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Bringing CRUD Operations to Linked Data

Ke, 03/25/2015 - 05:21

Those who have labored in the database orchard know about CRUD. It isn’t the stuff you scraped off your shoe, but a set of operations that must be supported for typical database maintenance:

  • C = Create a record.
  • R = Read a record.
  • U = Update a record.
  • D = Delete a record.

Then Linked Data came along, which is not typically stored in a standard database, but in a strange beast called a triplestore. To support the need to keep linked data up-to-date, and often through a web-based interface, the W3C is working on a standard for a Linked Data Platform that supports these types of operations via standard HTTP requests such as “GET”, “POST”, “PUT”, “DELETE”, and a new one, “PATCH”.

Your best bet on getting up to speed is to take a look at the W3C’s Linked Data Platform 1.0 Primer. The latest version is hot off the press.

UMass Amherst Opens First Large-Scale MakerBot Innovation Center at a University Library

Ti, 03/24/2015 - 18:27

From UMass Amherst:

Libraries throughout the U.S. are implementing new technologies to adapt to the changing habits of the digital age by adding additional services such as wireless Internet (97.5 percent), e-readers (25.4 percent) and tablets (16.5 percent). But technology is also driving a different trend that is redefining the very role that libraries play. By offering access to 3D printing, libraries nationwide are turning into labs of experimentation and innovation for aspiring entrepreneurs and help advance creativity for everyone. To date, MakerBot 3D Printers and Scanners are in an estimated 500 libraries across the U.S.

UMass Amherst is embracing this concept in a big and unprecedented way by teaming up with MakerBot to deploy the first large-scale 3D printing MakerBot Innovation Center in New England and the first ever at a university library. The MakerBot Innovation Center at UMass Amherst is located in the Digital Media Lab at the iconic Du Bois Library, which is focused on facilitating project-based learning and innovation on campus and providing this access to the surrounding community. MakerBot is excited to join UMass Amherst for the grand opening of the MakerBot Innovation Center at 10:00 a.m., Thursday, March 26, 2015. Students, parents, press, business partners and community members are invited to join the opening ceremony with speeches from University staff and representatives from MakerBot.

A MakerBot Innovation Center is a large-scale installation (more than 30) of MakerBot Replicator

3D Printers and supporting devices that empower organizations and educational institutions to innovate faster, increase collaboration and compete more effectively. At UMass Amherst, the MakerBot Innovation Center brings 3D printing technology to faculty, researchers and thousands of students —from business majors for entrepreneurial pursuits, to architects for creating models, to engineering and science students for developing concepts and tools.

Jay Schafer, director of libraries at UMass Amherst, said: “The MakerBot Innovation Center ties in firmly with the campus’s personality of being entrepreneurial and community engaged and will allow us to work more closely with the local business community. Having a large-scale installation of MakerBot 3D Printers makes this resource more broadly available on campus and puts UMass Amherst at the forefront of technological innovation. The MakerBot Innovation Center will help bridge the gap between the digital and the physical realm, so students can turn designs into 3D physical objects and prototypes.” Schafer also noted that the MakerBot Innovation Center is designed to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration. A group of faculty from environmental conservation, building and construction technology, biology, public health, public policy and engineering already has plans to offer a makerspace class that will use the MakerBot Innovation Center as a resource for projects centered on remote sensing, environmental monitoring and building control systems.

“We’re thrilled to be a part of UMass Amherst’s unique Digital Media Lab that emphasizes technology and project-based learning,” said Mark Schulze, UMass graduate and MakerBot general manager of the Americas and Emerging Markets. “UMass Amherst realizes that the jobs of tomorrow will require strong technology and collaboration skills. To prepare students for these jobs, the MakerBot Innovation Center will help to cultivate entrepreneurialism, education and innovation in Massachusetts and far beyond.”

The MakerBot Innovation Center at UMass Amherst is a custom, centralized and scalable 3D printing solution that has been developed to meet the specific needs of the university. With the MakerBot Innovation Center, students, faculty and the community are provided with opportunities to collaborate on Real-Time Prototyping projects, 3D model making and small-scale creative and manufacturing projects. UMass Amherst will also be able to forge public-private partnerships with industry leaders to create a vibrant innovation hub that serves both students and the local business community in unprecedented ways. Concrete plans to realize this vision at UMass Amherst include an entrepreneur-in-residence program, mini-courses and workshops geared toward practicing professionals, elevator pitch and business plan competitions, incubator spaces and coaching support for new-venture start-ups and support for small business development.

