We Want YOU to Write a Guest Post!

Yes, you!

Are you looking for a platform to share your ideas with the library tech community? We’re a pretty friendly bunch in LITA and we hope you’ll consider sharing your intriguing library tech-related stories, plans, failures, hacks, code snippets – whatever! – here on the blog this year. There is a lot of room for contributor creativity, so get excited. You do not need to be a LITA member in order to write a guest post, though it’s great if you are!

To submit an idea for consideration, please email LITA blog editor Brianna Marshall at briannahmarshall(at)gmail(dot)com sharing a bit about yourself and a brief summary of your post topic.

Long Live Firefox!

Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 7.16.52 PM
Until I became a librarian, I never gave much thought to web browsers. In the past I used Safari when working on a Mac, Chrome on my Android tablet, and showed the typical disdain for Internet Explorer. If I ever used Firefox it was purely coincidental, but now it’s my first choice and here’s why.

This month Mozilla launched Firefox 34 and announced a deal to make Yahoo their default search engine. I wasn’t alone in wondering if that move would be bad for business (if you’re like me, you avoid Yahoo like the plague). Mozilla also raised some eyebrows by asking for donations on their home page this year.

I switched to Firefox a few months ago, prior to all the commotion, when I came across Mozilla’s X-Ray Goggles, an add-on that allows you to view how a webpage is constructed (the Denver Public Library has a great project tutorial using X-Ray Goggles that I highly recommend). I was pleasantly surprised to find a slew of other resources for teaching the web and after doing a little more digging, I was taken by Mozilla’s support of an open web and intrigued by their non-profit status.

At the library I frequently encounter patrons who have pledged their allegiance to Google or Apple or Microsoft and I’m the same way. I was excited to update to Lollipop on my tablet and I’m saving up for an iMac, but I cringe when I think about Google’s privacy policies or Apple’s sweatshops. Are these companies that I really want to support?

I was teaching an Android class the other day and a patron asked me which browser is the best. I told her that I use Firefox because I support Mozilla and what they stand for. She chuckled at my response. Maybe it’s silly to stand up for any corporation, but given the choice I want to support the one that does the most good (or the least evil).

Mozilla’s values and goals are very much in line with the modern library. If you’re on the fence about Firefox, take a look at their Privacy Policy, Add-Ons, and see how easy it is to switch your default search engine back to Google. You just might change your mind.

Don’t Miss the OpenStreetMaps Webinar


Before Hackforge’s Mita Williams Masters session on new spaces at the ALA 2015 Midwinter Meeting, you can attend her next LITA webinar, part of the “Re-drawing the Map”–a webinar series:

OpenStreetMaps: Trust the map that anyone can change

Tuesday December 9, 2014
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm Central Time
Instructor: Mita Williams
Register for this webinar

Ever had a map send you the wrong way and wished you could change it? Learn how to add your local knowledge to the “Wikipedia of Maps.”

It’s been said that “the map is not the territory”. But when when the most of the world’s websites and mobile apps rely on maps from private corporations who selectively show you places based on who you are (and who pays for the privilege), perhaps we should cede that territory for higher ground. It’s counter-intuitive to trust a map that anyone can edit, but OpenStreetMap is already the geospatial foundation of some of the world’s most popular sites including Pinterest, Evernote, and github. This session will introduce you to OpenStreetMap and show you how you can both contribute to and make use of the “Wikipedia of Maps”.

Full details

Can’t make the date but still want to join in? Registered participants will have access to the recorded webinar.


  • LITA Member: $39
  • Non-Member: $99
  • Group: $190

Registration Information:

Register Online page arranged by session date (login required)


Mail or fax form to ALA Registration
OR call 1-800-545-2433 and press 5
OR email registration@ala.org

Questions or Comments?

For all other questions or comments related to the course, contact LITA at (312) 280-4269 or Mark Beatty, mbeatty@ala.org.

