Category Archives: General information

Conference notes, ALA goings-on, and other miscellaneous items of interest to LITA members

LITA Kitchen Table Conversations

LITA is beginning a series of informal discussions to let members voice their thoughts about the current strategic goals of LITA. The first couple of these “kitchen table talks,” lead by President Rachel Vacek and Vice-President Thomas Dowling, will take place online in September and October (details to follow), and will be followed by in-person dinners at the 2014 LITA Forum in Albuquerque.

The kitchen table talks will discuss LITA’s strategic goals – collaboration and networking; education and sharing of expertise; advocacy; and infrastructure – and how meeting those goals will help LITA better serve you. The talks also align with ALA’s strategic planning process and efforts to communicate the association’s overarching goals of professional development, information policy, and advocacy.

So if you’re coming to Forum (and you really should!), come have a bowl of green chile stew with Rachel or Thomas and let your voice be heard.

Interview with LITA President, Rachel Vacek

What are your responsibilities as LITA president?

The president is the chief spokesperson for LITA and works closely with both LITA’s executive director and the board of directors in identifying and promoting information technology issues that are of interest to the association in all kinds of libraries, both nationally and internationally.

The president leads the board and executive committee meetings, and works closely with the 20-plus committees that serve the association, such as membership development, education, web coordinating, program planning, publishing, and financial advisory, to name a few.

The president also coordinates with the appointed representatives to groups and associations outside LITA, keeps the board informed, and is a proponent for advocacy of library technology issues. The president, in conjunction with the board, also determines the strategic direction for the association and is able to create task forces as needed to put initiatives in motion.

What are your goals for your presidential year?

Accomplishing impactful goals within a one-year period can be a daunting task. It becomes essential to coordinate efforts with the president-elect and past president to keep the forward momentum going. I am focusing on member experience and financial stability.

As someone who has worked in the systems and web librarianship field for years, the concept of user experience has always had special meaning for me. The ability to look at a person’s behaviors, attitudes, and emotions about being a member of LITA is especially important when examining and improving member experience.

When answering the question, “Why join LITA?” I have to evaluate the hard benefits like educational and conference discounts or being able to participate in leadership roles, as well as the softer benefits like opportunities to expand one’s network. I believe that people join LITA because they want to learn something new, help their colleagues, grow their network, and advocate for librarians working with technology.

I will work with many of LITA’s committees, primarily Membership, Education, and Publications, to:

  • Involve enthusiastic, active members who have embraced LITA’s mission and values in making new members feel welcome.
  • Recognize more frequently the outstanding contributions of LITA members.
  • Emphasize that a major benefit of joining LITA is about expanding one’s network and circle of influence, and having fun in the process!
  • Consider the goals of current and potential members. I think the best way to engage LITA members is to help them participate in meaningful and relevant activities that will further their goals and those of the profession.
  • Offer more virtual events and mentoring opportunities that help potential or new members learn more about LITA and establish connections and lifelong friendships. Being able to make these connections virtually is essential, since conference travel can sometimes be financially challenging.

The other goal I mentioned was financial stability. The LITA Financial Strategies Task Force presented a report to the board last year that is packed with timely, practical, and creative solutions for helping to address crucial challenges that all ALA divisions are facing. LITA also recently established a Financial Advisory Committee, and I believe that their work, in conjunction with the efforts of other LITA committees, are crucial to ensuring that LITA remains viable and relevant for years to come.

What are LITA’s goals?

In accordance with ALA’s goals of information policy, professional development, and advocacy, LITA’s four broad goals are:

  1. To foster collaboration and networking among LITA members.
  2. To offer education, publications, and events that inspire and enable members to improve technology integration within their libraries.
  3. To advocate for meaningful legislation, policies, and standards that positively impact the current and future capabilities of libraries that promote equitable access to information and technology.
  4. To improve LITA’s infrastructure in order to serve, educate, and create community for its members.

How will your role as LITA president benefit your own library and institution?

I work at the University of Houston Libraries in Houston, Texas. National recognition is one of the University’s priorities, and one of the Libraries’ strategic directions. Being the president of a national association is both a huge responsibility and an incredibly rewarding experience. With that comes an increase in press, interviews, and open doors, all of which are opportunities to highlight the UH Libraries and UH as outstanding organizations doing amazing things.

Also, because I have established an incredible network both within LITA and now with the leaders of the other divisions, I am able to help my colleagues make connections with others in the profession. I’ve become quite familiar with ALA’s structure and look forward to offering advice on getting involved, connecting colleagues with relevant skills and interests to appropriate groups, and being a sounding board for ideas.

What have you learned about yourself through this experience?

I’ve grown a tremendous amount in just the past year since becoming LITA’s vice-president. I realized that my previous experiences in chairing the UH Libraries’ Strategic Directions Steering Committee, being Chair of the Librarians, and leading numerous other committees, coupled with being a department head, have all prepared me for this endeavor. The experience of leading a board of directors, strategic and budgetary planning, collaborating with other divisions, and driving the organization’s vision is also preparing me for the next stage in my library career.

Call for Writers

The LITA blog is seeking regular contributors interested in writing easily digestible, thought-provoking blog posts that are fun to read (and hopefully to write!). The blog will showcase innovative ideas and projects happening in the library technology world, so there is a lot of room for contributor creativity. Possible post formats could include interviews, how-tos, hacks, and beyond.

Any LITA member is welcome to apply. Library students and members of underrepresented groups are particularly encouraged to apply.

Contributors will be expected to write one post per month. Writers will also participate in peer editing and conversation with other writers – nothing too serious, just be ready to share your ideas and give feedback on others’ ideas. Writers should expect a time commitment of 1-3 hours per month.

Not ready to become a regular writer but you’d like to contribute at some point? Just indicate in your message to me that you’d like to be considered as a guest contributor instead.

To apply, send an email to briannahmarshall at gmail dot com by Friday, August 15. Please include the following information:

  • A one to two line brief bio
  • Your professional interests and how they could relate to the blog
  • 2-3 topics you would be interested in writing about with a one line summary of each
  • If possible, links to writing samples, professional or personal, to get a feel for your writing style

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

Brianna Marshall, LITA blog editor

Call for Proposals, ALA Annual 2015

Conference programs and preconferences for Annual 2015!

The LITA Program Planning Committee (PPC) is now accepting innovative and creative proposals for the 2015 Annual American Library Association Conference.  We’re looking for full day pre-conference ideas as well as 60- and 90-minute conference presentations. The focus should be on technology in libraries, whether that’s use of, new ideas for, trends in, or interesting/innovative projects being explored – it’s all for you to propose. In 2014, we received over 60 proposals, resulting in 20 great LITA programs at the 2014 Annual Conference, all of which came from contributions like yours. We look forward to hearing the great ideas you will share with us this year.

When/Where is the Conference?

The 2015 Annual ALA Conference will be held  in San Francisco, California, from June 25th through 30th.

What kind of topics are we looking for?

We’re looking for programs of interest to all library/information agency types, that inspire technological change and adoption, or/and generally go above and beyond the everyday.

Some successful topics in the 2014 included: Practical Linked Data with Open Source (Full-day preconference); Technology Priorities for the New Library Reality; Building Gorgeous Responsive Websites with Twitter-Bootstrap. Some topics we are interested in are: library hackathons; data management & curation; responsive web design; homegrown technology tools, especially projects that adapt popular technologies in use outside libraries, for library use.

When are proposals due?

September 2, 2014

How I do submit a proposal?

Fill out this form

Program descriptions should be 75 words or less.

When will I have an answer?

The committee will be reviewing proposals after September 2; final decisions will be made by October 1.

Do I have to be a member of ALA/LITA? or a LITA Interest Group (IG) or a committee?

No! We welcome proposals from anyone who feels they have something to offer regarding library technology. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide financial support for speakers. Because of the limited number of programs, LITA IGs and Committees will receive preference where two equally well written programs are submitted. Presenters may be asked to combine programs or work with an IG/Committee where similar topics have been proposed.

Got another question?

Please feel free to email Deb Shapiro (PPC chair) (

Call for Proposals: Midwinter 2015 Workshops (Chicago, IL January 2015)

The LITA Education Committee is now accepting innovative and creative proposals for workshops to be presented at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago in January. We’re looking for interactive full day workshops on technology in libraries–use of, new ideas for, and trends.

*When/Where is the Conference?*
2015 ALA Midwinter Conference; January 30-February 3, 2015, Chicago, IL
Workshops will be presented on Friday, January 30.

*What kind of topics are we looking for? *
We’re looking for workshops that offer a deeper dive into subjects and provide hands on experience with technology currently being used and emerging in libraries.

Workshops and Preconferences offered recently included:
Strategic Social Media: Creating Library Community Online
Level Up Web: Modern Web Development and Management Practices for Libraries
Managing Data: Tools for Plans and Data Scrubbing
Practical Linked Data with Open Source
Web Therapy
Building Web Applications with HTML5, CSS3, and Javascript: An Introduction to HTML5

*When are proposals due? *
August 4, 2014

*How I do submit a proposal? *
Fill out this form
Program descriptions should be 75 words or less.

*When will I have an answer? *
The committee will be reviewing proposals after August 4, final decisions will be made before September.

*Do I have to be a member of ALA/LITA/an IG/a committee?*
No! We welcome proposals from anyone who feels they have something to offer regarding library technology. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide financial support for speakers. If you are submitting a proposal on behalf of an IG, please let us know!

*Got another question?*
Please feel free to email Abigail Goben, LITA Education Chair, at  ( or find me on twitter @hedgielib and the committee will figure it out.

Vegas: not just gambling and shows

As many of you may know, I spend a decent amount of time in Vegas every year as a result of covering CES every January. I really enjoy it, but know that it’s not really for some people…and with tens of thousands of librarians descending on Vegas for ALA Annual, it’s likely that a lot of us won’t enjoy the ever-present gambling or the overly-expensive shows that make Vegas so popular. So I thought I’d point out a few things that I really like about Vegas that don’t revolve around the typical Vegas activities.

Thrill Seekers
If you’re a fan of thrill rides, amusement park style, Vegas has a couple of things for you.

  • The Fremont Street Zipline: A zipline that takes you down the length of the original Vegas Strip, Fremont Street. You can fly above the crowd, surrounded by the neon and LEDs of Freemont Street.
  • Thrill Rides at the Stratosphere: On the top of the Stratosphere hotel, you can ride a rollercoaster that takes you over the edge of the 866 foot tall tower, get shot over 1000 feet into the air, or simply jump off the Tower entirely. Whatever level your adrenaline need, this should take care of it.
  • World Largest Observation Wheel: at 550 feet tall, the newly opened Linq High Roller is the largest Ferris Wheel in the world. Each of the “cars” (actually massive observation pods) can hold 40 people, and the trip all the way around takes over half an hour.

Museum Lovers
Vegas has some of the most unusual museums that you will find anywhere, guaranteed.

  • Pinball Hall of Fame: My favorite place in Vegas, the Pinball Hall of Fame is a non-descript building that has pinball games going back to the 1950s and even earlier, along with modern pinball machines. All the machines are 25-50 cents, and all are playable. The museum is a non-profit, and dedicated to just giving people the opportunity to experience these games as they were designed to be played. Fantastic place, and I highly recommend if you are even remotely into pinball.
  • The Neon Museum: More of a graveyard than museum, still a fascinating look at the art of the neon sign from Vegas past. Beautiful and if you love design and typography, you can take enough pics here for inspiration the rest of your life.
  • The National Atomic Testing Museum: Just what it says on the tin, a museum that is dedicated to the nuclear programs that took place in the desert southwest. Another of my favorite Vegas museums, it’s incredibly well done and full of cool exhibits.

Other Things to See or Do
Here’s a few very random suggestions for other activities. :-)

Other tips for a positive Annual experience: Use the monorail to get around, remember that everything is much farther apart than you think (just navigating the casino inside the hotels can take 10-15 minutes), and be careful in the heat. Have a great time, and I hope to see you in Vegas!

Technology Speed-Dating at ALA Annual in Las Vegas

The LITA/ALCTS Library Code Year Interest Group is hosting a   technology speed-dating event during their session at ALA Annual 2014 in Las Vegas on Saturday June 28th from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.!

LCY wants you to be a part of the technology speed-dating.

What is technology speed-dating anyway? Part informational, part discussion, completely useful. Several experts will be stationed around the meeting room and talk about a specific topic, software, piece of code, programming language, etc., to attendees for a set amount of time and then they will rotate to a different expert until the time ends. While the LCY IG session is 90 minutes total, the technology speed-dating will be 60 minutes and is meant to be a more casual, conversational, learning experience.

What are you knowledgeable in? Using Python or Ruby, Drupal or WordPress? Have you written a useful script? Can you explain a code snippet to non-techies well? Have you modified a Kinect or some other hardware for library purposes? Sign up to share your knowledge and experiences as an expert for the Library Code Year Interest Group technology speed-dating!

Email LCY Co-Chairs Emily Flynn, emilyflynn (at), or        Chris Strauber, chris.strauber (at), by May 15th with your idea(s) to sign up to be an expert for the technology speed-dating or for more information. Also, please consider telling someone you know going to ALA Annual, and are possibly thinking of right now, who would be a great expert too!

LITA Bylaws Review Underway

Based on conversations at Board meetings, as well as an attempt to fix a number of issues that have arisen over the last 2-3 years (specifically issues around officers and timing of elections) the Bylaws committee has began work on analyzing the LITA Bylaws.

For those of you that are new to LITA, or just haven’t been enthralled by parliamentary process like some of us, the Bylaws are the rules by which the Division operates. The LITA Manual lays out responsibilities and operational issues, but the Bylaws are the rules by which the organization operates. Want to know how to start an IG? That’s in the bylaws.

After discussions within the Bylaws Committee, and examining how such a review of those specific sections relating to elections and officers would need to occur, our conclusion was that a large part of the current issues have been caused by just this sort of partial-rewriting over the years. Because the Bylaws are an interconnected document, we felt like the best way to tackle solutions to the issues presented would be with a comprehensive review, starting at the sections that are most needed, but then following the implications throughout the Bylaws in order to ensure that we cover all possible areas of disagreement.

As a result, we’ve begun this process. Our goals are twofold: to specifically close the holes that we have uncovered over the last few years, but also to compare/contrast our bylaws with those of ALA proper and harmonize them when that makes sense to do so.

Our timeline is to try to review 2 sections of the Bylaws per month, and then review and discuss at monthly meetings to ensure that we all understand what’s been done and agree that the changes are appropriate. We are doing this in a public google doc:

We have just met and discussed our first round of comments and suggested changes…we wanted to test the process before we presented it to both the Board and the membership.

The google doc is open to editing by the Committee, but open to comment by anyone with the link. We would like to have as transparent a process as possible, by asking for commentary and inviting members to follow along as we work our way through a more streamlined set of bylaws. We will also be publicizing our next few meetings and streaming them here on LITABlog so that members can chime in with questions, or just follow our progress.

The goal that we have set for ourselves is to have a draft of the revised bylaws to present to the Board prior to the Annual meeting, with the expectation of discussing issues at that meeting. Assuming the discussion is satisfactory, we’ll then begin the process of moving to to membership for formal review, before putting the Bylaws changes up to vote. There’s a process in, you guessed it, the Bylaws about how this is done. This isn’t going to be something that happens tomorrow; it will likely take most of the rest of 2014 to complete. But I think that at the end we’ll have a set of bylaws that will enable LITA to be a more flexible and nimble division moving forward.

A Report on LibHack


What happened at LibHack? Wait, what was LibHack? LibHack was a library hackathon held during ALA Midwinter on Friday, January 24 at the University of Pennsylvania’s Kislak Center for Special Collections. Organized by the LITA/ALCTS Code Year Interest Group and sponsored by OCLC and the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), the event featured two separate tracks — one specifically catered to beginners that worked on the OCLC WorldCat Search API, and another track open to beginners and advanced hackers that worked on the DPLA API.

OCLC Track

Of the 55 attendees, there was a 50-50 split between the two tracks. The OCLC track was led by Steve Meyer, Technical Platform Project Manager at OCLC, and several other OCLC staff members were on hand to lend support. Since the track was designed to meet the needs of beginner programmers, Steve led a workshop that used the WorldCat Search API to introduce participants to some of the basics of programming. For example, Steve provided a walkthough of PHP and XML using lesson files, making sure people understood the connection of the code back with the API output.

The OCLC track filled a need within the ALA community for introductory level programming at ALA conferences. Based on the success of the Intro to Python preconference at the 2013 ALA Annual conference in Chicago and data gathered from an initial planning survey gathered by the LibHack organizers (Zach Coble, Emily Flynn, and Chris Strauber) in August 2013, it was clear than many librarians were interested in a more structured learning opportunity. LibHack’s old-fashion, synchronus, face-to-face environment contributed to the OCLC track’s success in teaching participants the basics and helping them to become more comfortable with the challenges of programming.


DPLA Track

The DPLA track, on the other hand, was more loosely organized and was open to all levels of hackers. As with the OCLC track, we were fortunate to have four DPLA staff members on hand to provide guidance and technical assistance. At the beginning of the day, people pitched ideas for projects, and groups quickly formed around those ideas. Some of the projects that were worked on include:

  • WikipeDPLA, by Jake Orlowitz and Eric Phetteplace, a userscript that finds DPLA content and posts relevant links at the top of Wikipedia pages.
  • @HistoricalCats, by Adam Malantonio, a DPLA Twitter bot that retrieves cat-related items in DPLA.
  • #askDPLA Twitter bot, by Tessa Fallon, Simon Hieu Mai, and Coral Sheldon-Hess, replies to tweets using the #askDPLA hashtag with DPLA items.
  • [Exhibit Master 2000[(, by Chad Fennell, Nabil Kashyap, and Chad Nelson, aims to create a simple way for users to create exhibits based on DPLA search terms.
  • Thomas Dukleth, Jenn (Yana) Miller, Allie Verbovetskaya, and Roxanne Shirazi, investigated how to systematically apply rights for DPLA items. While DPLA’s metadata is CC0, the items themselves have a spectrum of rights and reuse rights tied to them, all in free-form metadata fields.
  • VuDL DPLA extension, by Chris Hallberg and David Lacy, created a DPLA extension to VuDL, the open-source digital library package Villanova University develops. The extension can be seen at
  • Other projects included Francis Kayiwa, who started work to apply LCSH subject terms to DPLA items, and Dot Porter and Doug Emery, who worked on integrating DPLA’s medieval holdings with the Medieval Electronic Scholarly Alliance’s federated search.

Since LibHack was a one day event, many projects were not completed, although some groups made plans to continue working. Chad Fennell and Chad Nelson’s project Exhibit Master 2000 was continued as last weekend’s GLAM Hack Philly. And the project investigating copyright and reuse rights is a long-term DPLA project that will take many more hackathons to complete!

Future Plans

Given the overall success of the event, the Code Year Interest Group is exploring the idea of hosting another LibHack, possibly at the 2014 ALA Annual conference in Las Vegas. If you are interested in organizing or sponsoring, contact