Librarians: We Open Access

Open Access storefront

Open Access (storefront). Credit: Flickr user Gideon Burton

In his February 11 post, my fellow LITA blogger Bryan Brown interrogated the definitions of librarianship. He concluded that librarianship amounts to a “set of shared values and duties to our communities,” nicely summarized in the ALA’s Core Values of Librarianship. These core values are access, confidentiality / privacy, democracy, diversity, education and lifelong learning, intellectual freedom, preservation, the public good, professionalism, service, and social responsibility. But the greatest of these is access, without which we would revert to our roots as monastic scriptoriums and subscription libraries for the literate elite.

Bryan experienced some existential angst given that he is a web developer and not a “librarian” in the sense of job title or traditional responsibilities–the ancient triad of collection development, cataloging, and reference. In contrast, I never felt troubled about my job, as my title is e-learning librarian (got that buzzword going for me, which is nice) and as I do a lot of mainstream librarian-esque things, especially camping up front doing reference or visiting classes doing information literacy instruction.

Buzzword meme

Meme by Michael Rodriguez using Imgflip

However, I never expected to become manager of electronic resources, systems, web redesign, invoicing and vendor negotiations, and hopefully a new institutional repository fresh out of library school. I did not expect to spend my mornings troubleshooting LDAP authentication errors, walking students through login issues, running cost-benefit analyses on databases, and training users on screencasting and BlackBoard.

But digital librarians like Bryan and myself are the new faces of librarianship. I deliver and facilitate electronic information access in the library context; therefore, I am a librarian. A web developer facilitates access to digital scholarship and library resources. A reference librarian points folks to information they need. An instruction librarian teaches people how to find and evaluate information. A cataloger organizes information so that people can access it efficiently. A collection developer selects materials that users will most likely desire to access. All of these job descriptions–and any others that you can produce–are predicated on the fundamental tenet of access, preferably open, necessarily free.

Democracy, diversity, and the public good is our vision. Our active mission is to open access to users freely and equitably. Within that mission lie intellectual freedom (open access to information regardless of moralistic or political beliefs), privacy (fear of publicity can discourage people from openly accessing information), preservation (enabling future users to access the information), and other values that grow from the opening of access to books, articles, artifacts, the web, and more.

The Librarians: We Open Access

The Librarians (Fair use – parody)

By now you will have picked up on my wordplay. The phrase “open access” (OA) typically refers to scholarly literature that is “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions” (Peter Suber). But when used as a verb rather than an adjective, “open” means not simply the state of being unrestricted but also the action of removing barriers to access. We librarians must not only cultivate the open fields–the commons–but also strive to dismantle paywalls and other obstacles to access. Recall Robert Frost’s Mending Wall:

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him…

Or librarians, good sir. Or librarians.

Jobs in Information Technology: February 25

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

Director of Library Services, Salve Regina University, Newport, RI

E-Services Manager/Senior Librarian, Marin County Free Library,   San Rafael, CA

Head of Research Services, Special Collections Library, Special Collections Library, Pennsylvania State University Libraries, University Park, PA

Instruction and Outreach Archivist, Special Collections Library, Pennsylvania State University Libraries, University Park, PA

Metadata and Digital Curation Librarian, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI

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

 

2015 Election Slate

voting symbol 2The LITA Board is pleased to announce the following slate of candidates for the 2015 spring election as follows:

Candidates for Vice-President/President-elect

  • Nancy Coylar
  • Aimee Fifarek

Candidates for Directors at Large, 2 elected for 3 year terms

  • Frank Cervone
  • Martin Kalfatovic
  • Susan Sharpless Smith
  • Ken Varnum

See candidate bios and statements for more information; voting in the 2015 ALA election will begin at 9 a.m. Central Time on March 24, 2015. Ballots will close at 11:59 p.m. Central Time on May 1. Election results will be announced on May 8. Check here for information about the general ALA election

The slate was recommended by the Nominating Committee. Karen G. Schneider is chair of the committee and Pat Ensor, Adriene Lim, and Chris Evjy are the committee members. The Board thanks the Nominating Committee for all their work. Be sure to thank these candidates for agreeing to serve, and the Nominating Committee for developing the slate. Best wishes to all.