LITA Updates, December 2014

This is one of our periodic messages sent to all LITA members. This update includes items as follows:

  • 2015 Election Slate
  • January Workshops in Chicago
  • Online Learning Opportunities
  • 2015 LITA Forum Call for Proposals
  • Emerging Leaders
  • LITA Blog Transformation

2015 Election Slate

The Nominating Committee recommended the slate of candidates, and, the Board approved the slate for the spring 2015 election as follows:

Nancy Colyar and Aimee Fifarek.
Frank Cervone, Martin Kalfatovic, Susan Sharpless Smith, and, Ken Varnum.
The ballot will indicate that you may vote for two Directors-at-Large.

The Board thanks the Nominating Committee: Karen G. Schneider, chair, and, Adriene Lim, Pat Ensor, and, Chris Evjy, members, for their work in developing this slate. The Board thanks each candidate for their dedication to LITA.

Please note the corrected filing date:
Individuals who are not selected by the Nominating Committee may run for office by petition. You may file online Starting at this link, you must log into the ALA site as a member, select LITA for your petition and follow the steps. You may also File a paper petition form with the signatures of ten members of the Division with the Executive Director by the end of the day on January 20, 2015.

January Workshops in Chicago

Three full day workshops are planned for Friday, January 30, 2015:

  1. Developing mobile apps to support field research with Wayne Johnston, University of Guelph Library
  2. Introduction to practical programming with Elizabeth Wickes, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and
  3. From Lost to Found: How user testing can improve the user experience of your library website with Kate Lawrence and Deirdre Costello, EBSCO, and, Robert Newell, University of Houston.

Registration is handled through the ALA Midwinter registration process. Please note: you do not have to register for the Midwinter Conference in order to register for one of these workshops. If you are registered for Midwinter, you can simply add a workshop to your registration. Registrations will be accepted on site as well.

Online Learning Opportunities

You still have time to register for two of the three webinars focused on re-drawing the map:

  1. OpenStreetMap: Trust the map that anyone can change with Mita Williams next Tuesday, December 9th. OpenStreetMap is the geospatial foundation of some of the world’s most popular sites including Pinterest, Evernote, and github. Learn how to both contribute to and make use of this “Wikipedia of Maps”. Mita is the User Experience Librarian at Windsor’s Leddy Library, director of Hackforge through the Windsor Public Library, and is lead of Open Data WindsorEssex.
  2. Coding Maps with Leaflet.js, the final re-drawing the map webinar, is scheduled for January 6th. Learn to create your own maps using the Leaflet JavaScript library. Cecily Walker is the local coordinator for Maptime Vancouver, and is interested in the human side of information visualization.

Getting Started with GIS, is a web course that runs from January 12 through February 9, 2015. Eva Dodsworth, University of Waterloo, is offering this popular course modeled on her LITA Guide of the same name. The course provides an introduction to GIS technology and GIS in libraries.

2015 LITA Forum Call for Proposals

The 2015 LITA Forum call for proposals is available. The deadline for submitting a proposal for the LITA Forum Planning Committee’s consideration, is February 28, 2015. The Forum will be in Minneapolis, Minnesota next November 12-15.

Emerging Leaders

Isabell Gonzalez-Smith is the newest LITA sponsored Emerging Leader. Gonzalez-Smith is the Academic Resident Librarian and Visiting Instructor in the Richard J. Daley Library at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Isabell is currently active in the User Experience Interest Group.

Additional LITA members who have been accepted into the Program include: Nik Dragovic, Sarah Espinosa, Amanda Goodman, Jennifer Nabzdyk, Bethany Tschaepe.

Congratulations to each of these LITA members who are participating in this leadership opportunity.

LITA Blog Transformation

Thanks to Brianna Marshall, LITA Blog editor, and her team of bloggers, the LITA Blog is your source for library technology news (e.g., short videos of members (deadline is 12/15), Top Tech Trends call for panelists (deadline 12/10 if you want to be considered), articles of interest, plus member products and services announcements).

I encourage you to connect with LITA by:

  1. Exploring our web site.
  2. Subscribing to LITA-L email discussion list.
  3. Visiting the LITA blog and LITA Division page on ALA Connect.
  4. Connecting with us on Facebook and Twitter.
  5. Reaching out to the LITA leadership at any time.

