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Archive | Computers in Libraries

NOAA Institutional Repository as a Catalyst for Organizational Change

Jennifer Fagan-Fry

Jennifer Fagan-Fry

Jennifer Fagan-Fry, NOAA IR Manager, NOAA Central and Regional Libraries, said that NOAA is part of the Department of Commerce, and its research covers from the bottom of the ocean to the surface of the sun. The central library is a network of over 20 libraries across the country. It collects current and historical NOAA publications and data and maintains the collection inherited from NOAA’s predecessor agency. The NOAA IR includes over 18,000 NOAA authored publications and sponsored ones, and grey literature (Technical Reports and Memoranda) dating from 1970 to the present. The IR is open to the public. NOAA has an IR to comply with the 2003 White House Office of Science and Technology policy memo that mandated public access to research.

Before the IR: NOAA was formed in 1970 and consisted of 6 different areas of research. The research was organized into “Silos of Excellence”. There was a lack of agency-wide policies and procedures and little communication between the offices. Access points were isolated. Publications were scattered across the web: on journal publisher sites, on NOAA office and program sites, in university IRs, and on social networking sites.

After the IR was established, it became the primary place for NOAA publications. OA publishing increased and is now a requirement for some grants. There is an easier submission process to the IR so people are encouraged to publish in OA whenever possible. There is a movement towards standardized publishing process. The IR is designed to provide long term access and preservation of research. Communication between offices has improved. Data sets have been linked as have been publications, R&D projects and outcomes, and grant information.  Coordination between offices for submission has improved so duplication has decreased.

The library’s role: increased profile and services. It has become more vocal and is doing more outreach. Anything in the IR is not in the library catalog which has caused a shift in cataloging practices. The IR is indexed by Google, but the catalog is not.

The biggest change for the library and IR is enforcement of Section 508 which requires electronic information and technologies to be available for people with disabilities. It was not enforced at NOAA prior to the IR. Now, all submissions to the IR go through 508 quality checks, which caused a lot of resistance and a drop in submissions. A LibGuide was created, and submissions increased and have exceeded previous levels. This was the biggest cultural shift in the agency.

Ongoing challenges:

  • Getting buy in from stakeholders, authors, etc. and creating an enforcement mechanism for submissions or participation.
  • Resources: tools, staff to process and manage submissions.

Going forward, the library will become the publishing clearninghouse for NOAA, data sharing, ORCID integration, and internal reporting tools will be established.

ILS Migrations

(L-R) Mei Xie, John DeLooper, Lotta Sanchez, Devlyn Courtier

(L-R) Mei Xie, John DeLooper, Lotta Sanchez, Devlyn Courtier

This panel described some experiences in migrating Integrated Library Systems (ILSs). John DeLooper, Web Services/Online Learning Librarian at Lehman College, said that ILS migrations are hard but doable. There are 5 key lessons to be learned (each of the panelists discussed one of them). The history of ILSs is important because we can learn from it. As computers evolved, so did ILSs, and this has continued. People have been doing ILSs for 50 years; approximately 800 libraries change every year. It is a normal part of the library operations process.

Here are the lessons learned:

  1. Lotta Sanchez, Library Technology Associate, Hudson County (NJ) Community College (HCCC): Know your needs and whether migration is right for you. Do you need or want to migrate? Ask yourself the cost/benefit question and know that there intangible costs. Staff might ask why a migration is happening; be sure to cooperate and answer them. It is important to get their support. Look at the future and see if the new ILS will meet your needs. Make sure you have the budget and time to do the migration and that you can do it without affecting current circulation.
  2. Devlin Courtier, Library Associate, HCCC: Know your people and your vendors. Things will be different but don’t worry. How much time will this project take? What do your users want and expect? If they like something, don’t get rid of it. Do you need a vendor? Larger libraries may not. How reliable is the product? Make sure support will be provided when you need it. See what is in the product that you need and what you don’t. Be aware of local laws regarding bidding, privacy, and OS requirements.
  3. John DeLooper: Make a plan but be ready for change. HCCC’s migration took about 2 years from start to finish. Changes such as unexpected issues, finances, and a new library Dean will occur.
  4. Mei Xie, Technical Services Librarian, HCCC: Data is key. Conduct testing on test server.  It was more challenging and more complicated than expected, so an experienced vendor was needed to facilitate the process.  (They chose Koha.) Data cleanup is time-consuming.Data cleanupMake sure every field and subfield in the MARC framework are defined and added when needed.

    By experimenting on the test server, they learned Koha better and established an efficient communication channel with their vendor.  With vendor support, they saved time, guaranteed a smooth migration, and became more confident with the new system.

  5. Lotta Sanchez: Identify legacy processes and opportunities to improve. Public services/circulation: Koha vendors provided training. The old system and new one were used separately side by side which provided comparisons. You must expect mistakes with something new so must be flexible and learn.

Post implementation and conclusions:

  • Use test servers and add them to the new ILS package; they will continue to be useful. (Many vendors have this as an option.)
  • Change continues.
  • Migration is a huge process.
  • Systems track things differently and it can be hard to migrate them.


Onboarding AI and Machine Learning

Brian Pichman

Brian Pichman

Brian Pichman, Director of the Evolve Project, said that AI is the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence; it is becoming more available to the masses. Machine learning is a subset of AI that uses algorithms and statistical models to allow a computer system to make decisions around a task without explicit instructions, relying on patterns and inference.

AI has 4 components: it is logic-based, rules-based, pattern-based, and includes deep learning and neural networks. It exists with self-driving cars, etc. (pattern-based); Strong AI does not exist yet.  Pattern recognition means to create an algorithm able to teach itself without any external help. Voice recognition systems can respond and remember a user based solely on their voice.  Samsung has released bots to monitor air quality, place orders, etc. We use AI for optical character recognition, to advance user preferences (recommendations), and sensory data analysis.

AI is used in healthcare to identify and notice predictable trends, read X-rays, and gather information. Here is a good article on possible manipulations.

Other applications:

  • Smart homes can issue an alert to distinguish a person vs. an animal, know that it will rain tomorrow so there is no need to water the lawn today. Robots are coming out for home use.
  • AI has the potential to replace many minimum wage jobs, especially in the service industries. There is already a burger-flipping bot.
  • ROSS can make legal research faster and easier.

Challenges include precision, context, and training. It is important to make sure that the data provided is correct and useful.

AI in libraries:  There are many skills to learn. AI can do simple tasks so you can focus on other things. There is some impact on staff. How do we handle simple reference questions? We can make jobs more meaningful and get rid of tedious work.

AI does not have emotional intelligence and cannot show empathy; decisions are based on facts.


Bot Literacy: Teaching Librarians to Make Twitter Bots

Mark Eaton and Robin Camille Davis

Mark Eaton and Robin Camille Davis

Mark Eaton from Kingsborough Community College, CUNY, and Robin Camille Davis, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY, described a workshop they developed to teach librarians how to make Twitter bots. They began with first principles:

  • A bot is a little program that does the same thing over and over again, with a pre-programmed variation.
  • A Twitter bot usually sends out a thematic tweet on a regular basis. The tweet is created using a script and some data.
  • Manipulative bots don’t identify themselves and retweet a political slogan over and over. 

The workshop emphasized becoming familiar with the Python programming language. It was presented three times at conferences. There are many claims that coding is a new literacy; today the definition has expanded from traditional notions of reading and writing to the ability to learn, comprehend,and interact with technology in a meaningful way. In their workshop, they wanted participants to learn how to build bots, what tools are needed to learn to make bots, how to deploy a bot, and the social implications of bot making.

The Python computer language has a low barrier to entry, so it is good to start with it. Writing code is all about problem solving. Don’t learn to code; code to learn. Consider the social implications of what your bot does. Aim for familiarity, not fluency, at first, and make it easy to begin running code, then make something fun that users can show off to other people. Provide a glossary and write your own plain-language definitions.


  • Bot literacy helps us to better understand our networked world.
  • Making bots is an effective entry point into programming.
  • A scaffolded approach is a god way to teach programming.
  • Include creative time.

The workshop was successful; participants provided favorable feedback.