Planet Code4Lib

Towards a Fedora Migration Path / DuraSpace News

In 2018, DuraSpace was awarded a planning grant (LG-72-18-0204) by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to investigate the barriers to upgrading libraries and archives running unsupported versions of Fedora because reliance on the older versions of Fedora puts the stability, security and functionality of the content and services of these repositories at risk. The grant team conducted background research, including an environmental scan, a collection of institutional profiles, and assessments of relevant technologies, before drafting and distributing a survey to the international community. The survey closed with 111 responses, which have been analyzed and summarized in the full report. A select group of survey respondents were also invited to participate in a focus group to discuss some of their responses in more detail.

Grant work has been completed. The full Designing A Migration Path report can be read here

Fedora 3 is no longer a supported version. Finding migration path solutions to supported Fedora versions are critical for users who need to ensure that resources, collections and data in their repositories are accurate, protected and accessible. Fedora 6 will focus on Fedora’s digital preservation roots by aligning with the Oxford Common File Layout (OCFL). The OFCL is an application-independent approach to the storage of digital objects in a structured, transparent, and predictable manner. Fedora 6 will replace the current ModeShape backend with a more scalable and performant implementation that persists data in accordance with the OCFL specification, which will also create an easier migration path from Fedora 3 by allowing repository data to be converted in-place to work with Fedora 6.

Approaching the decision to move forward with a major upgrade (not minor version upgrades) requires agreeing that institutional strategic goals will be better served by advances offered by the upgrade which can trigger an institutional decision point around assessing impact. Focus group discussions surfaced observations around the decision to upgrade software used in a day-to-day library workflow and weighing the advantages of new features against lost staff time, production, and resources required to complete the upgrade. Therefore, the report recommendations focus on increasing the value of supported versions of Fedora while also reducing the effort required to upgrade.

Fedora users are interested in access to templates, tools, and community best practices as they plan migrations. Developing a migration path “recipe” that might include strategic assessment guidelines, staffing requirements, time estimates, data modeling tools, common issues and solutions is a potential next step towards designing a Fedora migration path.

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Research Participation Invitation: Accessibility in Institutional Repositories Study / DuraSpace News

From Kristi Park, Texas Digital Library. This  is an approved request for participation in research that has been approved by the Texas State University Institutional Review Board (IRB).

You are invited to participate in a research study on accessibility practices in institutional repositories (IRs) at academic libraries. This survey is designed to be answered by IR managing staff, but some questions may require consultation with other library staff.

Participation in this study is voluntary and should take no more than 10-15 minutes.

All responses are anonymous and no personally identifying information will be collected. There are no direct benefits, but your participation will benefit the wider IR community in better understanding current practices which will inform future discussions about the complexity of these issues. The questions in this survey focus on accessibility concerns related to materials available through the repository and not the software application or platform itself. 

We hope to capture responses from as many IR managers as possible and encourage you to share or forward this survey to any colleagues that may be interested. The survey is available through the link below:

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Laura Waugh (

Thank you in advance for your time and participation. 

Research Team: 

  • William Hicks, University of North Texas
  • Nerissa Lindsey, San Diego State University
  • Colleen Lyon, University of Texas at Austin
  • Kristi Park, Texas Digital Library
  • Abigail Shelton, University of Notre Dame
  • Laura Waugh, Texas State University

This project [IRB Number 6668] was approved by the Texas State IRB on 2019-08-16. Pertinent questions or concerns about the research, research participants’ rights, and/or research-related inquiries to participants should be directed to the IRB Chair, Dr. Denise Gobert 512-716-2652 – ( or to Monica Gonzales, IRB Regulatory Manager 512-245-2334 – (

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U.S. National Archives Releases Digital Preservation Framework / DuraSpace News

From Leslie Johnston, Director of Digital Preservation, U.S. National Archives (NARA)

The U.S. National Archives (NARA) is pleased to announce that it has released its digital Preservation Framework on Github for public comment:

The framework comprises an instrument for assessing file format risk, the results of NARA’s assessment of over 350 file format variants, and draft preservation plans for those formats.
We are inviting comments and discussion on the plans using the Github Issues feature:
What revisions can you suggest to the proposed processing and preservation actions for the formats?
Are the Essential Characteristics for each record type comprehensive enough for digital preservation?
Are the proposed preservation actions for the formats technically appropriate?
Are there appropriate tools for processing and preservation of specific formats that we do not have listed?
Are there other high priority formats that we need plans for?
What can you suggest in terms of appropriate public access versions of the formats?
These draft plans will be open for public comment until November 1, 2019. We will take all comments and incorporate them into new versions which will also be released. This will be an ongoing initiative to assess risk and to update and create new plans over time.

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Guest Post: Do Elected and Appointed Judges Write Opinions Differently? / Harvard Library Innovation Lab

Unlike anywhere else in the world, most judges in the United States today are elected. But it hasn’t always been this way. Over the past two centuries, the American states have taken a variety of different paths, alternating through a variety of elective and appointive methods. Opponents of judicial elections charge that these institutions detract from judicial independence, harm the legitimacy of the judiciary, and put unqualified jurists on the bench; those who support judicial elections counter that, by publicly involving the American people in the process of judicial selection, judicial elections can enhance judicial legitimacy. To say this has been an intense debate of academic, political, and popular interest is an understatement.

Surprisingly little attention has been paid by scholars and policymakers to how these institutions affect legal development. Using the enormous dataset of state supreme court opinions CAP provides, we examined one small piece of this puzzle: whether opinions written by elected judges tend to be more well-grounded in law than those written by judges who will not stand for election. This is an important topic. Given the important role that the norm of stare decisis plays in the American legal system, opinions that cite many existing precedents are likely to be perceived as persuasive due to their extensive legal reasoning. More persuasive precedents, in turn, are more likely to be cited and increase a court’s policymaking influence among its sister courts.

State Courts’ Use of Citations Over American History

The CAP dataset provides a particularly rich opportunity to examine state courts’ usage of citations because we can see how citation practices vary as the United States slowly builds its own independent body of caselaw.

We study the 52 existing state courts of last resort, as well as their parent courts. For example, our dataset includes cases from the Tennessee Supreme Court as well as the Tennessee Supreme Court of Errors and Appeals, a court that was previously Tennessee’s court of last resort. We exclude the decisions of the colonial and territorial courts, as well as decisions from early courts that were populated by legislators, rather than judges.

The resulting dataset contains 1,702,404 cases from 77 courts of last resort. The three states with the greatest number of cases in the dataset are Louisiana (86,031), Pennsylvania (70,804), and Georgia (64,534). Generally, courts in highly populous states, such as Florida and Texas, tend to carry a higher caseload than those who govern less populous states, such as North and South Dakota.

To examine citation practices in state supreme courts, we first needed to extract citations from each state supreme court opinion. For this purpose, we utilize the LexNLP Python package released by LexPredict, a data-driven consulting and technology firm. In addition to parsing the citation (i.e. 1 Ill. 19), we also extract the report the opinion is published in and the court of the case cited (i.e. Illinois Supreme Court). Most state supreme court cases— about 68.7% of majority opinions greater than 100 words—cite another case. About one-third of cases cite between 1 and 5 other cases while about 5% of cases cite 25 or more other cases. The number of citations in an opinion trends upward with time, as Figure 1 shows.

Figure 1

Figure 1: The average number of citations in a state supreme court opinion since the American founding.

The number of citations in a case varies by state, as well. Some state courts tend to write opinions with a greater number of citations than other state courts. Figure 2 presents the proportion of opinions (with at least 100 words) in each state with at least three citations since 1950. States like Florida, New York, Louisiana, Oregon, and Michigan produce the greatest proportion of opinions with less than three citations. It may not be coincidence that Louisiana and New York are two of the highest caseload state courts in the country; judges with many cases on their dockets may be forced to publish opinions more quickly with less research and legal writing allocated to citing precedent. Conversely, cases with low caseloads like Montana and Wyoming produce the greatest proportion of cases with at least three citations. When judges have more time to craft an opinion, they produce opinions that are more well-grounded in existing precedent.

Figure 2

Figure 2: The proportion of state supreme court opinions citing at least three cases by state since 1950 (the two Texas and Oklahoma high courts are aggregated).

Explaining Differences in State Supreme Court Citation

We expected that the number of citations included in a state supreme court method would vary based on the method through which a state supreme court’s justices are retained. We use linear regression to model the median number of citations in a state-year as a function of selection method, caseload, partisan control of the state legislature, and general state expenditures. We restrict the time period for this analysis to the 1942-2010 period.

Figure 2-1

Figure 2: Linear Regression results of the effects of judicial retention method on the average number of citations in a state supreme court opinion, including state and year fixed effects.

The results are shown in Figure 2. Compared to judges who face nonpartisan elections, judges who are appointed, face retention elections, and face partisan elections include more citations in their opinions. In appointed systems, the median opinion contains about 3 more citations (about three-fifths of a standard deviation shift) than in nonpartisan election systems. In retention election systems, the median opinion contains almost 5 more citations (about a full standard deviation shift in citations) than in nonpartisan election systems. Even in partisan election systems, the median opinion contains a little less than 3 more citations.

Some Conclusions

These differences represent the potential for drastic consequences for implementation and broader legal development based on the type of judicial selection method in a state. Because opinions with more citations tend, in turn, to be more likely to be cited in the future, the relationship we have uncovered between selection method and opinion quality suggests that judicial selection and retention methods have important downstream consequences for the relative influence of state supreme courts in American legal development. These consequences are important for policymakers to consider as they consider altering the methods by which their judges reach the bench.

ARKs (Archive Resource Keys) Interest Survey, 10 minutes / DuraSpace News

From John Kunze, ARKs-in-the-Open Project, California Digital Library

This is an invitation to take a survey to assist the ARKs-in-the-Open (AITO) project that started at the end of 2018. Since that time we’ve made significant progress, having launched three working groups, a comprehensive ARK FAQ, and a revised ARK specification. We invite you to help us by providing feedback via the brief survey at the link below.

The survey is about a dozen questions long and should take about 10 minutes to complete. The purpose is to help us evaluate ARK community interests, which will be used to guide the formation and direction of our organization. We are asking for your opinions and best estimates to answer the questions (you do not need to provide the exact number of people in your organization, for instance). Those who are not yet assigning ARKs but are interested in doing so in the future are encouraged to participate, as well as those who are current ARK practitioners.

We promise to keep your responses private, but we ask you to include contact information so that we can follow up with any questions you or we might have regarding the survey results or your thoughts about the project in general.

After collecting demographic information, the survey asks you to rank (from 1=most important to 6=least important) a number of possible directions/activities for AITO. We are not interested in their theoretical importance, but in what would make the most difference to you and/or your organization.

A follow-up question then asks you which of these efforts your organization would consider supporting by a donation of either time or funds. We ask if you are speaking for yourself or for your organization; if speaking only for yourself, we encourage you to also forward this invitation to someone who can speak for your organization. In all cases, the questions are not asking for commitments at this time.

We thank you for your participation and look forward to hearing what you have to say. Here is the

                     link to the ARKs-in-the-Open survey

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Together We Build DSpace 7 / DuraSpace News

Meet Raf and Lotte, two Atmire DSpace 7 contributors.

Looking back over the past 3 years, it has become hard to identify an Atmire team member who has not yet, directly or indirectly, contributed to DSpace 7. From watercooler and lunch talks, to the diagrams on our whiteboards and the lines of code on the workstations all around the office, there has not been a single endeavour so persistently on top of our minds for so long.

Atmire leaders Lieven Droogmans, Ben Bosman and Art Lowel prepare and contribute to weekly DSpace 7 workgroup and entities meetings and strategic discussions. Make no mistake that they are only a fraction of the group of people putting blood, sweat and tears into the new codebase on a day to day basis. Meet two of them: Lotte and Raf.

With 300 contributions in the last year, and over 62.000 lines of code added to the dspace-angular git repository, Lotte Hofstede stands among the top contributors. So many of the Angular features and improvements have passed by her fingertips that it is probably easier listing the few ones that she hasn’t been involved in.

“I love being able to work with new technologies and help elevate DSpace’s user experience to a higher level.” –Lotte Hofstede

Over in the main DSpace git repository , where the REST API contributions are being made, Raf Ponsaerts has been working his way up, into the leagues where he’s only preceded by contributors who joined the ranks of the DSpace Committers.

“Joining forces with many different developers can prove to be challenging at times, but it makes DSpace 7’s quality unprecedented.” –Raf Ponsaerts

All together, the Atmire team has contributed over 500 days or 4000 hours of effort at this point. Of course, numbers never cover the entire story. Every contribution, small or large, that gets us closer to DSpace 7.0, is immensely welcome and appreciated.

The effort of evaluating JSP and XMLUI feature implementations, taking the best of both worlds and then adding more, should not be underestimated. The progress is consistent, the methods are solid and transparent. Fueled by the enthusiasm of people like Lotte, Raf and countless other contributors, we will get there: a new place of user delight, excellence and innovation where DSpace has not yet been before.

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Enhance your DSpace Installation with Free Plugins from The Library Code / DuraSpace News

The Library Code GmbH freely offers three plugins for DSpace 5 and 6 (JSPUI), adding practical new features to the released versions of DSpace. This article aims to introduce and inform the Community on these new additions. All three plugins have been released as Open
Source and are available to download for free – links to the respective downloads can be found in the description of each plugin below.

Persistent Identifiers During Submission

When submitting a new Item to DSpace, a Persistent Identifier is created once the Item enters the repository. In the standard version, the upload of metadata and documents has to be completed at this point. This has been an issue for those users who wish to include a
citation form or the like into their publication that already carries the respective DOI.

Thus, The Library Code GmbH with the support of Technische Universität Hamburg developed a plugin for DSpace 5 JSPUI that displays the persistent identifier already during the submission of a new Item. This function makes it possible for users to copy the DOI and
paste the handle into their publication before uploading it to DSpace.