2015 LITA Forum – Call for Proposals, Deadline Extended

litaforumplainThe LITA Forum is a highly regarded annual event for those involved in new and leading edge technologies in the library and information technology field. Please send your proposal submissions here by March 13, 2015, and join your colleagues in Minneapolis .

The 2015 LITA Forum Committee seeks proposals for excellent pre-conferences, concurrent sessions, and poster sessions for the 18th annual Forum of the Library Information and Technology Association, to be held in Minneapolis Minnesota, November 12-15, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis. This year will feature additional programming in collaboration with LLAMA, the Library Leadership & Management Association.

The Forum Committee welcomes creative program proposals related to all types of libraries: public, school, academic, government, special, and corporate.

Proposals could relate to any of the following topics:

• Cooperation & collaboration
• Scalability and sustainability of library services and tools
• Researcher information networks
• Practical applications of linked data
• Large- and small-scale resource sharing
• User experience & users
• Library spaces (virtual or physical)
• “Big Data” — work in discovery, preservation, or documentation
• Data driven libraries or related assessment projects
• Management of technology in libraries
• Anything else that relates to library information technology

Proposals may cover projects, plans, ideas, or recent discoveries. We accept proposals on any aspect of library and information technology, even if not covered by the above list. The committee particularly invites submissions from first time presenters, library school students, and individuals from diverse backgrounds. Submit your proposal through http://bit.ly/lita-2015-proposal by March 13, 2015.

Presentations must have a technological focus and pertain to libraries. Presentations that incorporate audience participation are encouraged. The format of the presentations may include single- or multi-speaker formats, panel discussions, moderated discussions, case studies and/or demonstrations of projects.

Vendors wishing to submit a proposal should partner with a library representative who is testing/using the product.

Presenters will submit draft presentation slides and/or handouts on ALA Connect in advance of the Forum and will submit final presentation slides or electronic content (video, audio, etc.) to be made available on the web site following the event. Presenters are expected to register and participate in the Forum as attendees; discounted registration will be offered.

Please submit your proposal through http://bit.ly/lita-2015-proposal, by the deadline of March 13, 2015

More information about LITA is available from the LITA website, Facebook and Twitter. Or contact Mark Beatty, LITA Programs and Marketing Specialist at mbeatty@ala.org

Tools for Creating & Sharing Slide Decks

Lately I’ve taken to peppering my Twitter network with random questions. Sometimes my questions go unanswered but other times I get lively and helpful responses. Such was the case when I asked how my colleagues share their slide decks.

Figuring out how to share my slide decks has been one of those things that consistently falls to the bottom of my to-do list. It’s important to me to do so because it means I can share my ideas beyond the very brief moment in time that I’m presenting them, allowing people to reuse and adapt my content. Now that I’m hooked on the GTD system using Trello, though, I said to myself, “hey girl, why don’t you move this from the someday/maybe list and actually make it actionable.” So I did.

Here’s my dilemma. When I was a library school student I began using SlideShare. There are a lot of great things about it – it’s free, it’s popular, and there are a lot of integrations. However… I’m just not feeling the look of it anymore. I don’t think it has been updated in years, resulting in a cluttered, outdated design. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m snobby when it comes to this sort of thing. I also hate that I can’t reorder slide decks once they’re uploaded. I would like to make sure my decks are listed in some semblance of chronological order but in order to do so I have to upload them in backwards order. It’s just crazy annoying how little control you have over the final arrangement and look of the slides.

So now that you’ve got the backstory, this is where the Twitter wisdom comes in. As it turns out, I learned about more than slide sharing platforms – I also found out about some nifty ways to create slide decks that made me feel like I’ve been living under a rock for the past few years. Here are some thoughts on HaikuDeck, HTMLDecks, and SpeakerDeck.

