The December 2021 issue of Information Technology and Libraries (ITAL) was published on December 20.
The just-ended year has not been an easy one for many of us; perhaps not as truly chaotic and frightening as 2020 was, but still a year filled with uncertainty and rising concerns about the path of the pandemic. As we turn to a new year in our calendars, I wish all our readers health, peace, and a continued spirit of adaptation as we begin 2022.
In this issue’s Public Libraries Leading the Way column, “How COVID Affected our Python Class at the Worcester Public Library,” Melody Friedenthal provides an update on her contribution from March 2020, discussing how the pandemic altered the way she taught a Python course for the Worcester (Massachusetts) Public Library.
If you work in a public library and have something interesting or innovative to share with ITAL’s readership, propose a column! Submit your idea through the brief three-question form.
Ken Varnum, Editor
Stateful Library Analysis and Migration System (SLAM): ETL System for Performing Digital Library Migrations
Adrian-Tudor Panescu, Teodora-Elena Grosu, and Vasile Manta
Interoperability between research management systems, especially digital libraries or repositories, has been a central theme in the community for the past years, with the discussion focused on means of enriching, linking, and disseminating outputs. This paper considers a frequently overlooked aspect, namely the migration of records across systems, by introducing the Stateful Library Analysis and Migration system (SLAM) and presenting practical experiences with migrating records from DSpace and Digital Commons repositories to Figshare.
Black, White, and Grey: The Wicked Problem of Virtual Reality in Libraries
Gillian D. Ellern and Laura Cruz
This study seeks to extend wicked problems analysis within the context of a library’s support for virtual reality (VR) and the related extended reality (XR) emerging technologies. The researchers conducted 11 interviews with 13 librarians, embedded IT staff, and/or faculty members who were involved in administering, managing, or planning a virtual reality lab or classroom in a library (or similar unit) in a higher education setting. The qualitative analysis of the interviews identified clusters of challenges, which are categorized as either emergent (but solvable) such as portability and training; complicated (but possible) such as licensing and ethics: and/or wicked (but tameable). The respondents framed their role in supporting the wickedness of VR/XR in three basic ways: library as gateway, library as learning partner, and library as maker. Five taming strategies were suggested from this research to help librarians wrestle with these challenges of advocating for a vision of VR/XR on their respective campuses. This research also hints at a larger role for librarians in the research of technology diffusion and what that might mean to their role in higher education in the future.
Bridging the Gap: Using Linked Data to Improve Discoverability and Diversity in Digital Collections
Jason Boczar, Bonita Pollock, Xiying Mi, and Amanda Yeslibas
The year of COVID-19, 2020, brought unique experiences to everyone in their daily as well as their professional life. Facing many challenges of division in all aspects (social distancing, political and social divisions, remote work environments), University of South Florida Libraries took the lead in exploring how to overcome these various separations by providing access to its high-quality information sources to its local community and beyond. This paper shares the insights of using Linked Data technology to provide easy access to digital cultural heritage collections not only for the scholarly communities but also for those underrepresented user groups. The authors present the challenges at this special time of the history, discuss the possible solutions, and propose future work to further the effort.
The University of Florida (UF) George A. Smathers Libraries have been involved in a wide range of partnered digital collection projects throughout the years with a focus on collaborating with institutions across the Caribbean region. One of the countries that we have a number of digitization projects within is Cuba. One of these partnerships is with the library of the Temple Beth Shalom (Gran Sinagoga Bet Shalom) in Havana, Cuba. As part of this partnership, we have sent personnel over to Cuba to do onsite scanning and digitization of selected materials found within the institution. The digitized content from this project was brought back to UF and loaded into our University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC) system. Because internet availability and low bandwidth are issues in Cuba, the Synagogue’s ability to access the full-text digitized content residing on UFDC was an issue. The Synagogue also did not have a local digital library system to load the newly digitized content. To respond to this need we focused on providing a minimalist technology solution that was highly portable to meet their desire to conduct full-text searches within their library on their digitized content. This article will explore the solution that was developed using a USB flash drive loaded with a PortableApps version of Zotero loaded with multilingual OCR’s documents.
Post-secondary education in the 21st century United States is rapidly diversifying, and institutions’ online offerings and presence are increasingly significant. Academic libraries have an established history of offering virtual services and providing online resources for students, faculty, staff, and the general public. In addition to these services and resources, information on academic library websites can contribute to an institution’s demonstration of value placed on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). This article analyzes the DEI statements of a library consortium’s member websites to explore how these statements contribute to institutional construction of, and commitment to, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Descriptive analysis revealed 12 of 16 member libraries had explicitly labeled DEI statements in November 2020, with an additional member updating their website to include such a statement in early 2021. Content analysis examined how the existing statements contributed to institutional value of and commitment to DEI, and multi-modal theory explored the communicative aspects of DEI statement content. Analysis revealed vague conceptualizations of diversity and library-centered language in DEI statements, while a subset of statements employed anti-racist and social justice language to position the library as an active agent for social change. Implications and avenues for future research are discussed.
Digital preservation systems and practices are rooted in research and development efforts from the late 1990s and early 2000s when the cultural heritage sector started to tackle these challenges in isolation. Since then, the commercial sector has sought to solve similar challenges, using different technical strategies such as software defined storage and function-as-a-service. While commercial sector solutions are not necessarily created with long-term preservation in mind, they are well aligned with the digital preservation use case. The cultural heritage sector can benefit from adapting these modern approaches to increase sustainability and leverage technological advancements widely in use across Fortune 500 companies.
Hackathons and Libraries: The Evolving Landscape 2014-2020
Meris Mandernach Longmeier
Libraries foster a thriving campus culture and function as “third space,” not directly tied to a discipline.[i] Libraries support both formal and informal learning, have multipurpose spaces, and serve as a connection point for their communities. For these reasons, they are an ideal location for events, such as hackathons, that align with library priorities of outreach, data and information literacy, and engagement focused on social good. Hackathon planners could find likely partners in either academic or public libraries as their physical spaces accommodate public outreach events and many are already providing similar services, such as makerspaces. Libraries can act solely as a host for events or they can embed in the planning process by building community partnerships, developing themes for the event, or harnessing the expertise already present in the library staff. This article, focusing on years from 2014 to 2020, will highlight the history and evolution of hackathons in libraries as outreach events and as a focus for using library materials, data, workflows, and content.