DSpace 6 support will follow soon. The plugin, as well as its source code, is now freely accessible here.

Duplicate Detection Service 

This add-on was built to support submitters and admins in spotting duplicate and similar content. When using this plugin, the submitter will be asked to enter the title of the new Item previous to entering any other metadata. The plugin will then search for Items with an
equal or similar title that are already stored within the repository and display them as a list. The plugin uses a Fuzzy algorithm for this search to detect titles that are similar but not completely alike. This avoids problems resulting from typos or other minor differences. Now,
the submitter can subsequently decide whether they want to continue their submission or not, depending on whether the list shows that the same Item already exists within the repository. When the submission is later reviewed by an administrator, the list of possible duplicates will be displayed again.

The Duplication Detection Service plugin was developed by the Library Code GmbH with the
support of Zurich University of Applied Sciences and currently supports DSpace’s JSPUI in
version 6.
The plugin, as well as its source code, is now freely accessible here.

PDF Preview Button

To view a PDF document within the standard version of DSpace, the user’s only option is to click on a “View/Open” button, which will download the entire document. Using the addon, DSpace’s user interface will show both a “Download” and a “Preview” button instead of the
“View/Open” button. If the user decides to click on “Preview”, it will display the PDF directly in the user’s browser. Thus, the user can access and browse through the entire file before deciding whether to download it. The preview function does not require a PDF reader or any
browser plugin. An example of how this feature works can be found at

The Library Code developed this plugin with support of Leibniz Institute for Psychology Information (ZPID) for the repository  Psycharchives . It currently supports DSpace’s JSPUI in version 6.

The plugin, as well as its source code, is now freely accessible here.

Enhancing DSpace with further features

If you’d like to enhance your DSpace installation with further functions and need a partner to develop those, feel free to contact our team at The Library Code GmbH.

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4Science News: From North American DSUG to ORCID to COAR to OpenAIRE–4Science Community Engagement / DuraSpace News

4Science looks forward to participating in the 2019 DSpace North American User Group Meeting. Join us on September 23 & 24, 2019 at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. There is an exciting program starting with DSpace 7 on the first day. We will provide the opportunity to learn about how to enhance your DSpace repository with special features for research information and data management, and for cultural heritage, using DSpace extensions such as DSpace-CRIS and DSpace-GLAM. Information and registration here: invite you to join the next event in the ORCID “Better Together” series on 19 September for an overview of the numerous integration points and options for ORCID within Dspace-CRIS, and the benefits for researchers and institutions. Information and registration here:

On 22-23 October Lyrasis (incorporating DuraSpace), COAR, and 4Science will hold a workshop on “New Generation Repositories and Bridging Communities” at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. This is a good chance for the African DSpace community to get together and learn about DSpace 7, DSpace-CRIS, and COAR NGR recommendations. Stay tuned for information and registration here:

4Science was awarded for the implementation of the OpenAIRE-CRIS-CERIF Guidelines in DSpace-CRIS ( At the moment three pilots are running: the Technical University Hamburg in Germany, the University of Trieste in Italy, and the University of Technology in Cyprus. The three institutions are working together with 4Science to test the implementation with the aim of releasing it for the whole community.

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Frictionless Data at the EPFL Open Science in Practice Summer School / Open Knowledge Foundation

In early September our Frictionless Data for Reproducible Research product manager, Lilly Winfree, presented a workshop at the Open Science in Practice Summer School at EPFL University in Lausanne, Switzerland. 

Lilly’s workshop focused on teaching early career researchers about using Frictionless software and specs to make their research data more interoperable, shareable, and open. The audience learned about metadata, data schemas, creating data packages, and validating their data with Goodtables. The slides for her workshop are available here, and are licensed as CC-BY-4.0.

The Summer School was organized by Luc Henry, Scientific Advisor at EPFL, and was a week-long series of talks and workshops on open science best practices for research students and early career researchers.

A highlight of the workshop for Lilly was having the opportunity to work with Oleg Lavrovsky in person. Oleg is on the board of the Swizz chapter of OKF,, and created the Frictionless Data Julia libraries as a Tool Fund grantee two years ago.

Oleg wrote a recap of the workshop, which we are republishing below. The original can be read here. Thanks for your help, Oleg, and for Luc for organizing!

“Open” is the new black. Everybody talks about open science. But what does it mean exactly?

Lilly Winfree of the Frictionless Data for Reproducible Research project at OKF ran a workshop at Open Science in Practice, a week long training organized by the EPFL with Eurotech Universities.

It was a top grade workshop delivered to a diverse room of doctoral students, early career researchers, “and beyond” in Lausanne. I had the opportunity to assist her, and learn from her professional delivery, get up to speed with key points about Open Knowledge Foundation, the latest news from the small, diligent people working to make open data more accessible and useful. With a fascinating science background, she connected well with the audience and made a strong case for well published open research data.

The workshop reignited my desire to continue publishing Data Packages, contribute to the project, develop better support in various software environments, and be present in community channels. In our conversation afterwards, we talked about the remote work culture and global reach of the team, expectations management, and the challenges ahead.

Thanks very much to @heluc and the rest of the #OSIP2019 team for organizing a great event, to all who participated in the workshop for patiently and interestedly hacking their first Data Packages together, and kudos to Lilly for crossing distances to bridge gaps and support Open Science in Switzerland.

Next events

There are two upcoming events that Oleg is involved with that might be of interest to the Frictionless Data and OKF communities: the DINAcon Digital Sustainability Conference, on October 18 in Bern, and the Tourism Hackathon on November 29 in Lucerne.

Creating and Deploying USB Port Covers at Hudson County Community College / Information Technology and Libraries

In 2016, Hudson County (NJ) Community College (HCCC) deployed several wireless keyboards and mice with its iMac computers. Shortly after deployment, library staff found that each device’s required USB receiver (a.k.a. dongle) would disappear frequently. As a result, HCCC library staff developed and deployed 3D printed port covers to enclose these dongles. This, for a time, proved very successful in preventing the issue. This article will discuss the development of these port covers, their deployment, and what worked and did not work about the project.

Assessing the Effectiveness of Open Access Finding Tools / Information Technology and Libraries

The open access (OA) movement seeks to ensure that scholarly knowledge is available to anyone with internet access, but being available for free online is of little use if people cannot find open versions. A handful of tools have become available in recent years to help address this problem by searching for an open version of a document whenever a user hits a paywall. This project set out to study how effective four of these tools are when compared to each other and to Google Scholar, which has long been a source of finding OA versions. To do this, the project used Open Access Button, Unpaywall, Lazy Scholar, and Kopernio to search for open versions of 1,000 articles. Results show none of the tools found as many successful hits as Google Scholar, but two of the tools did register unique successful hits, indicating a benefit to incorporating them in searches for OA versions. Some of the tools also include additional features that can further benefit users in their search for accessible scholarly knowledge.

“Am I on the library website?” / Information Technology and Libraries

In spring 2015, the Cal Poly Pomona University Library conducted usability testing with ten student testers to establish recommendations and guide the migration process from LibGuides version 1 to version 2. This case study describes the results of the testing as well as raises additional questions regarding the general effectiveness of LibGuides, especially when students rely heavily on search to find library resources.

Is Creative Commons a Panacea for Managing Digital Humanities Intellectual Property Rights? / Information Technology and Libraries

Digital humanities is an academic field applying computational methods to explore topics and questions in the humanities field. Digital humanities projects, as a result, consist of a variety of creative works different from those in traditional humanities disciplines. Born to provide free, simple ways to grant permissions to creative works, Creative Commons (CC) licenses have become top options for many digital humanities scholars to handle intellectual property rights in the US. However, there are limitations of using CC licenses that are sometimes unknown by scholars and academic librarians. By analyzing case studies and influential lawsuits about intellectual property rights in the digital age, this article advocates for a critical perspective of copyright education and provides academic librarians with specific recommendations about advising digital humanities scholars to use CC licenses with four limitations in mind: 1) the pitfall of a free license; 2) the risk of irrevocability; 3) the ambiguity of NonCommercial and NonDerivative licenses; 4) the dilemma of ShareAlike and the open movement.

Use of Language-Learning Apps as a Tool for Foreign Language Acquisition by Academic Libraries Employees / Information Technology and Libraries

Language-learning apps are becoming prominent tools for self-learners. This article investigates whether librarians and employees of academic libraries have used them and whether the content of these language-learning apps supports foreign language knowledge needed to fulfill library-related tasks. The research is based on a survey sent to librarians and employees of the University Libraries of the University of Colorado Boulder (UCB), two professional library organizations, and randomly selected employees of 74 university libraries around the United States. The results reveal that librarians and employees of academic libraries have used language-learning apps. However, there is an unmet need for language-learning apps that cover broader content including reading comprehension and other foreign language skills suitable for academic library work.

Library-Authored Web Content and the Need for Content Strategy / Information Technology and Libraries

Increasingly sophisticated content management systems (CMS) allow librarians to publish content via the web and within the private domain of institutional learning management systems. “Libraries as publishers” may bring to mind roles in scholarly communication and open scholarship, but the authors argue that libraries’ self-publishing dates to the first “pathfinder” handout and continues today via commonly used, feature-rich applications such as WordPress, Drupal, LibGuides, and Canvas. Although this technology can reduce costly development overhead, it also poses significant challenges. These tools can inadvertently be used to create more noise than signal, potentially alienating the very audiences we hope to reach. No CMS can, by itself, address the fact that authoring, editing, and publishing quality content is both a situated expertise and a significant, ongoing demand on staff time. This article will review library use of CMS applications, outline challenges inherent in their use, and discuss the advantages of embracing content strategy.

On Educating Patrons On Privacy And Maximizing Library Resources / Information Technology and Libraries

Libraries are one of our most valuable institutions. They cater to people of all demographics and provide services to patrons they wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else. The list of services libraries provide is extensive and comprehensive, although unfortunately, there are significant gaps in what our services can offer, particularly those regarding technology advancement and patron privacy. Though library classes on educating patrons’ privacy protection are a valiant effort,  we can do so much more and lead the way, maybe not for the privacy industry but for our communities and patrons. Creating a strong foundational knowledge will help patrons leverage these new skills in their day to day lives as well as help them educate their families about common privacy issues. In this column, we’ll explore some of the ways libraries can utilize their current resources as well as provide ideas on how we can maximize their effectiveness and roll new technologies into their operations.

Sustaining LITA / Information Technology and Libraries

September 2019 President's column.

Reflections on “Responsibilities of Citizenship for Immigrants and our Daughter” / Peter Murray

Eighteen years ago, on Friday, September 7th, 2001, I was honored to be asked to participate in a naturalization ceremony for 46 new citizens of the United States in a courtroom of Judge Alvin Thompson in Hartford, Connecticut. I published those remarks on a website that has long since gone dormant. In light of the politics of the day, I was thinking back to that ceremony and what it meant to me to participate. I regret the corny reference to Star Trek, but I regret nothing else I said on that day. I titled the remarks “Responsibilities of Citizenship for Immigrants and our Daughter”.

Good afternoon. I’m honored to be here as you take your final step to become a citizen of the United States of America. My wife Celeste, who will soon give birth to another new American citizen, is here to celebrate this joyous occasion with you. And if you’ll pardon the musings of a proud soon-to-be father, I would like to share some thoughts about citizenship inspired by this ceremony and the impending arrival of our first child.

Our daughter will be a citizen by birth, but you have made a choice to become an American. This choice may or may not have been easy for you, but I have the utmost respect for you for making that choice.

I don’t know what compelled you to submit yourself to the naturalization process – perhaps economic, political, social, or religious reasons. I have to think that you did it to better your life and the lives of your family. But you should know that the process does not stop here.

Along with the rights of citizenship come the responsibilities expected of you. Perhaps you are more aware of these responsibilities than I given your choice to become a citizen, but please allow me to enumerate some of them. Exercise your right to be heard on matters of concern to you. Vote in every election that you can. When asked to do so, eagerly perform your duty as a member of a jury. Watch what is happening around you, and form your own opinions. Practice your religion and respect the right of others to do the same. These are the values we will try to instill in our daughter; I hope you take them to heart, instill them in your family members, and inspire your fellow citizens to do the same.

But as you take this final, formal step of citizenship, be aware that becoming an American does not mean you have to leave your native culture behind. A part of American culture is the 1960’s show Star Trek, which promoted the concept of IDIC: Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. In that futuristic world, diverse cultures and ideas are respected with the realization that society is stronger because of them. While we cannot claim to have reached that ideal world, one can say that the American Dream is best realized when our diversity is celebrated and shared by the members of this country. My daughter will be the celebration of that diversity: the product of Irish, German, Polish, and English immigrants. By adding your own history and experiences to the fabric of our country, you make America stronger. In addition to all of the formal responsibilities asked of you as a new citizen, I charge you to share with your fellow citizens that which makes you unique.

Our past honored citizens fought hard to make this country what it is today. As they showed courage, we too must be prepared to show courage. As they endured pain, we too must be prepared to make sacrifices for the good of our nation. Like them, we too must strive for liberty and justice for all. As Americans, we are all filled with these hopes and dreams.

On behalf of my wife and our daughter soon to be born, and my parents, brother, and sister, Celeste’s parents, two sisters and their families, and on behalf of the people of Hartford, the State of Connecticut, and the citizens of all 50 states, I congratulate you on your new role as citizens of the United States of America. Please use the power that is now vested in you to advance the cause of hope and opportunity and diversity. I invite you to be active participants in the next chapter of America’s history of progress toward the goals of freedom and equality for all.

Four days later—September 11, 2001—the trajectory of the lives of the people in that courtroom would change. We couldn’t know how much they would change. We still don’t know how much they will change.

To these newly naturalized citizens, I spoke of beliefs that I thought were universally American. They were the beliefs that I grew up with…that were infused in me by my parents and the communities I lived in.

