Read the June 2021 issue of Information Technology and Libraries (ITAL).
In his Letter from the Editor, Ken Varnum provides an update on the expansion of ITAL’s editorial review process, as announced in the March issue. This issue inaugurates what we plan to be an occasional feature, the “Core Leadership Column,” to which we invite contributions from members of Core leadership. In the first of these columns, incoming Core president Margaret Heller writes about “Making Room for Change through Rest,” in which she highlights the need for each of us to recharge after a collectively challenging year. It is joined by two other regular items, our Editorial Board Thoughts essay by Michael P. Sauers, “Do Space’s Virtual Interview Lab: Using Simple Technology to Serve the Public in a Time of Crisis” and William Yarbrough’s Public Libraries Leading the Way column, “Service Barometers: Using Lending Kiosks to Locate Patrons.”
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.
The Impact of COVID-19 on the Use of Academic Library Resources
Ruth Sara Connell, Lisa C. Wallis, and David Comeaux
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted higher education, including academic libraries. This paper compares the use of library resources (including interlibrary loan, website and discovery tool pageviews, database use, patron interactions, etc.) at three university libraries before and after the pandemic. The latter part of the 2019 and 2020 spring semesters are the time frames of focus, although two control time frames from earlier in those semesters are used to determine how the semesters differed when the coronavirus was not a factor. The institutions experienced similar patterns of use across many metrics.
Emergency Remote Library Instruction and Tech Tools: A Matter of Equity During a Pandemic
Kathia Ibacache, Amanda Rybin, and Eric Vance
During spring 2020, emergency remote teaching became the norm for hundreds of higher education institutions in the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Librarians were suddenly tasked with moving in-person services and resources online. For librarians with instruction responsibilities, this online mandate meant deciding between synchronous and asynchronous sessions, learning new technologies and tools for active learning, and vetting these same tools for security issues and ADA compliance. In an effort to understand our shared and unique experiences with emergency remote teaching, the authors surveyed 202 academic instruction librarians in order to answer the following questions: (1) What technology tools are academic librarians using to deliver content and engage student participation in emergency remote library sessions during COVID-19? (2) What do instruction librarians perceive as the strengths and weaknesses of these tools? (3) What digital literacy gaps are instruction librarians identifying right now that may prevent access to equitable information literacy instruction online? This study will deliver and discuss findings from the survey as well as make recommendations toward best practices for utilizing technology tools and assessing them for equity and student engagement.
Off-campus Access to Licensed Online Resources through Shibboleth
Francis Jayakanth, Anand T. Byrappa, and Raja Visvanathan
Institutions of advanced education and research, through their libraries, invest substantially in licensed online resources. Only authorized users of an institution are entitled to access licensed online resources. Seamless on-campus access to licensed resources happens mostly through Internet Protocol (IP) address authentication. Increasingly, licensed online resources are accessed by authorized users from off-campus locations as well. Libraries will, therefore, need to ensure seamless off-campus access to authorized users. Libraries have been using various technologies, including proxy server or virtual private network (VPN) server or single sign-on, to facilitate seamless off-campus access to licensed resources. In this paper, authors share their experience in setting up a Shibboleth-based single sign-on (SSO) access management system at the JRD Tata Memorial Library, Indian Institute of Science, to enable authorized users of the institute to seamlessly access licensed online resources from off-campus locations.
A Framework for Measuring Relevancy in Discovery Environments
Blake L. Galbreath, Alex Merrill, and Corey M. Johnson
Discovery environments are ubiquitous in academic libraries but studying their effectiveness and use in an academic environment has mostly centered around user satisfaction, experience, and task analysis. This study aims to create a quantitative, reproducible framework to test the relevancy of results and the overall success of Washington State University’s discovery environment (Primo by Ex Libris). Within this framework, the authors use bibliographic citations from student research papers submitted as part of a required university class as the proxy for relevancy. In the context of this study, the researchers created a testing model that includes: (1) a process to produce machine-generated keywords from a corpus of research papers to compare against a set of human-created keywords, (2) a machine process to query a discovery environment to produce search result lists to compare against citation lists, and (3) four metrics to measure the comparative success of different search strategies and the relevancy of the results. This framework is used to move beyond a sentiment or task-based analysis to measure if materials cited in student papers appear in the results list of a production discovery environment. While this initial test of the framework produced fewer matches between researcher-generated search results and student bibliography sources than expected, the authors note that faceted searches represent a greater success rate when compared to open-ended searches. Future work will include comparative (A/B) testing of commonly deployed discovery layer configurations and limiters to measure the impact of local decisions on discovery layer efficacy as well as noting where in the results list a citation match occurs.
Beyond VIAF: Wikidata as a Complementary Tool for Authority Control in Libraries
Carlo Bianchini, Stefano Bargioni, and Camillo Carlo Pellizzari di San Girolamo
This paper aims to investigate the reciprocal relationship between VIAF® and Wikidata and their possible roles in the semantic web environment. It deals with their data, their approach, their domain, and their stakeholders, with particular attention to identification as a fundamental goal of Universal Bibliographic Control. After examining interrelationships among VIAF, Wikidata, libraries and other GLAM institutions, a double approach is used to compare VIAF and Wikidata: first, a quantitative analysis of VIAF and Wikidata data on personal entities, presented in eight tables; and second, a qualitative comparison of several general characteristics, such as purpose, scope, organizational and theoretical approach, data harvesting and management (shown in table 9). Quantitative data and qualitative comparison show that VIAF and Wikidata are quite different in their purpose, scope, organizational and theoretical approach, data harvesting, and management. The study highlights the reciprocal role of VIAF and Wikidata and its helpfulness in the worldwide bibliographical context and in the semantic web environment and outlines new perspectives for research and cooperation.
Algorithmic Literacy and the Role for Libraries
Michael Ridley and Danica Pawlick-Potts
Artificial intelligence (AI) is powerful, complex, ubiquitous, often opaque, sometimes invisible, and increasingly consequential in our everyday lives. Navigating the effects of AI as well as utilizing it in a responsible way requires a level of awareness, understanding, and skill that is not provided by current digital literacy or information literacy regimes. Algorithmic literacy addresses these gaps. In arguing for a role for libraries in algorithmic literacy, the authors provide a working definition, a pressing need, a pedagogical strategy, and two specific contributions that are unique to libraries.
As libraries, archives, and museums make unique digital collections openly available via digital library platforms, they expose these resources to users who may wish to cite them. Often several URLs are available for a single digital object, depending on which route a user took to find it, but the chosen citation URL should be the one most likely to persist over time. Catalyzed by recent digital collections migration initiatives at Indiana University Libraries, this study investigates the prevalence of persistent URLs for digital objects at peer institutions and examines the ways their platforms instruct users to cite them. This study reviewed institutional websites from the Digital Library Federation’s (DLF) published list of 195 members and identified representative digital objects from unique digital collections navigable from each institution’s main web page in order to determine persistent URL formats and citation options.
Findings indicate an equal split between offering and not offering discernible persistent URLs with four major methods used: Handle, DOI, ARK, and PURL. Significant variation in labeling persistent URLs and inclusion in item-specific citations uncovered areas where the user experience could be improved for more reliable citation of these unique resources.