You are here

Feed aggregator

David Rosenthal: Blaming the Victim

planet code4lib - Tue, 2015-06-30 15:00
The Washington Post is running a series called Net of Insecurity. So far it includes:
  • A Flaw In The Design, discussing the early history of the Internet and how the difficulty of getting it to work at all and the lack of perceived threats meant inadequate security.
  • The Long Life Of A Quick 'Fix', discussing the history of BGP and the consistent failure of attempts to make it less insecure, because those who would need to take action have no incentive to do so.
  • A Disaster Foretold - And Ignored,  discussing L0pht and how they warned a Senate panel 17 years ago of the dangers of Internet connectivity but were ignored.
Perhaps a future article in the series will describe how successive US administrations consistently strove to ensure that encryption wasn't used to make systems less insecure and, the encryption that was used was as weak as possible. They prioritized their (and their opponents) ability to spy over mitigating the risks that Internet users faced, and they got what they wanted. As we see with the compromise of the Office of Personnel Management and the possibly related compromise of health insurers including Anthem. These breaches revealed the kind of information that renders everyone with a security clearance vulnerable to phishing and blackmail. Be careful what you wish for!

More below the fold.

The compromises at OPM and at Sony Pictures have revealed some truly pathetic security practices at both organizations, which certainly made the bad guy's job very easy. Better security practices would undoubtedly have made their job harder. But it is important to understand that in a world where Kaspersky and Cisco cannot keep their systems secure, better security practices would not have made the bad guy's job impossible.

OPM and Sony deserve criticism for their lax security. But blaming the victim is not a constructive way of dealing with the situation in which organizations and individuals find themselves.

Prof. Jean Yang of C-MU has a piece in MIT Technology Review entitled The Real Software Security Problem Is Us that, at first glance, appears to make a lot of sense but actually doesn't. Prof. Yang specializes in programming languages and is a "cofounder of Cybersecurity Factory, an accelerator focused on software security". Writing:
we could, in the not-so-distant future, actually live in a world where software doesn’t randomly and catastrophically fail. Our software systems could withstand attacks. Our private social media and health data could be seen only by those with permission to see it. All we need are the right fixes.
A better way would be to use languages that provide the guarantees we need. The Heartbleed vulnerability happened because someone forgot to check that a chunk of memory ended where it was supposed to. This could only happen in a programming language where the programmer is responsible for managing memory. So why not use languages that manage memory automatically? Why not make the programming languages do the heavy lifting?
Another way would be to make software easier to analyze. Facebook had so much trouble making sense of the software it used that it created Hack and Flow, annotated versions of PHP and Javascript, to make the two languages more comprehensible.
Change won’t happen until we demand that it happens. Our software could be as well-constructed and reliable as our buildings. To make that happen, we all need to value technical soundness over novelty. It’s up to us to make online life is as safe as it is enjoyable.It isn't clear who Prof. Yang's "we" is, end users or programmers. Suppose it is end users. Placing the onus on end users to demand more secure software built with better tools is futile. There is no way for an end user to know what tools were used to build a software product, no way to compare how secure two software products are, no credible third-party rating agency to appeal to for information. So there is no way for the market to reward good software engineering and punish bad software engineering.

Placing the onus on programmers is only marginally less futile. No-one writes a software product from scratch from the bare metal up. The choice of tools and libraries to use is often forced, and the resulting system will have many vulnerabilities that the programmer has no control over. Even if the choice is free, it is an illusion to believe that better languages are a panacea for vulnerabilities. Java was designed to eliminate many common bugs, and it manages memory. It was effective in reducing bugs, but it could never create a "world where software doesn’t randomly and catastrophically fail".

Notice that the OPM compromise used valid credentials presumably from social engineering, so it would have to be blamed on system administrators not programmers, or rather on management's failure to mandate two-factor authentication. But equally, even good system administration couldn't make up for Cisco's decision to install default SSH keys for "support reasons".

For a more realistic view, read A View From The Front Lines, the 2015 report from Mandiant, a company whose job is to clean up after compromises such as the 2013 one at Stanford. Or Dan Kaminsky's interview with Die Zeit Online in the wake of the compromise at the Bundestag:
No one should be surprised if a cyber attack succeeds somewhere. Everything can be hacked. ...  All great technological developments have been unsafe in the beginning, just think of the rail, automobiles and aircrafts. The most important thing in the beginning is that they work, after that they get safer. We have been working on the security of the Internet and the computer systems for the last 15 years.Yes, automobiles and aircraft are safer but they are not safe. Cars kill 1.3M and injure 20-50M people/year, being the 9th leading cause of death. And that is before they become part of the Internet of Things and their software starts being exploited. Clearly, some car crash victims are at fault and others aren't. Dan is optimistic about Prof. Yang's approach:
It is a new technology, it is still under development. In the end it will not only be possible to write a secure software, but also to have it happen in a natural way without any special effort, and it shall be cheap.I agree that the Langsec approach and capability-based systems such as Capsicum can make systems safer. But making secure software possible is a long way from making secure software ubiquitous. Until it is at least possible for organizations to deploy a software and hardware stack that is secure from the BIOS to the user interface, and until there is liability on the organization for not doing so, blaming them for being insecure is beside the point.

The sub-head of Mandiant's report is:
For years, we have argued that there is no such thing as perfect security. The events of 2014 should put any lingering doubts to rest.It is worth reading the whole thing, but especially their Trend 4, Blurred Lines, that starts on page 20. It describes how the techniques used by criminal and government-sponsored bad guys are becoming indistinguishable, making difficult not merely to defend against the inevitable compromise, but to determine what the intent of the compromise was.