The MakerBot Innovation Center at UMass Amherst has been built in conjunction with consulting from MakerBot; training for university staff is being provided by the MakerBot Learning staff of highly trained 3D printing experts. The UMass Amherst MakerBot Innovation Center includes 50 MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers (35 MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printers, five MakerBot Replicator Z18 3D Printers, five MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental Desktop 3D Printers and five MakerBot Replicator Mini Compact 3D Printers), a large supply of MakerBot PLA Filament, several MakerBot Digitizer™ Desktop 3D Scanners and MakerBot MakerCare protection plans. At the core of the MakerBot Innovation Center is the MakerBot Innovation Center Management Platform, a proprietary and innovative 3D printing software platform that links all of the MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers together, provides remote access, print queuing and mass production of 3D prints, and is designed to streamline productivity and staffing of the center. The scalable design of the MakerBot Innovation Center allows UMass Amherst the option to easily add additional MakerBot 3D printing technology in the future.

MakerBot is a leader in the desktop 3D printing industry and was founded in 2009 as one of the first companies to make 3D printing accessible and affordable. MakerBot now has one of the largest installed bases and market shares of the desktop 3D printing industry, with more than 80,000 MakerBot 3D printers in the world and a robust MakerBot 3D Ecosystem that combines hardware, software, apps like MakerBot PrintShop™ and MakerBot Mobile, materials, training, support, consulting,retail stores, partnerships and Thingiverse, the world’s largest 3D printing community, in order to make 3D printing easy and accessible for everyone.

USDA Announces Funding For Improving Broadband in Rural Areas & President Obama Signs Memorandum to Expand Broadband Deployment

Ma, 03/23/2015 - 22:23

From the US Dept. of Agriculture:

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA has funded three rural telecommunications infrastructure projects that will improve broadband service in portions of rural Arkansas, Iowa and New Mexico. This announcement coincides with the news that the President Obama signed a new Presidential Memorandum to create the Broadband Opportunity Council, co-chaired by Secretary Vilsack and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.

“These telecommunications providers will deliver enhanced broadband services to help attract and grow businesses, as well as to improve educational and health care services,” Vilsack said. “Time and again, studies show that affordable broadband offers increased economic opportunities in rural areas, which is why Rural Development is committed to delivering high-speed internet service to these communities.”

Read the Complete USDA Announce to Learn About Each Project

New Today From The White House

Fact Sheet: Next Steps in Delivering Fast, Affordable Broadband

From the Fact Sheet:

Today the President signed a new Presidential Memorandum making good on his promise in Cedar Falls to stand up a new Council singularly focused on increasing broadband investment and adoption.

The Council, co-chaired by the Secretaries of Commerce and Agriculture, includes over twenty-five different government agencies and components, all united around clear policy objectives to: Engage with industry and other stakeholders to understand ways the government can better support the needs of communities seeking broadband investment; Identify regulatory barriers unduly impeding broadband deployment or competition; Survey and report back on existing programs that currently support or could be modified to support broadband competition, deployment or adoption; and Take all necessary actions to remove these barriers and re-align existing programs to increase broadband competition, deployment, and adoption. The Council will report back to the President, within 150 days, with the steps each agency will take to advance these goals, including specific regulatory actions or budget proposals. These steps will build on and expand several actions agencies have already taken during this Administration, such as developing a common application form for wireless broadband providers to lease space for their rooftop antennas, sharing of best practices for “dig once” policies by state and municipal governments nationwide, and offering new online tools for finding and leasing federal assets available for broadband networks.

Direct to Full Text: Presidential Memorandum — Expanding Broadband Deployment and Adoption by Addressing Regulatory Barriers and Encouraging Investment and Training

Kobo Parent Acquires OverDrive

Pe, 03/20/2015 - 16:37

Leading library ebook distributor OverDrive was sold to Rakuten on March 19 for $410 million cash, more than 16 times OverDrive’s annual earnings of $25 million. The purchase from private equity firm Insight Venture Partners, OverDrive’s majority owner since 2010, is scheduled to close in April. OverDrive will become a subsidiary of Rakuten USA, the U.S. arm of Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten (valued at $22.8 billion as of March 17). CEO Steve Potash will continue to lead OverDrive, and its headquarters will remain in Cleveland, OH.

