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Library of Congress: The Signal: Your Personal Archiving Project: Where Do You Start?

planet code4lib - Wed, 2016-05-11 18:35

“Simplify, simplify.” — Henry David Thoreau, Walden.

Before and After: the Herbert A. Philbrick Papers. Photo by Laura Kells, the Library of Congress.

Most of us comb through a lifelong collection of personal papers and photos either when we have plenty of free time (typically in retirement) or when we have to deal with the belongings of a deceased loved one. All too often the job seems so daunting and overwhelming that our natural response is to get discouraged and say, “I don’t know where to begin” or “It’s too much; I’ll do it some other time” or worse, “I’ll just get rid of it all.”

At the Library of Congress, archivists process every type of collection imaginable. They often acquire — along with scholarly and historical works — personal papers and mementos, things that had special meaning to the owner, not only letters and photos but also locks of hair, newspaper clippings and beverage-stained documents. One recent collection contained a piece of bark. Some collections arrive neatly organized and others arrive heaped into makeshift containers. How do professional archivists create order from clutter? Where do they start? And what we can we learn from their work and apply to our own personal archiving projects?

For this story, I spoke with Laura Kells and Meg McAleer, two senior archivists from the Library of Congress’s Manuscript Division. Both exude the good-natured patience and relaxed humor that comes from years of dealing with a constant inflow of often-disorganized paper and digital files. [Watch their presentation, titled “The Truth about Original Order, or What to Do When Your Collection Arrives in Trash Cans.”]

Photo by Laura Kells, the Library of Congress.

I found it striking that, throughout our interview, they rarely dictated how something must be done. Instead they offered well-seasoned advice about archiving but they left the decisions up to the individual. In the end, their main message was this: if you want to get through the project and not make yourself crazy and despondent over it, start simply, separate items broadly at first and, in the end, accept your final sorting decisions as “good enough.”

Start Simply

First, approach your collection as a single unit of stuff. Don’t dwell on individual photos or letters yet. Think about the entire collection as a mass of related things. Kells said, “You’ll scare yourself if you think, ‘I have two hundred things.’ The project will seem bigger.” It is one collection.


Consider devoting a rainy weekend to pulling out your collection. At this point you will be surveying its broad landscape. Begin by sorting items from your collection into what McAleer and Kells expertly call “clumps.” This is your first pass, so just group things into general categories such as letters and photos. You decide on your categories. Be consistent but accept that there might be overlap between categories. If you want to categorize clumps by year, fine. Or phases of a person’s life. Or holidays. Or type of materials (letters, photos).

“What you try to do is identify the clumps that already exist,” McAleer said. “And hopefully clumping naturally occurs. For instance, you could have gotten all of your grandmother’s papers after her death. That’s a clump. Trips? That’s a clump. Christmas stuff, that’s a clump. Photographs, that’s a clump.”

WARNING: Don’t get sidetracked. Resist the temptation to savor any one thing right now. “If you begin engaging with individual items at this point, then you’re sunk,” McAleer said. “You can paralyze yourself by over scrutinizing.” Whatever it is, no matter how wonderful it is, put it in its rightful clump and come back to it later.

Photo by Laura Kells, the Library of Congress.

Be Realistic About Work Space and Time

There are two important things you should address early on: space and time. Your collection will take up space in your house as you sift through it, so plan your work space realistically. Set aside a temporary work space if you can – a room or a corner of a room — or plan to unpack and re-pack your collection for each sorting session. “In most people’s homes they don’t have a great deal of space to have things sitting out for a long time,” McAleer said. “At some point you will really need that dining room table for dinner.”

Don’t eat or drink in the work area. Kells said, “Just step away. When you’ve got big piles and you reach your drink and you knock it over, you’ll be real sorry if you spill your coffee all over your documents or your photographs.” McAleer said, “It happens in an instant. None of us anticipate it. It can be tragic.”

As for time, McAleer said, “Do not start out with a commitment that every single item within this collection is going to be organized perfectly.” Kells said, “That could make you feel a sense of defeat. Just start out by saying, ‘I want to improve the organization.’ ”

Nothing is Perfect

After sorting the collection into clumps, you could put everything into envelopes or other containers and be happy about your progress. “You can feel good because you’ve done something,” Kells said. “As long as there is some order. It’s probably chaotic within those clumps but just by identifying and labeling and boxing those clumps, you have some intellectual control over it that you didn’t have before.”

You could leave the project at that or you could continue on, from a rough sort to a refined sort. “If you have the energy, you just work in layers and keep improving it,” Kells said. “Then you can gauge how much time you have and how much space you have to do this. Anything new is gravy.”

Letters sorted by correspondent. Photo by Laura Kells, the Library of Congress.

For example, you could sort letters by date or by topic or sort photos by location or by who is in each photo. “It is a matter of constant refinement, where you’re going to be getting more and more information about the content over time,” McAleer said. “It’s like building a house. You start out building the structure of a house and then you add furniture into each room.”

It’s a good time to throw things away too. Decide if you really want to save paid bills, cancelled checks or grocery lists. McAleer said, “In the long run, just save the things that you’re going to value over time. It is up to you how far down you drill in terms of arranging the material. At some point you have to say to yourself, ‘This is so much better than it was. I know what I have. This may be as good as it gets. I have put some organization on it and that is going to make it more accessible.’ ”


Scanning is a terrific way to preserve and share digital versions of papers and photographs. The Library of Congress explains the basics of scanning in a blog post and an instructional video. You can also add descriptions into your digital photos, in much the same way as you would write on the back of a paper photo.

Scan newspaper clippings too. Newspaper ages poorly, when folded it can rip at the creases and it can crumble when being handled. Print a scanned copy if you want a hard copy. Computer paper ages better than newspaper does.

Another reason to scan photos is to rescue them. Photos may fade due to their chemical composition or because they may have been in direct sunlight for a long time. (Institutions rotate their collections regularly to avoid the damage from light and environmental exposure.) “Resist the idea of framing things,” McAleer said. “They really should not be exposed to light for too long. You can make a copy and frame that but keep the original out of the light.”

Photo by Laura Kells, the Library of Congress.

If you have hundreds of photos, think about if you really want to scan them all. That may add pressure on you. Again, be realistic with your time. Consider being selective and only scanning the special photos or documents that you value the highest. Most institutions don’t have the resources to scan everything so they digitize their collections selectively; maybe you should too.

