Friday, April 22, 2016

Linked Data Exploratorium

By now, most technical services librarians realize that Linked Data is a topic of importance when considering the future of cataloging. However, it is one thing to realize the importance of a topic and quite another to feel empowered to learn about a topic. There are many resources about Linked Data, but it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start in your professional education on the topic. The Linked Data Exploratorium, a product of the Linked Data for Professional Education (LD4PE) project, is a comprehensive resource that can go a long way toward reducing that feeling of “Where do I start?”

The lead sponsors of LD4PE are the Institute for Museum and Library Services, the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative, and the University of Washington iSchool. According to the Project History page on their web site, the goal of the project is to create “an online learning environment in support of instruction in the principles and practice of Linked Data – a ‘language lab’ of software-supported methods for data processing and analysis.”

A distinctive feature of the Linked Data Exploratorium is its competency framework. One hurdle for me when trying to learn about Linked Data is the fact that I feel like I don’t even know what I need to learn.  The Competency Index (CI) breaks down the many components of Linked Data into distinct competencies, or skills that people looking to get involved in Linked Data projects should master. The Linked Data Exploratorium web site provides some information about the Competency Index for Linked Data, and the CI is also available as a Google document, to allow for comments and feedback. 

The Competency Index is a very detailed document, but the main competencies addressed (which each have their own sub-competencies) are:

  • Fundamentals of Resource Description Framework
  • Fundamentals of Linked Data
  • RDF vocabularies and application profiles
  • Creating and transforming Linked Data
  • Interacting with RDF data
  • Creating Linked Data applications
The Competency Index informs the organization of the learning resources that have been gathered by the Linked Data for Professional Education project for the Linked Data Exploratorium. It is possible to browse the resources by competency, so you can identify the resources that most closely relate to the skills and knowledge you wish to acquire. Overall, the Linked Data Exploratorium looks like a great jumping-off point for those looking to learn more about Linked Data.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Refresh and Recharge and Live and Learn: A Round-Up of Recent Management Resources

Refresh Yourself

Am I the only one that's a little exhausted after this long winter that seems to be so reluctant to actually leave and hand the reins over to spring and summer? Before the incessant sunshine of spring cleaning and creativity has to come out in full force, it’s best for all of us to refresh and recharge. For those feeling a little bit like me, the HubSpot marketing blog recently posted on how to motivate yourself when you’re absolutely exhausted. With ten different strategies to get yourself moving and links to additional articles supporting these strategies, ranging from ‘just get started’ to ‘talk to a coworker’, it’s a great starting point for finding your motivation. 

If it doesn’t seem to be working, though, it’s important to remember that burnout is a very real thing, and it’s crucial to dedicate specific time to ‘time off.’  The Creative Review posted recently that creative brains need the time and space to process the ideas and stimulation generated throughout the workday. Silence and reflection are key components to a healthy balance in life, so be sure to encourage a healthy work-life balance in addition to true breaks from the ‘connectivity’ that social media and technology provide.

Once we’re recharged, how can we feel less stressed and less exhausted in the future? One tangible way is to become more organized. The Chronicle of Higher Education’s blog Vitae recently posted that organization is a skill, not a trait, and is made up of a variety of other skills, such as identifying priorities, breaking down large goals into specific tasks, and effective communication. These skills can be learned, and providing yourself as well as your staff with training on time-management and other related topics can help with stress levels.

In fact, promoting learning within your workplace culture helps give workers all sorts of tools for success.  In a recent post on SHIFT’s eLearning Blog, Karla Gutierrez writes about the benefits of creating a learning-centered work culture and gives you four tangible low-cost actions your group can take, modeled after one of the current greats: Google.  Get information to stick and be useful to your employees, create an environment where employees feel safe to talk about their ideas and ask questions, and promote continuous learning. My personal favorite, though, is learning from celebrated failure. Having the freedom to fail also gives you the power to learn from your mistakes, and as a result is integral to any successful team culture. In my opinion, the freedom to fail is especially important in environments going through major changes, like many libraries these days.

In the spirit of continuous learning and training, the eLearning Industry’s blog recently featured an article showing how training supports organizational change and is an essential part of the change management process. Librarians are implementing and responding to changes in our strategies, structures and systems, and our organizational culture has to respond accordingly. Training can serve as a piece of the puzzle that helps guide your employees through the change journey, increasing your rate of success, encouraging belonging in your staff, and promoting employee engagement – all of which are powerful wins for your team and your organization as a whole.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Meeting User Needs with Cataloger's Desktop

 Bruce Johnson, Derek Rodriguez, Susanne Ross
ONLINE SEARCHER, v. 40 no. 2, March/April 2016

As part of its mission to provide services to the global library community, LC information professionals developed Cataloger’s Desktop (“Desktop”), a searchable cataloging, metadata, and library automation documentation system consisting of 300-plus resources (

Librarians use Desktop in their daily work to find the instructions they need to create metadata to bibliographically control library resources. More than 10,000 librarians at approximately 1,000 subscribing institutions use it. Since its initial release in 1994, Desktop has evolved into a widely used and authoritative web-based service that allows professional catalogers to work more efficiently with the most up-to-date, authoritative cataloging information at their fingertips.

This article provides an overview of how the product has developed over the years.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

What’s Your Library Doing for Preservation Week?

Preservation Week is just around the corner and if you haven’t made plans to celebrate, there’s still time to pull something together. As the sponsor of Preservation Week, ALA has a toolkit of resources – from handouts, to free webinars (with the bonus that previous years’ webinars are archived here as well), to bibliographies of resources. All of these resources can be used to help promote preservation in your library at any time of the year, and can even be used as an event (or the event) during Preservation Week.

In addition to these resources there is also a preservation expert willing to answer your questions. She also does a monthly raffle to give away a document preservation kit to one lucky individual who asked a question! Ask Donia is a great tool for seeing what some of the current concerns in preservation are. Topics include digitization, preserving fragile types of materials, displaying archival or fragile materials, and performing conservation tasks.

While some libraries are able to make Preservation Week a big event, it by no means needs to be. Start small – send a message to your staff with links to preservation resources (you can even use link to ALA!) or put together a small display to raise awareness with your patrons. And don’t feel like you have to have an event during the week of April 24. Preservation is important year round so events and awareness should always be on your radar!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

An Introduction to RDF for Librarians

If you have read anything about BIBFRAME, or Linked Data, or the Semantic Web, you have probably heard about Resource Description Framework (RDF). RDF is an important thing to understand, since it relates to the future of bibliographic data; however, it is often presented in a very complex manner. 

I recently came across a blog post by Ruth Kitchin Tillman, the Digital Collections Librarian at the University of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Libraries, titled “An Introduction to RDF for Librarians (of a Metadata Bent)”. I found this post to be a very accessible introduction to the underlying concepts of RDF. Tillman explains how RDF is used to describe resources, what serialization means, with special focus on serializing RDF using Turtle, how RDF is used to link resources together, and how meaning is encoded. She also offers suggestions for continued reading, should you want to learn more about RDF. Overall, in my opinion, this post lays out some very complex topics in clear, understandable language.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

To Weed or Not to Weed…

Much as a good garden may have some weeds, a good library may have some weeds as well. So let’s take a second to chat a little about the ‘anti-acquisition’ – otherwise known as the ‘weed.’ 

Susannah Tredwell wrote today about this very topic, offering readers a host of typical questions asked when weeding a collection, ranging from simpler questions such as “Do we own anything more current on the subject?” to more difficult questions that attempt to determine the value of the older book.  Tredwell reminds readers that even in a law library, “a book can still be valuable even if the information that it contains is no longer current.” The law field is a field where incorrect materials can be fraught with danger to the professionals who depend on them in court, but Tredwell makes some wonderful points about ways older, even incorrect materials can still be of value to patrons.

These points reminded me of an engaging post I had read last week by Jeffrey Meyer, recounting his experience with a particular patron at the public library. This patron was challenging the decision to keep a particular book about climate change, which they claimed was riddled with half-truths and propaganda, in the collection. Meyer reminds us that the library is not the fact police, and that “the Fact Police are as dangerous as the Morality Police. If we start removing materials because they are “factually inaccurate,” we will embark on a twisted Soviet-style purge of our treasured collections. Thanks, Jeffrey. I couldn't have said it better myself.

But before you think I'm an anti-weeding kind of gal, let me point you to one more resource that promises to remind you that hoarding is not the same as collection development. is a site run by Mary Kelly and Holly Hibner, public librarians in Michigan.  They state that their site is “a collection of library holdings that we find amusing and maybe questionable for libraries trying to maintain a current and relevant collection.”  And amusing they are... One of my favorites is My Beautiful Mommy, in which Mommy picks her child up from school to take her along on a trip to the plastic surgeon.  

Want a little more information on weeding or all things acquisitions?  Karen Muller recently offered her list of essential resources for understanding acquisitions in libraries, including Rebecca Vnuk’s The Weeding Handbook: A Shelf-by-Shelf Guide.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Government Publishing Office Announces govinfo

The Government Publishing Office recently announced beta launch of govinfo, a new site designed to replace FDsys in 2017. The site is designed to be user friendly and features modern, responsive design.  According to the Q & A page for the site, key new features include:
  • a new modern look and feel,
  • the capability to link related content,
  • two new ways to browse content: alphabetically and by category,
  • a new open-source search engine,
  • enhancements to the search filters, and
  • more options for sharing pages and content on social media. 
A brief look around the site confirmed that it is easy to use with popular and current content prominently featured. The stripped down, modern look and feel enhance easy navigation.