Jobs in Information Technology: Oct 1

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

Dean of the Library, California Maritime Academy, Vallejo, CA

Library Systems and  Applications Specialist, Cleveland Public Library, Cleveland, OH

Manager, Digital Services, Florida Virtual Campus, Gainesville, FL

Senior Software Developer, University of Maryland, College Park – Libraries, College Park, MD

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

Cataloging a world of languages

Painting of the Tower of BabelMy university has a mandate to increase our international reach through research collaborations, courses offered, and support for international students.

From the technical services side, this means our catalogers must provide metadata for resources in unfamiliar languages, including some that don’t use the Roman alphabet. A few of the challenges we face include:

  • Identifying the language of an item (is that Spanish or Catalan?)
  • Cataloging an item in a language you don’t speak or read (what is this book even about?)
  • Transliterating from non-Roman alphabets (e.g. Cyrillic, Chinese, Thai)
  • Diacritic codes in copy cataloging that don’t match your system’s encoding scheme

I’d like to share a few free tools that our catalogers have found helpful. I’ve used some of these in other areas of librarianship as well, including acquisitions and reference.

Language identifiers

Sometimes I open a book or article and have no idea where to start, because the language isn’t anything I’ve seen before.

I turn to the Open Xerox Language Identifier, which covers over 80 different languages. Type or paste in text of the mysterious language, and give it a try. The more text you provide, the more accurate it is.

Language translators

Web translation tools aren’t perfect, but they’re a great way to get the gist of a piece of writing (don’t use them for sending sensitive emails to bilingual coworkers, however).

Google Translate includes over 75 languages, and also a language identification tool. Enter the title, a few chapter names, or back cover blurb, and you’ll get the general idea of the content.

Transliteration tables

If you catalog in Roman script, and you wind up with a resource in Cyrillic or Chinese, how do you translate that so the record is searchable in your ILS? Transliteration tables match up characters between scripts.

The ALA-LC Romanization Tables for non-Roman scripts are approved by the American Library Association and the Library of Congress. They cover over 70 different scripts.

Bibliographic dictionaries

We’re fortunate that librarians love to share: there are quite a few sites produced by libraries that look at common bibliographic terms you’d find on title pages: numbers, dates, editions, statements of responsibility, price, etc.

To share two Canadian examples, Memorial University maintains a Glossary of Bibliographic Information by Language and Queen’s University has a page of Foreign Language Equivalents for Bibliographic Terms.

If you’ve ever seen the phrase “bibliographic knowledge of [language]” in a job posting, this is what it’s referring to—when you’ve cataloged enough material in a language to know these terms, but can’t carry on a conversation about daily life. I have bibliographic knowledge of Spanish, Italian, and Germany, but don’t ask me to go to a restaurant in Hamburg and order a hamburger.

Subject-specific glossaries

Similar to bibliographic dictionaries, these are for terms common to specific subjects.

My university has significant music and map collections, so I often consult the language tools at Music Cataloging at Yale (…and I once  thought music was the universal language) and the European Environment Agency’s Terminology and Discovery Service.

Diacritic charts

In order to ensure that accented characters and special symbols display properly in the catalog, it’s important to have the correct diacritic code.

Our system uses Unicode, and we often rely on the Unicode Character Code Chart or Unicode Character Table.  Which interface you use is personal preference.

It may also be worth coming up with a cheat sheet of the codes you use most frequently – for example, common French accents if you’re cataloging Canadian government documents, which are bilingual.

Many Integrated Library Systems also have diacritic charts built in, where you can select the symbol you need and click it to place it in the record.

Diacritic guessers

Diacritic charts can be long and involved (the Unicode example above is a bit of a nightmare), so if you’re working with a new language, browsing through them searching for a specific code can be time-consuming. You can see the symbol in front of you, but have no idea what it’s called.

This is where Shapecatcher comes in.  This utility allows you to draw a character using your mouse or tablet. It identifies possible matches for the symbol and gives you the symbol’s name and Unicode number.

Have you encountered issues handling different languages when cataloguing? Is there a free language tool you’d like to share? Tell us about it in the comments!

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Credits: Image of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s painting The Tower of Babel courtesy of the Google Art Project. Many thanks also to my colleagues Judy Harris and Vivian Zhang for sharing their language challenges and tools.

2014 LITA Forum Student Registration Rate Deadline Extended

forum2014cactusThe special student registration rate to the 2014 LITA National Forum has been extended through Monday October 6th, 2014.  The Forum will be held November 5-8, 2014 at the Hotel Albuquerque in Albuquerque, NM. Learn more about the Forum here.

