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Quid Pro Quo: Librarians and Vendors

Fri, 2016-02-05 08:00

I joked with a colleague recently that I need to get over my issue with vendors giving me sales pitches during phone calls and meetings. We had a good laugh since a major responsibility of my job as Assistant Director is to meet with vendors and learn about products that will enhance the patron experience at my library. As the point of contact I’m going to be the person the vendor calls and I’m going to be the person to whom the vendor pitches stuff.

The point was that sometimes it would be nice to have a quiet day so you could get back to the other vendors who have contacted you or maybe actually implement some of the tech you acquired from a vendor—he says as he looks wistfully at a pile of equipment in his office that should out in the public’s hands.

Just last month my fellow blogger Bill Dueber talked about the importance of negotiating with vendors in his post “There’s a Reason There’s a Specialized Degree.” Because I work hand in hand with vendors on an almost daily basis there’s a number of things I try to do to hold up my end of the bargain. There’s an article from 2010 on LIS Careers that talks about the Librarian/Vendor relationship. While not everything is relevant, it does have some good information in it (some of which I’ve pulled into this post).

  • Pay bills on time
  • Reply to calls/emails in a timely manner
  • Be clear about timelines
  • Say no if the answer’s no
  • Be congenial

I find it helps if I think of the vendors as my patrons. How would I treat a member of the public? Would I wait weeks before answering a reference question that came in via email? We’re all busy so not responding the same day to a vendor is probably ok but going more than a day or two is not a good idea. If I don’t want the vendor emailing me every other day I need to communicate. And if things are really busy or something’s come up I need to be clear with the vendor that I won’t be able to look at a new product until next week or second quarter, whichever the case may be.

I can’t speak for other libraries, but our board approves bills so we basically do a big swath of payments once a month. The more time it takes me to sign off on a bill and hand it over to finance, the longer it’ll take for that bill to get processed. Trust me, the last thing you want is for your computer reservation license to expire so you end up scrambling fifteen minutes before you open the doors trying to get a new license installed.

If I’m doing my part, then there are some things I expect in return from vendors (this list will look similar):

  • Send bills in a timely manner
  • Don’t send email/call every other day
  • Take no for an answer
  • Don’t trash competitors

It’s very frustrating to me when a vendor keeps pushing a product after I’ve said no. I know the vendor’s job is to find customers but sometimes it can be beneficial to lay off the sales pitch and save it for another visit. Only once have I actually had to interrupt a vendor several times during a phone call to tell them that I no longer will be doing business with them and do not want them to call me any more.

It’s one thing to say that your product does something no one else’s does or to claim that your product works better than a competitor. That’s business. But I’ve sat in vendor demos where the person spent so much time trashing another company that I had no idea what their product did. Also, sometimes I use similar products from different companies because they’re different and I can reach more patrons with a wider variety of services. This is particularly true with technology. We provide desktops, laptops, and WiFi for our customers because different people like to use different types of computers. It’s not always economically feasible to provide such a variety for every service, but we try to do it when we can.

I also have a number of things I’ll put on a wish list for vendors.

  • Look over meeting agendas and minutes
  • Check our website for services we’re offering
  • Provide a demo that you can leave behind
  • Try to not show up unannounced; at least call first

It shocks me when vendors ask what our budget is on a project, especially something for which we’ve done an RFP. This might pertain more to public libraries, but everything we do is public record. You can find the budget meetings on the city website and see exactly how much was approved. That attention to detail goes a long way towards showing me how you’ll handle our relationship.

Maybe we use iPads in our programming. Maybe we just replaced our selfchecks. Perhaps we already have a 3D printer. Maybe the head of our children’s department took part in an iLead program with the focus on helping parents pick early literacy apps for their children. Our website is, for all intents and purposes, an ever-changing document. As such, we make every effort to keep our services up to date and tout what our staff is doing. This can help you frame your sales pitch to us. You might not want to downplay iPads when we’ve been having success with them.

Where technology’s concerned, being able to leave a demo device with me is huge. It’s not always possible, but any amount of time I get where I can see how it would fit into our workflow helps us say yes or no. Sometimes I have a question that only comes up because I’ve spent some time using a device.

If you’re seeing a customer in Milwaukee, my library is not that far away and it makes sense that you can drop in and see how things are going. Totally fine. If you can, call first. The number of times I’ve missed a vendor because I didn’t know they were coming are more numerous than I’d like. But I can’t be available if I don’t know I should.

I get it. Companies are getting bigger through acquisitions, people’s sales areas are changing, the volume of customers goes up and up, and there’s still the same number of hours in the day. But there are vendors who do the things I mention above, and they’ll get my attention first.

What are some of the things you would like to see vendors do?

Categories: Library News

2016 Election Slate

Thu, 2016-02-04 15:06

The LITA Board is pleased to announce the following slate of candidates for the 2016 spring election:

Candidates for Vice-President/President-Elect Candidates for Director-at-Large, 2 elected for a 3-year term Candidates for LITA Councilor, 1 elected for a 3-year term

View bios and statements for more information about the candidates. Voting in the 2016 ALA election will begin on March 25 and close on April 22. Election results will be announced on April 29. Note that eligible members will be sent their voting credentials via email over a three-day period, March 15-18. Check the main ALA website for information about the general ALA election.

The slate was recommended by the LITA Nominating Committee: Michelle Frisque (Chair), Galen Charlton, and Dale Poulter. The Board thanks the Nominating Committee for all of their work. Be sure to thank the candidates for agreeing to serve and the Nominating Committee for developing the slate. Best wishes to all.

Categories: Library News

Call for Proposals, LITA education webinars and web courses

Wed, 2016-02-03 16:28

What library technology topic are you passionate about?
Have something to teach?

The Library Information Technology Association (LITA) Education Committee invites you to share your expertise with a national audience! For years, LITA has offered online learning programs on technology-related topics of interest to LITA Members and wider American Library Association audience.

Submit a proposal by February 29th to teach a webinar, webinar series, or online course for Summer/Fall 2016.

All topics related to the intersection of technology and libraries are welcomed. Possible topics include:

  • Research Data ManagementCC by www.gotcredit.com
  • Supporting Digital Scholarship
  • Technology and Kids or Teens
  • Managing Technical Projects
  • Creating/Supporting Library Makerspaces, or other Creative/Production Spaces
  • Data-Informed Librarianship
  • Diversity and Technology
  • Accessibility Issues and Library Technology
  • Technology in Special Libraries
  • Ethics of Library Technology (e.g., Privacy Concerns, Social Justice Implications)
  • Library/Learning Management System Integrations
  • Technocentric Library Spaces
  • Social Media Engagement
  • Intro to… GitHub, Productivity Tools, Visualization/Data Analysis, etc.

Instructors receive a $500 honorarium for an online course or $100-150 for webinars, split among instructors. For more information, access the online submission form. Check out our list of current and past course offerings to see what topics have been covered recently. We’re looking forward to a slate of compelling and useful online education programs this year!

LITA Education Committee.

Questions or Comments?

