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Wearable Technology Resources

Wed, 2016-07-20 08:00

The world of wearable technology (WT) is fascinating, but a little overwhelming. Last month I attended the Digital Humanities Summer Institute where I completed a week-long course entitled “Palpability and Wearable Computing.” We engaged in movement exercises, experimented with sensors, learned about haptics, and critiqued consumer wearables including the Fitbit, Spire, Leaf, and Athos. I expected to walk away with some light-up sneakers, but instead I left with lots of questions, inspiration, and resources.

What follows is a list of books, videos, and project tutorials that I’ve found most helpful in my exploration of wearable technology.

Textile Messages | Edited by Leah Buechley, Kylie Peppler, Michael Eisenberg, and Yasmin Kafai

  • Textile Messages is a great primer; it includes a little bit of history, lots of project ideas, and ample discussion of working with WT in the classroom. This is the most practical resource I’ve encountered for librarians of all types.

    Textile Messages: Dispatches from the World of E-Textiles and Education

Garments of Paradise | Susan Elizabeth Ryan

  • The history of WT goes back longer than you’d think. Chapter 1 from Garments of Paradise will take you all the way from the pocket watch to the electric dress to Barbarella.

Atsuko Tanaka models the electric dress, 1956.

MAKE Presents

  • If you want to make your own wearables, then you’ll need a basic understanding of electronics. MAKE magazine has a fantastic video series that will introduce you to Ohm’s Law, oscilloscopes, and a whole slew of teeny tiny components.

Wired Magazine

  • If you’re interested in consumer wearables, Wired will keep you up to date on all the latest gadgetry. Recent reviews include a temporary tattoo that measures UV exposure and’s smart watch.

    My UV Patch from L’Oreal is currently in development

Project Tutorials

  • One easy and inexpensive way to get started with WT is to create your own sensors. In class we created a stroke sensor made of felt and conductive thread. If you’re working with a limited budget, Textile Messages has an entire chapter devoted to DIY sensors.  
  • Adafruit is a treasure trove of project tutorials. Most of them are pretty advanced, but it’s interesting to see how far you can go with DIY projects even if you’re not ready to take them on yourself.
  • Sparkfun is a better option if you’re interested in projects for beginners.

My first attempt at making a stroke sensor

What WT resources have you encountered?

Categories: Library News

LITA Forum 2016 – Call for Library School Student Volunteers

Tue, 2016-07-19 11:28

2016 LITA Forum
Ft Worth, Texas
November 17-20, 2016


The Library and Information Technology Association (LITA), a division of the American Library Association, is offering a discounted student registration rate for the 2016 LITA Forum. This offer is limited to graduate students enrolled in ALA-accredited programs. In exchange for the lower registration cost, these graduate students will be asked to assist the LITA organizers and Forum presenters with onsite operations. This is a great way to network and meet librarians active in the field.

The selected students will be expected to attend the full LITA Forum, Friday noon through Sunday noon. Attendance during the preconferences on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning is not required. While you will be assigned a variety of duties, you will be able to attend the Forum programs, which include 3 keynote sessions, over 50 concurrent sessions, and poster presentations, as well as many opportunities for social engagement.

The Forum will be held November 17-20, 2016 at the Omni Hotel in Fort Worth, Texas. The student rate is $180 – half the regular registration rate for LITA members. A real bargain, this rate includes a Friday night reception, continental breakfasts, and Saturday lunch.

For more information about the Forum, visit We anticipate an attendance of 300 decision makers and implementers of new information technologies in libraries.

To apply to be a student volunteer, complete and submit this form by September 30, 2016.

You will be asked to provide the following:
1. Contact information, including email address and cell phone number
2. Name of the school you are attending
3. Statement of 150 words (or less) explaining why you want to attend the LITA National Forum

Those selected to be volunteers registered at the student rate will be notified no later than Friday, October 14, 2016.

