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The Space Age: Library as Location

Fri, 2017-02-17 13:47

On the surface, a conversation about the physical spaces within libraries might not seem relevant in:re technology in libraries, but there’s a trend I’ve noticed — not only in my own library, but in other libraries I’ve visited in recent months: user-supplied tech in library landscapes.

Over the course of the last decade, we’ve seen a steady rise in the use of portable personal computing devices. In their Evolution of Technology survey results, Pew Research Center reports that 51% of Americans own a tablet, and 77% own smartphones. Library patrons seem to be doing less browsing and more computing, and user-supplied technology has become ubiquitous — smartphones, and tablets, and notebooks, oh my! Part of the reason for this BYO tech surge may be explained by a triangulation of high demand for the library’s public computer stations, decreased cost of personal devices, and the rise of telecommuting and freelance gig-work in the tech sector. Whatever the reasons, it seems that a significant ratio of patrons are coming to the library to use the wi-fi and the workspace.

I recently collected data for a space-use analysis at my library, and found that patrons who used our library for computing with personal devices outnumbered browsers, readers, and public computer users 3:1. During the space use survey, I noted that whenever our library classrooms are not used for a class, they’re peopled with multiple users who “camp” there, working for 2 – 4 hours at a time. Considering elements of these more recently constructed rooms that differ from the space design in the rest of the 107-year-old building offers a way into thinking about future improvements. Below are a few considerations that may support independent computers and e-commuters in the library space.

Ergonomic Conditions

Furnish work spaces with chairs designed to provide lumbar support and encourage good posture, as well as tables that match the chairs in terms of height ratio to prevent wrist- and shoulder-strain.

Adequate Power

A place to plug in at each surface allows users to continue working for long periods. It’s important to consider not only the number of outlets, but their position: cords stretched across spaces between tables and walls could result in browsers tripping, or knocking laptops off a table.

Reliable Wireless Signal

It goes without saying that telecommuters need the tele– to do their commuting. Fast, reliable wi-fi is a must-have.

Concentration-Inducing Environment

If possible, a library’s spaces should be well-defined, with areas for users to meet and talk, and areas of quiet where users can focus on their work without interruption. Sound isn’t the only environmental consideration. A building that’s too hot or too cold can be distracting. High-traffic areas — such as spaces near doors, teens’ and children’s areas, or service desks — aren’t the best locations for study tables.

Relaxed Rules

This is a complex issue; it’s not easy to strike a balance. For instance, libraries need to protect community resources — especially the expensive electronic ones like wiring — from spills; but we don’t want our patrons to dehydrate themselves while working in the library! At our library, we compromise and allow beverages, as long as those beverages have a closed lid, e.g., travel mugs, yes; to go cups (which have holes that can’t be sealed) no.

As library buildings evolve to accommodate digital natives and those whose workplaces have no walls, it’s important to keep in mind the needs of these library users and remix existing spaces to be useful for all of our patrons, whether they’re visiting for business or for pleasure.


Do you have more ideas to create useful space for patrons who bring their own tech to the library? Any issues you’ve encountered? How have you met those challenges?


Categories: Library News

LITA Personas Task Force

Fri, 2017-02-17 12:53

Coming soon to the LITA blog: the results of the LITA Personas Task Force. The initial report contains a number of useful persona types and was submitted to the LITA Board at the ALA Midwinter 2017 conference. Look for reports on the process and each of the persona types here on the LITA blog starting in March 2017.

As a preview, go behind the scenes with this short podcast presented as part of the LibUX Podcast series, on the free tools the Task Force used to do their work.

Metric: A UX Podcast
Metric is a #libux podcast about #design and #userExperience. Designers, developers, librarians, and other folks join @schoeyfield and @godaisies to talk shop.

The work of the LITA Personas Task Force

In this podcast Amanda L. Goodman (@godaisies) gives you a peek into the work of the LITA Persona Task Force, who are charged with defining and developing personas that are to be used in growing membership in the Library and Information Technology Association.

The ten members of the task force were from academic, public, corporate, and special libraries located in different timezones. With such challenges, the Task Force had to use collaborative tools which were easy to use for all. Task member, Amanda L. Goodman, presented this podcast originally on LibUX’s Metric podcast.

Categories: Library News

Jobs in Information Technology: February 8, 2017

Thu, 2017-02-09 11:27

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

City of Los Angeles, Department of Water and Power, Director of Cyber Security, Los Angeles, CA

California Digital Library (CDL), Metadata Analyst (7584), Oakland, CA

University of Vermont, Science and Data Librarian, Burlington, VT

Yale University, Director of Preservation Services, New Haven, CT

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

Categories: Library News

Call for LITA Guides

Tue, 2017-02-07 09:56










LITA is looking to expand its popular LITA Guide series. Topics for consideration include:

  • Tools for big data
  • Developing in-house technology expertise
  • Budgeting for technology
  • Writing a technology plan
  • K-12 technology
  • Applications of agile development for libraries
  • Grant writing for library technology
  • Security for library systems

Do you have expertise in any of these areas? Reach out to Marta Deyrup, Acquisitions Editor.



Categories: Library News

What’s so super about supercomputing? A joint LITA and ACRL webinar

Mon, 2017-02-06 12:44

What’s so super about supercomputing? A very basic introduction to high performance computing

Presenters: Jamene Brooks-Kieffer and Mark J. Laufersweiler
Tuesday February 28, 2017
2:00 pm – 3:30 pm Central Time

Register Online, page arranged by session date (login required)

This 90 minute webinar provides a bare-bones introduction to high-performance computing, also known as HPC, supercomputing, and under many other monikers. This program is a unique attempt to connect the academic library to introductory information about HPC. Librarians who are learning about researchers’ data-intensive work should consider familiarizing themselves with the computing environment often used to conduct that work.