For questions or comments related to teaching for LITA, contact LITA at (312) 280-4268 or Mark Beatty, mbeatty@ala.org

Categories: Library News

Jobs in Information Technology: February 3, 2016

Wed, 2016-02-03 15:48

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 Sierra Madre, Library Services Director, Sierra Madre, CA

Concordia College, Systems and Web Services Librarian, Moorhead, MN

Depaul University Library, Digital Services Coordinator, Chicago, IL

Loyola / Notre Dame Library, Digital Services Coordinator, Baltimore, MD

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Metadata Librarian, Washington, DC

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

Categories: Library News

Self-Publishing, Authorpreneurs & Libraries

Tue, 2016-02-02 08:41

“Self-publishing represents the future of literature.  Its willingness to experiment, it’s greater speed to market, it’s quicker communication with the audience, its greater rewards and creative control for creators, its increasing popularity all augur for the continued expansion of self-publishing and its place as the likely wellspring for our best new works” (LaRue, 2014, para. 13).

The self-publishing movement is alive and well in public libraries across the nation, especially within the fiction genre. In a recent American Libraries magazine article, “Solving the Self-Published Puzzle,” Langraf lists several public libraries acquiring self-published books to develop their collections with local authors and with works of regional interest.

I think of how this movement will grow among other types of library communities, and most importantly, how self-publishing technology has made it possible for all of us to publish and access high-quality digital and print resources. Will academic librarians assist teaching faculty to publish their own digital textbooks? Will creative writing classes add an eBook publishing component into their curriculum?  Will special library collections, archives, or museums use these online platforms to create wonderful monographs or documents of archived material that will reach a greater audience?  The possibilities are endless.

What was most interesting to me while reading the American Libraries piece is that libraries are including independent publishing advice and guidance workshops in their makerspace areas.  The freedom of becoming a self-published author comes with a to-do-list: cover illustrations, ebook format conversion (EPUB, MOBI, etc.), online editing, metadata, price and royalties, contracts, and creation of website and social media outlets for marketing purposes.  These are a few of the many things to think about.  Much needs to be learned and librarians can become proficient in these areas in order to create their own creative projects or assist patrons in self-publishing.  It is refreshing to see that an author can trespass the gatekeepers of publishing to get their project published and that our profession can make this phenomenon more accessible to our communities.

We can convert writers into authorpreneurs, a term I recently discovered (McCartney, 2015).  The speed of publishing is awesome – no waiting.  A project can appeal to a particular audience not accessible through traditional routes of publishing. If the author is interested, indie writers have platforms to get picked up by renowned publishing houses and agents.  Traditional authors may also make a plunge into self-publishing.  The attraction for librarians is that the published books can be distributed through platforms like Overdrive currently being used by libraries.  In addition, eBook publishing sites make it possible for users to view their item on several mobile devices through apps or eReaders.  The file type conversions to become readable in all devices are done by many of the organizations listed below.

I have recently become fascinated by the self-publishing movement and plan to write more about the ongoing developments.  I have yet to read my first self-published book and plan to do so soon.  For now, I leave you with some resources that may help you begin thinking about how to use self-publishing to serve your communities and create innovative ways to expand your library services.

Resources


BookWorks
The Self Publishers Association
https://www.bookworks.com/



52 Novels: 
https://www.52novels.com/

Amazon Resources:

CreateSpace:

https://www.createspace.com/
Tools and services that help you complete your book and make it available to millions of potential readers


Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

https://kdp.amazon.com/


KDP EDU: https://kdp.amazon.com/edu
Textbook publishing

KDP Kids: https://kdp.amazon.com/kids
Children Books

and many more genres…


Apple iBookstore

http://www.apple.com/ibooks/


Apple Pages

http://www.apple.com/mac/pages/


Barnes & Nobles Nook Press

https://www.nookpress.com/

BookBaby: https://www.bookbaby.com/


The Book Designer: 
http://www.thebookdesigner.com/


Bowker: http://www.bowker.com/


Calibre: 
http://calibre-ebook.com/


EBook Architects: 
http://ebookarchitects.com/


Inscribe Digital: 
http://www.inscribedigital.com


Jutoh: 
http://www.jutoh.com/


Kobo Writing Life: 
https://www.kobo.com/writinglife


Ingram Spark: 
https://www.ingramspark.com/


Leanpub: 
https://leanpub.com/


Lulu: 
https://www.lulu.com/


PressBooks: 
http://pressbooks.com/


Project Gutenberg Self-Publishing Press: 
http://self.gutenberg.org/


Scribd: 
https://www.scribd.com


Scrivner: 
https://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php


Sigil: 
https://code.google.com/p/sigil/


Smashwords: 
https://www.smashwords.com/


Wattpad: 
https://www.wattpad.com/

Indie Title Reviews
Libraries struggle with indie market collection development.  It is not readily available in the usual book review sources heavily used for mainstream titles– so the librarian is left to search within blogs and other social media outlets to learn of new worthy titles for purchase.  Please find a list of self-publishing collection development resources for libraries/readers below.
Biblioboard: 
https://www.biblioboard.com/


eBooksAreForever: 
http://ebooksareforever.com/


GoodReads: 
https://www.goodreads.com/


Indie Reader: 
http://indiereader.com/


PW Select: 
http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/pw-select/


Self-e: http://self-e.libraryjournal.com/


SelfPublishing Review: 
http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/

References

Friedman, J. (2015). Helping indie authors succeed: What inde authors need to know about the library market. Publishers Weekly, 262(39), 52.

Gross, A. (2015). Digital winners in the bay area. Publishers Weekly, 262(24), 18-20.

Landgraf, G. (October 30, 2015). Solving the self-published puzzle. American Libraries Magazine. Retrieved from http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2015/10/30/solving-the-self-published-puzzle/

LaRue, J. (2015). From maker to mission. Library Journal, 140(16), 41.

LaRue, J. (2014). The next wave of tech change. Library Journal, 139(16), 47.

McCartney, J. (2015). A look ahead to self-publishing in 2015. Publishers Weekly, 262(3), 36-38.

Peltier-Davis, C. A. (2015). The cybrarian’s web 2: An a-z guide to free social media tools, apps, and other resources. Medford, NJ: Information Today.

Palmer, A. (2014). What every Indie author needs to know about e-books. Publishers Weekly, 261(7), 52-54.

Quint, B. (2015). So you want to be published. Information Today, 32(2), 17.

Scardilli, B. (2015). Public libraries embrace self-publishing services. Information Today, 32(5), 1-26.

Staley, L. (2015). Leading self-publishing efforts in communities. American Libraries, 46(1/2), 18-19.

Categories: Library News

Jobs in Information Technology: January 27, 2016

Wed, 2016-01-27 14:42

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:

SIU Edwardsville, Electronic Resources Librarian, Asst or Assoc Professor, Edwardsville, IL

Olin College of Engineering, Community and Digital Services Librarian, Needham, MA

Great Neck Library, Information Technology Director, Great Neck, NY

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

Categories: Library News

Intro to Youth Coding Programs, a LITA webinar

Wed, 2016-01-27 09:00

Attend this informative and fast paced new LITA webinar:

How Your Public Library Can Inspire the Next Tech Billionaire: an Intro to Youth Coding Programs

Thursday March 3, 2016
noon – 1:00 pm Central Time
Register Online, page arranged by session date
(login required)

Kids, tweens, teens and their parents are increasingly interested in computer programming education, and they are looking to public and school libraries as a host for the informal learning process that is most effective for learning to code. This webinar will share lessons learned through youth coding programs at libraries all over the U.S. We will discuss tools and technologies, strategies for promoting and running the program, and recommendations for additional resources. An excellent webinar for youth and teen services librarians, staff, volunteers and general public with an interest in tween/teen/adult services.