Additional questions should be sent to Christine Peterson,, or Mary Duffy,

Categories: Library News

Transmission #7 – A Special Transmission

Mon, 2016-07-18 14:21

Hi, everyone! Due to technical challenges and delays, I am reopening the Begin Transmission survey and feedback form (below). Join the conversation! Thanks for your help.


Categories: Library News

Did you attend the recent ALA Annual 2016 conference in Orlando FL?

Mon, 2016-07-18 12:12

If so please complete our LITA conference programs survey evaluation at:

We hope you had the best ALA Annual conference, and that attending useful, informative and fun LITA programs were an important part of your conference experience. If so please take a moment to complete our evaluation survey. Your responses are very important to your colleagues who are planning programming for next years ALA Annual, as well as LITA year round continuing education sessions.

To complete your survey it might also help to check back at the

Full schedule of LITA programs and meetings.

And recall other details at the LITA @ ALA Annual page.

Thank you and we hope to see you at the

LITA Forum in Fort Worth, TX, November 17-20, 2016

Categories: Library News

Demonstrating Value…Visually!

Thu, 2016-07-14 15:37

Recent postings from ACRL indicate that the library world is paying more attention than ever to demonstrating the impact we have on student learning, faculty productivity, serving our communities, and the overall missions of our institutions. Megan Oakleaf has written extensively on this issue, and her work revolves around the way we can try to make connections between assessment efforts and student learning, among other things.

Blame shrinking budgets, clueless campus administrators, or just a lack of sharing the great work we do, but we are all faced with the reality of validating our role on our respective campuses in one way or another. I don’t want to get into the merits of such an argument, but rather to offer a possible solution to this issue-one of many options, to be sure.

Setting annual reports aside, which are at best long-winded and most likely end up in a forgotten file-folder, chances are we only have few and brief opportunities to communicate that which is very difficult to encapsulate, much less quantify. So how can you pack that proverbial punch? Enter the increasingly popular infographic. At OSU, we’ve embarked on an ambitious project to do just that, and we are in the throes of deciding how to best harness the power of such a tool for our purposes.

There are really two broad issues to take into consideration if you would like to use this type of tool: what to include and how to design for maximum impact.

First, you’ll need to think about the information you want to collect, both quantitative and qualitative. A good Google Form, Excel spreadsheet, or Springshare’s LibAnalytics will do the trick. But beware, things may not be as simple as they appear. Numbers are easy-put a 3 or a 10 and off you go. What’s harder to capture is the story behind that figure. Make sure that all of your quantitative data have a qualitative equivalent. Which is where defining your categories comes into play. For example, if you want to capture how many successful consultations librarians averaged in a given year, make sure they understand exactly what you mean by that term. Some may interpret it as all the reference questions they answer, others may only report appointment-based interactions, while others still might think this relates only to a particular user group.

In addition, whatever non-numerical information you capture should be able to answer the question “So what?” If you can’t determine its importance, chances are neither will someone outside the library no matter how much you try to explain it. Ideally, whatever categories you select either match your library or institutional strategic goals (or both) so that you can directly correlate them to the areas which are important on a broader level and aggregate individual efforts into a composite snapshot for the semester or the year. This section will allow you to tell that ever important story and show how the numbers are actually meaningful. The recent article by Anne Kenney speaks more directly to liaison work, but her insights can easily be extrapolated to more general terms. In other words, focus on the impact of the activity rather than measuring its existence.

Which leads me to the next point, whatever data is captured, start by actually capturing it! You can have the most perfect form in the world, but if no one is filling it out, it’s pointless. Consistency is also key, and for this you may need the help of a department head or library administration to help nudge participation in the right direction. But even some data, however incomplete, is better than none at all and you can always build on your efforts, but you have to start somewhere and establish that initial benchmark.

