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[(https://github.com/chadfennell/exhibitmaster2000), 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 http://digital.library.villanova.edu/
  • 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 libraryhackathon@gmail.com.

Jobs in Information Technology: Jan. 29

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

Access Services/Instruction Librarian, The Pennsylvania State University Libraries,  Hershey, PA

Director – McCormick Educational Technology Center (METC) ,  Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL

Knowledge Manager,  Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service,  Baltimore, MD

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

University Librarian, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA

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

2014 Election Slate

The LITA Board is pleased to announce the following slate of candidates for the 2014 spring election as follows:

Candidates for President-elect

  • Adriene Lim
  • Thomas Dowling

Candidates for Directors at Large, 3 elected for 3 year terms

  • Jenny Emanuel Taylor
  • Evviva Weinraub Lajoie
  • Jason J. Battles
  • Susan Sharpless Smith
  • Ranti Junus
  • Bohyun Kim

Candidates for Board of Directors, 1 elected for 1-year term:

  • Dale Poulter
  • Aimee Fifarek

See candidate bios and statements more information; voting in the 2014 ALA election will begin at 9:00 a.m. Central Time (US) on March 19, 2014. Ballots will close at 11:59 p.m. on April 25, 2014.

The slate was recommended by the Nominating Committee. Mark Beatty, chair is chair of the Committee and Michelle Frisque, Abigail Goben, and Breanne Kirsch are the Committee members. The Board thanks the Nominating Committee for all their work.

LITA Town Meeting, January 27, 2014

The LITA Town Meeting will take place on Monday January 27, 2014, from 8:30-10:00 am, EST. If you are able to attend in person, great! I’ll be happy to see you there! If not, I encourage you to participate remotely.

Here are all the links you’ll need, no matter how or when you want to participate.

Additional online resources for remote users:

I want to emphasize that this activity is very different than the types of activities that we’ve previously done at Town Meetings. Here, we’re trying to capture some real stories, pictures, and thoughts from members about how LITA has helped make their life awesome. This content will be shared with the LITA Membership Development Committee and our Emerging Leaders to shift through and find the shining examples that can aid in membership recruitment. There’s the potential for articles, pictures, or even a recruitment video using a variety of content.

On behalf of the LITA Board and the Membership Committee, thanks for participating, and I truly appreciate your time.

Rachel Vacek
LITA Vice-President

Jobs in Information Technology: Jan. 22

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

Instructional Designer,  Kansas State University Libraries, Manhattan, KS

Lead Digital Library QA Developer, University of Notre Dame,  Notre Dame, IN
Search Engine Evaluator, Leapforce, Inc,  Pleasanton, CA

Web Developer (Library),  Princeton University Library, Princeton, NJ

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

How has LITA made your life awesome? Tell us at #becauseLITA

Are you a member of LITA? Has LITA helped you in any way? Perhaps you’ve taken an online workshop, attended a preconference, read a useful article in LITA’s journal, participated in a conference, expanded your professional network, or even just had fun socializing and interacting with colleagues interested in libraries and technology. If LITA has impacted your job or your career, we want to hear about it!

How has LITA made your life awesome?

Tweet, blog, use instagram, use facebook, make a video, record a sound byte, or use your favorite flavor of social media to share LITA’s impact on you and be sure to include the hashtag #becauseLITA. We are aggregating everything with that hashtag on our Tagboard.

At this upcoming Midwinter Conference, an amazing team of LITA folk have been helping me, Rachel Vacek, your LITA Vice-President, plan the LITA Town Meeting on Monday, January 27th from 8:30-10:00 am in the Convention Center Room 120C. In support of the activity that we’ve planned for the Meeting, we are launching a campaign called #becauseLITA to help focus on the benefits of membership, celebrate our amazing accomplishments as members and leaders within the association, and to share with prospective members how LITA has enriched our lives.

Throughout the conference, and primarily at the Town Meeting, we will be conducting interviews, taking photos, shooting video, and encouraging members to tell stories about how LITA impacts our life and work. We’ll even have #becauseLITA ribbons for your name badge!

If you have a story to tell about how LITA has made YOUR life awesome, there are a few places where we’d love to meet with you:

Thanks to Annie Gaines, Kyle Denlinger, Ayla Stein, Joanna Messer Jordan, and Melody Condron for helping plan and run the activities around the Town Meeting and the #becauseLITA campaign. Thanks also goes to Executive Director Mary Taylor, President Cindi Trainor, and the LITA Board for their ongoing support!

The Library and Information Technology Association