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Technology Speed Dating at ALA Annual in Las Vegas

Join us for Tech Speed Dating in Las Vegas! Learn about 7 different technology topics plus participate in a SparkFun demo at the Library Code Year IG session at ALA Annual.

Topics and experts

  • MakerBot – Emily Thompson, Learning Technologies Librarian, SUNY-Oswego
  • MongoDB – Emily Morton-Owens, Library Applications and Systems Manager, Seattle Public Library
  • GitHub – Coral Sheldon-Hess, Web Services Librarian, University of Alaska Anchorage
  • WordPress and library websites – Chad Haefele, Emerging Technologies Librarian, UNC Davis
  • Drupal and Islandora – Cary Gordon, President, Cherry Hill Company
  • Python script – Harrison Dekker, Head of Library Data Lab, UC Berkeley
  • Hardware and libraries – Jeff Branson, SparkFun Educational Outreach, and Nate Hill, Assistatnt Director, Chattanooga Public Library

Add it to your ALA Scheduler today: Saturday June 28th, 1:00-2:30 p.m. Convention Center N119 Don’t miss out on the speed dating fun in Vegas!

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Innovative Users Group (IUG) 2014 Detroit, MI

As a first-time attendee, my expectations were non-existant for the Innovative Users Group (IUG) conference held last week, May 7-9th, 2014 in Detroit, MI. Having attended a variety of library conferences of all sizes, IUG is the most detailed, practical conference even though it had 1000+ attendees. My hunch is that since all of the libraries are on Innovative integrated library system (ILS), either Millennium or Sierra, this allows for much deeper and more instructive discussions and presentations. Also, the schedule’s format packs in a full day, too.

Wednesday, May 7th
Opening session, 9-11 a.m.: The day started off with a keynote by Amy Dickinson, writer/columnist/library supporter and literacy advocate. She shared her personal story about libraries and reading, how her mother’s love of learning inspired her, and described her literacy work and passion as a story-time reader at her hometown library. At the end of her talk, Innovative presented her with a donation towards the literacy charity that she works with. Innovative CEO, Kim Massana discussed the year in review and the future for Innovative. Rice Majors emceed and presented awards to 15 year Crystal Attendees of IUG, which was quite a crew this year. Also, the Beacon Award was given to Martha Rice Sanders.

RDA clean up, 1:30-2:30 p.m.: Marta Rice Sanders (HELIN Library Consortium) shared her tips and tricks for tracking down pesky RDA indexed headings in need of changes. Swetta Abeyta (Innovative) discussed how she helped Sanders when she had issues with the automatic authority control processing; which has now been resolved.

Shared data for shared projects, 3-4 p.m.: Tim Auger (Innovative) gave an overview of the company’s vision for the future and then presented various sharing initiatives planned for INN-Reach. Also, the open discussion and question time at the end generated great ideas and thoughtful aspects to consider.

Innovative professional service, 4:30-5:30 p.m.: Marina Keating (Innovative) presented on the variety of ways in which Innovative can provide libraries with support, training, consultation, and contracting. With the myInnoU portal due out in July, there will be self-paced e-learning opportunities and also new API services.

Thursday, May 8th
Cataloging and authorities forum, 7:30-8:30 a.m.: Swetta Abeyta (Innovative), Katie Enright (San Antonio Public Library), and Lisa Robinson (Michigan State University) reviewed the IUG enhancement ballot winners, with many dealing with rapid/global update. As with most things, the updates focus on Sierra.

Google Analytics part 1, 9-10 a.m.: Robert Sebek (Virginia Tech) showed how he set up Google Analytics for the catalog and walked through the different reports for statistics on how users access and search the library’s catalog. Based on the data collected, his library made changes to the catalog and provided better, clearer answers where needed.

Data bricolage, 10:30-11:30 a.m.: Kristina Spurgin (UNC Chapel Hill) shared her scripting codes and workflows for wrangling metadata for cleaning and maintaining the catalog. She showed examples for a database URL location change, checking URL access for links, and dealing with payment data.

IUG seated lunch! Great time to catch up with my University of Michigan Law Library previous co-workers. Sine they were only coming from 30 minutes away in Ann Arbor, many of them made it to the conference.

WebPAC and JavaScript, 1:30-2:30 p.m.: Eric Still (The Boeing Company) described and walked through his use of JavaScript on the WebPAC to generate relevant emails to link to a title, display an information icon that explains phrases, and provided other ideas. Plus, he showed how to add tags with named id variables for grabbing desired content.