Rakuten’s other businesses include, among many others, the Kobo e-reading device and service, which it acquired in 2011. With the addition of OverDrive, Rakuten expects the EBITDA of its global ebook business to be close to breakeven in 2015. In addition to Kobo and now OverDrive, Rakuten’s other digital content businesses include a Japanese ebook store, a video streaming service, and a global TV and video site powered by volunteer translators.

Jerry L. Johnson, managing director of RLJ Equity Partners, attributed the high acquisition price to three factors. The first, he said, is that “it is a cross-border transaction, and generally speaking the U.S. is considered a very stable place” to do business. The second is that “it speaks to the stability of the library market in general,” and the third is “the revenue synergies” that Rakuten has with OverDrive, given that the company can both use OverDrive’s platform as a distribution channel for other content it already owns, and use OverDrive’s extensive library customer base to cross-sell its other products.

According to the OverDrive announcement, OverDrive and Kobo “will work together to enhance their abilities to deliver world-class digital content and reading technology services.” A letter from Potash added that OverDrive is preparing to do so by adding ebooks “from [Kobo’s] vast supply network of international publishers and content providers,” and to open OverDrive Canada offices in Toronto, where Kobo is headquartered.

Takahito Aiki, head of Rakuten’s global ebook business, said in a statement, “OverDrive is a widely-respected pioneer in digital content and the sharing economy. Long before even Kobo emerged onto the global stage, OverDrive had already seen the future and was working with publishers to digitize their content to share with the world, building one of the most comprehensive online digital marketplaces in the process. OverDrive’s deep content library and relationships with publishers, libraries, schools, and retailers will allow Rakuten to extend our mission of empowerment to new market segments and accelerate the growth of our digital contents businesses.”

While no explicit mention was made of OverDrive’s exclusive deal with Amazon to distribute Kobo competitor Kindle’s ebooks to libraries, Potash wrote, “This change in ownership will not affect our commitment to connect your readers with books and libraries by supporting all popular devices and apps.” At press time, Amazon had not yet responded to LJ’s request for comment.

Micah May, director of business development at New York Public Library and a member of ReadersFirst, a coalition of librarians working with e-content distributors, felt that this development has the potential to open the field. “OverDrive has had a real comparative advantage in being the only distributor able to offer Kindle-format books, and that has, I think, kept many libraries with OverDrive. We’re very curious to see if this will continue, given the degree to which Rakuten seems to be a direct competitor to Amazon. If there is a change and there was not a difference in terms of ability to serve Kindle users it could potentially allow new entrants in the library distribution market to get a footing faster.”

Given Rakuten’s presence as an online retailer, he added, he imagined that ebook offerings facing library patrons would likely face pressure “to be more commercially viable, meaning they will likely want to see synergies between their direct consumer ebook sales and library discovery,” potentially increasing the focus on “selling ebooks to library patrons who may really be seeking to borrow them.”

Perhaps in a reference to ReadersFirst, Potash also assured his library customers that “we remain committed to continued advancement of open industry standards, deep library integration, and other industry best practices. We will remain strongly aligned with your mission to uphold reader privacy, library branding and control of lending policies, and local curation of your digital collections. OverDrive will continue to be a strong advocate for library and school access to the best collections of digital materials with library-friendly terms and new and more flexible access models from publishers,” and, he said, “we are in close communication with ALA leadership and the technology and information policy and advocacy units.”

Carolyn Anthony, director of the Skokie Public Library, IL, and co-chair of the American Library Association (ALA) Digital Content Working Group, viewed the company’s global focus as a positive development, noting that OverDrive already has a strong international presence, distributing content in Europe as well as the United States and Canada. “E-content is poised for a growth spurt,” she told LJ, “and the involvement of a major international corporation such as Rakuten may just fuel that expansion.” She added that “the Rakuten purchase of OverDrive could advance movement toward international standards for the lease/sale of e-content and handling of patron privacy in regard to check-out of titles…. Some of the publishers are international concerns as well (e.g. Bertelsmann) so this acquisition is one more sign that the world is a smaller place and we are all truly interconnected.”