Academic librarians, particularly, face a landscape in which many of their users conduct part or all of their research using computation. Bibliometric analysis, quantitative statistical analysis, and geographic data visualizations are just a few examples of computationally-intensive work underway in humanities, social science, and science fields.

Covered topics will include:

  • Why librarians should care about HPC
  • HPC terminology and working environment
  • Examples of problems appropriate for HPC
  • HPC resources at institutions and nation-wide
  • Low-cost entry-level programs for learning distributed computing

The webinar slide set and a handout that includes a HPC glossary of basic HPC terminology as well as HPC resources will be made available.

Details here and Registration here

Webinar takeaways will include:

  • Attendees will learn the basic terminology of high performance computing.
  • Attendees will be introduced to the working environment commonly used for high performance computing.
  • Attendees will gain information on institutional and national high performance computing resources available to researchers.

Jamene Brooks-Kieffer brings a background in electronic resources to her work as Data Services Librarian at the University or Kansas. She regularly teaches on data management practices to audiences of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates. She has engaged library professionals in many in-person and virtual programs at venues including Electronic Resources & Libraries, Coalition for Networked Information, and a Great Plains Network / Greater Western Library Association webinar series.

Dr. Mark Laufersweiler has, since the Fall of 2013, served as the Research Data Specialist for the University of Oklahoma Libraries. He is currently assisting the educational mission of the Libraries by developing and offering workshops, seminars and short courses, helping to inform the university community on best practices for data management and data management planning. He is the university’s representative as a member of the Software Carpentry Foundation and is an active instructor as well. He is a strong advocate of open source software and open access to data.

Look here for current and past LITA continuing education offerings

Questions or Comments?

contact LITA at (312) 280-4268 or Mark Beatty,
contact ACRL at (312) 280-2522 or Margot Conahan,

Categories: Library News

Top Five Pop Up Tech Toys for Teens

Fri, 2017-02-03 10:10

After-school can be a challenging time for a teen librarian. The teens stream in, bubbling with energy after a long day of sitting in a desk. They’re enthusiastic to be around their peers in a new setting. If left to fester, this energy can yield behavioral issues—especially in the winter months, when cabin fever combined with an inability to blow off some steam outside leave teens feeling restless and bored.

One of my favorite methods to direct teens’ energy towards productive, library appropriate behaviors  is to come prepared with an activity. I find it ideal to bring something into the space, rather than utilize something that’s already there, because the novelty of the activity generates more interest. While board games, coloring, and small crafts remain go-tos, it’s especially fun to bring in some tech toys.

Here are some of my favorites, ordered roughly in old tech to new tech.

1. Record Player. 


What’s cooler than going old school? …Okay, don’t actually answer that. But despite growing up with thousands of songs in a pocket-sized gadget, teens are consistently eager to backtrack to ye olde method of selecting a single record, setting it up, and enjoying the improved acoustics. Plus, it creates a cozy cafe feeling in the space.

If your library has a record collection or archive, this is a great way to promote that resource. Don’t have the top 40 music the teens typically listen to? No problem. The record player naturally invites a more diverse music selection, be it oldies or indie or beyond.

2. Cameras and accessories.


Whether it’s selfies or artsy shots—or artsy selfies!—picture taking is a very common interest among teens. Most teens like to do this on their own phones, but the library could tap into that interest by getting some fun cameras and add-ons.

Think Polaroids or disposable cameras, which create photos you can use to decorate your teen space or give the teens to take home. Think phone camera accessories, like fish eye or macro lenses that can be passed around or used on a library phone or tablet. These are great for a teen department’s social media account or any kind of library marketing.

Think, too, of the ridiculous, fun, and ridiculously fun filters on Snapchat. If your library has an account, consider playing around with the filters to do things like face swaps with book covers or teen-led book talks with silly voice edits. The possibilities are endless, but I’m going to stop there for now and save the larger Snapchat conversation for another post.

3. Old, broken devices.


Two of my favorite things are recycling and learning new skills, so this one’s a home run in my book. Invite patrons to donate their old devices, like radios, cameras, and phones, even the broken ones—especially the broken ones! Bring them to your teen space with some basic tools and invite them to see if they can get the devices up and running again, if they can take it all apart and put it back together to learn how it works, or if they can Macgyver something new out of the parts.

This is a great way to work on STEM skills while having fun. If this goes over well with your community, you can think about expanding it into a larger, on-going program, complete with adult mentors.

Credit to YouMedia for inspiring me on this one.

4. Virtual Reality Goggles.


I wasn’t sure how I felt about these when I first heard about them, but man, did the teens have a blast when we brought out a pair! We used a haunted asylum game and a roller coaster game. Though only one person can use it at a time, the others had a great time watching their friend get scared by something we couldn’t see, walking into a chair, or laughing at their friend putting their arms up in the air as if they were on a real ride.

With an app full of games to choose from, it’s easy to use this multiple times without it getting old. I recommend limiting each person’s use to a couple of minutes at a time, because the effects can really throw your brain off after sustained use. However, that makes it all the easier to advocate for sharing and taking turns.

5. STEM toys.


Between makerspaces and STEM programs, it’s likely your library has a coding tool or a programmable robot. It may be tucked away in your makerspace, or it may belong to your children’s department, but why not borrow it for the afternoon and bring it to your teen space? Your teens may not know the library has these, in which case, this is an easy way to promote things you already have. For your teens who have more experience with tech toys, it’s fun to revisit an old favorite, teach a friend how it works, or challenge them to try to do something new with it.

Bringing these toys into the space breathes new life into your tech, and it can help the teens connect to new areas of the library.


What are your favorite tech toys for teens? What’s your experience with using tech in a pop-up setting?

