Category Archives: General

Returning to blogging

It has almost been a year since my last post. Much has happened. What started as a break became a long adventure that certainly isn’t over. What brings me back to the blog-o-sphere? There are several topics that come to mind: managing large projects, dealing with bullies, how to engage students, assessment, and so many more. Today, I want to talk about my interns.

About a year and a half ago, I began an internship program for the program that I work on, which is a state-wide digital repository. I consulted other programs and institutions that have internships. I looked to my own institution to see what we have. I also took into consideration my own internship experience when I was at Simmons. There are a surprising number of resources on the topic. Many where helpful in charting how to define an internship program, setting up parameters and scope for the internship and interns, assessing and measuring success, and how to make an unpaid internship attractive to students. Content was created on our programs website outlining the internship with documents and guidelines. And our first intern started towards the beginning of 2016 with our local GSLIS program in the area on metadata creation and enhancement!

The focus of our internships are on the student. Of course, we seek to have some work done as sort of our freebie moment of glory. More importantly, our internship program aims to allow the intern a view into the day to day activities of working on a digital repository program and the tools used for that work. Each intern designs their internship and the tools they want to focus on. We’ve now had interns work on learning how to make harvesting more efficient, just creating metadata, creating an xml site map, automating workflows using Python, applying tools to manipulate data, designing outreach and marketing materials, or creating asynchronous online learning objects (aka video tutorials). Our interns now come from as far as Florida!

The internship program takes work. Each intern is interviewed. If accepted, we help the intern design their internship that include tasks, hours to complete those tasks, and key dates. There’s various housekeeping items to take care of like setting up weekly check-ins, explaining the terms of the internship, ensuring that interns stay on track, and the like. There is a lot of administrative overhead that accompanies each intern. However, it is worth all the work. It is amazing to work with these students and see them grow professionally. As for myself, working with interns has allowed me to develop better supervisory skills as well as being more flexible in adopting a learning environment that fits each intern. This has helped me to better supervise my employees. It also is a way to give back to the library community and help support future colleagues.

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Research Data Services

I was able to attend a regional round table of librarians working in research data. Some librarians were the research data librarian at their institution. Surprisingly or not, the majority of librarians had a variety of job functions of which research data was a component. Many came from institutions that didn’t have a dedicated team solely for research data. In this case, these librarians offered services for digital scholarship broadly speaking that included research data activities. Several common themes came up during the round table. I would like to highlight two in this post.

The first topic concerned liaison programs at various institutions. Many participants because they are offering a wide variety of services rely on liaisons for outreach and marketing of these services. Several gave examples of liaisons who jumped on board and took on the task of helping marketing services and getting in touch with their constituents about research data. In fact, many librarians in the room were liaisons or continue to be subject liaisons with new duties. However, there was some concern about the role of outreach as well as how to handle fear of changing job duties for those liaisons unfamiliar with research data and services. Outreach is a difficult task. You have to go where your users are. And it is not always the case that librarians are welcomed wholeheartedly into research groups or departments. Further, there are several groups of users: faculty, graduate students, PIs, research centers that might have external researchers. Within these user groups, there’s a whole variety of thoughts and views on libraries and librarians’ role in research data management. Beyond this, research data is still a relatively new task for subject liaisons as a whole. As with any topic, research data consists in a number of complex topics that involve different groups in and outside an institution. Take for example storage. Where I work, this is not one streamlined service for researchers. Central IT provides what is called a P drive with a minimum amount of storage for staff, students and faculty. This is of course backed up and comes with the minimum amount of security but nothing spectacular. It is meant just as a temporary storage place. There is email and Google apps. But as this is linked to Google, even though it is provided by the institution, it would not be a good idea to store data linked to research projects in particular those that have sensitive information. The health center has been set up with a high computing system that includes measures to handle sensitive information. Engineering departments always have access to a high performance computing system. However, what about researchers in other departments? Further, these storage options provided by central IT don’t have an archiving component or provide a citable link. This is just an example of what researchers typically face. Learning the ins and outs of what your library and institution offers can be daunting and often a frustrating experience as their might not be solutions are nonexistent or inconsistent. With the move to have subject liaisons learn about research data management has come a fear of having to learn something new and taking on new responsibilities. It is a fear of change. The majority of people at the round table encountered this fear at their institutions. This is nothing new. Fear of change is unfortunately a theme in any workplace. So how do you mitigate this fear? There is a lot of literature that speaks to this. But many in attendance mentioned that they hold workshops and consultations for their fellow colleagues to help them get a handle on topics and services offered in research data management. Is this the way to go? Should all liaisons and subject specialists know about research data management?

The second topic concerned education. Offering workshops is the easiest entry point in providing services for research data management. Almost everyone in the room provides workshops. Some have general research data management workshops. Others go into lab groups and offered short presentations on one topic to graduate students and the PI. Others have online tutorials. Pretty much everyone offers consultations services. Is education and are consultations effective? For example, offering workshops on the data management plan help researchers write a DMP. However, one you know how to write a DMP,, then you pretty much can write one in the future, meaning that the research won’t go back to a workshop or ask for a consultation on this topic. This is actually a good thing because that workshop was effective. Will there be a need for such workshops in the future? I don’t know. However, this gets to the crux of one of the issues discussed at the round table. Digital scholarship and research data management are in flux. It is necessary to be flexible and be willing to change based on your users and what is happening at your institution. In this sense, continuing education is necessary especially for those offering services.

This was a fantastic opportunity to get together with colleagues across the area. Discussions were frank, open, and helpful. What was interesting is that independent of the size and funding of the institution, the majority of us were in the same boat, namely learning and adapting to the evolving needs of researchers on campus.

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The Infofuture White Paper

I’m trying to catch up on my reading and other things this weekend. Finally, I got around to looking up the white paper that I read about in the latest issue of American Libraries. That white paper is in reference to the article starting on page 40, “The Future of the MLS: Rethinking Librarian Education” by John Carolo Bertot and Lindsay Sarin. The author’s summary of our current situation is well known to many of us: significant reductions in work force, variety of information sources open to people, changing nature of information and how people find and access it, changing communities, etc. These are arguments that we’ve heard before. Our users, how those users access information, and what information is is changing and will continue to change in the future. What I found interesting about the article was the question: how can future librarians be trained for this ever changing landscape or rather landscapes? The authors had 8 main points: inform, enable, equalize, lead, adaptable, create, lead, be tech-savy. In the white paper referenced by the authors, these points are echoed with concepts such as innovation, creativity, transformation, life-long learning, or incentives. Honestly, my library school days didn’t prepare me for much of my current job much or my other jobs I’ve had since graduating. This is partly due to the fact that the information landscape is changing and evolving all the time. It is extremely difficult to prepare others for unknown changes. On the flip side, it could be helpful to prepare others how to deal with change. When faced with disappearing staff and low budgets, being creative and adapting to new realities become necessary. This is not necessarily negative. It is necessary to think out of the box. Yes, there are many information sources available for users. However, that doesn’t mean that users get the information they need or want. Many of those information sources are confusing and hard to navigate. Today, librarians are in an amazing situation to be mediators of information. Further, we can learn from those other information sources, determine what we do best and what they do best, and grow and improve our services. Though the article was geared towards those teaching future librarians, the main points and white paper provide insight for working librarians. It is not so much the future where we have to be adaptable, creative, innovative, flexible and learn. It is right now. I would definitely recommend reading this article and looking at the white paper/poster. Though I learn more on the job than I did in library school, perhaps this is the point. This article spoke more to me now that if I would have read it during library school. In fact, this article spoke to me about what we can be doing as librarians now and in the future not just librarians in training.

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How Are Your Google Searching Skills?

Recently I learned about a blog called SearchResearch by Daniel M. Russell. Daniel works for Google and studies the way people search the internet…in a nutshell. From his home page, you can access his presentations. The most recent one that was sent around the web was called “What does it mean to be literate in the Age of Google?” from  February 28, 2012 for the  Princeton Louis Clark Vanuxem Lecture ( Video of my presentation 88:21 TRT).

On his blog, SearchResearch, Daniel posts search puzzles. He asks people to search the web for the answer. Today’s puzzle:

While reading broadly the other day I ran across a most curious fact; an observation that I’ll pose to you as a question about a man most eldritch in character. 
 

Q:  Edgar Terry was transported from Fort Independence, MA to Fort Moultrie, SC.  What was the name of the ship that carried him to the fort in South Carolina? 

 
For extra credit:  His experiences at Fort Moultrie appeared in his later writings.  Can you find at least two of his writings that make use of his time there? 
Do you know the answer? What else do you know about the question and answers?

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Open Access In Trouble

If you haven’t already heard, there are several movements afoot that oppose open access. Here’s 2:

  • Research Works Act Legislation: Introduced in the House of Representatives on Dec. 16, 2011 by Rep. Darrell Issa (R. Calif.), chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D- N.Y.). The aim of this legislation is to prevent regulatory interference with private-sector research publishers in the production, peer review and publication of scientific, medical, technical, humanities, and basically all scholarly journal articles. The legislation has been praised by the Copyright Alliance as safeguarding authors’ copyright. What does it mean in the long run? Fighting against open access policies like the NIH Public Access Policy or allowing publicly funded research to be deposed in open access repositories.  There’s already a lot of information on this legislation. But take a look at Robin Peek’s answer, the Duke Scholarly Communications Blog or this article in PW.
  • Stop Online Privacy Act (H.R. 3261): House Judiciary Committee Charman Lamar Smith (R -Texas) hopes to remove a provision in the Stop Online Privacy Act. That provision is to block access to certain websites that are believed to be dedicated to copyright infringement. If a website does infringe on copyright, then the DoJ would be allowed to ask web services like search engines, social networking sites and domain name services to black access to the site. Does this sound familiar? Already the Internet Archive is blacklisted in China. Here’s a response from the Library Copyright Alliance.
  • Creative Commons opens up discussion process to result in a new version (4.0) of their Creative Commons license suite. The official news post came out on Dec. 9, 2011. Creative Commons licenses are very popular. But this new discussion process is not without controversy. One of those topics under discussion is how to use the Creative Commons licenses on an international scale.

Definitely, the discussion on the next version of Creative Commons licenses is to better accommodate international uses of the licenses, it still bears on how we as a community at large distribute and make available resources. With the looming Research Works Act legislation, it seems that there is a movement to stifle open access and sharing resources. Stay tuned…

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Mysterious Paper Sculptures

A colleague sent out this link and it is just great. It shows pictures of anonymous creations made out of books and paper for the Scottish Poetry Library.

Go to:  http://community.thisiscentralstation.com/_Mysterious-paper-sculptures/blog/4991767/126249.html.

Enjoy.

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Are Your Passwords Safe?

If you’re like me, you subscribe to a number of listservs, a number of social networking sites, professional sites, and then everything you might have a username and password for your personal activities. That means a lot a passwords and most likely your email address as your password. Michael Moyer published a short article in the 6/23/2011 Scientific American Observations blog called “How to know if hackers have stolen your password”. Surprisingly a large majority of people don’t have complicated passwords. In fact, Michael says that:

This is something we’re very bad at. A recent report found that more than 75 percent of users use the same password for social networking sites and email—a huge risk in case one of those sites falls victim to nefarious figures.

To help keep your passwords and information safe, there are some quick tips. Change passwords frequently. Use numbers, letters, and other symbols if possible. Use different passwords for each site. There are some applications out there that can help with generating unique passwords and saving passwords. For MAC, there is Keychain. For PCs, there are a number of password managers like password safe. In addition to this, Michael provides a link to a tool reported on by the New York Times called “Should I change my password”. Created by a security profession, it checks about 13 or so databases when you enter your email address(es) to see if your password(s) have been compromised. This is definitely something to keep in mind.

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