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William Denton: Firefox privacy—updated

planet code4lib - Thu, 2015-06-25 02:18

Here’s an update to my post a month ago about the Firefox extensions I use on my laptop to increase privacy. I’m no expert, and it may do little or nothing against spy agencies, but it does confuse corporate tracking, which is also important. One key point, which does defend against spy agencies: use Tor more (but watch out). Every grain of sand we each throw in the gears is a help.

Remove Chromium

First, though, yesterday I deleted Chromium, the purportedly free and open browser that Google extends to make Chrome, its proprietary browser. I had used it as the only browser for using my Google accounts (which are purely for work) and for other web sites that had unreasonable demands for cookies and Javascript but that I had to use (such as for buying a ticket to a concert). Then I saw Rick Falkvinge’s Google Chrome listening in to your room shows the importance of privacy defense in depth, which reports that the browser was secretly downloading a binary that would let it listen for “ok google” in order to trigger searches.

The browser required a setting to be turned on to actually start listening, Google says, but nevertheless, without my knowing it, a blob of unknown code had been installed on my computer that could listen to my microphone. The links in Falkvinge’s piece are worth following to what developers thought of this and how Google handled it. The Guardian picked up the story with Google eavesdropping tool installed on computers without permission.

My response:

$ sudo apt-get purge chromium-browser

Of course, I am walking around with a perfectly constructed and highly sophisticated monitoring device in my pocket which must have its microphone turned on—because it’s my phone—but that’s another issue.

I’m not sure what browser I’ll now use for Google access.

Extensions I use

Now, the extensions. I deleted Adblock Plus and now use uBlock, thanks to a recommendation on Twitter. It’s under the GPL v3 and completely free and open, and isn’t, in effect, a protection racket, as described in Both AdBlock Plus and the media are worried about Safari’s upcoming features.

AdBlock Plus needs to work well for its parent company to make money. Not from its users, of course, but from the companies that want to pay the company to make sure their advertisements aren’t blasted into oblivion by the extension.

On my phone I’m still seeing lots of ads (and hence being tracked) but that’s another issue too.

I also installed NoScript, which I should have done a long time ago. It blocks Javascript (and some other things) on sites unless I enable it where I want it to run. It comes with a whitelist, but it’s editable.

This is my updated list of privacy extensions, with their licenses (MPL == Mozilla Public License, GPL == GNU Public License) and links to source if public:


Check in on Lightbeam every few days to see a nice visualization of how your information is being passed from one site to another. It’s incredible.

Blocking referrers

None of those do anything with the HTTP referer header, so I looked into how to handle that myself. Opening the (pseudo-)URL about:config in Firefox and searching for referer (an aged misspelling) showed this:

Finding the details of these is strangely difficult on the Mozilla Firefox site, but Improve online privacy by controlling referrer information documents them.

  • 0: always send referrer (default).
  • 1: only send if base domains match.
  • 2: only send if hosts match.

I set this to 1.

  • false: send the referrer (default).
  • true: spoof the referrer and instead use the target URI

I set this to true.

  • 0: send full URI (default)
  • 1: send scheme, host, port and path
  • 2: send scheme, host and port

I set this to 2.

  • 0. never send the referring URL
  • 1. send when following a link
  • 2. send when following a link or loading an image (default)

I set this to 1.

This may stop some sites from working. I’ll wait and see.


Eric Hellman’s Protect reader privacy with referrer meta tags told me about the new referrer (finally properly spelled) meta tag in HTML 5, which allows a site owner to suggest to a browser what referrer information it should pass on to a linked site. You’re viewing this over HTTPS, so this shouldn’t matter when linking to a non-secure HTTP site: 15.1.3 Encoding Sensitive Information in URI’s in RFC 2616 says, “Clients SHOULD NOT include a Referer header field in a (non-secure) HTTP request if the referring page was transferred with a secure protocol.” However, my URL would be passed on to HTTPS sites. To prevent this, I added this to my page template:

<meta name="referrer" content="origin-when-cross-origin" />

This means that links leading off my site should pass on that the browser came from, without giving the particular page, but links staying inside my site will pass the full referring URL.

Use Tor more

I’m using Tor more. I try to use it for as much regular anonymous browsing as I can: just reading the newspapers or looking at blogs or checking something on Wikipedia or any other normal behaviour. Using Tor like this has two wide advantages: it increases the overall traffic on the network, which helps confuse what everyone else is doing, and it means that more Tor traffic hits regular web sites, which also helps confuse what everyone else is doing. The more people that use it, the better for everyone.

It has its faults. It shows ads! Here’s what the Toronto Star home page looks like right now in Tor:

Not only do I see the ad at the top, which uBlock prevents, it’s messed up and ugly. But I don’t mind.

Using Tor (or ssh) means that you become a permanent target of the security agencies and everything you do will be logged and analyzed, so know what you’re doing.

Still, every grain of sand we each throw in the gears is a help.

DuraSpace News: DSpace User Group Highlights from OAI9

planet code4lib - Thu, 2015-06-25 00:00

From Bram Luyten, @mire  

Heverlee, Belgium  The OAI9 Conference held in Geneva shed light on a wide range of current open access developments. With over 138 countries represented, it was more than a success. As member of the organizing committee Jens Vigen stated: “Geneva is the place where people meet and particles collide”. We could not agree more.

HangingTogether: University reputation and ranking – another way that Europe is not like US

planet code4lib - Wed, 2015-06-24 22:35

View of Union Square during the Research Library Partnership meeting via Roy Tennant Instagram

The OCLC Research Library Partnership Rep, Rank & Role meeting was held in San Francisco, California on 3-4 June 2015. It focused on the library’s contribution to university ranking and researcher reputation. A distinguished group of speakers provided a mix of perspectives. You can check out their slides (and videos) here. You can get a good sense of the conference from these but a few of us have decided to report here on on some of the major themes that shaped interests and interaction. The others will follow soon.

One of our meeting goals was to have these presentations spark discussion among attendees about how the library might advance university goals around reputation, assessment and recording of research. We had a nicely varied attendance that included a contingent from outside the USA. This trans-national dimension also characterized our speakers.

Most importantly, this perspective from outside the US shaped discussions and was one of the most important differentiators of perspective and focus among libraries contemplating their role in the management of information generated by research and related to the research process.

If you operate in a country with a national research assessment regime such as those implemented in the UK, the Netherlands and Australia you think differently about the reputation and ranking challenge, you feel differently about the ways in which research outputs get judged qualitatively, and you emphasize investment in services that respond to these regimes and judgments. And that’s not the way peers in the US think about those same matters. See Keith Webster’s presentation (slides, video) for a nice timeline of assessment emergence and his thoughtful take on the impact of global ranking, the effects on resource discovery and some of the implications for librarians.

[N.B. If you are unfamiliar with these national research assessment exercises you might want to look through this report:
MacColl, John. 2010. Research Assessment and the Role of the Library. Report produced by OCLC Research. Published online. (.pdf: 276K/13 pp.).

Granted it is a few years old but it provides a good introduction to what might be an unfamiliar process see pages 5-8 and catalogs some of the impacts for libraries.]

Where there is a national assessment regime they have been implemented to guide, and in some countries, dictate the award of research funding from the national government agencies that support the university-based research within the country. The tie-in to funding changes the conversation. In the US there is concern about faculty motivation to participate in activities that contribute to university reputation and rank. Services are designed to deliver benefits to researchers. Successful participation is driven by offering a personal individual benefit – a bibliography suitable for website publication, advice about how to increase the readership or citation frequency of a faculty member’s work, introductions to other researchers with similar interests for collaboration and networking, etc. See Ginny Steel’s presentation (slides, video soon) that emphasizes the faculty-centered design of the UCLA reputation management system. Contrast that with Wouter Gerritsma’s view (slides, video soon) of his work at Wageningen University in the Netherlands which began with data and moved on to service provision.

Where research assessment exercises rule there is no question about faculty motivation. It is a requirement. It determines personal reputation, shapes professional contribution and feeds into the local reward system of the home institution. It creates and sustains the more intense interest in bibliometrics and altmetrics that characterizes discussion of reputation and rank in these countries.

It also creates a much franker interest in and discussion of institutional rank. Institutions outside the US are much more likely to have set a public goal of climbing to a particular level in one or more of the global university ranking schemes (THE, QS World, USNews, etc.) Once you begin granular assessment of individual research output it seems to make it easier to be honest about the way that rolls up into institutional striving and ambition. See Jan Wilkinson’s presentation (slides, video soon) about the University of Manchester’s ambitions and her candid assessment of what it takes to move an institution’s ranking. This nicely complimented Jiro Kikuryo’s presentation (slides, video soon) about the challenges of getting non-English language research properly appreciated and linking university ranking ambitions to broader societal values and goals.

Some of the conference discussion made the point that the US is on the same trajectory and only behind in the adoption of these assessment and ranking objectives. The market penetration of the support systems and tools outside the US is deeper but a similar pattern of take-up may unfold in the US over the next few years.

There were at least two areas where those with assessment regimes and those without shared similar concerns. One was with the balance between compliance and service goals. Whether being driven by mandates (like those proceeding from the unfunded OSTP pronouncements in the US) or by funding allocations (like those dictated by the UK’s Research Excellence Framework) librarians worried that their support roles would result in them being viewed as ‘instruments of compliance’ by faculty and research staff. This is at odds with the long history of the library as service and support organization within the academy. There was some feeling that a convergence of the US faculty-oriented service development with the expertise outside the US in implementation and support of assessment tools would be the combination that allows librarians to be viewed as partners at the individual faculty level and as important contributors to university administrative ambitions. See David Seaman’s presentation (slides, video soon) for a candid view of the struggle to reconcile these conflicting goals while developing a new research and reputation management system at Dartmouth.

Another area of shared concern independent of assessment was how to round out the view of research beyond STEM disciplines. There are significant challenges in measuring the research contributions of humanities and social science disciplines. The metrics that have emerged around STEM disciplines don’t fit these disciplines and consequently they are undervalued in both university ranking as well as assessment judgments. There was a desire to bring library expertise to bear even while understanding the systemic and cultural complexity of this challenge. See Catherine Mitchell’s nuanced presentation (slides, video soon) about the humanities push back as she led the California Digital Library’s attempt to introduce a research information management system.

In short, all discussions about reputation and ranking need to be predicated on the presence or absence of national assessment regimes and should take into account the need to offer library services that provide individual benefit, contribute to institutional ambitions, and reflect the full range of impact that research has for the university community, the nation’s citizenry and global society.

About Jim Michalko

Jim coordinates the OCLC Research office in San Mateo, CA, focuses on relationships with research libraries and work that renovates the library value proposition in the current information environment.

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FOSS4Lib Recent Releases: CollectionSpace - 4.2

planet code4lib - Wed, 2015-06-24 18:59

Last updated June 24, 2015. Created by Peter Murray on June 24, 2015.
Log in to edit this page.

Package: CollectionSpaceRelease Date: Wednesday, June 24, 2015

District Dispatch: ALA secures activism leaders for Washington Update session

planet code4lib - Wed, 2015-06-24 18:44

Golden gate bridge and Fort Point in San Francisco. Photo by Jon Sullivan.

For decades, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Library Association (ALA) have stood shoulder to shoulder on the front lines of the fight for privacy online, at the library and in many other spheres of our daily lives. Standing in for EFF Executive Director Cindy Cohn, the award-winning group’s Activism Director, Rainey Reitman, will discuss that proud shared history and the uncertain future of personal privacy during this year’s 2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco.

The session, titled “Frenetic, Fraught and Front Page: An Up-to-the-Second Update from the Front Lines of Libraries’ Fight in Washington,” takes place from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 27, 2015, at the Moscone Convention Center in room 2001 of the West building. Also speaking will be Jackson Bird, communications director and spokesperson for the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) and noted YouTube video producer and blogger. HPA, an online activism community of hundreds of thousands of people, is dedicated to “changing the world by making activism accessible through the power of story.” Since 2005, they have engaged millions of fans through its work for equality, human rights, and literacy and are among the latest national advocacy organizations to actively collaborate with the American Library Association.

In addition to the featured speakers, Adam Eisgrau, managing director of the ALA Office of Government Relations in Washington, will provide up-to-the-minute insight from the congressional trenches of key federal privacy legislation “in play,” including the current status of efforts to reform the USA PATRIOT Act, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), as well as copyright reform, and federal library funding. Also, Larra Clark, deputy director of the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy, will update attendees on critical broadband policy issues and OITP’s multi-year Policy Revolution! initiative.

Participants will have the opportunity to pose questions to the speakers, which include Jackson Bird, communications director, Harry Potter Alliance; Larra Clark, deputy director, Office for Information Technology Policy,  American Library Association Washington Office; Adam Eisgrau, managing director, Office of Government Relations, American Library Association Washington Office; and Rainey Reitman, activism director, Electronic Frontier Foundation.

As the leader of the activism team at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Reitman is especially interested in the intersection between personal privacy and technology, particularly social networking privacy, network security, web tracking, government surveillance, and online data brokers. Reitman is the chief operating officer and co-founder of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a nonprofit organization that defends and supports unique, independent, nonprofit journalistic institutions. In 2013, she received the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award in Journalism. Reitman also is a founder and steering committee member for the Chelsea Manning Support Network, a network of individuals and organizations advocating for the release of accused WikiLeaks whistleblower Private Chelsea Manning.

A speaker, video creator, and wizard activist, Bird began working with the Harry Potter Alliance as a volunteer in 2010 and was hired as the Communications Director and Spokesperson in 2013. He graduated from New York University in 2012 with a Bachelor’s in Comparative Literature and a concentration in Documentary Filmmaking. He regularly speaks about new media and fan activism at events including TEDx Women, MIT’s Futures of Entertainment, Book Expo America, and San Diego Comic-Con. Jackson produces the HPA’s online videos, which have been featured on Upworthy, the Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Mashable, and more. He also writes the horoscopes for the HPA’s quarterly newsletter, The W.A.N.D., and stars on the organization’s YouTube channel as The Boy Who Vlogged. Jackson currently lives in New York City, where he co-runs the Giant Squidstravaganza fanblog, Cephanloblogcast, and can be found on YouTube answering the age-old question, “Will It Waffle?”

The post ALA secures activism leaders for Washington Update session appeared first on District Dispatch.

Coral Sheldon-Hess: Domain Name Privacy

planet code4lib - Wed, 2015-06-24 18:42

An important piece of internet privacy is under attack, and I’m asking for help protecting it. The EFF explains it well, but short version: every domain (the part of a web address that comes after “www” and includes something like “.org” or “.com” — in the case of this blog, “” is the domain) is registered to a person or by a company. As part of that registration, the entity’s physical address is recorded. By default, that address is available when someone looks up information about the domain, using a service called “WHOIS,” but it has become a fairly common practice to allow domain registrars (the companies that lease domains) to anonymize that information.

As a woman with opinions on the internet, you bet I avail myself of this service. Here’s the WHOIS on this domain (also visible in the banner of this post). The WHOIS on my other four domains look much the same.

ICANN, the organization that makes policies around WHOIS (and domain names in general), is considering removing this option for websites deemed “commercial” — which could be construed as including any site that uses ads or talks about consulting services. (Like this one.) A lot of really important sites’ owners would suddenly lose this protection, all because the entertainment industry wants to have an easier time suing people.

If you don’t own any domains, or even if you do, I’m hoping you’ll take a minute to write to ICANN. I put a sample letter, similar to (but different from) the one I sent, below; modify it until you like it, and send it along, please. Also, please consider signing this petition, hosted at

If you do have a domain registered, will you please also ask your host/registrar to fight for anonymity? I offer a sample letter, much like the one I sent DreamHost, below.

A sample letter to send to ICANN

This should be sent to

Anonymized WHOIS is a very important first step in the fight to protect free speech online, especially for marginalized voices. GamerGate and other online hate groups target people people whom they disagree with and whose addresses they are able to find. This article is a good primer on the kind of damage they do:

Because “commercial” has been construed so broadly, in the past, preventing registrars from anonymizing WHOIS data would put the owners of many valuable and informative websites at risk.

While I understand that the entertainment industry wants to increase individual liability for unauthorized distribution of their property, the threat to domain owners and the chilling effect this would have on free speech cannot be overlooked.

A sample letter to send to your domain registrar or web host

One of the things I like very best about [your hosting service] is the private domain name registrations that you offer. Anonymized WHOIS is a very important first step in the fight to protect free speech online, especially for marginalized voices. You might be aware of GamerGate and other online hate groups and the real damage they do to people whose addresses they are able to find. If not, this is a good primer:

The ability anonymize WHOIS data is under attack, now, and I would like to know what [your company] is doing to help keep this important safety option available.

DreamHost’s response

I completely understand your concern about this, and will address the issue as candidly as I can. DreamHost has no official position with regard to this matter, but we have not abandoned our commitment to freedom of speech, and the avoidance of chilling effects on that speech, with regard to anonymous speech on the web.

As an ICANN accredited registrar, we are bound by whatever rules ICANN puts in place, and are closely watching this development. To the degree we are able we will lobby to keep the current policy in place.

That said, while I am an avid supporter of the EFF (and a monthly contributor), they were less than completely accurate in that post with regard to the facts of the current situation. All ICANN registrars are bound by section of the ICANN Registrar Accreditation Agreement (see and As a practical matter, this effectively requires all ICANN Accredited Registrars to release to any third party (not just law enforcement or attorneys) identifying data for registrants upon receipt of “reasonable evidence of actionable harm”, and does not require a court order or subpoena. We address this in our Privacy Policy”.

For this reason, while Whois Privacy does provide some protection from casual trolls or Internet miscreants, it is naive to assume that any registrant’s actual identifying data is truly private in the face of an articulated claim of wrongdoing supported by any reasonable evidence.

For most our customers, the current reality is that the degree of privacy afforded by Whois Privacy Services is of value, but it should not be considered a general protection against being identified as the registrant of a domain.

Islandora: Fedora 4 Project Update V

planet code4lib - Wed, 2015-06-24 14:57

Open Repositories 2015 has always been bright line on our project calendar. It's been a deadline for most of our project goals because that's when we wanted to show the community what their funding, use cases, discussions, and development has wrought. Well, OR2015 has come and gone and there is plenty of good news. First, the official goals of the Islandora 7.x-2.x project that have been completed:

  • Update Tuque
    Tuque is the repository agnostic API that allows Islandora to interact with Fedora repositories. Tuque will need to be updated to connect to and work with the Fedora 4 APIs.
  • Islandora (core)
    Islandora (core) is the Drupal module that allows for browsing and managing assets in a Fedora repository. Islandora (core) provides core hook and API functionality for all Islandora solution pack and utility modules
  • Islandora Solution Pack Collection
    Islandora Solution Pack Collection allows Islandora to view to view and manipulate objects as a collection. It also allows collections to be created, viewable, and manageable. Along with Tuque and Islandora (core), it is a requirement for all other solution packs.
  • Replace FedoraGSearch
    Fedora 4 provides a pluggable framework for an external triplestore and search index. The same JMS indexer can be used to communicate with both the triplestore and search index (e.g. Solr). Any triplestore that supports SPARQL updates can be used with Fedora 4. Fuseki and Sesame have been tested.
But there's more. Since the project launched in January, it has generated tools and achievements that we didn't directly predict at the outset. We presented these at OR2015 under the concept of "Atonement," because so many of the improvements in Islandora 7.x-2.x derive from a conscious effort to consider the flaws in the current stack and how we can start fresh and just plain do it better. These improvements include:
  • Community driven and lead - With some guidance and funding from the Islandora Foundation, Islandora7.x-2.x has been designed, built, tested, and documented by the Islandora Community as a whole. In particular, the efforts of the Fedora 4 Interest Group (an open group welcome to anyone who wants to participate) have been integral to shaping the project and continue to drive the work forward.
  • Documentation from the onset - Rather than writing up documentation as a last step when Islandora 7.x-2.x is up and running, it has been a part of the process right from the design phase, making it easier for contributors to step in and make their own modifications to the heavily-commented code while its still being developed.
  • Encouraging contributions - Hand in hand with the previous improvement, encouragement to contribute to the project has been a goal at all levels, from developers helping with the code to end-users providing use cases and requesting features. By drawing on the opinions of the community as a whole, and not just the developers among us, Islandora 7.x-2.x is made to reflect the needs of a broad group of users. Our call: “All contributions are welcome: use-cases, documentation, code, patches, bug reports, feature requests, etc. You do not need to be a programmer to speak up!”
  • DevOps - A vagrant build was created to fire up a working copy of Islandora 7.x-2.x quickly and easily. Every update is reflected in the vagrant build. Anybody can run the environment and work with the stack, whether that be testing or developing.
  • Everything is in a single Git repository!
  • Portland Common Data Model - At long last, a common data model between Hydra and Islandora. Lots of collaboration between the Islandora, Hydra, and Fedora communities for the betterment of all our projects. Our Project Director, Nick Ruest, is a committer for PCDM and an active member of the Hydra Metadata Working Group, working with the Hydra community on base recommendations for technical metadata (Nick and Aaron Coburn co-lead that sub-group), structural metadata, rights metadata, and descriptive metadata.
  • Working with the Fedora team - Contributing to Fedora development, attending Fedora Tech meetings, being a stakeholder for the audit service integration.
  • migration-utils - The community is going to need a way to get content from Fedora 3 into Fedora 4. Our team collaborated with Mike Durbin (University of Virginia) on creating a migration utility, and with just a handful of minor changes, it will be ready for use very soon. Testing is even underway to adapt this tool to bring content out of legacy Fedora 2 repositories.
  • Scalable, Distributed, Service Oriented Architecture - no assumptions on the location of any component of the stack.
  • Apache Camel - adopted as a routing and mediation engine for integrating Drupal and Fedora. The fcrepo-camel component provided by the Fedora community has been utilized to replace Tuque as our primary means of interaction.
  • True Drupal integration - Fedora content is modelled as nodes. Due to this, many modules in the codebase have been replaced with third party modules. We can finally use that 'Add Content' button in Drupal!
  • Asynchronous communication Between Drupal and Fedora.
  • Bi-directional synchronization Between Drupal Fields and Fedora RDF.
  • Drupal Field to RDF mappings - A handy user interface allowing end users to control field -> RDF mappings.
  • Map XML with XPath - User interface controlling extraction of xml metadata using XPath, allowing fragments to get mapped to RDF.  Similar to Hydra “Terminologies” except with a user interface.
  • RDFa Enriched HTML Output - Google will love your site!
  • Solr Solr Solr - The entire Solr suite of modules from is available, giving the end user control over how and when content is indexed in Solr.

The next steps and goals for the project include:

  • Refactoring the current Apache Camel processing implementation to utilize command-line PHP. This should be more comfortable for the Islandora community. The goal is to lower the barrier to contribution.
  •  Starting serious work to make the project easier to share. Tickets are coming, some marked for "newbies" to take on as an entry point to the project. The Basic Image Solution Pack will be the first target. Contributors are very welcome!
  • WebAccessControl integration - The Fedora community has begun planning WebAccessControl integration. If you'd love to see XACML go away, we'd love to have you as part of the stakeholder team!
  • Islandora 7.x-2.x community sprints coordinated with Fedora community sprints.

Open Library Data Additions: Amazon Crawl: part hh

planet code4lib - Wed, 2015-06-24 04:32

Part hh of Amazon crawl..

This item belongs to: data/ol_data.

This item has files of the following types: Data, Data, Metadata, Text

DuraSpace News: UPDATE: Integrating Islandora and Fedora 4

planet code4lib - Wed, 2015-06-24 00:00

From Melissa Anez, Project and Community Manager, Islandora Foundation

Charlottetown, PEI, Canada  The Open Repositories 2015 Conference marked the completion of the first phase of the Islandora 7.x-2.x (Fedora 4 integration) project. A detailed project report about where things stand is available here:

Some highlights include:

DuraSpace News: NOW AVAILABLE: ArchivesDirect Information Sessions

planet code4lib - Wed, 2015-06-24 00:00
Winchester, MA  ArchivesDirect, the hosted, “soup-to-nuts” solution for preserving valuable institutional collections and all types of digital resources, is the newest offering from DuraSpace in collaboration with Artefactual Systems.  Ensuring that your digital holdings remain both safe and accessible for future generations at prices that you can afford makes ArchivesDirect the best choice for one-stop durable, safe and cost effectiv

William Denton: Barsetshite

planet code4lib - Tue, 2015-06-23 23:01

Novelist Angela Thirkell isn’t well known now. She’s one of a number of mostly forgotten female British writers of the middle of the last century, like Elizabeth Goudge, D.E. Stevenson and Winifred Watson. (For more about women like this check Persephone Books, which is doing a wonderful job of bringing these generations of books back into print.)

I discovered Thirkell a few years ago and read and enjoyed two or three of her books. A friend of mine went on a Thirkell binge over one summer and by the end of it was sick of her, but I had vague fond memories of 1930s or 1940s small-town England, with warm families and eccentric villagers and worries about the church fête. Inconsequential, but fun.

Hoping for something like this, I just read The Headmistress, published in 1944. I disliked it so much I decided I will never read Thirkell again.

Thirkell sets her novels in Barsetshire, the fictional county used by Anthony Trollope in the six Barsetshire Chronicles. Over the last three or four years (since last reading anything by Thirkell) I’ve read those and the Palliser novels (which as a series I prefer) and a number of other Trollope novels, and Trollope has become one of my favourite writers. He’s magnificent: the authorial voice, the insights into human nature, the richness and variety of the characters, the strong women, the analysis of money and class.

Because Thirkell uses Barsetshire as her setting, 60 or 80 years later, and uses some of the same families, it’s natural to compare them. Thirkell comes out as a mean-spirited smug snob. Where Trollope deeply understood people and their motivations—even people who, knowing it wasn’t the best thing to do, took some course of action that would hurt them or their loved ones—Thirkell has shallowness and caricature.

The Headmistress is about the once well-off Belton family, who, lacking money, move out of their country mansion and into a house in the village. The old place is taken over by a girl’s school, run by a smart, sensible woman (the titular character) who is one of the best people in the novel. She’s got smarts and wits and there’s something real about how a woman like her wasn’t able to become an academic and had to make her way teaching. The Beltons are pretty much an insufferable bunch, with a snobby mother (who is at one point repulsed by the hairy hands of a businessman who assumes a level of equality with her) and a whining daughter and two sons (one all right, the other an idiot). Mr and Mrs Belton feel out of place in the village, having come down in the world, but their friends are very kind to them in these trying circumstances.

There’s a female doctor who’s ridiculed. The hairy-handed businessman (who J.B. Priestley would have handled wittily as a rough diamond) is demeaned. He has a homely, rotund, boil-ridden daughter—who gets top marks in math and physics and is going to go into business with her father, but that’s belittled.

The entire book was so appalling, and such an insult to Trollope’s legacy, that I finished it just to see how it would turn out, and then I threw it in the fireplace because I couldn’t think of any better place to put it. It’s very bad Trollope fanfic.

Avoid Angela Thirkell. Read Trollope. And if you want to read an unjustly ignored female writer of that generation, go to Georgette Heyer and her historical novels. Magnificent fun.

Roy Tennant: Wikipedia Comes to ALA

planet code4lib - Tue, 2015-06-23 22:18

Jake Orlowitz of the Wikipedia Library Project reports that Wikipedia will be having quite a presence at ALA Annual in San Francisco this week. Here are some details:

#WikiLovesALA editathon
The Wikipedia Library invites you to the #WikiLovesALA editathon on June 26 from 1pm to 4pm at the Wikimedia Foundation Office, in celebration of the American Library Association annual conference this weekend in San Francisco.

All you need to do to participate is register:

We hope to see you there: to share knowledge, learn about Wikipedia, celebrate libraries, and create content about this amazing city, your institution’s collections, or that favorite subject you’ve been meaning to write about.

Exhibit booth

Drop by for engaging conversations about how Wikipedia works and how to get involved… and for free merchandise (Fri-Mon, Booth #2828 across from OCLC)

Office Hours Join our ‘ask a Wikipedian’ office hours hosted by OCLC (Sat 3:00-4:00, Marriott Marquis, OCLC Blue Suite, ask at the front desk for the room number) Conference Program Attend our talk “Resource Discovery in the Age of Wikipedia” (Sun 1:00-2:00pm, 3010 W Moscone)

Evergreen ILS: Evergreen Booth #3345 at ALA

planet code4lib - Tue, 2015-06-23 18:59

Evergreen Hosting Booth 3345 at ALA San Francisco


The Evergreen community will be hosting booth 3345 at ALA San Francisco on June 25th through 30th. Evergreen is open source library software that is used in more than 1,300 libraries around the world.

ALA conferences provide attendees with information on global issues effecting libraries. At ALA San Francisco there will about 900 exhibitors, including Evergreen.

Evergreen has all of the modules of traditional ILS, but without the restrictions of vendor driven ILS. Included with the software are modules for self-check out, self-registrations, acquisitions, reports and serials. It is continuously improving through semiannual updates and is customizable to meet the needs of various sized libraries.

Make sure to check out the Evergreen booth 3345 and meet real Evergreen users and hear their stories.

LibraryThing (Thingology): ALA 2015 in San Francisco (Free Passes)

planet code4lib - Tue, 2015-06-23 18:17
Our booth. But this is Kate, not Tim or Abby. She had the baby.

Tim and I are headed to San Francisco this weekend for the ALA Annual Conference.

Visit Us. Stop by booth #3634 to talk to us, get a demo, and learn about all the new and fun things we’re up to with LibraryThing for Libraries!

Stay tuned this week for more announcements of what we’ll be showing off. No, really. It’s going to be awesome.

Get in Free. In the SF area and want to go to ALA? We have free exhibit only passes. Click here to sign up and get one. It will get you just into the exhibit hall, not the conference sessions themselves.

David Rosenthal: Future of Research Libraries

planet code4lib - Tue, 2015-06-23 15:00
Bryan Alexander reports on a talk by Xiaolin Zhang, the head of the National Science Library at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), on the future of research libraries.
Director Zhang began by surveying the digital landscape, emphasizing the ride of ebooks, digital journals, and machine reading. The CAS decided to embrace the digital-first approach, and canceled all print subscriptions for Chinese-language journals. Anything they don’t own they obtain through consortial relationships ...

This approach works well for a growing proportion of the CAS constituency, which Xiaolin referred to as “Generation Open” or “Generation Digital”. This group benefits from – indeed, expects – a transition from print to open access. For them, and for our presenter, “only ejournals are real journals. Only smartbooks are real books… Print-based communication is a mistake, based on historical practicality.” It’s not just consumers, but also funders who prefer open access.Below the fold, some thoughts on Director Zhang's vision.

Almost a decade ago, Vicky Reich created this fake Starbucks page to illustrate the fate awaiting libraries without collections that saw their role simply as purchasing agents for subscription content. Even if it succeeded in competing with Starbucks, such a library wouldn't be a research library; nothing would distinguish it as a venue for research. In countries that are negotiating access to subscription content for all their institutions centrally, or even for all their citizens, or if the Max Planck Institute's plan for open access succeeds, the library's role as providing access goes away. Director Zhang sees this clearly:
Chinese faculty now see the library’s main role as that of a buyer and archive maintainer. Yet libraries have outsourced collections, either deliberately or by the rise of the web. Libraries now hold on to a diminishing part of scholarly knowledge. Moreover, director Zhang observed that his library’s foot traffic has been declining – and he helped make it happen, by making an aggressive shift to the digital world. Which led him to ask a dangerous question: are libraries losing the right to be research libraries?His answer was that libraries need to evolve:
To begin with, the library needs to embed itself more deeply in the research and development process. Researchers need to do environmental scanning, trends and path analysis, data management and analysis, content distribution, identifying emerging topics, mapping trends, technology scanning, competition analysis, R+D exploration + discovery, and more. Xiaolin urged us to repurpose libraries to directly support these needs. Put another way, an analytical platform should be at the center of research libraries.Researchers clearly need these capabilities, but what advantages does a library at an individual University, or even a single national library, have in delivering such a platform to researchers? The key requirements for success are:
  • Access to all the data which, until the open access transition is complete, individual libraries are not going to have.
  • A highly-skilled, fast-moving team of developers, which individual libraries are not going to have, because the rewards in industry are much better.
  • Access to large-scale compute and storage resources, which both libraries and companies can rent from the cloud.
  • Mind-share, which Google in particular already has over libraries.
The increasing returns to scale economics of the Web mean that there is going to be one big winner in this race, not one big winner per University, or per country. The language barrier may lead Director Zhang to believe that there will be a winner for China, as Baidu has been in search, but that is a bet against the progress of machine translation. So I doubt that in the long run Director Zhang's prescription:
First, libraries need to build out their data analysis capacity. Second, they should create customized information environments for researchers.will work to keep University libraries, or even most national libraries, as true research libraries. Nevertheless, I applaud the efforts he is making:
The National Science Library publicly advocates for open access policies, infrastructure, and financial support. NSL is growing its digital repositories. It also helps local libraries analyze research topics, collaboration opportunities, and talent profiles. NSL now plays a role in national digital preservation, assists with strategic decision-making for STEM researchers and enterprises, and is now developing knowledge mapping and research profiling services. These are all things a national library should be doing, but note how difficult they would be for an individual University library. For almost all these libraries, remaining a research library rather than just a generic campus service requires distinguishing themselves from the herd. They aren't going to do that by layering services on top of content to which everyone has access, because they will lose the competition with companies and, Director Zhang hopes, national libraries in those spaces. The only way to do it is to have unique content on which to base unique services. In other words, collections.

DPLA: Apply to the Ebook Collection Curation Corps

planet code4lib - Tue, 2015-06-23 14:00

As part of the White House’s Open Ebooks initiative, DPLA is calling on librarians and other information professionals to help coordinate books for inclusion in the program to help connect children with ebooks.

We are seeking motivated, engaged community members who have experience with building and organizing children and young adult book collections, who have time to spend building out the first two collections.

What’s involved in being a member of the DPLA Curation Corps? Primarily, enriching metadata to ensure that the best books get connected to their reader. We will be asking participants to help us cull publisher contributions and public domain collections to find the best titles to publish in September 2015 and January 2016. It is important that we not only indicate a title’s reading level, but also its age appropriateness, as well as additional subject headings so that a girl interested in grasshoppers, for instance, can find the right book to meet her need.

If you are interested in helping us connect books to young readers, and you have expertise in this area, please consider being a member of our Ebook Collection Curation Corps. We will announce the first class of Collection Curation Corps on July 18, 2015.

You do NOT have to be affiliated with a current DPLA hub library to participate. Participants will receive a $1,500 stipend.

To find out more about this project go to our White House Open Ebooks initiative page.

Questions about the Ebooks Collection Curation Corps? Email us.

LITA: Sunday Routines: Aimee Fifarek

planet code4lib - Tue, 2015-06-23 13:00

In this series, inspired by the New York Times’ Sunday Routines, we gain a glimpse into the lives of the people behind LITA. This post focuses on Aimee Fifarek, who was recently elected Vice-President/President-Elect.

Aimee is the Customer Service, Technology and Digital Initiatives Deputy Director for Phoenix Public Library in Arizona. She made the move to PPL in April 2013 from Scottsdale Public Library, where she’d worked for 10 years, first as the IT Manager and then later as Senior Manager over IT, Technical Services and Collection Development. Aimee’s typical work week can include everything from contract negotiations to planning technology projects to addressing customer concerns.

WORKING OUT AND CLEANING UP Sundays are days for sleeping in at South Scottsdale home that Aimee shares with her fiancée Jason Boland. A Senior Trainer for Innovative Interfaces, Jason is often away during the work week for training trips, so the weekends are when most of the chores get done. Laundry gets started before a trip to the gym for Yoga or Step Class, and cleanup of the remnants of a crazy week get done after – but all that doesn’t start until 7 or 8am.

GREEN THUMB In addition to the inside chores, Aimee and Jason enjoy spending time in the back yard vegetable garden. They built large planter boxes this past year in order to keep the weeds out and give the veggies a chance during the year-round growing season. Squash, carrots, peppers and herbs are frequent thrivers.

BATTER UP! Living as they do in the heart of Spring Training activates, Sundays in March and April are frequently involve trips to the many baseball stadiums in the area. Jason is a California native and a devoted Oakland A’s fan. In addition to the A’s, Aimee and Jason try to find time to take in a Milwaukee Brewers game (Wisconsin is Aimee’s home state) or the hometown Arizona Diamondbacks.

WHERE TO? The two spend many weekends traveling. Despite his intense schedule, Jason loves to travel and will happily fly off for a weekend just after returning from a week away for work. Sometimes Aimee is able meet up with Jason at the end of one of his business trips, like recent trips to Minneapolis and Toronto. She enjoys being able to take advantage of Jason’s frequent flier miles and A-List status.

KP Aimee is just as happy at home, however, especially when spending time in the kitchen. Although they take full advantage of the fabulous restaurants and craft cocktail venues that Scottsdale has to offer, Sundays afford the extra time needed for shopping for and preparing a really good meal. Eating healthy in the Boland-Fifarek household is more about avoiding processed foods and cooking from scratch than counting calories – not to mention using lots of fun gadgets like the sous vide or the garlic chopper. Regardless of what they are preparing there is a 99% chance it will contain garlic.

WORDS AND PLAY Evening calls for a little “couch time.” Jason and Aimee are big fans of Sci-Fi and mystery series and routinely give their DVR a workout. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Orphan Black, and Elementary are particular favorites. This is also a good time to finish the New York Times Sunday Crossword and KenKen before heading off to bed at 9pm or 10pm.

LibUX: 023: The User Experience (Part Two)

planet code4lib - Tue, 2015-06-23 07:05

This is the second part to a talk given June 3, 2015, called The User Experience (here’s part one!). The recording is courtesy of Florida Library Webinars, where you can find the video for this talk and many more.


Show Notes and Snippets

When an organization is well and truly steeped in UX, with total awareness of and buy-in on user-centered thinking, its staff enact those principles, whether they’re facing patrons or not. In short, UX thinking makes a person considerate. Coral Sheldon-Hess

The customer journey begins with a user story: as a _____, I want to _____, so that _____.”

Increasingly, the journey often begins online and is punctuated by time and potential disenchantment before the patron even enters the building Michael Schofield

Libraries are approaching their mobile moment. Whether it’s true for you now, it will definitely be true for you later. … Navigation must flow. The content must be worth it. Everything must be fast. There is no place for bullshit. Michael Schofield

Where your patrons spend most of their time influences their basic expectations of the library. Being user-centric demands that we are aware and don’t scoff at the habits our users have. Convention matters.Michael Schofield

  • The most relevant trends libraries should watch are in e-commerce.
  • When people talk about the size of websites in bytes, think in terms of seconds
  • After 10 seconds, there is a missed opportunity. You will never know how many patrons you failed to reach, but the data suggests it’s a lot.

I write the Web for Libraries each week — a newsletter chock-full of data-informed commentary about user experience design, including the bleeding-edge trends and web news I think user-oriented thinkers should know.

Email Address

The post 023: The User Experience (Part Two) appeared first on LibUX.

Nicole Engard: Bookmarks for June 22, 2015

planet code4lib - Mon, 2015-06-22 20:30

Today I found the following resources and bookmarked them on Delicious.

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The post Bookmarks for June 22, 2015 appeared first on What I Learned Today....

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