Formatting and creating the infographic is just as important as what’s in it. Luckily, there are several free tools out there which help to make this work a little easier:

They all function similarly, but here are some general design elements to keep in mind:

  1. What actions/learning are you trying to enable? Do you want to simply inform or perhaps persuade?
  2. What questions are you trying to answer?
  3. What do you want to show? What story are you trying to tell?
  4. Who is your audience? What are their priorities and level of knowledge about your information?
  5. What key information do you want to relay? Where do you want the reader to focus and on what?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you decide layout and formatting choices. Keep things simple and choose complementary colors. Make sure the infographic is easy to print out and can be viewed online just as easily-try to avoid making it too long so that the person has to scroll endlessly to see everything. And most importantly, keep trying!

*Images taken from Pixabay

Categories: Library News

2016 LITA Forum – Registration Now Open!

Tue, 2016-07-12 14:25


Register now for the 2016 LITA Forum
Fort Worth, TX
November 17-20, 2016

Registration is Now Open!

Join us in Fort Worth, Texas, at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel located in Downtown Fort Worth, for the 2016 LITA Forum, a three-day education and networking event featuring 2 preconferences, 3 keynote sessions, more than 55 concurrent sessions and 25 poster presentations. It’s the 19th annual gathering of the highly regarded LITA Forum for technology-minded information professionals. Meet with your colleagues involved in new and leading edge technologies in the library and information technology field. Registration is limited in order to preserve the important networking advantages of a smaller conference. Attendees take advantage of the informal Friday evening reception, networking dinners and other social opportunities to get to know colleagues and speakers.

Keynote Speakers:

  • Cecily Walker, Vancouver Public Library
  • Waldo Jaquith, U.S. Open Data
  • Tara Robertson, @tararobertson

The Preconference Workshops:

  • Librarians can code! A “hands-on” computer programming workshop just for librarians
  • Letting the Collections Tell Their Story: Using Tableau for Collection Evaluation

Comments from past attendees:

“Best conference I’ve been to in terms of practical, usable ideas that I can implement at my library.”
“I get so inspired by the presentations and conversations with colleagues who are dealing with the same sorts of issues that I am.”
“After LITA I return to my institution excited to implement solutions I find here.”
“This is always the most informative conference! It inspires me to develop new programs and plan initiatives.”

Forum Sponsors:


Get all the details, register and book a hotel room at the 2016 Forum website.

See you in Fort Worth.

Categories: Library News

A Note from the LITA President on last night’s violence in Dallas

Fri, 2016-07-08 15:49

Fellow LITA Members:

By now you are aware of the violence that occurred overnight in Dallas, Texas. Five police officers were killed and nine officers and civilians were wounded when a gunman opened fire during a peaceful protest about the recent deaths of black men at the hands of police in other cities. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who have had loved ones killed or injured, as well as to the residents of Dallas who will be facing a great deal of uncertainty in the coming days.

As you may know, LITA will hold its annual LITA Forum in Dallas’ sister city, Fort Worth, this November. LITA staff and leadership will monitor events in the Metroplex over the coming weeks and will stay in communication with our contacts at the Forum venue. We will pass along any LITA-related news or opportunities to support the community as they become available.

In the meantime, I would ask that you reach out to friends, family members, and colleagues who may be distressed by last night’s events. As we learned from the recent shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, you don’t have to be physically near to this kind of violence to be deeply affected by it. Often the most powerful thing we can do is to reach out with compassion to those who are hurting.

Be well. – Aimee

Aimee Fifarek, LITA President

Categories: Library News

WiFi Hotspots

Fri, 2016-07-08 10:00

Back in December I read an article about Seattle Public Library’s WiFi HotSpot lending program. At the time of the article they had 325 devices available for checkout and a waiting list of more than 1,000 patrons. The program was started via a grant with Google but at the end of the year SPL needed to find a permanent solution for paying for the program, which they did. Their goal is 775 units in all. You can see in the graphic above SPL has 566 HotSpots (as of July 7, 2016) with 1,211 holds.

It’s an ambitious program but given the size of the population they serve it may be too small. The New York Public Library has 10,000 devices in its HotSpot program, but again that’s probably not enough. In fact, according to their website all the devices are out (they’re doing a program where patrons get the HotSpot for up to a full year). Of course, comparing Seattle to New York City isn’t exactly apples to apples, but the goal is the same: providing home internet access to people who currently don’t have it.