The technology for making systems secure does not exist. Even if it did it would not be feasible for organizations to deploy only secure systems. Given that the system vendors bear no liability for the security of even systems intended to create security, this situation is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.

Cynthia Ng: Accessible Format Production Part 5: Editing the Document

planet code4lib - Tue, 2015-06-30 01:24
Much like for PDF, there are different levels of accessibility for an electronic text (e-text) document. The more that you complete for a document, the more accessible it is. However, you still want to balance quality vs. quantity.  First, I am going to assume that you have a document file of some sort, whether that be … Continue reading Accessible Format Production Part 5: Editing the Document

Access Conference: Announcing our AccessYYZ Binkley Lecturer: Molly Sauter!

planet code4lib - Mon, 2015-06-29 19:47

The Access 2015 Organizing Committee is thrilled to announce that our speaker for the Dave Binkley Memorial Lecture is Molly Sauter!

Molly is a Vanier Scholar and PhD student in Communication Studies at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. She holds a masters degree in Comparative Media Studies from MIT, and is an affiliate researcher at the MIT Center for Civic Media at the MIT Media Lab and at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. Molly has published widely on internet activism, hacker culture, and depictions of technology in the media. Her recent book, The Coming Swarm, examines the use of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) actions as a form of political activism.

You can find Molly online at and on twitter at @oddletters.

More about the Dave Binkley Memorial Lecture.

LITA: 2015 LITA Forum, Registration Opens!

planet code4lib - Mon, 2015-06-29 17:00

Registration Now Open!

2015 LITA Forum
Minneapolis, MN
November 12-15, 2015

Plan now to join us in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis for the 2015 LITA Forum, a three-day educational event that includes 2 preconferences, 3 keynote sessions, more than 55 concurrent sessions and 15 plus poster presentations.

2015 LITA Forum is the 18th annual gathering of technology-minded information professionals and is a highly regarded annual event for those involved in new and leading edge technologies in the library and information technology field. Registration is limited in order to preserve the important networking advantages of a smaller conference. Attendees take advantage of the informal Friday evening reception, networking dinners and other social opportunities to get to know colleagues and speakers. Comments from past attendees:

  • “Best conference I’ve been to in terms of practical, usable ideas that I can implement at my library.”
  • “I get so inspired by the presentations and conversations with colleagues who are dealing with the same sorts of issues that I am.”
  • “After LITA I return to my institution excited to implement solutions I find here.”
  • “This is always the most informative conference! It inspires me to develop new programs and plan initiatives.”

This Year’s featured Keynote Sessions

Mx A. Matienzo
Director of Technology for the Digital Public Library of America, he focuses on promoting and establishing digital library interoperability at an international scale. Prior to joining DPLA, Matienzo worked as an archivist and technologist specializing in born-digital materials and metadata management, at institutions including the Yale University Library, The New York Public Library, and the American Institute of Physics.

Carson Block
Carson Block Consulting Inc. has led, managed, and supported library technology efforts for more than 20 years. He has been called “a geek who speaks English” and enjoys acting as a bridge between the worlds of librarians and hard-core technologists.

Lisa Welchman
President of Digital Governance Solutions at ActiveStandards. In a 20-year career, Lisa Welchman has paved the way in the discipline of digital governance, helping organizations stabilize their complex, multi-stakeholder digital operations. Her book Managing Chaos: Digital Governance by Design was published in February of 2015 by Rosenfeld Media.

The Preconference Workshops include

So You Want to Make a Makerspace: Strategic Leadership to support the Integration of new and disruptive technologies into Libraries: Practical Tips, Tricks, Strategies, and Solutions for bringing making, fabrication and content creation to your library.
Leah Kraus is the Director of Community Engagement and Experience at the Fayetteville Free Library.
Michael Cimino is the Technology Innovation and Integration Specialist at the Fayetteville Free Library.

Beyond Web Page Analytics: Using Google tools to assess searcher behavior across web properties
Rob Nunez, Robert L Nunez, Head of Collection Services, Kenosha Public Library, Kenosha, WI
Keven Riggle, Systems Librarian & Webmaster, Marquette University Libraries

for registration and additional information.

Join us in Minneapolis!

Harvard Library Innovation Lab: Link roundup June 29, 2015

planet code4lib - Mon, 2015-06-29 15:43

This and that for the end of June.

9 Themed Color Palette Collections to Inspire You | Mental Floss

Themed color palettes from movies, cities, nature and more

Oxford Scientist Explains the Physics of Playing Electric Guitar Solos | Open Culture

Ever wonder about the physics behind guitar solos? Well here’s your answer…


An engaging feed of videos and music. A reminder of how many parallel experiences exist in the world.

4 | MIT Robotics Grad Develops Furniture That Pulls A Disappearing Act | Co.Design | business + design

The future of furniture, or just another folding table?

The Internet is looking for who designed this cup. What does Springfield have to do with it?

A design history of the disposable ‘Jazz’ cup

LITA: 3 Tips for Tech Empathy

planet code4lib - Mon, 2015-06-29 14:00

I recently participated in a training session about empathy, led by our wonderful Staff Development Specialist here at the Martin County Library System. The goal of this session was to define empathy and discuss how to show empathy for our patrons and co-workers. It got me thinking about empathy in regards to teaching technology. I frequently work with library patrons who are frustrated with technology. Many of these patrons are older adults who feel handicapped because they were not raised in the digital age.

I, on the other hand, was born born in the digital age. I learned how to use a computer in elementary school and technology has been present in my life ever since. It’s easy to forget this advantage and lose patience when you are teaching someone with a different background. In teaching classes and offering one-on-one technology help, I’ve picked up a few tips about how to empathize with your students.

If you find your patience wearing thin, think of a time when you struggled to learn something. For me, it’s learning to drive stick. I’ve tried several times and each attempt was more frustrating than the last. When I think about how nerve-wracking it is to be behind the wheel with my hand on the stick shift, I remember how scary it can be to learn something new. I often help patrons who have purchased a new device (iPad, smartphone, etc.) and they are terrified to do the wrong thing. Returning to my adventures with manual transmissions helps me understand where they’re coming from.

I was teaching a class a few weeks back and one patron was really struggling to keep up with the group. I started to get irritated by her constant questions, until halfway through when I realized that she looked exactly like my aunt. This immediately snapped me back to reality. If my aunt walked into a library I would want her to receive the best customer service possible and be treated with the utmost respect. My patience was instantly renewed, and I’ve used this trick successfully several times since by comparing patrons to my grandparents, parents, etc. Empathy is often defined as putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, but putting a loved one in the other person’s shoes can also do the trick.

I often hear the same complaints from patrons who are frustrated, confused, or overwhelmed by technology. I’ll admit it can be trying to listen to the same thing again and again, but I also recognize that listening to these grievances is very important. Sometimes it’s best to get those frustrations out right off the bat in order to set them aside and focus on learning. Listening is one of our best tools, and acknowledging that someone’s problem is valid can also be extremely helpful.

Do you have any tips for tech empathy?

Library of Congress: The Signal: We Did All That? NDSA Standards and Practices Working Group Project Recaps

planet code4lib - Mon, 2015-06-29 13:29

Video Stumbling Blocks Survey bookmark, designed by Kara Van Malssen, AVPreserve

The end of the school year often finds me thinking about time gone by. What did I work on and what can I show for it? The NDSA Standards and Practices Working Group members were in the same frame of mind so we recently did a survey of our projects and accomplishments since the NDSA launched in 2010. It’s an impressive list (if we do say so ourselves), especially once you realize that these topics come from the interests of our diverse membership. As co-chair of the working group, I’d like to share with you all of the the S&P-related blog posts to bring readers up-to-date with many of our topical and timely initiatives.

Video Survey
Video has been a hot topic in S&P recently. Several round-robin discussions led to a “Video Deep Dive” action team which developed and conducted the Stumbling Blocks to Preserving Video Survey to identify and rank issues that may hinder digital video preservation. The preliminary results led us to dig a little deeper in how we processed and analyzed the data so look for an update on this soon.

Preserving Digital and Software-Based Artworks
S&P hosted a two-part discussion with experts from four collecting institutions (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Modern Art, The Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, and Smithsonian Institution Time Based Media Art project) to share their experiences in both preserving and providing access to digital art works and other new media. These complex digital objects materials are increasingly part of collections outside of traditional museum environments and cultural heritage institutions, including libraries and archives, will see more and more of this type of content in their collections.

Photo courtesy of Time Based Media Art at the Smithsonian from the Report on the Status and Need for Technical Standards in the care of Time-Based Media and Digital Art

S&P members contributed to a report that takes a measured look at the costs and benefits of the widespread use of the PDF/A-3 format, especially as it effects content arriving in collecting institutions. The report provides background on the technical development of the specification, identifies specific scenarios under which the format might be used and suggests policy prescriptions for collecting institutions to consider.

Staffing for Effective Digital Preservation Survey
S&P conducted a survey of 85 institutions with a mandate to preserve digital content about how they staffed and organized their preservation functions. In addition to an award-winning poster (PDF) at iPRES2012, S&P members produced a detailed report and deposited the raw data in ICPSR.

Icons for Archive and Checksum, Designed by Iconathon Los Angeles, California, US 2013. Public Domain

Along with our colleagues in the NDSA Infrastructure Working Group, S&P members helped author the NDSA publication, “Checking Your Digital Content: What is Fixity and When Should I Be Checking It?” (PDF). This resource provides stewards of digital objects with information about implementing fixity concepts and methods in a way that makes sense for their organization based on their needs and resources. Topics covered include definitions of fixity and fixity information, general approaches to fixity check frequency and comparison of common fixity information-generating instruments.

2015 National Agenda
S&P members also contributed significant input and informed actionable recommendations to the Organization Policies and Practice chapter of the NDSA 2015 National Agenda for Digital Stewardship.

Issues with archiving email proved to be another rallying point for S&P members who participated in initiating an informal Email Interest Group to discuss issues, projects and workflows to preserve email.

Moving Forward
Compiling this review list for S&P proudly reminds me of how much we’ve done through our active and engaged membership. And I should mention that this post doesn’t even cover all our projects – just the ones with blog posts! Even with all we’ve done so far, S&P still has many issues and practices to explore.

DuraSpace News: DSpace in Vietnam with Registered Service Provider D & L Technology Integration and Consulting

planet code4lib - Mon, 2015-06-29 00:00

Winchester, MA  Efforts are increasing at institutions around the world to provide open access to global culture and scholarship including theses, dissertations, journals, digitized materials, special collections, maps, videos, audio recordings and other types of data. D & L Technology Integration and Consulting, a new DuraSpace Registered Service Provider located in Hanoi-Vietnam is part of that worldwide effort.

DPLA: American Association of School Librarians Names DPLA a 2015 Best App for Teaching & Learning

planet code4lib - Sat, 2015-06-27 18:10

The Digital Public Library of America is extraordinarily grateful to be recognized as one of 2015’s Best Apps for Teaching & Learning by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). Chosen for its embodiment of AASL’s learning standards and support of the school librarian’s role in implementing career and college readiness standards, this is DPLA’s second “Best of” award from the prestigious education-oriented division of the American Library Association. DPLA was recognized as a Best Website for Teaching & Learning in 2013.

“This recognition from AASL means so much to us, since school librarians have been such great advocates for DPLA, especially as we strive to make our materials useful to students,” said Dan Cohen, DPLA’s Executive Director. “This second award from AASL highlights that DPLA is available in multiple formats, including apps, a website, and other websites that incorporate our extraordinary content from collections across the United States.”

The Best Apps for Teaching & Learning recognition honors apps of exceptional value to inquiry-based teaching and learning as embodied in the AASL’s Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. The recognized apps foster the qualities of innovation, creativity, active participation, and collaboration and are user-friendly to encourage a community of learners to explore and discover. The apps were announced during the 2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco.

The AASL, a division of the American Library Association, promotes the improvement and extension of library services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. AASL’s mission is to empower leaders to transform teaching and learning.

To find out more about DPLA’s efforts around education, read the DPLA’s three-year strategic plan, published in January 2015, and its Whiting Foundation-funded research paper on using large digital collections in education, published in April 2015.

FOSS4Lib Recent Releases: Koha - Security and maintenance releases - v 3.20.1, 3.18.8, 3.16.12, 3.14.16

planet code4lib - Sat, 2015-06-27 10:50
Package: KohaRelease Date: Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Last updated June 27, 2015. Created by David Nind on June 27, 2015.
Log in to edit this page.

Security and maintenance releases for Koha.

As these are security releases it is strongly recommended that you upgrade as soon as possible.

Special thanks also goes to Raschin Tavakoli and Dimitris Simos from the Combinatorial Security Testing Team of SBA Research for finding and reporting the security bugs.

See the release announcements for the details:

District Dispatch: ALA releases National Policy Agenda for Libraries

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-06-26 20:15

Libraries are in a revolution fueled by rapid advances in technology, and thus the roles, capabilities, and expectations of libraries are changing rapidly. National public policy for libraries must reflect these changes. Today the American Library Association (ALA) released a National Policy Agenda (pdf) for Libraries to guide a proactive policy shift.

“Too often, decision makers do not yet understand the extent to which libraries can be catalysts for opportunity and progress,” said ALA President Courtney Young in a press release. “As a result, investments in libraries and librarians lag our potential to contribute to the missions of the federal government and other national institutions. We must take concerted action to advance shared policy goals.”

The agenda was developed in concert with major library organizations that serve on a Library Advisory Committee for the Policy Revolution! initiative and with input from a public comment period. Funding for this project is provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of a three-year grant that also supports efforts to deepen national stakeholder engagement and increase library advocacy capacity.

“Libraries cannot wait to be invited to ‘the table.’ We need proactive, strategic and aligned advocacy to support national policies that advance the public’s interest in the digital age and support libraries as essential community assets,” writes Deborah Jacobs, director of the Global Libraries Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in a foreword (pdf) to the agenda (pdf).

The agenda flows out of library values and the imperative of “opportunity for all,” as well as within a context of national political, economic and demographic trends. It seeks to answer the questions “What are the U.S. library interests and priorities for the next five years that should be emphasized to national decision makers?” and “Where might there be windows of opportunity to advance a particular priority at this particular time?”

The agenda articulates two broad themes—building library capacity to advance national priorities and advancing the public interest. Among the areas for capacity building are education and learning, entrepreneurship, and health and wellness. Public interest topics include balanced copyright and licensing, systems for digital content, and privacy and transparency. The agenda also identifies specific populations for which there are significant demographic shifts or bipartisan opportunities to address specialized needs.

“National decision makers often don’t understand the roles or capabilities of modern libraries,” said Alan S. Inouye, director of ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy and co-principal investigator of the Policy Revolution! initiative. “Thus, an underlying imperative of the agenda is communication about how modern libraries contribute to society. Progress on specific policy goals is significantly impeded if this broader understanding is lacking.”

“Sustainable libraries are essential to sustainable communities,” said Ken Wiggin, president of the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA), which is a grant partner. “I believe this agenda will help unify and amplify our voices at the national level and can be customized for state-level action, as well.”

Using the Agenda, the ALA Washington Office will match priorities to windows of opportunity and confluence to begin advancing policy goals—in partnership with other library organizations and allies with whom there is alignment.

While initiated at different times, the Policy Revolution! initiative dovetails with the new proposed strategic framework and plan for the ALA, which focuses on three Strategic Directions: information policy, advocacy and professional and leadership development. “Taken together, along with a growing focus on transforming libraries, we are ‘connecting the dots’ across the profession and strengthening our collective voice,” said Larra Clark, deputy director of ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy and co-principal investigator of the Policy Revolution! initiative.

Attendees at the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco can learn more about the agenda and related advocacy at two programs. On Saturday, June 27, from 1-2:30 p.m., Policy Revolution! Senior Policy Counsel and partner at Arent Fox, Alan Fishel, will lead an interactive program on Negotiating to Advocacy Success with Clark.  On Sunday, June 28, from 3 to 4 p.m., ALA Incoming President-Elect Julie Todaro will join Inouye and Wiggin to discuss Dollars for Local Libraries. More information on the initiative also is available online at

The post ALA releases National Policy Agenda for Libraries appeared first on District Dispatch.

District Dispatch: Arts librarian receives 2015 Robert Oakley scholarship

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-06-26 20:08

The American Library Association (ALA) this week awarded Kathleen DeLaurenti the 2015 Robert L. Oakley Memorial Scholarship. The Library Copyright Alliance, which includes ALA, established the Robert L. Oakley Memorial Scholarship to support research and advanced study for librarians in their early-to-mid-careers who are interested and active in public policy, copyright, licensing, open access and their impacts on libraries.

DeLaurenti serves as the arts librarian at the College of William and Mary, where she led a user-centered re-design of the Music Library, including adding new equipment, collections, and services. She also is the first librarian at William and Mary to receive a Creative Adaption Grant to begin a pilot project to help faculty incorporate Open Educational Resources into their courses. The Oakley scholarship will support DeLaurenti’s work in copyright education, focusing on students’ understanding of music licensing and copyright basics.

“The support of the Oakley Scholarship would allow me to not only continue the next phase of this project to create music copyright learning modules, but it would provide the resources to involve students in curricular development and module creation,” said DeLaurenti.

The Oakley Scholarship awards a $1,000 scholarship to individuals or a team of individuals who meet eligibility criteria to encourage and expand interest in and knowledge of these aspects of librarianship, as well as bring the next generation of advocates, lobbyists and scholars to the forefront with opportunities they might not otherwise have.

“The Oakley scholarship is intended to support librarians in non-administrative positions who are less likely to have the funds necessary to build on their copyright interests,” said Carrie Russell, program director of the ALA Program for Public Access to Information, in a statement. DeLaurenti’s project will ultimately be helpful to any librarian who works with library users with music copyright questions. Music copyright is about licensing, it’s complex, and has always been a topic of great interest to librarians.”

Robert Oakley

Law librarian and professor Robert Oakley was an expert on copyright law and wrote and lectured on the subject. He served on the Library Copyright Alliance representing the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) and played a leading role in advocating for U.S. libraries and the public they serve at many international forums including the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). He served as the United States delegate to the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights from 1997-2003.

Oakley testified before Congress on copyright, open access, library appropriations and free access to government documents and was a member of the Library of Congress’ Section 108 Study Group. A valued colleague and mentor for numerous librarians, Oakley was a recognized leader in law librarianship and library management who also maintained a profound commitment to public policy and the rights of library users.

The post Arts librarian receives 2015 Robert Oakley scholarship appeared first on District Dispatch.

LITA: Letting Theory Influence Practice

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-06-26 14:00

This spring, I taught a technology course for pre-service teachers. In addition to my MLS, I have a master’s degree in educational technology, a graduated certificate in online teaching and learning, and an undergraduate degree in education. My own schooling had taught me the importance of making pedagogically sound decisions and never using technology for only the sake of using technology. I quickly learned though that making those pedagogically sound decisions when looking into the eyes of students was a bit more challenging than I had originally thought.

Image made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License from

As I reflected on my teaching after every class, I asked myself many questions including: How do we learn? How can I incorporate technology in a way that is beneficial for my students? How can I use technology in a seamless manner where the learning is not interrupted by inclusion of technology?

Once the spring semester ended and I was able to breathe, I started to think about how what I learned teaching a technology course could (and should) influence my work as a librarian. Overall, I think librarians do a pretty great job using technology, but I realized for me that many of the technology decisions I make in my day job as an academic librarian are not nearly as grounded in learning theory as I think they should be. When I was teaching a full course it was easier to think about theory and wrestle with these questions, but when I create libguides, build tutorials, make suggestions for the library website, and recommend new technology for the learning commons, how often do I first think about how we learn?

So here is my goal (I’m admitting it online and hoping the LITA community will support me in it), I want to start reading more books on learning theory and start using that knowledge to influence all aspects of my work, and specifically with the technology that I use since almost everything that I do is somehow connected to technology.

Current reading list:

What do you recommend that I read?  Do you have any tips for connecting learning theory to non-teaching library technology responsibilities?

Library of Congress: The Signal: DPOE Makes a Splash Down Under!

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-06-26 13:08

The following is a guest post by Barrie Howard, IT Project Manager at the Library of Congress.

The Digital Preservation Outreach and Education (DPOE) program is pleased to announce a successful outcome for two international Train-the-Trainer workshops. These workshops were recently held in Australia, and are the first of their kind to be held outside of the United States.

The first workshop (May 26-29, 2015) was hosted by the State Library Victoria in Melbourne, sponsored by a collaborative organization of public libraries in Victoria called the Public Libraries Victoria Network (PLVN). The second workshop (June 2-5, 2015) took place in Sydney at the State Library of New South Wales, sponsored by a ten member consortium of national, state and territory libraries of Australia and New Zealand, the National and State Libraries of Australasia (NSLA). In addition to these two international workshops, DPOE has previously delivered four domestic workshops, partnering with organizations across the nation.

Participants and trainers at the workshop in Sydney. Photo credit: State Library of New South Wales.

The aim of the DPOE workshop is to produce a corps of trainers, who are equipped to teach others the basic principles and practices of preserving digital materials. In this way, DPOE’s “teach-a-person-to-fish” model extends the benefits of a workshop well beyond only those who can attend. There are many examples of DPOE trainers working together across jurisdictional and organizational boundaries to meet the needs of cultural heritage institutions of all shapes and sizes. DPOE trainers go on to develop training events of their own, and have delivered many webinars and workshops in the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and Southeast regions of the United States, which will be replicated in regions across Australia in the coming year. Some of these examples have been highlighted in previous blog posts.

Corin Haines, National Library of New Zealand; Lesley Sharp, State Library of South Australia; Alex Byrne, State Library of New South Wales, and instructors Jake Nadal, Mary Molinaro, and Amy Rudersdorf. Photo credit: State Library of New South Wales.

The DPOE Down Under workshops were well received due largely to the exceptional knowledge and leadership of three of the program’s anchor instructors: Mary Molinaro (University of Kentucky Libraries), Jacob Nadal (The Research Collections and Preservation Consortium), and Amy Rudersdorf (Digital Public Library of America). This extremely talented team has provided subject matter expertise to the program in the past. Over the last year, DPOE Program Manager George Coulbourne has convened two meetings of the core instructors to give the training curriculum a significant overhaul. The instructors worked with DPOE staff to review and revise training materials in anticipation of the back-to-back DPOE workshops in Australia, ensuring the curriculum is as relevant and up-to-date as ever.

The workshops are just one way that DPOE fosters outreach and education about digital preservation on a global scale. After a workshop, students graduate and enter into a vibrant network of practitioners, and continue to engage with each other–and the broader digital preservation community–online. DPOE supports this network by providing an email distribution list so practitioners can share information about digital preservation best practices, services, and tools, and to surface stories about their experiences in advancing digital preservation.

Additionally, DPOE maintains a training calendar as a public service to help working professionals discover continuing education, professional development, and training opportunities in the practice of digital preservation. The calendar is updated on a monthly basis, and includes training events hosted by DPOE trainers.

Updated 6/29/15 for typos.

DPLA: Digital Public Library of America makes push to serve all 50 states by 2017 with $3.4 million from the Sloan and Knight foundations

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-06-26 12:55

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is on the way to connecting online collections from coast to coast by 2017 – an effort boosted by a new $3.4 million investment, comprising $1.9 million from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and $1.5 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. These two new awards, coupled with significant earlier support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the National Endowment for the Humanities, will allow DPLA to open new Service Hubs that provide a way for all cultural heritage organizations across the country to connect through one national collection.

The Digital Public Library of America brings together the riches of America’s libraries, archives and museums, and makes them freely available to the world. DPLA provides public access to more than 10 million items – including the written word plus works of art and culture – from 1,600 institutions.

“The Sloan and Knight foundations have been such generous contributors to DPLA’s success, from our planning phase to the rapid build-out of our national network,” said Dan Cohen, executive director of the Digital Public Library of America. “With these major grants, we will be able to bring online 16 new states, and approach completion of that network.”

This series of investments represents a significant milestone in the development and growth of DPLA’s Service Hubs. These Services Hubs are state or regional digital collaboratives that host, aggregate or otherwise bring together digital objects from libraries, archives, museums and other cultural heritage institutions in their state or region. At the library’s launch in 2013, DPLA represented a collaborative of 16 major partners, covering nine states. The number has since doubled to more than 20 states, and is on the way to 50 in the next two years. As thousands of digital collections have been brought together through DPLA’s platform, fascinating new projects and tools using America’s cultural heritage have emerged, including curated exhibitions on historical topics and eras, dynamic visualizations and other cutting-edge apps, community engagement opportunities at an international scale, and much more.

These new grants will accelerate the growth of the Hubs program so that all collections and item types in America can easily be a part of DPLA. The Sloan Foundation’s $1.9 million award will build on its continued support since DPLA’s launch to establish Service Hubs in eight uncovered states and to further explore how it might address e-books in the collection. The Knight Foundation’s $1.5 million award will facilitate the expansion of the DPLA’s hub network in another eight states where Knight Foundation invests.

“We are delighted to continue our founding support of DPLA with this $1.9 million grant to facilitate the completion of a nationwide Service Hub network—a unique state-by-state approach to aggregating and sharing the digital record of America’s cultural heritage—and to help pilot a modern ebook distribution system for libraries,” said Doron Weber, Vice President Programs and Program Director at the Sloan Foundation. “DPLA represents an historic, non-commercial, grass-roots network to collect, curate, innovate and disseminate a comprehensive catalog of every form of digital knowledge for the benefit of all under the highest standards of quality, stewardship and open access, and Sloan is proud to be a small part of this great undertaking with many wonderful and generous partners such as the Knight Foundation.”

“An informed and engaged public is a prerequisite of American democracy. Libraries – be they physical or digital – play a fundamental role in encouraging people to know more about and become involved in the places where they live. DPLA brings to life the unique items locked away in our nations libraries and archives while providing an invaluable opportunity to bring this information into peoples lives and homes – better connecting them to each other and their communities,” said Jorge Martinez, vice president and chief technology officer at Knight Foundation, which also announced today that in 2016 it will host an international call for ideas on innovating libraries, the second Knight News Challenge on Libraries.

“With this gracious, continued support from Sloan and Knight, we can continue to focus on our largest strategic effort, which is to expand the DPLA network and provide an on-ramp for all states to participate,” said Emily Gore, DPLA’s director of content. “By building out DPLA’s coverage of state and regional Service Hubs, new communities and organizations from across the country will have access to essential 21st century services and programs, further enriching the scale and availability of our shared national cultural heritage online.”

To find out more about DPLA’s efforts towards completing the map of state-based Service Hubs, in addition to other significant initiatives, read the DPLA’s three-year strategic plan, published in January 2015.


About the Digital Public Library of America

The Digital Public Library of America ( brings together the riches of America’s libraries, archives, and museums, and makes them freely available to the world. It strives to contain the full breadth of human expression, including the written word, works of art and culture, records of America’s heritage, and the efforts and data of science. DPLA’s ever-expanding collection includes over 10 million items from 1,600 institutions across the United States.

About the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

The Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic, not-for-profit grantmaking institution based in New York. Established in 1934 by Alfred Pritchard Sloan Jr., then-president and chief executive officer of General Motors, the foundation makes grants in support of original research and education in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and economics. For more, visit

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit

Galen Charlton: ALA Annual 2015 schedule, with bonus mod_proxy hackery

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-06-26 03:20

My ALA Annual this year is going to focus on five hashtags: #mashcat, #privacy, #nisoprivacy, #kohails, and #evgils.

#mashcat is for Mashcat, which an effort to build links between library systems and library metadata folks. We’ve had some recent success with Twitter chats, and I’ve made up some badge ribbons. If you’d like one, tweet at me (@gmcharlt)!

#privacy and #nisoprivacy are for patron privacy. My particular interest in using our technology to better protect it. I’ll be running the LITA Patron Privacy Technologies Interest Group meeting on Saturday, (where I look forward to Alison Macrina’s update on Let’s Encrypt). I’ll also be participating in the face-to-face meeting on Monday and Tuesday for the NISO project to create a consensus framework for patron privacy in digital library and information systems.

#kohails and #evgils are for Koha and Evergreen, both of which I hack on and which MPOW supports – so one of the things I’ll also be doing is wearing my vendor hat while boothing and meeting.

Here’s my conference schedule so far, although I hope to squeeze in a Linked Data program as well:

In the title of the post, I promised mod_proxy hackery. Not typical for an ALA schedule post? Well, the ALA scheduler website allows you to choose you make your schedule public. If you do that, you can embed the schedule in a blog post using an iframe.

Here’s the HTML that the scheduler suggests:

<iframe src="" width="600" height="600"></iframe>

There’s a little problem with that suggestion, though: my blog is HTTPS-only. As a consequence, an HTTP iframe won’t be rendered by the browser.

What if I change the embedded URL to “”? Still doesn’t work, as the SSL certificate returned is for, which doesn’t match *cough*

Rather than do something simple, such as using copy-and-paste, I ended up configuring Apache to set up a reverse proxy. That way, my webserver can request my schedule from ALA’s webserver (as well as associated CSS), then present it to the web browser over HTTPS. Here’s the configuration I ended up with, with a bit of help from Stack Overflow:

# ALA scheduler needs SSL with a cert that matches badly ProxyPass /alaac15/ ProxyPassReverse /alaac15/ ProxyHTMLURLMap /alaac15/ <Location /alaac15/> ProxyPassReverse / SetOutputFilter proxy-html ProxyHTMLURLMap /alaac15/ ProxyHTMLURLMap / /alaac15/ ProxyHTMLURLMap /alaac15/ /alaac15/ RequestHeader unset Accept-Encoding </Location>

This is a bit ugly (and I’ll be disabling the reverse proxy after the conference is over)… but it works for the moment, and also demonstrates how one might make a resolutely HTTP-only service on your intranet accessible over HTTPS publicly.

Onward! I look forward to meeting friends old and new in San Francisco!

DuraSpace News: Welcome Terry Brady, Georgetown University: New DSpace Committer

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-06-26 00:00

From the The DSpace Committers Group

The DSpace Committers are delighted to announce that a new member has joined the team: Terry Brady from Georgetown University. Please join us in welcoming him!

LibraryThing (Thingology): For ALA 2015: Three Free OPAC Enhancements

planet code4lib - Thu, 2015-06-25 17:31

For a limited time, LibraryThing for Libraries (LTFL) is offering three of its signature enhancements for free!

There are no strings attached. We want people to see how LibraryThing for Libraries can improve your catalog.

  1. Check Library.

    The Check Library button is a “bookmarklet” that allows patrons to check if your library has a book while on Amazon and most other book websites. Unlike other options, LibraryThing knows all of the editions out there, so it finds the edition your library has. Learn more about Check Library

  2. Other Editions

    Let your users know everything you have. Don’t let users leave empty-handed when the record that came up is checked out. Other editions links all your holdings together in a FRBR model—paper, audiobook, ebook, even translations.

  3. Lexile Measures

    Put MetaMetrics’ The Lexile Framework® for Reading in your catalog, to help librarians and patrons find material based on reading level. In addition to showing the Lexile numbers, we also include an interactive browser.

Easy to Add

LTFL Enhancements are easy to install and can be added to every major ILS/OPAC system and most of the minor ones. Enrichments can be customized and styled to fit your catalog, and detailed usage reporting lets you know how they’re doing.

See us at ALA. Stop by booth 3634 at ALA Annual this weekend in San Francisco to talk to Tim and Abby and see how these enhancements work.

If you need a free pass to the exhibit hall, details are in this blog post.

Sign up

We’re offering these three enhancements free, for at least two years. We’ll probably send you links showing you how awesome other enhancements would look in your catalog, but that’s it.

Find out more or email Abby Blachly at

LITA: Disenfranchising Language in Library Technology

planet code4lib - Thu, 2015-06-25 13:00

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Justin M. White.

A post by the net librarian was making the rounds on Tumblr a while back and caught my eye. It was short, so I’ll quote most of it here:

As a public librarian, a lot of my job is writing. Copy for websites, computer class handouts, signage, etc. It’s critical that librarians know what language patrons understand. Unfortunately a lot of tech stuff doesn’t use accessible language.

There’s a copier in one of the libraries I work at which has an error message that pops up often which says “insert key counter”. I’m sure this is precise and accurate language to the programmer who wrote the error message, but it really doesn’t mean anything. After trial and error it means you forgot to put money in, so the copier won’t work. But how is the average patron supposed to figure that out?

I subsequently discovered that there’s a surprising lack of discussion about this in the library literature, but what does exist is very promising. Adriene Lim wrote “The Readability of Information Literacy Content on Academic Library Web Sites” back in 2010, which analyzed the readability of library website content that was designed to provide basic research instruction. While most of the libraries surveyed scored well in accessibility of language, some were far more complicated. This is of particular concern for librarians like myself who are working with large populations of ESL and first-generation students.

Here is an actual example of an error message an ESL student in my library had trouble with:

Note that there isn’t a field called “Help Explanation”, but rather a “Describe the kind of help” section. The error message was generated, in this instance, by a space being the first character in the field. As far as the student knew, there was some other field called Help Explanation that wasn’t being filled out, leading them to frantically search the page in vain.

The LibPunk podcast addressed the issues of communication between librarians and IT staff in its final episode. One important point brought up was the difference in focus: a fix from IT might be well done, but does it have the user in mind? Librarians can have the same blindsides: the example brought up was catalogers who make records without the user in mind.

Another article, “ESL Library Skills: An Information Literacy Program for Adults with Low Levels of English Literacy”, focused on the range of information literacy programs for ESL populations. Libraries are overwhelmingly in the ESL education business, and those users are going to require dependable and accessible technology as their English language skills grow.

Take note of the messages your library technology gives you. Are they indecipherable? Would they be accessible to an ESL student, or a student with below-average reading levels? Take a look at the messages you create for your library: the sticky note on the copier that explains some workaround. Is your note actually making things worse by putting a wall of text in front of the interface? Do you utilize non-text instructional materials in your LibGuides, or do the words tower over anxious ESL readers? Is your website content intuitive and clearly written out?

As librarians we push access as part of our professional goals. No librarian should be making their content and technology less accessible on purpose, but keeping the effect of the language we use in our minds as we go throughout our careers can lead to some very simple yet effective solutions.

Justin is an accidental technical services librarian at Hodges University in Florida. His interests usually revolve around library/archival technology, history, and information literacy, and reblogging photos of bunnies on all known social media outlets.

Open Knowledge Foundation: Become a Friend of The Public Domain Review

planet code4lib - Thu, 2015-06-25 11:47

Open Knowledge project The Public Domain Review launches a major new fundraising drive, encouraging people to become Friends of the site by giving an annual donation.

For those not yet in the know, The Public Domain Review is a project dedicated to protecting and celebrating, in all its richness and variety, the cultural public domain. In particular, our focus is on the digital copies of public domain works, the mission being to facilitate the appreciation, use and growth of a digital cultural commons which is open for everyone.

We create collections of openly licensed works comprised of highlights from a variety of galleries, libraries, archives, and museums, many of whom also contribute to our popular Curator’s Choice series (including The British Library, Rijksmuseum, and The Getty). We also host a fortnightly essay series in which top academics and authors write about interesting and unusual public domain works which are available online.

Founded in 2011, the site has gone from strength to strength. In its 4 plus years it has seen contributions from the likes of Jack Zipes, Frank Delaney, and Julian Barnes – and garnered praise from such media luminaries as The Paris Review, who called us “one of their favourite journals”, and The Guardian, who hailed us as a “model of digital curation”.

This is all very exciting but we need your help to continue the project into the future.

We are currently only bringing in around half of the base minimum required – the amount we need in order to tick along in a healthy manner. (And around a third of our ideal goal, which would allow us to pay contributors). So it is of urgent importance that we increase our donations if we want the project to continue.

Hence the launch of a brand new fundraising model through which we hope to make The Public Domain Review sustainable and able to continue into the future. Introducing “Friends of The Public Domain Review”

Image 1: one of the eight postcards included in the inaugural postcard set. The theme is “Flight” and the set will be sent out to all Friends donating $30/£20/€27.50 or more before 8th July. Source =

What is it?

This new model revolves around building a group of loyal PDR (Public Domain Review) supporters – the “Friends” – each of whom makes an annual donation to the project. This club of patrons will form the beating heart of the site, creating a bedrock of support vital to the project’s survival.

How can one become a Friend?

There is no fixed yearly cost to become a Friend – any annual donation will qualify you – but there is a guide price of $60 a year (£40/€55).

Are there any perks of being a Friend?

Yes! Any donation above $30 will make you eligible to receive our exclusive twice-a-year “postcard set” – 8 beautiful postcards curated around a theme, with a textual insert. Friends will also be honoured in a special section of the site and on a dedicated page in all PDR Press publications. They will also get first refusal in all future limited edition PDR Press creations, and receive a special end of year letter from the Editor.

How do I make my donation?

We’ve worked hard to make it as easy as possible to donate. You no longer have to use PayPal on the PDR site, but can rather donate using your credit or debit card directly on the site.

For more info, and to make your donation, visit:

Become a Friend before 8th July to receive the inaugural postcard set upon the theme of “Flight”

Image 2: one of the eight postcards included in the inaugural postcard set. The theme is “Flight” and the set will be sent out to all Friends donating $30/£20/€27.50 or more before 8th July. Source =


Subscribe to code4lib aggregator