Once more into the net neutrality breach.
Last month, 40 library software developers from the United States, Canada, South Africa and the Netherlands came to Dublin, Ohio, to participate in a two-day conference focused on OCLC’s machine services. Designed to be used by computers, machine services are also called “application program interfaces” or APIs. They enable library developers to write software that can use these services while retaining control over the user interface.
Over the two days of this inaugural DEVCONNECT meeting, developers heard from both OCLC staff and staff from member libraries about our APIs and how to use them to create effective services. Karen Coombs also taught a half-day workshop on tips for developers using APIs.
Jennifer Vinopal, Associate Director for Information Technology for University Libraries at Ohio State University, was the keynote speaker, and you can view her presentation in the video below.Let’s rethink the mental modes that prevent change
In her wide-ranging talk, she began by looking back at the early 1990s when the web was new and how librarians were “freaking out” about the impact that web technology would have on the library profession. She compared and contrasted the feminized library profession, where the work has been denigrated in popular culture by using words like “musty,” “dusty” and “shushing,” with the masculinized IT profession, which is a highly valued profession and activity. She concluded with thoughts about how IT is often considered separate from the rest of the library and organization, and offered some specific strategies for IT staff to help change that dynamic.
Her point was that we need to explore the possibilities of rethinking IT and library initiatives to advance a more holistic, systemic way of understanding, envisioning and accomplishing our work together.
How can we better integrate IT and library initiatives to advance our work together?
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This theme resonates as well with a recently released Ithaka S+R Issue Brief: Finding a Way from the Margins to the Middle: Library Information Technology, Leadership, and Culture, by Dale Askey and Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, which also asserts that IT has been separated within the institution. They frame their suggested solutions within the three areas of leadership, structure and culture.
An ACRL TechConnect blog post by Lauren Magnuson, “Decentralizing Library IT,” also discusses issues pertinent to this discussion.
If these issues resonate with you, I highly recommend that you review these resources and discuss the themes and potential solutions they raise within your own institution.
The post Treat IT projects as library projects, and vice versa appeared first on OCLC Next.
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:
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