Takeaways

  • Inspire attendees about kids and coding, and convince them that the library is key to the effort.
  • Provide the tools, resources and information necessary for attendees to launch a computer coding program at their library.
  • Cultivate a community of coding program facilitators that can share ideas and experiences in order to improve over time.

Presenters:

Kelly Smith spent hundreds of hours volunteering at the local public library before realizing that kids beyond Mesa, Arizona could benefit from an intro to computer programming. With a fellow volunteer, he founded Prenda – a learning technology company with the vision of millions of kids learning to code at libraries all over the country. By day, he designs products for a California technology company. Kelly has been hooked on computer programming since his days as a graduate student at MIT.

Crystle Martin is a postdoctoral research scholar at the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub at the University of California, Irvine. She explores youth and connected learning in online and library settings and is currently researching implementation of Scratch in underserved community libraries, to explore new pathways to STEM interests for youth. Her 2014 book, titled “Voyage Across a Constellation of Information: Information Literacy in Interest-Driven Learning Communities,” reveals new models for understanding information literacy in the 21st century through a study of information practices among dedicated players of World of Warcraft. Crystle holds a PhD in Curriculum & Instruction specializing in Digital Media, with a minor in Library and Information Studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison; serves on the Board of Directors for the Young Adult Library Services Association; and holds an MLIS from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI.

Justin Hoenke is a human being who has worked in youth services all over the United States and is currently the Executive Director of the Benson Memorial Library in Titusville, Pennsylvania. Before that, he was Coordinator of Teen Services at the Chattanooga Public Library in Chattanooga, TN where Justin created The 2nd Floor, a 14,000 square foot space for ages 0-18 into a destination that brings together learning, fun, the act of creating and making, and library service. Justin is a member of the 2010 American Library Association Emerging Leaders class and was named a Library Journal Mover and Shaker in 2013. His professional interests include public libraries as community centers, working with kids, tweens, and teens, library management, video games, and creative spaces. Follow Justin on Twitter at @justinlibrarian and read his blog at http://www.justinthelibrarian.com.

Register for the Webinar

Full details
Can’t make the date but still want to join in? Registered participants will have access to the recorded webinar.

Cost:

  • LITA Member: $45
  • Non-Member: $105
  • Group: $196

Registration Information:

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

Questions or Comments?

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

Categories: Library News

There’s a reason there’s a specialized degree

Mon, 2016-01-25 15:33

I think it can be easy to look around a library — especially a smooth-running one — and forget that the work that gets done there ranges from the merely difficult to the incredibly complex. This isn’t the sort of stuff just anyone can do, no matter how well-meaning and interested they might be, which is why there are specialized degree programs designed to turn out inventive and effective experts.

I’m talking, of course, about the accountants. And computer programmers. And instructional designers. And usability experts.

And, oh, yeah, the librarians.

A double standard?

There’s a temptation among librarians (and programmers too, of course, and an awful lot of professors) to think that the world consists of two types of work:

  1. Stuff only we can do, and
  2. Everything else

If I were to head off to a library school for a semester and take a single course on cataloging, my colleagues would be understandably worried about dropping me next to the ILS with a stack of new books. A single group project looking broadly at research methodologies doesn’t qualify me for … well, for anything, inside the library or not.

But I often see librarians with only half a semester of programming, or a survey course on usability testing (never mind actual UX), or experience in a group project where they got stuck with the title Project Manager take on (or, often, be thrust into) actual professional roles to do those things.

The unspoken, de facto standard seems to be, “We can teach a librarian to do anything, but we can’t or won’t teach anyone else to do Real Librarian work.”

Subject-matter expertise is not overall expertise

I’m lucky enough to work in a ginormous academic library, where we’re not afraid to hire specialists when warranted. And yet, even here, there persists the curious belief that librarians can and often should do just about everything.

This leads me to what I believe is a Truth That Must Be Spoken:

A committee of four interested and well-meaning librarians is not equivalent to a trained expert with actual education and experience.

There’s a reason most disciplines separate out the “subject-matter expert” (SME) from the other work. Instructional Designers are trained to do analysis, study users and measure outcomes, and work with a SME to incorporate their knowledge into a useful instructional product. The world at large differentiates between web design, content management, and quality assurance. And the first time you work with a real project manager, you’ll come to the stark realization that you’ve never before worked with a real project manager, because the experience is transformative.

Knowing the content and culture makes you a necessary part of a complete intervention. It doesn’t make you the only necessary part.

A question of value

“But Bill,” you’re saying after doing a quick check to see what my name is, “we don’t have the money to hire experts in everything, and besides, we’re dedicated to growing those sorts of expertise within the library profession.”

I’m not against that — who could be against that? But I do worry that it exemplifies an attitude that the value the library really offers is essentially embodied in the sorts of things librarians have been doing for a century or more — things that only librarians can do — and everything else that happens in a library adds notable but ultimately marginal value to the patrons.

That’s not true. The website, the instructional and outreach activities, increasingly complicated management, and (the big one these days) contract negotiation with vendors are all hugely important to the library, and arguably have a much bigger impact on the patrons as a group than, say, face-to-face reference work, or original cataloging. I know our digital environment is used orders of magnitude more than our physical plant, up to and including the actual librarians. Not all users are (or should be) valued equally, but when the zeros start stacking up like that, you should at least take a hard look at where your resources are being spent compared to where your patrons are deriving most of the value.

It’s great if you can get a librarian with the skills needed to excel at these “other” things. But when you put a near-novice in charge of something, you’re implicitly saying two things:

  1. This isn’t all that important to do well or quickly, which you can tell because we put you, a novice, in charge of it, and
  2. The work you were doing before isn’t that important, because we’re willing to pay you to try to learn all this stuff on-the-job instead of whatever you were doing before.

If there’s an eyes-wide-open assessment of the needs of the institution and they decide in favor of internal training, then that’s great. What I’m railing against is starting a project/program/whatever with the implicit attitude that the “library part” is specialized and hard, and that we don’t really care if everything else is done well, agilely, and quickly, because it’s essentially window dressing.

What to do?

Unfortunately, librarianship is, as a discipline, constantly under attack by people looking for a simple way to cut costs. I worry this has the unfortunate side effect of causing librarians as a culture to close ranks. One way this manifests itself is by many institutions requiring an MLS for just about any job in the library. I don’t think that’s in anyone’s interest.

Are you better off hiring another librarian, or a programmer? Should you move someone off their duties to do system administration (almost certainly badly), or should you cut something else and outsource it? Do you have any idea at all if your instructional interventions have lasting impact? If not, maybe it’s time to hire someone to help you find out.

The days when the quality of a library’s services depended almost exclusively on the librarians and the collection are behind us. It take a complex, heterogenous set of knowledge and expertise to provide the best service you can for as many patrons as you can. And maybe, just maybe, the best way to gather those skills is to hire some non-librarians and take advantage of what they know.

