Ahead of National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) 2015, the Office of Government Relations (OGR) is pleased to announce that the following guest experts will be joining us to participate in this year’s briefing day on Monday May 4, and that issue briefs are now available for each subject that they will address (please see links below):
- Rich Stombres — Vice President, Penn Hill Group
- Ashley Houghton — Re:Think Media
- Kyle Victor — Legislative Director, Office of Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA)
- Joe Keeley — Majority Chief Counsel, US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Subcommittee
- Jonathan Band — Principal, Policy Bandwidth, PLLC
- Moira Lenehan-Razzuri — Legislative Assistant, Office of Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)
- Brenna Barber — Legislative Assistant, Office of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
- Patrice McDermott — Director, openthegovernment.org
- Michelle Chin — Legislative Assistant, Office of Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)
For more information about National Library Legislative Day, please visit our website.
Not able to join us in DC this year? Take part in Virtual Library Legislative Day.
The post Speaker list and issue briefs for National Library Legislative Day 2015 appeared first on District Dispatch.
As we’ve been learning over the past few years, privacy has been getting the thousand cuts treatment. Everyone’s been in the act. Et tu Google? You betcha.
Fortunately, you can stop inadvertently BCC’ing Google, the NSA, the Chinese government, hackers, marketers and other creepers of your personal content. That’s thanks to some good people who actually live by the mantra to “Do No Evil” who have created ways for email users everywhere to keep their messages between them and their recipients.
Over the past week, I’ve been exploring one of these, ProtonMail.The True Cost of Free Email
Most email services are profitable because they sell everything that you type and attach in your emails to marketing companies. Vast profiles about you are generated from this content. Think about it: what diseases you talk to your relatives about, your political and religious beliefs, who you spend your time with, even documents you attach from tax info to intimate photos. It’s all in there, and it’s all for sale.
You might immediately wonder why your email provider is collecting all this. It’s none of their business, right? Well, it is because you made it their business when you agreed to the terms of service. Even down to the attachments, by using services like Gmail and Yahoo! Mail, you are granting that company to access and sell the content to ad companies and beyond.
Now imagine that this database on you was to be hacked. Can’t happen? It has. The Chinese government hacked Gmail and has likely gleaned a ton of information on the world’s Gmail users. Most likely, they were interested in what their own citizens were writing, but if you ever wrote anything critical of China or work for a company with exposure to China, they might find that interesting too. Who knows!
The US Government has also hacked into Google (and just about every other Western tech firm) as well.
And if these entities can do it, so can criminals and the mischievous. So, again, why are we letting these firms put our information at risk in the first place?
Good news: you don’t have to anymore…Private and Secure Email
Alternatives to Gmail and other market intelligence-based email services include:
HushMail and StartMail were early services that took your privacy seriously. Both promised not to ever sell your data, but their business model made up the difference by charging you for the pleasure of living privately and secure.
Tutanota and ProtonMail, on the other hand, are free. Both use similar end-to-end encryption techniques and are quite similar in most respects. When I weighed which one to go with, I ended up choosing ProtonMail, only because their servers are based in Switzerland, a country that has outlawed the seizure of private computer content.My ProtonMail Experience
ProtonMail was created by developers working at the CERN lab in Switzerland who were inspired by Edward Snowden and who were shocked at how weak online security was becoming, thanks to very aggressive and dangerous actions by global intelligence services.
ProtonMail uses encryption that is unlocked locally, on your machine, so even if anyone broke into ProtonMail’s servers, they would need a few more years than the age of the Universe to decrypt your content. Translation: it’s pretty damn secure, despite claims that the NSA can decrypt encrypted data. They would still need a lot of time and effort to do so, so it’s unlikely they’ll go to such an effort unless you’re an active terrorist (or the leader of Germany).
Best of all, you can send securely encrypted emails even to people using Gmail or Hotmail. You do this by checking a box, creating a password and an optional password hint for the recipient. They then receive an email with a link to ProtonMail. By following that link, they are taken to a secure web page inside ProtonMail where they can read and reply to your message by using the password. Or, if it’s nothing you’re worried about sending, you can just send it as regular, unsecured email to your Gmail friends, in which case it works as normal…but can be gleaned for any info you might have carelessly included.
Here’s how ProtonMail pans out.UI and Functionality
This is more than just a bare bones email service. ProtonMail comes with a secure Contacts manager, email search and many other features you would expect in a modern email service.
The UI is clean and very straightforward.