Did I grow up in a bubble? Have there always been fellow citizens around me that wanted to block other people from coming to this country and throw out anyone that didn’t look like them? Were there always cruel agents of the government that thought it reasonable to lock fellow humans in cages, to separate children from caregiving adults, to single out people of another race for extraordinary scrutiny, and seem to find joy in doing so?

I’m now struggling with these questions. I’m struggling to understand how the election of a person to lead our country has been the focusing lens for division. (Trump? Obama?) I struggle to comprehend the toxic mix of willful ignorance and arrogance of cultures has come to shape the way we look at each other, the way we hear each other, and the way we speak to each other. I want to believe there are common threads of humanity weaving around and between citizens and visitors of America—threads that bind us tight enough to work towards shared purposes and loose enough to allow for individual character.

I speak and I listen. I struggle and I believe. I have to…for my daughter, her brother that followed, and for the 46 new citizens I welcomed 18 years ago.

Converting PDF to PNG or JPEG / Alf Eaton, Alf

What are the best tools or services for converting a page of a PDF file to an image?

The first thing that usually shows up for converting PDF to PNG or JPEG is ImageMagick's convert command, but it uses Ghostscript which has had security issues, so that was out of the question.

As an alternative, my first thought was to render the PDF with PDF.js in Puppeteer, then take a screenshot of the full page.

I then realised that PDF.js can run on a server with Node, rendering the PDF to a canvas provided by node-canvas and then saving it as PNG or JPEG.

This approach worked nicely locally, but it had problems running as a web service on because the PDFs were expecting a standard set of fonts to be available on the system, rather than having them embedded in the PDF.

Running the web service as an Express app in a Docker container based on the full node:12 Docker image was the answer. Given a PDF URL, this web service can produce PNG or JPEG images of any page in a PDF at any size.

I was then looking at image conversion library libvips. It uses pdfium for reading PDF files if available, otherwise it uses poppler. It seems like pdfium isn't so easy to work with at the moment, so I didn't try too hard to build the library and make it available to vips. Instead, I simply ran vipsthumbnail test.pdf --size 1600x -o test.jpg and got an image of the first page!

Finally, I was looking at Cloudinary's image transformation API, which supports lots of image formats and paged media like PDF. With this API, converting a PDF page to a JPEG image is simply a matter of building the right URL.

VuFind - 6.0.1 / FOSS4Lib Recent Releases

Release Date: 
Monday, September 16, 2019

Last updated September 13, 2019. Created by Demian Katz on September 13, 2019.
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Bug fix release

2019 GLAM Cross-Pollinator Registration Awards / Digital Library Federation


Museum and library staff face similar challenges in the digital landscape and yet have too few opportunities to come together. For a fourth year, the Digital Library Federation and its partner organizations will support eight registration awards meant to encourage collaboration and conversation about these challenges among our museum and digital library communities.

Four awards were offered to partner-affiliated GLAM professionals to attend the 2019 DLF Forum in Tampa, and in exchange, four DLF-affiliated practitioners will receive complimentary registration at the upcoming conferences of the following partnering organizations: the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC), the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA), the Museum Computer Network (MCN), and the Visual Resources Association (VRA).

About the GLAM Cross-Pollinator Registration Awards

Building on a program initially supported generous Kress grants in 2015-2017 and with the continuing partnership of the AIC, ARLIS/NA, MCN, and VRA, the Cross-Pollinator program endeavors to build bridges among our communities, bringing new voices and perspectives to our Forum–particularly those from the art museum community–and continuing our efforts at “cross-pollination” by sending accomplished DLF practitioners to valuable conferences they might not otherwise visit.

An award covers the cost of registration at one partner conference and can be applied retroactively for a full refund if payment has already been submitted. Conference dates are as follows:

Awardees’ only obligations to DLF are to fully engage in the conference they attend and write a brief reflection on their experience for the DLF blog.


To be eligible for a GLAM Cross-Pollinator Award, an applicant must be affiliated with a DLF member organization.

Successful candidates will demonstrate a commitment to advancing research, learning, social justice, and/or the common good through the creation and/or use of digital library and museum technologies.


Applicants must supply contact information, a resume or C.V., and a personal statement (500 words or less) about how attending the conference of your choice will expand your professional horizons, and what you can contribute in the role of ‘cross-pollinator’.


Apply Now


Applications for each award will close at 5:00 p.m. pacific time on each of the following dates:

To attend MCN: September 30, 2019

To attend VRA: December 14, 2019

To attend ARLIS/NA: February 14, 2020

To attend AIC: March 13, 2020

Applicants will be notified of their status within two weeks of the closing date.


Award winners for all opportunities will be selected by CLIR/DLF staff in consultation with partner organizations. You may apply for multiple awards, but preference will be given to applicants who have not yet been a GLAM Cross-Pollinator Fellow.

The post 2019 GLAM Cross-Pollinator Registration Awards appeared first on DLF.

Twitter Heartbeat / Ed Summers

I was doing some Twitter data collection for the Democratic Presidential Debates last night for some folks at work. Apart from the analysis that they want to run I was curious to look a little bit closer at how much I was rate limited during the data collection.

Legend has it (based on some old documentation) that Twitter’s filter stream API will never deliver more than 1% of the total total tweets (the so called firehose) in a given second. Any tweets exceeding this amount will be “rate limited” or dropped from the stream and you won’t be able to collect them.

If you’re using the filter feature of the Streaming API, you’ll be streamed Y tweets per “streaming second” that match your criteria, where Y tweets can never exceed 1% of X public tweets in the firehose during that same “streaming second.” If there are more tweets that would match your criteria, you’ll be streamed a rate limit message indicating how many tweets fell outside of 1%.

Whether this legend is still true or not we can be sure that an event like the Democratic Presidential Debate will trigger any rate limits that might exist. Sure enough, when I sifted through my collected data and graphed the tweets-per-minute I found that the rate rose to about 3,000 tweets per minute and then got throttled for the duration of the debate:

You can also see a short drop around 2AM UTC when Twitter closed the filter stream connection, and twarc dutifully reopened it immediately. Some additional tweets were dropped on the floor when this happened.

Twitter’s status/filter API endpoint actually will emit Limit Notices which are delivered right along with the tweets on the stream, and indicate how many tweets were undelivered.

These messages indicate that a filtered stream has matched more Tweets than its current rate limit allows to be delivered. Limit notices contain a total count of the number of undelivered Tweets since the connection was opened, making them useful for tracking counts of track terms, for example. Note that the counts do not specify which filter predicates undelivered messages matched.

  "limit": {

It’s hard to say how accurate these limit messages are without knowing more about Twitter’s internal infrastructure. But twarc will dutifully log these limit messages as it encounters them. For example you might see messages like this in your log if your data collection has been limited:

2019-09-13 00:13:08,866 WARNING 51 tweets undelivered

So you can actually parse the log file and extract these counts to see how many tweets were dropped. It’s important to note that the numbers are cumulative for the duration of the connection.

And just to drive the point home, it looks better to layer the received and dropped tweets on top of each other as an area graph:

This means that we may not have all the tweets, but we can get a slightly more accurate picture of the heartbeat of Twitter. I know this is reading the tea leaves a bit, but if you are curious that peak right near the end is at 02:17, and is where Elizabeth Warren was describing her experience working as a teacher.

PS. If you’d like to see how these graphs were generated check out this Jupyter Notebook.

Make Your ArchivesSpace, CollectionSpace, DSpace, Fedora or VIVO Site Count: Add your Instance to the DuraSpace Community Supported Programs Division Registry at LYRASIS / DuraSpace News

The DuraSpace Registry currently features more than 2,500 DSpace, Fedora and VIVO installations from around the world. With the completion of the DuraSpace and Lyrasis merger on July 1, 2019, CollectionSpace and ArchivesSpace instances will also be highlighted in the Registry to reflect the growing DuraSpace Community Supported Programs Division of Lyrasis, which encompasses ArchivesSpace, CollectionSpace, DSpace, Fedora, and VIVO. The newly merged organization creates a single dynamic organization that will drive scalable change, support new and existing community-supported open source technologies and deliver high-value services to its members and communities.

The DuraSpace Registry is created by open technology users who are interested in having their open source, open access sites registered in order to widely share information about their digital resources and institutional technical strategies. The Registry is used by individuals and institutions to learn more about how open technologies are being implemented around the world and answers the question, “Who’s Using ArchivesSpace, CollectionSpace, DSpace, Fedora, and VIVO?” 

Registering is voluntary. Please use this form to register your ArchivesSpace, CollectionSpace, DSpace, Fedora or VIVO installation: Please note that questions specific to each technology will only appear if the specific technology is selected.

The post Make Your ArchivesSpace, CollectionSpace, DSpace, Fedora or VIVO Site Count: Add your Instance to the DuraSpace Community Supported Programs Division Registry at LYRASIS appeared first on

Jobs in Information Technology: September 11, 2019 / LITA

New vacancy listings are posted on Wednesday afternoons.

New This Week

Technical Services Assistant, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME

Web Services and Discovery Manager, American University Library, Washington D.C.

Director, Library Services, West Vancouver Memorial Library, West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Technology Librarian, Barton College, Wilson, NC

Visit the LITA Jobs Site for additional job listings and information on submitting your own job posting.

Thoughts at Mid-Career Part 5: Where to From Here? / Meredith Farkas

Floating on my back in the pool

This is the fifth in a series of essays. You can access the rest here, though it’s not necessary to read them all or in order.

“To me, the only habit worth ‘designing for’ is the habit of questioning one’s habitual ways of seeing”
-Jenny Odell, How to do Nothing

“We have to fight for this world, but we also have to fight for our ability to experience this world more fully. We have to rediscover how to embrace each day. We have to learn how to embrace the imperfection of the present moment and accept the wide range of experiences that fall between happiness and sadness, success and failure, true love and hatred, popularity and invisibility. But in order to do that, we have to examine and deconstruct the reductive solutions and the magical thinking that we’ve been fed since birth.”
-Heather Havrilesky, What if This Were Enough

Since my not-so-near-death experience, I’ve been in a really reflective place, doing a lot of thinking about how I want to live and experience the rest of my life and the kind of person I want to be in the world. As you can imagine from what I’ve written, I want to jump off the treadmill of want, reprogram myself from the cult of productivity, and reject the culture of achievement. Here are some of my goals going forward:

I want to cultivate a sense of gratitude and enoughness. I have a fantastic life surrounded by people I love and work that I usually find fulfilling. I am extremely privileged and I’ve enjoyed a lot of success. I would rather focus on all I have than what I don’t. I doubt I’ll ever be free of want, but I definitely don’t feel the empty, cavernous, hungry sense of want (and lacking) I used to feel.

I want to find the happy medium between cultivating inner calm and being complacent. Mindfulness can be used as a tool to get people to accept situations or structures that are detrimental to them or downright toxic. It has totally been co-opted by corporate America in order to make workers complacent in the face of toxic structural issues and exploitation (and I wonder if Silicon Valley has embraced mindfulness so they can feel peace in the face of all the bad many of them are doing in the world). I want to be more at-peace with myself and my life, but I don’t want to stand silently by when awful things are going on.

I’m working to recognize that I’m not an object that needs to be fixed. I cannot be optimized, hacked, or perfected. I am good just as I am. I am loving the exercising I’ve been doing, but I don’t want to be obsessive about it or do it with particular number goals in mind (clothing size, steps, calories, pounds). I do it to feel good. The thing I struggle with accepting most is my social anxiety. I spent an awkward couple of hours trying to make small talk with neighbors I like a great deal at a block party recently and felt totally out-of-place and uncomfortable. I then spent the next several days perseverating over what I should have done and said. I hate that my anxiety makes me not fit in, which only further fuels my anxiety, which makes me want to hide in my house. I don’t know what a happy medium between holing myself up at home and forcing myself to do social things (that, really, I want to do) looks like. This is something I want need to work on because it’s paralyzing, but I also don’t want to beat myself up for being who I am. I’m not quite sure how to live that contradiction.

I don’t want to define myself by my work. I am so much more than a librarian. I want to find a healthy distance from it, while still being passionate about supporting students. Still puzzling out what that looks like. I want to leave work at work (says the woman who had to stay up late the other night to write down an idea that suddenly popped into her head for an activity in Biology 101 before she forgot it).

I need to remember that people’s screw-ups and emergencies are not my emergencies. I want to stop feeling like I have to fix everything. I have a nasty habit of feeling responsible for things that aren’t actually my responsibility and end up doing work that other people were supposed to have done because they dropped the ball and I know it won’t get done otherwise. I need to be ok with those things not getting done (or getting done late) and to let go of the mental energy it takes to keep track of all that stuff. I think being out of leadership roles will help, but I also need to feel like it’s not always my responsibility to bail people out. This pressure to always react quickly and fix things is also a symptom of my anxiety and I’m recognizing how anxiety has shaped many of my maladaptive traits.

I want to feel like I can be my whole self in each part of my life. I don’t want to feel like I have to shrink and shape shift all the time to make myself palatable to others. And I want to spend more time with the people with whom I feel like I can be totally myself.

I will own my achievements. I have accomplished a lot, both professionally and personally, and I worked hard for those accomplishments. They’re mine and I want to own them — not always chalk them up to luck. I’m a good writer. I have good ideas. I work damn hard. I’m a team player. I’ve put good things into our profession and my workplaces. I deserve good things.

I recognize there are ways to resist the attention economy without becoming a hermit. I’ve removed all notifications from my phone and watch other than those that I really want and value and just that has made me feel so much more peaceful in my daily life. Now that I’m back at work after a summer off, I will try to not check Facebook and Twitter when I get home from work. I need to find other ways to help me reclaim my attention. Any suggestions?