Official Statement and CEO Letter: OverDrive Sold to Rakuten For $410 Million in Cash

To, 03/19/2015 - 14:35

OverDrive was sold to Rakuten, a Japanese company today for $410 million. It’s a cash deal and is scheduled to close next month (April 2015). Overdrive will be part of Rakuten USA. Rakuten is an e-commerce company headquartered in Japan. Here’s a list of Rakuten’s major businesses.

The Rakuten announcement notes that OverDrive achieved EBITDA of US$25 million in FY2014.

Synergy

Rakuten acquired ebook reader company Kobo in November 2011. Rakuten.com also acquired Buy.com a number of years ago and is noted below owns a number of other digital content services.

Today’s News

Here are highlights from the OverDrive’s official announcement along with the full text of a letter to library partners by OverDrive CEO, Steve Potash, and an OverDrive/Rakuten acquisition FAQ. We’ve also included material from Rakuten’s statement.

From the OverDrive News Release:

OverDrive, Inc. today announced it entered into an agreement to be acquired by Rakuten Inc., one of the world’s largest Internet services companies.  Insight Venture Partners has been the majority shareholder of OverDrive since 2010.

OverDrive will operate as a subsidiary of Rakuten USA and will work closely with other Rakuten companies.

Rakuten USA, headquartered in Boston, is the United States operating division of Rakuten.  Rakuten companies provide a variety of consumer and business-focused services including eReading (Kobo), e-commerce (Rakuten.com, formerly buy.com, and Ebates), instant messaging (Viber), and others in the US, Canada and around the world.  Since 2012, Rakuten (http://global.rakuten.com) has been ranked among the world’s “Top 20 Most Innovative Companies” in Forbes magazine’s annual list.

As part of the Rakuten family, OverDrive will take advantage of the global reach, scale and technologies throughout Rakuten’s portfolio.  Once the transaction closes, OverDrive will operate as a subsidiary of Rakuten USA, and continue to be led by CEO Steve Potash, with its headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio.  Kobo, headquartered in Toronto, Canada, and OverDrive will work together to enhance their abilities to deliver world-class digital content and reading technology services.

From the Rakuten Announcement:

“OverDrive is a widely-respected pioneer in digital content and the sharing economy. Long before even Kobo emerged onto the global stage, OverDrive had already seen the future and was working with publishers to digitize their content to share with the world, building one of the most comprehensive online digital marketplaces in the process,” commented Takahito Aiki, Head of Rakuten’s global eBook business. “OverDrive’s deep content library and relationships with publishers, libraries, schools, and retailers will allow Rakuten to extend our mission of empowerment to new market segments and accelerate the growth of our digital contents businesses.”

As Rakuten expands its global internet services ecosystem, digital content represents one of Rakuten’s three key strategic pillars, alongside e-commerce and finance. Since first acquiring eReading company Kobo in 2012, Rakuten has continued to grow its digital contents businesses, adding video streaming service Wuaki.tv in 2012 and global TV and video site Viki in 2013. The acquisition of OverDrive adds a digital distribution platform, more than 2.5 million titles, and relationships with 5,000 publishers and 30,000 libraries that will strengthen Rakuten’s eBook and digital contents businesses globally. OverDrive achieved EBITDA of US$25 million in FY2014. With the addition of OverDrive, Rakuten expects the EBITDA of its global eBook business will be close to breakeven in 2015.

Full Text of Letter by Steve Potash, OverDrive CEO

OverDrive announced today that Rakuten, Inc. has agreed to acquire OverDrive from Insight Venture Partners, our private equity partner and majority owner since 2010.   In a few weeks after the sale is complete, we will be part Rakuten USA, the US operating division of Rakuten, Inc.  As you are an important partner of OverDrive, I am excited to share this news and describe what this will mean for you and your readers.  Our announcement and FAQs can be found here.

OverDrive has grown significantly in the past decade due to our drive to constantly improve our service and deliver proven value for our library partners.  Over the past four years we drew upon resources from Insight Venture Partners and its global portfolio of 90 technology-based companies.  I am very excited about the new technologies, content, and innovations we expect to bring to our library partners and your readers as a result of this transaction. Rakuten is one of the world’s leading Internet services companies.  Its business interests include eReading (Kobo), e-commerce (Rakuten.com, formerly buy.com and EBATES), instant messaging (Viber), and other B2C and B2B businesses in the US, Canada, and around the world.  Since 2012, Rakuten has been ranked among the world’s ‘Top 20 Most Innovative Companies’ in Forbes magazine’s annual list.