Probably the hardest thing about using ProtonMail is the encryption, but not because it’s complicated…it’s drop dead simple…but only because it adds a step to your email creation if you plan on sending encrypted emails to people on Gmail, for example. In this case, you just have to come up with a good password and hint that your friends can figure out. It can actually be a little hard to come up with something that isn’t as easily hacked as “The city we met in.”
I tested the recipient experience with my Mom (very non-technical) and some friends (generally non-technical) to see if any of this would keep people from reading and replying to me. So far, ProtonMail only snagged my mom, because she didn’t think of using caps on a name I was using for the password.
My mom also didn’t understand that she had to reply from within the browser window. Some caveats here: I believe she still thinks of email as something that she has to do in AOL.
My friends fared much better with no reports of trouble. So overall, I’d say there is a small learning curve for some recipients.The Private Future
The hope here is that most people will gravitate over to ProtonMail or services like them, so that everyone’s on the same, private page. As I mentioned above, there are some extra steps with using ProtonMail with non-ProtonMail recipients. But if you’re communicating with friends that also use ProtonMail, the encryption is already there and you can relax…so obviously, I hope you all join ProtonMail.
All Web services that require user level authentication will be unavailable during the installation window, which is between 2:00 – 4:00 AM EDT USA, Sunday May 3rd.
Today, the American Library Association joined nine fellow founding national groups from both the private and public sectors to unveil Re:Create, a new copyright coalition formed to articulate and fight for the perspectives and rights of library users, educators, innovators and creators of every kind.
Librarians know that copyright has a broad purpose—to advance learning and creativity for all people—but, too often, policy and law makers focus on the needs and interests of entertainment companies and other industry players who are determined to preserve old business models through enforcement rather than by innovating in the new economy. An important purpose of Re:Create is to ensure that the copyright debate respects and reflects the full range of legitimate views and needs of every part of our economy and society.
As ALA President Courtney Young said in Re:Create’s inaugural press release: “The Supreme Court has held that the primary objective of copyright is to ‘promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.’ We must be careful that efforts to reduce copyright infringement do not prevent legitimate uses, free expression, new innovations, or bring unnecessary harm to the public.”
Re:Create is comprised of both longtime ALA allies in seeking a copyright system that both incentivizes creativity and maximizes public access to information and new groups from across the policy and political spectrum. Expected to significantly expand its membership in the coming months, the new group will benefit from ALA’s long experience and grassroots commitment to balanced copyright law and policy. Re:Create also will help amplify ALA’s own positions and messages in this critical sphere more forcefully and effectively. Today’s launch comes just as Congress is poised to conclude a multi-year review of America’s copyright law and to consider potential legislative changes to it.
Much as it was almost exactly 20 years ago, before the WIPO Copyright Treaty that gave rise to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) had yet been drafted, copyright is again on the front burner in Congress…. and it’s about to get very hot. Congress must take care not to heed those who mistakenly believe that ever more restrictive copyright laws necessarily are better copyright laws.
ALA thus was delighted to co-found and launch Re:Create at this critical time—to help copyright reflect its true constitutional purpose to “promote progress in science and the useful arts.” Make no mistake, certain aspects of copyright in the digital age have gone awry (remember the “1201” rulemakings?). Perhaps most egregiously, statutory damages for copyright infringement vastly exceed remedies in other laws and the current length of copyright (life plus 70 years, or 95 years for corporations) has no public interest justification.
ALA’s most fundamental view of copyright is simple and clear: libraries, library users and the general public are entitled to be treated fairly, reasonably and as the Framersof the Constitution intended. Libraries’ annual investment of more than $4 billion in copyrighted works partly justifies that conviction, but library users and the public at large have important rights too. Making sure those rights don’t get short shrift under copyright law benefits us all. Study after study now has shown that the flexibility accorded by fair use and other access-friendly provisions of the copyright law enable discoverability, creativity and innovation. They are, without exaggeration, engines of our economy, our society and — truly — our democracy.
That is perhaps the most fundamental and universal message that ALA and the other members of Re:Create have come together to convince Congress and other policy makers to design into whatever new fabric of copyright law may next be woven. The coalition’s members are diverse, but all are committed to promoting: an open Internet; creativity and innovation; robust copyright limitations, exceptions, and safe harbors; and curbing copyright enforcement measures that threaten free expression.
ALA also will continue to work with and through the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA), the coalition that works on behalf of libraries and library users. LCA, with its able counsel Jonathan Band, has made many important contributions to the interests of the library community during the past years. Re:Create will help leverage our work in LCA.
In addition to ALA, the Re:Create coalition members include: the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), Consumer Electronics Association, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Media Democracy Fund, New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI), Public Knowledge (PK), and the R Street Institute.
