Get Involved in the National Digital Platform for Libraries

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Emily Reynolds and Trevor Owens.

Recently IMLS has increased its focus on funding digital library projects through the lens of our National Digital Platform strategic priority area. The National Digital Platform is the combination of software applications, social and technical infrastructure, and staff expertise that provides library content and services to all users in the U.S… in other words, it’s the work many LITA members are already doing!

Participants at IMLS Focus: The National Digital Platform
Participants at IMLS Focus: The National Digital Platform

As libraries increasingly use digital infrastructure to provide access to digital content and resources, there are more and more opportunities for collaboration around the tools and services that they use to meet their users’ needs. It is possible for each library in the country to leverage and benefit from the work of other libraries in shared digital services, systems, and infrastructure. We’re looking at ways to maximize the impact of our funds by encouraging collaboration, interoperability, and staff training. We are excited to have this chance to engage with and invite participation from the librarians involved in LITA in helping to develop and sustain this national digital platform for libraries.

National Digital Platform convening report
National Digital Platform convening report

Earlier this year, IMLS held a meeting at the DC Public Library to convene stakeholders from across the country to identify opportunities and gaps in existing digital library infrastructure nationwide. Recordings of those sessions are now available online, as is a summary report published by OCLC Research. Key themes include:

Continue reading Get Involved in the National Digital Platform for Libraries

Jobs in Information Technology: September 2, 2015

New vacancy listings are posted weekly on Wednesday at approximately 12 noon Central Time. They appear under New This Week and under the appropriate regional listing. Postings remain on the LITA Job Site for a minimum of four weeks.

New This Week:

Head Librarian, Science Library and Director of Scholarly Communications, Princeton University, Princeton,NJ

Sales Representative, Backstage Library Works, Midwest Region

Analyst Programmer III, Oregon State University Libraries & Press, Corvallis, OR

Web Product Manager and Usability Specialist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Interlibrary Loan/Reference Librarian, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, PA

Health Sciences Librarian, Asst or Assoc Professor, SIU Edwardsville, Edwardsville, IL

University Archivist, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC


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

The Case for Open Tools in Pedagogy

Academic libraries support certain software by virtue of what they have available on their public computers, what their librarians are trained to use, and what instruction sessions they offer. Sometimes libraries don’t have a choice in the software they are tasked with supporting, but often they do. If the goal of the software support is to simply help students achieve success in the short term, then any software that the library already has a license for is fair game. If the goal is to teach them a tool they can rely on anywhere, then libraries must consider the impact of choosing open tools over commercial ones.

Suppose we have a student, we’ll call them “Student A”, who wants to learn about citation management. They see a workshop on EndNote, a popular piece of citation management software, and they decide to attend. Student A becomes enamored with EndNote and continues to grow their skills with it throughout their undergraduate career. Upon graduating, Student A gets hired and is expected to keep up with the latest research in their field, but suddenly they no longer have access to EndNote through their university’s subscription. They can either pay for an individual license, or choose a new piece of citation management software (losing all of their hard earned EndNote-specific skills in the process).

Now let’s imagine Student B who also wants to learn about citation management software but ends up going to a workshop promoting Zotero, an open source alternative to EndNote. Similar to Student A, Student B continues to use Zotero throughout their undergraduate career, slowly mastering it. Since Zotero requires no license to use, Student B continues to use Zotero after graduating, allowing the skills that served them as a student to continue to do so as a professional.

Which one of these scenarios do you think is more helpful to the student in the long run? By teaching our students to use tools that they will lose access to once outside of the university system, we are essentially handing them a ticking time bomb that will explode as they transition from student to professional, which happens to be one of the most vulnerable and stressful periods in one’s life. Any academic library that cares about the continuing success of their students once they graduate should definitely take a look at their list of current supported software and ask themselves, “Am I teaching a tool or a time bomb?”