Categories: Library News

New Checklists to Support Library Patron Privacy

Thu, 2017-02-02 14:33

LITA’s Patron Privacy Interest Group has partnered with the ALA IFC’s Privacy Subcommittee to create new checklists to support library patron privacy policies.

The checklists cover:

  • data exchange between networked devices and services
  • e-book lending and digital content vendors
  • library management systems/integrated library systems
  • library websites, OPACs, and discovery services
  • public access computers and networks
  • students in K-12 schools.

Read the complete announcement at:

Find the Checklists at:

Thank you to Sarah Houghton and Mike Robinson for leading this effort.

Categories: Library News

Meet Your Candidates for the 2017 LITA Election

Mon, 2017-01-30 16:06

The LITA Board is pleased to announce the slate of candidates for the 2017 spring election:

Vice-President/President-Elect Director-at-Large, 3 elected, each for a 3-year term

Voting in the 2017 ALA election will run March 13 – April 5, and results will be announced on April 12. Note that eligible members will be sent their voting credentials via email over a three-day period, March 13-15. Check the main ALA website for information about the general ALA election.

The Board thanks the LITA Nominating Committee for all of their work: Rachel Vacek (Chair), Emily E. Clasper, and Melissa S. Stoner. Thank you to the candidates for agreeing to serve.

Categories: Library News

Interview with Scott Walter, Candidate for ALA President 2018-2019

Thu, 2017-01-26 12:24

Scott Walter

What changes do you foresee in ALA’s divisional structure over the next 5-10 years?

ALA is a complex and dynamic association, and the “lines” between different organizational units (Divisions, Chapters, Round Tables) are not always clear. Indeed, “lines” are precisely what we don’t want, and there will be continued emphasis in the coming years on efforts to improve communication across these units and to promote shared initiatives. In my “home” division of ACRL, I have seen this change dynamic in action as we have seen new units (Discussion Groups, Interest Groups) draw deep and immediate engagement around well-defined topics, and traditional units (Sections) evolve, merge, etc.

Precisely because divisions are often seen as one’s “home” in ALA, their continued support, and their leadership in ALA-wide issues, will be critical to the continued recruitment (and retention) of engaged members. We may see changes in the scope of existing divisions, or the rise of a new division that reflects a critical area of emphasis for the future of the field. We may see opportunities to align the work of Round Tables with Divisions, and we may see continued growth of the divisional “presence” within the Chapters (especially if members continue to seek to make their mark on the profession through work closer to home). The questions that must guide any changes are: how are divisions able to bring their areas of expertise to the strategic goals and initiatives of ALA; and, how does affiliation with ALA bring demonstrable benefit to divisions in terms of their ability to recruit, retain, and support the continuing professional education and leadership development of their members?


What are three things ALA should be doing to improve virtual participation?

Assuming you are referring to participation in the work of the Association (as opposed to participation in programs), the first thing ALA must do is to allow all levels of service, including participation on ALA Council, to be open to members who can only participate virtually. Second, ALA must continue to pay special attention in future contracts with convention centers and hotels on the conference “campus” to costs associated with promoting virtual participation, whether this participation is through audio or video means. The ability to support this sort of participation should be considered as high a priority in negotiation as other “basics” have been in the past (the availability of high-quality and consistent wifi access on a crowded convention center network comes to mind as one “infrastructure” piece that has proven problematic). Third, ALA should provide training on a routine basis in the effective management of virtual meetings, including provision of meeting materials to members participating at a distance, suggestions on how to improve virtual engagement and to ensure the ability of members participating at a distance to contribute to real-time discussion, and checklists of available technology, e.g., conference phones, Skype, other virtual meeting platforms. Bonus answer: ALA should promote a greater degree of sharing across divisions regarding “what works,” comparative costs, and, if possible, shared platforms (to promote a more consistent experience of virtual participation across one’s ALA experience, which often encompasses participation in more than one division).


As ALA shifts from in-person collaboration to other forms of participation and, thus, revenue, how do we make up for this lost revenue?

That’s the question in front of any professional or scholarly association, and the one that placed an obstacle for so long in front of open-access initiatives, as scholarly associations expressed concern about what moving a journal to OA might mean for revenues. How do we do things differently without upsetting traditional revenue models and budget planning, and how do we do it in real-time? There is no easy answer, but there are some common ones, e.g., diversify the revenue streams so that there is less dependence on the 2-conference-per-year model, improve the quality of conference programs to make ALA the “don’t miss” event on the professional development calendar that will ensure growing attendance, and make changes that will lower costs (e.g., the potential that the current “conference re-model” proposal has for opening up additional cities as potential ALA conference hosts).

A more radical approach would involve a full-scale re-thinking of the role, scope, and focus of the Midwinter Meeting in the Association, e.g., Midwinter could be reconfigured from another “national” meeting to a “regional” meeting where the program could be attuned to the needs in the host region in any given year. This would allow us to further consider the question you posed earlier regarding virtual participation in Association business, as well as the concern I suggested regarding the need to better understand (and build upon) the relationship of ALA and its Chapters. A focused program like this might actually draw equal (or better) numbers than the more broadly pitched Midwinter meeting does now (and might allow for less direct competition for scarce travel funds in any year when there is also a “can’t miss” national program like the biennial divisional meetings of ALA, PLA, AASL, etc.).


How will you encourage library students to get involved, and to take leadership positions, in ALA?