This change in ownership will not affect our commitment to connect your readers with books and libraries by supporting all popular devices and apps.  We remain committed to continue advancement of open industry standards, deep library integration, and other industry best practices.  We will remain strongly aligned with your mission to uphold reader privacy, library branding and control of lending policies, and local curation of your digital collections.  OverDrive will continue to be a strong advocate for library and school access to the best collections of digital materials with library-friendly terms and new and more flexible access models from publishers.

I will be meeting with library and school directors, management, and staff over the coming weeks and months to further outline our roadmap for 2015 and beyond.  As proud members of ALA, we are in close communication with ALA leadership and the technology and information policy and advocacy units.  While competitors or others may speculate what this news may bring, we will continue as before to work hard and provide the best selection, service, device compatibility, with measurable benefits for your communities.

We are preparing to work closely with Kobo (headquartered in Toronto) to add eBooks from their vast supply network of international publishers and content providers.  To better serve our Canadian library and school partners, I am also pleased to announce we are preparing to open OverDrive Canada offices in Toronto in the coming months.

I am very proud of the relationships we have developed with many of you, the world’s greatest librarians, educators, and public servants.  I look forward to making 2015 another record year of enabling service to your communities with increased efficiencies and respect for your resources.  My team and I welcome a chance to answer any questions you may have.  If we don’t connect before the summer, please plan to schedule a meeting with me and Team OverDrive at the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco, or consider joining us and hundreds of librarians, educators and publishers this summer in Cleveland for Digipalooza 2015 .  Thank you for your partnership and for the trust you have placed in us.

Best regards,
Steve Potash, CEO
OverDrive, Inc.

From the FAQ

OverDrive will retain its brand name. Steve Potash will remain CEO of OverDrive. OverDrive will operate as part of Rakuten’s global network and work closely with other Rakuten companies toward similar goals, including Kobo to expand their retail eBook business. OverDrive will continue its focus on the core business of serving libraries and schools and providing trusted outlets for our publishers and content suppliers, here in the US and worldwide.

Thanks to Matt R. Weaver for his help with this post.

Coming Soon: Bibliocommons Will Expand Use of SSL To Include Entire Search Process

Ke, 03/18/2015 - 18:12

In a Bibliocommons newsletter story today the Toronto-based company announced they will soon encrypt the entire search process. Kudos Biblicommons!

Here’s the full text of what was announced today:

Coming soon to BiblioCore is SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) across all pages of the service. Previously SSL was employed on pages containing sensitive information, such as the log in and account settings pages. After this change all pages will be secured by SSL, which provides an additional level of privacy and security for your patrons.

SSL is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and unmodified. SSL is an industry standard and is used by millions of websites in the protection of their online transactions with their customers.

We’ve also asked Bibliocommons about if they plan to make any changes about sending data to third-parties. After checking several Bibliocommons installations data is being sent to Google Analytics and another analytics provided named Crazy Egg. Moreover, the script that shares the data with Crazy Egg is sent via an unencrypted (http) url/connection.

EBSCO Announces Plans to Develop Fully Open APIs for YBP’s GOBI Services and Subscription Service Division’s Journal Services

Ke, 03/18/2015 - 17:29

Heres a Statement Shared This AM From EBSCO HQ in Ipswich, MA:

On the heels of the recent acquisition of YBP, EBSCO has made the official company decision to develop fully open APIs for both YBP’s GOBI services and its subscription service division’s journal services that can be readily consumed by ILS and other technology services providers.

According to Stratton Lloyd, EBSCO’s Executive Vice President of Product Management, this approach is about supporting library decisions, and providing the technical flexibility to allow customers to decide how and which services to use.

“We don’t think libraries should be forced into a closed environment that depends upon the use of a single vendor’s tools,” he said. “We want to support our library customer’s desire to integrate ‘best of breed’ workflows seamlessly across their entire process. Therefore, we’ve developed partnerships with nearly every publisher, content provider and ILS vendor as well as other library services companies. We want to enable an environment where libraries can choose the best of each component within their services’ infrastructure, and know that they will work well with other components.”

He continued, “These are exciting times. Closed services should be a thing of the past, and APIs provide an avenue for collaboration and partnership. These APIs will be made available to all vendors and libraries. We are putting the staffing resources on these projects and will provide updates as we progress with development.”

Lights and Camera In Action at Tampa Bay Libraries

Ma, 03/16/2015 - 16:54

Libraries in Central Florida are getting ready for their closeup. The Tampa Bay Library Consortium (TBLC), which represents 113 public, academic, school, and special libraries in the Sunshine State, has brought on a full-time videographer to serve each branch, and the consortium as well. Now special events, chats with authors, and even monthly newsletters from TBLC members are getting professional video treatment.

According to Jessica Riggins, the seeds for the program were planted in early 2014. One of TBLC’s member libraries rewrote the job description for a library assistant position into a job with more of a video production bent, hoping to start filming library events and share them more effectively with the public. It was an idea that resonated with TBLC staffers. There was just one problem, and it was a familiar one—money.

“We knew that not many of our libraries could afford to have a position dedicated to this and thought that a ‘shared’ person could benefit many libraries in our region,” said Jessica Riggins, membership coordinator at TBLC.

The program kicked off with the hiring of video content producer Scott Patterson in October of last year, and TBLC member libraries have found plenty of work for him. If repeat customers are any indicator of success, the program is flourishing.

“We average about six videos per month and have filmed things with more than 12 of our member libraries,” TBLC assistant director Beth Farmer told Library Journal. “We have gotten a lot of positive feedback from members, and have often been called back by the same library to film additional videos after [its] first experience with us.”

Those projects have run the gamut of library content, from TED Talk-style lectures on the future of libraries to short videos highlighting the library-sponsored Manatee County Comics Convention. Ericka Dow, a librarian at Manatee County Library’s Central Branch, who helped organize and manage that event, Mana-Con, was delighted with the footage Patterson captured at the event, which featured plenty of costumed attendees and a robot-themed lounge space.

“Scott created a fantastic video with high quality production value and now we’ll be able to use it to promote Mana-Con 2015 coming up in October,” said Dow.

It’s not just visually interesting events like a comic convention that can benefit from video treatment, though, says Patterson. Short video pieces can breathe life into drier subject matter as well, and it’s something patrons are already looking for.

“Video reaches places that other typical media cannot. Close to a third of online activity consists of watching videos,” Patterson told LJ. “Video can take a seemingly boring topic and make it more appealing.”

That may be why TBLC has employed Patterson’s services to spice up their once traditional newsletter. “We have also begun doing video news segments in place of email newsletter updates to member libraries,” Farmer said. “These have been very popular and people are happy to see smiling faces instead of just reading text from their inbox.”

Once Scott receives the request, he works with the library to ensure the shoot runs smoothly. Scott shoots the event or promotional video, edits the work, and sends the preliminary video to the library to review before final production.

To get a video produced, member libraries submit a request through the TBLC website, giving Patterson a rundown of what they want recorded, for what purpose, the intended audience, and when and where the program will take place. Then, said Riggins, “Scott shoots the event or promotional video, edits the work and sends the preliminary video to the library to review before final production.”

The requesting library has the last word on what the “final cut” of its video looks like, and owns the result, though most vidoes end up also being posted to the TBLC YouTube channel.

For Farmer, the videography program is just the next evolution of the traditional consortium mission to improve and enhance the way member libraries operate by pooling resources.

“TBLC has always provided centralized services to help maximize resources by sharing,” she said. “We see the video program as the next wave of library service—reaching the user visually, where they are.”

That outreach is especially important in the digital age, where libraries have to keep up with modern media or risk appearing to be behind the times. According to Riggins, that presence isn’t just nice to have—it’s essential to meeting the expectations of patrons.

“Providing video programming content and video promotional materials gives our libraries the opportunity to stay current with their users’ expectations,” she told LJ.

The Maker Space Difference: Amazing Inquiry, Shared Learning | Tech Tidbits

Ma, 03/16/2015 - 04:17

Students work with the new 3-D printer.

“Is it true? Do we have a 3-D printer?”