Disks and Digital Storage Media

If the collection includes computer disks, scan the disks for viruses before you open the contents. Don’t put everything else on your computer at risk. Before opening a file, make a duplicate of it and open the duplicate to avoid any accidental modifications. That way you’ll still have the original if you mess something up.

If the disks contain files in an old format that you can’t access, but you believe those files might contain something of interest or value, archive those files with your other digital stuff. You can either find a professional service to open them or someday you might find a resource that will enable you to open them.

Digital Preservation

Save your digital files properly. Organize the scanned files on your computer and back them up on a separate drive. If you acquire disorganized computer files, organize the clutter as best you can within a file system. To help you find specific files again, you can rename those files, without affecting their contents.

Archiving a Life Story

Organizing personal collections can be a way to tell a story about your life or the life of a loved one. “I don’t think people should be afraid to curate these collections,” McAleer said. “Zooming in and narrowing in on one particular story or one particular item can actually have a little bit more impact.”

Kells said, “Old letters give you a sense of the people, even if there’s not much to the letters and cards. It shows you what they valued. What they did, what they ate, what holidays they celebrated.” McAleer said, “Letters provide a voice and by grouping them together you release a kind of narrative.”

What was in her wallet or purse? What did she keep near to her? “There are probably certain things in a drawer somewhere that tell a story,” Kells said. “You could create a time capsule about a loved one.

“Not everyone values this stuff but if you archive it, it will be there for somebody in a later generation. There may be one person who really cares about their family history and will be glad to have it.”

[For more information, visit the Library of Congress’s pages on “Collections Care” and “Personal Digital Archiving.”]

DPLA: A Librarian in situ: Adventures at DPLAfest in Washington, DC

planet code4lib - Wed, 2016-05-11 15:00

This guest post was written by Jasmine Burns, Image Technologies and Visual Literacy Librarian, Indiana University and DPLA + DLF ‘Cross-Pollinator.’ (Twitter: @jazz_with_jazz)

Thanks to the generous support of the DPLA + DLF Cross-Pollinator Grant, I spent two fully-packed days wandering through some of the most beautiful (both architecturally and intellectually) institutions in Washington DC. DPLAfest was perfectly self-described: a festival of workshops, conversations, and collaborations between hundreds of librarians, authors, coders, publishers, educators, and more. This community that converged on Capitol Hill left me feeling inspired and exhausted, as I returned home with a laundry list of new ideas and long-term goals.

My initial interest in attending DPLAfest was to gain a closer glimpse into the large and growing community of the Digital Public Library of America. I graduated from an MLIS program last May and immediately started my first professional position in an academic library as the Image Technologies and Visual Literacy Librarian. As an emerging professional, I am still navigating the transient landscape of useful and applicable tools, pedagogies, and resources that are relevant to the needs of my campus community. The programming at DPLAfest seemed to combine many of the topics and areas that I have been utilizing as a visual resources professional. The opportunity to dig much deeper into these resources with the mission of creating collaborations and connections with the DLF community was an ideal framework for my experience in Washington.

Copyright + digital libraries. Packed room! #DPLAfest

— Jasmine Burns (@Jazz_with_Jazz) April 14, 2016

The first day of the fest kicked off at the Library of Congress with breakfast and coffee (!!), the debut of (VERY exciting in library-land), the release of the 100 Primary Source Sets (which I promptly emailed to my K-12 teacher friends), and the first ever selfie to be added to DPLA! For the remainder of the day I attended a workshop on geovisualization, sat in on a fantastic conversation about Authorship in the Digital Age, learned all about GIFs and how to make them (by far my favorite!), attended a totally packed, standing-room only session on copyright, and finally got to hear about the fantastic public domain drop at NYPL Labs.

US National Archives exhibition, “Records of Rights”

Somewhere in between the action, I even had the chance to pop over to the Madison building to catch up with some of my old co-workers at the Prints and Photographs Division and eat lunch in the Great Hall! After running to my hotel to catch my breath, I meandered down to the National Archives, where I had drinks and hors d’oeuvre with the Declaration of Independence and got completely lost in the exhibits (both literally and figuratively). I was so busy geeking out about how the exhibits actually looked like archives (solander boxes and everything) that I forgot to do much socializing at all!

The next morning, I headed back to the National Archives to start round two (and coincidentally ran into my cousin on the street, I guess DC is more of a small town than I thought!). Day two started with a much appreciated breakfast buffet, and a session showcasing some fabulous digital projects. Next, I learned everything I ever wanted to know about IIIF, listened in on presentations about API Development, and rounded out the whole shebang with a train ride back to my family in Virginia, all while participating in the #DPLAfest tweetstorm.

I have never been to a conference with a sign language interpreter! #DPLAfest! #inclusive #loveit

— Jasmine Burns (@Jazz_with_Jazz) April 14, 2016

This was the first conference I have attended where I wasn’t presenting, organizing, or attending committee meetings. I felt like I could sit back, absorb the content, and tweet away to my heart’s desire. I had never had the time to live-tweet a conference, and this was my first time archiving my thoughts in 140 character chunks. I felt that the most important benefits of the conference were moments when I was able to recognize the human element behind the digital resources that I use all the time by putting a face behind a platform (specifically NYPL Labs, IIIF, DPLA Developers, etc). It is not often the case that I leave a conference wishing that it had been longer or that I could have spoken to more people, but DPLAfest exceeded many of my expectations from the start, and I am grateful to DLF for this trip.


Special thanks to the Digital Library Federation for making the DPLAfest Cross-Pollinator grant possible.

LibUX: Alexa-ish Top 100 Library Websites

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-05-10 23:48

Alexa — the web-traffic data folks, not the all-seeing skynet precursor — ranks sites by traffic, which makes for an easily accessible sample that data-nerds can use to gauge the average speed of the top e-commerce pages or the state of accessibility among the most popular destinations on the web.

You might find it huh-worthy that Alexa actually has a top-site list for libraries, were you to follow the breadcrumb Top Sites > Category > Reference > Libraries. The caveat is that Alexa’s list as-is includes sites that don’t really fit (e.g., Goodreads, Blackboard), so I did a little cleanup.

I stripped —

  • university homepages that happened to mention libraries
  • library vendors and third-party apps
  • repositories — large and small — that didn’t actually represent a library
  • presidential, country, and state libraries
  • some art museums

— because either these were algorithmic goofs or didn’t totally represent the mean.