Please be sure to follow ALA’s work with Re:Create on social media. The coalition’s Twitter feed is @recreateco and you’ll also find it on Facebook, Instagram and Google Plus.
For more information, please also see these new Re:Create documents:
ALA Office for Information Technology Policy Director Alan Inouye and ALA Office of Government Relations Managing Director Adam Eisgrau also contributed to this article.
The post ALA co-founds major new coalition to recalibrate copyright appeared first on District Dispatch.
The Evergreen group to host Evergreen International 2016:
NC Cardinal in Raleigh, North CarolinaRaleigh looks to be a very dynamic venue, with great restaurants, museums, art galleries, brewery tours, and night life. Included in the proposal: Raleigh is one of the “Top 10 Tastiest Towns in the South” according to Southern Living. Congratulations, NC Cardinal! Submitted by The Evergreen 2016 Conference Site Selection Committee
I had the pleasure of speaking at last week’s Texas Library Association Annual Conference in Austin which meant fun people and good Mexican food. With Gretchen McCord, I also presented the L. Ray Patterson award to Georgia Harper. Recently retired, Georgia was the Scholarly Communications Advisor for the Texas University System. She actually won the Patterson Award last year, but we decided to do the actual presentation in Austin, Georgia’s home town.
Initially hired to review research contracts at the Texas University System, Georgia started to get copyright questions from librarians, and happily expanded her career to copyright advisor and fair use advocate (she was very bored with contract law). She is most well-known for the Copyright Crash Course, one of the first extensive web sites providing information about copyright, particularly in the academic setting.
After thanking Gretchen and Pat Smith, executive director of the Texas Library Association, for providing the perfect, appropriate venue for the award, Georgia told us, “My colleagues have been so generous with me over the years, offering their time, their energy, their thoughtful advice, and their expertise, whenever I needed it. It is their generous giving from the heart that makes it possible for me to stand here today. That’s how I learned the values and the practices that made me the kind of copyright attorney this award honors. So, thanks to my colleagues and my clients! And thank you to the American Library Association for recognizing the important role that advocacy of user’s rights plays in bringing to fruition the fantastic projects that our clients imagine.”
A very praiseworthy honoree, Georgia’s name will be added to our exalted list of Patterson Award winners that promote the purpose of the copyright law —”to advance learning” as Ray Patterson would say—and users’ rights to information.
This post is part of a series from Book Patrol, a blog run by DPLA Community Rep Michael Lieberman that highlights interesting news, images, and related content from all corners of the book universe. To learn more about Book Patrol, visit http://bookpatrol.net/
Happy National Poetry Month! Here’s a taste of just some of the poetry goodness that lives within the confines of the Digital Public Library of America. From the postcard featuring an excerpt from a poem by Alex Caldero proclaiming ‘Poetry is wanted here!’, to a sampling a of dust jackets, to a lunch poem from second graders, poetry is alive and well at DPLA.
Join us for our next installment of CopyTalk, May 7th at 2pm Eastern Time. Peter Jaszi, one of our most popular speakers, will be back for CopyTalk, a bimonthly webinar brought to you by the Office for Information Technology Policy’s subcommittee on Copyright Education. Our topic: new best practices for fair use dealing with online collections and visual arts.
Since 2005, practitioners including filmmakers, poets, K-12 teachers, film and communications scholars, open courseware providers, journalists and—of course—librarians have come together to articulate Codes and Statements of Best Practices in Fair Use for their communities. Many of these efforts have been facilitated by researchers at the American University Law School and School of Communications. In the last few months, two new documents have been released — the College Art Association’s Code of Best Practices for Fair Use in the Visual Arts (pdf) and the Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use of Orphan Works for Libraries & Archives.
Peter Jaszi is a Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law, where he teaches copyright law and courses in law and cinema, as well as supervising students in the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Law Clinic, which he helped to established, along with the Program on Intellectual Property and Information Justice. He has served as a Trustee of the Copyright Society of the U.S.A. and is a member of the editorial board of its journal. In 2007, he received the American Library Association’s L. Ray Patterson Copyright Award, and in 2009 the Intellectual Property Section of the District of Columbia Bar honored him as the year’s Champion of Intellectual Property. He has written about copyright history and theory and co-authored a standard copyright textbook.
There is no need to pre-register for this free webinar! Just go to the webinar URL on May 7, 2015, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Note that the webinar is limited to 100 seats so watch with colleagues if possible. An archived copy will be available after the webinar.
Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association’s (ALA) Washington Office, will advocate for federal library funding at an appropriations hearing before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. The hearing will take place on April 29, 2015, from 8:30 to 11:00 a.m. in the Rayburn House Office Building, room 2358C.