I need to figure out how to use social media productively as well as sparingly. There are people I love with whom I only keep in touch via social media. I do actually learn a great deal from social media. I like encouraging and supporting colleagues and friends online. But I don’t know how to live in such a problematic space. I can’t do the numbing mindless scroll. I can’t do the pile on, the hot take, the snarky retort. And I’m just not sure how to be in those spaces in a way that I find fulfilling or that at least doesn’t diminish me.

I want to focus on consuming online content that is long-form and grounded in a context (rather than the contextless and atomized stream of Twitter/FB/Instagram thoughts). Long form essays and blog posts. Podcasts (which I’ve become super-into over the past year). Newsletters. I feel satisfied and informed when I consume this kind of content. I don’t get that from social media.

I want to find better ways to connect with, share ideas with, and learn from other librarians. I want to have deeper interactions than what you can get in 280 characters. Maybe I need to find other instruction librarians at mid-career who want to meet online periodically in a virtual discussion group. Or library workers who want to explore mindfulness at work and successfully navigating the attention economy. Or some other topic of common interest. Hit me up if you’re interested. I want to have interactions that are more meaningful than what I get out of Twitter. I’d rather have real connection with a few than weak connections with many.

I want to listen more. As Jenny Odell writes in her book, “the platforms that we use to communicate with each other do not encourage listening. Instead they reward shouting and oversimple reaction: of having a ‘take’ after having read a single headline.” I want to slow down and spend more time listening and reflecting than I do speaking and responding. No more knee-jerk reactions and “hot takes.”

At work, I want to be a better follower. I realized recently that I’ve conceived of and led/managed projects every single year that I have been in this profession. I’m ready for a break from being a leader; I’m exhausted. But I also want to support someone else’s vision. I want to help others be awesome leaders. Being a good follower is as much an art as being a good leader and it is one I want to cultivate. My colleague Allie sometimes calls me “tiny Dean” because I always feel like I have to step up and manage situations or take the lead on things that don’t have leaders. I don’t. I really don’t. I took steps in the Spring to let go of a leadership position I’m currently in and asking my colleagues to support that was a huge deal for me. This coming academic year, I’m going to share that role with another colleague and next year I will have let go of all my leadership positions (including the end of my three-year ACRL-Oregon leadership). I struggle to imagine and can’t wait for the dolce far niente I’m going to experience then. Bring. It. On.

At work, I also want to focus on the things that are most important to me — my teaching and my relationships with students, faculty, and my library colleagues. Those are rarely the visible achievements that will get you a pat on the back or an award, but they are, without question, the most rewarding aspects of my job. I don’t need to do THE BIG THING that will get me the award/recognition/pat-on-the-back to feel like a good librarian.

I want to be a good ancestor and support others. My ambitions have changed. Like the always wise Mita Williams and Kendra Levine (my fellow travelers in mid-careerdom), my focus has moved more toward things that support others in the profession. That has always been my focus to some extent, but I don’t feel like I’m looking anymore for the pat on the back. And there’s something tremendously freeing about that. I love being a mentor to early-career librarians. I love using my privilege to call attention to other awesome people (especially women and non-binary folks) and to help others get opportunities to shine. I want to continue to use my privilege to support others. Professionally, I’m in a position where I can speak out against injustice or for positive change and have people listen to me. I hate that people are this way — that people judge ideas based on who is sharing them — but knowing I have this privileged place in our profession gives me an opportunity to show up for people.

In terms of how I use my outside-of-work time, I want to focus more on taking care of myself, spending real quality time alone with my husband, and real quality time with my son. I love being outside. I love exercising. I want to steer clear of things that distract me from all this.

I want to help my son navigate this messed up society. I already see him struggling under the weight of achievement culture and the cult of productivity and I’m struggling to know how to best help him. He is so like me in so many ways and I want to keep him from feeling like he constantly needs to seek out external validation. I want him to not feel like he needs to compare himself to others all the time or care what people think who, in the end, really mean very little to him. I want him to be ok with quitting when it’s the best thing for him and failing when he tried his best. I want him to have his own wants. I don’t want my son to live this kind of hypercompetitive life, but I also know that his school and the values of our community are working against this goal. I also want to remember that my son’s successes are not my achievements and acting like they are a measuring stick of my parenting is toxic for both of us. I just want him to be happy and healthy, whatever that happens to look like for him.

As Jenny Odell wrote in that quote I have at the top of this post, I want to challenge the ways I have of seeing things. I’ve been trying to be more conscious of what is me and what is my programming. But getting off the treadmill of your programming is difficult too. How do you know you’re choosing to do something for the love of it and not because you’re chasing some achievement or approval? I often can’t even really articulate the reasons for saying yes to some of the opportunities I’ve accepted. I just want to be more aware of what is behind my thinking and try to make choices that are mindful of what I really want to be doing. It will require slowing down, something I’ve never been good at.

I want to learn without an explicit goal. I want to nurture my curiosity and not just spend all my free time learning about things that will explicitly make me better at my job. One of the nicest things about Jenny Odell’s book is how she models a sort of stream of consciousness learning and curiosity. Her book is full of quotes, information, and facts that feel both random and focused. I feel like the explorations I’ve done this summer around the topics I’ve written about here are a great example of how I want to explore in the future. One thing has led to another and another.

So I guess the moral of this extremely long story is that I still do have a lot of want — I’m just focusing it more now on sustaining and nurturing me than on trying to become something/someone else. I am enough. I know that deep down. I just need to try and live like I know it. You are enough too. Don’t ever forget that.

I’m sending love to all of my fellow mid-career librarians. The struggle is real, but so is the privilege we have at this moment. We have so many more possibilities open to us, even if we’re not shiny and new and filled with unending oceans of want (and energy!) any more. In so many ways, that’s actually a good thing. We can chart a new course or recommit ourselves to an existing one.

For those of you at mid-career, what are you working towards? What sustains you? Excites you? What advice would you have for early-career librarians so they don’t burn out?

Here are some books and podcasts I’ve read and listened to over the past few months that really got me thinking about these issues (in addition to the many articles I’ve cited in these essays). Maybe you’ll find them helpful too!


How to do Nothing by Jenny Odell

Mindful Tech: How to Bring Balance to Our Digital Lives by David Levy

Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino

What if This Were Enough by Heather Havrilesky (I’ll fully admit that I HATED the deep negativity and cynicism in some of the chapters and then absolutely loved her keen observations in others. Definitely a mixed bag.)

Double Bind: Women on Ambition by Robin Romm

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily and Amelia Nagoski (written for women, sorry guys)


Hurry Slowly 
10% Happier
Call Your Girlfriend
Going Through It

Collective collections: Prospective and retrospective collection coordination / Lorcan Dempsey

Collective collections are collections addressed at a level above the individual institution. I introduced our recent report on operationalizing collective collections in my last post, where I noted that there is a trend towards more managed collective collections, particularly within consortial settings. Collection coordination is central to building collective collections. In the report we make … Continue reading Collective collections: Prospective and retrospective collection coordination

The post Collective collections: Prospective and retrospective collection coordination appeared first on Lorcan Dempsey's Weblog.

The Optimist's Telescope: Review / David Rosenthal

The fundamental problem of digital preservation is that, although it is important and we know how to do it, we don't want to pay enough to have it done. It is an example of the various societal problems caused by rampant short-termism, about which I have written frequently.

Bina Venkataraman has a new book on the topic entitled The Optimist's Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age. Robert H. Frank reviews it in the New York Times:
How might we mitigate losses caused by shortsightedness? Bina Venkataraman, a former climate adviser to the Obama administration, brings a storyteller’s eye to this question in her new book, “The Optimist’s Telescope.” She is also deeply informed about the relevant science.

The telescope in her title comes from the economist A.C. Pigou’s observation in 1920 that shortsightedness is rooted in our “faulty telescopic faculty.” As Venkataraman writes, “The future is an idea we have to conjure in our minds, not something that we perceive with our senses. What we want today, by contrast, we can often feel in our guts as a craving.”

She herself is the optimist in her title, confidently insisting that impatience is not an immutable human trait. Her engaging narratives illustrate how people battle and often overcome shortsightedness across a range of problems and settings.
Below the fold, some thoughts upon reading the book.

The plot of Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy evolves as a series of "Seldon crises", in which simultaneous internal and external crises combine to force history into the path envisioned by psychohistorian Hari Seldon and the Foundations he established with the aim of reducing the duration of the dark ages after the fall of the Galactic Empire from 30,000 to 1,000 years.

The world today feels as though it is undergoing a Seldon crisis, with external (climate change) and internal (inequality, the rise of quasi-fascist leaders of "democracies") crises reinforcing each other.  What is lacking is a Foundation charting a long-term future that minimizes the dark ages to come after the fall of civilization.

What ties the various current crises together is short-termism; all levels of society being incapable of long-term thinking, and failing to resist eating the marshmallow. In her introduction Venkataraman writes:
I argue in this book that many decisions are made in the presence of information about future consequences but in the absence of good judgement. We try too hard to know the exact future and do too little to be ready for its many possibilities. The result is an epidemic of recklessness, a colossal failure to plan ahead.
To act on behalf of our future selves can be hard enough; to act on behalf of future neighbors, communities, countries of the planet can seem impossible, even if we aspire to that ideal. By contrast, it is far easier to respond to an immediate threat.
She divides her book into three parts, and in each deploys an impressive range of examples of the problems caused by lack of foresight. But it is an optimistic book, because in each part she provides techniques for applying foresight and examples of their successful application.

Part 1: Individual and Family

Dorian, the second-worst North Atlantic hurricane ever, was ravaging the Bahamas as I read Part 1's discussion of why, despite early and accurate warnings, people fail to evacuate or take appropriate precautions for hurricanes and other natural disasters:
It is human nature to rely on mental shortcuts and gut feelings - more than gauges of the odds - to make decisions. ... These patterns of thinking, I have learned, explain why all the investment on better predictions can fall short of driving decisions about the future ... The threats that people take most seriously turn out to be those we can most vividly imagine.
She illustrates why this is hard using the collapse of microfinance in Andra Pradesh:
A person who might look reckless when poor could look smart and strategic when flush. Realizing that people who are lacking resources often have a kind of tunnel vision for the present helped me understand why many women involved in India's microfinance crisis went against their own future interest, taking on too many loans and falling deep into debt. It also explains why the poorest families have more trouble heeding hurricane predictions.
The problem on the lending side of the collapse was "be careful what you measure". The microfinance companies were measuring the number of new loans, and the low default rate, not noticing that the new loans were being used to pay off old ones.

The same phenomenon of scarcity causing recklessness helps explain why black kids in schools suffer more severe discipline:
in exasperated moments, impulsive decisions reflecting ingrained biases become more likely. Teachers, like all of us, are exposed to portrayals in the media and popular culture of black people as criminals, and those images shape unconscious views and actions.

University of Oregon professors Kent McIntosh and Erik Girvan call these moments of discipline in schools "vulnerable decision points." They track discipline incidents in schools around the country and analyze the data to show school administrators and teachers are often predictable. When teachers are fatigued at the end of a school day  or week, or hungry after skipping lunch for meetings, they are more likley to make rash decisions.
This bears out the link Eldar Shafir and Sendhil Mullainathan have shown between scarcity - in this case, of time and attention - and reckless decision making. It is similar to the pattern that hamstrings the poor from saving for their future.
Among the techniques she discusses for imagining the future are virtual reality experiences, and simpler techniques such as:
an annual gathering where each person writes his own obituary and reads it aloud to the group.
Prototype Clock
Another is Danny Hillis' 10,000 year clock:
The clock idea captivated those whom Hillis told about it, including futurist and technology guru Stewart Brand and the musician Brian Eno.
And me. IIRC it was at the 1996 Hacker's conference where Hillis and Brand talked about the idea of the clock. The presentation set me thinking about the long-term future of digital information, and about how systems to provide it needed to be ductile rather than, like Byzantine Fault Tolerance, brittle. The LOCKSS Program was the result a couple of years later.

ERNIE 1 via Wikipedian geni
Another technique she calls "glitter bombs" - you'll need to read the book to find out why. The UK's Premium Bonds and other prize-linked savings schemes are examples:
The British government launched its Premium Bonds program in 1956, to encourage savings after World War II. For the past seven decades, between 22 and 40 percent of UK citizens have held the bonds at any given time. The savers accept lower guaranteed returns than comparable government bonds in exchange for the prospect of winning cash prizes during monthly drawings. Tufano's research shows that people who save under these schemes typically do so not instead of saving elsewhere but instead of gambling.
As kids, my brother and I routinely received small Premium Bonds as birthday or Christmas gifts. I recall watching on TV as "ERNIE" chose winners, but I don't recall ever being one.