Both SPL and NYPL started their programs with grants. They also have large taxing bodies in order to support such large programs. I opted to dedicate a portion of my budget to start a pilot program with five devices running unlimited data on both 5G and 2.4G networks. With practically no marketing—we put up signs in the library and included it in our newsletter—the HotSpots were all checked out on the first day they were available. Patrons check them out for one week at a time and can renew the HotSpot up to three times as long as there are no holds.

We have 37 holds on those five devices.

Clearly we need to expand the program. Almost immediately after launching our five HotSpots I got an email from TechSoup—they’re a non-profit who provides technology for other non-profits including libraries—detailing an offer for HotSpots through a company called Mobile Beacon. I requested maximum number of devices, ten, through TechSoup. We are cataloging and processing the HotSpots so we can get them into our patrons’ hands as quickly as possible.

Just like Seattle and New York, we want to provide mobile internet access to patrons. Our program is smaller in size and ambition but no less important to the people we serve. Our school district provides iPads to all students K-12. That works great when the students are in school or at the library, but many of them do not have internet access at home. Now they can check out a HotSpot and have that access at home.

We have patrons who take HotSpots up north camping. Coverage was about what you’d expect as you get more remote so we tell patrons to check the coverage map before they check out a HotSpot. Other patrons used the HotSpot on long road trips (we assumed the driver did not also use the HotSpot).

Will 15 HotSpots be enough for our patrons? Time will tell; we can always add more. I’d rather have fewer devices that I can turn over regularly than a lot of devices sitting unused.

Have you started a HotSpot program at your library?

Categories: Library News

An Important LITA web course on Universal Design for Libraries and Librarians

Thu, 2016-07-07 14:50

Consider and register for this new LITA web course:

Universal Design for Libraries and Librarians


  • Jessica Olin, Director of the Library, Robert H. Parker Library, Wesley College; and
  • Holly Mabry, Digital Services Librarian, Gardner-Webb University

Starting August 1, 2016

A Moodle based web course with asynchronous weekly content lessons, tutorials, assignments, and group discussions.

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

Universal Design is the idea of designing products, places, and experiences to make them accessible to as broad a spectrum of people as possible, without requiring special modifications or adaptations. This course will present an overview of universal design as a historical movement, as a philosophy, and as an applicable set of tools. Students will learn about the diversity of experiences and capabilities that people have, including disabilities (e.g. physical, learning, cognitive, resulting from age and/or accident), cultural backgrounds, and other abilities. The class will also give students the opportunity to redesign specific products or environments to make them more universally accessible and usable.


By the end of this class, students will be able to…

  • Articulate the ethical, philosophical, and practical aspects of Universal Design as a method and movement – both in general and as it relates to their specific work and life circumstances
  • Demonstrate the specific pedagogical, ethical, and customer service benefits of using Universal Design principles to develop and recreate library spaces and services in order to make them more broadly accessible
  • Integrate the ideals and practicalities of Universal Design into library spaces and services via a continuous critique and evaluation cycle

Here’s the Course Page

Jessica Olin

Is the Director of the Library, Robert H. Parker Library, Wesley College. Ms. Olin received her MLIS from Simmons College in 2003 and an MAEd, with a concentration in Adult Education, from Touro University International. Her first position in higher education was at Landmark College, a college that is specifically geared to meeting the unique needs of people with learning differences. While at Landmark, Ms. Olin learned about the ethical, theoretical, and practical aspects of universal design. She has since taught an undergraduate course for both the education and the entrepreneurship departments at Hiram College on the subject.

Holly Mabry

Holly Mabry received her MLIS from UNC-Greensboro in 2009. She is currently the Digital Services Librarian at Gardner-Webb University where she manages the university’s institutional repository, and teaches the library’s for-credit online research skills course. She also works for an international virtual reference service called Chatstaff. Since finishing her MLIS, she has done several presentations at local and national library conferences on implementing universal design in libraries with a focus on accessibility for patrons with disabilities.


