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Library of Congress: The Signal: How to Participate in the September 2015 NDSA New England Regional Meeting

planet code4lib - Tue, 2015-07-28 14:01

The following is a guest post by Kevin Powell, digital preservation librarian at Brown University.

Credit: Zachary Painter

On September 25th, UMass Dartmouth will host the National Digital Stewardship Alliance New England Regional Meeting with Brown University. We enthusiastically encourage librarians, archivists, preservation specialists, knowledge managers, and anyone else with an interest in digital stewardship and preservation to join us. There are a number of ways to participate this year:

Give a presentation!

We are currently accepting proposals for 10-15 minute presentations. These can range from project reports and collaboration proposals to tool demonstrations and formal research. Share what you’re working on at your organization with your local colleagues! If you have something to share regarding digital stewardship, we’d like to hear about it. Proposals are due August 7th.

Submit a discussion topic!

When registration opens August 14th, registered attendees will have the opportunity to suggest a topic for the “unconference.”  The key idea is that participants define the topics, and everyone who attends participates in the discussions. Attendees will vote on the suggested topics during our free , catered lunch on the day of the meeting. After the second session of presentations, we will announce a line-up of discussions based on everyone’s votes.

Give a lightning talk on an unconference discussion topic!

We set 45 minutes aside at the end of our meeting for 5 minute, informal lightning talks related to the unconference discussions. If your group made some insightful observations or generated helpful documentation, we invite one person from that group to briefly share with everybody.


New England was the very first region to host a regional NDSA meeting in 2013, and this year marks the third annual meeting. There is a strong, vibrant community of professionals interested in digital stewardship and working on a diverse set of projects. We want to collaborate and learn with you! Plus, there are a few beaches nearby, and we will finish with plenty of daylight to spare! Registration opens August 14th.

We hope to see you there!

Brown University Library Digital Technologies Projects: New ORCID Integrations

planet code4lib - Mon, 2015-07-27 19:20
  •  MIT Libraries have created an ORCID integration that allows their faculty to link an existing ORCID iD to their MIT profile or create a new ORCID record, which then populates the ORCID record with information about their employment at MIT
  • University of Pittsburgh is generating ORCID records for their researchers and adding their University of Pittsburgh affiliation


Code4Lib: Code4Lib Northern California: Stanford, CA

planet code4lib - Mon, 2015-07-27 17:38

Stanford University Libraries will host a Code4Lib Northern California regional meeting on Tuesday, August 4, 2015 in the Lathrop Library on Stanford's campus. We'll have a morning session with lightning talks about various topics and an afternoon of smaller breakout and working sessions.

You can get more details about the event and register on the Code4Lib NorCal wiki page.

HangingTogether: What is actually happening out there in terms of institutional data repositories?

planet code4lib - Mon, 2015-07-27 16:30

There is an awful lot of talk about academic libraries providing data curation services for their researchers.  It turns out that in most cases that service amounts to training and advice, but not actual data management services.  However, institutions without data repositories are likely thinking about implementing one.  We thought it would be helpful to hear from those few who have implemented data repositories.  [If you are one of those pioneers and did not get a chance to fill out the survey, feel free to describe your repository program as a comment to this post.]

OCLC Research conducted an unscientific survey about data repositories from 5/19/2015 to 7/16/2015. Initially the survey was sent to twelve institutions that were believed to have a data repository. They were asked to identify other institutions with data repositories.   In total, 31 institutions were invited to take the survey. 22 filled out the survey and two of those indicated that they do not have a data repository. The following summarizes the twenty responses from institutions with data repositories.

TECHNICAL DETAILS. Eight of the institutions run a stand-alone data repository and twelve have a combination institutional repository and data repository. Six of the sites run DSpace, six run Hydra/Fedora systems, 4 have locally developed systems, and there are one each running Rosetta, Dataverse, SobekCM, and HUBzero.

PRESERVATION. All but one provide integrity checks. Seventeen keep offsite backup copies. Twelve provide format migration. Ten put master files in a dark archive. Two volunteered that they provide DOI generation.

SERVICES. Three institutions reported that they accept deposits from researchers not associated with their institution. One is part of a consortial arrangement and one is part of a network. Seven have their data or metadata harvested by other data repositories. When researchers deposit their data in an external repository, ten will include the datasets in their own repository and one includes just the metadata in their repository. All of them provide public access to data. Fourteen restrict or limit access when appropriate.