August Library Tech Roundup

image courtesy of Flickr user cdevers (CC BY NC ND)

Each month, the LITA bloggers will share selected library tech links, resources, and ideas that resonated with us. Enjoy – and don’t hesitate to tell us what piqued your interest recently in the comments section!

Brianna M.

Here are some of the things that caught my eye this month, mostly related to digital scholarship.

John K.

Jacob S.

  • I’m thankful for Shawn Averkamp’s Python library for interacting with ContentDM (CDM), including a Python class for editing CDM metadata via their Catcher, making it much less of a pain batch editing CDM metadata records.
  • I recently watched an ALA webinar where Allison Jai O’Dell presented on TemaTres, a platform for publishing linked data controlled vocabularies.

Nimisha B.

There have been a lot of great publications and discussions in the realm of Critlib lately concerning cataloging and library discovery. Here are some, and a few other things of note:

Michael R.

  • Adobe Flash’s days seem numbered as Google Chrome will stop displaying Flash adverts by default, following Firefox’s lead. With any luck, Java will soon follow Flash into the dustbin of history.
  • NPR picked up the story of DIY tractor repairs running afoul of the DMCA. The U.S. Copyright Office is considering a DMCA exemption for vehicle repair; a decision is scheduled for October.
  • Media autoplay violates user control and choice. Video of a fatal, tragic Virginia shooting has been playing automatically in people’s feeds. Ads on autoplay are annoying, but this…!

Cinthya I.

These are a bit all over the map, but interesting nonetheless!

Bill D.

I’m all about using data in libraries, and a few things really caught my eye this month.

David K.

Whitni W.

Marlon H.

  • Ever since I read an ACRL piece about library adventures with Raspberry Pi, I’ve wanted to build my own as a terminal for catalog searches and as an self checkout machine. Adafruit user Ruizbrothers‘ example of how to Build an All-In-One Desktop using the latest version of Raspberry Pi might just what I need to finally get that project rolling.
  • With summer session over (and with it my MSIS, yay!) I am finally getting around to planning my upgrade from Windows 8.1 to 10. Lifehacker’s Alan Henry, provides quite a few good reasons to opt for a Clean Install over the standard upgrade option. With more and more of my programs conveniently located just a quick download away and a wide array of cloud solutions safeguarding my data, I think I found my weekend project.

Share the most interesting library tech resource you found this August in the comments!

Jobs in Information Technology: August 26, 2015

New vacancy listings are posted weekly on Wednesday at approximately 12 noon Central Time. They appear under New This Week and under the appropriate regional listing. Postings remain on the LITA Job Site for a minimum of four weeks.

New This Week:

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

iPads in the Library

Charging cart filled with ipads

Getting Started/Setting Things Up

Several years ago we added twenty iPad 2s to use in our children’s and teen programming. They have a variety of apps on them ranging from early literacy and math apps to Garage Band and iMovie to Minecraft and Clash of Clans*. Ten of the iPads are geared towards younger kids and ten are slanted towards teen interests.

Not surprisingly, the iPads were very popular when we first acquired them. We treated app selection as an extension of our collection development policy. Both the Children’s and Adult Services departments have a staff iPad they can use to try out apps before adding them to the programming iPads.

We bought a cart from Spectrum Industries (a WI-based company; we also have several laptop carts from them) so that we had a place to house and charge the devices. The cart has space for forty iPads/tablets total. We use an Apple MacBook and the Configurator app to handle updating the iPads and adding content to them. We created a Volume Purchase Program account in order to buy multiple copies of apps and then get reimbursed for taxes after the fact. The VPP does not allow for tax exempt status but the process of receiving refunds is pretty seamless.

The back of our iPad cart showing power plugs and USB ports.

The only ‘bothersome’ part of updating the iPads is switching the cable from the power plug to the USB ports (see above) and then making sure that all the iPads have their power cables plugged firmly into them to make a solid connection. Once I’d done it a few times it became less awkward. The MacBook needs to be plugged into the wall or it won’t have enough power for the iPads. It also works best running on an ethernet connection versus WiFi for downloading content.