Librarians deserve to be valued for their expertise, education, and experience. So does everyone else.

Categories: Library News

Which Test for Which Data, a new LITA web course

Mon, 2016-01-25 11:25

Here’s the first web course in the LITA spring 2016 offerings:
Which Test for Which Data: Statistics at the Reference Desk

Instructor: Rachel Williams, PhD student in the School of Library and Information Studies at UW-Madison

Offered: February 29 – March 31, 2016
A Moodle based web course with asynchronous weekly content lessons, tutorials, assignments, and group discussion.

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

This web course is designed to help librarians faced with statistical questions at the reference desk. Whether assisting a student reading through papers or guiding them when they brightly ask “Can I run a t-test on this?”, librarians will feel more confident facing statistical questions. This course will be ideal for library professionals who are looking to expand their knowledge of statistical methods in order to provide assistance to students who may use basic statistics in their courses or research. Students taking the course should have a general understanding of mean, median, and mode.

Takeaways:

  • Develop knowledge related to statistical concepts, including basic information on what the goals of statistical tests are and which kinds of data scales are associated with each, with a focus on t-tests, correlations, and chi-square tests.
  • Explore different kinds of statistical tests and increase ability to discern between the utility of different types of statistical tests and why one may be more appropriate than another.
  • Increase literacy in evaluating and describing statistical research that uses t-tests, correlations, and chi-square tests.
  • Improve confidence in answering questions about statistical tests in a reference setting, including explaining tests and results and assisting users in determining which statistical tests are appropriate for a dataset. Helping others analyze graphical representations of statistics.

Here’s the Course Page

Rachel Williams is a PhD student in the School of Library and Information Studies at UW-Madison. Rachel has several years of experience in public and academic libraries and is passionate about research design and methods. She has also taught courses at SLIS on database design, metadata, and social media in information agencies. Rachel’s research explores the constraints and collaborations public libraries operate within to facilitate access to health information and services for the homeless.

Dates:

February 29 – March 31, 2016

Costs:

  • 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)
OR
Mail or fax form to ALA Registration
OR
call 1-800-545-2433 and press 5
OR
email registration@ala.org

Questions or Comments?

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

Categories: Library News

A Linked Data Journey: Survey of Publishing Strategies

Fri, 2016-01-22 12:11

Image Courtesy of Shelly under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Introduction

Happy Friday everyone! This is part five of my Linked Data Series. You can find the previous posts by going to my author page. Last week I was fortunate enough to attend Mashcat 2016 in Boston. It was a wonderful one-day conference. We had some very interesting conversations aimed at breaking down communication barriers in libraries (archives and museums), and I was able to meet some fantastic professionals (and students).

In addition to attending, I also presented a talk titled Finding Aid-LD: Implementing Linked Data in a Finding Aid Environment (slides). During the presentation I identified various Linked Data publishing strategies that are currently being implemented. I thought this would be a neat topic to post here as well, so today I’m going to give you the deets on Linked Data publishing strategies.

Survey of Publishing Strategies

Note that these strategies are not mutually exclusive. You can combine these strategies for any particular solution.

Data Dump

Details
A data dump is a zipped file or set of files that contain the complete dataset of a provider.

Use-case
Somebody wants to download a provider’s full dataset for research, reuse, etc.

Examples

Subject Pages

Details
A subject page is a document or set of documents that contain all the data about a resource. Subject pages are very similar to traditional metadata records. Common practice is to use content negotiation so that when you go to a URI, the URI will redirect to a human-readable or machine-readable document based on the HTTP ACCEPT header. A newer and increasingly popular practice is to embed RDFa into HTML documents. Google and the other big search engines index RDFa and other types of embedded metadata. RDFa is becoming an added layer to content negotiation, and in many cases an alternative altogether.

Use-case
A person wants to dereference a resource URI and discover new knowledge by browsing through resource links.

Examples

Triplestores and SPARQL Endpoints

Details
Triplestores are databases for storing RDF triples/data. SPARQL is a query language for RDF and most commonly accesses RDF data through triplestores. SPARQL can run very complex, semantic queries on RDF and can infer new knowledge based on the complex queries. A SPARQL endpoint is a server access point that you go to to run queries on a triplestore.

Use-cases
A researcher wants to run complex, semantic querying of the data. A reference librarian needs to perform a complex query during a reference session.

Examples

Software

Triple Pattern Fragments

Details
A relatively new strategy is through Triple Pattern Fragments (TPF). TPF aims to be an efficient solution for querying RDF data (you can read more about what I mean here). TPF breaks queries down into triple patterns (subject predicate object). Example:

Give me all the resources whose birthName is “Christopher Frank Carandini Lee”.
?subject <http://dbpedia.org/ontology/birthName> "Christopher Frank Carandini Lee"

Software
There are currently two types of TPF software: TPF servers and TPF clients. The server runs simple triple pattern queries as shown above. The client uses triple pattern queries to run complex, SPARQL-like queries. According to their website, TPF clients have lower server cost and higher availability when compared to SPARQL endpoints, which means that the former might be a good alternative to the latter. The only caveat is that a TPF client uses more bandwidth and has a higher client cost.

Linked Data API

Details
A Linked Data API is an effort to transform complex RDF data into simple RESTful APIs. The only such software that I’ve found is aptly named Linked Data API. According to the documentation, Linked Data API is an API layer that sits on top of a SPARQL endpoint. It can generate documents (subject pages) and run “sophisticated queries” (though, I don’t think they can be as complex as SPARQL queries). I’ll confess that this strategy is the one I’m least knowledgeable about, so please feel free to delve into the documentation.

Related Resources Conclusion

I hope this gives you a good idea of the plethora of ways to publish Linked Data. If you know of any others please list them in the comments. As always, I invite you to post questions and comments below or send them to me via email. Thanks for reading!

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Categories: Library News

Jobs in Information Technology: January 20, 2016

Thu, 2016-01-21 10:53

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:

Whatcom County Library System, Online Experience Coordinator, Bellingham, WA

California State University, Sacramento, Head of Library Information Systems, Sacramento, CA

Penn State University Libraries, Cataloging and Metadata Services, Special Collections Cataloging Librarian, University Park, PA

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

Categories: Library News

6 Design Resources for Librarians

Wed, 2016-01-20 06:00

There’s one little bullet point at the end of my job description that reads: Participate in curation of digital displays, and use social media tools and outlets for promotion of library resources, collections, and services. I love graphic design and take every opportunity to flex my Photoshop muscles, but I know that not everyone shares my enthusiasm. Whether it’s in your job description or not, at some point you’ll find yourself designing a research poster, slide deck, workshop flyer, social media banner, or book display. When the time comes, here’s a list of resources that are guaranteed to help conquer design anxiety.

COLOR
Creating a color palette is not my strong suit, so I rely on the web to find inspiration. My favorite site right now is the Swiss Style Color Picker. It’s quality over quantity, so you won’t find a ton of options, but the presentation is flawless and interactive too. Click on your color of choice and it automatically copies the hexadecimal code to your clipboard.ICONS
Icons are the new clipart! The Noun Project is a massive collection of graphics that you can use for free if you properly attribute the designer. You can download an image file or vector graphic; which means you can scale it up or down without losing quality.

