The March 2021 issue of Information Technology and Libraries (ITAL) was published on March 15.
Two journals published by ALA’s Core division, Information Technology and Libraries (ITAL) and Library Leadership and Management (LL&M), invite applications for peer reviewers. Serving as a reviewer is a great opportunity for individuals from all types of libraries and with a wide variety of experience to contribute to scholarship within our chosen profession. See “Reviewers Wanted,” the Letter from the Editor for this issue.
Editorial Board Member Brady Lund asks and answers a particularly intriguing question facing libraries in this quarter’s Editorial Board Thoughts column, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Does It Pose an Existential Threat to Libraries?”
We have two “Public Libraries Leading the Way” columns this issue, both focused on technological adaptations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first one, We Can Do It for Free! Using Freeware for Online Patron Engagement, the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Karin Suni and Christopher A. Brown discuss how their library’s Special Collections Division rushed to generate substantial and engaging online programming using a variety of freeware systems so as not to burden our overworked IT department. In the second, Utilizing Technology to Support and Extend Access to Students and Job Seekers during the Pandemic, Daniel Berra of the Pflugerville (Texas) Public Library described its efforts to offer virtual learning support and job search assistance by providing electronic resources, virtual services and expanding access to technology. If you work in a public library and would like to propose a column in this series for later in 2021 or beyond, please submit your idea through the brief three-question form.
Camille Thomas, Kimberly Vardeman, and Jingjing Wu
As library publishers and open education programs grow, it is imperative that we integrate practices in our workflows that prioritize and include end users. Although there is information available on best practices for user testing and accessibility compliance, more can be done to give insight into the library publishing context. This study examines the user and accessibility testing workflow during the modification of an existing open textbook using Pressbooks at Texas Tech University.
Yiping Jiang, Xiaobo Chi, Yan Lou, Lihua Zuo, Yeqi Chu, and Qingyi Zhuge
University libraries use social networks to promote reading; however, there are challenges to increasing the use of these library platforms, such as poor promotion and low reader participation. Therefore, these libraries need to find ways of dealing with the behavior characteristics of social network readers. In this study, a simulation experiment was developed to explore the behaviors of readers seeking book reviews and opinions on social networks. The study draws on social network theory to find the causes of students’ behavior and how these affect their selection of information. Finally, it presents strategies for peer reading promotion in university libraries.
Web Content Strategy in Practice within Academic Libraries
Courtney McDonald and Heidi Burkhardt
Web content strategy is a relatively new area of practice in industry, in higher education, and, correspondingly, within academic and research libraries. The authors conducted a web-based survey of academic and research library professionals in order to identify present trends in this area of professional practice by academic librarians and to establish an understanding of the degree of institutional engagement in web content strategy within academic and research libraries. This article presents the findings of that survey. Based on analysis of the results, we propose a web content strategy maturity model specific to academic libraries.
This paper discusses the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) for digital repositories. We first describe the importance of SEO in the academic environment. Online systems, such as institutional digital repositories, are established and used to disseminate scientific information. Next, we present a case study of our own institution’s DSpace repository, performing several SEO tests and identifying the potential SEO issues through a group of three independent audit tools. In this case study, we attempt to resolve most of the SEO problems that appeared within our research and propose solutions to them. After making the necessary adjustments, we were able to improve the quality of SEO variables by more than 59% compared to the non-optimized state (a fresh installation of DSpace). Finally, we apply the same software audit tools to a sample of global institutional repositories also based on DSpace. In the discussion, we compare the SEO sample results with the average score of the semi-optimized DSpace repository (from the case study) and make conclusions.
Development of a Gold-standard Pashto Dataset and a Segmentation App
Yan Han and Marek Rychlik
The article aims to introduce a gold-standard Pashto dataset and a segmentation app. The Pashto dataset consists of 300 line images and corresponding Pashto text from three selected books. A line image is simply an image consisting of one text line from a scanned page. To our knowledge, this is one of the first open access datasets which directly maps line images to their corresponding text in the Pashto language. We also introduce the development of a segmentation app using textbox expanding algorithms, a different approach to OCR segmentation.
The authors discuss the steps to build a Pashto dataset and develop our unique approach to segmentation. The article starts with the nature of the Pashto alphabet and its unique diacritics which require special considerations for segmentation. Needs for datasets and a few available Pashto datasets are reviewed. Criteria of selection of data sources are discussed and three books were selected by our language specialist from the Afghan Digital Repository. The authors review previous segmentation methods and introduce a new approach to segmentation for Pashto content. The segmentation app and results are discussed to show readers how to adjust variables for different books. Our unique segmentation approach uses an expanding textbox method which performs very well given the nature of the Pashto scripts.
The app can also be used for Persian and other languages using the Arabic writing system. The dataset can be used for OCR training, OCR testing, and machine learning applications related to content in Pashto.
Personalization of Search Results Representation of a Digital Library
Ljubomir Paskali, Lidija Ivanovic, Georgia Kapitsaki, Dragan Ivanovic, Bojana Dimic Surla, and Dusan Surla
The process of discovering appropriate resources in digital libraries within universities is important, as it can have a big effect on whether retrieved works are useful to the requester. The improvement of the user experience with the digital library of the University of Novi Sad dissertations (PHD UNS) through the personalization of search results representation is the aim of the research presented in this paper. There are three groups of PHD UNS digital library users: users from the academic community, users outside the academic community, and librarians who are in charge of entering dissertation data. Different types of textual and visual representations were analyzed, and representations which needed to be implemented for the groups of users of PHD UNS digital library were selected. After implementing these representations and putting them into operation in April 2017, the user interface was extended with functionality that allows users to select their desired style for representing search results using an additional module for storing message logs. The stored messages represent an explicit change in the results representation by individual users. Using these message logs and ELK technology stack, we analyzed user behavior patterns depending on the type of query, type of device, and search mode. The analysis has shown that the majority of users of the PHD UNS system prefer using the textual style of representation rather than the visual. Some users have changed the style of results representation several times and it is assumed that different types of information require a different representation style. Also, it has been established that the most frequent change to the visual results representation occurs after users perform a query which shows all the dissertations from a certain time period and which is taken from the advanced search mode; however, there is no correlation between this change and the client’s device used.
Sara Gonzales, Matthew B. Carson, Guillaume Viger, Lisa O’Keefe, Norrina B. Allen, Joseph P. Ferrie, and Kristi Holmes
Enabling and supporting discoverability of research outputs and datasets are key functions of university and academic health center institutional repositories. Yet adoption rates among potential repository users are hampered by a number of factors, prominent among which are difficulties with basic usability. In their efforts to implement a local instance of InvenioRDM, a turnkey next generation repository, team members at Northwestern University’s Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center supplemented agile development principles and methods and a user experience design-centered approach with observations of users’ microinteractions (interactions with each part of the software’s interface that requires human intervention). Microinteractions were observed through user testing sessions conducted in Fall 2019. The result has been a more user-informed development effort incorporating the experiences and viewpoints of a multidisciplinary team of researchers spanning multiple departments of a highly ranked research university.