Part 2: Businesses and Organizations

Venkataraman introduces this part thus:
The unwitting ways that organizations encourage reckless decisions may pose an even greater threat, however, than the cheating we find so repulsive. The work of John Graham at the National Bureau of Economic Research puts eye-popping scandals into perspective. He has shown that more money is lost for shareholders of corporations ... by the routine, legal habit of executives making bad long-term decisions to boost near-term profits than what is siphoned off by corporate fraud.
Among her examples of organizational short-termism are the Dust Bowl, gaming No Child Left Behind by "teaching to the test", over-prescribing of antibiotics, over-fishing, and the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). For each, she discusses examples of successful, albeit small-scale, mitigations:
  • The Dust Bowl was caused by the economic incentives, still in place, for farmers to aggressively till their soil to produce more annual crops. She describes how people are developing perennial crops, needing much less tilling and irrigation:
    Perennial grains, unlike annuals, burrow thick roots ten to twenty feet deep into the ground. Plants with such entrenched roots don't require much irrigation and they withstand drought better. Perennial roots clench the fertile topsoil like claws and keep it from washing away. This makes it possible for a rich soil microbiome to thrive that helps crops use nutrients more efficiently. A field of perennials does not need to be plowed each year, and so more carbon remains trapped in its soil instead of escaping to the atmosphere
    To get perennial grains into production, Jackson also had to figure out how to overcome farmers' aversion to taking risks on unknown crops, and their immediate fears of not having buyers for their product. Researchers from the Land Institute and University of Minnesota have brokered deals for twenty farmers to plant fields with a perennial grain that resembles wheat. They persuaded the farmers by securing buyers willing to pay a premium for the grain
    This is an impressive demonstration of making "what lasts over time pay in the short run", but scaling up to displace annual grains in the market is an exercise left to the reader.
  • Montessori and similar educational philosophies (e.g. Reggio Emilia early childhood education) are known to be effective alternatives to the testing-based No Child Left Behind. But they aren't as easy to measure, and thus to justify deploying widely. So this is what we get:
    Other reports have documented how "teaching to the test" curtails student curiosity, and how it has even driven some teachers and principals to cheat by correcting student answers. The metric might work for organizations at the bottom of the heap, but not for those near the top.
    Organizations at the bottom of the heap have low-hanging fruit, so they can see how to improve. It is much more difficult for organizations near the top to see how to improve, so the temptation to cheat is greater.
  • Doctors have been effective at curbing over-prescribing by their colleagues using an in-person, patient-specific "postgame rehash" when suspect prescriptions are detected. But:
    The drawback is that it requires a lot of time and legwork, and even hospitals with antibiotic stewardship teams lack the resources to do this across an entire hospital year-round.
    So although this approach works, it can't scale up to match the problem of over-prescribing in hospitals, let alone by GPs. And it clearly can't deal with the even more difficult problem of agricultural over-use of antibiotics.
  • Attempts to reduce over-fishing by limiting fishing days and landings haven't been effective. They lead to intensive, highly competitive "derby days" during which immature fish are killed and dumped, and prices are crashed because the entire quota arrives on the market at the same time. Instead, the approach of "catch shares", in effect giving the fishermen equity in the fishery, has driven the Gulf Coast red snapper fishery back from near-extinction:
    The success of catch shares shows that agreements to organize businesses - and wise policy - can encourage collective foresight. Programs that align future interests with the present can, in the words of Buddy Guindon, turn pirates into stewards.
    It isn't clear that it would have been possible to implement catch shares before the fishery faced extinction.
  • The Global Financial Crisis of 2008 was driven by investors' monomaniacal focus on quarterly results, and thus executives monomaniacal focus on manipulating them to enhance their stock options and annual bonuses. She responds with the story of Eagle Capital Management, a patient value investment firm which, after enduring years of sub-par performance, flourished during and after the dot-com bust:
    Eagle fared well and way outperformed the plummeting markets in 1999 and 2000. In just those two years, the gains more than made up for the losses of the previous five. Today, the company has grown to manage more than $25 billion in assets and, on average, earned an annual return of more than 13 percent on its investments between 1998 and 2018. That's more than double the annual return from the S&P 500 during that time.
    Some of my money is managed by a firm with a similar investment strategy, so I can testify to the need for patience and a long-term view. Value investing has been out of favor during the recovery from the GFC. Note that the whole reason for Eagle's success was that most competitors were doing something different; if everyone had been taking Eagle's long view the GFC wouldn't have happened but Eagle would have been a run-of-the-mill performer.
She examines long-lived biological systems, including:
The Pando aspen colony in Utah, ... is more than eighty thousand years old, and it has persisted by virtue of self-propogation - cloning itself - and by slow migration to fulfill its needs for water and nutrients from the soil. It even survived the volcaninic winter spurred by the massive eruption seventy-five thousand years ago on Sumatra.
Its strategy - making lots of copies of itself - is one echoed by digital archivist David Rosenthal ... Lots of copies dispersed to different environments and organizations, Rosenthal told me, is the only viable survival route for the ideas and records of the digital age,
Rhizocarpon geographicum
She is right that systems intended to survive for the long term needs high levels of redundancy, and low levels of correlation. She also points out another thing they need:
Another secret of some of the oldest living things on Earth is slow growth. Sussman documents what are known as map lichens in Greenland, specimens at least three thousand years old that have grown one centimeter every hundred years - a hundred times slower than the pace of continental drift.
The need to force systems to operate relatively slowly by imposing rate limits is something that I've written about several times (as has Paul Vixie), for example in Brittle Systems:
The design goal of almost all systems is to do what the user wants as fast as possible. This means that when the bad guy wrests control of the system from the user, the system will do what the bad guy wants as fast as possible. Doing what the bad guy wants as fast as possible pretty much defines brittleness in a system; failures will be complete and abrupt.
Rate limits are essential in the LOCKSS system. Another of her examples is also about rate limits. Gregg Popovich, coach of the San Antonio Spurs:
pioneered the practice of keeping star players out of games for rest to prevent later injuries.
Harrison's H4
Phantom Photographer
The equivalent of "glitter bombs" in this part are prizes, the earliest success and perhaps the most famous is the Longitude Prize, a £25,000 prize that motivated John Harrison's succession of marine chronometers (preserved in working order at the Royal Greenwich Observatory). More recent successful prizes include the X-Prize spaceship and DARPA's prizes kick-starting autonomous car technology. But note that none of the recent successful prizes have spawned technologies relevant to solving the Seldon crisis we face.

One interesting technique she details is "prospective hindsight":
In contrast to the more common practice of describing what will happen in the future, prospective hindsight requires assuming something already happened and trying to explain why. This shifts people's focus away from mere prediction of future events and toward evaluating the consequences of their current choices.
In the early days of Vitria Technology, my third startup, we worked with FedEx. On of the many impressive things about the company was their morning routine of reviewing the events of the previous 24 hours to enumerate everything that had gone wrong, and identify the root causes. Explaining why is an extremely valuable process.

Part 3: Communities and Society

Some of the examples in this part, such as the warnings of potential for terrorism at the Munich Olympics, the siting of the Fukushima reactors, the extraordinary delay in responding to the Ebola outbreak:
E-mails later published by the Associated Press revealed that officials knew of the potential danger and scope of the epidemic months before the designation [of a global emergency], and were warned of its scale by Doctors Without Borders .. The World Health Organization's leaders, however, were worried about declaring the emergency because of the possible damage to the economies of the countries at the epicenter of the outbreak.
and the Indian Ocean tsunami:
After Dr. Smith Dharmasaroja, the head meteorologist of Thailand, advocated in 1998 for creating a network of sirens to warn of incoming tsunamis in the Indian Ocean, the ruling government replaced him. His superiors argued that a coastal warning system might deter tourists, as they would see Thailand as unsafe. Six years later, a massive Indian Ocean tsunami killed more than 200,000 people including thousands in coastal Thailand, many of them tourists.
show how the focus on short-term costs has fatal consequences. One reason is "social discounting", the application of a discount rate to estimated future costs to reduce them to a "net present value". This technique might have value in purely economic computations, although as I pointed out in Two Sidelights on Short-Termism: in practice it gives wrong answers:
I've often referred to the empirical work of Haldane & Davies and the theoretical work of Farmer and Geanakoplos, both of which suggest that investors using Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) to decide whether an investment now is justified by returns in the future are likely to undervalue the future. ... Now Harvard's Greenwood & Shleifer, in a paper entitled Expectations of Returns and Expected Returns, reinforce this ... They compare investors' beliefs about the future of the stock market as reported in various opinion surveys, with the outputs of various models used by economists to predict the future based on current information about stocks. They find that when these models, all enhancements to DCF of one kind or another, predict low performance investors expect high performance, and vice versa. If they have experienced poor recent performance and see a low market, they expect this to continue and are unwilling to invest. If they see good recent performance and a high market they expect this to continue. Their expected return from investment will be systematically too high, or in other words they will suffer from short-termism.
But as applied to investments in preventing future death and disaster these techniques uniformly fail, partly because they undervalue human life, and partly because they underestimate the risk of death and disaster, because they cannot enumerate all the potential risks.

Peter Schwartz founded the Global Business Network, which has decades of experience running scenario planning exercises for major corporations. He:
has discovered that people are tempted to try to lock in on a single possible scenario that they prefer or see as the most likely and simply plan for that - defeating the purpose of scenario generation.
The purpose being, of course, to get planners to think about the long tail of "black swan" events.

The optimistic examples in this part are interesting, especially her account of the fight against the proposed Green Diamond development in the floodplain of Richland County, South Carolina, and Jared Watson's Eagle Scout project to educate the citizens of Mattapoisett, Massachusetts about the risk of flooding. But, as she recounts:
In each of these instances, a community's size, or at least its cultural continuity between past and present, has made it easier to create and steward collective heirlooms. Similarly, of the hundreds of stone markers dedicated to past tsunamis in Japan, the two that were heeded centuries later were both in small villages, where oral tradition and school education reinforced the history and passed down the warning over time.


Venkataraman finishes with an optimistic coda pointing to the work of Paul Bain and his colleagues who:
demonstrated that even climate deniers could be persuaded of the need for "environmental citizenship" if the actions to be taken, such as reducing carbon emissions, were framed as improvements in the way people would treat one another in the imagined future. A collective idea of the future in which people work together on environmental problems, and are more caring and considerate - or a future with greater economic and technological progress - motivated the climate change deniers to support such actions even when they didn't believe that human-caused climate change was a problem.
She enumerates the five key lessons she takes away from her work on the book:
  1. Look beyond near-term targets. We can avoid being distracted by short-term noise and cultivate patience by measuring more than immediate results.
  2. Stoke the imagination. We can boost our ability to envision the range of possibilities that lie ahead.
  3. Create immediate rewards for future goals. We can find ways to make what's best for us over time pay off in the present.
  4. Direct attention away from immediate urges. We can reengineer cultural and environmental cues that condition us for urgency and instant gratification.
  5. Demand and design better institutions. We can create practices, laws and institutions that foster foresight.

My Reaction

It is hard not to be impressed by the book's collection of positive examples, but it is equally hard not to observe that in each case there are great difficulties in scaling them up to match the threats we face.

And, in particular, there is a difficulty they all share that is inherent in Venkataraman's starting point:
I argue in this book that many decisions are made in the presence of information about future consequences but in the absence of good judgement.
The long history of first the tobacco industry's and subsequently the fossil fuel industry's massive efforts to pollute the information environment cast great doubt on the idea that "decisions are made in the presence of information about future consequences" if those consequences affect oligopolies. And research is only now starting to understand how much easier it is for those who have benefited from the huge rise in economic inequality to use social media to the same ends. As just one example:
Now researchers led by Penn biologist Joshua B. Plotkin and the University of Houston’s Alexander J. Stewart have identified another impediment to democratic decision making, one that may be particularly relevant in online communities.

In what the scientists have termed “information gerrymandering,” it’s not geographical boundaries that confer a bias but the structure of social networks, such as social media connections.

Reporting in the journal Nature, the researchers first predicted the phenomenon from a mathematical model of collective decision making, and then confirmed its effects by conducting social network experiments with thousands of human subjects. Finally, they analyzed a variety of real-world networks and found examples of information gerrymandering present on Twitter, in the blogosphere, and in U.S. and European legislatures.

“People come to form opinions, or decide how to vote, based on what they read and who they interact with,” says Plotkin. “And in today’s world we do a lot of sharing and reading online. What we found is that the information gerrymandering can induce a strong bias in the outcome of collective decisions, even in the absence of ‘fake news.’
In this light Nathan J. Robinson's The Scale Of What We're Up Against makes depressing reading:
It can be exhausting to realize just how much money is being spent trying to make the world a worse place to live in. The Koch Brothers are often mentioned as bogeymen, and invoking them can sound conspiratorial, but the scale of the democracy-subversion operation they put together is genuinely quite stunning. Jane Mayer, in Dark Money, put some of the pieces together, and found that the Charles Koch Foundation had subsidized “pro-business, antiregulatory, and antitax” programs at over 300 institutes of higher education. That is to say, they endowed professorships and think tanks that pumped out a constant stream of phony scholarship. They established the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, a public university in Virginia. All of these professors, “grassroots” groups, and think tanks are dedicated to pushing a libertarian ideology that is openly committed to creating a neo-feudal dystopia.
The Kochs provide just a small part of the resources devoted to polluting the information environment. Social networks, as the Cambridge Analytica scandal shows, have greatly improved the productivity of these resources.

I'm sorry to end my review of an optimistic book on a pessimistic note. But I'm an engineer, and much of engineering is about asking What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Women in data can help tackle gender inequality / Open Knowledge Foundation

Encouraging more women and girls to learn data skills can help tackle gender inequality and build a more diverse society, a conference will hear today.

Speaking at the annual ‘Doing Data Right’ conference in Edinburgh, Open Knowledge Foundation chief executive Catherine Stihler will call on governments to do more to engage young women in data skills, particularly outwith maths and science. She will argue that this will help empower more women to use data to improve their local communities, their cities and their countries.

Former MEP for Scotland Ms Stihler will call for more citizen-generated data through schools, libraries, churches and community groups to generate high-quality data relating to gender equality and diversity, as well as other issues such as air quality and climate action.

Ms Stihler is speaking at The Scotsman conference, Doing Data Right: Through people and partnerships, on a panel on ‘Women in data’ – along with campaigner and writer Caroline Criado Perez, Gillian Hogg of Heriot-Watt University, and Talat Yaqoob of Equate Scotland.

Speaking ahead of the event, Open Knowledge Foundation chief executive Catherine Stihler said:

“Governments across the world must work harder to give everyone access to key information and the ability to use it to understand and shape their lives, building a fair, free and open future.

“Without data skills, people will be ill-equipped to take on many jobs of the future.

“We need to encourage more women and girls to learn data skills, particularly outwith subjects such as maths and science.

“These skills will then pave the way for pioneering new ways of producing and harnessing citizen-generated data through schools, libraries, churches and community groups, which in turn can help tackle gender inequality, build a more diverse society, and address issues such as climate change and air quality.”

