Personal Digital Archiving – a new LITA web course

digitalorganizingCheck out the latest LITA web course:
Personal Digital Archiving for Librarians

Instructor: Melody Condron, Resource Management Coordinator at the University of Houston Libraries.

Offered: October 6 – November 11, 2015
A Moodle based web course with asynchronous weekly content lessons, tutorials, assignments, and group discussion.

Register Online, page arranged by session date (login required)

Most of us are leading very digital lives. Bank statements, interaction with friends, and photos of your dog are all digital. Even as librarians who value preservation, few of us organize our digital personal lives, let alone back it up or make plans for it. Participants in this 4 week online class will learn how to organize and manage their digital selves. Further, as librarians participants can use what they learn to advocate for better personal data management in others. ‘Train-the-trainer’ resources will be available so that librarians can share these tools and practices with students and patrons in their own libraries after taking this course.


At the end of this course, participants will:

  • Know best practices for handling all of their digital “stuff” with minimum effort
  • Know how to save posts and data from social media sites
  • Understand the basics of file organization, naming, and backup
  • Have a plan for managing & organizing the backlog of existing personal digital material in their lives (including photographs, documents, and correspondence)
  • Be prepared to handle new documents, photos, and other digital material for ongoing access
  • Have the resources to teach others how to better manage their digital lives

Here’s the Course Page

melodycondronMelody Condron is the Resource Management Coordinator at the University of Houston Libraries. She is responsible for file loading and quality control for the library database (basically she organizes and fixes records for a living). At home, she is the family archivist and recently completed a 20,000+ family photo digitization project. She is also the Chair of the LITA Membership Development Committee (2015-2016).


October 6 – November 11, 2015


  • LITA Member: $135
  • ALA Member: $195
  • Non-member: $260

Technical Requirements:

Moodle login info will be sent to registrants the week prior to the start date. The Moodle-developed course site will include weekly new content lessons and is composed of self-paced modules with facilitated interaction led by the instructor. Students regularly use the forum and chat room functions to facilitate their class participation. The course web site will be open for 1 week prior to the start date for students to have access to Moodle instructions and set their browser correctly. The course site will remain open for 90 days after the end date for students to refer back to course material.

Registration Information:

Register Online, page arranged by session date (login required)
Mail or fax form to ALA Registration
call 1-800-545-2433 and press 5
email [email protected]

Questions or Comments?

For all other questions or comments related to the course, contact LITA at (312) 280-4268 or Mark Beatty, [email protected]

Putting Pen to Paper

Back in January, The Atlantic ran an article on a new device being used at the Cooper Hewitt design museum in New York City. This device allows museum visitors to become curators of their own collections, saving information about exhibits to their own special account they can access via computer after they leave. This device is called a pen; Robinson Meyer, the article’s author, likens it to a “gray plastic crayon the size of a turkey baster”. I think it’s more like a magic wand.

description of how the Cooper Hewitt pen can interact with museum exhibits
Courtesy of the Cooper Hewitt Museum website

Not only can you use the pen to save information you think is cool, you can also interact with the museum at large: in the Immersion Room, for example, you can draw a design with your pen and watch it spring to life on the walls around you. In the Process Lab, you use the pen to solve real-life design problems. As Meyer puts it, “The pen does something that countless companies, organizations, archives, and libraries are trying to do: It bridges the digital and the physical.”

The mention of libraries struck me: how could something like the Cooper Hewitt pen be used in your average public library?

The first thing that came to my mind was RFID. In my library, we use RFID to tag and label our materials. There are currently RFID “wands” that, when waved over stacks, can help staff locate books they thought were missing.

But let’s turn that around: give the patron the wand – rather, the pen – and program in a subject they’re looking for…say, do-it-yourself dog grooming. As the patron wanders, the pen is talking with the stacks via RFID asking where those materials would be. Soon the pen vibrates and a small LED light shines on the materials. Eureka!

Or, just as the Cooper Hewitt allows visitors to build their own virtual collection online, we can have patrons build their own virtual libraries. Using the same RFID scanning technology as before, patrons can link items to their library card number that they’ve already borrowed or maybe want to view in the future. It could be a system similar to Goodreads (or maybe even link it to Goodreads itself) or it could be a personal website that only the user – not the library – has access to.

What are some ways you might be able to use this tech in your library system?

My Capacity: What Can I Do and What Can I Do Well?

I like to take on a lot of projects. I love seeing projects come to fruition, and I want to provide the best possible services for my campus community. I think the work we do as librarians is important work.  As I’ve taken on more responsibilities in my current job though I’ve learned I can’t do everything.  I have had to reevaluate the number of things I can accomplish and projects I can support.

Photo by  Darren Tunnicliff.  Published under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.
Photo by
Darren Tunnicliff. Published under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Libraries come in all different shapes and sizes. I happen to work at a small library. We are a small staff—3 professional librarians including the director, 2 full-time staff, 1 part-time staff member, and around 10 student workers. I think we do amazing things at my place of employment, but I know we can’t do everything. I would love to be able to do some of the projects I see staff at larger universities working on, but I am learning that I have to be strategic about my projects. Time is a limited resource and I need to use my time wisely to support the campus in the best way possible.

