Here’s something to add to your anxiety closet. We are starting to hear reports of libraries whose VoIP telephone systems have been hacked. Many of us — especially if we’re old enough to remember rotary dial phones — don’t give much thought to phone security beyond being careful about what we tell people over the phone. But Voice over IP phones are actually internet devices and, like just about everything else connected to the internet, they can be hacked. All of the articles linked below contain suggestions for protecting your phone system from attacks. Of course, some of the suggestions include buying their products, but most are sound advice.
Articles from Ohio Web Library:
The TOS that we haven't read.
I don’t know how many librarians followed the recent drama swirling around feminist philosophy journal Hypatia, but I think it serves as a valuable object lesson in the complexity of contemporary research into identity. In brief, Hypatia published an article by Dr. Rebecca Tuvel (Philosophy, Rhodes College) entitled “In Defense of Transracialism” (paywalled) in which Tuvel argues that there are logical equivalences between arguments surrounding transgender identities and arguments surrounding transracial identities (e.g., Rachel Dolezal). Tuvel argues that many of the common arguments for accepting transgender identities can be applied mutatis mutandis to accepting transracial identities. What would otherwise be a fairly dry paper on the logic of identity claims set off a firestorm of outrage. An open letter accusing the article of causing harm received hundreds of signatories, the editorial board of Hypatia apologized, the board of directors for Hypatia disavowed that apology, the open letter was rebutted, social media erupted, the paper was called a “discursive transmisogynistic” act of “epistemic violence,”and there have been dozens of think-pieces on the state of feminist philosophy, on “call-out culture,” on the ethics of scholarly communication, on privilege, and so on, and so on. Read the Wikipedia article if you must. (No, really, it’s an academic scandal worth knowing about.)
I’m not going to weigh in with my thoughts on the affair–who’s right and who’s wrong. Instead, I want to look narrowly at one aspect of the scandal that seems to speak to information literacy: the role of identity in information evaluation practices.The imperative to diversity in citations
The open letter that kicked off the whole affair makes four general points. Here’s the fourth claim:
[Tuvel’s article] fails to seek out and sufficiently engage with scholarly work by those who are most vulnerable to the intersection of racial and gender oppressions (women of color) in its discussion of “transracialism”. We endorse Hypatia’s stated commitment to “actively reflect and engage the diversity within feminism, the diverse experiences and situations of women, and the diverse forms that gender takes around the globe,” and we find that this submission was published without being held to that commitment.
In a later statement, Tuvel herself acknowledged that she had “discusse[d] the lives of vulnerable people without sufficiently citing their own first-person experiences and views.” Of all the criticisms of the paper, this is the one that seems the most widely shared: Tuvel did not “sufficiently engage” with the scholarship written by women of color. Unpacking that a little bit, we can reconstruct an imperative for scholars researching certain communities (keeping as close as possible to the original language):
[The Source Diversity Imperative] Any scholarship or discussion regarding a vulnerable community should sufficiently engage with the first-person experiences and views of members of that community.
Setting aside the vagueness of “sufficiently engage,” that seems reasonable, right? And yet, it’s an imperative that gets ignored with depressing frequency. Like the special journal issue on Black Lives Matter that didn’t include a single black author. Or the way the GOP isn’t including any women on the working group to draft a new healthcare bill that will drastically affect women’s health. There’s even an entire Tumblr devoted to exposing all-male (and usually all-white) panels at conferences. Clearly, people aren’t getting the message. Is there anything instruction librarians can do to help?What kind of imperative?
Let’s start by assuming the Source Diversity Imperative (SDI). Now we just have to figure out what kind of an imperative it is.