During the congressional hearing, leaders and witnesses will discuss a variety of budgetary issues related to the 2016 fiscal year Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies bill, including library and education funding. Sheketoff will advocate for the House Subcommittee to include $186.6 million for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) under the Institute of Museum and Library Services and $25 million for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program under the Fund for the Improvement of Education (FIE) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
“We are proud to have Emily Sheketoff advocate on behalf of the library community at the U.S. House hearing,” said ALA President Courtney Young in a statement. “American libraries depend on federal funding sources to ensure that their patrons have equal access to 21st century resources, tools and services.”
Sheketoff has served as the executive director of the ALA Washington Office since 1999. She currently oversees both the ALA Office of Government Relations (OGR) and the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP). Sheketoff’s testimony will be available at the hearing and by contacting Jazzy Wright, press officer of the ALA Washington Office, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Library advocates will soon join Sheketoff in advocating for federal library funding. Next week, library advocates will advocate for library funding with their members of Congress during the American Library Association’s 41st annual National Library Legislative Day, which takes place from May 4–5, 2015, in Washington, D.C. Learn more about Virtual National Library Legislative Day.
The post ALA to testify in support of library funding at U.S. House LHHS hearing appeared first on District Dispatch.
For months, you’ve heard us talking about National Library Legislative Day 2015. Maybe you’ve made the decision to join us (hooray!) or perhaps you are planning to cheer us on from home. If you can’t make it to Washington, D.C., in person this year, please join us for Virtual Library Legislative Day 2015, led by United for Libraries and ALA’s Offices of Chapter Relations, Library Advocacy, and Government Relations.
All week long (May 4-8), we’re asking library supporters to contact their legislators electronically and by phone about key library issues. Your personal, real world library experience is the key to helping legislators understand how the policies and legislation they are working on can impact library patrons – you know, the people who vote for them!
This year, we’re asking Congress to:
APPROPS: Fund LSTA at $186.6 million and IAL at $25 million in FY 2016.
PRIVACY: Pass real PATRIOT Act reform, and pass ECPA to bring the 4th Amendment fully online.
INFO ACCESS: Pass FASTR to make taxpayer-funded research broadly available to everyone.
SCHOOL LIBS: Support Senator Reed’s “school libraries” amendment to the Every Child Achieves Act.
Participating in Virtual Library Legislative Day is easy. Here’s how:
To call your Members of Congress, go to the VLLD alert at the Legislative Action Center (LAC). After reading the issue briefs, head back to the LAC homepage and enter your information into the “Find your Officials” box.
To email your legislators, see our alert page and edit the brief message we’ve already started for you.
Visit the event page to find out more about Virtual Library Legislative Day.
You can join the VLLD conversation on social media through the event tag – #nlld15
National Library Legislative Day began in 1976. In 2003, Friends of Libraries U.S.A. began a virtual component to engage Friends of the Library groups, library advocates and supporters around the country who could not travel to Washington, D.C. for the main event. Now in its 13th consecutive year, the virtual campaign, now coordinated by United for Libraries, continues to support the efforts of those who attend this important day in Washington, D.C. and meet with their elected officials in person.
Thanks for your participation!
The Access Library Conference Organizing Committee is pleased to announce that we will be offering diversity scholarships to help valued members of our community attend Access 2015 in Toronto, Ontario! Scholarships will help to offset the cost of registration, travel, and accommodation. The Organizing Committee is committed to offering a minimum of two scholarships of up to $1000 each, though we’re crowdfunding to offer more (we’ll be announcing that soon)!
Applicants must self-identify as a member of a traditionally underrepresented and/or marginalized group in technology communities, including, but not limited to, those based on gender identity, race, sexuality, or physical ability. Applicants must also be unable to attend the conference without some financial assistance (student, unemployed, underemployed, or working at a company/institution that does not support professional development).
If you’ve received a diversity scholarship to attend Access in either of the past two years (2013 or 2014), we would appreciate it if you would hold off this year to give other underrepresented members of our community a chance to participate.
 For more information on the Diversity Scholarship Program, click here.
 A more extensive, but not exhaustive, list of what we mean by “traditionally underrepresented and/or marginalized” is offered here. That said, we think you’re the best person to identify if you are a member of a traditionally underrepresented or marginalized group so please do not feel constrained by this list!
How to Apply
- You self-identify as a member of a traditionally underrepresented/marginalized group (see extended list, above)
- You are unable to attend the conference without financial assistance (i.e. you are a student, unemployed, or underemployed)
- Send an email to email@example.com detailing your background and interest in library technology, how you think Access will advance your professional development, and how this scholarship will help you achieve your dreams. No more than 1000 words, please!