August 1 – September 9, 2016


  • LITA Member: $135
  • ALA Member: $195
  • Non-member: $260

Technical Requirements:

Moodle login info will be sent to registrants the week prior to the start date. The Moodle-developed course site will include weekly new content lessons and is composed of self-paced modules with facilitated interaction led by the instructor. Students regularly use the forum and chat room functions to facilitate their class participation. The course web site will be open for 1 week prior to the start date for students to have access to Moodle instructions and set their browser correctly. The course site will remain open for 90 days after the end date for students to refer back to course material.

Registration Information:

Register Online, page arranged by session date (login required)
Mail or fax form to ALA Registration
call 1-800-545-2433 and press 5

Questions or Comments?

For all other questions or comments related to the course, contact LITA at (312) 280-4268 or Mark Beatty,

Categories: Library News

Top Strategies to Win that Technology Grant: Part 3

Mon, 2016-06-20 14:08

As mentioned in my last posts, conducting a needs assessment and/or producing quantitative and/or qualitative data about the communities you serve is key in having a successfully funded proposal.  Once you have an idea of the project that connects to your patrons, your research for RFPs or Request for Proposals begins.

Here are some RFP research items to keep in mind:

Open your opportunities for funding.  Our first choice may be to look at “technology grants” only, but thinking of other avenues to broaden your search may be helpful. As MacKellar mentions in her book Writing Successful Technology Grant Proposals, “Rule #15: Use grant resources that focus on the goal or purpose of your project or on your target population.  Do not limit your research to resources that include only grants for technology” (p.71).

Build a comprehensive list of keywords that describes your project in order to conduct strong searches.

Keep in mind throughout the whole process: grants are for people not about owning the latest devices or tools. Also, what may work for one library may not work for another; each library has its own unique vibe.  This is another reason why a needs assessment is essential.

Know how you will evaluate your project during and after project completion.

Sharpen your project management skills by working on a multi-step project such as grants.  It takes proper planning, and key players to get the project moving and afloat.  It is helpful to slice the project into pieces, foster patience, and develop comfort in working on multi-year projects.

It is helpful to have leadership that supports and aids in all phases of the grant project. Try to find support from administration or from community/department partnerships.  Find a mentor or someone seasoned in writing and overseeing grants in or outside of your organization.

Read the RFP carefully and contact funder with well-thought out questions if needed. It is important to have your questions and comments written down to lessen multiple emails or calls.  Asking the right questions informs you if the proposal is right for a particular RFP.

Build a strong team that are invested in the project and communities served. It is wonderful to share aspects of the project in order to avoid burnout.

Find sources for funding:

Categories: Library News

Reminder/Shameless Plug for LITA President’s Program in Orlando

Thu, 2016-06-16 11:53

by Thomas Dowling

LITA members–and anyone else–attending ALA Annual in Orlando, please join us for the LITA Awards and President’s Program on Sunday afternoon, 3pm to 4pm, in the Orange County Convention Center, room W109B.

Our featured speaker will be Dr. Safiya Noble, who will speak about how the landscape of information is rapidly shifting as new imperatives and demands push to the fore increasing investment in digital technologies, despite the consequences of increased surveillance and lack of privacy, which are changing our information engagements. Dr. Noble’s talk is co-sponsored by ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services, and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.

If you can fit it all in to your schedule, I invite you to binge watch our Sunday Afternoon With LITA event, starting with Top Tech Trends (1pm to 2pm, Convention Center, W109B), continuing with the President’s Program, and concluding with the LITA Happy Hour, 5:30pm, Sam & Bubbe’s Lobby Bar at the Rosen Centre Hotel.  In addition to good company and good cheer, Happy Hour is the start to our year-long 50th anniversary celebration!

Categories: Library News

Jobs in Information Technology: June 15, 2016

Wed, 2016-06-15 15:35

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

Midwestern University, Library Manager, Glendale, AZ

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

Categories: Library News

Transmission #6

Mon, 2016-06-13 13:20

Jacob Shelby, intrepid metadata librarian (formerly at Iowa State, now at NCSU) enters the thunderdome  joins us for a lively conversation about the importance of coding/tech literacy for librarians. Read his LITA Blog posts, and join the conversation on twitter @ALA_lita #litavlogs.