This special rate is intended for a limited number of graduate students enrolled in ALA accredited programs. In exchange for a discounted registration, students will assist the LITA organizers and the Forum presenters with on-site operations. This year’s theme is “Transformation: From Node to Network.” We are anticipating an attendance of 300 decision makers and implementers of new information technologies in libraries.

The selected students will be expected to attend the full LITA National Forum, Thursday noon through Saturday noon. This does not include the pre-conferences on Thursday and Friday. You will be assigned a variety of duties, but you will be able to attend the Forum programs, which include 3 keynote sessions, 30 concurrent sessions, and a dozen poster presentations.

The special student rate is $180 – half the regular registration rate for LITA members. This rate includes a Friday night reception at the hotel, continental breakfasts, and Saturday lunch. To get this rate you must apply and be accepted per below.

To apply for the student registration rate, please provide the following information:

  • Complete contact information including email address,
  • The name of the school you are attending, and
  • 150 word (or less) statement on why you want to attend the 2014 LITA Forum

Please send this information no later than October 6, 2014 to lita@ala.org, with “2014 LITA Forum Student Registration Request” in the subject line.

Those selected for the student rate will be notified no later than October 10, 2014.

The Password Dilemma

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Elizabeth Montgomery on the game show Password, 1971

One-on-one technology help is one of the greatest services offered by the modern public library. Our ability to provide free assistance without an underlying agenda to sell a product puts us in a unique and valuable position in our communities. While one-on-one sessions are one of my favorite job duties, I must admit that they can also be the most frustrating, primarily because of passwords. It is rare that I assist a patron and we don’t encounter a forgotten password, if not several. Trying to guess the password or resetting it usually eats up most of our time. I wish that I were writing this post as an authority on how to conquer the war on passwords, but I fear that we’re losing the battle. One day we’ll look back and laugh at the time we wasted trying to guess our passwords; resetting them again and again, but it’s been 10 years since Bill Gates predicted the death of the password, so I’m not holding my breath.

The latest answer to this dilemma is password managers like Dashlane and Last Pass. These are viable solutions for some, but the majority of the patrons I work with have little experience with technology and a password manager is simply too overwhelming.

I’ve been thinking a lot about passwords lately; I’ve read countless articles about how to manage passwords, and I don’t think there’s an easy answer. That said, I think that the best thing librarians can do is change our attitude about passwords in general. Instead of considering them to be annoyances we should view them as tools. Passwords should empower us, not annoy us. Passwords are our first line of defense against hackers. If we want to protect the content we create, it’s our responsibility to create and manage strong passwords. This is exactly the perspective we should share with our patrons. Instead of griping about patrons who don’t know their email passwords, we should take this opportunity to educate our patrons. We should view this encounter as a chance to stop patrons from using one password across all of their accounts or God forbid, using 123456 as their password.

If a patron walks away from a one-on-one help session with nothing more than a stronger account password and a slightly better understanding of online security, then that is a victory for the librarian.

What’s your take on the password dilemma? Do you have any suggestions for working with patrons in one-on-one situations? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

An Interview with LITA Emerging Leader Annie Gaines

Annie Gaines1. Tell us about your library job.  What do you love most about it?

I am the Scholarly Communications Librarian at the University of Idaho. This is a brand new position within the library and also my first ‘real’ librarian job, so it’s been a constant learning experience. I work along with the Digital Initiatives Librarian on the various digital projects happening at the library, including building an institutional repository, creating digital collections, redesigning the library website, creating and managing open access journals, and working on VIVO (a semantic-web application we are using as a front-end to our IR). I also do some education and advocacy around copyright, author’s rights, open access, etc.

The thing I love most about this job (aside from being able to design websites in crayon – image attached) is taking an idea and bringing it into fruition. Whether it’s a digital collection of postcards with custom navigation or a new journal or database, being able to make an idea a functional, beautiful reality is really rewarding. Also I’m just really excited about increasing access to information, and designing new ways to make that information accessible to a broader audience.

2. Where do you see yourself going from here?

Having just started this career, I’m not completely sure what’s next for me. I’m very happy in my current position, and I love all of the people I work with at the University of Idaho. I think my next step will probably be to start pursing another degree to help expand my knowledge in this field, or to fulfil my dream to become a professional comic artist/graphic novelist on the side.