INSPIRATION
Do I need to say it? Pinterest is perfect for this kind of thing. Whenever I start a project, the first thing I do is create a Pinterest board to find a general direction for my design. If you simply browse through the Graphic Design category, you’re sure to find plenty of inspiration.FONTS
There are plenty of places to find free fonts online, but I’m partial to DaFont. It’s easy to browse their categories (sans serif, calligraphy, typewriter, etc.) and you can enter your own custom text to preview multiple typefaces at once. Biko and Angelface are my current favorites.SHAPES
Designing with simple shapes can be very effective. Philographics: Big Ideas in Simple Shapes by Genis Carreras is a perfect example of what’s possible when you pair up, duplicate, and overlap shapes. The result can be stronger than an image and easier to manipulate.IMAGES
Just in case you missed all the commotion, the New York Public Library just released a whole heap of public domain images on their Digital Collections site. If you’ve ever tried to play by the rules when using images you find online, you know it’s an uphill battle. Not to worry, there’s plenty of gems here. And just when you think it can’t get any sweeter; they’ve even curated a collection with designers in mind.

And sometimes I use all of these resources in tandem. Case in point, the collage I used to kick off this post was created using “Clark, Madeline” from the NYPL Digital Collections, “MERS#3, Seoul Metropolitan Library” from Flickr user Tai-Jan Huang, and “Book” by David Marioni from the Noun Project.

Where do you find design inspiration?

Categories: Library News

Express Your Shelf

Mon, 2016-01-18 09:00

This won’t be the first time I ever admit this, nor will it be the last, but boy am I out of touch.

I’m more than familiar with the term “selfie”, which is when you take a photo of yourself. Heck, my profile pictures on Facebook, Twitter, and even here on LITA Blog are selfies. As much as I try to put myself above the selfie fray, I find myself smack in the middle of it. (I vehemently refuse to get a selfie stick, though. Just…no.)

But I’d never heard of this “shelfie” phenomenon. Well, I have, but apparently there’s more than one definition. I had to go to Urban Dictionary, that proving ground for my “get off my yard”-ness, to learn it’s a picture of your bookshelf, apparently coined by author Rick Riordan. But I was under the impression that a shelfie is where you take a picture of yourself with a book over your face. Like so:

Promo poster for bookstore Mint Vinetu

But apparently that’s called “book face”, so I’m still wrong.

Also, I just found out there’s an app called Shelfie, which lets you take a picture of your bookshelf and matches your books with free or low-cost digital version (an e-ternative, if you will).

All along, you see, I thought a shelfie was when you took a picture of yourself with your favorite book in front of your bookshelf (because selfie + shelf = selfie?), but it’s just of your bookshelf, not you. Apparently I’m vainer than I thought.

Here’s my version of a shelfie:

I never could get the hang of Thursdays.

Regardless, it’s a cool idea to share our books with our friends, to find out what each other is reading, or just to show off how cool our bookshelves look (and believe me, I’m jealous of a few of you). There are other ways to be social about your books – Goodreads and Library Thing come to mind – but this is a unique way to do it if you don’t use either one.

What does your shelfie look like?

Categories: Library News

Jobs in Information Technology: January 13, 2016

Wed, 2016-01-13 15:22

New vacancy listings are posted weekly on Wednesday at approximately 12 noon Central Time. They appear under New This Week and under the appropriate regional listing. Postings remain on the LITA Job Site for a minimum of four weeks.

New This Week:

Princeton University Library, Librarian for Reference & Research Services and Gender & Sexuality Studies – Requisition #160001, Princeton, NJ

Colorado State University Libraries, Data Management Specialist, Fort Collins, CO

Western Washington University, Director of Teaching & Learning and the Learning Commons, Bellingham, WA

City of Phoenix, Library Department, Librarian II, Phoenix, AZ

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

Categories: Library News

Brave New Workplace: Your Homegrown CRM

Mon, 2016-01-11 07:02
A CRM empowers you to find connections between your users/patrons.

What is a CRM? For starters, an excellent starting point for this installment of Brave New Workplace. A CRM is a Customer Relationship Management database, a record management system comprised of different record levels from individual to organization, with entries and fields for interactions and transactions and notes. CRMs provide essential business intelligence to a company, nonprofit, or even (you guessed it) library.

As a new hire, you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of information you receive at first. A CRM can help you organize information by contact, associating workflows, projects, committee information, research interests and more with the relevant colleague. By categorizing and tagging colleagues, you can identify overlaps of interest and synergies.

CRMs are used for a variety of purposes, including communications automation and e-commerce. For our purposes, I suggest treating it as an repository resource, where your contacts and their research interests, collection needs, important emails and documents, and personal notes can be organized and stored. You can also use it to export reports and gauge your own performance. This is a powerful tool to have when you come on-board at a library, and when you organize your thoughts around your workplace relationships, you may find it easier to identify collaborators in interdepartmental efforts.

Example: When you meet a new librarian from Wake Forest at a conference, you can tie their individual record to that institution, and when they accept a position at UNC, you can record that move in your CRM while still having the history of what came before.

Many CRMs are designed with large-scale enterprise in mind- unless your library or department is looking to adopt a system, you’ll want to steer clear of these solutions which were designed with multiple data entrants and a system administrator in mind. It’s also important to remember that because CRMs are designed for a sales environment, some of the terminology (including customers) may seem at first glance inappropriate. Don’t let the standard terminology deter you from taking advantage of a powerful tool.

Capsule CRM

For myself, and for you, I’d suggest a single-user cloud-based CRM. You have a few options to choose from, many designed with social media integration in mind. I have been using Capsule since I began work at the University of Houston. It’s mobile friendly- always handy in meetings with vendors or when traveling at conferences.

You could also consider Radium, Humin, or ZOHO CRM. Pick what strikes your fancy! Be aware that as with all “free” options on the internet, it may eventually move to a paid model.

Capsule has easy options for importing CSV files of contacts, which I exported from both my Outlook email and my LinkedIn contacts. In addition, individual records can be entered by hand. As a general rule, I’d suggest a big upload of your contacts to start, with individual entry as an ongoing means of managing and cleaning your database.

Search and Find by Any Text Entry

Think of a CRM as a complement to any collaborative organizational project management tools you may use. A CRM can allow you to save important emails, notes, and project information to individual contact records.

Tasks in my CRM

Perhaps the greatest benefit of the CRM is the ease with which I can attach vendor contacts to a central vendor account. Essentially, being able to have all my Ebsco contacts in an Ebsco folder, with their titles and my notes, is the gift that keeps on giving.

Ebsco Account Record in my CRM

Another benefit of Capsule is that it is free for up to two “users,” which means that I can share access to my vendor contacts through a general login. This gives others the opportunity benefit from the CRM, and makes the CRM additionally functional as a sort of shared rolodex.

The more time you spend within your CRM, the more you’ll be able to tweak its functions and categories to make them useful. If you let a CRM languish, its information will soon become out-of-date. Remember, your data is only as good as your data management!

