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Empowering libraries through technology
Updated: 1 hour 49 min ago

#CoreForum2020 is now a Virtual Event!

Mon, 2020-05-11 12:15

Join your ALA colleagues from across divisions for the 2020 Forum, which is now a virtual event! 

WHERE: In light of the COVID-19 public health crisis, leadership within LITA, ALCTS, and LLAMA made the decision to move the conference online to create a safe, interactive environment accessible for all.

WHAT: Call for proposals have been extended to Friday June 12, 2020. 

WHEN: Forum is scheduled November 18 and 20, 2020

HOW: Share your ideas and experiences with library projects by submitting a talk for the inaugural event for Core:

For more information about the LITA, ALCTS, LLAMA (Core) Forum, please visit 

Categories: Library News

Jobs in Information Technology: May 6, 2020

Thu, 2020-05-07 11:30

New This Week

Visit the LITA Jobs Site for additional job openings and information on submitting your own job posting.

Categories: Library News

WFH? Boost your skill set with LITA CE!

Tue, 2020-05-05 14:44

Reserve your spot and learn new skills to enhance your career with LITA online continuing education offerings.

Buying Strategies 101 for Information Technology
Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 1:00-2:30 pm Central Time
Presenter: Michael Rodriguez, Collections Strategist at the University of Connecticut

In this 90-minute webinar, you’ll learn best practices, terminology, and concepts for effectively negotiating contracts for the purchase of information technology (IT) products and services.

View details and Register here.

Using Images from the Internet in a Webpage: How to Find and Cite
Wednesday, June 3, 2020, 2:00-3:30 pm Central Time
Presenter: Lauren Bryant, Priority Associate Librarian of Ray W. Howard Library

In this 90-minute webinar, you’ll learn practical ways to quickly find and filter creative commons licensed images online, learn how to hyperlink a citation for a website, and how to use creative commons images for thumbnails in videos and how to cite the image in unconventional situations like this.

View details and Register here.

Troublesome Technology Trends: Bridging the Learning Divide
Wednesday, June 17, 2020, 1:00-2:30 pm Central Time
Presenters: Callan Bignoli, Director of the Library at the Olin College of Engineering and T.J. Lamanna, Adult Services Librarian at Cherry Hill Public Library 

In this 90-minute webinar, you’ll learn how to make a difference through democracy, identify insidious threats surveillance capitalism poses to our patrons, the use of third-party trackers on library websites, and publishers trying to staunch subscription losses by collecting and selling user data.

View details and Register here.

Check out the LITA latest eLearning lineup and get details on courses that boost your skill set!

Can’t attend the live event? No problem! Register and you’ll receive a link to the recording.

Questions or Comments?

For all other questions or comments related to LITA continuing education, contact us at

Categories: Library News

May 5/1 Twitter #LITAchat

Thu, 2020-04-30 13:23

Last week, Anne Pepitone kicked off the discussion with Zoom Virtual Backgrounds, shared her favorites, and provided tips on how to use them.

The next Twitter #LITAchat will be on Friday, May 1, from 12-1pm Central Time when we’ll talk about apps that help you work from home.

What do you use to help with project management, time management, deadlines, or to just stay focused? We invite you to join us tomorrow to share, learn, and chat about it with your colleagues.

Follow LITA on Twitter.

We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

-The LITA Membership Development Committee

Categories: Library News

Jobs in Information Technology: April 29, 2020

Wed, 2020-04-29 12:55

New This Week

Visit the LITA Jobs Site for additional job openings and information on submitting your own job posting.

Categories: Library News

Data Privacy While Working From Home

Wed, 2020-04-22 12:53

Today’s guest post is brought to you by our recent presenter, Becky Yoose. Special thanks to Becky for being willing to answer the questions we didn’t have time for during our webinar!

Hello everyone from your friendly neighborhood library data privacy consultant!

We covered a lot of material earlier this month in “A Crash Course in Protecting Library Data While Working From Home,” co-sponsored by LITA and OIF. We had a number of questions during the webinar, some of which were left unanswered at the end. Below are three questions in particular that we didn’t get to in the webinar. Enjoy!

Working from home without a web-based ILS

We don’t have a web-based version of our ILS and our County-based IT department says they can’t set up remote desktop (something to do with their firewall)… do you have any recommendations on how to advocate for remote desktop? If I have to store patron data while working from home (setting up new memberships) would you advise using GoogleSheets (cloud-based) over Excel (hard drive)?

That is a tricky situation that requires a bit of strategizing before your next ask to your IT department. Let’s break this question down to two parts:

Advocating for remote desktop

Remote desktop on its own can be a convenient way of accessing important work applications and files, but on its own can open your network to a higher risk of a breach. This might be a reason why your IT department is hesitant in setting up remote desktop for your library, and it’s a valid concern. Nonetheless, there are ways in which your IT department can protect their infrastructure while still providing remote access to the system.