3. Why did you apply to be an Emerging Leader?  What are your big takeaways from the ALA-level activities so far?

I was encouraged by my mentor, a previous Emerging Leader, to apply. I am actually the fourth Emerging Leader in a row to be selected from the University of Idaho Library, so there is a lot of administrative support and encouragement for this kind of activity. The big thing I’ve learned through working with ALA is that although the organization and the sub-organizations have a massive population, it is a handful of active participants who make nearly everything happen. My goal is to become one of those change-agents at the ALA level, eventually.

4. What have you learned about LITA governance and activities so far?

I’ve learned that LITA is inclusive and active with its membership. This is a very fun organization, and I’m impressed with the discussion and activities that come out of LITA and its membership.

5. What’s your favorite LITA moment?  What would you like to do next in the organization?

My favorite LITA moment was working with Rachel Vacek and Kyle Denlinger on the Town Meeting activities at Midwinter. My favorite kind of brainstorming involves large sheets of paper and crayons (see above) and being able to do that with other LITA members was really fun.

Jobs in Information Technology: September 24

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

Associate University Librarian for Digital Initiatives & Services #12153, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA

Digital Projects Librarian, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT

E-Resources Librarian, Midwestern University, Downers Grove, IL

Learning Technologies Librarian, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Austin, TX

Systems Librarian, Georgetown University,  Washington, DC

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

New Collaborative Technology

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As an academic librarian I often hear students lamenting the struggles of working in groups. Collaborating on a project is challenging, especially when everyone is working in their own place and at their own speed. At my library we have tried to provide space where students can more easily work in groups and accomplish work together.

Our first floor is dedicated collaborative space. We have a whiteboard table, comfortable seating, the coffee shop, and it gets loud. We were looking for ways to enhance this space with more technology, but we were encountering budget limitations with many of the collaborative technology pieces we considered.

An unplanned visit to a neighboring academic library led me to discover Crestron’s AirMedia. Check it out here: http://tinyurl.com/lvqcv6y

This technology allows up to 32 people to wirelessly connect to the shared presentation. Also, up to four people can display their device on a shared screen. We had considered purchasing a large television and then buying cables, but having the capability for users to connect wirelessly was a huge selling feature for us. Also, it works with Android, iOS, and Windows. I would like to see more capabilities for tablets in the future, but this technology is just a year old and hopefully more features will be made available.

With a grant from Amigos Library Services we purchased the AirMedia device, a 55” television, and a new table and chairs that are more conducive to collaborative work than what we already had available. It is still early in the semester, but students are catching on and commenting on how “cool” it is. We have had to do some promotion, because otherwise it just looks like a big TV with a new table. Generating a list of potential uses for the technology and placing it on the wall by the station is one promotional method.

We hope to be able to purchase more collaborative technology in the future. I’d love to hear what technology others are using to help library users collaborate!

An Interview with LITA Emerging Leader Kyle Denlinger

Kyle Denlinger1. Tell us about your library job.  What do you love most about it?

My job as eLearning Librarian is equal parts project manager, instructional designer, information literacy teacher, and instructional technologist, with some multimedia producer and reference librarian thrown in to keep things interesting. My main initiative right now is the continuing development of ZSRx, my library’s series of open online courses for Wake Forest alumni and parents. What I love most about my job is that I’m empowered to act on big ideas, I get to do a bunch of creative work, and I get to do it all alongside some of the best coworkers and faculty colleagues you could find anywhere.

2. Where do you see yourself going from here?

I would *love* to eventually head up a team that serves as a resource for faculty who want to better integrate technology and library resources into their teaching in effective and creative ways. This team would handle everything from software training to multimedia production to instructional design for online, blended, and face-to-face courses.

3. Why did you apply to be an Emerging Leader?  What are your big takeaways from the ALA-level activities so far?

I applied to the EL program because so many of the people I look up to in libraries went through the program at some point in their career, and their experiences seem to have served them well. I can see why–I’ve already made some excellent ALA buddies through EL and have had a few doors open to me since being accepted to the program. My biggest takeaway so far is that decisions are made by those that show up. Big as they are, ALA, and LITA in particular, are really accessible organizations for those that wish to get involved at any level–you just have to show up and be willing to do the work.

4. What have you learned about LITA governance and activities so far?

It was great to be able to sit in on a LITA board meeting and to help plan the #becauseLITA stuff surrounding the Town Meeting at Midwinter. LITA’s emphasis on openness and camaraderie, and the fun-by-default nature of most LITA activities makes me happy that it’s my professional home. I can’t say I’m an expert on LITA governance (yet), but I do know that I’m able to be involved at even the highest levels if I so choose.