Begin Transmission will return June 27th.

Categories: Library News

Lets look at gender in Library IT

Fri, 2016-06-03 13:42

So. Let’s talk about library technology organizations and gender.

I attended LitaForum 2015 last year, and like many good attendees, I tweeted thoughts as I went. Far more popular in the Twitterverse than anything original I sent out was a simple summary of a slide in a presentation by Angi Faiks, “Girls in Tech: A gateway to diversifying the library workforce.”

The tweet in question was:

That this struck a chord is shocking, presumably, to no one.

The slide that prompted my tweet references a 2009 article by Melissa Lamont that (a) you should read, and (b) briefly presents (among other interesting data) numbers from the 2014-2015 ARL Annual Salary Survey (paywalled).

What is the problem symptom?

Given the popularity of the tweet, I thought I’d dig a little deeper and see what I could find out about Library IT and gender, with the expectation that it would be pretty disappointing.

Spoiler alert: it is.

Before you start thinking, “But…I work in a library, where it’s all mutual respect and a near-perfect meritocracy as far as the eye can see,” well, think again. The overall message I received during conversations on the edges of the conference was that women — especially young women — are often ignored, and their talents squandered, in the higher-tech side of the library world. And when you move away from anecdotes and start looking at the data, well, the numbers are striking and no less upsetting.

  • At the beginning of 2016, Bobbi Newman published a great examination of the LITA Top Tech Trends panelists by sex. Roughly 2/3 of seats between 2003 and 2016 were men. 3/4 of repeat panelists were men.

  • The Lamont article mentioned before — and please, go read it — does some great original research enumerating what is likely a leading indicator: percentage of women authoring papers in library technology journals vs. more generic library journals (with the latter used as a control). First authorship in the higher tech journals goes to women about 34% of the time (JASIS&T is a low outlier with only 28%), while 65% of articles in the control journals have female first authors, mirroring pretty closely the percentage of women librarians in ARL libraries overall.

What are the data?

The numbers in my tweet suffer a bit from an apples-and-oranges comparison, with the ALA gender/race information coming from (wait for it…) the ALA, while the Library IT Heads numbers come from the 2014-2015 ARL statistics (Table 18).

Much (most?) of the IT work in libraries is, of course, done by “off-label” librarians — those hired to do a specific non-IT job, who are then pressed into service to do some programming or sysadmin or whatnot. However, we don’t have numbers for those, so I’m going to up the focus on the US ARL statistics for self-identified library IT departments, partially because I work in an ARL library, and partially because large academic libraries often have an internal, labeled IT department which makes counting easy.

Obviously, I’ve made a decision to give up generality in order to be able to make stronger assertions (e.g., LITA membership breakdown, were it available, might be more appropriate). I’d be very interested in looking at other data (or other slices of these data) if people have any available.

Categorizing Library IT positions

The ARL stats have a number of position categories, four of which obviously relate to Library IT and on which I’m going to focus here.

The leadership position I’ll treat as it’s own thing.

  • Department Head, Library Technology

The other three non-head IT positions I’ll treat as a group, giving this collection the whimsical name Library IT, non-head.

  • Library IT, Library Systems
  • Library IT, Web Developer
  • Library IT, Programmer

There are obviously other jobs that might or might not fit into library IT, depending on how a particular institution is structured. For example, at Michigan we have people who do markup for TEI documents and digitization specialists, neither set of which would obviously fall into one of the above categories. All those folks are part of Library IT on the organization chart at Michigan (and might not be at other places).

Let’s start with the non-head librarians and then look at department heads.

Library IT, non-head positions

61% of all US ARL Librarians are women, but only 29% of US ARL Librarians working in Library IT are women.