Ebooks access and management today and tomorrow, 3-4 p.m.: Swetta Abeyta (Innovative) and Sarah Hickman Auger (Innovative) presented on ebooks and the various ways in which they can be accessed and managed now and shared ideas for the future. During the open discussion and question time, they solicited other priorities, concerns, and ideas, which many people shared.

All about e-content, 4:30-5:30 p.m.: Lori Roholt, Julie Woodruff, and Kathy Setter (Indianhead Federated Library System) described how their public library system deals with e-books and e-media. For e-books, they walked through the loading record process and editing/clean up of metadata. Their library also provides access to Freegal music and videos.

Friday, May 9th
Sierra REST APIs, real world applications, 9-10 a.m.: Steve Schoen (Innovative) discussed the APIs available, some of which work with both Millennium and Sierra but new ones are only for Sierra. After strong feedback from IUG attendees, Innovative will revisit the fee-based model for the APIs and its sandbox. Also, a white paper is coming in a few weeks and then they will do case studies, so be in touch if interested. Ample discussion and question time addressed many topics and concerns and desires for the APIs.

More elusive errors, 10:30-11:30 a.m.: Lisa Robinson (Michigan State University) discussed various metadata clean up in the catalog, both prior to and after loading records. She covered global update commands, how to find certain diacritic problems, hunting down local fields and delimiter 5 issues from other libraries. During discussion, others in the room also suggested fixes to questions asked.

Google Analytics, part 2, 1:30-2:30 p.m.: Robert Sebek (Virginia Tech) continued his Google Analytics presentation, introducing segments, campaign tagging, and event tracking. Again, his slides were well-annotated and showed the various settings to provide the information and statistics that he sought.

IUG take-aways:
They were long days but had many breaks, the one hour session format was perfect, the booklet descriptions are useful since they usually provide details, presentations are very specific and usually walk through the process or code/script, breaks are 30 minutes and provide great time to talk further with other attendees, IUG is a hands-on conference with an active membership, Innovative staff are all-ears during the conference and love speaking with attendees, IUG is a palpable dialogue throughout the week with attendees sharing their trials and successes with each other as well as direct interactions with Innovative staff.

I truly enjoyed myself at IUG and learned so much! Even with its larger size, it felt like a smaller, cozy conference where everyone knew and conversed with each other. The atmosphere of a shared ILS system helps bring IUG members together in a unified cause to improve the system and use of it for everyone. What a great conference! I am not sure if I will go every year, since there are so many possible conferences to attend, but I would love to go again.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

There’s a subject heading for that!?: crime and weather

First off, I’m very happy to share that I am now the Metadata and eResources Librarian for OhioLINK! My first day was today…although OSU cancelled classes and so the office, too, had a snow day, which got me thinking about weather and storm-related subject headings. It’s an area I’ve not looked into before and there are a lot of interesting findings in that nook of the LCSH.

A huge storm blew down from Canada into the States and while we did not get dumped on with snow in Columbus, below freezing temperatures and gusty winds kept many people home from work and school.

To no one’s surprise, LCSH has many ways to classify weather:

LC Authorities weather results  screenshot

 

Some of the narrower terms for weather are technical, such as cold waves (what are those–maybe for another blog post) and weather singularities, and others seem out of place, like crime and weather. Forget looking for snow storms, it’s time to investigate this sore-thumb of a mind-scratching subject heading:

LC Authorities crime and weather record screenshot

This is a basic authority record, without any additional information of interest that sometimes shows up. It’s always good to go into a record and related records, since that can truly help figure out where a tricky work should be placed and how to describe it best. We only get the broader term of weather, which lead us here, in the 550 field.

What about the works themselves? Many times they have other subject headings that can lead catalogers, librarians, and researchers into related territory. In the LC Catalog, using a subject keyword search, this is what comes up:

LC Catalog crime and weather results screenshot

 

Unfortunately, there aren’t many works with the subject heading crime and weather but there is a statistics subdivision, which begins to piece things together for me. It jogs my memory about hearing news reports that hot weather in New York City makes people commit more crimes…sweltering weather leads to hot tempers, I recall. The previous linked article and the following one do agree that it is in fact extreme temperatures that encourage more crime, although it can’t be too hot.