It takes a little effort to set up the Conifgurator** but once you have it done, all you need to do is plug the USB into the MacBook, launch the Configurator, and the iPads get updated in about ten to fifteen minutes even if there’s an iOS update.

Maintaining the Service/Adjusting to Our Changing Environment

Everything was great. Patrons loved the iPads. They were easy to maintain. They were getting used.

Then the school district got a grant and gave every student, K-12, their own iPad.

They rolled them out starting with the high school students and eventually down through the Kindergartners. The iPads are the students’ responsibility. They use them for homework and note-taking. Starting in third grade they get to take them home over the summer.

Suddenly our iPads weren’t so interesting any more. Not only that, but our computer usage plummeted. Now that our students had their own Internet-capable device they didn’t need our computers any more. They do need our WiFi and not surprisingly those numbers went up.

There are restrictions for the students. For example, younger students can’t put games on their iPads. And while older students have fewer restrictions, they don’t tend to put pay apps on their iPads. That means we have things on our iPads that the students couldn’t or didn’t have.

I started meeting with the person at the school district in charge of the program a couple times a year. We talk about technology we’re implementing at our respective workplaces and figure out what we can do to supplement and help each other. I’ll unpack this in a future post and talk about creating local technology partnerships.

Recently I formed a technology committee consisting of staff from every department in the library. One of the things we’ll be addressing is the iPads. We want to make sure that they’re being used. Also, it won’t be too long and they will be out-of-date and we’ll have to decide if we’re replacing them and whether we’d just recycle the old devices or repurpose them (as OPACs potentially?).

We don’t circulate iPads but I’d certainly be open to that idea. How many of you have iPads/tablets in your library? What hurdles have you faced?

* This is a list of what apps are on the iPads as of August 2015. Pay apps are marked with a $:

  • Children’s iPads (10): ABC Alphabet Phonics, Air Hockey Gold, Bub – Wider, Bunny Fun $, Cliffed: Norm’s World XL, Dizzypad HD, Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App! $, Easy-Bake Treats, eliasMATCH $, Escape – Norm’s World XL, Fairway Solitaire HD, Fashion Math, Go Away, Big Green Monster! $, Hickory Dickory Dock, Jetpack Joyride, Make It Pop $, Mango Languages, Minecraft – Pocket Edition $, Moo, Baa, La La La! $, My Little Pony: Twilight Sparkle, Teacher for a Day $, NFL Kicker 13, Offroad Legends Sahara, OverDrive, PewPew, PITFALL!, PopOut! The Tale of Peter Rabbit! $, Punch Quest, Skee-Ball HD Free, Sound Shaker $, Spot the Dot $, The Cat in the Hat – Dr. Seuss $, Waterslide Express
  • Teen iPads (10): Air Hockey Gold, Bad Flapping Dragon, Bub – Wider, Can You Escape, Clash of Clans, Cliffed: Norm’s World XL, Codea $, Cut the Rope Free, Despicable Me: Minion Rush, Dizzypad HD, Easy-Bake Treats, Escape – Norm’s World XL, Fairway Solitaire HD, Fashion Math, Fruit Ninja Free, GarageBand $, iMovie $, Jetpack Joyride, Mango Languages, Minecraft – Pocket Edition $, NFL Kicker 13, Ninja Saga, Offroad Legends Sahara, OverDrive, PewPew, PITFALL!, Punch Quest, Restaurant Town, Skee-Ball HD Free, Stupid Zombies Free, Temple Run, Waterslide Express, Zombies vs. Ninja

** It’s complicated but worth spelling out so I’m working on a follow-up post to explain the process of creating a VPP account and getting the Configurator set up the way you want it.

Jobs in Information Technology: August 19, 2015

New vacancy listings are posted weekly on Wednesday at approximately 12 noon Central Time. They appear under New This Week and under the appropriate regional listing. Postings remain on the LITA Job Site for a minimum of four weeks.