The most important thing we can do to encourage LIS students to get involved in the Association is to show them that membership will be a benefit to them throughout their careers. Promoting the Association through LIS programs (and LIS faculty support for student chapters) is one important initiative. Another is active involvement by practitioners in the development of programming for those student chapters so that students are introduced, from the beginning, to the idea of ALA membership as a path to building a network of colleagues who will support them throughout their careers. Making ALA membership affordable to students is also critical, e.g., encouraging LIS programs to directly fund memberships so that all LIS students are able to join ALA (or, to be fair, another, relevant LIS professional association) during their student year(s) at no cost to them. Continuing to support (and enhance) the work of the New Members Round Table is critical, as is the continued development of ALA and NMRT initiatives that connect new professionals with specific projects and opportunities in the divisions. We can look at projects like Emerging Leaders for the ways in which they reflect what the research tells us about how to engage new members in ways that are more likely to encourage them to make an ongoing commitment to the association.

Member Engagement Continuum

This image from the American Society of Association Executives shows the continuum of engagement that begins with new membership and can, with attention to opportunities, lead to the career-long engagement we would love to see from members. Finally, we cannot encourage LIS students to take leadership positions in ALA if we do not offer such positions, and this is similarly true for new professionals and other new members. A deep look at the way in which those opportunities are (or are not) offered to, and placed within reach, of students and new members (especially those without professional development funds) is a critical step in making any plan that addresses this question.


Is ALA a place for MLS-degreed professionals who do not work in libraries? Should it be? Why, or why not?

Of course it is. Next question?

Seriously, though, the ALA mission statement makes clear that the mission of the Association is to “to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship.” Since one may provide library and information services outside the framework of a library (and, in fact, this is far more the case than it was when this mission statement was first adopted), it stands to reason that anyone doing our work, in any context, should find a home and a network of colleagues in ALA.

The more difficult question that you did not ask is whether or not ALA is a place for people providing these services, and sharing our work both inside and outside of libraries, who do not hold an ALA-accredited degree. The answer to that question is also “Yes!” I once worked in an academic library where the AD for Facilities was a licensed architect, but not a librarian; I certainly think he would have found a home in the LLAMA Buildings and Equipment Section. Likewise, there are many academic librarians who find a home in the Society for College and University Planning, given how important libraries (and librarians) are to institutional planning efforts. Our libraries have become the home for professionals from different backgrounds who come together to provide the highest quality collections, technology, resources, facilities, and services for our communities. If ALA is to be the home for all those whose work contributes directly to “the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services,” we need to welcome all who work in libraries, and to the benefit of library and information services, to the Association.


With librarians of all types using technology as part of their everyday work, what specific leadership and expertise do you see LITA bringing to ALA?

LITA has played a critical role in the Association for years in terms of trend-spotting and in helping librarians to see how developments in the broader realm of information technology have relevance to their work. LITA members, often in complementary roles as members of other divisions, have also played a critical role in designing and delivering continuing professional education to ALA members, and in creating resources that introduce the membership at large to emerging technologies (e.g., through the LITA publishing program). As the use of technology has become ubiquitous in our personal lives, as well as our professional lives, LITA members have provided important guidance to ALA members without as strong a background in technology on the impact of technology on library collections, services, management, etc., as in Sarah Houghton’s presentation during this month’s Symposium on the Future of Libraries on “21st Century Library Ethics.” Finally, LITA members can play an important role in LIS education, both in terms of helping to evaluate the ways in which LIS programs introduce pre-service professionals to technology skills needed for professional success, and in terms of teaching the courses that bring those technologies into the LIS curriculum, e.g., Meredith Farkas’s “Information Technology Tools and Applications” at San Jose State.

As the technology environment in libraries continues to expand, and as the borders between the technology found in different types of libraries blurs, LITA can play an important role in helping us to understand how these changes foster new opportunities for collaboration across library types. In Chicago, for example, the earliest adoption of digital media services and maker spaces probably came through Chicago Public Library, but we now see these services provided routinely in academic libraries, high schools, and specialized environments like technology incubators. The work we have been doing at DePaul to launch our new maker space has opened my eyes to a number of new partnership opportunities across campus, and with other libraries and museums across Chicago. I won’t lie – I was also slapped in the face by what’s coming when I learned that my daughter may begin doing “big data analytics” as early as her first year Computer Science course in high school (!). LITA members will be “out front” in considering the collaboration opportunities that will be increasingly possible across ALA divisions as library technology becomes more diverse and ubiquitous in our work.


 How can ALA help LITA help everyone?


As I said at the start, ALA must “bring demonstrable benefit to divisions in terms of their ability to recruit, retain, and support the continuing professional education and leadership development of their members.” I might now add to that, “and to other members of the Association.” I’ve already mentioned one way in which this happens, i.e., the collaboration between LITA Publishing and ALA Publishing to bring LITA expertise to all (and this need not be limited to traditional publications, but can encompass webinars or other e-learning opportunities). ALA can also highlight cross-cutting programs like the just-concluded Symposium on the Future of Libraries that brought expertise born in the division to the attention of a much wider member audience. ALA can also pursue high-level partnerships with other professional associations in the technology sector that would provide opportunities for LITA members to work with other technology experts, and to bring that broader perspective back to the Association, not just in areas such as information retrieval or user experience testing, but also in information ethics, management of digital identity (and protection of one’s own privacy and security in the digital environment), and assessment of K-20 student learning in the area of information technology. Because technology has become a pervasive influence and experience in our lives, and in the lives of the members of our communities, it is critical for the Association to think creatively about the areas of LIS work that may now be informed by the expertise housed in LITA.




Categories: Library News

Interview with Terri Grief, Candidate for ALA President 2018-2019

Thu, 2017-01-26 11:12

What changes do you foresee in ALA’s divisional structure over the next five to ten years?

I don’t think there will be any huge changes. I hope that we more willing to share with one another, have less of a feeling of silos and more a feeling of collaboration. I expect our Retired Members RT and New Member RT will grow and other roundtables will pop up as there is need.


What are three things ALA should be doing to improve virtual participation?