Overall, women outnumber men in ARL libraries by a substantial margin. The ARL report notes that, “the largest percentage of men employed in ARL libraries was 38.2% in 1980–81; since then men have consistently represented about 35% of the professional staff in ARL libraries,” (p. 15). That number is closer to 40% when looking at ARL institutions just within the US, as stated above.

So, we’ll call it 40% male librarians overall. How about in library IT?

In Library IT, men outnumber women by 526 to 212, giving us the 29% quoted above. That means there are about two and a half times as many men as women in library IT.

IT in general has been a male-dominated profession for a few decades now. A fairly recent article reports 2013 numbers that show women holding about 26% of jobs in computing, with many Big Name Tech Companies (Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) doing significantly worse.

We also don’t know about non-librarians working in library IT (I would be considered one). Given the overall IT statistics, it’s hard to believe that including non-librarians would move the needle toward having more women employees.

So on the one hand, we’re probably doing a very-slightly-less-awful job of bringing in women than the IT world in general. On the other, well, it’s only very slightly less awful, and this in a profession that is majority-female.

Library IT Heads

63% of Department Heads for department other than IT in US ARL libraries are women. About 30% of Library IT Heads are women.

Given the numbers we’re about to look at, it’s worthwhile to note that the majority doesn’t always hold the power, a message driven home by this tweet from Amy Buckland:

The library writ large, then, is female-majority, but not necessary female-dominated. Library IT, of course, is neither female-dominated or female-majority.

First, a broader look. Leadership positions in the wider, non-library IT world in general go overwhelmingly to men. Women hold positions at the CIO level in only about 17% of the Fortune 500. So, the baseline is terrible.

The ARL Stats for 2014-15 (table 30) show 91 US libraries that have a head of Library IT, 27 (30%) of whom are women. That’s about the same as the rank & file IT workers, but far different than the nearly two-thirds of other department heads that are women.

Many people presume this is indicative of what has been called the pipeline problem, the idea that it’s hard to hire women leaders because there aren’t many women coming up, and the lack of women in leadership roles make it harder to recruit women at the lower levels. This is a truth, but certainly not a complete truth.

Sex and salary in Library IT

The good news, such as it is, is that there is (basically) salary parity between men and women at both the IT rank & file and IT head positions.

The bad news is that this is one place where Library IT does better than the library on average. Across the whole library, men make an average of 5% more than women, an inequality that is true at every level of experience (ACRL table 38).

What does it mean?

The numbers give us what, of course, not why. For that explanation, many people initially grab onto the pipeline problem.

“Oh, woe is us white guys trying to do the right thing,” we lament. “We want to hire women and minorities, but none ever apply. There’s a pipeline problem.”

So let’s revisit our friend the pipeline problem. The problem is not just that the pipeline is small. The pipeline leaks.

Rachel Thomas’s article, “If you think women in tech is just a pipeline problem, you haven’t been paying attention” notes right up front that:

According to the Harvard Business Review, 41% of women working in tech eventually end up leaving the field (compared to just 17% of men)

Women leave IT at a much higher rate than other positions. IT can be, in ways large and small, antagonistic to women. Odds are your organization is. For those of you who think otherwise, I challenge you to find a shortish young woman where you work and ask her if she ever feels ignored or undervalued precisely because she’s a shortish young woman. Ask her if she always gets attributed for her ideas. Ask her if her initiatives are given the same consideration as her male colleagues.

What can we do?

Admit that there’s a problem. And then talk about it.

That’s easy to say and crazy-hard to do. The more privilege one has — and I’m a white, well-educated, middle-aged male, so I’ve got privilege up the wazoo — the easier it is to dismiss bias as small, irrelevant, or “elsewhere.”

As to how to get a conversation started, my colleague Meghan Musolff enrolled me to help her with an ingenious plan:

  • Send out an invitation to talk about a diversity-related reading

  • Show up

Our first monthly meeting of what we’re calling the “Tech Diversity Reading Group” ended up drawing about 2/3 of the department (including the boss, who bought pizza) and revolved around the Rachel Thomas pipeline article from above. And yes, the conversation was dominated by men, and yes, there were some nods to, “But this isn’t Silicon Valley so it doesn’t apply to us” or “That doesn’t happen around here, does it?” and, yes, many of the women didn’t feel comfortable speaking out.