That said, I put together the following list of 100 high-traffic library websites in the order they appear. Let me know if you find it useful.

Want to help?

Amy Drayer pointed out that there are better-ranked sites missing from this list, which can be tricky to suss out if Alexa decides they aren’t libraries. If you find an error or want to help, we started a party on github.

Top 100 Library Websites by Traffic Name URL New York Public Library University of Texas Libraries Penn Libraries University of Toronto Libraires University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries Cornell University Library University of Minnesota Libraries University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library University of Washington Libraries Virginia Tech University Libraries Vanderbilt Jean and Alexander Heard Library Yale University Library California Digital Library Berkeley Library Purdue University Libraries OhioLINK NYU Libraries Penn State University Libraries University of British Columbia Library Duke University Libraries University of Iowa Libraries University of Chicago Library Boston Public Library Michigan State University Libraries BYU Harold B. Lee Library Rutgers University Libraries University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries University of Maryland Libraries Georgetown University Library University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library Texas A&M University Libraries University of Alberta Libraries University of Arizona Libraries University of Kansas Libraries UCLA Library Northwestern University Library Brown University Library Florida State University Libraries Colorado State University Libraries UC Santa Barbara Library Western University Libraries Columbia University Libraries University of Cambridge Library Ohio University Libraries University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries University of Rochester Libraries The Huntington University of Pittsburgh Library System Ohio State University Libraries University ofGuelph Library UNC Chapel Hill Libraries University of Notre Dame Hesburgh Libraries Southern Illinois University Libraries Miami University Libraries Stony Brook University Libraries University of Cincinnati Libraries Kent State University Libraries Princeton University Library University of Hawaii at Manoa Library Biblioteka Narodowa University of Tennessee Knoxville Libraries University of Alabama Libraries Bibliotheque de Universite Laval Queen’s University Library UCSF Library Oklahoma State University Library UC Santa Cruz Library Boston University Libraries UC Riverside Library Iowa State University Library MIT Libraries UCI Libraries UC San Diego Library MacOdrum Library University of Virginia Library Temple University Libraries University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences Library System lSU Libraries Cleveland Public Library University of Oregon Libraries Washington State University Libraries University of Manchester Library Carnegie Mellon University Libraries Georgia Tech Library Welch Medical Library lSE Library Claude Moore Health Sciences Library Warwick the Library Harvard Business School Baker Library University of Kentucky Libraries Auburn University Libraries McMaster University Library lane Medical Library UIC University Library Oregon State University Libraries University of Waterloo Library University of Houston Libraries University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries George Washington University Health Sciences Library

The post Alexa-ish Top 100 Library Websites appeared first on LibUX.

M. Ryan Hess: W3C’s CSS Framework Review

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-05-10 22:24

I’m a longtime Bootstrap fan, but recently I cheated on my old framework. Now I’m all excited by the W3C’s new framework.

Like Bootstrap, the W3C’s framework comes with lots of nifty utilities and plug and play classes and UI features. Even if you have a good CMS, you’ll find many of their code libraries quite handy.

And if you’re CMS-deficient, this framework will save you time and headaches!

Why a Framework?

Frameworks are great for saving time. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel for standard UI chunks like navigation, image positioning, responsive design, etc.

All you need to do is reference the framework in your code and you can start calling the classes to make your site pop.

And this is really great since not all well-meaning web teams have an eye for good design. Most quality frameworks look really nice, and they get updated periodically to keep up with design trends.

And coming from this well-known standards body, you can also be assured that the W3C’s framework complies with all the nitty-gritty standards all websites should aspire to.

Things to Love

Some of the things I fell in love with include:

  • CSS-driven navigation menus. There’s really no good reason to rely on JavaScript for a responsive, interactive navigation menu. The W3C agrees.
  • Icon support. This framework allows you to choose from three popular icon sets to bring icons right into your interface.
  • Image support: Lots of great image styling including circular cropping, shadowing, etc.
  • Cards. Gotta love cards in your websites and this framework has some very nice looking card designs for you to use.
  • Built-in colors. Nuff sed.
  • Animations. There are plenty of other nice touches like buttons that lift off the screen, elements that drop into place and much more.

I give it a big thumbs up!

Check it out at the



LITA: Dr. June Abbas Wins 2016 LITA/OCLC Kilgour Research Award

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-05-10 19:34

Dr. June Abbas, Professor of Library and Information Studies at the University of Oklahoma, has been selected as the recipient of the 2016 Frederick G. Kilgour Award for Research in Library and Information Technology sponsored by OCLC and the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA).

The Kilgour Award is given for research relevant to the development of information technologies, especially work which shows promise of having a positive and substantive impact on any aspect(s) of the publication, storage, retrieval and dissemination of information, or the processes by which information and data is manipulated and managed. The winner receives $2,000, a citation, and travel expenses to attend the LITA Awards Ceremony & President’s Program at the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando (FL).

Dr. Abbas has published more than 100 articles with the h-index of 13 since 2008, which demonstrates a significant impact on the field as seen from the more than 600 citations that many of those publications received. She has also authored and edited two books, contributed 10 book chapters, and developed several research/technical reports and specifications. In addition, she obtained over $1,600,000 in grant awards resulting in 23 funded grant projects. Two recent projects among those are “The Digital Latin Library: Implementation Grant” with the award amount of $1,000,000 funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 2015 and “Partnering to Build a 21st Century Community of Oklahoma Academic Librarians” with the award amount of $414,545 funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services from 2009-2013.

Her research areas are information-seeking and information system use and design, organization of information, and the changing nature of information and systems. As such, her research fits well with the purpose of the Kilgour Award, which aims at bringing attention to research relevant to the development of information technologies. The nomination letter states: “Dr. Abbas’ work has contributed substantially to our understanding of the provision of information resources in the context of libraries and our entire digital society through the study of processes by which information and data are manipulated and managed. The core purpose of Dr. Abbas’s research program is to provide individuals and communities with effortless access to accurate, relevant information through the development of information technologies that facilitate the storage, retrieval and dissemination of data and information.”

Bohyun Kim, Chair of the Kilgour Award Committee noted that “Dr. Abbas’ outstanding record of interrelated and cutting edge papers, books, and conference publications, and the garnering of over $1,600,000 in funding to advance her work, are all a brilliant testament to how this talented and productive puzzle master’s in-depth explorations have helped to solve, and will continue to break new ground in, problems in the provision of information resources in this era where information systems are highly dynamic and new forms of information ecologies seem to develop in the blink of an eye. The Committee was impressed with her work and believes that it will have continued impact on the field of library and information technologies.”

When notified she had won the Award, Dr. Abbas said, “I am deeply honored to accept the Fredrick G. Kilgour Award. He was a librarian, innovator, visionary but pragmatic thinker, leader and guide whose contributions to libraries, cataloging, and interlibrary loan are unparalleled. Under his direction OCLC has not only changed the way libraries and information organizations create and share bibliographic records worldwide but how the world views the potentials of networked information. His spirit truly embodied one of the core values of librarianship to which I hold dear, providing equitable, user-centered access to information. Developing new ways in which the emerging technologies of computers and networks could be used in meaningful ways to provide access, enable collaboration, and sharing of electronic records are but a few of the many legacies he has gifted the profession and the world. I am grateful and humbled to be named the 2016 LITA/OCLC Fredrick G. Kilgour Award winner.”

The members of the 2016 Frederick G. Kilgour Award Committee are: Bohyun Kim (Chair); Ellen Bahr; Jason Simon; Margaret Heller; Tabatha Farney; Tao Zhang, and Roy Tennant (OCLC Liaison).

About OCLC

OCLC is a nonprofit global library cooperative providing shared technology services, original research and community programs so that libraries can better fuel learning, research and innovation. Through OCLC, member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the most comprehensive global network of data about library collections and services. Libraries gain efficiencies through OCLC’s WorldShare, a complete set of library management applications and services built on an open, cloud-based platform. It is through collaboration and sharing of the world’s collected knowledge that libraries can help people find answers they need to solve problems. Together as OCLC, member libraries, staff and partners make breakthroughs possible.

About LITA

Established in 1966, 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 nearly 2,700 systems librarians, library technologists, library administrators, library schools, vendors, and many 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 Blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

Dan Cohen: Ken Burns and Mrs. Jennings

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-05-10 19:06

As the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, William Adams, noted at the beginning of last night’s Jefferson Lecture, Ken Burns was an extraordinarily apt choice to deliver this honorary talk in the celebratory 50th year of the Endowment. Tens of millions of Americans have viewed his landmark documentaries on the Civil War, jazz, baseball, and other topics pivotal to U.S. history and culture.

Burns began his talk with a passionate defense of the humanities. The humanities and history, by looking at bygone narratives and especially by listening to the voices of others from the past—and showing their faces in Burns’s films, as Chairman Adams helpfully highlighted—prod us to understand the views of others, and thus, we hope, expand our capacity for tolerance. We have indeed lost the art of seeing through others’ eyes—perspective-taking—to disastrous results online and off. It was good to hear Burns’s fiery rhetoric on this subject.

His sense that the past is still so very present, especially the deep scar of slavery and racism, was equally powerful. As Burns reminded us, the very lecture he was giving was named after a Founder and American president who owned a hundred people and who failed to liberate even one during his lifetime.

While there were many grand and potent themes to Burns’s lecture, and many beautiful and haunting phrases, in my mind the animating and central element in his talk was a personal story, and a person. And it is worth thinking more about that smaller history to understand Burns’s larger sense of history. (Before reading further, I encourage you to read the full lecture, which is now up on the NEH website.)

* * *

When Burns was just a small boy, only 9 years old, his mother became terminally ill with cancer, and the family needed help as their lives unraveled. His father hired Mrs. Jennings, an African-American woman who was literally from the other side of the tracks in Newark, Delaware. Burns clearly bonded strongly with Mrs. Jennings; he loved her as a “surrogate mother” and someone who loved him and stood strong for him in a time of great stress and uncertainty.

Then came a moment that haunts Burns to this day, a moment he admits to thinking about every week for over 50 years. His father took a job at the University of Michigan, in part so that his deteriorating wife could get medical care at the university hospital. The family would have to move. They packed up, and on the way out of town, took a final stop at Mrs. Jennings’ house. As Burns recounts the moment:

She greeted us warmly, as she always did, but she was also clearly quite upset and worried to see us go, concerned about our family’s dire predicament. Just as we were about to head off for the more than twelve-hour drive to our new home, Mrs. Jennings leaned into the back of the car to give me a hug and kiss goodbye. Something came over me. I suddenly recoiled, pressed myself into the farthest corner of the back seat, and wouldn’t let her.

Burns sees this moment, which he had never recounted publicly before last night and which immediately hushed the audience, as a horrific emergence of racism in his young self. Internalizing the “n-word” that was used all around him in the early 1960s, he couldn’t bring himself, at this crucial moment, to simply lean forward and hug and kiss Mrs. Jennings.

In this way, and in this story, Ken Burns’s Jefferson lecture was, perhaps more than anything, a plea for forgiveness. In the largely white audience, you could sense, at that tense, core moment of his talk, the self-recognition of those in the darkness, who knew that they, too, had had moments like Ken’s—a deep-seated inability to treat a black friend or colleague or neighbor with the humanity they deserved and desired.

* * *

Upon further reflection, I think there is something in the story of Ken Burns and Mrs. Jennings that Burns may not have fully articulated, but that, even through his painful self-criticism, he may understand.

That moment of “recoil” is, I believe, more emotionally complex. Undoubtedly it includes the terrible mark of racism that Burns identified. But he was also a 9-year-old boy whose mother was dying, who was being driven away from his childhood home, the address of which he still remembers by heart as a 62 year old.

Young children respond to intensely stressful moments in ways that adults cannot understand. Surely Ken’s recoil also included feelings of not wanting to leave, not wanting to acknowledge that he was being driven away from all that he knew, with another, certain, grim loss on the horizon. Perhaps most of all, Ken didn’t want to be separated from someone he deeply loved as a human being: Mrs. Jennings. Kids don’t have the same coping mechanisms or situational behavior that adults have. Sometimes when they don’t want to affirm the horror of their present, they retreat into themselves. I hope that Ken Burns can let that possibility in, and begin to forgive himself, as much as he wishes that Mrs. Jennings and his father, who lashed out at him for his recoil, could return and do the forgiving.

If he can begin to forgive himself and recognize the complex feelings of that moment, then the story of Ken Burns and Mrs. Jennings can serve as both an example of the cruel, ongoing impact of racism in the United States, and also as a source of how change happens, albeit all too slowly. Surely Ken Burns’s unconscious reflection on this moment with Mrs. Jennings has been writing itself, subliminally, into his documentaries, and through them, into our own views of American history.

