The September 2021 issue of Information Technology and Libraries (ITAL) is now available.
The September Editorial Board Thoughts essay is by Paul Swanson, “Building a Culture of Resilience in Libraries,” reflecting on the lessons of COVID-driven flexibility and suggests that a culture of resilience in our libraries will help us to more easily adapt to these, and emerging, changes we will inevitably encounter. That is followed by Carole Williams’ Public Libraries Leading the Way column, “Delivering: Automated Materials Handling for Staff and Patrons,” in which she discusses the effects of an automated materials handling system on both the staff and patrons of the Charleston County (SC) Public Library.
Call for “Public Libraries Leading the Way” columns: If you work in a public library and would like to propose a column in this series for 2022 or beyond, please submit your idea through the brief three-question form.
Controlled vocabularies used in cultural heritage organizations (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums) are a helpful way to standardize terminology but can also result in misrepresentation or exclusion of systemically marginalized groups. Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) is one example of a widely used yet problematic controlled vocabulary for subject headings. In some cases, systemically marginalized groups are creating controlled vocabularies that better reflect their terminology. When a widely used vocabulary like LCSH and a controlled vocabulary from a marginalized community are both available as linked data, it is possible to incorporate the terminology from the marginalized community as an overlay or replacement for outdated or absent terms from more widely used vocabularies. This paper provides a use case for examining how the Homosaurus, an LGBTQ+ linked data controlled vocabulary, can provide an augmented and updated search experience to mitigate bias within a system that only uses LCSH for subject headings.
Accessibility of Tables in PDF Documents: Issues, Challenges and Future Directions
Nosheen Fayyaz, Shah Khusro, and Shakir Ullah
People access and share information over the web and in other digital environments, including digital libraries, in the form of documents such as books, articles, technical reports, etc. These documents are in a variety of formats, of which the Portable Document Format (PDF) is most widely used because of its emphasis on preserving the layout of the original material. The retrieval of relevant material from these derivative documents is challenging for information retrieval (IR) because the rich semantic structure of these documents is lost. The retrieval of important units such as images, figures, algorithms, mathematical formulas, and tables becomes a challenge. Among these elements, tables are particularly important because they can add value to the resource description, discovery, and accessibility of documents not only on the web but also in libraries if they are made retrievable and presentable to readers. Sighted users comprehend tables for sensemaking using visual cues, but blind and visually impaired users must rely on assistive technologies, including text-to-speech and screen readers, to comprehend tables. However, these technologies do not pay sufficient attention to tables in order to effectively present tables to visually impaired individuals. Therefore, ways must be found to make tables in PDF documents not only retrievable but also comprehensible. Before developing such solutions, it is necessary to review the available assistive technologies, tools, and frameworks for their capabilities, strengths, and limitations from the comprehension perspective of blind and visually impaired people, along with suitable environments like digital libraries. We found no such review article that critically and analytically presents and evaluates these technologies. To fill this gap in the literature, this review paper reports on the current state of the accessibility of PDF documents, digital libraries, assistive technologies, tools, and frameworks that make PDF tables comprehensible and accessible to blind and visually impaired people. The study findings have implications for libraries, information sciences, and information retrieval.
Text Analysis and Visualization Research on the Hetu Dangse During the Qing Dynasty of China
Zhiyu Wang, Jingyu Wu, Guang Yu, and Zhiping Song
In traditional historical research, interpreting historical documents subjectively and manually causes problems such as one-sided understanding, selective analysis, and one-way knowledge connection. In this study, we aim to use machine learning to automatically analyze and explore historical documents from a text analysis and visualization perspective. This technology solves the problem of large-scale historical data analysis that is difficult for humans to read and intuitively understand. In this study, we use the historical documents of the Qing Dynasty Hetu Dangse,preserved in the Archives of Liaoning Province, as data analysis samples. China’s Hetu Dangse is the largest Qing Dynasty thematic archive with Manchu and Chinese characters in the world. Through word frequency analysis, correlation analysis, co-word clustering, word2vec model, and SVM (Support Vector Machines) algorithms, we visualize historical documents, reveal the relationships between functions of the government departments in the Shengjing area of the Qing Dynasty, achieve the automatic classification of historical archives, improve the efficient use of historical materials as well as build connections between historical knowledge. Through this, archivists can be guided practically in historical materials’ management and compilation.
Topic Modeling as a Tool for Analyzing Library Chat Transcripts
HyunSeung Koh and Mark Fienup
Library chat services are an increasingly important communication channel to connect patrons to library resources and services. Analysis of chat transcripts could provide librarians with insights into improving services. Unfortunately, chat transcripts consist of unstructured text data, making it impractical for librarians to go beyond simple quantitative analysis (e.g., chat duration, message count, word frequencies) with existing tools. As a stepping-stone toward a more sophisticated chat transcript analysis tool, this study investigated the application of different types of topic modeling techniques to analyze one academic library’s chat reference data collected from April 10, 2015, to May 31, 2019, with the goal of extracting the most accurate and easily interpretable topics. In this study, topic accuracy and interpretability—the quality of topic outcomes—were quantitatively measured with topic coherence metrics. Additionally, qualitative accuracy and interpretability were measured by the librarian author of this paper depending on the subjective judgment on whether topics are aligned with frequently asked questions or easily inferable themes in academic library contexts. This study found that from a human’s qualitative evaluation, Probabilistic Latent Semantic Analysis (pLSA) produced more accurate and interpretable topics, which is not necessarily aligned with the findings of the quantitative evaluation with all three types of topic coherence metrics. Interestingly, the commonly used technique Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) did not necessarily perform better than pLSA. Also, semi-supervised techniques with human-curated anchor words of Correlation Explanation (CorEx) or guided LDA (GuidedLDA) did not necessarily perform better than an unsupervised technique of Dirichlet Multinomial Mixture (DMM). Last, the study found that using the entire transcript, including both sides of the interaction between the library patron and the librarian, performed better than using only the initial question asked by the library patron across different techniques in increasing the quality of topic outcomes.
Expanding and Improving Our Library’s Virtual Chat Service: Discovering Best Practices When Demand Increases
Parker Fruehan and Diana Hellyar
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing shutdown of the library building for several months, there was a sudden need to adjust how the Hilton C. Buley Library at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) delivered its services. Overnight, the library’s virtual chat service went from a convenient way to reach a librarian to the primary method by which library patrons contacted the library for help. In this article, the authors will discuss what was learned during this time and how the service has been adjusted to meet user needs. Best practices and future improvements will be discussed.
A Rapid Implementation of a Reserve Reading List Solution in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
Matthew Black and Susan Powelson
In the spring of 2020, as post-secondary institutions and libraries were adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic, Libraries and Cultural Resources at the University of Calgary rapidly implemented Ex Libris’ reading list solution Leganto to support the necessary move to online teaching and learning. This article describes the rapid implementation process and changes to our reserve reading list service and policies, reviews the status of the implementation to date and presents key takeaways which will be helpful for other libraries considering implementing an online reading list management system or other systems on a rapid timeline. Overall, rapid implementation allowed us to meet our immediate need to support online teaching and learning; however, long term successful adoption of this tool will require additional configuration, engagement, and support.
Product Ownership of a Legacy Institutional Repository: A Case Study on Revitalizing an Aging Service
Mikala Narlock and Don Brower
Many academic libraries have developed and/or purchased digital systems over the years, including digital collection platforms, institutional repositories, and other online tools on which users depend. At Hesburgh Libraries, as with other institutions, some of these systems have aged without strong guidance and resulted in stale services and technology. This case study will explore the lengthy process of stewarding an aging service that satisfies critical external needs. Starting with a brief literature review and institutional context, the authors will examine how the current product owners have embraced the role of maintainers, charting a future direction by defining a clear vision for the service, articulating firm boundaries, and prioritizing small changes. The authors will conclude by reflecting on lessons learned and discussing potential future work, both at the institutional and professional level.