- Please attach an updated resume or CV.
- That’s it! We don’t need proof of your eligibility – we believe that our community is honest (plus, it’s so small that we’ll probably figure it out if you’re actually a millionaire).
How We’ll Decide
If you follow the application guidelines, we’ll throw your name into the hat for a scholarship. At an Organizing Committee on July 7th, we will draw names and those people will be awarded scholarships. We will award a minimum of two scholarships, but depending on our crowdfunding efforts and the needs of scholarship recipients, there may be more.
The world's first Islandora Conference is happening this summer in Charlottetown, PEI. You should be there. And since you are going to be there, you should send in a proposal to tell the community about what you are doing with Islandora, or Fedora, or metadata, or digital libraries, or anything in that general sphere, because we are very much open to suggestions.
The Call for Proposals closes on April 30th. We will absolutely allow for time to refine your ideas after submission, so all you need is a paragraph or two to outline what you want to present. We look forward to hearing from you!
Hydra Project: Save the dates: Trinity College Dublin to Host the 2016 11th International Conference on Open Repositories
Of interest to the Community:
April 27, 2015
Trinity College Dublin to Host the 2016 Eleventh International Conference on Open Repositories
The Open Repositories Steering Committee and Trinity College Dublin (The University of Dublin) are pleased to announce that the Eleventh International Conference on Open Repositories will be held at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, the week of June 13th 2016.
Founded in 1592, Trinity College Dublin, whose formal name is College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin, is recognized internationally as Ireland’s premier university.
More information will be available at Open Repositories 2015 (#OR2015) to be held in Indianapolis June 8-11.
Reminder: Register for OR2015
Information on accepted paper, panel, and 24×7 sessions at Open Repositories 2015 is now available on the OR2015 conference website: http://www.or2015.net/. Online registration for OR2015 is open, and participants can save $50 by registering by May 8. Special negotiated room rates at the conference hotel are available until May 16. For more information, please visit the conference website: http://www.or2015.net/.
Islandora Camp is going to Madrid at the end of May and we could not be more excited. The schedule is up, a logo contest is finishing up, and now we want to introduce you to the four instructors who will be leading workshops at camp:Admin Track:
Melissa Anez has been working with Islandora since 2012 and has been the Community and Project Manager of the Islandora Foundation since it was founded in 2013. She spends her time arranging Islandora events, doing what she can to keep the Islandora community ticking along, and writing about herself in the third person in blog posts. Melissa taught in the Admin Track at several previous camps.
Luis Martinez-Uribe is a data wrangler with experience in research data management and curation in scientific environments and cultural heritage organizations. Currently he is working as a Data Scientist within the Library of the Fundación Juan March (FJM) supporting knowledge insights requests from departments as well as integrating the large and heterogeneous corpus data of the FJM. Islandora “converted” since 2010!Developer Track:
Nick Ruest is the Digital Assets Librarian at York University. He oversees the development of data curation, asset management and preservation initiatives, along with creating and implementing systems that support the capture, description, delivery, and preservation of digital objects having significant content of enduring values. He is also active in the Islandora community, serving as the Release Manager, Project Director for the Islandora and Fedora 4 integration project, member of the Islandora Foundation's Roadmap Committee, and contributes code to the project.
Alan Stanley is one of the original Islandora programmers, starting at the UPEI Robertson Library when the project was still in its infancy. He has since moved to discoverygarden. He still codes when he can, but he's also involved in business development and training these days. He has a special interest in Digital Humanities.
By early December 2014, a Congressional election year, newly elected Members of Congress were preparing for public service as outgoing Members were ending their public service and attending exit briefings. At an event sponsored by the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress, the December 3rd “Life After Congress” seminar, Robin Reeder, Archivist of the U.S. House of Representatives, offered records management advice to each of the thirty or so Members of Congress in attendance. She talked to them about best practices for saving both textual and electronic records, about deeds of gift and transferring records to a repository and how these steps help preserve the legacy of their service in Congress.
House and Senate rules define official records as any records, regardless of format, that are created or received in the course of the business conducted by congressional committees. These official committee records are eventually transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration where they are preserved as the historical record of the work of Congress. In contrast, the rules designate the papers of a Member’s congressional office as being outside the scope of official records. Member’s maintain ownership of records created in the course of their congressional service, are responsible for effectively managing them, and determine the ultimate disposition of these papers. Member’s papers comprise both textual and electronic records and include things like personal notes, legislative research files, photos and correspondence with constituents.
