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Archive | IL2015

Mighty Morphin’ Map Rangers

Carol Doyle and Patrick Newell

Carol Doyle and Patrick Newell

The California map and aerial photo digitization needs assessment was described by Carol Doyle and Patrick Newell from the Fresno State University Library. People frequently want to find map sheets of their area of interest, and they often want aerial photos as well. Many libraries store their maps in large sets with indexes covering each one. It is hard to find a single map in a pile and harder to recognize a feature in a digitized map.  For aerial photos, it is necessary to see which library has photos from the flight where the photos were taken, find the index, and know where in the county the flight was to get to the right part of the index. Then one must identify the wanted area on the track of the flight. An example of a solution for multi-year retrieval is a collection at San Jose State that was processed with contentDM and has indexed photos with place names, but it is still a very intensive process to go through every single photo.

Fresno State has developed a map and aerial locator tool (MALT), in which one can move around on a map and pick a drawing tool or input a search option (address, etc.), then pick an area of interest. MALT search options include: image, thumbnail, and textual information. They are collaborating with other libraries and digitizing their map collections.

A meeting of people from California universities and state organizations who care about maps was recently held.  Before the meeting, a request for money was made to the California State Library and a survey was conducted. Here are the questions asked.Questions

Mostly academic libraries attended the meeting. Both big and small collections were represented. Most organizations have a document ccordinator in charge of maps, and most collections depicted California; many are unique. Most of them are available to anybody for free.
A number of proposals were made to the State Library, including these:

  • The State Library should commission a small working group of experts to develop and conduct a census of available map collections.
  • It should create an online clearinghouse of organizations that have agreed not to pursue copyright claims (most people thought the maps are in the public domain, but some are copyrighted), champion the use of Creative Commons licenses, and clarify if takedown notices will be issued. Experts available for consultation on copyright should be identified.
  • The State Library should create mechanisms for documenting and training librarians and agencies on best practices for digitization workflow, file management, and standards (only about half of the organizations currently follow standards).
  • The library should fund mechanisms for access to digitization equipment.
  • The State Library should identify, promote, and document digitization partners or other organizations that meet the bidding and outsourcing requirements of State entities.
  • A standards-based digital hosting platform should be developed, accompanied by education on the preservation of photos and maps. The California Preservation Program (CPP) should target outreach to State agencies that may not be aware of these resources.
  • The State Library should do research on coordination of efforts to organize low-cost long-term digital storage for the preservation of digital files.

The proposal has just been delivered to the State Librarian; funding priorities are to be set in December.

Building the Research Carrot: Tools, Service, and Practices

Dee Magnoni

Dee Magnoni

Researchers in many organizations feel pressured by tasks that take time from doing research.  There are many “speed bumps” and distractions such as sitting on faculty committees, applying for grants, and administration.  Dee Magnoni, Research Library Director at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), described how LANL has built a “research carrot” to help the technical staff manage their jobs.  The benefits of the carrot include institutional vitality, recruiting and impact, and good stewardship of taxpayer dollars. Researchers care about what’s in it for them (WIFM) and will use the tools if they can perceive the benefits of doing so.

The carrot includes systems in the following areas:

  • Open Access (OA): Setting the stage and building benefits–what benefits can we build for researchers? A public-facing repository with researchers’ own pages was created. Using it, they can easily fill requests for reprints of their articles.
  • Education: Exploring the stakeholders, creating an OA roadshow, policy creation (updated with OA and data policies)
  • Tools: focus on research instead of bureaucracy. The repository went live: provides procedures review and release for public dissemination and linkks to external tools (DMP tool, ORCID, Kudos)
  • The service landscape: research collections include science and technology lab reports, traditional reference works, document delivery, impact and metrics services, and digital library research.

Challenges: differences in research impacts for different fields, telling our story to the public (lots of research cannot be released). Personas were created to look at outcomes and develop cases. The hiberlink service is used to help with the link rot issue when content shifts over time.

Inspiration Architecture: The Future of Libraries

Peter Morville

Peter Morville

Peter Morville, President, Semantic Studios, and a well-known author, said that the information architecture has become more difficult than ever. Many things change by going through an initiative and then going back to the way things were. We need to go deeper and make lasting changes.


Morville's Books

Morville’s Books

Morville presented some examples of his recent consulting work and used them to illustrate change and some of the resistance to it:

  • He did a study of the Library of Congress’s website and compared it to Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA–a findability nightmare. The site was fragmented into multiple sites, so that users did not know which site to visit and for which purpose. They could not find what they needed from the home page. Most users did not come through the “front door” but entered via a search, and were confused by what they found. So most of them never used the library because its resources were not easily findable. Originally Morville’s report was not received well, but eventually, the realization grew that his recommendations were good. Governance and culture must be grappled with if we are to make meaningful change.
  • The Harvard library created a first portal to give a consistent interface across its many web pages. It is an easy way for people to get started. Faceted navigation is a good model and provides a custom map to search results. The website must help people understand what they found. There is a need to explore designing for understanding people.
  • Morville worked with a major database vendor which has many powerful features but is almost impossible to use, like this Swiss Army Knife.

Swiss Army Knife

The CEO wanted it made easy for the person on the street to use, but he was disappointed because it became too simple! We have created and celebrated complexity so it  is very hard to move toward simplicity even when we say we want to. (See The Simplicity Cycle by Dan Ward.) More features make things too confusing and complex.

The world can be organized into 5 major areas:

  • Nature. There is more than meets the eye, and it is hard to change direction. Software is very resistant to change. There is risk in adopting simple methodologies. Sometimes failure has lasting and serious consequences. Planning, thinking, building, and doing are all parts of the same process.
    In designing and management of information systems, we need to understand the nature of information in systems. Keystones are important; remove them and the system collapses.
  • Categories have value but problems too. Classification is dangerous, but not bad. We need to go deeper: categories are the cornerstones of cognition and culture. Most of our categories are fuzzy. Sometimes we must choose what we prefer, but not always. We use radio buttons when check boxes or sliders would better reveal the truth.
  • Connections: Originally, hyperlinks connected pages to make websites. Now we create paths and places. The connections we make may change our minds. We need to start mapping connections in time as well as space. The system always kicks back at you. Information architecture has changed: we have learned that we must look more closely and deeply at the surrounding context. We must practice ethnography on both our users and stakeholders.
  • Culture surrounds us but is nearly invisible. We can learn a lot but not everything from culture, so we must go deeper into underlying assumptions. Map our culture to understand what is happening. We are reasonably open to changing our actions and behaviors based on feedback, but we are resistant to changing our beliefs. Our society has a dangerous predisposition to just doing something. We now have massive amounts of information, but are we making better decisions as a result of it?
  • Limits: We are living beyond our limits and are beginning to feel the consequences. Can we change course? We need to make the invisible visible: updating a library website is an opportunity to map the whole ecosystem. Develop maps of how people do research. Validate the library as publisher: get research out to the world.

Information architects use nodes and links to create environments for understanding. See things differently and find a new potential. We should aspire to places that can be used by many people in many places over time.

The library is an act of inspiration architecture and a keystone of culture.  It is not just about books or not just about information but serves as a bridge between physical and digital, between communities and individuals. It is important because it is connected in many ways.

Libraries and the New Education Ecosystem: The Tuesday Keynote

Tom Hogan and Lee Rainie

Tom Hogan, Sr. (L) and Lee Rainie (R)

Previous studies on libraries by Pew Research found that people have a high regard for libraries and a high degree of trust in them. They think that libraries level the playing field for those without vast resources and provide services that are hard to get elsewhere. In the Tuesday keynote address, Lee Rainie, Director, Internet, Science & Techology Research, Pew Research Center, presented some results from Pew’s forthcoming report, Libraries at the Crossroads. In Rainie’s opinion, people trust libraries because they know technology, and he advised libraries to take advantage of this opinion and assert it loudly.

The new study found a slight paradox in the data: although there has been small dip in usage in libraries and their websites in the past 2 years, there has been a corresponding vast increase in enthusiasm for them. 46% of Americans went to places where the library materials are, which is less than the 53% 2 years ago. There has also been a slight drop in use of websites–22% vs 30% 2 years ago. Seniors and parents of minor children have a special place in their hearts for libraries; they are enthusiastic evangelicals for libraries and should be treated as such. 75% of the survey respondents think that libraries have done a good job of keeping up with technology. Millennials are the most appreciative. And 78% think that libraries have been very or somewhat effective at promoting literacy and a love of reading. Libraries have contributed a lot to helping people find health information, learn new technologies, learn about events in the community, decide what information they can trust, find jobs, and find out about volunteer opportunities, all of which shows that libraries are platforms or trusted intermediaries in their communities.

The survey asked what people wanted libraries to do. When asked about moving print books and stacks out of public locations to free up space for technology centers, reading rooms, meeting rooms, etc., there was a shift from 20% to 30% approval, and a decrease in disapproval from 36% to 25%. 85% of the respondents said that libraries should do something for education and coordinate with local schools by offering free literacy programs to help young children prepare for school. 78% say libraries should have programs to teach people how to use digital tools.

The survey is still ongoing; results from 803 respondents have been received, with the following opinions. It is very important for people to learn new things for their jobs, happenings in society, their community, and their hobbies and interests. There is a sense that people are not getting as much information as they used to since newspapers have collapsed or cut back. 72% of adults think of themselves as lifelong learners for personal enrichment. They read publications related to personal interests, attend meetings where new information is available, attend conventions and conferences tied to their personal interests, and take courses related to their interests and hobbies. Their motives are to learn something to make life more interesting, allow them to help others, use extra time, turn a hobby into extra income, or help with a child’s schoolwork. People like being nodes in networks. 65% of them are work-related learners wanting to maintain or improve job skills, get a license or certification, get a raise, or get a new job. When asked how well libraries serve the educational needs of the community, 36% said very well, and 41% said pretty well.

Many people believe that libraries should do something for the economy and jobs and should be pathways to economic opportunity. Others say they should create services for local businesses and entrepreneurs, or buy 3-D printers and tools to allow people to learn.

In the area of awareness of libraries, only 60% of the respondents know that libraries offer e-books and audio books for borrowing, 41% know that they have online career and job-related resources, 29% online GED or high school equivalency classes, 24% programs on starting a new business, 22% online programs to certify that people have mastered new skills. There is still a large portion of the community that uses libraries to help apply for a job.

Libraries should do something for special populations. 74% of the respondents said they should create services or programs for active military personnel and veterans. Veterans are one group of the respondents whose appreciation of libraries rose.

59% of respondents said libraries should create services for immigrants and first generation Americans. Other needs mentioned were privacy and solitude, teaching people how to protect their privacy and security online, which will grow as the Internet of Things becomes more prominent.

64% of the respondents said that libraries should have more comfortable spaces for reading, working, and relaxing, i.e. be a sanctuary in a pressure-driven society.