Late Summer Crickets / Ed Summers

Recorded at the front window in the late morning, with Maeve talking with a friend in the background and the distant hum of traffic on 29.

Islandoracon Pre-Conference Information / Islandora

Islandoracon is coming up in a little over a month! We have some information to share with attendees in advance of the conference to help you prepare:



We are using Sched for the conference schedule this year. If you have a Sched account, you can sign in and pick out sessions in advance. This isn't required, but it can be helpful for speakers to know who's planning to come to their sessions.


Islandoracon is hosted by Simon Fraser University at their Harbour Centre location and Vancouver Public Library at their central library, both located in downtown Vancouver.
  • Monday, October 7th: Half-Day Workshops at VPL
  • Tuesday, October 8th: Main Conference Sessions at Harbour Centre 
  • Wednesday, October 9th: Main Conference Sessions at Harbour Centre 
  • Thursday, October 10th: Main Conference Workshops at Harbour Centre 
  • Friday, October 11th: Islandora 8 Use-a-Thon (Hackfest) at VPL
Conference locations for these and other venues (social events, hotels) are marked on this map:
Addresses and room numbers are in the schedule: (depending on the view you're using, you may have to mouse over or click on individual sessions)

Getting Around

Vancouver has a great transit system with an easy-to-use route planner:, but we have an additional guide written up by our local team, with extra tips for getting around Vancouver:
Please note that Lyft and Uber do not operate in Vancouver at this time.

Checking in at the Conference

There will be a registration desk at Vancouver Public Library on Monday, and in the lobby at Harbour Centre from Tuesday to Thursday, where you can pick up your conference bag, program, t-shirt, and name tag. We will have a selection of stickers at the desk that you can add to your name tag if you choose to share your pronouns, including some that can be filled in if we don't have yours pre-printed. 
We will also have wifi information at the registration desk and printed in the programs.


Conference Catering

On Monday, October 7th at VPL, we will be serving coffee breaks and lunch. 
At Harbour Centre (October 8 - 10), we will be serving a light breakfast, snacks and coffee at breaks, and lunch. 
On Friday, October 11th at VPL, we will be serving coffee breaks and a pizza lunch.
If you told us your dietary requirements on registration, they will be provided for in the menu on every day of the conference. Dietary requests, we've done our best. If you didn't let us know, it's not too late! Please provide any restrictions ASAP so that we can get them in with our caterers.

Social Events

Use-a-Thon Social (October 7)

Join us at Poet's Corner in the Vancouver Public Library from 5:00 - 6:00 PM for gourmet cookies and milk, learn about the Islandoracon Use-a-Thon (this year's version of a Hackfest), and sign up for a team!

Trivia Night (October 8)

We've got a room booked out and I've got some obscure questions ready to go. Join your fellow Islandorians for bar trivia, 6:30 - 8:30 on the Terrace at Rogue's. Bring a team, or find one when you show up. 
Appetizers provided. Drinks and additional food available at your own cost.
Maximum six per team. Prizes TBD, but it's really about the bragging rights :)

Bill Reid Gallery (October 9)

Included in the cost of your registration is a reception at the Bill Reid Gallery ( from 6:30 - 9:00 PM on Wednesday, October 9th. Canapes and drinks will be served. To help us get an accurate headcount for catering, we ask that you let us know if you plan to attend:

If you wish to bring a guest, extra tickets can be purchased from our Square store:

The BRG is home to the Simon Fraser University Bill Reid Collection and special exhibitions of contemporary Indigenous Art of the Northwest Coast of North America. A docent will be available for tours, but space may be limited.


Half-Day Workshops (October 7)

If you have not already done so, please sign up for the half-days workshops on Monday, October 7th. Space may be limited, and preference will be given to those who have signed up in advance. Signing up will also give the workshop leaders a way to contact you if there's information you need ahead of time.

90-Minutes Workshops (October 10)

Sign-up is not required for the 90-minute workshops at Harbour Centre on Thursday. Please see below for advanced information for specific workshops:

Preservation Capabilities of Islandora 8

People who are attending the "Preservation Capabilities of Islandora 8" workshop on Thursday afternoon will get more out of the hands-on portion of the workshop if they can arrive with Islandora Bagger installed on their laptop (installing Islandora is not required, just Islandora Bagger as described in its README file). However, having Islandora Bagger installed is not essential; the instructor will try to accommodate participants who don't have it. Also, if your institution has developed or is developing a digital preservation policy or action plans, please come prepared to discuss them during the workshop.

Introduction to Fedora 5.0

We will be using a virtual machine for the hands-on portions of the Fedora workshop, so please follow these instructions to get the VM up and running on your laptop *before* you arrive. We are doing this in advance so we do not have to troubleshoot problems at the event.

NOTE: The VM uses 2GB of RAM, so you will need a laptop with at least 4GB of RAM to run it. 

  1. Download and install VirtualBox:
  2. Download and install Vagrant:
  3. Download and unzip the 5.1.0 release of the Fedora VM:
  4. Using a Command Line Interface, navigate to the VM directory from step 3 and run the command: vagrant up
    1. Note that this step will take a while as the VM downloads and installs a full virtual environment
  5. Test the VM by opening your web browser and navigating to: http://localhost:8080/fcrepo
    1. The administrator username/password is fedoraAdmin/secret3
  6. Turn off the VM by running the command: vagrant halt
That is it! Please let know if you run into any problems.
More information about the conference is available on our website.
If you have any questions, please reach out!
Islandoracon would like to acknowledge that the land on which we will gather is the unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (TsleilWaututh) Nations.

A Farewell / Lucidworks

A little over 12 years ago to the day, I took the single greatest leap of faith in my working life: I quit my comfortable job at Syracuse University doing search and NLP research engineering to join up with Marc,

The post A Farewell appeared first on Lucidworks.

About the 2019 LYRASIS Member Summit / DuraSpace News

Don’t miss this year’s LYRASIS Member Summit October 3-4 in Chicago. The theme is “From Local to Global” and it promises to be a fast-paced, two-day experience that pairs imagination with innovation and discussion with action. Sitting beside you in Chicago will be senior leadership from forward thinking research, public and academic libraries, museums and archives.

We need your active voice for the discussions on Day 1 – our “Innovation with Imagination” day – to critique, add value, and help set direction for the LYRASIS $1M+ FY 2020 Research and Development budget. Our Day 1 keynote will be Kaitlin Thaney, Director of Wikimedia’s Endowment, previously at Mozilla, Digital Science and Creative Commons. She will discuss the imperative to “innovate or perish” and how to create innovative programs that leverage and create community. Shift into high gear for Day 2 – our “Discussion with Action” day. Our Day 2 keynote will be Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC and recognized open access advocate. She will frame content and publishing for us with new eyes, and how to do more with less in our ever changing landscape. This year’s summit will feature another challenging keynote, to be announced here soon! Breakouts will include ScholComm 2.0, how to change the patron/user experience as it relates to content, scalable technology and platforms, and leveraging non-profit platforms.

Our first Member Summit featured a keynote by Rob Cartolano, Associate Vice President of Technology and Preservation at Columbia University, who launched a rallying cry for the importance of innovation that leads to programs and services offered by non-profits. To rise to that cry, in less than a year, LYRASIS launched our Leaders Circle and the $100,000 Catalyst Fund. Summit year two we welcomed Deanna Marcum, the previous second in command at the Library of Congress and currently working with Ithaka S+R, who talked about the importance of consolidation of smaller siloed non-profits, the benefits of scale, and how common visions develop better solutions. Her keynote was the inspiration for LYRASIS and DuraSpace’s merger, completed in June of this year. Last year’s keynote was John Bracken, Executive Director of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and formerly an active change leader in the world of funding/foundations, who spoke to our members about using technologies with communities to transform libraries, both public and academic. This spawned a double – triple partnership between LYRASIS and DPLA; and between NYPL, DPLA and LYRASIS.

This year’s summit will feature another challenge put forth by two keynote speakers.

Scholarly Communications/Library Publishing

Whether you are a public library, academic library, special collection or other, locally managed, but globally linked scholarly communications is now within our grasp. Be part of creating, sharing, or consuming content. Inform and drive your patrons, researchers, or local experts to lead the way.

User/Patron Experience, whether through audio, video, text, or data

Delivering the best possible research, analysis or reading experience is at the heart of what libraries do on a daily basis. This track will dig into topics like using data to improve the experience of your users, facilitating and supporting community initiatives like literacy, and getting the most out of your collections through new technologies.

Community Supported Programs (CSP)

LYRASIS has the largest collection of CSP’s in the world with over 1,733 institutions that contribute fiscally to their operation. Learn from what works (and doesn’t work). How the It Takes a Village framework increases the chances for sustainable success and lowers the risk of setbacks.

Member Summit – Register Now

Draft agenda

Check back for more updates and speakers, to be announced soon.

Day 1 – Innovation with Imagination
8:00 – 8:30 am
Registration, Breakfast for Leaders Circle

8:30 – 9:00 am
Welcome and Opening Remarks Robert Miller (possible theme – innovate or perish)

9 – 10 am
LC Opening Speaker Discussion of knowledge development, turning big ideas into real solutions

10 – 10:15 am

10:15 – 11:15 am
LC Session 1 Discussion of major opportunities given the merger, prioritization of efforts and innovation for the coming months.

11:15 – 12 noon
LC Session 2 Help us select possible topics for LYRASIS events and research for the year ahead.

12 noon – 1 pm
Registration and Lunch for Full Membership 1 pm Welcome and Opening Remarks

1 – 1:15 pm
Welcome and Opening Remarks

1:15 – 5 pm
Catalyst Fund Presentations

Day 2 – Discussion with Action
8 – 8:30 am
Arrival and Breakfast

8:30 – 9 am
LYRASIS Updates and Welcome

9 – 9:30 am
Keynote Focus on building and using community to create sustainable institutions and more impactful outcomes.

9:30 – 10 am
Keynote Q/A Robert Miller

10 – 10:15 am

10:15 – 11:45 am
Session 1

11:45 am – 12:30 pm

12:30 – 2 pm
Session 2

2:15 – 3:45 pm
Session 3

4 pm
Wrap up and Closing Speaker Focus on leveraging these connections to build stronger programs. If you believe what the press says, we’re on the verge of extinction. How do we learn from each other and keep delivering vital programs, services and results.

The post About the 2019 LYRASIS Member Summit appeared first on

OAuth Server Enhancements / OCLC Dev Network

OCLC has updated our OAuth Server to be more compliant with community practices, improve user experience, and enhance security.

Against medicine: Constructing a queer-feminist community health informatics and librarianship / In the Library, With the Lead Pipe

In Brief

Community health informatics (CHI) is rapidly developing as a field of library practice but remains constrained by unexamined definitions of “community”, “health”, and “informatics” as separate and unified terms. This is further complicated by a failure to situate libraries within a history of institutional oppression which continues to work itself out in the present. As a result, CHI practices within libraries often perpetuate and reinforce adverse power structures. The following paper seeks to liberate library CHI from its current constraints by deconstructing entrenched understandings of library community health informatics and re-envisioning them through a queer-feminist framework. The newly defined framework invites librarians to consider their own positionality, reorienting themselves and their institutions into sources of collective empowerment. A queer-feminist library CHI necessitates an anti-neutral, care-minded approach to health information delivery for structurally disadvantaged communities.The author envisions what that might look like from the perspectives of gender diverse persons like herself.

By catherine lockmiller


How best to conceptualize the library that is doing community health informatics (CHI)? For that matter, how best to conceptualize what it even looks like, doing community health informatics? i ask because it could appear to mean doing everything, which as a result might also mean doing very little. Consider each of these words (“community” or “health” or “informatics”), and ask what it means to do a single one of them. What, then, to do all three of them together?  Considering the scale of the task, it is worth examining what it means for libraries to be involved in CHI and the responsibility of positioning libraries at the intersection of these three phenomena, each of which is an immense, human-technological practice in its own right. In this paper, i explore the term CHI and how it is involved in librarianship. Being inextricably attached to this subject, i will also focus on my positionality as a transgender woman, a community organizer, and a health sciences librarian. In doing so, i conceptualize a way of doing library CHI, both for myself and for librarians at large.

Coming toward a definition of community health informatics for librarians requires a deconstruction of the troika holding the term together while positioning libraries as central, operational figures at the core of CHI. In the spirit of unfolding from the center (where i am positioned, both as a librarian, and as the queer product of a medical-industrial complex bent on dividing me from myself), i will begin with an analysis of the terms “community,” “health,” and “informatics.” Afterwards, i will weave together the way that community health informatics has happened within American libraries. From there, i will construct a vision of library community health informatics as a practice of care.



There is no escaping the need to make community, the need to organize. Which, in turn, establishes community-making as a political act. To paraphrase Slavoj Žižek, community is a series of “inner antagonisms” functioning in relation to an expansive field of universalizing/globalizing forces (2018, p. 61). In Žižek’s analysis, communities are modes of survival “whose task is to obfuscate an underlying antagonism,” which is inscribed into them by a power structure (or, more precisely, a complex system of power structures) (2018, p. 61). What results is a political effort defined by boundaries that are porous and ill-defined, unruly, and easily shattered.

Žižek’s antagonistic community hurtles headfirst into the all-consuming neoliberal blob and fixes itself in opposition to it. In this way, it acts as a protective layer and a navigational force. However, because the blob will inevitably reassert itself, antagonist communities seeking liberation cannot exist in isolation. bell hooks makes a similar argument in her intersectional analysis of educational communities. In Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope, hooks describes the joining together of Black Studies and Women’s/Gender Studies in higher education and academic discourse. She makes clear that Women’s Studies programs have often ignored Black feminism, and in doing so, perpetuated the white supremacist discourse that continues to assert itself in academia. However, through the efforts of feminists who are critically conscious of their shared goals, projects, and vulnerabilities as opponents of a conservative mainstream, Women’s & Gender Studies programs have become antagonistic, shared spaces for a more inclusive and thoughtful intersectional feminism (hooks 2003).

i have provided only an introductory insight into community-making as an oppositional and political act. It is a subject that demands a much deeper analysis; however, it is enough to help us understand what CHI can look like: as an act of intersectional resistance.