  1. Ask the experts–you folks in LITA probably have the best ideas of anyone.
  2. Promote low cost and easy to use ideas across the divisions.
  3. Advertise the virtual opportunities virtually–use social media instead of relying on publications with offerings.


As ALA shifts from in person collaboration (Midwinter, ahem) to other forms of participation and thus revenue, how do we make up for the lost revenue?

I don’t feel like Midwinter is going to go away. At least I hope not. The ALA Annual Conference Remodel report sounds like there are going to be great changes that will make the Midwinter conference more appealing, more affordable and more revenue generating. I love face to face interactions and I really hope that it never goes away.


How will you encourage library students to get involved/take leadership roles in ALA?

I want to see those students become part of committees, roundtables and divisions as student members but as full participating members. I guess from being in a high school, I see students as powerful, thoughtful, and amazingly perceptive and these are high school students! I intend to appoint students to committees.


Is ALA a place for MLS-degreed professionals who do not work in libraries? Should it be? Why or why not?

Of course it is a place for those people. An person with an MLS degree is most likely interested in the same things as we are-access to information, technology, intellectual freedom, etc. I know that they could find a niche in our association.


With librarians of all types using technology as part of their everyday work, what specific leadership and expertise do you see LITA bringing to ALA?

I was using LITA as an example of how we can work together in my campaign speech but had to shorten it by about 30 seconds so I took that sentence out. What I said is this, “I plan to use my presidential funds to help you join with other units and divisions across the association to work on issues, develop programs and strengthen internal relationships. For example, if your group is dealing with issues around technology, who better to assist than LITA?” This association has to come together to survive and we have to be willing to ask for help from each other and be willing to give the help when someone asks. If we have open mind, all kinds of ideas bubble up. I’d love to see LITA and AASL do more programming on coding, for example.


How can ALA help LITA help everyone[/raise the bar/train the masses/etc]?

One of the things we have to do is to take the ALA strategic areas to heart. ALA has to share those strategic areas in a way that includes more than council if we really believe that those (4) areas are what our decisions should be based on. Where does LITA fit in with the four areas of Advocacy, Information Policy, Educational and Professional Development and (more than likely approved at this Midwinter) Diversity? I believe that LITA can be at the table in every one of those areas. We might naturally see that the membership especially needs you for Educational and Professional Development since you are the ones on the cutting edge of technology and could keep the rest of us in the loop. I remember seeing the first pair of Google glasses on Jenny Levine! But what about Information Policy? ALA needs to remember to include LITA when these issues come up. I know that your group has traditionally not written policy but I am pretty sure you have ideas when OITP presents something. I’d like to see you there before the policy is written. We all have to accept that our diversity will not change unless we all make a concerted effort to recruit. I know that many of your members are in the field of academia and what better place to find candidates that might be interested in your field? We all have to be advocates and that includes LITA, ASCLA, LAMA, and RUSA among others instead of just the traditional thinking of PLA, ACRL and the youth divisions. My platform is about strengthening relationships within ALA. The territorial feeling that we can’t share our expertise because it isn’t our territory has to stop if we want to become the strong and powerful association we need to survive. If I am elected, I want to emulate Courtney Young in her treatment of her co-divisional presidents and take it one step further. I’d like the division president-elects start as soon as I am elected to brainstorm ideas to work together. I will use my presidential funds to support these and watch our relationships get stronger across the association and then outside the association.




Categories: Library News

Interview with Loida Garcia-Febo, Candidate for ALA President 2018-2019

Thu, 2017-01-26 10:05

Loida Garcia-Febo

What changes do you foresee in ALA’s divisional structure over the next five to ten years?

It will be of great benefit for Divisions to continue to strive to be more member-driven organizations. I see increase in virtual participation and a restructure of the committee system. All lead by what works best for the members, their professional and job needs. Developing mechanisms to include newer librarians and students in the Division’s work. And a systematic process for Divisions to provide tailored conferences and educational opportunities that would keep members engaged and a steady stream of revenue.

In recent years ACRL, PLA, and LLAMA have restructure their committees and I am watching their very closely. I believe all members and committees are important, they bring expertise and experience that enrich our Association.

What are three things ALA should be doing to improve virtual participation?

As Chair of the Membership Meetings Committee, I lead efforts to present ALA’s first Virtual Town Hall and two subsequent annual virtual meetings for ALA’s 60,000 members. The committee and I worked as a team with the ALA Membership Development Office, ALA Publications, and ALA Information Technology staff members to establish the virtual meetings ALA continues to hold annually. These meetings include mechanisms to submit resolutions, to poll attendees about topics of interest and provide opportunities for attendees to choose top topics for discussion. All the process is saved in the ALA Institutional Repository. Currently, I am Co-Chairing REFORMA’s National Conference and we are in the process of increasing our conference virtual programs following this methodology.

Based on my experience, in order to improve virtual participation, I recommend:
-Survey membership to identify user friendly technology, online formats preferred by members, and professional development areas needed by members.
-Based on results, acquire technology and plan to produce programs in areas indicated by members in formats used by them.
-Strategize to provide opportunities for participation and programming in multiple formats.
-Partner with LITA.

As ALA shifts from in person collaboration (Midwinter, ahem) to other forms of participation and thus revenue, how do we make up for the lost revenue?

Providing products in multiple formats could bring more revenue into the Association. An assessment of high-demand formats will help to identify, for example, which products to offer as podcast, webinar, and video. These will contribute to increase the Association’s General Fund along with revenue from publishing, advertisement, and conferences.

How will you encourage library students to get involved/take leadership roles in ALA?