In 2008, the U.S. Congress officially stated as much in House Concurrent Resolution 307 (PDF): “Members’ Congressional papers…should be properly maintained; each Member of Congress should take all necessary measures to manage and preserve the Member’s own Congressional papers; and each Member of Congress should be encouraged to arrange for the deposit or donation…with a research institution that is properly equipped to care for them, and to make these papers available for educational purposes….”
The archivists of the House and Senate provide guidance as Members of Congress transition on and off Capitol Hill — as does the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress — but they all acknowledge the unique considerations Members of Congress face in preserving their personal digital documents. “Especially now because Members of Congress work almost exclusively on computers,” said Reeder. “Paper is quite secondary. So it’s important to preserve things digitally because that’s how they’re being created and managed.”
At the beginning of a new Member’s Congressional term, the House and Senate archivists offer Congressional staff information and guidance about best practices for record keeping. The purpose for this guidance is to keep records orderly and useful. But the archivists are also keenly aware of the potential historical value and significance of each Congress Member’s personal documents — such as correspondence, sponsored legislation, responses to issues in the Member’s congressional district and photos — and how these documents might serve future Members of Congress, students, historians scholars and other researchers. With this long-term preservation in mind, the archivists send out records-management information to Congressional staff regarding issues such as:
- Setting up file systems – paper and digital.
- File organization and naming conventions.
- Setting up an “Archive” folder on a shared drive in which to archive digital documents.
Ultimately the archivists would like Congressional staff to manage the Congress Member’s personal digital files in a way that will be useful both now and down the road when she or he leaves office. “We do recommend that there be one person on staff who is in charge of records management so that there’s one person making the decisions about how to save things and what formats in which to save things,” said Heather Bourk, Assistant Archivist of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Bourk concedes that many new Members of Congress are usually just trying to manage the immediate demands of their work and the massive amount of information that cascades through the office, while preserving a Member’s legacy becomes a secondary concern. In the daily Congressional workflow, digital records management can have a higher priority than digital records preservation. “Our primary role is to provide guidance on how to preserve records for the long term and ensure future accessibility,” said Bourk. “But we often just get a lot of questions about how to manage current files.” The archivists hope that digital records management and preservation will become equally important.
The House and Senate issue departing Members guidelines that detail procedures and list resources within each institution. When a Member of Congress comes to the end of his or her tenure, the manuals are clear about the exit policy and closing out the office: what to do with a computer, settling expenses, the procedures for returning equipment and so on. Congressional archivists add digital records management guidance to the discussion. “House and Senate Archivists provide formal guidance to committees on archiving official committee records,” said Richard Hunt, director of the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives, “and informal guidance to members on archiving personal papers.”
If the Member of Congress does not have a destination in mind for the digital files — a library or educational institution, a state archives or historical society or a center — the archivists want to make sure that the files are at least well-preserved for the time being. Ideally, when the files are transferred to a research repository, a professional archivist will take over the digital curation.
The U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress — an organization whose members donate time for public service after they leave Congress — also tries to help members transition off of Capitol Hill. The increasing urgency of proper digital preservation has become apparent to the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress in recent years and they, too, want to ensure that Members of Congress get the most comprehensive advice available about preserving personal digital files. The U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress, like the House and Senate archivists, would like outgoing members of Congress to manage their digital files wisely while in office and leave office with those files “archive ready.” Together with the National Archives and the archivists of the House and Senate, the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress gathers information about best practices.
To that end, last summer Peter Weichlein, the CEO of the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress, contacted NDIIPP because NDIIPP’s personal digital archiving resources had come to his attention. He and his colleagues wanted to determine what essential information to communicate and why. We discussed the challenge from two perspectives:
- The experiences of archivists at Congressional research centers — how they ingested and processed digital files and what they would suggest to Members of Congress to help improve the process from donor to archive
- What an individual Member of Congress can and should do to maintain his or her electronics files and ensure those files are “archive ready.”
I talked with Ray Smock, the director of the Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies at Shepherd University about some of the challenges the Center faced in importing and processing Senator Byrd’s digital files. Smock said that one challenge was processing the variety of file formats. “We discovered 125 different formats, although most are various early versions of Word Perfect or Word,” said Smock. “This means we will have to learn how to use specialized tools to convert these formats and provide for future migration to newer software. Future migration of current or past digital records is a monumental issue of its own.”
There is not much a Member of Congress can do about file formats though, except — when using software that is not widely used by their peers — to be aware that there may difficulty accessing those files in the future. When in doubt, Members and their staff can consult the archivists of the House and Senate for advice.