First, SDI could be an epistemic imperative in the sense that it is a rule for proper reasoning. There are a few directions this can take you. Maybe it’s just about making sure you have all the evidence. Maybe it’s more about standpoint epistemology and truth being relative to experience. Maybe it’s that certain topics are off-limits to those who haven’t had certain experiences. Maybe it only applies to some topics? Maybe it applies to all topics? There are lots of possible epistemic justifications for SDI. Rather than argue for a position, I’ll just say that the epistemic approach to SDI is based on the idea that sufficient engagement with the documented experiences of a vulnerable community is a way of expanding knowledge.
Second, SDI could be seen as a moral imperative in the sense that it is morally wrong to discuss vulnerable communities without sufficiently engaging with their views and experiences. You can see this in the way some critics allege that Tuvel’s article caused harm to certain communities. How? I think the basic idea is that by failing to engage with the first-hand reports of a community, the researcher is dehumanizing the members of the community and silencing/subjugating their indigenous knowledge practices. Think of it like intellectual colonialism; ignoring the testimony of the people you are writing about is a form of erasure. It stands in the way of their right to self-determination. I’m not writing a scholarly article here, so I’ll just refer you to Spivak’s seminal paper “Can the Subaltern Speak?” where she takes Foucault’s concept of ‘epistemic violence’ and applies it to the subjugation of indigenous knowledge. Or, pick up Edward Said’s Orientalism for more on the same. Please leave suggestions in the comments too.
Finally, the SDI could be interpreted as a reparative imperative in the sense that it is aimed at correcting an inequality in the scholarly record (i.e., the under-representation of vulnerable communities). The idea would be that we need to engage with certain communities of scholarship as a means of restitution, of sorts, to make up for a history of exclusion. This also includes the idea of correcting the historic under-representation of vulnerable groups in academic positions. For example, librarianship is something like 87% white. By engaging with the testimony of under-represented communities, members of those communities may be more likely to enter or remain in the profession.
Or, maybe the SDI is all of these things. The important part is that the SDI seems to be a fairly widely-held view and, given that the imperative implies an evaluative criterion to apply when evaluating scholarship, the SDI seems to have some bearing on information literacy. Should we be teaching it then?
Well, it all depends on how we interpret “sufficiently engage.” And I’d like to (try to) unpack that a little. But, first, I should acknowledge that there is a version of standpoint theory that says that no scholar from a privileged group should ever conduct research on issues pertaining to marginalized communities. The idea is that only members of those communities are situated in an appropriate epistemic or moral position. While I understand the argument and the sentiment, this view leads to some (arguably) unfortunate epistemological conclusions as well as the (inarguably) unfortunate conclusion of giving privileged classes a convenient excuse for simply ignoring vulnerable communities. This type of standpoint theory is not terribly common from what I can tell, but it deserves mention. As for myself, as a humanist and a pluralist, I think scholars should be allowed to do research that crosses lines of identity, so long as they do so respectfully and in accordance with maxims like the Source Diversity Imperative (and others, of course). And if a scholar begins researching a topic pertaining to a vulnerable community, then it seems that the scholar needs to be apprised of things like the SDI. Likewise, if someone is reading and evaluating articles pertaining to a vulnerable community, then they too need to be apprised of the SDI. Sounds like something for information literacy librarians, right? Let’s look a little closer…Teaching source diversity
Students are routinely asked to write papers on subjects related to marginalized/vulnerable communities. Just this past semester, I helped students researching and writing about Black Lives Matter, the future of DACA, “bathroom bills”, and more. Basically, lots of students writing about topics that pertained to communities quite different from their own. When dealing with these sorts of papers, I taught the SDI as an epistemic imperative by encouraging students to consider the way privilege can distort perceptions and to actively seek out first-hand reports and perspectives. And, even though I reject the ACRL’s Framework thing, I do agree that we have a commitment to “acknowledge biases that privilege some sources of authority over others, especially in terms of others’ worldviews, gender, sexual orientation, and cultural orientations.” So, yeah, we need to teach/encourage students to seek out diversity in their citation practices, but it isn’t necessarily a simple task. Here are a few considerations:
I’m all about brainstorming, and the interesting considerations keep coming. But I don’t want to get too far afield. Let’s bring it back to the central issue: many people argue that personal identity claims are relevant to information evaluation. As librarians, who teach students how to evaluate information, what are our obligations concerning personal identity? There are obvious cases that show a lack of concern for inclusion, like the all-white panel discussing Black Lives Matter. Those are clearly epistemically and morally problematic. But, the interesting questions for me are (1) under which circumstances and to what extent are we required to acknowledge personal identity claims in scholarly research and (2) how should we introduce this imperative to students? I firmly believe that there are good epistemic, moral, and reparative grounds for paying more attention to the diversity of our sources. This is vitally important. I just want to point out that there are areas of inquiry that librarians have not yet sufficiently investigated (so far as I can tell). I mean, I could be way off base here, but I just feel like if we are going to incorporate social justice into information literacy then we need to admit that it’s far easier said than done. As information professionals, librarians need to understand how personal identity plays out in scholarly communication. If we’re going to be allies and advocates, we need to think about how to encourage source diversity. Finally, because I accept the SDI, note that I am intentionally not offering suggested solutions (how could I?) but I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
As we’ve prepared for our 50th anniversary celebrations, I’ve been thinking about the time of our founding in the late 1960s and what it meant for our cultural ideals of technology and progress. OCLC was born in 1967, between the time of John F. Kennedy’s 1961 speech in which he set the goal of landing a man on the moon, and the fulfillment of that dream in 1969.
I think there are exciting parallels between that dream, its completion and the incredible journey that OCLC libraries have undertaken together over the past five decades.One small step for 54 Ohio libraries
OCLC was a similar dream. Fred Kilgour and his colleagues believed that libraries could be connected in new ways, using new technology, because that would lead to improved access to all that they had to offer.
A small group of representatives from Ohio academic libraries understood that the big, clunky mainframe computers of the day were the key to making this dream a reality. They took a small step on 6 July 1967 and OCLC was created. And by 1971, 54 Ohio academic libraries had begun to do something never before attempted: cooperative, computerized, networked cataloging of library resources.
That must have felt like a “small step” back then. We know, now, that it led to so much more. Those initial Ohio librarians could never have imagined that 50 years later, OCLC would include more than 16,000 members in 120 countries, serving libraries of every type, processing over 40 million search requests every day.What is cataloged must be shared
That one idea has saved libraries an enormous amount of time. Each record curated and hosted by OCLC is discoverable globally. And librarians save about 10 minutes every time they copy catalog a record rather than create a new one. By May 2017, WorldCat exceeded 395 million records and 2.5 billion holdings. Conservatively, that works out to more than 350 million hours saved over the past 50 years. But saving time by using big, centralized computers was only the beginning.
Cooperative cataloging is, in many ways, the foundation of everything that came next for OCLC and for libraries working together around the globe. When holdings information was added to records, it enabled sharing of materials as well as metadata. You can trace the development of OCLC systems and services as they moved in parallel to innovations in technology:
At every stage, we can see OCLC and libraries acting together to help make technology work harder for their communities.Applauding libraries’ role in an era of constant change
I think it’s also important to acknowledge and celebrate how challenging and rewarding this time has been for those who work in libraries. For many people, the library is the first place they go to use new technology and get access to information. To meet this need, librarians have had to be out ahead of each new innovation. That’s another way in which cooperation has benefited our members—the chance to share these challenges, do cutting-edge research and create solutions together.
Libraries never stop thinking about taking the next moon shot to improve lives.
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For five decades, OCLC has created technology and systems to facilitate worldwide discovery and sharing. Because of your hard work, the people you serve have experienced breakthroughs in every area of their lives. Together, we’ve had a 50-year track record of success. And while we will continue to adapt and evolve, we have proven we’ve got what it takes to tackle anything the future brings.
Or to quote one of my favorite astronauts, “To infinity—and beyond!”
Whether you’ve been involved with OCLC for more than 30 years or fewer than 30 days, you can rightfully claim a contribution to OCLC’s ongoing success.
Thank you, and happy 50th anniversary!
The post OCLC at 50 years: a “moonshot” for the world’s libraries appeared first on OCLC Next.
It might be getting more difficult to care about online privacy, especially now, when it may seem as if everyone is putting everything online. At times, it can sometimes feel as if there’s no point to getting worked up about it: after all, what do we have to hide, right? Yet, mechanical engineer Fábio Esteves makes a compelling case for caring about one’s privacy online, even if no shady activity might be taking place. Even innocuous information, exposed, can cause a great number of problems down the line. If your library is teaching tech classes to patrons, some of the information here today may be of great value to them…and to you.
From the Ohio Web Library:
We’re being inundated with data. That’s what we’re told, right? We hear all the time how many exabytes of new data are being created every day. There’s just one problem: maybe none of it is the data we actually need.
I recently had the opportunity, along with several of my OCLC colleagues, to attend the Electronic Resources and Libraries (ER&L) Conference. I’ve been going to this great conference for the last two years, and each year it offers a really valuable look into how libraries manage e-resources. This year, several topics across multiple presentations led me to the conclusion that actionable data is actually pretty hard to find and even harder to wrangle successfully.You will never “have it all”
An important element of any successful data analysis strategy is to first realize that you’ll never have all of the data you need. At some point, you have to take what you’ve got, come to some conclusions and move on. But we should also be looking for ways to start by collecting data that is more actionable from the get-go.
As I thought through the ER&L presentations and listened to librarians talk about their “wish lists” for data, I found that three themes seemed to resonate around this idea of “good data” as opposed to “more data.”
If you’re not planning on making changes based on the data you’re collecting and analyzing, just stop. I heard from folks who’d been collecting all kinds of statistics that, at the end of the day, weren’t useful in terms of supporting actual strategy or tactics.
What changes are you willing to make based on how you analyze data?
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The exact opposite of that is the demand-driven acquisition (DDA) and evidence-based acquisition (EBA) models, which we heard quite a lot about at ER&L. In these programs, libraries partner with publishers to make e-resources available for purchase or access after crossing some usage threshold. It’s a great example of using just-in-time data to make specific collection development decisions.2. Be an anthropologist, not a number cruncher
In the absence of readily available (or useful) data, it seems that more libraries are investing in user surveys and usability tests, especially involving students. Librarians from CUNY spoke about watching their student testers locate an electronic article on a specific topic. The staff watched where the students navigated online, what they typed into search boxes and how they sorted results.
Some libraries, like Montana State University, are working to optimize their e-resources for search engines and social media. Their Open SESMO project incorporates linked data terms and social media-friendly images into e-resource records to help online information seekers find their resources. The “data” in this case is based on observations of students in order for the library to “be in the right place at the right time.”
Smart, simple glimpses into the “life of the user” can inform your strategy as much as pages of gate stats.3. All together now
Most librarians I talked to are trying to manage whatever data they can collect in Excel, which has limitations. Library staff who want to engage in data-driven collection development are still sometimes forced to make guesses about what their users want or compare “apples and oranges” when data comes in different formats from different sources.
This is where a conference like ER&L really helps. When we can get together and agree on formats and standards that work well, we can develop better, shared tools for analysis and implementation. For example, when vendors and publishers use COUNTER-compliant statistics, libraries can compare data from across multiple sources much more easily. Some folks I spoke with were a bit frustrated that they weren’t able to get COUNTER reports for streaming video services.
Using data standards also allows us to do wider-ranging, even global analysis and research. It’s handy for any one library to have access to standardized reports. But when thousands of libraries get together?Data is a means, not the end
Collectively—when we are thoughtful about how and why we collect and share data—libraries can make an impact not just on their own institutions, but across the entire information landscape. The trick is to always think of data in terms of what it can do for us, not just what we need to do to get more.
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