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computers in libraries: day three

23 Mar

How Libraries Add Value to Communities
Keynote by Lee Rainie, Director, Pew Internet and American Life Project
You can view the entire speech here.

  • tweckle: to heckle a speaker via Twitter
  • The Pew Internet and American Life Project has researched three revolutions so far: internet/broadband, wireless connectivity, and social networking.
  • Regarding the internet/broadband revolution, libraries add value by covering access and participatory divides.
  • Regarding the wireless revolution, libraries add value by helping the conversation of finding information and providing access to real-time information.  The library as a place becomes the library as a placeless resource.
  • Regarding the social networking revolution, libraries add value by becoming embedded into people’s networks — watch people’s needs and respond/contribute without being asked directly.
  • Libraries can be nodes in social networks by acting as sentries (spreading information by word of mouth), information evaluators, and forums for action.
  • three attention zones: continuous partial attention, deep dives, and info snacking.
  • four media zones: social streams, immersive, creative/participatory, and study/work.
  • Libraries provide greater cosmic value by being teachers of new literacies (especially ethical literacy — how to behave in this new online world) and filling civic information gaps.

Digital Preservation Strategies: Value Through Longevity

  • digital preservation: making sure that born digital files are accessible over time
  • two strategies for digital preservation: emulation (maintaining the original hardware and software to view a file, or creating software that mimics the original) and migration (transforming files to a stable format)
  • Open source programs may be free upfront, but there are other considerations to take into account.  The developer may be one person or a thousand, with a heavy level of investment to very low investment.  The learning curve can be quite steep, and documentation may not exist for the program.
  • When starting a digital preservation program, be sure to build in time for tool installation (specific for your configuration), troubleshooting (can be difficult without documentation), and Googling for assistance.
  • challenges to implementation: staff time, resources, IT knowledge
  • at-riskier files: older formats, AV files
  • Creating files in open source formats initially makes digital preservation easier because you can already see what the files are made of.

Libraries in the Semantic Web
This session was definitely my favorite of the day (possibly the entire conference).  It’s a complicated topic, but the speakers (Lisa Goddard and Gillian Byrne, Memorial University Libraries) explained it very well.  My notes might not make very much sense, so take a look at their article in D-Lib Magazine.

  • Why do we need a new web?  We forget how stupid existing search engines are — they have high recall, but low precision because they are vocabulary dependent.  Results are a series of individual webpages that are not linked in any way, and the deep web isn’t searchable because it isn’t indexed.  You can’t do very complex queries or comparisons.
  • The semantic solution is made of structured data (RDF), controlled vocabulary, and linking.
  • goal: machine-actionable data
  • Using reasoning — such as equivalent, symmetric, and inverse — machines can create new information from existing information.
  • When linking data, it is not at the page/document level but at the entity level.
  • natural language processing: a machine can take unstructured text to identify people/places/things and disambiguate the terms.
  • RDF publishing tools: Drupal 7 CMS incorporates RDF into its core; Semantic MediaWiki has you enter information into a structured form; Zemanta for blogging
  • DBPedia takes all of Wikipedia’s content and models it as RDF.
  • Some obstacles to implementing the semantic web are competing vocabularies, co-referencing (multiple unique identifiers), finding linked data, and preservation (what happens when a unique identifier disappears?).

Repositories: Strategies and Practices

  • Lessons learned by Goddard Library: talk to the end user early and often (we think like librarians, they don’t); publisher metadata is problematic; human quality control is necessary (automation can only go so far); there’s always something new — be aware and adaptable.
  • Institutional repositories (IR) must be cohesive and involve everyone in the library — IR can’t just be a project worked on by a few people.
  • Answer: Who is the IR for — who is the community?  What materials will be collected?
  • IR is a chronically understaffed program in libraries.  Digitization and dealing with copyright issues are hard work that require staff.

Preserving User-Generated Content

  • What will scholars of the future want access to?  Are we providing for that?
  • Streaming media can’t be archived (if the video/audio isn’t recorded).
  • Widgets, such as embedded Google maps, can’t be replicated in an archive yet.  Don’t even think about apps…
  • The value of preserving user-generated content lies in documenting change over time — the historical view.  Specifically, the archive captures both cultural and technological changes.
  • Regarding the Twitter archive, it is very difficult to index it all.
  • Web Archiving at the Library of Congress

Transliteracies: Libraries as the Critical “Classroom”

  • Transliteracy: the ability to read, write, and interact across a range of platforms, tools, and media.
  • For kids, content is more important than the container.
  • Transliteracy is an umbrella that unifies the different types of literacy.  We must be proactive, not reactive, in preparing for the future.
  • Start with training your staff about different technologies.
  • Libraries must be a place of creation, not just consumption.
  • Create a structured plan, and ease your way into it.
  • Learn multiple formats to understand your patrons’ needs.
  • There is more than one divide — it’s more of a multi-level caste divide.
  • It will not be easy, but you have to do it — not just for your job but to help your friends and family too.
  • Learn more by visiting the blog Libraries and Transliteracy.
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Posted by on March 23, 2011 in conferences

 

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