New This Week:

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

Attend the 2015 LITA Forum

Don’t Miss the 2015 LITA Forum
Minneapolis, MN
November 12-15, 2015

Registration is Now Open!

Join us in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis for the 2015 LITA Forum, a three-day education and networking event featuring 2 preconferences, 3 keynote sessions, more than 55 concurrent sessions and 15 poster presentations. This year including content and planning collaboration with LLAMA. It’s the 18th annual gathering of the highly regarded LITA Forum for technology-minded information professionals. Meet with your colleagues involved in new and leading edge technologies in the library and information technology field. Registration is limited in order to preserve the important networking advantages of a smaller conference. Attendees take advantage of the informal Friday evening reception, networking dinners and other social opportunities to get to know colleagues and speakers.

Keynote Speakers:

  • Mx A. Matienzo, Director of Technology for the Digital Public Library of America
  • Carson Block, Carson Block Consulting Inc.
  • Lisa Welchman, President of Digital Governance Solutions at ActiveStandards.

The Preconference Workshops:

  • So You Want to Make a Makerspace: Strategic Leadership to support the Integration of new and disruptive technologies into Libraries: Practical Tips, Tricks, Strategies, and Solutions for bringing making, fabrication and content creation to your library.
  • Beyond Web Page Analytics: Using Google tools to assess searcher behavior across web properties.

Comments from past attendees:

“Best conference I’ve been to in terms of practical, usable ideas that I can implement at my library.”
“I get so inspired by the presentations and conversations with colleagues who are dealing with the same sorts of issues that I am.”
“After LITA I return to my institution excited to implement solutions I find here.”
“This is always the most informative conference! It inspires me to develop new programs and plan initiatives.”

Forum Sponsors:

EBSCO, Ex Libris, Optimal Workshop, OCLC, Innovative, BiblioCommons, Springshare, A Book Apart and Rosenfeld Media.

Get all the details, register and book a hotel room at the 2015 Forum Web site.

See you in Minneapolis.

LITA logo

Interacting with Patrons Through Their Mobile Devices

Mobile technologies, specifically smartphones, have become a peripheral appendage to our everyday experience. We often see individuals oblivious to current surroundings exhibiting dedicated attention to their mobile devices. This behavior is often viewed in a negative light; however, with the level of global media engagement people are able to achieve with these devices, it can be hard to blame them. The ability to participate in social media, sending quick messages to friends, listen to music, watch videos, surfing the web, fact check information, or even read a great book, is all right in your hand.

When attempting to interact with patrons through technology, utilizing their familiarity with their mobile device can help to achieve a more positive experience. This is when “Let’s build an app” is often reverberated. Although that is a great idea, it is a complex development process and there are a number of ways to achieve interactive experiences without the development of a new mobile application.

Over the course of the next several blog posts, I will be discussing various methods of interacting with patrons mobile devices to enhance their experiences through the use of QR codes, NFC (Near Field Communication) tags, and BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) Beacons. Each of these technologies allow for a different experience, and have areas where they excel and falter, but when incorporating each technology appropriately they can create a comprehensive interactive experience to enhance information seeking.

A Couple of Not Totally Useless Things You Can Do on the Command Line [written for beginners]

As a librarian who has been very engaged in the movement to demystify programming, I’ve really focused on teaching and sharing tools that users can use in daily life, as that has been the most common question I get when teaching, “When will I use this?” This post has been heavily influenced by my work in teaching programming to the non-programmer and teaching something that can be applied beyond the classroom.

With the start of school on the cusp (and for some already come and gone) I wanted to throw something not totally useless out there for you to tuck away to use on a rainy day or now if you’d like.

These have been written in mind that you may have some, experience with the command line but very little. I apologize for those more experience users if this is a bit dense in explanation.

I’ve ran these successfully on both MacOS X Yosemite and Linux-Ubuntu. This is my first attempt at providing documentation on something like this, so please feel free to critique it.