Burns mentioned toward the end of the lecture how African-American pioneers and geniuses such as Louis Amstrong and Jackie Robinson changed the racial views of many white Americans. But just as important, and perhaps more so, are the more complicated, daily interactions such as that between boyhood Ken Burns and Mrs. Jennings, experiences in which cold, dehumanizing stereotyping battles warm, humanizing sentiment. It takes constant work from us all for the latter to win.

[With thanks to my always insightful wife for our conversation about the lecture.]

DPLA: DPLA and the International Image Interoperability Framework

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-05-10 18:15

DPLA, along with representatives of a number of institutions including Stanford University, the Yale Center for British Art, the Bibliothèque nationale de France, and more, is presenting at Access to the World’s Images, a series of events related to the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) in New York City, hosted by the Museum of Modern Art and the New York Academy of Medicine. The events will showcase how institutions are leveraging IIIF to reduce total cost and time to deploy image delivery solutions, while simultaneously improving end user experience with a new host of rich and dynamic features, and promote collaboration within the IIIF community through facilitated conversations and working group meetings.

The IIIF community provides the following overview for its mission and goals:

Access to image-based resources is fundamental to research, scholarship and the transmission of cultural knowledge. Digital images are a container for much of the information content in the Web-based delivery of images, books, newspapers, manuscripts, maps, scrolls, single sheet collections, and archival materials. Yet much of the Internet’s image-based resources are locked up in silos, with access restricted to bespoke, locally built applications. … IIIF has the following goals: to give scholars an unprecedented level of uniform and rich access to image-based resources hosted around the world; to define a set of common application programming interfaces that support interoperability between image repositories; and to develop, cultivate and document shared technologies, such as image servers and web clients, that provide a world-class user experience in viewing, comparing, manipulating and annotating images.

Just like our Hubs are much more than data providers to DPLA, we are also much more than an aggregation. Our core services, which are driven by metadata aggregation, are proving to be successful, indicated by our traffic, with 57% of that traffic via portal and 43% through our API. However, part of our larger role is to stand behind the development of efforts that make cultural heritage materials easier to use and share by anyone who wants to use them. Accordingly, we believe it aligns with our larger mission to support the development and implementation of standards and software that make encourage interoperability and reuse of the materials that we aggregate. In turn, from our perspective, DPLA’s support of the International Image Interoperability Framework aligns naturally with these efforts, and we have been encouraging the adoption across our network.

DPLA has a number of motivations for promoting the adoption of IIIF within our network of partners. As noted, we see a high level of value in the use of open standards both within our community, as well as within allied communities within which we participate. However, IIIF also allows us to begin to address some larger needs at DPLA as well, particularly in terms of improving the user experience of accessing, delivering, reusing, and annotating image resources from our Hubs and partners. Our experience has shown us that this work will also have high value internally at DPLA, allowing us to more easily reuse image content in exhibitions and other curatorial contexts. In particular, we are aware of user experience issues through user testing of the DPLA portal, much of which relate to the “last mile” aspects of delivery to resources that we have aggregated. While some of these issues are not necessarily related to images, these aspects nonetheless impact images for us consistently. Across the board, we have discovered that access to images can often be unclear for many users, especially once they land on a DPLA item page. Furthermore, this is not only true for portal users, but API users as well. A lack of a reliable API to identify images that may provide zoomable views or at specific sizes is essentially impossible right now, without crawling the remote site. The consistency that IIIF would bring to the DPLA community would allow for greater possibilities of reuse.

An image from photographer and moving image pioneer Eadweard Muybridge’s Animal Locomotion series, contributed by Boston Public Library via Digital Commonwealth,

Currently, there are five DPLA hubs with production IIIF implementations. Three Hubs, Digital Commonwealth, Harvard University Library, and the Internet Archive, all have production services running. Two additional hubs have implementations of the Image API. California Digital Library’s new version of Calisphere supports IIIF for a subset of images from a number of specific institutions in the University of California system, including UC Riverside and UC Merced. Finally, two additional hubs, The David Rumsey Map Collection and ARTstor, have been working to push their implementations to production.

Nonetheless, there are some issues that serve at least minor barriers to an exhaustive rollout of IIIF at DPLA, regardless of the value or possibilities implementation would provide. First, DPLA needs to establish how to best represent IIIF-accessible resources within DPLA Metadata Application Profile is based. We have been communicating with both the IIIF community and staff at Europeana and the National Library of Wales about potential modeling decisions, and significant progress was made at the IIIF meetings in Ghent, Belgium in December 2015. Secondly, DPLA doesn’t always know that IIIF resources exist for a given item we’ve harvested, often because the institution hasn’t specified this in the metadata about the item. We are interested in hearing from Hubs and institutions willing to work with us to determine a reliable and consistent way to do this. In addition, we are also concerned about the potential user experience mismatch between IIIF-accessible resources and those which are not, and how to best provide guidance on understanding usage statistics for IIIF image access. We hope to address this in conversation with the IIIF and DPLA communities in the coming year. Finally, we realize that IIIF might be a high bar to cross for some institutions, so we have been considering a number of options, including speaking with vendors and possibly providing an IIIF service, to make it easier to expose image resources effectively.

We are enthusiastic about the possibilities, and hope to be able to prototype IIIF implementations with content from DPLA partners in the coming months. We are interested in hearing your thoughts on this, particularly if you’re part of the DPLA network and have implemented or considering implementing IIIF, so please contact us!

District Dispatch: Ray Patterson would smile

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-05-10 18:02

Members of the Copyright Review Management System (CRMS) team.

The Copyright Review Management System (CRMS) managed by Melissa Levine, Head Copyright Officer and staff at the University of Michigan, is the 2016 L. Ray Patterson Award winner. The University of Michigan library staff created the CRMS to identify works in the HathiTrust digital library collection that are in the public domain.  Thus far, 323,334 titles have been identified, which is really quite astonishing. All of these works are now available as full text in the HathiTrust collection.  They are free for anyone to use in any way that they want because they are not protected by copyright. What makes this effort especially nice is that scores of librarians from across the country have been trained to use the CRMS and contribute to the effort.

One might think identifying works in the public domain should be an easy thing to do – just identify those works that are published before 1923 – but it is a lot more complicated than that. The term of copyright protection has changed several times in the last 50 years, creating a new protection regime from a set number of years –initially 14 years with one opportunity for an additional 14 year renewal – to one based on the life of the author plus 50 years, and then 70 years in 2002.  In addition, legal requirements necessary to formally obtain copyright protection, such as registration and notice, were eliminated because they were thought to be too burdensome for authors and other rights holders. When such formalities were required however, failure to renew and/or failure to place a copyright notice on the physical work led to many works moving into the public domain.  It is a complete mess, compounded by the fact that authoritative records about death dates and copyright transfer records do not exist.  Bottom line is that works published after 1923 may be in the public domain, but a thorough investigation is necessary.  Even then, it is often impossible to really know for sure if a title is public domain because of lack of evidence.  And in rarer, screwy situations, works published before 1923 may still be protected.

ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) gives the Patterson award to an individual or group that demonstrates dedication to a balanced U.S. copyright system through advocacy for a robust fair use doctrine and public domain. The award is named after L. Ray Patterson, a key legal figure who explained and justified the importance of users’ rights to information. Patterson helped articulate that copyright law was shifting from its original purpose and favoring the interests of copyright holders over those of the general public. Peter Hirtle, Affiliate Fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, was one of several people who nominated the CRMS for the award. He remarked, “Among his many accomplishments, Patterson recognized the critical importance of the public domain. I would be hard-pressed to think of a group that has done more to assist librarians in identifying, understanding, and expanding the public domain than CRMS.”

Congratulations to all! Additional information on the L. Ray Patterson Copyright Award is on the ALA Web site.

The post Ray Patterson would smile appeared first on District Dispatch.

HangingTogether: Mapping the Role that Technology Plays in Your Life: The Visitors and Residents App

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-05-10 17:55

Do you ever wonder about the role that technology plays in your life and what services and apps you use? OCLC began collaborating on the Digital Visitors and Residents (V&R) project with funding from Jisc in 2011 to investigate how US and UK individuals engage with technology and how this engagement may or may not change as the individuals transition through their educational stages (White and Connaway 2011-2014). Since that time we have broadened the research to include interviews with individuals in Spain and Italy to include a comparative analysis to identify any geographical or cultural differences. The OCLC team also has conducted an online survey with approximately 150 high school, undergraduate and graduate students and college and university faculty. We hope to have these data analyzed so that we are able to share our findings.

We also began conducting mapping sessions with students, librarians, and faculty using the Visitors and Residents framework and differentiating between engagement in professional/academic and personal contexts and situations. Participation in the mapping exercise is a way for individuals to become aware of how they work, play, and interact with others in a digital environment. If the maps are shared with others, it can help individuals better understand why communication seems to work well with some, but not with others.

These mapping sessions were conducted using paper and pencil or pen. Examples of these maps are included in the EDUCAUSE Review paper, “I always stick with the first thing that comes up on Google…” Where People Go for Information, What They Use, and Why (Connaway, Lanclos, and Hood 2013). In order to collect and analyze these handwritten maps we had to ask the creators of the maps to take photos of them and to email them to us.

After much discussion with my colleague, William Harvey, PhD, OCLC Consulting Engineer, he developed an app that can be used on most smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers. William co-led the usability testing of the app with Mike Prasse, OCLC Lead User Experience Researcher. High school, undergraduate, and graduate students, faculty, and librarians used the app on different devices and provided feedback on what was fun, what worked, and what functionalities they thought we should add. Based on their feedback, the app was enhanced and now is available at, with comic book instructions. A video also was created by Carey Champoux, OCLC Video Content Manager, and Andy Havens, OCLC Manager, Branding and Creative Services, to explain how to use the V&R mapping app.


Once individuals complete their maps, they may share with others and they may submit to OCLC Research. If submitted to OCLC Research, we will add the maps created using the app to the other maps collected and analyze them in the aggregate, anonymizing any individual’s identifying information. Those who map their patterns of communication and engagement with technology and submit to OCLC Research will help us make informed recommendations to library staff for the development of services and technologies that are a better fit for library users’ and potential users’ personal and academic lifestyles and to position the library in the life of its users.

As part of the research, I have been conducting V&R mapping sessions with students, faculty, and librarians. After the individuals complete their maps, we display the maps of those who are interested in sharing and discussing them with the group. I conduct the sessions in much the same way one would conduct a semi-structured interview.* The individuals talk about what they included in their maps and I probe and ask more questions based upon their discussion.

Some of the students have been very surprised at the amount of time they spend online. One doctoral student at a US university was very surprised that she was able to draw every icon for every app or social media site from memory. She commented, “I spend way too much time online and using social media than I ever thought I did.”

Others have discussed work-arounds for the library web page and catalog, which I have been able to share with the library staff so that they can make changes to the system or interface. Several doctoral students said that they could not figure out how to email or text themselves bibliographic citations that they found in the university online catalog so they took photos of the display on the library computer screens and texted or emailed the information to themselves. They said they wanted to use their smartphones since they are more convenient than having to take out their laptops or tablets. This also has implications for evaluating how the library web page and catalog display on smartphones, which is the preferred device for many individuals.

Conducting the mapping sessions as semi-structured interviews in a group also has made me aware that not everyone understands the definitions that we have used for Visitors and Residents. We define the visitor mode as one in which “people treat the web as a series of tools. They decide what they want to achieve, chose and appropriate online tool, and then log off. They leave no social trace of themselves online. In resident mode, people live a portion of their lives online and approach the web as a place where they can express themselves and spend time with people. When acting as residents, people visit social networking platforms, and aspects of their digital identity maintain a presence even when they’re not online through their social media profiles” (Connaway, Lanclos, and Hood 2013). However, some individuals, who participate in the mapping exercise, relate the terms visitor and resident to the amount of time one spends engaging with a device, app, etc. This equates to a visitor not using the device or app much and to a resident using the device or app most or all of the time, which is not the intended definitions of the terms. Based on this misconception, I have been thinking about and talking to colleagues about changing the terminology. However, none of the terms suggested seem to be descriptive enough. I welcome any ideas, discussion, and thoughts on new terminology for visitors and residents that would more accurately describe the online presence or lack of online visibility.

This brings up something else that I have been pondering about the visitors and residents framework. That is the fact that we are missing the opportunity to capture individuals’ engagement with the physical environment and resources. I had thought of this early in the individual semi-structured interview data collection stage when the importance of the face-to-face and human contact emerged from the data and were included in our code book and analysis. However, these are not captured in the mapping exercises, which became more evident as I began structuring the group mapping sessions as semi-structured interviews. I am struggling with how to depict the physical environment and resources in the V&R map. Again, I welcome any ideas, discussion, and thoughts on this.

*Connaway and Radford (Forthcoming) define semi-structured interviews as an interview “in which control is shared and questions are open-ended.”


Connaway, Lynn Silipigni, Donna Lanclos, and Erin M. Hood. 2013. “’I always stick with the first thing that comes up on Google…’ Where  People Go for Information, What They Use, and Why.” EDUCAUSE Review Online (December 6),

Connaway, Lynn Silipigni, and Marie L. Radford. Forthcoming. Basic Research Methods in Library and Information Science. 6th ed. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

About Lynn Connaway

Senior Research Scientist at OCLC Research. I study how people get & use information & engage with technology.

Mail | Web | Twitter | More Posts (3)

DPLA: Announcing the second class of the Ebooks Curation Corps

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-05-10 17:09

We are very pleased to welcome and introduce six new members of the DPLA Curation Corps, a group of librarians and other information professionals from around the country who will continue to select and curate the books available in Open eBooks and provide guidance for DPLA’s ongoing work to help maximize access to our collections of ebooks and library ebooks overall.

Selected from a strong group of applicants, the newest Curation Corps members will join returning members to select new content for the Open eBooks app that represent diverse, compelling, and appropriately targeted books for students from elementary to high school.  Member represent a wide range of experiences, serving diverse communities, special education classrooms, and military families. For more on our new and returning members, visit the Curation Corps page.

The Curation Corps will select top content, highlight kid favorites, and help categorize titles to make them more discoverable inside the app to ensure that there is something for every child to read, enjoy, and learn from. Members also provide outreach about the program within their communities via blogs, social media, professional affiliations, and regional presentations.

To learn more about Open eBooks, visit the Open eBooks page. If you’re interested in learning more about DPLA’s efforts to expand access to eBooks, visit the DPLA and eBooks page. Questions? Email us.

2016 Curation Corps Members:

Visit the Curation Corps page for full bios.

  • Elisha Brookover *
  • Edith Campbell
  • Patricia Dollisch *
  • Deb Fidali *
  • Rob Fleisher *
  • Daniela Guardiola
  • Dorothy M. Hughes
  • Emily Kean
  • Savannah Kitchens
  • Lucretia Miller
  • Maura O’Toole
  • Vandy Pacetti-Donelson
  • Kelly McGorray Roberts *
  • Jessica Zillhart *

*Denotes new member


Jonathan Rochkind: Commercial gmail plugin to turn gmail into a help desk

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-05-10 15:46

This looks like an interesting product; I didn’t even know this level of gmail plugin was supported by gmail.

Help desk ticketing, with assignment, priorities, notes, and built-in response-time metrics, all within your gmail inbox (support emails are in a separate tab from your regular email).

The cost is $49/month for the ‘unlimited’ plan (capped at 5 users for $29/month).

I think this product could be a good fit for libraries dealing with patron reference/help questions, I think many libraries don’t have very user-friendly interfaces for this at present. I think the price is pretty reasonable at $1000/year, probably cheaper than most alternatives and within the budgets of many libraries.

Filed under: General

FOSS4Lib Recent Releases: Format Identification for Digital Objects - 1.3.3

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-05-10 14:33

Last updated May 10, 2016. Created by Peter Murray on May 10, 2016.
Log in to edit this page.

Package: Format Identification for Digital ObjectsRelease Date: Tuesday, May 10, 2016

William Denton: Conforguring dotfiles

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-05-10 14:24

I’ve added my dotfiles to Conforguration: they are there as raw files in the dotfiles directory, and has code blocks that will put them in place on localhost or remote machines.

I did some general cleanup to the file as well. There’s a lot of duplication, which I think some metaprogramming might fix, but for now it works and does what I need. My .bashrc is now finally the same everywhere (custom settings go in .bash.$HOSTNAME.rc) which is a plus.

William Denton: Conforguring dotfiles

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-05-10 14:24

I’ve added my dotfiles to Conforguration: they are there as raw files in the dotfiles directory, and has code blocks that will put them in place on localhost or remote machines.

I did some general cleanup to the file as well. There’s a lot of duplication, which I think some metaprogramming might fix, but for now it works and does what I need. My .bashrc is now finally the same everywhere (custom settings go in .bash.$HOSTNAME.rc) which is a plus.

Islandora: Looking Back at iCampFL

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-05-10 14:16

Last week the Islandora Foundation had the privilege of taking Islandora Camp to Fort Myers, Florida, courtesy of our gracious hosts at Florida Gulf Coast University. Full credit goes to Melissa VandeBurgt and her awesome colleagues Kaleena Rivera, Guy Cicinelli, Parker Fruehan, and Lauren McCraney for having us in their space and making everything run so very smoothly.

It's the attendees that make the camp, and iCampFL was fortunate to have a great group. Florida has a very strong local Islandora community, including big teams at Florida State University (yay DigiNoles!) and Florida Virtual Campus, both members of the Islandora Foundation. We also welcomed guests from further afield - Vermont, Pennsylvania, Ontario, and Chile, to name a few. With 33 attendees from a wide variety of universities, service companies, and library consortia, it turned out to be a pretty perfect group for an Islandora Camp and we had an amazing time. There was plenty of great discussion about Islandora CLAW and the future of the project, tools and resources we can share right now, and how everyone can become more engaged with the Islandora community and make a contribution that suits their skills.

Beautiful location? For sure:

Last day of #islandora iCamp, beautiful day on the FGCU campus. @islandora

— Guy Cicinelli (@GuyCicinelli) May 6, 2016

Islandora Camp Jorts.

— nick ruest (@ruebot) May 4, 2016

We had a great time at #iCampFL, but its time for the FSU web dev team to hit up Miami!

— Bryan J. Brown (@bryjbrown) May 6, 2016

Great Presentations? Absolutely:

Local flavour? Apparently:

I've now ate gator at a Bass Pro Shop.

My life is complete. #florida

— nick ruest (@ruebot) May 3, 2016

And that was Islandora Camp Florida. If you'd like to join us for another Islandora Camp this year, you have two more chances: iCampBC in Vancouver, July 18 - 20 and iCampMO in Kansas City October 12 - 14. We hope to see you there!

Library of Congress: The Signal: O Email! My Email! Our Fearful Trip is Just Beginning: Further Collaborations with Archiving Email

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-05-10 13:25

Apologies to Walt Whitman for co-opting the first line of his famous poem O Captain! My Captain!  but solutions for archiving email are not yet anchor’d safe and sound. Thanks to the collaborative and cooperative community working in this space, however, we’re making headway on the journey.

Email Archiving Stewardship Tools Workshop final panel. Franziska Frey, Christopher Prom, Glynn Edwards, Riccardo Ferrante, and Wendy Gogel. Photo courtesy of Kari Smith.

Email archiving as a distinct research area has been around a while but the discipline is still very much emergent. Stanford University Library, for example, has been working on acquiring and processing email from collections since 2010. ePADD’s Glynn Edwards can trace her initial conversation on developing email archiving software  with Smithsonian Institution Archives’ Ricc Ferrante at the 2012 Society of American Archivists conference in San Diego and she agrees it is very gratifying to see the growth of support and interest, especially over the past year.

The Archiving Email Symposium (videos of the presentations are now available), hosted by the Library of Congress and the National Archives in June 2015, was one of the inspirations for the Email Archiving Stewardship Tools (Harvard EAST) workshop at Harvard Library on March 2-3, 2016. In addition to Harvard and the Library of Congress, participants for the workshop included the Smithsonian Institution Archives, Stanford University Libraries’ ePADD project, MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Artefactual Systems and BitCurator Consortium.

The high-level goals of the two-day workshop, organized by Harvard’s Wendy Gogel and Grainne Reilly, were community building, updating each other on current work, identifying and prioritizing gap areas and exposing the HL community to email-archiving efforts in the field at large. Just bringing the group together ticked off the first goal so we started the day with a mark in the win column.

Glynn Edwards summed up the mood in the room this way: “It was exciting to be part of the working group at Harvard sharing information about our various tools, processes, and needs and to begin conceptualizing a path of data and metadata through different tools contingent on their workflows. There was a lot of energy in the room and a willingness to work together to find ways to re-purpose metadata between tools and collaborate on building shared lexicons to assist with processing and discovery.”

Harvard’s Widener Library. Photograph courtesy of Kate Murray

Edwards also found inspiration in Prom’s statement that “email is one of the richest, one of the most revealing, if not the most revealing, of sources currently being generated.” She goes on to say that “while correspondence has always been an important format in archival collections; email is often more – more immediate, more complex, more exposing. This is highlighted again on an almost weekly basis in breaking news – as the Governor’s emails regarding Flint Michigan water crisis were released or emails and documents referred to as the Panama Papers were leaked.”

My personal interest is in the digital formats used for email messages and other personal information manager or PIM formats including calendaring, text and instant messages. As Prom indicated in the DPC Technology Watch Report Preserving Email (PDF), there’s a convergence in the email archiving community around the MBOX family and EML as de facto preservation formats for email messages primarily because of two related factors: transparency and integration with toolsets.

EML format description from LC’s Sustainability of Digital Formats website

The Library of Congress’s Sustainability of Digital Formats website defines transparency, one of seven sustainability factors, as “the degree to which the digital representation is open to direct analysis with basic tools, including human readability using a text-only editor.”

Native or normalized MBOX and EML files also can be used as access copies because they can be imported into a variety of email clients. It’s no surprise then that these two plain text and very transparent formats, MBOX and EML, are integrated into popular email archiving tools and most modern email clients can import and export one or both of the formats. The Smithsonian Institution Archives’ CERP toolset ingests MBOX-formatted messages before converting to XML, as will the still-in-development DArcMail (Digital Archive Mail System). The ePADD project developed at Stanford University Libraries also requires MBOX for ingest. Harvard University Libraries’ Electronic Archiving System (EAS) ingests EML-formatted messages.

The MBOX format family from the Sustainability of Digital Formats website

Harvard EAST workshop participants discussed some of the issues with these formats, including the lack of format validation tools and the challenges of working with formats, like MBOX, without documented standards.

Reflecting again on Whitman’s poem, email archiving is still a work in progress and our voyage of discovery is nowhere near closed and done. However, projects like the Harvard EAST workshop move us all further along.

LibUX: 037 – [Terrifying] Voice User Interfaces with Jason Griffey

planet code4lib - Tue, 2016-05-10 00:27

Jason Griffey swings by world-famous LibUX headquarters to geek-out with Michael about voice user interfaces. We get stoked and portend ill futures.

Jason’s the founder and principal at Evenly Distributed, a technology consulting and creation firm for libraries, museums, education, and other non-profits, a well as a Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and was formerly an Associate Professor and Head of Library Information Technology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Here’s what we talked about

What if we didn’t need to learn arcane commands? What if you could use the most effective and powerful communication tool ever invented? This tool evolved over millions of years and allows you to express complex ideas in very compact and data dense ways yet can be nuanced to the width of a hair [2]. What is this tool? It is our voice. Brian Roemmele

  • 8:46 – We talk about the benefits of the data-crunching power behind the Amazon Echo in Amazon web services compared to Apple’s Siri.
  • 10:10 – IBM Watson‘s API and developer community
  • 11:30 – HTML5 Web Speech API

She saw this as an entity, as a person – not as a thing, but as a conversational partner! Jason Griffey, on his daughter’s reaction to Alexa

  • 17:00 – It’s all about empathizing with the things we use! We tend to think voice interfaces are cool because it makes doing hard programm-y things easier, but the tangential thing they bring is company, community.
  • 18:45 – On interfaces responding to your tone of voice.
  • 21:19 – Have we seen any of this implemented in libraries or at the higher-ed level?
  • 24:00 – On gender

It is no accident that every single one we have named that is commercially available and sold to people — Cortana, Siri, Google Now, and Alexa — those are female gendered. These are all bots that are the result of someone building them, they are all gendered in a way that I think is problematic.Jason Griffey

  • 30:23 – Creating a personality that would anticipate the personality you need at at that time!

If you like, you can download the MP3, or you can subscribe to LibUX on Stitcher, iTunes, Google Play Music, SoundCloud or plug our feed right into your podcatcher of choice. Help us out and say something nice. You can find every podcast right here on

The post 037 – [Terrifying] Voice User Interfaces with Jason Griffey appeared first on LibUX.


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