Health is not just a product. It is a currency. Health operates as a vast system of material forces that contain the body, lodge themselves within it, compel it to change. To be totally absent of health is to bankrupt the body, to reduce it to rubble. Like power and privilege, health is a “positional good” that distributes, flows, empties, and ultimately is valued by who has it, who has lost it, and who goes without it (Biss, 2014). To be healthy is a state of being, and so too, to be unhealthy. Yes, “healthy” and “unhealthy” are spectral and shift erratically, but often, we construe them as solidly binary. Arriving at these states, our bodies warp and become denizen to new worlds, which are inevitably inhabited by others like ourselves. To paraphrase Eula Biss, “immunity is a public space,” and it exists alongside the public spaces of injury and illness (2014).

To arrive at health states, therefore, is to arrive at community, an argument that Rebecca Solnit makes in her treatise on crisis, A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster. According to Solnit, we concern ourselves with health as another factor in sustaining the myth of individualism, but in crisis we are propelled to a state where our bodies come together and where health and wellbeing mutate and become reconceptualized by the shock of a new reality (2010). Community-making through crisis does not make disaster a “good” thing, but it does suggest that the fear of being exiled from what Biss calls the “kingdom of the well” does not have to end in isolation or even devastation (2014). Rather, arriving at ill luck means arriving in a community space where health-currency is reoriented, shared, and leveraged for liberation, emergence, and solidarity.

From my own position as a transgender woman, i can attest to the community-making potential of a crisis. Gender diverse people in the United States experience a ream of health disparities that arise from a medical-industrial complex which arranges itself around binary, heteronormative conceptualizations of gender. We are at near-universal risk of experiencing social exclusion, marginalization, physical violence, sexual violence, chronic illness, and mental illness, among other disparities (James, et al., 2016; Zeeman, et al., 2017). Studies consistently show that 35 – 48% of transgender young people attempt suicide at least once (Zeeman, et al., 2017). It cannot be stressed enough that this is an exceedingly high number in a country where suicide is already a leading cause of death (Drapeau & McIntosh, 2017). Studies show that feelings of isolation, internal shame, and fear of being outed contribute to suicidal behavior among transgender youth, but at the same time, community-making has been shown to promote resilience and emotional well-being (Zeeman, et al., 2017). Consider the following exchange from Zeeman, et al.’s 2017 study on resilience among transgender young people:

We all get along here.
Yeh, everybody just accepts each other.
There’s no secrets or an air of mystery, we’re all very close like family in a sense, so we can trust each other.

The participants in this study are restoring their agency within the medical-industrial complex. They are concerning themselves with new approximations of well-being, distributing health across each other’s bodies, and enacting collective solidarity.

Community-making in crisis has the potential to generate new health currencies, but without external influences, those health currencies are caught in a closed system. A community that operates in this way cannot move beyond crisis because it is not able to affect the systems that enact the crisis. Rather, for a community to become healthy, there must be an assertion of inner antagonism powerful enough to penetrate and reorient the surrounding structures. In a sense, the affective, antagonistic community must learn to speak back at power. This is possible through informatics, but only when we recalibrate informatics as a mode of opposition.


The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has defined informatics as “a field of study concerned with the effective use of information to answer scientific questions” (2013). This definition provides little insight into the term, since all scientific questions are answered using information. However, if we focus on the words effective and use, we can determine that a corporate definition of informatics is concerned with efficiency and totality. This is because the goal, clearly stated, is an answer, and not just an answer, but answers that compile one on top of the other such that answers happen more rapidly and on an increasingly large scale.

A more succinct definition for informatics proposed in 2010 suggests that the goal is not simply to answer questions, but to take data (i.e., symbols) and contextualize it by producing meaning out of it (Bernstam, Smith, & Johnson, 2010). Meaning, like data, is a human artifact, which involves an intentional reinvention of the world, one that seeks to make sense of it, and in doing so, shapes reality around it (Zlatev, 2018).

Queering informatics

Splicing together data and meaning is nothing new. Information systems involve a mediation of reality and are deeply co-creative (Botin, Bertelsen, & Nøhr, 2015). The newness lies in the rapidity of the splicing, the goals we have, and the end result of those goals. Returning to the IOM report, in the biomedical domain, totality (the answer) is an inherently neoliberal experiment. It is the unhinging of the individual body from the world and reproducing it as information, which then gets chunked with other information, and so on until all bodies are processed, stored, and retrievable.

It is this practice of universalizing knowledge that i resist. Following from Foucault, universal, expansive growth of biomedical technologies cannot be disentangled from corporate power structures. Left unchecked, the result is a “deeply rooted convergence between the requirements of political ideology and those of medical technology” (Foucault, 1975). Informatics as a totality rooted in efficiency produces meaning that retrenches the body, turning it into data for the purpose of making more data. This recalls Foucault’s other concept of the docile body, that which is coerced, transformed, and made valuable to the systems of power which influence it. The creation of the docile body is a technological feat, resulting in “the celebrated automata” that reinforce the will of the state (Foucault, 1995).

Foucault’s dialectic is one where agency is always already taken, where all bodies are subservient. As such, a Foucauldian perspective allows little room for resistance and arguably presents informatics and library praxis as an exercise in corporate fatalism. In contrast to Foucault, i contend that an ethical healthcare-oriented informatics and librarianship is possible; however, it must be undertaken with extreme care. For me, that means resisting the all-consuming, globular information framework that expands the neoliberal blob across the medical-industrial complex. The universal carries with it an abstractness that ignores the complexity, dynamism, and unknowability of bodies (Eubanks, 2018). It constricts the agency of the individual body and reduces it to the clinical gaze of the professional or the scientist (Botin et al., 2015).

Caring informatics

Especially in health-facing domains, a careful informatics is necessary. It is one which makes room for antagonistic community-making while also opposing singular definitions of health. It orients information technologies toward individual bodies. It is liberating, and produces agency. Finally, it surrenders its own agency to individuals working within their own communities such that they are in a position to participate and negotiate their health alongside the professional (Botin et al., 2015). To do this, i suggest an informatics that is both queer and feminist in its approach: queer by virtue of its resistance to uniformity and knowability, and feminist because it is deeply rooted in an ethics of care and autonomy.

While Foucault offers a path to queer resistance, a feminist community health informatics is enabling, capacity building, and participatory (Peddle, Powell, & Shade, 2008). Beyond that, it also recognizes that feminized disciplines which practice CHI are consistently undervalued (Peddle et al., 2008). Nursing and librarianship, in particular, are construed as pink collar occupations, with practitioners receiving lower pay, less opportunity, and minimal decision-making capacity (Monteiro, 2016; Sloniowski, 2016). Part of a resistant CHI means collecting power such that the emotional labor of nurses and librarians is not only compensated, but recognized as an integral, visible component of CHI practice.

An ethical CHI involves emotional laborers who are placed in key positions. These laborers function as capacity builders who focus-on and work-with communities targeted by systemic oppression. In doing so, we can enact digital pedagogies, critical community health practices, and homebrew technologies driven by the specific needs of the communities where we work.

As an example, consider a 2017 study which focused on building health literacy among parents of children with complex medical needs. The study is constrained to small communities, focuses on invisible caregivers (parents), and perceives health literacy as a mode of agency sharing between individuals and professionals (Armstrong-Heimsoth et al., 2017). Importantly, this particular study is not designed to meet the standards of big data collection. Rather, it takes health concerns for localized populations and recognizes them as currencies which function within the bounds of that same population. Again, this adherence to local spheres and antagonistic community-making is a key component to a careful CHI. Indeed, within librarianship, there are clear, detrimental effects to a global-scale CHI. In the next section, i describe a short history of librarianship, and how a focus on globalizing, neoliberal applications of CHI harms the health of disadvantaged persons rather than serving them.

Application to library praxis

Libraries are increasingly positioned as spaces where community health happens (Morgan, et al., 2016; Whiteman, et al., 2018; Whitney, et al., 2017). However, the scope of what libraries can achieve in community health is less easily defined (again, this is partially due to the slippery quality of the term “community health,” as described above). From the most basic perspective, wherein CHI is purely about the dissemination of medical information, America’s libraries have stored and circulated medical texts according to public need (Connor, 2000). Of course, “public need” historically has been defined by librarians and projected outwards into a proximal space where an ideal community was imagined to be. This in turn has situated libraries as sources of power that determine how and where knowledge is to occur. It has also meant librarians grossly misidentifying the communities within their spheres of influence, effectively ignoring the populations most likely to use their services. Even when library services were made available, public librarians of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were often concerned with leveraging health information for “improving the personal habits” of a cultural other, namely immigrants, persons of color, women, children, and the working class. The inevitable result was the propagation of cisheteronormative, white, middle class values (Connor, 2000). These examples reveal several operational truths in the early history of America’s libraries: information is power and must therefore be closely guarded. What is “the public” gets defined by hegemonic structures, with the power to make a “public” visible or invisible as suits the structure itself. And finally, what the “public” that gets defined “needs” is not medical information; rather, the public needs to be medically informed by the appropriate authority (almost certainly a white, wealthy man, almost certainly a medical doctor), again defined within the context of existing power structures.

Historically, such constructions of power have not been relegated to public libraries, and in fact, public libraries were just as likely to be exempt from obtaining medical information as the populations they served. This is made clear in the early history of the Medical Library Association (MLA), which was organized to promote the free exchange of health science publications across the U.S. (Connor 2000, 2011). However, for nearly a half century, the MLA refused to allow public libraries (and medical libraries associated with HBCUs) to join as member institutions (Connor 2011). As with public libraries, this was not solely a matter of cost; rather, it was about the influence of a burgeoning medical complex which sought to contain “power over people’s bodies, their health, and their life and death” (Foucault 1982). In doing so, community health informatics was defined early in the history of library practice as that which happens to communities and happens for the sake of solidifying the authority of the medical professions (and by lesser extent, the library profession).

i do not want to give the impression that libraries have always acted as purely oppositional institutions. This would miss the point (or rather, points) from which power moves across/through systems. To paraphrase Foucault, power is a practice, which is often esoteric and governed from a host of inputs and outputs (1982). There is no one place from which power flows. Additionally, power is not a constant. It can be realized, and it can be dissipated. And so there is power in being in a situation where power happens, where it appears. Libraries, as situations where information comes/goes, have always had this potential, as have the subjects within them. In some instances, that potential has been realized. Take the example of the Cleveland Public Library, which in a display of localized, caring, participatory activism held a community health campaign in 1912 that was designed to build awareness of tuberculosis not only through information sharing, but also through community events including vaccination, child care services, and a pop-up dental clinic (Wiegand, 2015).

Throughout the 20th century, there have been CHI library practices in the vein of the Cleveland Public Library. For instance, Chicago Public Library’s Douglass Branch made a strong push in 1970 to create a healthy community space for children and young adults which included the organization of a pop-up mental health clinic (Wiegand, 2015). This was part of a multi-pronged process of building an intentional community for children in surrounding neighborhoods, most of whom lived in low-income, African American households (Wiegand, 2015).

Both the stories of Cleveland Public and Chicago Douglass provide insight into the kind of community health informatics that i am seeking. This is a CHI that recognizes the particular positionality of libraries as conduits within a greater information ecosystem. America’s librarians have historically understood this to be the case; however, it is rare to find a library that asserts itself in opposition to the power structures that prevent underserved populations from forming communities. That said, when libraries push back, they are committing to only part of the battle. The critically conscious library system must also build discourses within communities that bring about a willful resistance to what Foucault brands le régime du savoir, “the regime of knowledge” (1982). In doing so, libraries construct a community capacity to reorganize and reinstitute the flow of power. The next section of this paper examines how that might look by focusing on the critical construction of a library CHI for gender diverse communities.


We can now conceptualize a library-driven CHI that is involved with antagonistic, intersectional community-making, solidarity in healthcare, and resistant, localized informatics—all of which come together to form a queer-feminist community health informatics that derives power through libraries as conduits. Taken together, this provides us with a way of doing librarianship with underserved communities in mind. Let us consider gender diverse populations as an example.

As a transgender woman working with gender diverse populations, i have seen firsthand how a poorly implemented electronic health record (EHR) can harm an entire group of people. That EHRs have resulted in widespread transgender health disparities is not new knowledge. It has received attention everywhere from the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of IT Health to studies on surgical research, pathology, pediatrics, sexual health, and primary care (Deutsch & Buchholz, 2015; Edmiston et al., 2016; Imborek et al., 2017). All of this attention derives from the way EHRs have historically contextualized sex and gender such that both are exclusively binary interchangeable terms which only allow patients to be identified as male or female. In allowing for an informatics where the human body is forced into one of two possible categories, we construct a reality where transgender patients are 1) considered mentally unfit to understand themselves, 2) forced to perform in opposition to their own bodies, and 3) rendered invisible and therefore nonexistent.

Herein is an example for how a CHI that overvalues efficiency and largeness can damage an entire community such that 23% refuse to seek medical care due to fear of being dehumanized (James et al., 2016). Even now, when companies are finally beginning to take notice, gender-diverse patients remain wary and unlikely to disclose necessary health information (Thompson, 2016).

i am not suggesting that widely adopted EHRs should ignore gender-diverse identities; rather, i suggest that we subvert the primacy of technology-first methodologies which may allow implicit, cultural biases to encroach upon precision medicine and clinical decision making (machine learning is another example) (Caliskan, Bryson, & Narayanan, 2017; Eubanks, 2018). In doing so, we should reorient our focus back to material bodies participating in clinical space and recognize the shared corporeality, fluidity, and vulnerabilities those bodies present, especially when they are in opposition to externally constructed definitions of healthiness (Aranda, 2017). For me, this means 1) recognizing and affirming the political status of gender diverse communities, 2) practicing solidarity within those communities, as a gender diverse person or as an ally, 3) recognizing and reorienting privilege to reinterpret what it means to be healthy from the position of individuals within a gender diverse community, and 4) proliferating power through shared information exchange.