Here we are at the end of my Brave New Workplace series, and I hardly know how to end it. It’s been an awesome experience learning and hearing from all of you, LITA Blog readers. As we all continue to grow and learn in our respective workplaces, I hope to update and return to this series with ongoing suggestions. Thank you for your support! Tech on!

 

 

Categories: Library News

Flexing your instructional muscles: using technology to extend your reach beyond the classroom

Fri, 2016-01-08 12:53

We’re in the midst of re-thinking our entire Information Literacy curriculum, and I’ve been waxing philosophical on the role technology will play into this new and uncharted land. The new Framework for Information Literacy has thrown the instructional library world into a tizzy. We are all grappling with everything from understanding the threshold concepts themselves to determining how to best teach them. We’ve done this all along of course with the previous Standards for Information Literacy, but there’s something about this new incarnation that seems to perplex and challenge at the same time.

For me, the biggest revelation was the idea that we could no longer rely on the traditional 50 minute one-shot to cover all of these concepts in one fell swoop. But wait, you might say, we never did that before either! That may be true, but there was something comforting and decidedly familiar in that set of neatly laid out outcomes that one could follow almost like a recipe to make one feel as though it could be accomplished in one sitting and more importantly, the students would be able to learn it. I’m the first to admit that it was easy for me to fall into this pattern and I was so focused on making that one interaction perfect, that I didn’t really think much about what happened before or after it.

And perhaps it’s purely a placebo effect at play here, but the framework turned on a light bulb for me that had previously remained unlit. Of course you cannot cover everything there is to know about Information Literacy in one session! Readers might be tearing their hair out right now and yelling at the screen that this a very obvious observation. And perhaps it is, but it’s helped me to realize how important the role technology plays in all of this to help us think beyond the one shot.

There’s been a ton of discussion about the benefits of the flipped classroom before students even see you so that you can dispense with the more mundane elements and cover the good stuff in class. But what happens after that? What if you don’t have a chance to assess that class or ever talk to those students again? What I’m really talking about is the post instruction flip. With this model, you still retain the one-shot format (because it’s still very much part of our instructional reality), but the conceptual underpinnings of the framework can now be stretched out across the entire semester and the online content can help you maintain a presence and still deliver the needed information.

Challenges and Opportunities

Two major obstacles might present themselves in your minds at this point: the willingness of the faculty to let your virtual presence linger and a lack of resources. As I think I’ve mentioned in other posts, piloting is often the key to success. Work with a few faculty who you know will be willing to let you post or send additional learning objects after the session with their students is over and who will ensure that they take it seriously by making it an actual part of the assignment. Modular objects work well for this reason and can cover both more abstract ideas as well as more point and click type skills. Assessment will also be crucial here and if you can compare the results of students who had access to this online content to those who didn’t, that will help you scale up this model especially if the scores show a positive difference. A final component to overcoming this first issue is that of integration with the course. This is where you will have to decide what needs to go online and at what point, how it should be accessed, and all the surrounding logistics. This will require collaboration, ongoing discussion, and some tailoring of content depending on the assignment and the pace of the course. This whole idea is especially important if you don’t have a large staff on hand and you want to concentrate your efforts to those very important in-person interactions and let the virtual content help with the rest.

What if you don’t have an unlimited amount of money and staff time to create an amazing tutorial? There are free tools out there that don’t require too much of a learning curve-for example, Blendspace allows you to drag and drop content from other sources in the form of tiles that can be mixed and matched. In addition to the built in quiz option, there’s a feature that allows students to tell you if they understood the content or not and provides yet another opportunity for you to provide feedback and clarification.

Blubbr TV is a trivia-type tool that allows you to append questions to video clips. Although it’s meant to foster team-based competition, it’s an easy way to assess comprehension of basic concepts. So if a student had watched a video on Boolean operators, you wouldn’t need to include that as part of your assessment, because you would already know how he/she did and could address issues much more quickly and directly.

I do want to make a side point here, so please bear with me. The idea is not so much that you are using these tools to help you assess student learning-there are many ways to do that which don’t require technology and many that do, but rather that you are using these resources to help you provide additional support for students as they’re going through the entire process not simply at an arbitrary point in time chosen by the faculty member because it works with the schedule. Too often we feel compelled to create an entire tutorial that covers everything and we get overwhelmed with the details and the potential cost either in staff time or software, but with this model you’re not trying to recreate the one-shot online, rather enrich and broaden it.

A final tip is to get to know your campus instructional technologist and/or designer. He/she can help point you in the right direction, whether it’s about a new tool you might not have seen before or simply a pedagogical approach to maximize the benefit of your online resources. More and more I find myself turning to this field for inspiration and ideas and am finding applications for instructional tools and activities I didn’t consider before simply by looking outside the library.

Conclusion

Now that I’ve thoroughly vexed you with my musings, it was all to say that technology is going to become even more important as we continue to explore the complexities of the framework and delve into its intricate layers. Using online tools will not always alleviate our time and staffing issues, but it should help us to continue working with students well beyond the time we see them and hopefully it will provide, perhaps ironically, greater individualized interaction at the point of need, and help us realize that the one-shot is not the end, but rather just the beginning.

*Images taken from Pixabay

Categories: Library News

A Linked Data Journey: Interview with Julie Hardesty

Thu, 2016-01-07 09:00

Image Courtesy of Marcin Wichary under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Introduction

This is part four of my Linked Data Series. You can find the previous posts in my author feed. I hope everyone had a great holiday season. Are you ready for some more Linked Data goodness? Last semester I had the pleasure of interviewing Julie Hardesty, metadata extraordinaire (and analyst) at Indiana University, about Hydra, the Hydra Metadata Interest Group, and Linked Data. Below is a bio and a transcript of the interview.

Bio:

Julie Hardesty is the Metadata Analyst at Indiana University Libraries. She manages metadata creation and use for digital library services and projects. She is reachable at jlhardes@iu.edu.

The Interview

Can you tell us a little about the Hydra platform?

Sure and thanks for inviting me to answer questions for the LITA Blog about Hydra and Linked Data! Hydra is a technology stack that involves several pieces of software – a Blacklight search interface with a Ruby on Rails framework and Apache Solr index working on top of the Fedora Commons digital repository system. Hydra is also referred to when talking about the open source community that works to develop this software into different packages (called “Hydra Heads”) that can be used for management, search, and discovery of different types of digital objects. Examples of Hydra Heads that have come out of the Hydra Project so far include Avalon Media System for time-based media and Sufia for institutional repository-style collections.

What is the Hydra Metadata Interest Group and your current role in the group?

The Hydra Metadata Interest Group is a group within the Hydra Project that is aiming to provide metadata recommendations and best practices for Hydra Heads and Hydra implementations so that every place implementing Hydra can do things the same way using the same ontologies and working with similar base properties for defining and describing digital objects. I am the new facilitator for the group and try to keep the different working groups focused on deliverables and responding to the needs of the Hydra developer community. Previous to me, Karen Estlund from Penn State University served as facilitator. She was instrumental in organizing this group and the working groups that produced the recommendations we have so far for technical metadata and rights metadata. In the near-ish future, I am hoping we’ll see a recommendation for baseline descriptive metadata and a recommendation for referring to segments within a digitized file, regardless of format.

What is the group’s charge and/or purpose? What does the group hope to achieve?

