24/02/2012 § 16 Comments
Author’s note: My interests within the LIS field are data curation and e-science librarianship. This is a hot topic that is growing every day, and skilled e-science librarians are needed to fill the gap. If you’re interested in learning more about data curation librarianship as a future career, leave a comment here, and I’ll follow up with more information.
Back in the Fall, Micah wrote a post about Open Access Week. In it he discussed open journals, open data, and the ALA Code of Ethics. Open data is what today’s post is about. An important ongoing question in the world of data curation today is how to get scientists to share their data by placing it in a data repository. There are many scientists who are unaware of the fact that their data has value to anyone but them and their research team. On the other hand, there are scientists who are very possessive of their data and don’t want to release it for fear that they will lose control of it and not be credited for its creation. There are also those who want to suck every drop of publishing potential out of a data set before releasing it to anyone else.
Last November, there were two requests for information (here and here) put out by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. One asked if peer-reviewed journal articles resulting from federally funded research should be accessible to the public. The other asked if data from federally funded research should be accessible to the public. OSTP has released the comments from that RFI here. I have not read all the responses, but the ones I have read seem to indicate that the support of open-access is high among those not affiliated with a publisher and cautious, at best, from those affiliated with a publisher. The questions, concerns, and issues I see raised generally deal with how journals can remain profitable for the value they add and how researchers can receive due credit for their efforts.
But let’s set aside the questions of whether scientists and researchers should be required to share their data and articles or even if it’s a good idea that they do it. I think an even larger issue here is whether or not our current crop of scientists and researchers has the data management skills necessary to make the research data usable to anyone but themselves and their immediate research group. Data management practices of researchers are not exactly stellar. Infrequent or nonexistent backups, inadequate metadata on variables and research background, and loose standards all contribute to a set of data that is basically useless to anyone not involved with the project from the beginning.
Do you think that the data generators know how to manage their data properly? What can be done to improve the situation? How can librarians help?
22/02/2012 § 11 Comments
I’m in my second term of library school. My experience so far is still mostly about foundations and required courses, learning the common language of the library, and coming to grips with core concepts and basic skills. I’ve had some theory, I’ve had some history, and I’m getting my first sense of current practices and conventions. These are all necessary and valuable things. These are crucial elements of my understanding of librarianship and my future role as a professional. This is what library school is for.
But sometimes, I just want more.
I mean, we’re library scientists, right? So where are our research facilities? Where are the experiments? Shouldn’t at least a few of us be library mad scientists? (I know some librarians who totally have the crazy eyebrows for it.) So who do I have to see to get my lab coat and my tesla coil?
The reality is that library school, as valuable as it is, is always going to be mostly about the past and the present, with at most wary/hopeful glances in the general direction of the future. That’s not criticism, it’s just the nature of the thing. If we library students want to know more about what’s going on closer to the cutting edge, we’re just going to have to go look for it ourselves. And isn’t that what Hack Library School is all about?
Here are a few places to start:
Harvard Library Innovation Laboratory:
This is the stuff, right here. This group of developers and librarians work under the auspices of the Harvard Law School as a sort of think tank for the avant garde of librarianship. And they’re doing incredibly cool stuff, from the very promising open-source ShelfLife collection navigator to their consistently great podcasts. This is where I go when I need a solid dose of experimental librarianship.
Harvard Library Lab:
Not to be confused with the above, this Library Lab is run by the Department of Scholarly Communication and is more concerned with supporting research projects in the library and information sciences. A few minutes spent poking around the current projects page always leaves me with new things to think about.
Library Test Kitchen:
Yep, these folks are at Harvard, too, this time a seminar being run out of the Graduate School of Design. The Test Kitchen looks at the future of the library from a perspective of space, use, and the experience of being in a library. Ethereal-sounding stuff, but it also has a lot to do with why many of us came to love the library in the first place.
I’m using InfoCamp as a representative for a whole array of similarly-structured (un)conferences around the country, because I just recently got to attend my first (which was, by the way, co-organized by Hack Library School’s own Turner Masland; Zack is pretty familiar with the concept as well.) InfoCamps are springing up all over the place, and that’s awesome, because they generate the sort of cross-pollination between information nerds that can ultimately lead to great things for all of us. At the one we just had here in Portland, I heard some talks that were exciting, some that were outside the normal library territory but really useful, and one I didn’t even begin to understand. But even getting a look into other ways of thinking about information was more enlightening and inspiring than I’d imagined it could be.
Library Boing Boing:
Hopefully most of us have heard about this one: the ALA is partnering with tech/culture uberblog BoingBoing to support, celebrate, and collaborate on all sorts of cool new library-type things. This one is still in the development phase, but isn’t that the best time to get involved?
The natural extension of hacking library school is to hack the library itself. Where do you go when you want something a little more futuristic than what your MLS program provides?
20/02/2012 § 29 Comments
I’m sure you’ve all heard a million times by now that libraries are looking for young professionals with technology skills. And I’m sure you’ve all thought to yourself “But of course, I use technology all the time! I’m proficient in the Microsoft Office Suite, I conduct online research like a champ, I would medal in the social media Olympics!” And, of course, you’d be right. Libraries do need professionals that are intimate with and can teach software applications, are comfortable with online research both in databases and free web resources, and can smartly and strategically develop a social media plan. But I’m also increasingly sure that we need to up our game in order to stand out and better serve our patrons. I’m talking about the hard stuff, the stuff we were hoping we’d never have to think about because of our blessed IT departments, the stuff that puts us face-to-face with the command line: y’all, I’m talking about coding.
24/01/2012 § 13 Comments
We got a question on Twitter over the weekend about reading material for LIS:
RT @brandontlocke: Any recommended reads for aspiring/future MLIS students?
It is difficult to respond to such a question in 140 characters or less. I made the attempt by suggesting reputable blogs and e-news sources for LIS information and fiction for mind expansion (and fun!). Feeling that a little more was needed I have expanded with advice, links and resources.
18/01/2012 § 4 Comments
Even if you are not actively involved, if you have been listening to the news or surfing the web in the last few weeks you have likely heard about the debates and activism swirling around SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (PROTECT IP Act or Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act). If nothing else perhaps you noticed that Wikipedia is black today (January 18).
We here at Hack Library School made the decision to add the black banner in the upper right corner to show support for Internet freedom and those working to stop passage of this legislation in its current form.
(As an aside, if you or your patrons are hurting for the loss particularly of Wikipedia as a research tool, according to NPR you can tweet with hashtag #altwiki and have your question answered by someone from The Washington Post, NPR or The Guardian.)
The writers of Hack Library School had our own debate about weighing in on US Legislation versus trying to stay away from the “political.” I am honored to have joined this group of students and leaders in time for this discussion. We talked over if we ought to: proceed as usual and continue to do as we do; post something for discussion as befits a learning environment; or join with the likes of Wikipedia, Reddit, BoingBoing, WordPress and even the “Cheezburger” sites, to completely “Black out” HackLibSchool for the day. I’m sure that many of you have had similar conversations within your organizations (those links by the way go to the blog or opinion pieces about the decision to blackout – interesting reading).
In the end, we decided to leave our site up and open for discussion and sharing. As current and future Information Professionals, (everyone reading this,) it behooves us to be as informed and aware of all points of view as possible. We at HLS want to show librarians and archivists as remaining active and available as a trusted resource, and creators of a safe space for discourse.
So here we are.
In a wonderful moment of kismet, we received a well-researched and thoughtful guest post from Alex Berman (posting at 9am EST), which sheds good light on some of the potentially problematic portions of the legislation. If you are new to this topic I highly suggest starting with Alex’s post as it offers a good basic introduction while citing specific language and verbiage in the actual bills.
If you are interested in more articles, I would offer: “Why we need to stop SOPA” by Director of MIT’s Media Labe Joi Ito; “The Problem with SOPA” by Sonia Simone of Copyblogger; “An Alternative to SOPA: the OPEN Act“ by the Electronic Frontier Foundation; and from the “pro” side: a list of stated supporters by Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Lamar Smith (TX), and the Motion Picture Association of America’s RogueWebsites site.
Despite the black banner at top showing our allegiance to stopping SOPA, we welcome all opinions here (as was done with the “Occupy” posts 1 and 2). Copyright protection is as important an issue as intellectual freedom, and there is ample room for debate on the merits of or problems with all or portions of these bills from both sides.
Please share your own best resources, suggestions and opinions in the comment section below. It should be an intellectually stimulating and engaging day and the important thing is that the conversation continues uncensored.
“New Hacker” Joanna