I invite library students to be bold, dare to take action. Volunteer, show up and say yes! Be passionate about what you do, care. We need you. If you would like to see something that is not in place, create it! I’ve done this. In 2004, two colleagues and I noticed that there wasn’t a forum for new librarians and students within IFLA. We developed the concept, approached the President of IFLA, secured her support, and established the group, IFLA New Professionals.

Within ALA, library students can join their ALA Student Chapter at their school or if there is none, they can form their own Student Chapter. ALA’s Office of Chapter Relations provides help to make this happen. They are available on the phone and have a very informative website for Student Chapters.

The New Members Round Table of ALA is a great space for new librarians to get involved or take leadership roles within ALA. Many of the ALA Divisions such as LLAMA which is the Leadership and Management Association have groups for new librarians. In sum, my advice is to connect, share ideas, and follow up. Great things can happen! We need library students and new librarians.

Is ALA a place for MLS-degreed professionals who do not work in libraries? Should it be? Why or why not?


Based on my experience as a library consultant, I can say that ALA is an association for MLS-degreed professionals who work in libraries, are consultants, professors, vendors, work in tech or start-up companies, museums, archives, and public and private organizations. We all serve communities. ALA provides professional development and educational opportunities, facilitate networking among members, and support advocating to place libraries on local and national agendas. These are key elements needed by all professionals, librarians working in libraries or those working in other areas, all serving different types of communities. This said, I support increasing opportunities for MLS-degreed professionals who do not work in libraries. We need to do more to meet the needs of these colleagues. We need to identify those needs and strategize on how ALA’s different groups can serve these colleagues. For instance, ASCLA is a great Division where many librarians working in places that are not libraries converge. LITA is an excellent example of how an association can serve these librarians.

With librarians of all types using technology as part of their everyday work, what specific leadership and expertise do you see LITA bringing to ALA?

I believe in ALA’s core values and intellectual freedom which I have promoted as Chair of ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Round Table and as Expert Resource Person of the Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression Core Activity of IFLA. In this area, the expertise of LITA members is valuable to advice on strategy related to patron privacy, confidentiality, copyright, usability, accessibility, and encryption. Additionally, LITA could be a key collaborator to help ALA’s technology to be on par with the consumer tech, emerging technologies used by librarians as part of their everyday work. LITA has the expertise to advice, for instance, about effective training design to help librarians acquire skills required to operate in the virtual world. There are many possibilities! The LITA Guide Series is extremely helpful for everyday work including mobile technology in libraries, introduction to programming languages, and visual storytelling for libraries.


I believe LITA members’ contributions, expertise, backgrounds and experiences will help ALA in many ways to raise the bar and train the masses. Based on requests I have heard and conversations with many groups, I believe a next logical step is for ALA to increase virtual engagement. For this, we need to train our leaders and members to operate in the virtual arena. We got to work together to empower our librarians and information workers. This team work will benefit our profession and the communities we serve. Together, we can bring change!





Categories: Library News

Jobs in Information Technology: January 25, 2017

Wed, 2017-01-25 14:59

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

Fremont County Library System, Library Executive Director, Lander, WY

Colorado State University Libraries, Educational Technologist/Media Developer, Fort Collins, CO

New Canaan Library, Digital Services Librarian, New Canaan, CT

Cambridge Public Library, Staff Librarian – Emerging Technologies, Cambridge, MA

Brandeis University, Sr. Systems Librarian, Waltham, MA

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

Categories: Library News

Fostering Digital Literacy at the Reference Desk

Fri, 2017-01-20 10:00

Computing and digital literacy initiatives aren’t new in the library — planned programs and educational offerings that support digital citizenship exist in nearly every library in the nation. But digital literacy is developed not only via programs and classes; learning is supported by informal interactions between library staff and patrons. It’s important not to overlook instruction that occurs on a one-to-one basis.

Informal instruction is a concept in education that can be useful in libraries as well. Formal instruction takes place in the classroom, during a scheduled educational program. By contrast, predetermined learning outcomes are not built into informal instruction — from the learner’s point of view, what’s happening isn’t education, but experience: learning by doing.

Libraries are most effective at fostering digital literacy when staff take the same care during casual educational encounters as we do in the classroom. If patrons’ worst fears about their lack of knowledge are confirmed by staff attitudes during at-the-device instructional sessions, this acts as a wall to future teaching interactions, blocks patrons from asking questions, and makes them feel unmotivated to pursue the classes and programs that may be helpful to them.

At every library where I’ve worked since 2008, instructional questions far outweigh reference questions at the public service desks. Most of these instructional queries occur in the realm of computing and web help. In fact, I decided that I wanted to become a librarian because of an experience I had as a circulation supervisor, guiding a patron through the navigation tools for an online job application when the librarian was off-desk. A few weeks later, this patron returned to the library to tell me that he’d gotten a job after filling out a few more web applications on his own. The satisfaction of helping someone learn a skill that they found useful hooked me on public services.

This gentleman may never have attended the library’s computing classes, but he felt comfortable in the one-on-one environment, asking for help with his specific, task-oriented question. In many libraries, this kind of informal instruction comprises the bulk of our direct interactions with patrons. These are some of the practices I’ve developed over the years when providing on-demand computer help at the reference desk, with the ambition that a few of these educational opportunities morph into a-ha moments.

1) Legitimize the question, and begin by indicating a starting point for the process of solving for the x of the patron’s query — even before you’ve reached the computer.

“I’m having trouble. Can you show me how to find some information in JSTOR?”

“Of course! Tell me what you’d like to find and we can use the search tools to look for an article.”

2) Reassure the patron that their lack of knowledge is not unique.

“I feel so dumb for not knowing how to delete emails from my trash folder!”

“No way. I’ve seen this question before. You’re not alone in not knowing how it works.”