Popular software — software that is widely used — has a larger base of stakeholders and so stands a better chance of accessibility in the future than little-used or obscure software. For example, members of Congress can export email from their Microsoft Outlook accounts as PST files, an “open proprietary” format that trained digital archivists can convert to other formats. Other formats are not so convertible.
Senator Byrd also used a constituent correspondence management system, which is still used by most Members of Congress. The system enables Congressional staff to manage the correspondence between citizens and Member of Congress, and track and tag emails — along with memos and calendars — and sort it all into topics. Since the system is proprietary, it exports Members’ files — and all of the files’ complex data relationships — in a proprietary format accessible only by that system (although its creators recently enabled the export of a narrow slice of that data into MS Access files). The Congressional Papers Roundtable, a Society of American Archivists working group, continues to explore possible solutions for enabling Members of Congress to export all of the constituent data from that system into a system-agnostic format, so digital archivists at Congressional research centers can restore it within their own systems. Smock said the correspondence itself, in and of itself, is historic. “It’s great for telling the story of a district or a state because you are hearing directly from the people who live there,” he said.
Eventually, Weichlein’s group issued a two-page tip sheet (PDF) that addresses essential steps and basic best practices for organizing and backing-up digital files. The tip sheet also goes into detail about scanning (based in part on input from the Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines Initiative) because scanning documents is still a great task for outgoing Members — not all of their digital files are born digital — and the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress wanted assurance that Congressional staff could be directed to scan paper photos and documents correctly.
Bourk is optimistic about the improving personal archiving practices among Congressional staff, especially among the incoming staff who seem to quickly grasp the significance of digital preservation, even if they’re swamped by work. She said she would like Congress members to think about digital preservation — and where those files will someday reside — sooner rather than later. “We encourage [House members] to consider their legacy at the outset of their Congressional service and think about donating the papers somewhere,” said Bourk. “We strongly recommend that they pick an institution very early on and contact that institution as soon as possible to speak to their archivists and librarians, particularly about electronic records.”
“We hope to guide people to a more orderly transfer of their material when the time comes,” said Bourk.
From Thembani Malapela, Knowledge and Information Management Officer, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
DuraSpace News: SAVE THE DATES: Trinity College Dublin to Host the 2016 Eleventh International Conference on Open Repositories
Dublin, Ireland The Open Repositories Steering Committee and Trinity College Dublin (The University of Dublin) are pleased to announce that the Eleventh International Conference on Open Repositories will be held at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, the week of June 13th 2016.
Founded in 1592, Trinity College Dublin, whose formal name is College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin, is recognized internationally as Ireland’s premier university.
Previously, whenever I have spoken or written about user experience and the web, I have recommended only one book: Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug.
Whenever I did so, I did so with a caveat: one of the largest drawbacks of Don’t Make Me Think is captured in the title itself : it is an endorsement of web design that strives to remove all cognitive friction from the process of navigating information. This philosophy serves business who are trying to sell products with a website but doesn’t sit well with who are trying to support teaching and learning.
Today I would like to announce that I hereby retire this UX book recommendation because I have found something better. Something several orders of magnitude better.
I would like to push into your hands instead a copy of Kathy Sierra’s Badass: Making users awesome. In this work, Kathy has distilled the research on learning, expertise and the human behaviors that make both of these things possible.
You can use the lessons in Badass towards web design. Like Don’t Make Me Think, Badass also recognizes there are times when cognitive resources need to be preserved, but unlike the Don’t Make Me Think, Badass Kathy Sierra advises when and where these moments in specific points should be placed in the larger context of the learner’s journey towards expertise.
You see, Badass: Making Users Awesome isn’t about making websites. It’s about making an expert Badass.
In her book, Sierra establishes why helping users become awesome can directly lead to the success of a product or service and and then builds a model with the reader to achieve this. I think it’s an exceptional book that wisely advises how to address the emotional and behavioural setbacks to learning new things without having to resort to bribery or gamification, neither of which work after the novelty wears off. The language of the book is informal but the research behind the words is formidable.
One topic that Badass covers that personally resonated was the section on the Performance Progress Path Map as a key to motivation and progress. I know that there is resistance in some quarters to the articulation of of learning outcomes by those who suspect that the exercise is a gateway to the implementation of institutional standards that will eliminate teacher autonomy, or eliminate teachers altogether. But these fears shouldn't come into play as it doesn't apply in this context and should not inhibit individuals from sharing their personal learning paths.