Please note: the Information Technology and Libraries (ITAL) journal is available to you and to the entire profession. ITAL features high-quality articles that undergo rigorous peer-review as well as case studies, commentary, and information about topics and trends of interest to the LITA community and beyond. Be sure to sign up for notifications when new issues are posted (March, June, September, and December).

If you have any questions or wish to discuss any of these items, please do let me know.

All the best,


Mary Taylor, Executive Director
Library and Information Technology Association (LITA)
50 E. Huron, Chicago, IL 60611
800-545-2433 x4267
312-280-4267 (direct line)
312-280-3257 (fax)
mtaylor (at) ala.org

Join us in Minneapolis, November 12-15, 2015 for the LITA Forum.

Tell your LITA story

Building on ALA Midwinter 2014’s #becauseLITA initiative, members of LITA’s membership development committee want to pull together a short video that captures your response to one of the following prompts:

  • What was your best LITA moment?
  • How has LITA made your life awesome?
  • What interests you most about LITA?

That means we want YOU to participate! Yes, I know – sounds like a lot of pressure to talk on camera, but it’s really not that bad. Plus you’ll get everlasting appreciation from the LITA crew for helping out!

In particular, we are looking to hear the perspectives of LITA members who are students, new professionals and/or new to LITA, and longstanding LITA members.


  • Length can be as brief as a Vine (6 seconds) up to two minutes, though be warned we may need to only use a portion of what you submit. Please keep it short and sweet!
  • Include your name, institution, how long you’ve been a LITA member, and anything else you’d like us to know.
  • Please get it to us by Monday, December 15 so we can work on editing over winter break. Imagine how satisfied you’ll feel to check this off your pre-holiday to-do list!
  • Email videos (or questions) to Brianna at briannahmarshall [at] gmail [dot] com.

Thanks for participating and we can’t wait to see what you come up with!

5 Tech Tools to be Thankful For

In honor of Thanksgiving, I’d like to give thanks for 5 tech tools that make life as a librarian much easier.

Google Drive
On any given day I work on at least 6 different computers and tablets. That means I need instant access to my documents wherever I go and without cloud storage I’d be lost. While there are plenty of other free file hosting services, I like Drive the most because it offers 15GB of free storage and it’s incredibly easy to use. When I’m working with patrons who already have a Gmail account, setting up Drive is just a click away.

I dabbled in Goodreads for a bit, but I must say, Libib has won me over. Libib lets you catalog your personal library and share your favorite media with others. While it doesn’t handle images quite as well as Goodreads, I much prefer Libib’s sleek and modern interface. Instead of cataloging books that I own, I’m currently using Libib to create a list of my favorite children’s books to recommend to patrons.

Hopscotch is my favorite iOS app right now. With Hopscotch, you can learn the fundamentals of coding through play. The app is marketed towards kids, but I think the bubbly characters and lighthearted nature appeals to adults too. I’m using Hopscotch in an upcoming adult program at the library to show that coding can be quirky and fun. If you want to use Hopscotch at your library, check out their resources for teachers. They’ve got fantastic ready made lesson plans for the taking.

Adobe Illustrator
My love affair with Photoshop started many years ago, but as I’ve gotten older, Illustrator and I have become a much better match. I use Illustrator to create flyers, posters, and templates for computer class handouts. The best thing about Illustrator is that it’s designed for working with vector graphics. That means I can easily translate a design for a 6-inch bookmark into a 6-foot poster without losing image quality.

Twitter is hands-down my social network of choice. My account is purely for library-related stuff and I know I can count on Twitter to pick me up and get me inspired when I’m running out of steam. Thanks to all the libraries and librarians who keep me going!

What tech tools are you thankful for? Please share in the comments!

Tech Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself – Vol. 3

Thank You Robot

Robot by MiKaArt.