3) By default, give the patron the wheel, letting them find, drag, and click while you guide them to the controls they need. Describe areas of a screen with location language (upper right of the screen, at the bottom of the window, etc) and let the learner find the option they need by offering clues to its location and visual representation, e.g., “The button looks like a file folder.” This helps patrons build spatial relationships with the tasks they’re learning — letting them drive builds muscle memory for the task so that next time, it’ll be incrementally easier for them to remember the process.

4) If the patron signals that they’re more comfortable watching you perform the task, narrate your actions. Explain how you’re selecting an object (double-click, right-click, etc), what you’re doing with it…

“I click and hold to ‘drag’, and then let go where I want to ‘drop’,”

…and why.

“This will open up a file we need to download in order to install the update.”

Narration slows the process, which allows the patron to ask questions and absorb the steps they’re seeing unfold — which can go a long way toward helping them feel confident enough to try the task on their own as you remind them of the steps the next time they need assistance with it.

5) Throughout the process, ask the patron whether everything makes sense; recap what you’re doing as you go, and pay attention to the learner’s body language so you don’t move too quickly or past something they don’t understand — frowning, a shaking head, looking at the keyboard rather than the screen, furrowing the brow — each of these is a sign that the patron may not understand something, but isn’t quite sure how to frame a question about it.

6) Before ending the interaction, ask again — “Does this make sense?” — and check in to see if the patron has any additional questions. If it seems like nothing further is needed, congratulate them on a completed task and/or invite further questions in future.

“It looks like you’ve got it! Let me know if you need a refresher some other time, or if you run into anything else you want help with.”

Informal training has the potential to be even more effective than program-based learning because it’s task-based: the learner has a specific goal in mind, which provides an intrinsic motivation to master the skills shared with them. Sometimes patrons feel intimidated by a formal instructional setting — they don’t want to ask “dumb” questions in front of a group; they find that some of what’s covered is either over or under their current knowledge level, so they zone out; they may not see how they can apply the skills in a practical way. With informal interactions, the task is meaningful, so the process becomes almost secondary; patrons barely notice that they’re gradually building skills, in 5-minute increments every few days with librarian coaches at their computer stations. It’s important to make sure that we set the same tone of openness, exploration, and engagement whether we’re teaching a 3-week workshop on web basics, a 1-session class on email etiquette, or a 5-minute tutorial on how to fill out a job application at a public computer station.


Do you have any tips on successful one-on-one instructional interactions? Any challenges you’ve overcome or are facing now? How do you ensure that staff is on the same page when it comes to providing consistent computing help?

Categories: Library News

Save the Date: LITA AvramCamp

Fri, 2017-01-20 08:00

Save the date for this exciting LITA preconference at the upcoming ALA Annual conference in Chicago, IL.

LITA AdvramCamp
Friday June 23, 2017, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Northwestern University campus in Evanston, IL

Women in library technology face numerous challenges in their day-to-day work. If you would like to join other women in the field to discuss topics related to those challenges, AvramCamp, LITA’s AdaCamp-inspired event is for you. This one-day LITA preconference at ALA Annual in Chicago will allow women employed in various technological industries an opportunity to network with others in the field and to collectively examine common barriers faced. This day will follow the unconference model allowing attendees the power to choose topics most relevant to their work and their lives. Watch for more program details and registration information following ALA Midwinter!

Find out more about AdaCamp.

This event is sponsored by LITA’s Women in Information Technology Interest Group.

Categories: Library News

#LITAchat “What is IoT”

Thu, 2017-01-19 15:52

What is IoT, the Internet of Things, and how can you leverage these new “things” for your library?  From sensors to AI, IoT devices are springing up everywhere.  Join a conversation with Lauren Di Monte from North Carolina State to hear how they have leveraged IoT technologies in their makerspace and discuss general issues related to IoT and cyber-physical systems.  

LITA’s Membership Development Committee invites you to join in the Friday February 24, 2017 #LITAchat at 12pm (CDT)

What: February #LITAchat – “What is IoT”

When: Friday, February 24th, 12pm-1pm (Central)

Where: Twitter

To participate, fire up your favorite Twitter client and check out the #LITAchat hashtag. On the web client, just search for #LITAchat and then click “LIVE” to follow along. Ask questions using the hashtag #LITAchat, add your own comments, and even answer questions posed by other participants. Hope to see you there!

Categories: Library News

LITA Highlights at ALA Midwinter

Thu, 2017-01-19 10:00

ALA and LITA are heading to Atlanta for ALA Midwinter 2017. Whether or not you will be attending the conference, there are plenty of opportunities to check out what’s happening at the conference. All the LITA highlights are on the LITA at Midwinter webpage.

You can find the whole LITA schedule at the Midwinter Scheduler. Most committee meetings are open to anyone whether or not you’re on the committee, so feel free to stop by and check out what’s going on. There’s even a page showcasing the LITA Interest groups managed discussions.

Make sure you don’t miss the following:

LITA Diversity and Inclusion Committee – Kitchen Table Conversation
Saturday, January 21 from 4:30 to 5:30 PM

LITA’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee is thrilled to provide ALA and LITA members with an opportunity to provide substantial feedback on developing inclusive programming and member services, as well as meaningful membership outreach efforts over the coming years. LITA is dedicated to offering an inclusive community for our members and others attending our programs. This conversation series will be anchored by questions that will help us gauge how to improve in each of these areas: Where are our problems? What opportunities are we missing? How can we better support all of our members and attract and retain a more diverse membership?

LITA Open House
Sunday, January 22, 4:30-5:30 pm

All are welcome to meet LITA leaders, committee chairs, and interest group participants. We will share information about our recent and upcoming activities, build professional connections, and discuss issues in library and information technology. Whether you are considering LITA membership for the first time, a long-time member looking to engage with others in your area, or anywhere in between, take part in great conversation and learn more about volunteer and networking opportunities at this meeting.