The reason why this topic hit so close to home was because I found learning to program particularly perilous because of the various ‘missing chapters’ of learning computing (a phrase I picked up from Selena Marie’s not unrelated Code4Lib 2015 Keynote, What Beginners Teach Us - you can find part of the script here from a related talk).
I think it’s particularly telling that some months ago, friends were circulating this picture with the caption: This is what learning to program feels like.
There’s a real need with the FOSS moment to invest into more projects like the Drupal Ladder project, which seeks to specifically articulate how a person can start from being a beginner to become a core contributor.
Furthermore, I think there’s a real opportunity for libraries to be involved in sharing learning strategies, especially public libraries. I think the Hamilton Public Library is really on to something with their upcoming ‘Learn Something’ Festival.
Check out @HamiltonLibrary's "How-to Festival", a series of workshops on how to do stuff! http://t.co/lmHeYxyGd7 pic.twitter.com/de1vsi9IJ5
— Ad/Lib (@adlib_info) April 23, 2015
Let’s not forget,
The real value of libraries is not the hardware. It has never been the hardware. Your members don’t come to the library to find books, or magazines, journals, films or musical recordings. They come to be informed, inspired, horrified, enchanted or amused. They come to hide from reality or understand its true nature. They come to find solace or excitement, companionship or solitude. They come for the software.
While the umbrella concept of User Experience has somewhat permeated into librarianship, I would argue that it has not traveled deep enough and have not made the inroads into the profession that it could. I’ve been thinking why and I’ve come up with a couple of theories why this is the case.
One theory is that many academic librarians who are involved in teaching have a strong aversion to ‘teaching the tool’. In fact, I’ve heard that the difference between ‘bibliographic instruction’ and ‘information literacy’ is that the former deals with the mechanics of searching, while ‘information literacy’ addresses higher-level concepts. While I am sympathetic to this stance (librarians are not product trainers), I also resist the ‘don’t teach the technology' mindset. The library is a technology. We can, and we have, taught higher level concepts through our tools.
As Sierra states, “Tools matter”.
But she wisely goes on to state:
“But being a master of the tool is rarely our user’s ultimate goal. Most tools (products, services) enable and support the user’s true -- and more motivating - goal.
Nobody wants to be a tripod master. We went to use tripods to make amazing videos.”
The largest challenge to the adoption of the lessons of Badass into the vernacular of librarianship is that Badass is focused squarely on practice.
“Experts are not what they know but what they do. Repeatedly.”
A statement like the above may be quickly dismissed by those in academia as the idea of practice sounds too much like the idea of tool use. (If it makes you feel better, dear colleagues, consider this restatement in the book: “Experts make superior choices (And they do it more reliably than experienced non-experts).”
Each discipline has a practice associated with it. I have previously made the case that the librarians regular activity of searching for information of others at the reference desk was the practice where our expertise was once made (the technical services equivalent would be the cataloguing of materials).
But as our reference desk stats have plummeted (and our catalogue records copied from elsewhere), I still think the profession need to ask ourselves, where does the our expertise come from? Many of us don’t have a good answer for this, which is why I think so many librarians - academic librarians in particular - are frequently and viciously attacking the current state of library school and its curriculum, demanding rigor. To that I say, take your professional anxieties out on something else. A good educational foundation is ideal, but professional expertise is built through practice.
What the new practice of librarianship is from beyond the reference desk is still evolving. It appears that digital publishing and digitization is becoming part of this new practice. Guidance with data management and data visualizations appears to be part of our profession now too. For myself, I’m currently trying to level up my skills in citation management and its integration with the research and writing process.
That's because there has been more fundamental shift in my thinking about academic librarianship as of late that Kathy’s book has only encouraged. I would like to make the case that the most important library to our users isn’t the one that they are sitting in, but the one on their laptop. Their collection of notes, papers, images and research materials is really the only library that really matters to them. The institutional library (that they are likely only temporarily affiliated with) may feed into this library, but its contents cannot be trusted to be there for them always.
For an example, consider this: two weeks ago, I helped a faculty member with an Endnote formatting question. As I looked over her shoulder, I saw that her Endnote library on her laptop contained hundreds and hundreds of citations that had been collected and organized over the years and how this collection was completely integrated with her writing process. This was her library.
And despite not having worked in Endnote for years, I was able to help her with formatting question so she could submit her paper to a journal with its particularly creative and personal citation style. It seems that I have developed some expertise by working with a variety of citation managers over the years.
I wouldn’t call myself a Badass. Not yet. But I’m working on it.
And I’m working on helping others finding and becoming their own Badass self.
It’s been many years now, and so it bears repeating.
My professional mission as a librarian is this: Help people build their own libraries.
Because this is the business we’ve chosen.