The Hydra Metadata Interest Group is interested in working together on base metadata recommendations, as a possible next step of the successful community data modeling, Portland Common Data Model. The larger goals of the Metadata Interest Group are to identify models that may help Hydra newcomers and further interoperability among Hydra projects. The scope of this group will concentrate primarily on using Fedora 4. The group is ambitiously interested in best practices and helping with technical, structural, descriptive, and rights metadata, as well as Linked Data Platform (LDP) implementation issues.

The hope is to make recommendations for technical, rights, descriptive, and structural metadata such that the Hydra software developed by the community uses these best practices as a guide for different Hydra Heads and their implementations.

Can you speak about how Hydra currently leverages linked data technologies?

This is where keeping pace with the work happening in the open source community is critical and sometimes difficult to do if you are not an active developer. What I understand is that Fedora 4 implements the W3C’s Linked Data Platform specification and uses the Portland Common Data Model (PCDM) for structuring digital objects and relationships between them (examples include items in a collection, pages in a book, tracks on a CD). This means there are RDF statements that are completely made of URIs (subject, predicate, and object) that describe how digital objects relate to each other (things like objects that contain other objects; objects that are members of other objects; objects ordered in a particular way within other objects). This is Linked Data, although at this point I think I see it as more internal Linked Data. The latest development work from the Hydra community is using those relationships through the external triple store to send commands to Fedora for managing digital objects through a Hydra interface. There is an FAQ on Hydra and the Portland Common Data Model that is being kept current with these efforts. One outcome would be digital objects that can be shared at least between Hydra applications.

For descriptive metadata, my understanding is that Hydra is not quite leveraging Linked Data… yet. If URIs are used in RDF statements that are stored in Fedora, Hydra software is currently still working through the issue of translating that URI to show the appropriate label in the end user interface, unless that label is also stored within the triple store. That is actually a focus of one of the metadata working groups, the Applied Linked Data Working Group.

What are some future, anticipated capabilities regarding Hydra and linked data?

That capability I was just referring to is one thing I think everyone hopes happens soon. Once URIs can be stored for all parts of a statement, such as “this photograph has creator Charles W. Cushman,” and Charles W. Cushman only needs to be represented in the Fedora triple store as a URI but can show in the Hydra end-user interface as “Charles W. Cushman” – that might spawn some unicorns and rainbows.

Another major effort in the works is implementing PCDM in Hydra. Implementation work is happening right now on the Sufia Hydra Head with a base implementation called Curation Concerns being incorporated into the main Hydra software stack as its own Ruby gem. This involves Fedora 4’s understanding of PCDM classes and properties on objects (and implementing Linked Data Platform and ordering ontologies in addition to the new PCDM ontology). Hydra then has to offer interfaces so that digital objects can be organized and managed in relation to each other using this new data model. It’s pretty incredible to see an open source community working through all of these complicated issues and creating new possibilities for digital object management.

What challenges has the Hydra Metadata Interest Group faced concerning linked data?

We have an interest in making use of Linked Data principles as much as possible since that makes our digital collections that much more available and useful to the Internet world. Our recommendations are based around various RDF ontologies due to Fedora 4’s capabilities to handle RDF. The work happening in the Hydra Descriptive Metadata Working Group to define a baseline descriptive metadata set and the ontologies used there will be the most likely to want Linked Data URIs used as much as possible for those statements. It’s not an easy task to agree on a baseline set of descriptive metadata for various digital object types but there is precedence in both the Europeana Data Model and the DPLA Application Profile. I would expect we’ll follow along similar lines but it is a process to both reach consensus and have something that developers can use.

Do you have any advice for those interested in linked data?

I am more involved in the world of RDF than in the world of Linked Data at this point. Using RDF like we do in Hydra does not mean we are creating Linked Data. I think Linked Data comes as a next step after working in RDF. I am coming from a metadata world heavily involved in XML and XML schemas so to me this isn’t about getting started with Linked Data, it’s about understanding how to transition from XML to Linked Data (by way of RDF). I watch for reports on creating Linked Data and, more importantly, transitioning to Linked Data from current metadata standards and formats. Conferences such as Code4Lib (coming up in March 2016 in Philadelphia), Open Repositories (in Dublin, Ireland in June 2016) and the Digital Library Federation Forum (in Milwaukee in November 2016) are having a lot of discussion about this sort of work.

Is there anything we can do locally to prepare for linked data?

Recommended steps I have gleaned so far include cleaning the metadata you have now – syncing up names of people, places, and subjects so they are spelled and named the same across records; adding authority URIs whenever possible, this makes transformation to RDF with URIs easier later; and considering the data model you will move to when describing things using RDF. If you are using XML schemas right now, there isn’t necessarily a 1:1 relationship between XML schemas and RDF ontologies so it might require introducing multiple RDF ontologies and creating a local namespace for descriptions that involve information that is unique to your institution (you become the authority). Lastly, keep in mind the difference between Linked Data and Linked Open Data and be sure if you are getting into publishing Linked Data sets that you are making them available for reuse and aggregation – it’s the entire point of the Web of Data that was imagined by Tim Berners-Lee when he first discussed Linked Data and RDF (http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/LinkedData.html).

Conclusion

A big thank you to Julie for sharing her experiences and knowledge. She provided a plethora of resources during the interview, so go forth and explore! As always, please feel free to leave a comment or contact Julie/me privately. Until next time!

Categories: Library News

Jobs in Information Technology: January 6, 2016

Wed, 2016-01-06 19:38

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:

Cadence Group, Metadata and Systems Librarian, Greenbelt, MD

California State University, Fullerton, Systems Librarian, Fullerton, CA

The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc., Manager, Library & Information Management Services, Ardmore, OK

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

Categories: Library News

3D Printer Handyman’s Toolbox

Wed, 2016-01-06 08:00

On this site, we have discussed how 3D Printers can enhance various aspects of your library’s programming and how to create important partnerships for implementation. Indeed, 3D Printers can improve the library experience for all involved. However, what happens when that printer comes to a screeching/beeping halt? After two years of maintaining our printers, Makerbot Replicator 2 and Tinkerine Ditto Pro, and thanks to the kind donations of library patrons, I have assembled a toolbox that has eased daily maintenance and disassembly.

The post is broken up into sections covering tools for the following aspects:

Each section also looks at pricing for these tools and alternatives.

Tools for: Plate THE TAPE

Not all of us can afford to wait for flexible platforms and we must make do with laying down some painter’s tape to ease the object removal. At first we would use standard-sized tape which would require about 8 strips to fully cover either platform. A few months ago someone graciously donated a roll of 3M ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape Superwide Roll that has made it just a two strip process:

As you can see, the Superwide covers the majority of the Makerbot plate and a single strip of regular sized painter’s tape finishes the job.

Layout is also important. We place the thinner strip at the forefront where both printers clear their extruders before starting a print job. This allows us to replace the highly-used section of the platform at near daily intervals while the larger portion is only replaced when there is significant wear. This is also a cost saving measure as the Superwide variety can be nearly $50 per roll, and minimizing its replacement is vital. Utilizing this method allows me to stretch two rolls for four months, despite the printers actively printing out 3-4 jobs per day. If you are tight for funds, there is also 3DXTech’s XL Blue Painters Tape worth considering, which is half the price but with mixed reviews.