LITA Happy Hour
Sunday, January 22, 6:00 to 8:00 PM

Please join the LITA Membership Development Committee and LITA members and friends from around the country for networking, good cheer, and great fun! We’re celebrating our 50th Anniversary as a division – don’t miss it. You can “Buy LITA a Drink” by filling up the LITA tip jar at the bar. Location: Gordon Biersch at 848 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30308 (404-870-0805).

LITA Top Technology Trends
Sunday, January 22, 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

LITA’s premier program on changes and advances in technology. Top Technology Trends features our ongoing roundtable discussion about trends and advances in library technology by a panel of LITA technology experts and thought leaders. The panelists will describe changes and advances in technology that they see having an impact on the library world, and suggest what libraries might do to take advantage of these trends. This conference panelists and their suggested trends include:

  • Ken Varnum, Session Moderator, Senior Program Manager for Discovery, Delivery, and Learning Analytics, University of Michigan
  • Cynthia Hart, Emerging Technologies Librarian, Virginia Beach Public Library
  • Bill Jones, Creative Technologist, IDS Project
  • Gena Marker, Teacher-Librarian, Centennial High School Library (Boise, ID)
  • Meredith Powers, Senior Reference Librarian, Brooklyn Public Library

LITA Town Meeting
Monday, January 23, 8:30 to 10:00 AM

Even if you’re not going to be in Atlanta for ALA Midwinter you can still participate in the LITA Town Hall on Monday, January 23.  Tune in at 8:50am EST and catch LITA VP Andromeda Yelton reviewing the results of the Personas Task Force study and brainstorm how LITA can effectively serve our different types of members. This event will be streamed on Facebook Live. Make sure to like the LITA Facebook page to get a notification when streaming begins.

Join your fellow LITA members for breakfast and a discussion about LITA’s strategic path. We will focus on how LITA’s goals–collaboration and networking; education and sharing of expertise; advocacy; and infrastructure–help our organization serve you and the broader library community. This Town Meeting will help us turn those goals into plans that will guide LITA going forward.

We hope you’ll join us at some of these events in Atlanta, or follow #alamw17 on social media to join the conversation online.

Categories: Library News

Getting Rid of Distractions

Thu, 2017-01-19 10:00

<Photo copyright 2006 by Jon Bell; used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)>


So you’ve finally finished all your meetings, answered all your phone messages, helped the line of people outside your office, and wrangled your inbox under control. Now you can focus on some actual work.

Except, your friend just shared a new meme on Facebook. Instagram and Snapchat pinged a few updates so it wouldn’t hurt to just take a quick peek. And maybe you should check and see if you can still reach that Pokestop from your office. Hours later you haven’t done any work but you have read a bunch of interesting Wikipedia articles.

Pomodoro Technique

Let’s investigate ways you can avoid distractions. The first line of defense is self-control. That works most of the time. If your day is like mine there’s too much to do. I’ve used the Pomodoro Technique in the past to help break up larger tasks while keeping up with ongoing smaller tasks—e.g., email—and at the same time providing time for breaks.

The technique’s name is derived from a tomato-shaped kitchen timer the developer used when he came up with the idea. It works like this: you set the timer for 25 minutes and work; take at least a five-minute break when the timer goes off; after four cycles of this take a longer break. This is a great way to train your brain to focus on tasks and keep deadlines.

Browser Extensions

Occasionally you need a little support in avoiding distractions. There are three browser extensions—one each for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari; sorry IE—that all do essentially the same thing: they let you block websites either completely or after a certain amount of time has elapsed.

I used LeechBlock for Firefox to great success in the past. For example, I created a group called ‘social media’ and put in URLs for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and Youtube and then configured the extension to allow me fifteen minutes of access to those websites every four hours. If I used up my time those sites became blocked. There are more options including which days or time of day the block comes into effect, whitelisting sites that are allowed, and so on.

If you’re a Chrome user, StayFocusd is an extension that does essentially the same thing as LeechBlock. WasteNoTime is available for both Chrome and Safari. All three of these extensions are great ways to avoid the siren call of the Internet when you need to focus.


Need something more serious that you can run across devices and platforms? Freedom is a piece of software that does the same thing the three extensions do but it will run on all your computers and devices. It can also be set up to block the entire Internet, including email, which is great if you really need to focus.

The one drawback to Freedom is that it’s not free. Prices run from $6.99 for a single month of access, $2.42/month for a year of access, or $119.99 for access to Freedom forever. They often run sales at up to 50% off the price of the forever option.

Freedom might be a better option for personal use but it’s something you can look into for work, too. Of course, you could accomplish the same thing by turning off your WiFi/Internet but Freedom lets you automate turning things off and on. I’ve used Freedom at home for writing projects when I don’t want anything to disturb me.

The Hosts File

Finally, if you keep circumventing the extensions by turning them off and the price of Freedom is too high, you can modify your computer’s hosts file. The hosts file predates TCP/IP and DNS and was used to map hostnames to IP addresses. When I worked as a computer programmer we used the hosts file to connect to our clients’ servers.

To block a site, you would set the hostname to the IP address of (the localhost). When you try to go to the website you added to the hosts file your computer tries to find it on your computer and fails. That is, assuming your computer doesn’t actually host the website.

Obviously this last option is extreme and should be used with caution. The hosts file is a common target for computer viruses as it effects how the machine works with regards to the Internet. This is an instance where I’d recommend disconnecting from the Internet before modifying the hosts file but there could be reasons to use this option.

What are some things you’ve tried to avoid distractions?

Categories: Library News

Jobs in Information Technology: January 18, 2017

Wed, 2017-01-18 15:33

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



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

Categories: Library News