The holidays are upon us, LITA Blog readers.  As we all wind down end of year tasks and prepare for our own celebrations, this penultimate installment of Tech Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself for 2014 is my way of saying thanks. Thanksgiving is maybe my favorite holiday- I love the way in which it is casual, hangout-focused, and food-intensive- but I also love the tone of gratitude that colors it. So, let me express how grateful I am for all of you, reading this blog and supporting our efforts. Thank you for being there.

For the uninitiated, Tech Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself (TYBYWY) is a monthly selection of free webinars, classes, and other education opportunities for the aspiring technologist and the total newbie alike.

The Monthly MOOC

If, like so many of us, you’re intrigued by use of gamification in content design and delivery, Coursera’s perennially popular MOOC on the subject is open starting January 26th. Make your New Year’s resolution to educate yourself on this powerful outreach method. It’s particularly interesting from a training/instructional design perspective.

Worthwhile Webinars

OpenCon has posted its 2014 Webcast Round-Up, and the resources there are excellent if you are trying to learn more about Open Access.

I know that I’ve mentioned them in past post, but Library Journal’s Webcast series has been stepping up its game recently. These programs are on my docket, and you should consider attending too:

November 14th (Yes, TODAY) – Data, Assessment, and Participatory Design: Rethinking Information Literacy, Spaces, and Services in Two Academic Libraries

November 18th – Common x 3 (Public, Academic, School): Designing next generation gathering and learning spaces for libraries of every type

November 20th – Library UX: Unique Programs and Services for an Engaged Community | Lead the Change

Two Cool Gigs: 

Interested in in pursuing a career in media archives and social justice? Consider this paid internship in Democracy Now!’s Archives. Application deadline 11/15.

Another option, NPR’s Library Archives has a paid internship. Get on it and apply by 11/21!

Tech On, TYBYWYers-

Happy Thanksgiving! TYBYWY will return 12/12. As always, let me know if you have any questions or suggestions. Leave a message here or catch me on Twitter, @linds_bot.


Why Learn Unix? My Two Cents

There’s an conversation shaping up on the Code4Lib email list with the title “Why Learn Unix?”, and this is a wonderful question to ask. A lot of technical library jobs are asking for UNIX experience and as a result a lot of library schools are injecting bits and pieces of it into their courses, but without a proper understanding of the why of Unix, the how might just go in one ear and out the other. When I was learning about Unix in library school, it was in the context of an introductory course to library IT.  I needed no convincing, I fell in love almost immediately and cemented my future as a command line junkie. Others in the course were not so easily impressed, and never received a satisfactory answer to the question of “Why Learn Unix?” other than a terse “Because It’s Required”. Without a solid understanding of a technology’s use, it’s nearly impossible to maintain motivation to learn it. This is especially true of something as archaic and intimidating as the Unix command line interface that looks like something out of an early 90’s hacker movie. Those who don’t know Unix get along just fine, so what’s the big deal?

The big deal is that Unix is the 800 lb. gorilla of the IT world. While desktops and laptops are usually a pretty even split between Windows and Mac, the server world is almost entirely Unix (either Linux or BSD, both of which are UNIX variants). If you work in a reasonably technical position, you have probably had to log in to one of these Unix servers before to do something. If you are in library school and looking to get a tech oriented library job after graduating, this WILL happen to you, maybe even before you graduate (a good 50% of my student worker jobs were the result of knowing Unix). As libraries move away from vendor software and externally hosted systems towards Open Source software, Unix use is only going to increase because pretty much all Open Source software is designed to run on Linux (which is itself Open Source software). The road to an Open Source future for libraries is paved with LIS graduates who know their way around a command line.

So let’s assume that I’ve convinced you to learn Unix. What now? The first step on the journey is deciding how much Unix you want to learn. Unix is deep enough that one can spend a great deal of time getting lost in its complexities (not to say that this wouldn’t be time well spent). The most important initial steps of any foray into the world of Unix should start with how to log in to the system (which can vary a lot depending on whether you are using Windows or Mac, and what Unix system you are trying to log in to). Once you have that under control, learn the basic commands for navigating around the system, copying and deleting files, and checking the built-in manual (University of Illinois has a great cheat sheet).

How to learn Unix as opposed to why is a completely separate conversation with just as many strong opinions, but I will say that learning Unix requires more courage than intelligence. The reason most people actively avoid using Unix is because it is so different from the point-and-click world they are used to, but once you get the basics under your belt you may find that you prefer it. There are a lot of things that are much easier to do via command line (once you know how), and if you get really good at it you can even chain commands together into a script that can automatically perform complex actions that might take hours (or days, or weeks, or years) to do by hand. This scriptability is where Unix systems really shine, but by no means do you have to dive in this deep to find value in learning Unix. If you take the time to learn the basics, there will come a time when that knowledge pays off. Who knows, it might even change the direction of your career path.

Do you have any questions or opinions about the need for librarians to learn Unix? Are you struggling with learning Unix and want to air your grievances? Are you a wizard who wants to point out the inaccurate parts of my post? Let me know in the comments!

IA & UX Meet Library Technology

The class I enjoy the most this semester at Indiana University is Information Architecture. It is a class where theory and practical application are blended so that we can create something tangible, but also understand the approaches – my favorite kind!

As usability.gov defines it, Information Architecture (IA) “focuses on organizing, structuring, and labeling content in an effective and sustainable way.” While the class doesn’t necessarily focus on Library Science since it is offered through the Information Science courses, this concept may sound a bit familiar to those working in a library.

In the class, we have chosen a small website we believe could benefit from restructuring. Some students chose public library websites, and others websites from the private sector. Regardless of each website’s purpose, the process of restructuring is the same. The emphasis is placed on usability and user experience (UX), which the ALA Reference and User Services Association defines as “employing user research and user-centered design methods to holistically craft the structure, context, modes of interaction, and aesthetic and emotional aspects of an experience in order to facilitate satisfaction and ease of use.”

Basically, it means structuring content so that a user can use it to a high level of satisfaction.

Peter Morville and Co. developed this honeycomb to represent User Experience Design.

Peter Morville and Co. developed this honeycomb to represent the multiple facets of User Experience. Check out his explanation here.

Keeping usability and UX at the forefront, much of our semester has been focused on user demographics. We developed personas of specific users by highlighting the tasks they need to carry out and the kind of behaviors they bring to the computer. For example, one of my personas is a working mother who wants to find the best dance studio for her daughter, but doesn’t have a lot of time to spend looking up information and gets frustrated easily with technology (may or may not have been influenced by my own mother).

We also developed a project brief to keep the main benefits of restructuring in mind, and we analyzed parts of the current websites that work for users, and parts that could be improved. We did not (and could not) begin proposing our restructured website until we had a solid understanding of the users and their needs.

While learning about usability, I thought back to my graduate school application essay. I discussed focusing on digital libraries and archives in order to improve accession of materials, which is my goal throughout my career. As I’m learning, I realize that accession doesn’t mean digitizing to digitize, it means digitizing then presenting the materials in an accessible way. Even though the material may be released on the web, that doesn’t always imply that a user will find it and be able to use it.

As technology increasingly evolves, keeping the goals of the library in sync with the skills and needs of the user is crucial. This is where information architecture and user experience meet library technology.

How do you integrate usability and user experience with library technology in your institution? If you are an information architect or usability researcher, what advice do you have for others wishing to integrate these tools?

Game Night at LITA Forum

Are you attending the 2014 LITA Forum in Albuquerque? Like board games? If so, come to the LITA Game Night!

Thursday, November 6, 2014
8:00 – 11:00 pm
Hotel Albuquerque, Room Alvarado C

Games that people are bringing:

  • King of Tokyo
  • Cheaty Mages
  • Cards Against Humanity
  • One Night Ultimate Werewolf
  • Star Fluxx
  • Love Letter
  • Seven Dragons
  • Pandemic
  • Coup
  • Avalon
  • Bang!: The Dice Game
  • Carcassonne
  • Uno
  • Gloom
  • Monty Python Fluxx
  • and probably more…

Hope you can come!