FUNDING. When asked about funding sources, eighteen reported that the library’s base budget covered at least some of the expenses. Seven said that was their only source of funding. Seven reported getting fees from researchers and four reported getting fees from departments. Five get institutional funding specifically for data management. Four get money from the IT budget. Only one institution reported getting direct funds from grant-funded projects and only one reported getting indirect funds from grant-funded projects. None reported getting fees from users, having an endowment, or having had  grant funding to develop the repository.

While technical, preservation, and service issues can be challenging, I suspect that for some time the funding issues will be the most inhibiting to provision of this important service in support the university research mission.

[Many thanks to Amanda Rinehart, Data Management Services Librarian at The Ohio State University, for help with the creation of the survey]

About Ricky Erway

Ricky Erway, Senior Program Officer at OCLC Research, works with staff from the OCLC Research Library Partnership on projects ranging from managing born digital archives to research data curation.

Mail | Web | Twitter | LinkedIn | More Posts (41)

LITA: Creating campus-wide technology partnerships: Mission impossible?

planet code4lib - Mon, 2015-07-27 13:00

Libraries have undergone significant changes in the last five years, shifting from repositories to learning spaces, from places to experiences. Much of this is due to our growing relationships with our IT, instructional technology, and research colleagues as the lines between technology and library-related work become continually more blurred.

But it’s not always easy to establish these types of partnerships, especially if there haven’t been any connections to build on. So how can you approach outreach to your IT campus departments and individuals?

There are typically two types of partnerships that you can initiate:

1. There is a program already established, and you would like the library to be involved where it wasn’t involved before

2. You are proposing something completely new

All you have to do is convince the coordinator or director of the project or department that having the library become a part of that initiative is a good thing especially if they don’t think you have anything to offer. Easier said than done, right? But what happens if that person is not responding to your painstakingly crafted email? If the person is a director or chair, chances are they have an assistant who is much more willing to communicate with you and can often make headway where you can’t.

Ask if you can attend a departmental meeting or if they can help you set up a meeting with the person who can help things move forward. Picking up the phone doesn’t hurt either-if someone is in their office, they might, just might, be inclined to talk with you as opposed to ignoring the email you sent them days ago which is by now buried under an avalanche of other emails and will be duly ignored.

Always try to send an agenda ahead of time so they know what you’re thinking-that additional time might just be the thing they need to be able to consider your ideas instead of having to come up with something on the spot. Plus, if you’re nervous, that will serve as your discussion blueprint and can prevent you from rambling or going off into tangents-remember, the person in front of you has many other things to think about, and like it or not, you have to make good use of their time!

After the meeting, along with your thank you, be sure to remind them of the action items that were discussed-that way when you contact others within the department to move forward with your initiative they are not wondering what’s going on and why you’re bugging them. Also asking who might be the best person to help with whatever action items you identify will help you avoid pestering the director later-there’s nothing worse than getting the green light then having to backtrack or delay because you forgot to ask them who to work with! From there on out, creating a system for communicating regularly with all those involved in moving forward is your priority. Make sure everyone who needs to be at the table receives an invitation and understands why they are there. Clarify who is in charge and what the expectations of the work are. Assume that they know nothing and the only thing their supervisor or colleague has said is that they will be working with the library on a project.

You might also have to think outside the proverbial IT box when it comes to building partnerships. For example, creating a new Makerspace might not start with IT, but rather with a department who is interested in incorporating it into their curriculum. Of course IT will become part of the equation at some point, but that unit might not be the best way to approach creating this type of space and an academic department would be willing to help split the cost because their students are getting the benefits.

Finally, IT nowadays comes in many forms and where you once thought the campus supercomputing center has nothing to do with your work, finding out exactly what their mission is and what they do, could come in handy. For example, you might discover that they can provide storage for large data sets and they could use some help to spread the word to faculty about this. Bingo! You’ve just identified an opportunity for those in the library who are involved in this type of work to collaborate on a shared communication plan where you can introduce what the library is doing to help faculty with their data management plans and the center can help store that same data.

Bottom line, technology partnerships are vital if libraries are going to expand their reach and become even more integrated into the academic fabric of their institutions. But making those connections isn’t always easy, especially because some units might not see the immediate benefits of such collaborations. Getting to the table is often the hardest step in the process, but keeping these simple things in mind will (hopefully) smooth the way:

1. Look at all possible partners, not just the obvious IT connections

2. Be willing to try different modes of outreach if your preferred method isn’t having success

3. Be prepared to demonstrate what the library can bring to the table and follow through

DuraSpace News: NOW AVAILABLE: Lower per Terabyte Cost for Additional ArchivesDirect Storage

planet code4lib - Mon, 2015-07-27 00:00

Winchester, MA There will always be more, not less, data. That fact makes it likely that you will need more archival storage space than you originally planned for. Rapid, on-the-fly collection development, unexpected, gifted digital materials and rich media often require additional storage. ArchivesDirect has lowered the per terabyte cost of additional storage to make using the service more cost effective for organizations and institutions seeking to meet institutional demands for ensuring that their digital footprint is safe and accessible for future generations.

DuraSpace News: Telling VIVO Stories at Colorado University Boulder with Liz Tomich

planet code4lib - Mon, 2015-07-27 00:00

“Telling VIVO Stories” is a community-led initiative aimed at introducing project leaders and their ideas to one another while providing VIVO implementation details for the VIVO community and beyond. The following interview includes personal observations that may not represent the opinions and views of Colorado University Boulder or the VIVO Project.

Julia Trimmer, Duke University, talked with the Liz Tomich at Colorado University Boulder to learn about their VIVO story.

ZBW German National Library of Economics: skos-history: New method for change tracking applied to STW Thesaurus for Economics

planet code4lib - Sun, 2015-07-26 22:00

“What’s new?” and “What has changed?” are questions users of Knowledge Organization Systems (KOS), such as thesauri or classifications, ask when a new version is published. Much more so, when a thesaurus existing since the 1990s has been completely revised, subject area for subject area. After four intermediately published versions in as many consecutive years, ZBW's STW Thesaurus for Economics has been re-launched recently in version 9.0. In total, 777 descriptors have been added; 1,052 (of about 6,000) have been deprecated and in their vast majority merged into others. More subtle changes include modified preferred labels, or merges and splits of existing concepts.

Since STW has been published on the web in 2009, we went to great lengths to make change traceable: No concept and no web page has been deleted, everything from prior versions is still available. Following a presentation at DC-2013 in Lisbon, I've started the skos-history project, which aims to exploit published SKOS files of different versions for change tracking. A first beta implementation of Linked-Data-based change reports went live with STW 8.14, making use of SPARQL "live queries" (as described in a prior post). With the publication of STW 9.0, full reports of the changes are available. How do they work?

The basic idea is to exploit the power of SPARQL on named graphs of different versions of the thesaurus. After having loaded these versions into a "version store", we can compute deltas (version differences) and save them as named graphs, too. A combination of the dataset versioning ontology (dsv:) by Johan De Smedt, the skos-history ontology (sh:), SPARQL service description (sd:) and VoiD (void:) provides the necessary plumbing in a separate version history graph:


That in place, we can query the version store, for e.g. the concepts added between two versions, like this:

# Identify concepts inserted with a certain version
SELECT distinct ?concept ?prefLabel
 # query the version history graph to get a delta and via that the relevant graphs
  ?delta a sh:SchemeDelta ;
   sh:deltaFrom/dc:identifier "8.14" ;
   sh:deltaTo/dc:identifier "9.0" ;
   sh:deltaFrom/sh:usingNamedGraph/sd:name ?oldVersionGraph ;
   dct:hasPart ?insertions .
  ?insertions a sh:SchemeDeltaInsertions ;
   sh:usingNamedGraph/sd:name ?insertionsGraph .
 # for each inserted concept, a newly inserted prefLabel must exist ...
 GRAPH ?insertionsGraph {
  ?concept skos:prefLabel ?prefLabel
 # ... and the concept must not exist in the old version
  GRAPH ?oldVersionGraph {
   ?concept ?p []

The resulting report, cached for better performance and availability, can be found in the change reports section of the STW site, together with reports on deprecation/replacement of concepts, changed preferrred labels, hiearchy changes, merges and splits of concepts (descriptors as well as the higher level subject categories of STW). The queries used to create the reports are available on GitHub and linked from the report pages.

The methodology allows for aggregating changes over multiple versions and levels of the hierarchy of a concept scheme. That enabled us to gather information for the complete overhaul of STW, and to visualize it in change graphics:

The method applied here to STW is in no way specific to it. It does not rely on transaction logging of the internal thesaurus management system, nor on any other out-of-band knowledge, but solely on the published SKOS files. Thus, it can be applied to other knowledge management systems, by its publishers as well as by interested users of the KOS. Experiments with TheSoz, Agrovoc and the Finnish YSO have been conducted already; example endpoints with multiple versions of these vocabularies (and of STW, of course) are provided by ZBW Labs.

At the Finnish National Library, as well as the FAO, approaches are under way to explore the applicability of skos-history to the thesauri and maintenance workflows there. In the context of STW, the change reports are mostly optimized for human consumption. We hope to learn more how people use it in automatic or semi-automatic processes - for example, to update changed preferred label of systems working with prior versions of STW, to review indexed titles attached to split-up concepts, or to transfer changes to derived or mapped vocabularies. If you want to experiment, please fork on GitHub. Contributions in the issue queue as well as well as pull requests are highly welcome.

More detailed information can be found in a paper (Leveraging SKOS to trace the overhaul of the STW Thesaurus for Economics), which will be presented at DC-2015 in Sao Paulo.



skos-history Thesaurus   Linked data  

Open Library Data Additions: Big list of ASINs (ASIN)

planet code4lib - Sun, 2015-07-26 21:15

A list of ASINs ( product identifiers) generated by extracting ASIN-shaped strings from the list of pages crawled by the wayback machine..

This item belongs to: data/ol_data.

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

Eric Hellman: Library Privacy and the Freedom Not To Read

planet code4lib - Sun, 2015-07-26 16:40
One of the most difficult privacy conundrums facing libraries today is how to deal with the data that their patrons generate in the course of using digital services. Commercial information services typically track usage in detail, keep the data indefinitely, and regard the data as a valuable asset. Data is used to make many improvements, often to personalize the service to best meet the needs of the user. User data can also be monetized; as I've written here before, many companies make money by providing web services in exchange for the opportunity to track users and help advertisers target them.

A Maginot Line fortification. Photo from the US Army.The downside to data collection is its impact on user privacy, something that libraries have a history of defending, even at the risk of imprisonment. Since the Patriot Act, many librarians have believed that the best way to defend user privacy against legally sanctioned intrusion is to avoid collecting any sensitive data. But as libraries move onto the web, that defense seems more and more like a Maginot Line, impregnable, but easy to get around. (I've written about an effort to shore up some weak points in library privacy defenses.)

At the same time, "big data" has clouded the picture of what constitutes sensitive data. The correlation of digital library use with web activity outside the library can impact privacy in ways that never would occur in a physical library. For example, I've found that many libraries unknowingly use Amazon cover images to enrich their online catalogs, so that even a user who is completely anonymous to the library ends up letting Amazon know what books they're searching for.

Recently, I've been serving on the Steering Committee of an initiative of NISO to try to establish a set of principles that libraries, providers of services to libraries, and publishers can use to support privacy patron privacy. We held an in-person meeting in San Francisco at the end of July. There was solid support from libraries, publishers and service companies for improving reader privacy, but some issues were harder than others. The issues around data collection and use attracted the widest divergence in opinion.

One approach that was discussed centered on classifying different types of data depending on the extent to which they impact user privacy. This also the approach taken by most laws governing privacy of library records. They mostly apply only to "Personally Identifiable Information" (PII), which usually would mean a person's name, address, phone number, etc., but sometimes is defined to include the user's IP address. While it's important to protect this type of information, in practice this usually means that less personal information lacks any protection at all.

I find that the data classification approach is another Maginot privacy line. It encourages the assumption that collection of demographics data – age, gender, race, religion, education, profession, even sexual orientation – is fair game for libraries and participants in the library ecosystem. I raised some eyebrows when I suggested that demographic groups might deserve a level of privacy protection in libraries, just as individuals do.

OCLC's Andrew Pace gave an example that brought this home for us all. When he worked as a librarian at NC State, he tracked usage of the books and other materials in the collection. Every library needs to do this for many purposes. He noticed that materials placed on reserve for certain classes received little or no usage, and he thought that faculty shouldn't be putting so many things on reserve, effectively preventing students not taking the class from using these materials. And so he started providing usage reports to the faculty.

In retrospect, Andrew pointed out that, without thinking much about it, he might have violated the privacy of students by informing their teachers that that they weren't reading the assigned materials. After all, if a library wants to protect a user's right to read, they also have to protect the right not to read. Nobody's personally identifiable information had been exposed, but the combination of library data – a list of books that hadn't circulated – with some non-library data – the list of students enrolled in a class and the list of assigned reading – had intersected in a way that exposed individual reading behavior.

What this example illustrates is that libraries MUST collect at least SOME data that impinges on reader privacy. If reader privacy is to be protected, a "privacy impact assessment" must be made on almost all uses of that data.  In today's environment, users expect that their data signals will be listened to and their expressed needs will be accommodated. Given these expectations, building privacy in libraries is going to require a lot of work and a lot of thought.

Terry Reese: Code4LibMW 2015 Write-up

planet code4lib - Sat, 2015-07-25 02:17

Whew – it’s be a wonderfully exhausting past few days here in Columbus, OH as the Libraries played host to Code4LibMW.  This has been something that I’ve been looking forward to ever since making the move to The Ohio State University; the C4L community has always been one of my favorites, and while the annual conference continues to be one of the most important meetings on my calendar – it’s within these regional events where I’m always reminded why I enjoy being a part of this community. 

I shared a story with the folks in Columbus this week.  As one of the folks that attended the original C4L meeting in Corvallis back in 2006 (BTW, there were 3 other original attendees in Columbus this week), there are a lot of things that I remember about that event quite fondly.  Pizza at American Dream, my first experience doing a lightening talk, the joy of a conference where people were writing code as they were standing on stage waiting their turn to present, Roy Tennant pulling up the IRC channel while he was on stage, so he could keep an eye on what we were all saying about him.  It was just a lot of fun, and part of what made it fun was that everyone got involved.  During that first event, there were around 80 attendees, and nearly every person made it onto the stage to talk about something that they were doing, something that they were passionate about, or something that they had been inspired to build during the course of the week.  You still get this at times at the annual conference, but with it’s shear size and weight, it’s become much harder to give everyone that opportunity to share the things that interest them, or easily connect with other people that might have those same interests.  And I think that’s the purpose that these regional events can serve. 

By and large, the C4L regional events feel much more like those early days of the C4L annual conference.  They are small, usually free to attend, with a schedule that shifts and changes throughout the day.  They are also the place where we come together, meet local colleagues and learn about all the fantastic work that is being done at institutions of all sizes and all types.  And that’s what the C4LMW meeting was for me this year.  As the host, I wanted to make sure that the event had enough structure to keep things moving, but had a place for everyone to participate.  For me – that was going to be the measure of success…did we not just put on a good program – but did this event help to make connections within our local community.  And I think that in this, the event was successful.  I was doing a little bit of math, and over the course of the two days, I think that we had a participation rate close to 90%, and an opportunity for everyone that wanted to get up and just talk about something that they found interesting.  And to be sure – there is a lot of great work being done out here by my Midwest colleagues (yes, even those up in Michigan ).

Over the next few days, I’ll be collecting links and making the slides available via the C4LMW 2015 home page as well as wrapping up a few of the last responsibilities of hosting an event, but I wanted to take a moment and again thank everyone that attended.  These types of events have never been driven by the presentations, the hosts, or the presenters – but have always been about the people that attend and the connections that we make with the people in the room.  And it was a privilege this year to have the opportunity to host you all here in Columbus. 



Karen G. Schneider: The well of studiousness

planet code4lib - Sat, 2015-07-25 01:58

Pride 2015

My relative quiet is because my life has been divided for a while between work and studying for exams. But I share this photo by former PUBLIB colleague and retired librarian Bill Paullin from the 2015 Pride March in San Francisco, where I marched with my colleagues in what suddenly became an off-the-hook celebration of what one parade marshal drily called, “Thank you, our newly-discovered civil rights.”

I remember the march, but I also remember the  hours before our contingent started marching, chatting with dear colleagues about all the important things in life while around us nothing was happening. It was like ALA Council, except with sunscreen, disco music, and free coconut water.

Work is going very well. Team Library is made of professionals who enjoy what they do and commit to walking the walk. The People of the Library did great things this summer, including eight (yes eight) very successful “chat with a librarian” sessions for parent orientations, and a wonderful “Love Your Library” carnival for one student group. How did we get parents to these sessions? Schmoozing, coffee, and robots (as in, tours of our automated retrieval system). We had a competing event, but really — coffee and robots? It’s a no-brainer. Then I drive home to our pretty street in a cute part of a liveable city, and that is a no-brainer, too.

I work with such great people that clearly I did something right in a past life. Had some good budget news. Yes please! Every once in a while I think, I was somewhere else before I came here, and it was good; I reflect on our apartment in San Francisco, and my job at Holy Names. I can see myself on that drive to work, early in the morning, twisting down Upper Market as the sun lit up the Bay Bridge and the day beckoned, full of challenge and possibility. It was a good part of my life, and I record these moments in the intergalactic Book of Love.

And yet: “a ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” I think of so many good things I learned in my last job, not the least of which the gift of radical hospitality.  I take these things with me, and yet the lesson for me is that I was not done yet. It is interesting to me that in the last few months I learned that for my entire adult life I had misunderstood the word penultimate. It does not mean the final capper; it means the place you go, before you go to that place.  I do not recall what made me finally look up this term, except when I did I felt I was receiving a message.

Studying is going very well, except my brain is unhappy about ingesting huge amounts of data into short-term memory to be regurgitated on a closed-book test. Cue lame library joke: what am I, an institutional repository? Every once in a while I want to share a bon mot from my readings with several thousand of my closest friends, then remember that people who may be designing the questions I’ll be grappling with are on the self-same networks. So you see pictures of our Sunday house meetings and perhaps a random post or share, but the things that make me go “HA HA HA! Oh, that expert in […….redacted……..] gets off a good one!” stay with me and Samson, our ginger cat, who is in charge of supervising my studies, something he frequently does with his eyes closed.

We have landed well, even after navigating without instruments through a storm. Life is good, and after this winter, I have a renewed appreciation for what it means for life to be good. That second hand moves a wee faster every year, but there are nonetheless moments captured in amber, which we roll from palm to palm, marveling in their still beauty.

Bookmark to:

David Rosenthal: Amazon owns the cloud

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-07-24 19:21
Back in May I posted about Amazon's Q1 results, the first in which they broke out AWS, their cloud services, as a separate item. The bottom line was impressive:
AWS is very profitable: $265 million in profit on $1.57 billion in sales last quarter alone, for an impressive (for Amazon!) 17% net margin.Again via Barry Ritholtz, Re/Code reports on Q2:
Amazon Web Services, ... grew its revenue by 81 percent year on year in the second quarter. It grew faster and with higher profit margins than any other aspect of Amazon’s business.

AWS, which offers leased computing services to businesses, posted revenue of $1.82 billion, up from $1 billion a year ago, as part of its second-quarter results.

By comparison, retail sales in North America grew only 26 percent to $13.8 billion from $11 billion a year ago.

The cloud computing business also posted operating income of $391 million — up an astonishing 407 percent from $77 million at this time last year — for an operating margin of 21 percent, making it Amazon’s most profitable business unit by far. The North American retail unit turned in an operating margin of only 5.1 percent.Revenue growing at 81% year-on-year at a 21% and growing margin despite:
price competition from the likes of Google, Microsoft and IBM.Amazon clearly dominates the market, the competition is having no effect on their business. As I wrote nearly a year ago, based on Benedict Evans' analysis:
Amazon's strategy is not to generate and distribute profits, but to re-invest their cash flow into starting and developing businesses. Starting each business absorbs cash, but as they develop they turn around and start generating cash that can be used to start the next one. Unfortunately, S3 is part of AWS for reporting purposes, so we can't see the margins for the storage business alone. But I've been predicting for years that if we could, we would find them to be very generous.

Harvard Library Innovation Lab: Link roundup July 24, 2015

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-07-24 16:56

A block of links sourced from the team. We’ve got Annie, Adam, dano, and Matt!

A Light Sculpture Is Harvesting San Francisco’s Secrets

The form reminds me of an alien planet’s shrubbery. Shrub with status updates.

Watch a Computer Attempt to Sing 90s Power Ballads—With Feeling

Soulful synth h/t @grok_

Street Artist and City Worker Have Year Long Exchange on a Red Wall in London «TwistedSifter

Street artist versus city worker

Toki Pona: A Language With a Hundred Words – The Atlantic

Now, to combine Toki Pona with emoji…

Swedish Puzzle Rooms Test Teams’ Wits and Strength | Mental Floss

Obstacle course puzzle rooms in an old department store. Why not in a library?

LITA: Outernet: A Digital Library in the Sky

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-07-24 13:00


To me, libraries have always represented a concentration of knowledge. Growing up I dreamt about how smart I’d be if I read all of the books in my hometown’s tiny local branch library.  I didn’t yet understand the subtle differences between libraries, archives and repositories, but I knew that the promise of the internet and digital content meant that, someday, I’d be able to access all of that knowledge as if I had a library inside my computer. The idea of aggregating all of humanity’s knowledge in a way that makes it freely accessible to everyone is what led me to library school, programming, and working with digital libraries/repositories, so whenever I find a project working towards that goal I get tingly. Outernet makes me feel very tingly.

In a nutshell, Outernet is a startup that got sponsored by a big nonprofit, and aims to use satellites to broadcast data down to Earth. By using satellites, they can avoid issues of internet connectivity, infrastructure, political censorship and local poverty. The data they plan to provide would be openly licensed educational materials specifically geared towards underprivileged populations such as local news, crop prices, emergency communications, open source applications, literature, textbooks and courseware, open access academic articles, and even the entirety of Wikipedia. Currently the only way to receive Outernet’s broadcasts is with a homemade receiver, but a low cost (~$100) solar-powered, weather-proof receiver with built in storage is in the works which could be mass produced and distributed to impoverished or disaster-stricken areas.

Outernet chooses the content to be added to its core archive with a piece of software called Whiteboard which acts as a kind of Reddit for broadcast content; volunteers submit new URLs pointing to content they believe Outernet should broadcast, and the community can upvote or downvote it with the top-ranking content making it into the core archive, democratizing the process. A separate piece of software called Librarian acts as the interface to locally received content; current receivers act as a Wi-Fi hotspot which users can connect to and use Librarian to explore, copy or delete content as well as configuring the data Librarian harvests. Public access points are being planned for places like schools, hospitals and public libraries where internet connectivity isn’t feasible, with a single person administering the receiver and its content but allowing read-only access to anyone.

While the core work is being done by Outernet Inc., much of the project relies on community members volunteering time to discuss ideas and test the system. You can find more about the community at, but the primary way to participate is to build a receiver yourself and report feedback or to submit/vote on content using Whiteboard. While Outernet is still a long way off from achieving its goals, its still one of the most exciting and fun ideas I’ve heard about in a while and definitely something to keep an eye on.


pinboard: Welcome

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-07-24 01:18

Roy Tennant: Yet Another Metadata Zoo

planet code4lib - Thu, 2015-07-23 23:51

I was talking with my old friend John Kunze a little while back and he described a project that he is involved with called “Yet Another Metadata Zoo” or In a world of more ontologies than you can shake a stick at, it aims to provide a simple, easy-to-use mechanism for defining and maintaining individual metadata terms and their definitions.

The project explains itself like this:

The YAMZ Metadictionary (metadata dictionary) prototype…is a proof-of-concept web-based software service acting as an open registry of metadata terms from all domains and from all parts of “metadata speech”. With no login required, anyone can search for and link to registry term definitions. Anyone can register to be able to login and create terms.

We aim for the metadictionary to become a high-quality cross-domain metadata vocabulary that is directly connected to evolving user needs. Change will be rapid and affordable, with no need for panels of experts to convene and arbitrate to improve it. We expect dramatic simplification compared to the situation today, in which there is an overwhelming number of vocabularies (ontologies) to choose from.

Our hope is that users will be able to find most of the terms they need in one place (one vocabulary namespace), namely, the Metadictionary. This should minimize the need for maintaining expensive crosswalks with other vocabularies and cluttering up expressed metadata with lots of namespace qualifiers. Although it is not our central goal, the vocabulary is shovel-ready for those wishing to create linked data applications.

If you have a Google ID, signing in is dead simple and you can begin creating and editing terms. You can also vote terms up or down, which can eventually take a term from “vernacular” status (the default for new terms) to “canonical” — terms that are considered stable and unchanging. A third status is “deprecated”.

You can browse terms to see what is there already.

I really like this project for several reasons:

  • It’s dead simple.
  • It’s fast and easy to gain value from it. 
  • Every term has an identifier, forever and always (deprecated terms keep their identifier).
  • Voting and commenting are a key part of the infrastructure, and provide easy mechanisms for it to get ever better over time.

What it needs now is more people involved, so it can gain the kind of input and participation that is necessary to make it a truly authoritative source of metadata element names and descriptions. I’ve already contributed to it, how about you?


District Dispatch: Libraries: Apply now for 2016 IMLS National Medals

planet code4lib - Thu, 2015-07-23 21:56

Institute of Museum and Library Services logo

The application period is now open for the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor. Each year, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) recognizes libraries and museums that make significant and exceptional contributions in service to their communities. Nomination forms are due October 1, 2015.

Read more from IMLS:

All types of nonprofit libraries and library organizations, including academic, school, and special libraries, archives, library associations, and library consortia, are eligible to receive this honor. Public or private nonprofit museums of any discipline (including general, art, history, science and technology, children’s, and natural history and anthropology), as well as historic houses and sites, arboretums, nature centers, aquariums, zoos, botanical gardens, and planetariums are eligible.

Winners are honored at a ceremony in Washington, DC, host a two-day visit from StoryCorps to record community member stories, and receive positive media attention. Approximately thirty finalists are selected as part of the process and are featured by IMLS during a six-week social media and press campaign.

Anyone may nominate a museum or library for this honor, and institutions may self-nominate. For more information, reach out to one of the following contacts.

Program Contact for Museums:
Mark Feitl, Museum Program Specialist

Program Contact for Libraries:
Katie Murray, Staff Assistant

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums.

The post Libraries: Apply now for 2016 IMLS National Medals appeared first on District Dispatch.

District Dispatch: Senate cybersecurity bill attacks civil liberties

planet code4lib - Thu, 2015-07-23 21:08

Credit – 22860 (Flickr)

It’s back to the barricades for librarians and our many civil liberties coalition allies. District Dispatch sounded the alarm a year ago about the return of privacy-hostile cybersecurity or information sharing legislation. Widely dubbed a “zombie” for its ability to rise from the legislative dead, the current version of the bill goes by the innocuous name of the “Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act” but “CISA” (S. 754) is anything but. The bill was approved in secret session by the Senate’s Intelligence Committee and has not received a single public hearing.  Unfortunately, Senate Leadership is pushing for a vote on S. 754 in the few legislative days remaining before its August recess.

CISA is touted by its supporters as a means of preventing future large-scale data breaches, like the massive one just suffered by the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management. CISA, however, will create legal responsibilities and incentives for both private companies and federal agencies to collect, widely disseminate and retain huge amounts of Americans’ personally identifiable information that will itself then be vulnerable to sophisticated hacking attacks.  In the process, the bill also creates massive exemptions for private companies under virtually every major consumer privacy protection law now on the books.

Worse yet, collected personal information would be shared almost instantly not just among federal cyber-threat agencies, but with law enforcement entities at every level of government.  The bill does not restrict how long the data can be retained and what kinds of non-cyber offenses the information may be used to prosecute.  If enacted, that would be an unprecedented and sweeping end run on the Fourth Amendment.

CISA also allows both the government and private companies to take rapid unilateral “counter-measures” to disable any computer network, including for example a library system’s or municipal government’s, that the company believes is the source of a cyber-attack … and companies get immunity from paying for any resulting damages even if their “belief” turns out to be wrong.

It’s time for librarians to rise again, too . . . to the challenge of stopping CISA in its tracks yet again.  For lots more information, and to contact the offices of both your U.S. Senators, please visit now!  It’s fast, easy and couldn’t be more timely!

The post Senate cybersecurity bill attacks civil liberties appeared first on District Dispatch.

Nicole Engard: Bookmarks for July 23, 2015

planet code4lib - Thu, 2015-07-23 20:30

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

  • hylafax The world’s most advanced open source fax server

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