One common way to protect remote desktop access is through using a virtual private network, or VPN. Ask your IT department if they have a VPN set up for other departments in the organization. A VPN could address the firewall issue that your IT department mentioned, since firewalls can be a pain to manage for IT staff if they only go the remote desktop route. There will still be some firewall work for your IT department, but a number of commercial VPN products have resources (such as documentation, support staff, and an active user community) that can assist in furthering the protection of the network.

There is another reason why going the VPN/remote desktop route is a good thing to do for remote workers, which leads us to…

Local versus remote storage

First, if you are using a work machine at home and do not have access to your work network storage, use the work machine to store patron data, particularly if your IT department has set up encryption on your hard drive.

It gets complicated if you’re working on a home computer and don’t have access to your work network storage. Here are a few risks associated with your two options:

  • Personal computer hard drive
    • Housemates accessing patron data when using the computer
    • Patron data compromised due to lack of or outdated version of antivirus software
    • Persisting patron data on hard drive after normal deletion
  • “Free” personal account on third party cloud storage service
    • Vendors storing, processing, and sharing patron data under an end user license that does not adhere to legal regulations surrounding library data and privacy
    • Patron data compromised due to lax security measures or malicious attack on vendor system

One shared risk concerns legal regulation and patron data (disclaimer – I am not a lawyer, and the following is for informational purposes only). Depending on your state, there are a number of regulations surrounding the confidentiality and privacy of patron data. If you store patron data on your computer, your computer might be subject to search if there is a public disclosure or law enforcement request for that data. On the other side, would you know if your vendor gave your stored data to law enforcement? You’re dependent on the vendor’s law enforcement request policies… if they have one.

Tying it back to the first part, there are a number of privacy, security, and legal risks that can be mitigated with setting up a VPN and allowing for remote desktop access from there for remote workers. Because we are dealing with both technical and non-technical risks that have the potential to create major consequences for your organization if realized, start talking to folks in your administration who might be a strong advocate for when you go back to the IT department with your request. It never hurts to have some help from higher up, particularly if the IT department is still accepting the technical risks associated with relying on workers to use their home computers and personal cloud storage accounts.

Browser security

Can you speak on browser security please?

Browsers are our lifeline to the World Wide Web as much as they can be one of the main security vulnerabilities in our digital toolkit. When you are online, you are being tracked by a variety of third parties through cookies, web beacons, and scripts. You are also generating data that can be used for a number of reasons, from targeted or behavioral marketing to surveillance. Your browsing can also open you up to a possible attack through malicious scripts or other content that can cause havoc in your work network, computer, or your data life. Your choices around the browser you use, including your extensions and settings, helps determine the level of security and privacy of your online activity.

Your browser choice is affected by a number of factors, including your operating system, accessibility features, and the overall user experience. Some browsers are better than others with regard to “out of the box” privacy and security, while others have a number of settings and extensions that can provide a decent amount of privacy and security. There is no shortage of articles about which browsers are better for privacy out of the box (read more at ProtonMail, Wired, and Lifehacker), and you will notice that Brave, Tor, Firefox, and DuckDuckGo’s mobile browser tend to be in almost every article about privacy-oriented browsers.

No matter what browser you use, your browser settings and extensions also determine how safe and private you are online. Turning on private browsing (or incognito mode) in your browser can help, but that alone will not protect your online privacy. Lifehacker’s article about browsers and privacy has a good list of what to change and what to install when setting up your browser for secure, private online browsing:

In addition, I recommend the following extensions in addition to your ad-blocker extension:

Overall, your browser setup, combined with good digital privacy and security practices, can help protect your security and privacy.

Multifactor authentication

Our community college district has required access to our LSP, Alma, that requires multi-factor authentication when used through our single sign on provider. Can you talk a little bit about the benefits of multi-factor authentication?

Multifactor authentication, or MFA, is an authentication method that requires at least two out of the three types of items:

  • Something you know, like your password
  • Something you have, like your phone with an authentication app or like a physical key such as a YubiKey
  • Something you are, like your fingerprint, face, voice, or other biometric piece of information

(FYI – More MFA methods are adding location-based information to this list [“Somewhere you are”].)

MFA builds in another layer of protection in the authentication process by requiring more than one item in the above list. People have a tendency to reuse passwords or to use weak passwords for both personal and work accounts. It’s easy to crack into a system when someone reuses a password from an account that was breached and the password data subsequently posted or sold online. When combined with two-factor authentication (2FA), a compromised reused password is less likely to allow access to other systems.