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Jobs in Information Technology: February 18

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

Library Technology Professional 2, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM

Systems & Information Technology Librarian (Assistant Professor), NYC College of Technology,  New York City,  NY

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

 

The Internet of Things

 

Internet

Internet Access Here Sign by Steve Rhode. Published on Flickr under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Intel announced in January that they are developing a new chip called Curie that will be the size of a button and it is bound to push The Internet of Things (IoT) forward quickly. The IoT is a concept where everyday items (refrigerators, clothes, cars, kitchen devices, etc.) will be connected to the internet.

The first time I heard of IoT was in the 2014 Horizon Report for K-12. Yes, I’m a little slow sometimes… There is also a new book out that was shared with me by one of the fellow LITA Bloggers, Erik Sandall, by David Rose titled Enchanted Objects: Design, Human Desire, and the Internet of Things. If you want an interesting read on this topic I recommend checking it out (a little library humor).

When I first heard of IoT, I thought it was really interesting, but wasn’t sure how quickly it would fully arrive. With Intel’s new chip I can imagine it arriving sooner than I thought. Last month, I blogged about Amazon Echo, and Echo fits in nicely with IoT.  I have to say that I’d really like to see more librarians jump on IoT and start a conversation on how information will be disseminated when our everyday items are connected to the internet.

According to the author of an article in Fast Company, IoT is going to make libraries even better! There was an article written in American Libraries by Mariam Pera on IoT, Lee Rainie did a presentation at Internet Librarian, and Ned Potter wrote about it on his blog.   But there is room for more conversation.

If anyone is interested in this conversation, please reach out!

AND

If you could have one device always connected to the internet what would it be? You can’t say your phone.

Diagrams Made Easy with LucidChart

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Marlon Hernandez 

For the past year, across four different classes and countless bars, I have worked on an idea that is quickly becoming my go-to project for any Master of Information Science assignment; the Archivist Beer Vault (ABV) database. At first it was easy to explain the contents: BEER! After incorporating more than one entity the explanation grew a bit murky:

ME: So remember my beer database? Well now it includes information on the brewery, style AND contains fictional store transactions
WIFE: Good for you honey.
ME: Yeah unfortunately that means I need to add a few transitive prop… I lost your attention after beer, didn’t I?

Which is a fair reaction since trying to describe the intricacies of abstract ideas such as entity relationship diagrams require clear-cut visuals. However, drawing these diagrams usually requires either expensive programs like Microsoft Visio (student rate $269) or underwhelming experiences of freeware. Enter Lucidchart, an easy to use and relatively inexpensive diagram solution.

Continue reading

Let’s Talk About E-rate

E-rate isn’t new news. Established almost 20 years ago (I feel old, and you’re about to too) by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, E-rate provides discounts to assist schools and libraries in the United States to obtain affordable telecommunications and internet access.

What is new news is the ALA initiative Got E-rate-rate_logoe? and more importantly the overhaul of E-rate which prompted the initiative- and it’s good news. The best part might well be 1.5 billion dollars added to annual available funding. What that means, in the simplest terms, is new opportunities for libraries to offer better, faster internet. It’s the chance for public libraries of every size to rethink their broadband networks and  make gains toward the broadband speeds necessary for library services.

But beyond the bottom line, this incarnation of E-rate has been deeply influenced by ALA input. The Association worked with the FCC to insure that the reform efforts would benefit libraries. So while we can all jump and cheer about more money/better internet, we can also get excited because there are more options for libraries who lack sufficient broadband capacity to design and maintain broadband networks that meet their community’s growing needs.

The application process has been improved and simplified, and if you need to upgrade your library’s wireless network, there are funds earmarked for that purpose specifically.

Other key victories in this reform include:

  • Adopting a building square footage formula for Category 2 (i.e., internal connections) funding that will ensure libraries of all sizes get a piece of the C2 pie.
  • Suspending the amortization requirement for new fiber construction.
  • Adopting 5 years as the maximum length for contracts using the expedited application review process.
  • Equalizing the program’s treatment of lit and dark fiber.
  • Allowing applicants that use the retroactive reimbursement process (i.e., BEAR form) to receive direct reimbursement from USAC.
  • Allowing for self-construction of fiber under certain circumstances.
  • Providing incentives for consortia and bulk purchasing.