5. What’s your favorite LITA moment?  What would you like to do next in the organization?

My favorite LITA moment comes from my least-favorite LITA moment (or, rather, a LITA non-moment). At the Top Tech Trends panel at Annual in Chicago, Char Booth gave me and a project I’d been working on a very prominent shout-out in front of a full room. This was great, but it would have been even better if I’d, you know, ATTENDED THE PANEL. I’d decided to skip it to get an early dinner with a friend. I found out through a small flood of excited texts from friends who were there, and at the LITA Happy Hour that evening, almost everyone I knew was super excited for me. I think someone bought me a beer. Such is LITA.

The thing I’m excited about is getting involved in next is the shiny new User Experience IG, which everyone should join. Shameless plug: http://connect.ala.org/node/222849

LITA Members: take the LITA Education Survey

LITA members, please participate in the LITA Education Survey. The survey was first sent out 2 weeks ago to all current LITA members.  Another reminder will appear in LITA members email boxes soon, or you can click the links in this posting. The survey should take no more than 10 minutes of your time and will help your LITA colleagues developing continuing education programs to meet your needs.

LITA Education Survey 2014

In our continuing efforts to make LITA education offerings meet the needs and wishes of our membership, we ask that you, the LITA members, take a few minutes to fill out the linked survey. We are looking for information on education offerings you have participated in recently and would like to know what topics, methods and calendar times work best for you.

The more responses we get the better chances we have to create education offerings that provide excellent value to you the LITA membership. We appreciate you taking 10 minutes of your time to complete the LITA Education Survey 2014.

Thank you for your time and input.

LITA Education Committee

Taking the Edge Off of Tech

Image courtesy of Tina Franklin. Flickr 2013
Image courtesy of Tina Franklin. Flickr 2013.

E-readers and tablets have become an increasingly popular way for patrons to access digital media. Mobile technology has altered the landscape of the types of services offered to public library patrons. Digital media services and distributers (i.e. iBookstore, Audible, Overdrive and Hoopla) allow patrons to download and stream ebooks, audiobooks, video and music. After happening upon the article “Shape Up Your Skills and Shake Up Your Library,” by Marshall Breeding for Computers in Libraries, I’m reminded that information professionals in public libraries must sharpen their tech skills in order to be of advantage to their patrons. If you belong to a library that subscribes to a digital media distributor, such as Overdrive and Hoopla, you are most likely first tier technical support for issues concerning the application and the device itself. For patrons who are not familiar with tablets and e-readers, their expectation of your assistance goes beyond navigating the library’s subscription service. You may find yourself giving instruction on where to find the wireless settings or how to properly turn the device off. It is natural to become intimidated by the technology when you’re sitting with a patron desperately attempting to figure out what the issue could be.

Not all public libraries are fortunate to have e-readers and tablets to train with. In that case, I suggest looking into alternative forms of instruction. Though I cannot promise you a complete instructional, I’ll attempt to help you brush-up on the light technical skills you’ll need before having to phone the professionals.

Familiarity is key
The first step in getting a better understanding of the technology is to become familiar with the exact services that your library is subscribed to. In the case of Overdrive and Hoopla, their services can be accessed using a computer. That is a great opportunity to explore the different features of the service. Be ready to answer certain questions: Does the library offer downloadable ebooks, audiobooks or video? What formats are they available in? What devices can be used with the service? If all else fails, you can always contact the service provider and ask for training materials or frequently asked questions and answers. If not already available, you can create instructional handouts for use by colleagues and patrons.

Take advantage of free services
To add some edge to your skills, consider utilizing the live product displays at electronics stores.
• Visit the Apple Store to use their iPads, iPad mini, etc.
• Best Buy has live displays of various Android OS tablets
• Target stores often feature Kindles and iPads
• Barnes and Noble stores have Nook displays

There are a plethora of alternate stores to consider. The imperative is to root around with the technology until you’re comfortable with its features. You want to know where the settings are located for each device because that knowledge will be useful at some point. And while you’re there, don’t be afraid to ask the salesperson questions about the device’s functionality. There is a high chance you will ask a question that will later be asked of you.

I make no assumptions here. Not all libraries have access to instructional materials or handouts for patrons. My aim is to create a starting point for self-training and instruction that is free and can be passed along to colleagues and patrons.

The Library and Information Technology Association