While MFA is more secure than relying solely on your traditional user name and password to access a system, it is not 100% secure. You can crack into a system that uses SMS-based 2FA by intercepting the access code sent by SMS. Authentication apps such as Duo help address this vulnerability in 2FA, but apps are not available for people who do not use smartphones. Nonetheless it’s still worthwhile to enable SMS-based 2FA if it’s the only MFA option for your account.

This all goes to say that you shouldn’t slack on your passwords because you’re relying on additional information to log into your account. Use stronger passwords or passphrases – ideally randomly generated by Diceware – and do not reuse passwords or passphrases. Check out this video by the Electronic Freedom Foundation to learn more about Diceware and how it works. It’s a good way to practice your dice rolls for your next table top gaming session!

As a reminder – your security is only as strong as your weakest security practice, so once you have created your password or passphrase, store it in a password manager to better protect both your password and your online security.

Becky Yoose is the founder of and Library Data Privacy Consultant for LDH Consulting Services, a consultancy that guides libraries and vendors in protecting patron data without sacrificing operational data needs. For over a decade, Becky has wrangled library data in its various forms in academic and public libraries. Becky received her MA-LIS from University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2008, and has been a Certified Information Privacy Professional/United States (CIPP/US) with the International Association of Privacy Professionals since 2018. You can find her online at and @yo_bj on Twitter.  

Categories: Library News

Strategies for Surviving a Staffing Crisis

Wed, 2020-04-22 12:00
strategy” by Sean MacEntee  is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Library staff are no strangers to budget and staffing reductions. Most of us have way too much experience doing more with less, covering unfilled positions, and rigging solutions out of the digital equivalent of chewing gum and bailing wire, because we can’t afford to buy all the tools we need. In the last two years, my department at Northern Arizona University’s Cline Library operated with roughly half the usual amount of staff. In this post, I’ll share a few strategies that helped us get through this challenging time.

First, a quick introduction. My department, Content, Discovery & Delivery services, includes the digital services unit (formerly library technology services) as well as collection management (including electronic resources management), acquisitions, cataloging, physical processing, interlibrary loan and document delivery, and course reserves. We are a technology-intensive department, both as users and implementers/supporters of technology.

Here are some of the strategies we used to cope with extremely limited staffing and the departure of a number of key staff with significant institutional knowledge, most of whom we were not allowed to replace.

  1. Collaboration with other departments for cross training and mutual support. We worked with Information Technology Services (ITS) to re-evaluate the library’s role versus that of central IT in a centralized IT environment (for more information on IT centralization, see my co-authored posts for the LITA blog, IT Centralization: Impact on Academic Libraries part 1 and part 2). ITS was able to take on some additional responsibilities that were formerly managed by library IT staff, freeing us up to focus on library-specific hardware, applications, and services. We also worked with other departments in the library to redistribute work. Subject librarians took an active role in collection development, including leading an initiative to reduce our electronic resources and serials budget by about $500,000. Overnight staff in User Services & Experience helped with interlibrary loan processing. Dean’s Office staff took over shepherding licenses through the university contracting process. Cross-training and detailed documentation are essential to make this strategy work well.
  2. Staff learned new skills and responsibilities and gained broader knowledge of processes that had been opaque to them previously. Some department staff picked up tasks from departing staff. As mentioned above, subject librarians became more involved with collections. That change was particularly valuable, because they gained deeper insight into the collection budget, the packaging of information products, and license terms and conditions. That experience paves the way for them to have a more active role in collection development going forward, something they had wanted for years. If you take this approach, it’s critical to document new assignments in position descriptions and performance appraisals. Also, compensate employees for increased responsibilities if you possibly can. Work with your HR department to determine options (temporary or permanent reclass, bonus, raise, etc.) available at your institution.
  3. We assigned additional, higher-level work to student workers. This strategy can be controversial and is often impossible in unionized workplaces (which we are not). We had little choice under the circumstances. In some cases, work that had been performed by staff was well-suited for students and will likely continue to be student work going forward. In other cases, students were (and in some cases still are) doing staff-level work. That’s not ideal, given the turnover among student workers, but it can benefit both the student and the library if managed carefully. In one case, we hired a former student worker as classified staff once she graduated. She was able to meet the minimum requirements for the position because of the higher-level work she had been assigned as a student. As with strategy 1 above, cross-training and detailed documentation are essential to ensure continuity as students leave and are replaced.
  4. Ruthless prioritization. We stopped doing some things. We reduced the time spent on others. To do that, we used the library and university strategic plans and the library’s operating plan as guides for prioritization. We also worked with library leadership to ensure that they would support our changes and that those changes wouldn’t have a negative impact on other library units. When staffing is inadequate, some things simply will not get done. It’s much better to be intentional about what falls off the plate than to let it happen randomly.
What I learned from leading a department through this crisis

I learned two valuable lessons from leading staff through this challenging time:

