Even at large libraries that have staff dedicated to digitization projects, the additional effort needed to enable researchers to extract data from these collections—such as transcribing OCR-resistant text, or adding item-level tags to large collections of images—would be an untenable chore for a library to take on alone. So, in the past half decade, libraries have taken cues from long-running projects, using crowdsourcing as a way not only to outsource work that would be impossible for staff to attempt but also to engage volunteers.
While the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) is largely concerned with policy on the legislative level, an OITP-sponsored program at ALA’s 2015 annual conference, Hacking the Culture of Learning in the Library, focused on what libraries themselves need to know to function as outside-the-school-walls learning zones. Moderator Christopher Harris, school library system director at Genesee Valley Educational Partnership and ALA OITP Fellow for Program on Youth and Technology Policy, began the interactive session by noting that public, school, and academic libraries have a great opportunity to frame a common theme to work around—Libraries Are Education—and set about exploring some of the issues at stake.
Every American Library Association (ALA) conference produces a bumper crop of news from the companies that serve libraryland, as each tends to time its biggest debuts to the event, and this year was no exception. Here’s an assortment of what we learned on the exhibit floor. Did we miss your news? Please add it in the comments!
The first SELF-e collection of self-published titles chosen by LJ and hosted by BiblioLab’s BiblioBoard releases this month, in time for the American Library Association’s (ALA) annual conference. On the occasion, LJ caught up with Mitchell Davis, chief business officer of BiblioLabs, to hear how this collaboration originated and where both SELF-e and BiblioBoard are headed.
Connecticut’s Darien Library last week launched darienlibrary.tv, a new website designed to offer streamlined access to the library’s archive of library-created video content, including recorded author lectures, educational seminars, TechCast “how to” series on consumer technology, reader recommendation presentations, and more. Much of this content was already available online, but on a “hodgepodge” of sites, explained Assistant Director for Innovation and UX John Blyberg.
It isn’t surprising that 3-D printers are often mentioned in the same breath as library Maker spaces. “Additive manufacturing” technology is about 30 years old, but as it becomes more refined, as well as more affordable, its growing importance to engineering and prototyping appears to be inevitable, as well as its use in everything from medicine to haute cuisine. Meanwhile, during the past few years, dozens of small desktop units have become available, most priced out of reach for casual users but within the means of many libraries interested in offering their communities access to new technologies.
Portions of the New York Public Library’s (NYPL) “Photographic Views of New York City, 1870’s–1970’s” collection have been available online for several years. But views of the collection have mushroomed during the past two weeks, thanks to the launch of OldNYC.org, a website that overlays photo locations on a Google Maps interface, enabling visitors to explore the collection by zooming, dragging, and clicking their way around an online map of the city. The new site was independently created by software engineer Dan Vanderkam using the Google Maps API, data provided by NYPL, and open source photo and text extraction programs that he wrote himself and has made available on GitHub.
Librarians have always taught patrons how to use the tools that serve their information needs. We had to explain card catalogs, vertical files, microfilm/fiche, photocopiers, and OPACs. The fundamental difference about the tech needs of the 21st century is the ever-changing variety of personal devices that patrons use to access our services. Some libraries are lucky enough to have dedicated staff with special training to serve these patrons directly, but most of the time it’s a library generalist fielding question after question about something new every day. How do frontline staffers with self-taught or very basic knowledge of technology stay savvy about the latest and hottest gadgets? How do we train nontechnical staff to troubleshoot effectively and train our patrons to use their own gadgets?
hoopla digital, the streaming media service for libraries developed by Midwest Tape, announced the addition of ebooks and comics to its platform. The initial selection features thousands of titles from publishers including IDW, RosettaBooks, Chicago Review Press, Dundurn Press, and Tyndale House, which will join hoopla’s catalog of more than 300,000 streaming movies, television shows, music albums, and audiobooks.
The University of Minnesota Press and the GC Digital Scholarship Lab at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) in April were awarded a $732,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to launch Manifold Scholarship, a new platform that will enable the publication of iterative, networked, electronic versions of scholarly monographs alongside the print edition of the book.