June 2019 ITAL Issue Now Available


The June 2019 issue of Information Technology and Libraries (ITAL) is available now. Our regular content includes Bohyun Kim’s final LITA President’s Message as her term concludes, “Moving Forward with LITA,” summarizing the work that has gone into the planned division merger that would combine LITA, ALCTS, and LLAMA. Editorial Board member Cinthya Ippoliti discusses the role of libraries in fostering digital pedagogy in her Editorial Board Thoughts column, “Digital Faculty Development.” And, in the second of our new Public Libraries Leading the Way series, Jeffrey Davis discusses the technologies and advantages of digital pass systems in “Online Ticketed-Passes: A Mid-Tech Leap in What Libraries Are For.

In this issue:

No Need to Ask: Creating Permissionless Blockchains of Metadata Records
Dejah Rubel

This article describes how permissionless metadata blockchains could be created to overcome two significant limitations in current cataloging practices: centralization and a lack of traceability. The process would start by creating public and private keys, which could be managed using digital wallet software. After creating a genesis block, nodes would submit either a new record or modifications to a single record for validation. Validation would rely on a Federated Byzantine Agreement consensus algorithm because it offers the most flexibility for institutions to select authoritative peers. Only the top tier nodes would be required to store a copy of the entire blockchain thereby allowing other institutions to decide whether they prefer to use the abridged version or the full version.

50 years of ITAL/JLA: A Bibliometric Study of Its Major Influences, Themes, and Interdisplinarity
Brady Lund

Over five decades, Information Technology and Libraries (and its predecessor, the Journal of Library Automation) has influenced research and practice in the library and information science technology. From its inception on, the journal has been consistently ranked as one of the superior publications in the profession and a trendsetter for all types of librarians and researchers. This research examines ITAL using a citation analysis of all 878 peer-reviewed feature articles published over the journal’s 51 volumes. Impactful authors, articles, publications, and themes from the journal’s history are identified. The findings of this study provide insight into the history of ITAL and potential topics of interest to ITAL authors and readership.

Weathering the Twitter Storm: Early Uses of Social Media as a Disaster Response Tool for Public Libraries During Hurricane Sandy
Sharon Han
This article is the 2019 LITA/Ex Libris Student Writing Award-winning paper.

After a disaster, news reports and online platforms often document the swift response of public libraries supporting their communities. Despite current scholarship focused on social media in disasters, early uses of social media as an extension of library services require further scrutiny. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recognized Hurricane Sandy as one of the earliest U.S. disasters in which first responders used social media. This study specifically examines early uses of Twitter by selected public libraries as an information tool during Sandy’s aftermath. Results can inform uses of social media in library response to future disasters.

”Good Night, Good Day, Good Luck”: Applying Topic Modeling to Chat Reference Transcripts
Megan Ozeran and Piper Martin

This article presents the results of a pilot project that tested the application of algorithmic topic modeling to chat reference conversations. The outcomes for this project included determining if this method could be used to identify the most common chat topics in a semester and whether these topics could inform library services beyond chat reference training. After reviewing the literature, four topic modeling algorithms were successfully implemented using Python code: (1) LDA, (2) phrase-LDA, (3) DMM, and (4) NMF. Analysis of the top ten topics from each algorithm indicated that LDA, phrase-LDA, and NMF show the most promise for future analysis on larger sets of data (from three or more semesters) and for examining different facets of the data (fall versus spring semester, different time of day, just the patron side of the conversation).

Information Security in Libraries: Examining the Effects of Knowledge Transfer
Tonia San Nicolas-Rocca and Richard J Burkhard

Libraries in the United States handle sensitive patron information, including personally identifiable information and circulation records. With libraries providing services to millions of patrons across the U.S., it is important that they understand the importance of patron privacy and how to protect it. This study investigates how knowledge transferred within an online cybersecurity education affects library employee information security practices. The results of this study suggest that knowledge transfer does have a positive effect on library employee information security and risk management practices.

Wikidata: From “an” Identifier to “the” Identifier
Theo van Veen

Library catalogues may be connected to the linked data cloud through various types of thesauri. For name authority thesauri in particular I would like to suggest a fundamental break with the current distributed linked data paradigm: to make a transition from a multitude of different identifiers to using a single, universal identifier for all relevant named entities, in the form of the Wikidata identifier. Wikidata ( seems to be evolving into a major authority hub that is lowering barriers to access the web of data for everyone. Using the Wikidata identifier of notable entities as a common identifier for connecting resources has significant benefits compared to traversing the ever-growing linked data cloud. When the use of Wikidata reaches a critical mass, for some institutions, Wikidata could even serve as an authority control mechanism.

Editorial Content

Submit Your Ideas

Contact ITAL Editor Ken Varnum at with your proposal. Current formats are generally:

  • Articles – original research or comprehensive and in-depth analyses, in the 3000-5000 word range.
  • Communications – brief research reports, technical findings, and case studies, in the 1000-3000 word range.

Questions or Comments?

For all other questions or comments related to LITA publications, contact us at (312) 280-4268 or