  1. Prioritize communication and interpersonal relationships. It’s so easy to get mired in the to-do list and jump frantically from one task to another, but as someone in a leadership position, communication is one of—if not the—most important task on my list. Unfortunately, I didn’t always prioritize accordingly, and when I didn’t, problems happened. It’s critical to think about and share big-picture strategies, keep people apprised of the status of projects, and respond to questions and concerns promptly.
  2. A closely related lesson: support remaining staff. Do not just add more work and expect them to cope. Help them review their workloads and identify activities to drop or decrease. Be honest about whether or not you can compensate them for the additional and/or higher-level work. Especially if you can’t, consider other ways to maintain morale and help staff feel valued and supported. Recognize and celebrate successes, check in with people about how they are doing and what you can do to help. Listen carefully to what they tell you and be willing to adjust assignments and expectations based on the feedback you receive. Sometimes the task that is causing a staff member the most stress can be eliminated, automated, adjusted, or reassigned. Be willing to do those things.

Thanks to the current pandemic, many of us will have to cope with hiring freezes, furloughs, and yet more budget cuts. Many decisions and options will be taken away from us. Our power lies in how we respond and adapt. I hope the experience and lessons I’ve shared here give you some ideas to help you respond and adapt effectively.

Categories: Library News

April 4/24 Twitter #LITAchat

Mon, 2020-04-20 17:06

A lot has changed since we had our last Twitter #LITAchat, Core passed and then COVID 19 happened. We are all navigating new territory in our jobs and life overall. So we wanted to bring you a weekly set of LITAChats discussing our shared experiences during these strange times. 

The first in this series of LITAchats will start on Friday, April 24 from 12-1pm Central Standard Time. We will be asking you to show us your Zoom Virtual Backgrounds! We know that Zoom conferencing has been popular among many workplaces so we thought what would be better than showcasing some of the creative backgrounds everyone has been using. If you don’t have a background no worries, you can share about the best backgrounds you have seen from colleagues. Don’t know how to turn on Zoom Virtual Backgrounds? We will cover that too!

We hope you’ll join us on Twitter for the next #LITAchat and bring as many backgrounds as you can! 

Looking forward to hearing from you!

-The LITA Membership Development Committee

Categories: Library News

Congratulations to Samantha Grabus, winner of the 2020 LITA/Ex Libris Student Writing Award

Mon, 2020-04-20 11:23

Samantha Grabus has been selected as the winner of the 2020 Student Writing Award sponsored by Ex Libris Group and the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) for her paper titled “Evaluating the Impact of the Long S upon 18th-Century Encyclopedia Britannica Automatic Subject Metadata Generation Results.” Grabus is a Research Assistant and PhD student at Drexel University Metadata Research Center.

“This valuable work of original research helps to quantify the scope of a problem that is of interest not only in the field of library and information science, but that also, as Grabus notes in her conclusion, could affect research in fields from the digital humanities to the sciences,” said Julia Bauder, the Chair of this year’s selection committee.

When notified she had won, Grabus remarked, “I am thrilled and honored to receive the 2020 LITA/Ex Libris Student Writing Award. I would like to extend my gratitude to the award committee and Ex Libris for this honor. I would also like to thank my advisor, Dr. Jane Greenberg (Drexel/Metadata Research Center), for supporting me and encouraging me to apply, and Dr. Peter Logan (Temple), whose 19th-Century Knowledge Project has been an absolute joy for me to be a part of. They say that metadata is a love note to the future, but sometimes it is also a key to unlocking the past.”

The LITA/Ex Libris Student Writing Award recognizes outstanding writing on a topic in the area of libraries and information technology by a student or students enrolled in an ALA-accredited library and information studies graduate program. The winning manuscript will be published in Information Technology and Libraries (ITAL), LITA’s open access, peer reviewed journal, and Grabus will receive $1,000 and a certificate of merit.

The members of the 2020 LITA/Ex Libris Student Writing Award Committee are: Julia Bauder (Chair), Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe (Past Chair), Li Chen, Rebecca Rose and Ken Varnum (ITAL Editor).

About LITA

The Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) is the leading organization reaching out across types of libraries to provide education and services for a broad membership of systems librarians, library technologists, library administrators, library schools, vendors, and others interested in leading edge technology and applications for librarians and information providers. LITA is a division of the American Library Association. Follow us on our BlogFacebook, or Twitter.

About Ex Libris
Ex Libris, a ProQuest company, is a leading global provider of cloud-based solutions for higher education. Offering SaaS products for the management and discovery of the full spectrum of library and scholarly materials, as well as mobile campus solutions driving student engagement and success, Ex Libris serves thousands of customers in 90 countries. For more information about Ex Libris, see our website, and join us on FacebookYouTubeLinkedIn, and Twitter.

Categories: Library News