If you are a Windows user, I recommend downloading Console2 [], which is a terminal-emulator that will allow you similar access to the commands used in Linux and MacOS X

For this documentation anything following the $ is what you will type into your command prompt. The $ denotes a new command to be entered on a new line, some commands wrap, but do not hit enter until you’ve type the entire command. For the most part, you can copy and paste the command directly into the terminal, but make sure you make the necessary changes.

Use Find and Exiftool to gather & organize all of your pictures by creation date into folders by year and month

This will walk you through full install of Perl, Exiftool, directory creation and processing of files. Exiftool is a really handy tool for reading, writing and editing metadata in a significant range of file types, so it is a really great tool to have in general.

First you’ll need to install Perl and exiftool. There is a high possibility that your computer will already have Perl installed, but in the case that it doesn’t you will need to install it.

To check to see if you have Perl installed use this command:

$ perl –v

If it is installed, you will get information on the version of Perl you have installed and you can skip the next command.

If it is not installed you will need to install it.

$ curl –L | bash

Installing exiftool For full Perl distribution, download the Image-ExifTool distribution from to your desktop (if you do not specify where to download it, then cut & paste the download from the downloads folder to your Desktop) and then in your terminal run the following.  **You will be using sudo on one command, please be VERY careful with this as it can do some major damage if not used properly.**

$ cd ~/Desktop
$ tar -xzf Image-ExifTool-9.99.tar.gz
$ cd Image-ExifTool-9.99
$ sudo cp -r exiftool lib /usr/local/bin

Don’t want to use the terminal to install this? Go to and download the version you need and install it as a normal package.

Anytime you want to run exiftool, you call it up by typing exiftool into the command line.

Now we need to make the folder to compile all the images we want to sort into one place.

$ cd Documents
$ mkdir “newfoldername”
$ pwd
$ cd ~

Replace “newfoldername” with the name of the folder you want to create and use.

pwd will give you the directory pathway for Documents/newfoldername you will need in the next few commands so make note of it, copy it or write it down.

We are going to find all of the JPG files on your computer and put them into that folder you just created. The tilde (~) denotes home directory which will search your entire computer; if you have all of your photos in another directory you can use the pathway for that instead.

This command will find in your computer all files with extensions .JPG and .jpg and copy them to the new specified folder retaining the original files & their modification information. It is important to compile them in one folder so you can run exiftool much more quickly.

$ cd ~
$ find ~ -iname ‘*.jpg’ -print -exec cp –pr ‘{}’ Documents/newfoldername \;

If you want to search other file types like .png, then replace the JPG with png.

If you need to be case sensitive on the extension, remove the i from –iname.

Replace “Documents/newfoldername” with the pathway to directory you just created (noted from pwd command)

Using Exiftool to organize all the files into folders by year and month using this line of command.

$ exiftool ‘-Directory<CreateDate’ –d
$ Documents/newfoldername/%y/%y%m –r Documents/newfoldername

Replace both instances of Documents/newfoldername directory with the directory you created.

Use Exiftool to sort all of your files by create date and then into folders by year and month

If you just want to copy and sort all of your files into folders, not specifying file types run this command instead.

$ Exiftool –o . ‘-Directory<CreateDate’ –d Documents/createfolder/%y/%y%m –r ~

This will search the entire root directory, and any file types that can be copied will be copied and organized by creation date in the folder you specify.

Keep in mind that Exiftool is not limited to moving only image files so you can play around with this as you want.

Send a text message from your command line with this script:

$ curl -d number=########## -d “message= your text message goes here”

Where the ########## is your 10 digit number and your message goes after the message= and closed with a “

If you are going to send notifications to your phone often you can add it as a quick command:

$ SendText () { curl -d number=########## -d “message=$*”;echo message sent; }

Now anytime you want to send a text to that number input into the command line:

$ SendText your message goes here

You can also run this as a module or a standalone server, see GitHub source here:

This can be used to send notifications to your phone when running a program. Currently, I just use it to send the grocery list to myself, cause you know there is an app for that.

Here is a write up of an example of something you might want to receive text notifications on: