The December 2020 issue of Information Technology and Libraries (ITAL) was published on December 21, rounding out a year many of us are glad to see behind us. Contrary to my fears as the year started, library technologists of all stripes continued to do great things and write about them. Our final issue of 2020 has some great material for you.
Core President Christopher Cronin writes about the possibilities brought forward by the creation of Core out of the previous ALA divisions in Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures. Our December “Editorial Board Thoughts” column, Public Libraries Respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Creating a New Service Model, by board member Jon Goddard, highlights some of the ways COVID-19 has changed the landscape of service for libraries of all kinds, but particularly for public libraries.
In our “Public Libraries Leading the Way” column this issue, Jessica Hall at the Fresno Public Library describes an innovative program designed for service veterans, Journey with Veterans: Virtual Reality Program using Google Expeditions. If you work in a public library and would like to propose a column in this series for 2021, please submit your idea through the brief three-question form. But hurry — the deadline for submissions for this year is January 11.
Filling the Gap in Database Usability: Putting Vendor Accessibility Compliance to the Test
Samuel Kent Willis and Faye O’Reilly
Library database vendors often revamp simpler interfaces of their database platforms with script-enriched interfaces to make them more attractive. Sadly, these enhancements often overlook users who rely on assistive technology, leaving electronic content difficult for this user base despite the potential of electronic materials to be easier for them to access and read than print materials. Even when providers are somewhat aware of this user group’s needs there are questions about the effect of their efforts to date and whether accessibility documentation from them can be relied upon. This study examines selected vendors’ VPAT reports (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template) through a manual assessment of their database platforms to determine their overall accessibility.
Cultivating Digitization Competencies A Case Study in Leveraging Grants as Learning Opportunities in Libraries and Archives
Gayle O’Hara, Emily Lapworth, and Cory Lampert
This article is a case study of how six digitization competencies were developed and disseminated via grant-funded digitization projects at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Libraries Special Collections and Archives. The six competencies are project planning, grant writing, project management, metadata, digital capture, and digital asset management. The authors will introduce each competency, discuss why it is important, and describe how it was developed during the course of the grant project, as well as how it was taught in a workshop environment. The differences in competency development for three different stakeholder groups will be examined: early career grant staff gaining on-the-job experience; experienced digital collections librarians experimenting and innovating; and a statewide audience of cultural heritage professionals attending grant-sponsored workshops.
The Role of the Library in the Digital Economy
The gradual transition to a digital economy requires all business entities to adapt to the new environmental conditions that are taking place through their digital transformation. These tasks are especially relevant for scientific libraries, as digital technologies make changes in the main subject field of their activities, the processes of creating, storing, and information disseminating. In order to find directions for the transformation of scientific libraries and determine their role in the digital economy, a study of the features of digital transformation and the experience of the digital transformation of foreign libraries was conducted. Management of research data, which is implemented through the creation of Current Research Information Systems (CRIS) was found to be one of the most promising areas of the digital transformation of libraries. The problem area of this direction and ways of engaging libraries in it have been also analyzed in the work.
Automated Fake News Detection in the Age of Digital Libraries
Uğur Mertoğlu and Burkay Genç
The transformation of printed media into digital environment and the extensive use of social media have changed the concept of media literacy and people’s habit of consuming news. While this faster, easier, and comparatively cheaper opportunity offers convenience in terms of people’s access to information, it comes with a certain significant problem: Fake News. Due to the free production and consumption of large amounts of data, fact-checking systems powered by human efforts are not enough to question the credibility of the information provided, or to prevent its rapid dissemination like a virus. Libraries, known as sources of trusted information for ages, are facing with the problem because of this difficulty. Considering that libraries are undergoing digitisation processes all over the world and providing digital media to their users, it is very likely that unchecked digital content will be served by world’s libraries. The solution is to develop automated mechanisms that can check the credibility of digital content served in libraries without manual validation. For this purpose, we developed an automated fake news detection system based on the Turkish digital news content. Our approach can be modified for any other language if there is labelled training material. The developed model can be integrated into libraries’ digital systems to label served news content as potentially fake whenever necessary, preventing uncontrolled falsehood dissemination via libraries.
Tending to an Overgrown Garden: Weeding and Rebuilding a LibGuides v2 System
In 2019, the Borough of Manhattan Community College’s library undertook a massive cleanup and reconfiguration of the content and guides contained in their LibGuides v2 system, which had been allowed to grow out of control over several years as no one was in charge of its maintenance. This article follows the process from identifying issues, getting departmental buy-in, and doing all of the necessary cleanup work for links and guides. The aim of the project was to make their guides easier for students to use and understand and for librarians to maintain. At the same time, work was done to improve the look and feel of their guides and implement the built-in A-Z database list, both of which are also discussed.
Alexa, Are You Listening? An Exploration of Smart Voice Assistant Use and Privacy in Libraries
Miriam E. Sweeney and Emma Davis
Smart voice assistants have expanded from personal use in the home to applications in public services and educational spaces. The library and information science (LIS) trade literature suggests that libraries are part of this trend, however there are few empirical studies that explore how libraries are implementing smart voice assistants in their services, and how these libraries are mitigating the potential patron data privacy issues posed by these technologies. This study fills this gap by reporting on the results of a national survey that documents how libraries are integrating voice assistant technologies (e.g., Amazon Echo, Google Home) into their services, programming, and checkout programs. The survey also surfaces some of the key privacy concerns of library workers in regard to implementing voice assistants in library services. We find that although voice assistant use might not be mainstreamed in library services in high numbers (yet), libraries are clearly experimenting with (and having internal conversations with their staff about) using these technologies. The responses to our survey indicate that library workers have many savvy privacy concerns about the use of voice assistants in library services that are critical to address in advance of library institutions riding the wave of emerging technology adoption. This research has important implications for developing library practices, policies, and education opportunities that place patron privacy as a central part of digital literacy in an information landscape characterized by ubiquitous smart surveillant technologies.
Navigation Design and Library Terminology: Findings from a User-Centered Usability Study on a Library Website
Isabel Vargas Ochoa
The University Library at California State University, Stanislaus is not only undergoing a library building renovation, but a website redesign as well. The library conducted a user-centered usability study to collect data in order to best lead the library website “renovation.” A prototype was created to assess an audience-based navigation design, homepage content framework, and heading terminology. The usability study consisted of 38 student participants. It was determined that a topic-based navigation design will be implemented instead of an audience-based navigation, a search-all search box will be integrated, and the headings and menu links will be modified to avoid ambiguous library terminology. Further research on different navigation and content designs, and usability design approaches, will be explored for future studies.