organization. While universities have established hierarchies (like colleges, schools, and departments), there can also be self-organized interest groups that arise to meet evolving needs. This can also lead to duplication of effort and services, as a group working to address a problem may be unaware of similar efforts and act independently instead.
No single point(s) of control. Universities are characterized by a significant degree of decentralization where units, as well as individuals, operate in a federated manner with a high degree of autonomy. As a result, universities are not sites where mandates usually work—they aren’t characterized by a command and control system. Instead, they work through incentives and inhibitions.
Rouse’s model informs a forthcoming OCLC Research report entitled Social Interoperability in Research Support: Cross-campus partnerships and the university research enterprise. Based upon interviews with 22 individuals from 17 research-intensive universities in the United States, this report examines the growing imperative for cross-campus, cross-domain institutional collaboration in the provision of successful research support services. It offers a conceptual model for campus research support stakeholders, including context about their priorities and contributions, and synthesizes lessons and best practices from our informants on how to optimize social interoperability in research support.
Our report offers an explanation about why this is so hard and also offers advice for making campus collaboration easier and more successful. In a way, it provides the context and knowledge I wish I’d had during my own university career. Watch for the report in mid August.
Bryant, Rebecca, Annette Dortmund and Brian Lavoie. 2020. Social Interoperability in Research Support: Cross-campus partnerships and the university research enterprise. Dublin, OH: OCLC Research, forthcoming.
Rouse, William B. 2016. Universities as Complex Enterprises: How Academia Works, Why It Works These Ways, and Where the University Enterprise Is Headed. New York: Routledge, 5-9.
The Program Committee for Samvera Connect 2020 On-line is pleased to announce its Call for Proposals (CfP) of workshops, presentations and lightning talks. As in the past, our goal is to serve the needs of attendees from an ever-widening range of experience and background (potential adopters, new adopters, expert Samverans; developers, managers, sysops, metadata librarians, etc.).
The impact of COVID-19 means this year’s conference events will be held online. However, we are committed to providing a rich and varied program although the time available for presentations and lightning talks will be concentrated As part of the overall program, we are working on the details of a novel approach to a poster session (CfP and details in due course) and we intend to again run our successful mentoring program and to arrange some social events; we will shortly be seeking volunteers to help with these last two items. A companion developer congress is being planned to take place shortly after Connect.
Please submit proposals for workshops to be held on Thursday 22nd October via Zoom (or similar) using the form you will find here. You can propose a workshop that you will run or that you would like to see run by others. The workshop CfP closes on Sunday 16th August.
Please submit proposals for presentations (20 minutes + 5 minutes questions) or lightning talks (seven minutes) to be given on Monday 26th – Wednesday 28th October via Zoom Webinar using the form you will find here. The CfP for presentations closes on Sunday 30th August and for lightning talks on Sunday 4th October.
I have spent the last four and a half months feeling like everything is slipping from my grasp – personally, professionally, and in between. The torpor of life under a pandemic and a world wracked with pain has led me to feel like I am stuck in slowly-drying glue. Planning too far ahead seems nearly pointless. And yet, every day, we are asked to undertake haruspicy, to speculate about how our organizations and ourselves should respond to the remaining uncertainty, ideally with precision. The world keeps turning and we are asked to keep up, while taking care of family members, grieving our losses, or dealing with other challenges amplified by the present circumstances.
At the same time, I feel myself slowing down, or at least to continue trying to slow down. I have not read anything more substantial than an article since February, despite getting a stack of books out of the library in preparation for more time at home. The cognitive load of mailing packages can sometimes be too much.
We can’t believe it’s been almost 9 months since Version 2 of the Levels of Preservation was released at DigiPres 2019! As we continue to move forward with other resources that build on the revised Levels, we wanted to hear from you about how the revisions and associated documents like the Implementation Guidelines and Assessment Tool have worked for you over these past 9 months.
If you have used the revised Levels or associated materials, we would love to know how you used them and how they were useful to you and your organization! Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out this form. Responses are requested by July 31, 2020.