Let’s see those eight results. I want to know more; perhaps I watch too many crimes shows and movies.

LC Catalog crime and weather itemized results screenshot

 

Here are the full, MARC records for the two in English:

LC Catalog MARC record 1 screenshot

 

This first work concerns the legality of how weather affects and harms people as well as how to prevent and deal with the ramifications of weather and people’s actions cause by weather. If I were at the Law Library, I’d love to go grab this from the shelf and thumb through it!

 

LC Catalog MARC record 2 screenshot

 

In contrast to the other work, this one takes crime and weather into a much more specific realm concerning illegitimacy. It is crucial to note the order of the subject headings, which traditionally classify the work (i.e. give a call number/place on the shelf) under the first listed subject heading.

There is one more work record that we can look at, the item with the statistics subdivision:

LC Catalog crime and weather--statistics MARC record screenshot

 

The 440 series field (490/830 fields now) tell us that the work is a crime survey from the DoJ. Of course, as noted in the 300 description, subfield b, it contains graphs. Infographics, to use the hip term, about crime and weather–what’s not to love? Well, it’s interesting anyway. Otherwise, the weather subject heading has a lot more to offer and not just cold weather either. If snow and storms are getting you down, check out weather’s narrower term sultriness for a reprieve:

LC Authorities sultriness record screeenshot

As I wrap up, there is now word that OSU is closed Tuesday as well. Perhaps my book blog will get updated tomorrow! Stay warm and safe, no matter where you are, especially Minnesota and North Dakota where it is even worse and I have family.

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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iTunes needs artist authority control: it’s not the only one

Last week at a concert, The Sidekicks performed with Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, and So Long Albatross.

The Sidekicks Facebook page

The Sidekicks are an Ohio band that I hadn’t heard before so I looked them up on iTunes but their name pulled up other albums by different bands with the same name.

The Sidekicks albums in iTunesNot all of these are the albums of The Sidekicks that I saw perform. In libraries and their online catalogs, this problem comes up with regularity and has been solved by creating an authority file that allows for authority control of names, subjects, and series. This is a fancy way of saying that there is a single list of unique names, for example, in order to ensure that the correct person gets adds to the correct work; while this is the goal, it’s not always the case in the authority file since there are still undifferentiated records, meaning that the names haven’t been researched and sorted out into separate, distinct records. That is the case with The Sidekicks in iTunes–the album artists are undifferentiated. However, the biography tab is for the Ohio band:

The Sidekicks bio in iTunesAnd yet, the genre is listed as country. The band I heard is certainly rock and punk, not full-blown country. After over a decade of dealing with music, iTunes should have its act together. They clearly need a cataloger…or, ahem, a metadata specialist/manager. The bio itself describes the band as punk. Seriously, iTunes doesn’t have a script that checks genre against bios against albums and flags possible differences?

A new way to describe authority files and control is to talk about author id. It is the same idea but instead of relying on particular languages and name translations, the unique identifier is a number and all of the person’s various forms of their name and any known personal information is listed in the record attached to the number. There are several attempts to create a consistent, reliable source that bridges internationally (VIAF) or for researchers use (ORCHID).

This got me thinking, what about other music websites? Do others do a good job separating The Sidekicks or not? How does Amazon.com do? Well, not so hot it turns out:

Amazon.com The Sidekicks search resultsAlso on Amazon, clicking the artist name doesn’t pull up all of their albums together since at least one is listed as Sidekicks instead of The Sidekicks. Clearly they too need to reconcile their metadata. Streaming music websites vary on how they handle the band. With LastFM, The Sidekicks from Ohio are front and center but there is a length note talking about similarly named bands:

LastFM The Sidekicks

LastFM The SidekicksAlthough, maybe not after all because the albums for The Sidekicks also have the country and bluegrass tribute ones listed:

LastFM The Sidekicks albumsSo, how about Pandora?

Pandora The Sidekicks seed stationPandora only has the country band called The Sidekicks:

Pandora The Sidekicks bioGuess I won’t be listening to the Ohio The Sidekicks on Pandora. One last streaming option…how about Spotify?