This has been especially true for tech projects. The maintenance, updating, and support needed for technology can be a challenge. Now don’t get me wrong, I love tech and my library does great things with technology, but I have also had to be more strategic as I recognize my capacity does have limits. So with new projects I’ve been asking myself:

  • How does this align with our strategic plan? (I’ve always asked this with new projects, but it is always good to remember)
  • What are top campus community needs?
  • What is the estimated time commitment for a specific project?
  • Can I support this long term?

Some projects are so important that you are going to work on the project no matter what your answers are to these questions. There are also some projects that are not even worth the little bit of capacity they would require.  Figuring out where to focus time and what will be the most beneficial for your community is challenging, but worth it.

How do you decide priorities and time commitments?

Creating High-Quality Online Video Tutorials

Lately it seems all I do all day is create informational or educational video tutorials on various topics for my library.  The Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine Medical Library at Florida International University in Miami, FL has perfected a system.  First, a group of three librarians write and edit a script on a topic.  In the past we have done multiple videos on American Medical Association (AMA) and American Psychological Association (APA) citation styles, Evidence-Based Medicine research to support a course, and other titles on basic library services and resources. After a script has been finalized, we record the audio.  We have one librarian who has become “the voice of the library,” one simple method to brand the library.  After that, I go ahead and coordinate the visuals – a mixture of PowerPoint slides, visual effects and screen video shots.  We use Camtasia to edit our videos and produce and upload them to our fiumedlib YouTube Channel.  Below are some thoughts and notes to consider if starting your own collection of online video tutorials for your organization.

Zoom In
As my past photography teacher declared, rather than zoom in with a telephoto lens walk towards your subject.  You as the photographer should reposition yourself to get the best shot.  The same holds true for screen shots.  If recording from your browser, it is good practice to use your zoom feature when recording your footage to get the sharpest footage.  If using Chrome, click on the customize and control (three-bar icon) on the top right of the browser window and you will see the option to zoom in or out.  Keep in mind that the look of the video also is dependent on the viewers monitor screen resolution and other factors – so sometimes you have to let it go.  The screen shots below show one recorded in 100% and another in 175%.  This small change affected the clarity of the footage.

image_perez1recorded at 100%

image_perez2recorded at 175%

Write a Script and Record Audio First – (then add Visuals)
Most people multi-task by recording the voice over, their video and audio at the same time.  I have found that this creates multiple mistakes and the need to record multiple takes.  Preparation steps help projects run smoothly.

Brand Your Library
The team brands our library by having the same beginning title slide with our logo and the ending slide with contact email with the same background music clip.  In addition, we try to use a common look and feel throughout the video lesson to further cement that these are from the same library. As mentioned before, we use the same narrator for our videos.

PowerPoint Slides
I cringe at the thought of seeing a PowerPoint slide with a header and a list of bullet points.  PowerPoint is not necessarily bad, I just like to promote using the software in a creative manner by approaching each slide as a canvas.  I steer clear from templates and following the usual “business” organization of a slide.


Check out the current videos our department has created and let me know if you have any questions at [email protected]

Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine Medical Library You Tube Channel:

Interacting with Patrons Through Their Mobile Devices :: Image Scanning

QR codes are not a new technology. Their recent adoption and widespread usage has even led the technology into a pervasive state, mostly due to their misuse. However, I want to address QR codes in this series — because I believe the technology is brilliant. I enjoy the potential of its concept, and what has recently developed from the technology in the form of Augmented Reality codes.

Originally developed in 1994 by Denso Wave Incorporated, the Quick Reference Code was devised to increase the scan-ability and data storage capacity of the standard linear barcode.


Today, they are most often seen in advertising. Their modern pervasiveness is understandable as an inexpensive, easily produced, versatile method of transmitting information. However, their effectiveness as a mode of relaying information is reliant on their method of use. The QR code needs to provide a direct extension of the information in its proximity, and not be an ambiguous entity.

One method of accomplishing the direct association is to brand your QR codes, and take advantage of their ability to error correct.

branded QR codes

By taking the extra effort to develop branded QR codes, a higher level of interest may correspond with usage. But, never rely on assumptions; one of the greatest benefits of using QR codes is their ability to be easily tracked with google analytics. If you are going to put forth the effort to develop them, you might as well be able to quantify their effectiveness.

Their purpose is a direct call to action, a bridge to transport users to supplemental information immediately. This functionality should be used advantageously.

  • Provide users with a helpline
  • Establish a vCalendar for an event or send them to a Facebook event page
  • Send them to a Dropbox they can obtain important documents
  • Supply them with contact information or a direct email address
  • Provide one to your Digital Library App
  • Make one for each of your Social Media accounts

There are several ways to use QR codes in an effective manner. Using them appropriately as a relay, or extension, of anticipated information should reassure your users to continue to use them.

The future of image scanning

Although, many have been dismissive about the QR code as a technology, it has initiated the field of image scanning codes. It’s evolution from QR to image triggers has removed the stigma of ugliness associated image codes. Any picture can now be a trigger to interact with, and the prospects of this technology are extraordinary.

