A Linked Data Journey: Beyond the Honeymoon Phase

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Image courtesy of Grant MacDonald under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

 Introduction

I feel that this series is becoming a little long in the tooth. As such, this will be my last post in the series. This series will be aggregated under the following tag: linked data journey.

After spending a good amount of time playing with RDF technologies, reading authoritative literature, and engaging with other linked data professionals and enthusiasts, I have come to the conclusion that linked data, as with any other technology, isn’t perfect. The honeymoon phase is over! In this post I hope to present a high-level, pragmatic assessment of linked data. I will begin by detailing the main strengths of RDF technologies. Next I will note some of the primary challenges that come with RDF. Finally, I will give my thoughts on how the Library/Archives/Museum (LAM) community should move forward to make Linked Open Data a reality in our environment.

Strengths

Modularity. Modularity is a huge advantage RDF modeling has over modeling in other technologies such as XML, relational databases, etc. First, you’re not bound to a single vocabulary, such as Dublin Core, meaning you can describe a single resource using multiple descriptive standards (Dublin Core, MODS, Bibframe). Second, you can extend existing vocabularies. Maybe Dublin Core is perfect for your needs, except you need a more specific “date”. Well, you can create a more specific “date” term and assign it as a sub-property of DC:date. Third, you can say anything about anything: RDF is self-describing. This means that not only can you describe resources, you can describe existing and new vocabularies, as well as create complex versioning data for vocabularies and controlled terms (see this ASIST webinar). Finally, with SPARQL and reasoning, you can perform metadata cross-walking from one vocabulary to another without the need for technologies such as XSLT. Of course, this approach has its limits (e.g. you can’t cross-walk a broader term to a specific term).

Linking. Linking data is the biggest selling point of RDF. The ability to link data is great for the LAM community, because we’re able to link our respective institutions’ data together without the need for cross-referencing. Eventually, when there’s enough linked data in the LAM community, it will be a way for us to link our data together across institutions, forming a web of knowledge.

Challenges

Identifiers. Unique Resource Identifiers (URIs) are double-edged swords when it comes to RDF. URIs help us uniquely identify every resource we describe, making it possible to link resources together. They also make it much less complicated to aggregate data from multiple data providers. However, creating a URI for every resource and maintaining stables URIs (which I think will be a requirement if we’re going to pull this off) can be cumbersome for a data provider, as well as rather costly.

Duplication. Continue reading A Linked Data Journey: Beyond the Honeymoon Phase

LITA ALA Annual Precon: Digital Privacy

Don’t miss these amazing speakers at this important LITA preconference to the ALA Annual 2016 conference in Orlando FL.

ala annual conference 16 badgeDigital Privacy and Security: Keeping You And Your Library Safe and Secure In A Post-Snowden World
Friday June 24, 2016, 1:00 – 4:00 pm
Presenters: Blake Carver, LYRASIS and Jessamyn West, Library Technologist at Open Library

Register for ALA Annual and Discover Ticketed Events

Learn strategies on how to make you, your librarians and your patrons more secure & private in a world of ubiquitous digital surveillance and criminal hacking. We’ll teach tools that keep your data safe inside of the library and out — how to secure your library network environment, website, and public PCs, as well as tools and tips you can teach to patrons in computer classes and one-on-one tech sessions. We’ll tackle security myths, passwords, tracking, malware, and more, covering a range of tools from basic to advanced, making this session ideal for any library staff.

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Jessamyn West

Jessamyn West is a librarian and technologist living in rural Vermont. She studies and writes about the digital divide and solves technology problems for schools and libraries. Jessamyn has been speaking on the intersection of libraries, technology and politics since 2003. Check out her long running professional blog Librarian.net.

Jessamyn has given presentations, workshops, keynotes and all-day sessions on technology and library topics across North America and Australia. She has been speaking and writing on the intersection of libraries and technology for over a decade. A few of her favorite topics include: Copyright and fair use; Free culture and creative commons; and the Digital divide. She is the author of Without a Net: Librarians Bridging the Digital Divide, and has written the Practical Technology column for Computers in Libraries magazine since 2008.

See more information about Jessamyn at: http://jessamyn.info

Blake Carver
Blake Carver

Blake Carver is the guy behind LISNews, LISWire & LISHost. Blake was one of the first librarian bloggers (he created LISNews in 1999) and is a member of Library Journal’s first Movers & Shakers cohort. He has worked as a web librarian, a college instructor, and a programmer at a startup. He is currently the Senior Systems Administrator for LYRASIS Technology Services where he manages the servers and infrastructure that support their products and services.

Blake has presented widely at professional conferences talking about open source systems, Drupal, WordPress and IT Security For Libraries.

See more information about Blake at: http://eblake.com/

More LITA Preconferences at ALA Annual
Friday June 24, 2016, 1:00 – 4:00 pm

  • Islandora for Managers: Open Source Digital Repository Training
  • Technology Tools and Transforming Librarianship

Cost:

LITA Member: $205
ALA Member: $270
Non Member: $335

Registration Information

Register for the 2016 ALA Annual Conference in Orlando FL

Discover Ticketed Events

Questions or Comments?

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

Jobs in Information Technology: April 13, 2016

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

Qualcomm, Inc., Content Integration Librarian, San Diego, CA

Multnomah County Library, Front End Drupal Web Developer, Portland, OR

City of Virginia Beach Library Department, Librarian I/Web Specialist #7509, Virginia Beach, VA

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

Creating a Technology Needs Pyramid

Technology Training in Libraries” by Sarah Houghton has become my bible. It was published as part of LITA’s Tech Set series back in 2010 and acts as a no-nonsense guide to technology training for librarians. Before I started my current position, implementing a technology training model seemed easy enough, but I’ve found that there are many layers, including (but certainly not limited to) things like curriculum development, scheduling, learning styles, generational differences, staff buy-in, and assessment. It’s a prickly pear and one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced as a professional librarian.

After several months of training attempts I took a step back after finding inspiration in the bible. In her chapter on planning, Houghton discusses the idea of developing a Technology Needs Pyramid similar to the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs (originally proposed by Aaron Schmidt on the Walking Paper blog). Necessary skills and competencies make up the base and more idealistic areas of interest are at the top. Most of my research has pointed me towards creating a list of competencies, but the pyramid was much more appealing to a visual thinker like me.

In order to construct a pyramid for the Reference Services department, we held a brainstorming session where I asked my co-workers what they feel they need to know to work at the reference desk, followed by what they want to learn. At Houghton’s suggestion, I also bribed them with treats. The results were a mix of topics (things like data visualization and digital mapping) paired with specific software (Outlook, Excel, Photoshop).brainstorm

Once we had a list I created four levels for our pyramid. “Need to Know” is at the bottom and “Want to Learn” is at the top, with a mix of both in between. I hope that this pyramid will act as a guideline for our department, but more than anything it will act as a guide for me going forward. I’ve already printed it and pinned it to my bulletin board as a friendly daily reminder of what my department needs and what they’re curious about. While I’d like to recommend the Technology Needs Pyramid to everyone, I don’t have the results just yet! I look forward to sharing our progress as we rework our technology plan. In the meantime I can tell you that whether it’s a list, graphic, or narrative; collecting (and demanding) feedback from your colleagues is vital. It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely worth the cost of a dozen donuts.Digital Scholarship Lab-01

Top Strategies to Win that Technology Grant: Part 1

Do you remember the time when you needed to write your first research paper in MLA or APA format?  The long list of guidelines, including properly formed in-text citations and a References or Works Cited page, seemed like learning a new language.  The same holds true when approaching an RFP (Request for Proposal) and writing a grant proposal.  Unfortunately with grants, most of us are in the dark without guidance.  I am here to say, don’t give up.

Get Familiar with the Grant Writing Process and Terms
Take free online courses, such as the ones offered by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine Grants and Proposal Writing course (Note: you do not have to be a medical librarian to take advantage of this free course) or WebJunction’s archived webinar – Winning Library Grants presented by Stephanie Gerding. Read a few books from the American Library Association (ALA).  Browse the list below.  This is a sure way to begin to demystify the topic.

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Change the Free Money, Shopping Spree Thinking
I have failed at grant writing many times because I started writing a list of “toys” I wanted.  I would begin browsing stores online and pictured awesome technology I wanted.  Surely my patrons would enjoy them too.  I never thought, will my patrons need this technology?  Will they use it?  As MacKellar & Gerding state in their books, funders want to help people.  Learning about the community you serve is step one before you start your shopping list or even writing your grant proposal.

Write Your Proposal in Non-Expert, Jargon-Free, Lay Language
Some professionals may have the tendency, as they excitedly share their project, to go into tech vocabulary.  This is a sure way to lose some of the grant planning or awarding committee members who may not be familiar with tech terms or a particular area of technology.  Be mindful of the words you use to explain your technology needs.  The main goal of a proposal is to make all parties feel included and a part of the game plan.

Start Small and Form Partnerships
To remove the daunting feeling you may have of writing a proposal, find community partners or colleagues that can assist in making the process enjoyable.  For example, a library can participate in grant proposals spawned by others. What better way to represent our profession than to become the researcher for a grant group.  Research is our secret weapon.  The master researcher for the grant may add some items that help fund library equipment, staff, or materials in support of the project request.  It may not be a grant proposal from the library, but a component may help the library in support of that initiative.  Another idea is to divide the grant proposal process into sections or phases among staff members.  As you know, each of us have strengths that fit into a phase of a grant proposal.  Tap into those strengths and divide the work needed to get that funding.

Create SMART Outcomes and Objectives
Ensure that outcomes and objectives are SMART, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.  How will you know if the project is succeeding or has been a success?  Also, it is helpful to see how your technology grant request correlates with your library’s and/or institution’s technology plan.

Grants are a great way to receive recognition from peers, administration, and the community you serve.  For those in academia, this is a wonderful way to grow as a professional, add to your curriculum vitae and collect evidence towards a future promotion.  It can even become enjoyable.  Once you mastered writing MLA or APA papers, didn’t you want to write more papers?  Come to think of it, forget about my research paper and grant writing analogy.

Find future posts on technology grant writing tips on our LITA blog.

Jobs in Information Technology: April 6, 2016

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

Santa Clara County Library District, Virtual Library Manager, Campbell, CA

Mendocino County Library, Librarian II, Ukiah, CA

The Ohio State University Libraries, Assistant / Associate Director for Information Technology, Columbus, OH

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

Begin Transmission #1

Welcome to the new LITA Vlog series, Begin Transmission. Every two weeks your host (that’s me) will sit down with a guest to talk about libraries, tech, the state of the profession, and their thoughts on LITA.

Begin Transmission will provide another channel for you to learn from your fellow LITA members. I hope you’ll enjoy this first episode, featuring LITA Blogger Marlon Hernandez. When he’s not writing seriously interesting posts for the blog, he’s working for NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. He has a truly unique perspective on the profession.

Look for our next transmission dropping here on the LITA Blog on Monday, April 18th.

Look who’s talking: Conducting a needs assessment project to inform your service design

If you can’t tell, I’m on a research data services kick of late, mostly because we’re in the throes of trying to define our service model and move some of our initiatives forward all while building new partnerships.

What I didn’t mention in my previous post is all the lead-up work we’re doing to lay the groundwork for those awesome services I discussed. And there is quite a bit to do in that regard, so I thought it would be helpful to provide some tips on what you can do to set the stage for a successful launch of these types of services. Here goes!

If you have a specific population/audience in mind for your services, getting feedback from them is essential. This can take many forms, although we tend to rely on the tried and true (and often dreaded survey). Which is great if you want to collect a high amount of data that may or may not lead to follow-up questions. But what if you want to do something a little different?

Continue reading Look who’s talking: Conducting a needs assessment project to inform your service design

Yes, You Can Video! Repeat!

Don’t miss this repeat of the highly popular how-to guide for creating high-impact instructional videos without tearing your hair out.

smvideoclapperTuesday April 12, 2016
1:00 pm – 2:30 pm Central Time
Register now for this webinar

This LITA Webinar promises a fun time learning how to create instructional videos.

Have you ever wanted to create an engaging and educational instructional video, but felt like you didn’t have the time, ability, or technology? Are you perplexed by all the moving parts that go into creating an effective tutorial? In this session, Anne Burke and Andreas Orphanides will help to demystify the process, breaking it down into easy-to-follow steps, and provide a variety of technical approaches suited to a range of skill sets. They will cover choosing and scoping your topic, scripting and storyboarding, producing the video, and getting it online. They will also address common pitfalls at each stage.

Join

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Anne Burke

Anne Burke
Undergraduate Instruction & Outreach Librarian
North Carolina State University Libraries

and

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Andreas Orphanides

Andreas Orphanides
Librarian for Digital Technologies and Learning
North Carolina State University Libraries

Then register for the webinar

videobuttonsFull details

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

Cost:

  • LITA Member: $45
  • Non-Member: $105
  • Group: $196

Registration Information

Register Online page arranged by session date (login required)
OR
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.

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