Spotify The Sidekicks search resultsSpotify also has undifferentiated artists, grouping the different The Sidekicks albums together. Again, though, the bio only describes the Ohio band:

Spotify The Sidekicks bioInterestingly, this bio on Spotify is the same as the one in iTunes and mentions exactly when they released which albums. Why is that important? It’s the type of information that librarians, catalogers actually, seek out when forming an authority record for a name. Based on this, we can rule out that this band did not play the bluegrass, country, tribute albums. Since the bio doesn’t mention recent works, we would look for other sources of reliable information about the band, such as their website or a professional music/album review, and cite it in the authority record for them. Also, we could then create a record for the country band in the authority file as well to show the distinction. Many libraries these days are unable to do their own in-house authority control for one reason or another but it remains a crucial part of cataloging and metadata because in the end it helps the user find exactly what they are looking for and distinguish that there are people or places, etc., with similar names.

Let’s take a quick look at two different John Smith records in the LC authority file to show how catalogers do authority control:

LC Authority File John Smith search resultsThis is just the top portion of the search results but already we see that there were many John Smiths around the same time period. Each record includes enough information so that anyone looking at it can tell the various people apart. Usually that may include a middle initial or name, a birth year, and sometimes a death year. There can also be additional information tacked on at the end of the authorized heading (the names that we see listed), such as occupation or certification, etc.

LC authority record John Smith 1

LC authority record John Smith 2Besides the birth and death years, catalogers put in 670 notes to provide evidence for the dates included in the name. The second record even says where the information is from and the date that the cataloger added it to this authority record: “Oxford DNB online, 3 July 2007″. Another common way to obtain information is to reach out to the author, if living, or call the publisher, which is then also noted in 670. Links to websites can also be provided.

Metadata for authority control is crucial, especially on the Internet, in keeping people, places, works unique. Catalogers and librarians already have the skills and training needed to untangle and organize these issues. As linked data becomes a reality and libraries begin incorporating our catalog data into the Internet and search engines, we must hold on to these standards and carry them forward into the web. Programmers behind software, apps, and websites also need to realize that we have this valuable knowledge and know how to do what should be done, like having unique artist ids for musicians and conducting authority control frequently. Maybe this path can create more librarian jobs for the future, using our degrees in a wider capacity and context beyond the library and its catalog.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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There’s always something more : farewell to Chicago

How did the conference fly by? ALA is always too packed and too short. For Monday, I relaxed a bit went over to the MCP Center later in the afternoon.

Part of the fun of attending a conference in person is the connections made with people you otherwise wouldn’t meet. The Annual Library Camp session fosters round table, small discussion for whichever topics interested the attendees. In a way, it is very similar to an unconference. Due to the smaller size of the group, we decided on four tables and split up to discuss either multiculturalism, mentorship, community engagement, and social media. After a while, we shared with the room and swapped tables to start another round. The social media table morphed into cataloging and metadata with the four others and myself, no surprise there, who came to that table. I met a variety of librarians that I wouldn’t have otherwise and learned about topics concerning other librarians.

For my final session of ALA Annual 2013, I went to a talk about altmetrics. At Conversation Starters: Altmetrics, the decoupled journal, and the future of scholarly publishing, Jason Priem, co-founder of ImpactStory, described altmetrics and the various impacts that the web now affords scholars. This is where ImpactStory becomes an exciting possibility of capturing the variety of online connections and interactions between scholars in order to document meaningful impact in their field, beyond print journal citation as in the past. There are other alternatives out there and more will arise since altmetrics is up and coming, and worth being involved in or at the very least watching it develop.

Jason Priem’s graphic from his presentation:

20130702-161008.jpg

After these final two sessions, Steve and I had a quiet dinner together at an awesome sushi bar. Most librarians had left already, if not Sunday evening. I did bring too much SWAG back–I’ve learned to truck through the exhibit hall at a good pace, a feat in itself as you’ll agree, and managed only to be coming back with two books and a can cosy. I’d rather enjoy sessions than collect SWAG but that’s just me.

While there are always too many sessions to attend, and more worth sitting in on, it’s good to not try to pack all day, everyday full, especially if your hanging out in the evenings too. I find it hard adhering to this myself. But I loved ALA Annual in Chicago this year, and even though I’m tired, it was worth it since I met great people, saw friends, learned a lot, and became more involved.

Thank goodness it is 4th of July weekend! Beach time is way overdue. Enjoy your long weekends–I sure will!