A recent example of image scanning technology has been exhibited in the recent publication of Modern Polaxis, an interactive comic book. The creators utilize image triggers throughout the comic to access Flash media, through their published application, to incorporating animation and sound functionality. The ability to overlay these two media functions creates a level of interaction that is exciting to discover. It has even led to the new media form of AR Tattoos.

This same technology has been made more readily available for users to develop on using the app Aurasma, and has already been brought into the classroom.

Aurasma allows users to link real world environments with correlated digital content to develop a dynamic digital experience. Because the technology utilizes Flash, it allows developers to overlay menu options, audio, video, or just addition imagery or animation. It is a technology I hope to see more of in the future.

3D Printing Partnerships: Tales Of Collaboration, Prototyping, And Just Plain Panic



*Photo taken from Flickr w/Attribution CC License:

Many institutions have seen the rise of makerspaces within their libraries, but it’s still difficult to get a sense of how embedded they truly are within the academic fabric of their campuses and how they contribute to student learning. Libraries have undergone significant changes in the last five years, shifting from repositories to learning spaces, from places to experiences. It is within these new directions that the makerspace movement has risen to the forefront and begun to pave the way for truly transformative thinking and doing. Educause defines a makerspace as “a physical location where people gather to share resources and knowledge, work on projects, network, and build” (ELI 2013). These types of spaces are being embraced by the arts as well as the sciences and are quickly being adopted by the academic community because “much of the value of a makerspace lies in its informal character and its appeal to the spirit of invention” as students take control of their own learning (ELI 2013).

Nowhere is this spirit more alive than in entrepreneurship where creativity and innovation are the norm. The Oklahoma State University Library recently established a formal partnership with the School of Entrepreneurship to embed 3D printing into two pilot sections of its EEE 3023 course with the idea that if successful, all sections of this course would include a making component that could involve more advanced equipment down the road. Students in this class work in teams to develop an original product from idea, to design, to marketing. The library provides training on coordination of the design process, use of the equipment, and technical assistance for each team. In addition, this partnership includes outreach activities such as featuring the printers at entrepreneurship career fairs, startup weekends and poster pitch sessions. We have not yet started working with the classes, so much of this will likely change as we learn from our mistakes and apply what worked well to future iterations of this project. Continue reading 3D Printing Partnerships: Tales Of Collaboration, Prototyping, And Just Plain Panic

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.

Learning through WordClouds: Visualizing LITA Jobs Data

I am in no way attempting to create an evidenced-based scholarly study on employment movements.  This is an attempt to satisfy my recent fascination with data visualization and curiosity to use them to inspire discussion.  On August 4, 2015, sometime in the morning, I took data from the employment opportunities advertised on the LITA Job site in order to see some trends.  The jobs are posted under the regions Northeastern, Southern, Midwestern, and Western Regions; none posted outside of the United States at the time of my mini-experiment.  This information may be helpful to current job seekers or folks currently employed who may be interested in areas to venture out or compliment their current repertoire. I hope these visualizations will conjure some discussion or ideas.  Out of the sixty-seven total ads listed, 34 were from universities, 14 from colleges, 9 from public libraries, and 10 from other libraries such as vendors or special libraries.

LITA Employment Advertisement Data Chart
Organization/Library-type employment post percentage – university, college, public, and other

Job Titles
As librarians, we master the art of keyword searching but sometimes we may struggle with finding those specific words that can bring back that needed information.  This may happen with job searching.  Library, librarian and technology as keywords can only take you so far.  In the past, when looking for employment, I felt I may be unaware of exciting jobs out there due to not knowing the magic terms.

wordcloud of advertised job titles
wordcloud of advertised job titles minus the word librarian, library, and university

After visualizing the job titles on the list, I discovered I like reading the more obscure words rarely used.  These terms are a helpful way to understand duties, but also motivate you.  Take for instance the enticing words included on some; emerging, collaborator, integrated, initiative, or innovation. I especially love the job title Data and Visualization Librarian, posted by Dartmouth College Library.

Duties and Required/ Preferred Qualifications
Out of the 67 current posts, 44 positions had this information readily available, 23 were filled, a broken link, or the link provided lead to the homepage or job search page of the organization.

Wordcloud of duties, and required/preferred qualifications
Wordcloud of duties, and required/preferred qualifications

After you get passed the usual words that pop out, there may be knowledge from the smaller, more obscure words.  For programmers, the usual contenders were CSS (cascading style sheets), Java, XSL (EXtensible Stylesheet Language), APIs (Application programming interface), and RDF (Resource Description Framework).  I was not aware of MVC.  It seems that ASP.NET MVC is a Microsoft web and app creation tool.  Microsoft has wonderful tutorials at .    Another learning experience came from a somewhat prominent acronym – RIS. RIS is a standardized tagging system used to effectively interchange citation information between platforms.  XML’s XPath and D3 were also new to me. Some areas to possibly develop your skills are in RDA (Resource Description & Access) and 3D software and printing.

This small exercise gave me, not only a small snippet of employment information to be aware of, but gave me more respect towards the use of word clouds.

Word Cloud Web Tools:
Word Cloud Generator: