Category Archives: Conference

Zombies vs. Libraries

Zombies vs. Libraries

The website for the 7th annual Joyner Library Paraprofessional conference is now live:

Our theme this year is Zombies vs. Libraries: Integrating Pop-culture with Library Tradition. Thanks to the sponsorship of the North Carolina Library Paraprofessional Association (and the help of Gloria Bradshaw, Tracie Hampton, and Christopher Turner from HR), this will be the first year that we will be offering two preconference workshops!

We hope to see you in Greenville this May!

LITA Camp presentation on EAD

And here’s a much shorter post about LITA Camp so that I can post my presentation, post-hoc sytle.

I had arrived in Dublin ready to talk about the EAD redesign project that I’m currently involved with at ECU.  However, there wasn’t anyone in attendance that worked exclusively in Special Collections or Archives, so I opted to attend a breakout session on Institutional Repositories rather than to host my own on EAD.

After the conference, I figured that I’d just post a link to my powerpoint presentation.  However, the powerpoint that I prepared was pretty useless without my notes attached, so I then decided that I should record a shortened version for a screencast.  And here’s the result:

And, in order to be a good creative commons citizen — since I skipped my last powerpoint slide in the screencast — here’s a list of the images that I used:

If you have any comments or questions, just let me know.

Goodbye, Columbus; Farewell, COTA

LITA Camp is long over now (it ended on May 8th), but I’m just finally getting around to adding a post about it.  Though it would’ve been ideal if the “un”conference hadn’t had such a hefty registration fee attached to it, it was still a nice couple of days to network with a bunch of interesting librarians whom I had never met before.

Also, though Dublin seems to be a really nice town, transportation to and from the airport was less than ideal (especially for me, since I opted to stay in Ohio until Saturday in order to see a bit more of a Columbus while I was there).  Unfortunately, I wasn’t prepared for the horrible website that is COTA (the Central Ohio Transit Authority).

Perhaps I am a little slow, but just one small tweak that could make those PDF bus routes a lot easier to use on one’s own would be to include some “ante” and “post” meridian notation!  Or, heck, even using military time would make things a lot less ambiguous, and slightly more user-friendly.  Here’s an example of a problem that I encountered, putting me on the wrong side of the meridian and stuck downtown without a bus back to Dublin:


Fun to twist your head and read, right?  Well, to make a long story short, I could’ve avoided getting stuck had this particular excerpt included “am” next to each of those times.  Though I was able to travel down to Columbus early that evening, that same bus did not run back uptown at night (and I had unwisely assumed that I could get hitch a ride back at the 7:42 stop).

Aside from that misfortune, I did get to see a few other interesting sights and signs while in Dublin/Columbus, a few of which I’ll post below.  First, you’ve got OCLC’s headquarter’s sign, captured pretty poorly with my camera phone:


And then you’ve got, what must be, the most active pedestrians in Dublin, Ohio:


As for the funniest piece of graffiti that I encountered, I’ll bestow that honor on this alley-side image:


And finally, the out-right winner for what was clearly the best sign that I saw during my trip:


A sophisticated treat, indeed; but, sadly, it was one that I opted not to partake in during my time there.  Next time, though, Columbus!

Hello, Columbus

Not sure what to expect yet, but I’ve just recently arrived in Columbus, Ohio. Here’s the reason why:

Lita Camp 2009

I plan to do a presentation regarding my attempts/plans to integrate our EAD records with our Digital Repository. I was hoping to have a functioning beta by now (aside from just a few web page examples and a PPT presentation), but a lot of other work has come up that hasn’t permitted that to happen. Nevertheless, I still hope to launch everything in July.

And, after this weekend, I’ll go ahead and post my presentation and a detailed conference report. I’m looking forward to it…

Computers in Libraries 2008

In order to do a bit of sight-seeing before the conference-proper, I drove up to our nation’s capital on Saturday, April 5th. One of my favorite things about Washington D.C. is the opportunity to while away an afternoon in air-conditioned museum after air-conditioned museum, completely free of charge. And so, I made Sunday no exception, frequenting a few favorite locales and also attending the National Portrait Gallery for my very first time.

By the time I made it to the Crystal City Hyatt Convention Center on Monday morning, I quickly realized that this conference was going to be even more crowded than the museums that I visited the day before.

By Wednesday evening, I had attended 14 sessions and 2 opening keynote sessions. I will list all of those sessions at the end of this report, so if anyone has any specific questions or would like me to send them my notes, please let me know. For the remainder of this report, however, I will briefly discuss 3 of those sessions.

  1. Mobile Search with Megan Fox and Gary Price:
    The two very knowledgeable presenters went through a veritable PowerPoint compendium of all things mobile search. To see just some of what I mean (including, even, a list of academic libraries that provide websites for optimized mobile access), definitely check out this online directory provided by Megan Fox:

    This was probably one of my favorite presentations due to the fact that I couldn’t help but hear about new things (and some old developments, but new to me, like 2d barcodes) that got me thinking about how libraries might change in the future. Sadly, this wasn’t the case for all of the attendees, since one in particular asked the presenters what any of this had to do with libraries. Granted, the answer provided (which, poorly paraphrased by me, went something like: “It is all about making use of new ways to direct information to your users”), did not provide any new examples to the valid question. However, there are a lot of libraries already making use of mobile technologies by allowing users to text bib records to their phone and even the ability to browse the entire catalog from a mobile device (NCSU’s MobiLIB).

  2. Information Commons with Barbara Tierney:
    If you attend a conference in the humanities you’ll hear presenters read from their thoughtful papers rather than just conduct a presentation with the aid of PowerPoint. It was quite interesting, I must admit, to see how many people started to leave this presentation after the presenter began reading from printed paper, and after they continually looked to the blank screen over and over again in hopes of seeing something, anything projected. Nevertheless, I was happy to sit and listen to her detail the history and the concept of the “information commons” in libraries. It was a topic I knew little about and, after all, she promised to show some pictures at the end of her talk, so of course I stayed to take notes and to take a break from the familiar style of PowerPoint.

    If you’re interested, we have two copies of her book, Transforming Library Service Through Information Commons, here at Joyner Library.

  3. Open Source Software for Superior Solutions, focusing on the Smithsonian Presentation:
    And here it is:

    I could say so much about this resource, but I think that it speaks much more eloquently for itself. So definitely try it out. It sets the bar for all library catalogs and future refinements to come. It’s proof-of-concept for what quality, yet slightly superficial metadata can get you… and new discoveries it can help you make. If anyone would like to talk to me about this resource, please let me know. It does a lot of things well – even some things not so noticeably — but it also points to a lot of future refinements that can/will be made in the future. And best of all, it was created by library employees (from Erik Hatcher at UVA to the full team at the Smithsonian which have adapted his and other open source software for the result that you see here). Very exciting stuff, in my opinion.

    All in all, I have to say that the conference occurred at a very strange, almost ominous, post-April-fool’s time. First of all, the Library of Congress was essentially closed off the entire time that I was there (see this press release for more info). To bookend that unfortunate closure, Stephen Colbert’s portrait had been moved from the National Portrait Gallery just days before I made my inaugural, admission-free visit; and it also just so happened that D.C.’s newest museum, the Newseum, wouldn’t be opening until Friday, April 12th. That last coincidence, though, was probably for the best, since that particular museum’s 2002 closure in Virginia and recent reopening in D.C. at a 450 million dollar facility is certainly a controversial issue, even if one is to ignore the $20 admission fee. Being on a budget, I probably would’ve opted out of visiting it even if it had opened before my arrival – heck, I even decided not to pay the meager $6 to run around the Butterfly Pavilion at the National Museum of Natural History.

    Despite missing out on those four extracurricular events, though, the conference itself was a very good experience. For one thing, I learned that it’s best not to attend conference sessions on topics with which you are already quite familiar – it’s unlikely that you’ll learn much new. That said, if nothing of particular interest is scheduled at the same time, it certainly doesn’t hurt to attend such a session because you can nevertheless use it as a great networking opportunity. And finally, just as discovering an interesting book by wandering the stacks in a library is far more rewarding than completing a known-item search, the most rewarding aspects of the conference occurred unexpectedly, meeting colleagues in between sessions and learning about exciting new projects that have in turn reinvigorated my own work on projects back here at ECU.

Sessions Attended:

  • –“Hi Tech and Hi Touch” with Jenny Levine, the Shifted Librarian
  • –“Mobile Search” with Megan Fox & Gary Price (discussed above)
  • –“Library Web Presence: Engaging the Audience” panel, Penn State and Temple
  • –“Widgets, Tools, & Doodads for Library Webmasters” with Darlene Fichter and Frank Cervone
  • –“Wikis: Managing, Marketing, and Making them Work” with Chad Boeninger
  • –“Mashups for Non-Techies” with Jody Fagan (about Yahoo! Pipes)
  • –“Drupal and Libraries” with Ellyssa Kroski
  • –“The Library Sandbox” with Barbara Tierney (discussed above)
  • –“Harnessing New Data Visualization Tools” with Darlene Fichter
  • –“Catalog Effectiveness: Google Analytics and OPAC 2.0” panel, Ohio State and College of New Jersey
  • –“Learning from Video Games” with Chad Boeninger
  • –“One Click Ahead: Best of Resource Shelf” with Gary Price
  • –“Google Tracking” with Greg Notess
  • –“Open Source Solutions” panel, Smithsonian and Howard County Public Library (discussed above)

“Audio Preservation in the Digital Age” — a conference report

As a new member of the Digital Collections department, I was very excited to attend this conference in order to learn more about digital preservation. Having also been interested in the “history of sound recording” ever since my first exposure to the website, I had also hoped that this event would impart new perspectives from experienced professionals in order to guide me to learn more about audio engineering and its importance for cultural stewardship. Luckily, the presentations (especially those by George Blood and Mike Casey) did not disappoint; rather, they supplied many recommended resources to pursue long after the conference was over, and much inspiration to share with my colleagues at Joyner as well as with our profession in general.

In a concerted effort to keep this report somewhat short, though, I will restrict my comments to the following format:

[1-4] Name of the presenter, name of their segment

a) One hyperlink (generally to that presenter’s current “project”)

b) One thing that I learned during their talk or thought that they expressed exceptionally well.

Following those 4 sections, I will close with a few hypothetical musings about how the ideas gained at this conference might also be used here at ECU.

To begin, then, in the order that the presenters spoke on November 2nd:

[1] Sam Brylawski, Audio Preservation Basics Part I

a) Rather than just provide a link to where Sam currently works (the Special Collections dept. at UC Santa Barbara) here’s a link to a “podcast” that he did for NPR about “Music Insiders” picking old analog recordings that “should be issued on CD”. You’ll need RealPlayer, or another method to play real audio files, though:

b) Sam relayed quite a number of sayings that doubled as good archival advice, but the one that I’ll mention here is as follows: “Preservation should begin even before you acquire a collection”. With this maxim in mind, you should remind potential donors that:

1. If the rights are transferred to the archival institution along with the materials then the archive will have a better chance of getting grant money in the future, as projects with digital exhibits are easier to “sell” (and this, it should be reminded, will provide more attention to their donated materials).

2. Remind the donors that you cannot give them the full market value for their wonderful collection since you will also have to spend money to sustain their materials in the proper way. This should be narrated as an advantage, however, as the longevity of a collection will hopefully outweigh any slight, immediate monetary gain.

[2] George Blood, Audio Preservation Basics Part II

a) A link to George’s company that provides archival audio services:

b) A book can be physically examined somewhat quickly. Not as quickly, perhaps, as the robot in the movie “Short Circuit” can read an entire encyclopedia, but it can still be given a rather quick visual examination to determine if it needs any immediate preservation work. The same can be done for most audio formats too (to see if there is mold on wax cylinders, warped records, tangled tape, etc). And yet, this ease of examination doesn’t automatically transfer to the digital domain of binary digits. Fortunately, there is an easy solution thanks to the science of cryptography.

Every digital file can be given an MD5 checksum (or any other cryptographic hash function) in order to check the integrity of that file. So, whenever a TIFF, WAV, or any other digital file is created, an algorithm can be used to process the variable-length file into a fixed-length of 128 bits (which will be its MD5 checksum). Periodically – and especially both before & after a file is moved – you should regenerate the 128 bits. If they match, you’re good; when they don’t, you know you have a corrupted file that needs further preservation attention. And so, some sort of hash function should be stored in the administrative metadata of every digital file.

[3] Chad Hunter, Small Scale Audio Preservation & Digitization Projects

a) A link to Appalshop, a small non-profit center in Kentucky that is dedicated to preserving the local arts.

b) Do not be afraid to make mistakes in your projects and do not be afraid to share those mistakes. Granted, even Brylawski mentioned, among other things, that the Library of Congress has improvised with storage materials in the past, but it was Hunter that gave the most detailed information about a few different projects conducted at Appalshop and the lessons that they’ve learned and are continuing to learn.

One lesson: make sure you have a clear timetable and communication points set up with a vendor if outsourcing. You certainly don’t want your materials being mailed back to you without any warning and without any discussion about the archival process and the state of those materials.

[4] Mike Casey, Large Scale Audio Preservation & Digitization Projects

a) A link to the Sound Directions Project, which is a nationally-funded collaboration between Indiana University and Harvard to develop best practices and standards for the digital preservation and interoperability of archival audio formats.

b) As it’s widely known, the TIFF (revision 6.0) is the file format of choice right now for storing archival masters of image files. However, I wasn’t sure what the equivalent was for audio files. Quite simply, then, I learned that the target preservation format for audio files is the Broadcast Wave Format (confusingly, the file extension is still “.wav”). Based on the lossless Microsoft WAVE format, a Broadcast Wave file has been standardized by the European Broadcast Union and (like normal .wav files) includes space for supplemental metadata. Just one piece of metadata that Mike Casey recommended including is the original filename in the description field (just in case the name ever gets accidentally changed!).

Here at ECU there are numerous audio resources that will have to be considered for digitization in the near future – with technological changes in playback devices, there is simply no getting around this. The Oral Histories that both Joyner and Laupus Library collect are a good example. These collections primarily consist of audiotapes, which any good vendor has exceptional experience with. Because of this, as well as their relatively small size, these collections could also serve as ideal pilot projects for any further audio digitization efforts (be those outsourced, done locally, or a combination).

More local resources to consider, of course, would primarily be housed at the Music Library. According to their website, they currently have about 11,000 CDs, 6500 LPs, and 1800 audiotapes. Of course, we do not own the rights to the majority of these materials, but anything that is a local resource or in the public domain should certainly be inventoried with digitization in mind (the Field Audio Collection Evaluation Tool open-source application that IU will release next year could help to prioritize this process).

The digital collections department has already conducted one “music” project of local importance – the Alice Person: Good Medicine and Good Music project – and I have no doubt that there are many more potential projects waiting in the wings.

Finally, before I close, I want to mention one last piece of advice that George Blood shared with the entire group. When you are writing a grant, remember that you can write into that grant site visits to a select number of potential vendors. Mr. Blood confessed that he was surprised at how few of his customers ever made a visit. Of course, making phone calls to the vendor as well as their references and your colleagues is also invaluable and affordable, but if you are able to get a grant to cover it, you should definitely make it a point to personally visit a select number of vendors before fully committing to any outsourcing project.

Here is Johnny 5 – the robot from “Short Circuit” – to close this report and to wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving:

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Johnny 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Thanks, Johnny… No. 5 is alive!