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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“Lascivious librarian story time” : nightlife fun in Chicago with librarians

“Lascivious librarian story time” : nightlife fun in Chicago with librarians

My Sunday morning began with a presentation in the ALA job placement center. The state of academic library jobs : what you need to know to be competitive in the current job market by Penny Beile from the University of Central Florida talked about the academic librarian job market and the breakdown of job postings and their statistics. She addressed the infamous study that we all know about as librarians, that claimed LIS master’s was the worst degree. Her concluding advice was to gain as much experience pre-degree as well as during the program and to set yourself apart and impress people so that you can set yourself up for being hired. I attended this talk in order to hear what kind of advice is being given to current graduate students. As is expected, it was well attended.

Then I headed over immediately to the BibFrame session. Library of Congress BibFrame update forum did not fit everyone in the room even though we were seated in a large auditorium. The session itself was recorded and will be posted on the LC website fairly soon. Roberta Schafer from LC described their overall vision and plan for the future, which also included BibFrame as a connector for all of their initiatives and future consolidation of services and reading rooms. Her portion showed the possibilities and potentials that such a framework for metadata could provide. Next Eric Miller of Zepheria covered what BibFrame community profiles, how they work, and the broader implications not only within the library community but within the Internet itself. The two next speakers highlighted their BibFrame projects. Jeremy Nelson from Colorado College gave a technical yet approachable explanation of the BibFrame Redis data store that he works on at his library. The files are on GitHub if you are interested in looking at the code. Vinod Chachra from VTLS showed how BibFrame can make metadata and the next generation catalog a visualization within a browser. This is such a cool idea to me and that makes a lot of sense especially as touchscreens and smart phone tablet devices are taking over Internet usage. Chachra argued for using ISAD over FRBR as well, since it is more flexible and malleable. The KCPL will unveil a Civil War collection using the website navigator technology from VTLS so watch for that in the late summer. Finally Jean Godby from OCLC finished the session by discussing OCLC’s projects with schema.org and BibFrame. The work is in its beginning phases but it sounds very promising and OCLC is trying to incorporate the library terminology and needs within the vocabulary and goals of schema.org so that we can truly have metadata that is of the Internet instead of being on it. I enjoy hearing about the progress that is being made, especially the early experimental projects that are trying to figure out the best ways to use and apply and incorporate BibFrame and library metadata in the wider Internet community.

An area of librarianship that is still fairly new but developing really rapidly is Digital Humanities and in particular Digital History. Digital History : new methodologies facilitated by new technologies covered both the practical and theoretical aspects of this topic. This session was also recorded but it wasn’t mentioned when or where it would be posted. The first two speakers enumerated the various tools and online resources useful for Digital History collections and projects. Anne Flannery and Adam Strohm, The Newberry Library, segmented their talk into different areas: access, content creation, identifying narratives, interaction with materials, and new modes of authorship. Michael J. Kramer and Josh Hohn, Northwestern, discussed the importance of Digital History and showcased their work with the Berkeley folk music festival collection. Kramer conducts research within the online collection for himself as well as creating and teaching a course with Hohn as a means to engage and convey new ways to analyze history by the students. Not knowing much about this topic of librarianship, I found this session very fascinating and useful.

As with most ALA conferences, there are various social events throughout the entire time there and it can be hard to choose what to go to in the evenings. Steve snagged an invite to the Thompson Reuters reception, getting a +1 for me. Light appetizers and drinks along with the outdoor patio made for a great start to the evening. We chatted with his rep and a couple of others ones, carrying on conversations about travel that they do, places worth going especially for food, and other fun topics. As Steve likes to say, vendors are people too–a joke I like since I work for ProQuest!

After the reception, we hopped onto a city bus with a librarian friend to go see a librarian-themed burlesque show at The Backroom, which usually has live bands but also puts on private events. Before we arrived, we didn’t realize that it was themed! How fun though. A new librarian friend, met at this ALA, told us about it the day prior and met us there. The place was packed, with librarians, so someone spread the word about the theme. They even provided ALA flags for name tags at the front desk! The show included lots of glasses, hair pulled back in buns or swept up, skirts and blouses, the Reading Rainbow theme song, the use of a scanner as a prop, a sexy male puppet show, book props, along with a librarian lemonade drink. Good drinks and food in a room full of fun librarians made for an awesome night. The show had lots of humor tailored to the crowd (i.e. book humor, etc.) and was tasteful. If this is what Chicago offers, I can only imagine what someone will put together for Annual in Las Vegas next year!

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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