These goals are foundational to a queer-feminist library practice focused on transgender healthcare. Working them out will involve a concerned and “adaptive tinkering of the material, emotional and relational” worlds of transgender people in the United States (Aranda, 2017, p. 127). A possible area for concern is critical health literacy, a subcategory of health literacy, where the individual person is empowered to make systemic changes that radically affect the health of their larger community (Nutbeam, 2008). Critical health literacy provides a way of making CHI into a political force, one that truly recognizes the antagonistic nature of a resilient community as well as that community’s capacity to contextualize health for itself. When librarians adopt critical health literacy as a CHI practice, we can begin to imagine a library CHI that does not define health for our “public.” As a result, we open ourselves to an inter-affective antagonism that pushes back against globalizing power structures. This is true when working with gender diverse communities to build more inclusive EHRs. It is also true when considering library information space and how it can be used to produce solidarity and community action. Because of the spatial-structural positioning of transgender people in the United States, this is best achieved through an online or digital librarianship.

Due to low population size, lack of widespread density, and persistent transphobia,, transgender persons have a history of seeking community and information online (Karami, Webb, & Kitzie, 2018; Pohjanen & Kortelainen, 2016; Vargas et al., 2017). In a population where homelessness is a rampant social determinant, the internet becomes an online space where home is unbounded and bodies are fluid (Erickson-Schroth, 2014; James et al., 2016). Transgender people give us insight into that digital materiality, and recognizing it is key to a librarianship that empowers gender-diverse communities. Likewise, online information platforms should affirm trans narratives by allowing people direct communication with one another from a position of anonymity. Because librarians and health professionals will be actively embedded in the platform, they will be able to provide insight into health information needs; however, professional status will not signal ultimate authority. Rather, the goal is equitable information exchange. Moreover, because online cyberbullying tactics have directly targeted transgender people in the past, an interactive online library space should be constructed from an information-neutral perspective (Evans et al., 2017; Fox & Ralston, 2016). In doing so, it will be made clear that librarians are working with their communities and laboring to dismantle systemic oppression of transgender people.

When librarians adopt a queer-feminist practice in this vein, they actively strive to construct safe spaces that reduce harm done by a healthcare system designed to perpetuate bodily stereotypes and attitudes, both to transgender populations and the wider population of all persons who inhabit gendered bodies. It’s here that we can begin to realize a community health informatics and librarianship that is rooted in queer resistance and feminist care.


Let us return to the original question. How best to conceptualize the library that is doing community health informatics (CHI)? The answer depends on how we understand CHI. If CHI is a totalizing and neoliberal force, then libraries that do CHI are doing a great deal to perpetuate systems of oppression, while doing very little to support communities of the oppressed. On the other hand, a library involved in a careful, resistant CHI is positioning itself as an antagonist to the hegemonic power structures which harm disadvantaged populations. The library that adopts a queer-feminist CHI also recognizes that it does not determine its public. The library is not even central to the health and well-being of its publics. Communities are sources of survival that define and spread health internally and of their own volition. In response, libraries act as conduits for information flow and barriers against adversity. Libraries do not solve the process of making healthy communities, but they do at times participate in it. This could mean doing very small things. Care often does.


The author extends her gratitude to her reviewer, Dr. Vanessa Kitzie, for her keen attention to detail, and her kind (and constructive!) critiques. The author also wishes to thank The Lead Pipe team who assisted throughout this process: Amy Koester, Ryan Randall, and Annie Pho.


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Deutsch, M., & Buchholz, D. (2015). Electronic health records and transgender Patients—Practical recommendations for the collection of gender identity data. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 30(6), 843-847. doi:10.1007/s11606-014-3148-7

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AMIA+DLF Cross-Pollinator Travel Award / Digital Library Federation




The Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) and the Digital Library Federation (DLF) are pleased to partner once again in sponsoring an AMIA+DLF Hack Day. In support of the event, DLF is offering one travel grant to the AMIA Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, November 13-16, 2019.

The goal of the AMIA + DLF Travel Award is to bring developers and software engineers who can provide unique perspectives to preserving and providing access to digital audiovisual media to the conference. These “cross-pollinators” can enrich the Hack Day event and share a vision of the library world from their perspective.

This grant will extend the opportunity to attend the Association of Moving Image Archivists Conference to one software development professional from the DLF community. The ideal applicant:

  • Seeks more exposure to trends in stewarding digital audiovisual collections.
  • Would not typically attend the conference, but can envision and articulate a connection with their work.
  • Sees great value in building a dynamic and diverse peer network.
  • Is interested in participating in the AMIA+DLF Hack Day on Wednesday, November 13, 2019.
  • Is enthusiastic about collaborating with preservation professionals who have varying levels of technical expertise.
  • Is affiliated with a DLF member institution.

The Award
One award of up to $1,250 will go towards the travel, board, and lodging expenses of attending the AMIA conference. Additionally, the awardee will receive a complimentary full registration to the AMIA conference ($450). After the conference and Hack Day, the recipient will be required to write a blog post about their experience, to be published by DLF.

The Experience
The AMIA+DLF Hack Day will be a unique opportunity for practitioners and managers of digital audiovisual collections to join with developers and engineers for an intense day of collaboration to develop solutions for digital audiovisual preservation and access. Go to the AMIA Annual Conference website for more information.

Applicants must supply contact information and a resume, as well as a statement (500 words or less) about how attending the Association of Moving Image Archivists Conference will expand your professional horizons, and what skills or ideas you could bring to the Hack Day. The winning applicant must be able to travel to Baltimore, November 13-16, 2019.

Apply here.

Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. PT September 27, 2019. A winner will be announced by late September.

The post AMIA+DLF Cross-Pollinator Travel Award appeared first on DLF.

Humane Ingenuity: My New Newsletter / Dan Cohen

With the start of this academic year, I’m launching a new newsletter to explore technology that helps rather than hurts human understanding, and human understanding that helps us create better technology. It’s called Humane Ingenuity, and you can subscribe here. (It’s free, just drop your email address into that link.)

Subscribers to this blog know that it has largely focused on digital humanities. I’ll keep posting about that, and the newsletter will have significant digital humanities content, but I’m also seeking to broaden the scope and tackle some bigger issues that I’ve been thinking about recently (such as in my post on “Robin Sloan’s Fusion of Technology and Humanity“). And I’m hoping that the format of the newsletter, including input from the newsletter’s readers, can help shape these important discussions.

Here’s the first half of the first issue of Humane Ingenuity. I hope you’ll subscribe to catch the second half and all forthcoming issues.

Humane Ingenuity #1: The Big Reveal

An increasing array of cutting-edge, often computationally intensive methods can now reveal formerly hidden texts, images, and material culture from centuries ago, and make those documents available for search, discovery, and analysis. Note how in the following four case studies the emphasis is on the human; the futuristic technology is remarkable, but it is squarely focused on helping us understand human culture better.

Gothic Lasers

If you look very closely, you can see that the stone ribs in these two vaults in Wells Cathedral are slightly different, even though they were supposed to be identical. Alexandrina Buchanan and Nicholas Webb noticed this too and wanted to know what it said about the creativity and input of the craftsmen into the design: how much latitude did they have to vary elements from the architectural plans, when were those decisions made, and by whom? Before construction or during it, or even on the spur of the moment, as the ribs were carved and converged on the ceiling? How can we recapture a decent sense of how people worked and thought from inert physical objects? What was the balance between the pursuit of idealized forms, and practical, seat-of-the-pants tinkering?

In “Creativity in Three Dimensions: An Investigation of the Presbytery Aisles of Wells Cathedral,” they decided to find out by measuring each piece of stone much more carefully than can be done with the human eye. Prior scholarship on the cathedral—and the question of the creative latitude and ability of medieval stone craftsmen—had used 2-D drawings, which were not granular enough to reveal how each piece of the cathedral was shaped by hand to fit, or to slightly shape-shift, into the final pattern. High-resolution 3-D scans using a laser revealed so much more about the cathedral—and those who constructed it, because individual decisions and their sequence became far clearer.

Although the article gets technical at moments (both with respect to the 3-D laser and computer modeling process, and with respect to medieval philosophy and architectural terms), it’s worth reading to see how Buchanan and Webb reach their affirming, humanistic conclusion:

The geometrical experimentation involved was largely contingent on measurements derived from the existing structure and the Wells vaults show no interest in ideal forms (except, perhaps in the five-point arches). We have so far found no evidence of so-called “Platonic” geometry, nor use of proportional formulae such as the ad quadratum and ad triangulatum principles. Use of the “four known elements” rule evidenced masons’ “cunning”, but did not involve anything more than manipulation and measurement using dividers rather than a calibrated ruler and none of the processes used required even the simplest mathematics. The designs and plans are based on practical ingenuity rather than theoretical knowledge.

Hard OCR

Last year at the Northeastern University Library we hosted a meeting on “hard OCR”—that is, physical texts that are currently very difficult to convert into digital texts using optical character recognition (OCR), a process that involves rapidly improving techniques like computer vision and machine learning. Representatives from libraries and archives, technology companies that have emerging AI tech (such as Google), and scholars with deep subject and language expertise all gathered to talk about how we could make progress in this area. (This meeting and the overall project by Ryan Cordell and David Smith of Northeastern’s NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks, “A Research Agenda for Historical and Multilingual Optical Character Recognition,” was generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.)

OCRing modern printed books has become if not a solved problem at least incredibly good—the best OCR software gets a character right in these textual conversions 99% of the time. But older printed books, ancient and medieval written works, writing outside of the Romance languages (e.g., in Arabic, Sanskrit, or Chinese), rare languages (such as Cherokee, with its unique 85-character alphabet, which I covered on the What’s New podcast), and handwritten documents of any kind, remain extremely challenging, with success rates often below 80%, and in some cases as low as 40%. That means 1-3 characters are mistakenly translated by the computer in a five-character word. Not good at all.

The meeting began to imagine a promising union of language expertise from scholars in the humanities and the most advanced technology for “reading” digital images. If the computer (which in the modern case, really means an immensely powerful cloud of thousands of computers) has some ground-truth texts to work from—say, a few thousand documents in their original form and a parallel machine-readable version of those same texts, painstakingly created by a subject/language expert—then a machine-learning algorithm can be created to interpret with much greater accuracy new texts in that language or from that era. In other words, if you have 10,000 medieval manuscript pages perfectly rendered in XML, you can train a computer to give you a reasonably effective OCR tool for the next 1,000,000 pages.

Transkribus is one of the tools that works in just this fashion, and it has been used to transcribe 1,000 years of highly variant written works, in many languages, into machine-readable text. Thanks to the monks of the Hilandar Monastery, who kindly shared their medieval manuscripts, Quinn Dombrowski, a digital humanities scholar with a specialty in medieval Slavic texts, trained Transkribus in handwritten Cyrillic manuscripts, and calls the latest results from the tool “truly nothing short of miraculous.”

[Again, you can subscribe to Humane Ingenuity to receive the full first issue right here. Thanks.]

SSD vs. HDD (Updated) / David Rosenthal

IDC & TrendForce data
via Aaron Rakers
Chris Mellor's How long before SSDs replace nearline disk drives? starts with a quote I think the good Dr. Pangloss would love:
Aaron Rakers, the Wells Fargo analyst, thinks enterprise storage buyers will start to prefer SSDs when prices fall to five times or less that of hard disk drives. They are cheaper to operate than disk drives, needing less power and cooling, and are much faster to access.
Below the fold, some skepticism.

Mellor continues:
So when will the wholesale switch from nearline HDD to SSDs begin? We don’t have a clear picture yet but a chart of $/TB costs for enterprise SSDs and nearline disk drives shows how much closer the two storage mediums have come in the past 18 months.

It is unwise to extrapolate too much but it is clear the general trend direction is that Enterprise SSD cost per terabyte is falling faster than nearline disk drive cost/TB. Our chart below shows the price premium for enterprise SSDs has dropped from 18x in the fourth 2017 quarter to 9x in the second 2019 quarter.
The chart is interesting but I think Rakers estimate of 5x as the tipping point is too optimistic, for several reasons:
  • The purchase cost of an HDD is much more than 20% of the power and cooling costs over its service life.
  • So the benefit of the extra speed would have to be large. But nearline drives only see accesses that the SSDs above them in the storage hierarchy don't handle. So speed isn't as important as low $/TB. Speed in nearline is nice, but it isn't what the nearline tier is for.
  • As SSDs get cheaper, the size of the tier above will grow slowly but steadily relative to the nearline tier. The upper tier will service more of the traffic, which will reduce the benefit of SSD's speed in the nearline tier.  At 5x their cost won't justify wholesale replacement of the nearline tier.
  • The recent drop in SSD price reflects the transition to 3D flash. The transition to 4D flash is far from imminent, so this is a one-time effect.
  • Industry projections should always be taken with many grains of salt, as my earlier posts about the good Dr. Pangloss indicate.
Update 4th Sept. 2019:

Western Digital shares my skepticism, as Chris Mellor now reports in Holy MAMR: Western Digital's 18TB and 20TB microwave disk drives out soon:
Western Digital said demand for high-capacity data centre disk drives will keep up over the next few years as it told the world it would begin shipping samples of its new MAMR 18 and 20TB drives over the next four months.
Seagate's 2009 roadmap
But note that, as has been true for an entire decade, we are still being promised that MAMR (and HAMR) will happen next year:
WD will sample the HC650 and HC550 drives to select customers by the end of the year, with qualification and volume shipments beginning in the first half of 2020. In other words, volume ships of these drives could be up to nine months away.