If you’re interested in learning more, I’d suggest going to the source. But it’s a great Friday when you get to celebrate a victory for libraries everywhere.

To receive alerts on ALA’s involvement in E-rate, follow the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) on Twitter at @OITP. Use the Twitter hashtag #libraryerate

 

ALA Midwinter 2015 LITA Preconference Review: How User Testing Can Improve the User Experience of Your Library Website

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Tammi Owens

Last July, Winona State University’s Darrell W. Krueger Library rolled out a completely new website. This January we added to that new user experience by upgrading to LibGuides and LibAnswers v2. Now, we’re looking for continuous improvement through continuous user experience (UX) testing. Although I have some knowledge of the history and general tenets of user experience and website design, I signed up for this LITA pre-conference to dive into some case studies and ask specific questions of UX specialists. I hoped to come away with a concrete plan or framework for UX testing at our library. Specifically, I wanted to know how to implement the results of UX testing on our website.

The instructors

Kate Lawrence is the Vice President of User Research at EBSCO. Deirdre Costello is the Senior User Experience Researcher at EBSCO. I was a little nervous this seminar was going to be surreptitious vendor marketing, but there was no EBSCO marketing at all. Kate brought decades of experience in the user research sector to our conversations, and Dierdre, as a recent MLIS with library experience, was able to connect the dots between research and practice.

The session

There were six participants in our session, with a mix of public and university libraries represented. Participants who attended the session are at all stages of website redesign and have different levels of control over our institutional websites. Some of us report to committees, while others have complete ownership of their library’s site. As in the Python pre-conference, participant experience levels were mixed.

The session was divided into four main sections: “Why usability matters,” “Website best practices,” “Usability: Process,” and an overview of UserTesting.com, a company EBSCO uses during their research. Kate and Deirdre presented each section with a slide deck, but interspersed videos and discussion into their formal presentation.

The introductions to usability and website best practices were review for me, but offered enough additional information and examples that I continued to be engaged throughout the morning. Some memorable moments for me were watching and discussing Steve Krug’s usability demo, and visiting two websites: readability-score.com and voiceandtone.com.

After lunch, Kate went step-by-step through a typical usability testing process in her department. She has nine steps in her process (yes, nine!), but after she explained each step it somehow went from overwhelming and scary to doable and exciting.

After another break, Kate and Deirdre invited Sadaf Ahmed in to speak about the company UserTesting.com. Unfortunately, this was less hands-on than I expected it to be, but I was gobsmacked by the information that could be gleaned quickly using the tool. (In short: students use Google a lot more than I ever imagined.)

At the end of the day, Kate and Deirdre set aside time for us to create research questions with which to begin our UX testing. By that time, though, everyone was overloaded with new information and we all agreed we’d rather go home, apply our knowledge, and contact Kate and Deirdre directly for feedback.

Further study

To make sure we could implement user testing at our own institutions, Kate and Deirdre distributed USB drives filled with research plans, presentations, and reports. If they referenced it during the day, it went on our USB drives. This is proving to be beneficial as I make sense of my own notes from the session and begin the research plan for our first major UX test. Additionally, Kate ordered several books for all attendees to read in the coming weeks. These items alone, along with the new network we created among attendees during the day, may be the most valuable part of the session going forward.

Review in a nutshell

This pre-conference was, for me, well worth the time and money to attend. The case studies we discussed contributed to my understanding of how to ask small questions about our website in order to make a big impact on user experience. I left with exactly the tools I desired: a framework for user testing implementation, and connections to colleagues who are willing to help us make it happen at Winona State.

Tammi Owens is the Emerging Services and Liaison Librarian at Winona State University in Winona, MN. Along with being a liaison to three academic departments, her position at the library means she often coordinates technical projects and gets to play with cool toys. Find her on Twitter (@tammi_owens) during conferences and over email (towens@winona.edu) otherwise.