We got a lot of feedback, in both directions, but none of it was of the “this isn’t a problem” variety. It wasn’t perfect (or maybe even “good”), but we were there, giving it a shot.

And you can, too.

Categories: Library News

Jobs in Information Technology: June 1, 2016

Wed, 2016-06-01 14:35

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

Queensborough Community College (CUNY), Assistant Professor (Librarian) – Head of Reference Library, Bayside, NY

California State University, Dominguez Hills, Liaison-Systems Librarian, Carson, CA

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

Categories: Library News

Managing iPads – The Configurator

Wed, 2016-06-01 11:00

We’ve talked in the past about having iPads in the library and how to buy multiple copies of an app at the same time. This is long delayed post about the tool we use at my library to manage the devices.

At Waukesha Public Library we use Apple’s Configurator 2. This is a great solution if you have up to forty or fifty devices to manage. Beyond that it gets unwieldy (although I’ll talk about a way you could use the Configurator for more devices). We have two dozen or so iPads we manage this way so it works perfectly for us.

You can see in the photo above all our iPads connected to the Configurator. It even gives you an idea of what the desktop of the iPad is; you can even upload your own image to be loaded on each device if you want to brand them for your library. When you connect the iPads you get a great status overview. You get the OS version, what specific device it is, its capacity, and whether it has software updates among other things.

Across the top are several choices of how to interact with the iPads: you can prepare, update, back up, or tag. Prepare is used when the iPad is first configured for use in the Configurator. This gives you the option of supervising the devices so that you can control how they get updated and what networks they have access to. If you’re going to circulate iPads you don’t want to supervise them because it will set limits on how the public can use them. If you’re using iPads only in the library—as we are—then you should supervise them so that you can guarantee that they work in your network. We mostly use update which gives supervised iPads the option of doing an OS update, an app update, or both an OS and app update (depending on what the devices need).

OS updates go very quickly. Usually it takes about a half hour to update 22 iPads. You might need to interact with each device after an OS update—to set a passcode (you can reset a device’s passcode through the Configurator which is great when someone changes it or forgets what they set it as), enable location services, etc.—so just budget that into the time you need to get the devices ready for us.

App updates have been a different beast for us. We were on a monthly update which is perhaps not often enough. We found that if we updated all the apps on a single device or if we updated a single app on all devices that the process went quickly. If we tried to updates all apps on all devices it tended to get hung up and time out. We’re doing updates more frequently now so we’re not running into that problem any longer.

The best thing you can do with the Configurator is create profiles. There are a lot of settings to which the Configurator gives you access. This includes blocking in-app purchases, setting the WiFi network, enabling content filters, setting up AirPlay or AirPrint, and more. Basically anything you can control under an iPad’s settings outside of downloaded apps you can set using the Configurator and put into a profile.

This way if there are forty iPads for children’s programming, twenty iPads for teens, and thirty iPads the public checks out, each one could have its own profile and its own settings. In this way you can manage a lot more than forty or fifty devices. You would manage each profile as an individual group.

If you want to be able to push out updates to devices wirelessly, you can consider Apple’s Mobile Device Management. You can host your MDM services locally—which requires a server—or host them in the cloud. For us it made sense to use the Configurator and update devices by connecting to them since they are kept in a single cart. Our local school district, as I’ve mentioned before, provides an iPad to all students K-12 so they use JAMF’s Casper Suite (a customized solution) to manage their approximately 15,000 devices.


Categories: Library News

Transmission #5

Tue, 2016-05-31 16:11

In this action-packed fifth installment, Begin Transmission is joined by the inimitable Leanne Mobley. She’s a LITA blogger, Scholarly Technologies Librarian at Indiana University, and a makerspace proponent.

Stay tuned for another Transmission, Monday, June 13th!

Categories: Library News