THE SCRAPER

Both of our printers use PLA 1.75MM filament and while that does give some flexibility in removing items from the platform, it can still be a pain to remove flat thin objects. Paint scraper to the rescue! At first we tried a cheap plastic scraper set (the red ones) but their edges were too soft. Upgrading to a metal 1.5 inch scraper provided much better results. While it does have a tendency to damage the tape, thus reducing the re-usability of said tape, it provided enough strength to wedge a gap in mere seconds. As for pricing, metal 1.5 inch scrapers can be found for less than $5.

Tools for: Fine Tuning Prints

For print jobs that required a bit of polish, we turned to three trusty friends: scissors, X-ACTO knife, and sandpaper.

The small scissor allows you to cut through thin pieces, such as supports or excess filament. The X-ACTO knife is called in for situations like stubborn raft pieces. Finally, the sandpaper can smooth out imperfections. Combined, all three will give your print a much finer look and prevent broken nails. Additionally, all of these pieces are easy to come by and should be no more than a few dollars each.

Tools for: Gripping

These tools are recommended for any situation that requires a delicate and firm grip. For the most part this occurs when small bits of filament are left in and around the extruder. In these situations we use a wide range of tweezers and pincers. These tools are easily found in any craft store or online. We found the flat head tweezers to provide the best grip on filament. Once again, these tools are quite affordable at around $3-5 each. Pick up one for now and add to your collection as required.

 

Tools for: Disassembly

The web will likely have an abundance of video and text resources on how to fix the exact issue for your printer. Avoid the temptation of these “quick fixes” first and check your manufacturer’s support site. I found quite a few answers to our Makerbot2 problems on their excellent support site. However, you should also be aware that the day will come when you will need to disassemble the magical device.

For the most part, 3D Printers come with everything you need. What they can lack are clear instructions on how to disassemble, let alone what tools you need, and even such great resources as ifixit.com fail to cover this vital maintenance aspect. It should be noted that the following tools are only needed if your warranty is already void. Some provider’s warranties will not even let you disassemble simple housing areas. Read those warranty guidelines that might be conveniently located in the bottom of the now discarded box, or on their support sites. All clear?

SCREWDRIVERS – Phillips & Flathead

Alright, so the first thing you want to purchase is a screwdriver set that contains a variety of bit sizes. This allows you to tackle devices whose manufacturer decided that a different size was required for the shell, extruder, panels, board, and warning label. Again, you should really read any and all support documentation before attempting to use these tools. Our aptly named Precision Screwdriver Set, which covers 1.0mm through 3.0mm, has opened up a few areas on the machines. Just do a quick search on Amazon and find a set that fits your budget and needs, such as the $7 Herco HE826 Precision Screwdriver Set or $5 for the Stanley 66-039 6-Piece Set.

SCREWDRIVERS – Hex

We also ran into areas, namely the extruder, which required a screwdriver with hex bits. For these advanced areas (did I mention you should really read those support documents?) we turned to the 54 Bit Driver Kit from iFixit.com’s store. This set also includes a flexible driver that made it easy to work with in the printer’s cramped areas.

The set is perfect for 3D Printers as it also contains flathead and Phillips bits of all sizes. It can easily cover the majority of your disassembly needs. At $25 it is definitely the pricier of the three sets but I highly recommend it due to the quality of the tools and the diverse sizes.

Final Cost

After all that, you are probably asking yourself: “how much is this going to cost me?” Let me break it down for you in a handy table.

RECOMMENDED TOOLBOX Item

Cost

3M ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape Superwide Roll

$50

Metal 1.5 inch Scraper

$5

Small Scissor

$5

X-Acto #2 Knife

$6

Flat Tweezer

$5

54 Bit Driver Kit

$25

 

$96

ALTERNATIVE TOOLBOX

Item

Cost

3DXTech’s XL Blue Painters Tape

$25

Metal 1.5 inch Scraper

$5

Small Scissor

$5

X-Acto #2 Knife

$6

Flat Tweezer

$5

Stanley 66-039 6-Piece Screwdriver Set

$6

 

$52

The contents and size of your 3D Printer Toolbox will come down to your needs and the model you use. I am allowed some freedom in dissembling our printers to fix small issues, like filament jams, and the high use of our machines means I am changing out the plate tape every few hours. Both of these requirements are reflected in the higher quality (and thus higher priced) emphasis of the plate and disassembly sections. You might find that your printer needs finer tweezers to reach certain areas and for other functions. A 3D Printer is a massive financial and time investment, so remember to save some funds to ease your interaction with them.

Categories: Library News

LITA Spring Online Learning Opportunities

Tue, 2016-01-05 11:13

Registration is Now Open, for any of 3 webinars and 2 web courses. Check out the great line up.

Webinars are one time sessions lasting 60 to 90 minutes.

How Your Public Library Can Inspire the Next Tech Billionaire: an Intro to Youth Coding Programs, with Kelly Smith, Crystle Martin, and Justin Hoenke
Offered: Thursday March 3, 2016, Noon Central Time
Kids, tweens, teens and their parents are increasingly interested in computer programming education, and they are looking to public and school libraries as a host for the informal learning process that is most effective for learning to code. This webinar will share lessons learned through youth coding programs at libraries all over the U.S. We will discuss tools and technologies, strategies for promoting and running the program, and recommendations for additional resources.

The Why and How of HTTPS for Libraries, with Jacob Hoffman-Andrews
Offered: Monday March 14, 2016, 1:00 pm Central Time
As more of our library browsing occurs over the Internet, the only way to continue to preserve patron privacy is to make sure that the library catalog and database traffic that travels between a web browser and a server remains encrypted. This webinar will discuss how encrypted websites work, and demonstrate exciting tools from the Electronic Frontier Foundation that make it easy to encrypt library websites by default.

Yes You Can Video, with Anne Burke, and Andreas Orphanides
Offered: Tuesday April 12, 2016, 1:00 pm Central Time
Have you ever wanted to create an engaging and educational instructional video, but felt like you didn’t have the time, ability, or technology? Are you perplexed by all the moving parts that go into creating an effective tutorial? This webinar will help to demystify the process, breaking it down into easy-to-follow steps, and provide a variety of technical approaches suited to a range of skill sets. They will cover choosing and scoping your topic, scripting and storyboarding, producing the video, and getting it online. They will also address common pitfalls at each stage.

Web Courses use a multiple week asynchronous format.

Which Test for Which Data: Statistics at the Reference Desk, with Rachel Williams
Starting Monday February 29, 2016, running for 4 weeks
This web course is designed to help librarians faced with statistical questions at the reference desk. Whether assisting a student reading through papers or guiding them when they brightly ask “Can I run a t-test on this?”, librarians will feel more confident facing statistical questions.

Universal Design for Libraries and Librarians, with Jessica Olin, and Holly Mabry
Starting Monday April 11, 2016, running for 6 weeks
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.

Sign up for any and all of these great sessions today.

Questions or Comments?

For all other questions or comments related to the course, contact LITA at (312) 280-4269 or Mark Beatty, mbeatty@ala.org.

Categories: Library News

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