When I put our new 3-D printer in the window of the school library, not only were my own maker space students interested, but the rest of the school seemed to take note. Some of you have been curious about how this new maker space project is coming along, so here’s an update.

The library unofficially opened our maker space in January after receiving all kinds of goodies from a DonorsChoose fundraiser and other grants. I invited several students to an unpacking party to un-box all the supplies and start setting up our space.

The purchases tumbled out of boxes and students explored each item. First out of the box was our 3-D printer, the Makerbot Replicator 2. The printer came together fairly easily and the students and I printed our first project that same day. Part of what made the printer such an attractive purchase was the companion site, Thingiverse.com, where the kids can view tons of projects and even create their own. They even made a “Mr. Goerner” name plate for my desk.

Thingiverse nameplate

The students and I decided to meet after school every Wednesday to learn all we could together. The number of interested students varies every week, but we always have a core group who try a new gadget every session. So far, we have probed and tested our mini-robot Cubelets and created great electrical circuits using the Snap Circuits kits. Several of our members created a complex light and sound board and another student said, “That is really cool, but I really don’t know why it works.” Members took the time to chat with her and explain how to build a simple circuit. That same student added a switch and a flying saucer and she was thrilled to make this slo-mo video.

The students have programmed and raced the two Sphero Robotic Balls, even trying them under water! The library received a bit more money and was able to add a Little Bits electronic kit that allows makers to create a circuit using magnets, as well as some Makey Makey kits that we used to experiment with bananas, turning them into bongos. The kids are planning to use Makey Makey to turn the stairs outside our library into a piano too.

Collectively, our goal was to learn as much as we could so that students and staff would be ready to explain how each thing worked at our Makerspace Open House during our parent-teacher conferences in February. Students were proud to show off tools that they had learned about and acquired skills on while also sharing their excitement with other students and staff. The users of our Makerspace are starting to build relationships with teachers and classrooms and have a few ideas for projects that will soon weave themselves into the life of the school.

Moss Zombonitron kit

Our students have continued to meet every week to make projects like the virtual Google Cardboard project and the Zombonitron 1600, which we assembled from a Moss robot kit. Since we are too excited to keep quiet about this, we have learned about some neighboring schools that are creating their own maker spaces. It’s all about sharing, so we’re setting up an exchange process where we can loan our tools and borrow from other maker spaces.

I’m so proud that our library can serve as such a great resource and learning center. I am struck by the amazing ways that inquiry drives all of our experiences in our new maker spaces. I love the way the time flies by as the students ask, “What if we…?” or “How could we…?”, stretching our thinking and imagining possibilities. I have no doubt that some time very soon our students’ brilliant questions will lead to incredible innovations, fueling collaborative relationships with very smart people, resulting in incredible learning and proud achievement.

Phil Goerner is a teacher librarian at Silver Creek High School, Longmont, CO.

“Google It” Better With Google Search Education

Ti, 03/10/2015 - 16:47

As librarians, one of our key missions is to equip students with the skills necessary to locate and synthesize the information. We want to teach our students to access high-quality resources and use databases to conduct research.

What do our students want to do? Just Google it, of course.

I find many of my students lack the ability to conduct simple searches on Google to find the answers they are seeking. I’ve watched my middle schoolers repeatedly type in the question (verbatim, including the question mark), expecting to find everything they could possibly need to know to answer their question in the top three or four results. More than anything, I want to teach my students research skills they will actually apply and use regularly. Thankfully, Google Search Education has a wealth of resources to help students develop the skills to conduct more effective searches.

Google Search Education has as collection of Search Literacy Lesson Plans on topics including picking the right search terms, narrowing a search to get the best results, and evaluating the credibility of sources. Each topic has available lesson plans for the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. Detailed lesson plans, presentation slides, and other links and resources are included for each of these lessons. All of these lessons are licensed under Creative Commons allowing for sharing and adaptation with proper attribution.

An exercise that I have adapted from this collection, and taught a number of times over the last several years, is the beginner-level lesson on picking the right search terms.

Start by imagining that you are making a quiz on the “Percy Jackson” series by Rick Riordan (Disney/Hyperion). One of the questions for your quiz is, “What food does Tyson like best?” Show students the results for that search, which has lots of hits about Tyson chicken but nothing about Percy Jackson. Explain to students that in order to become better searchers, it’s helpful to understand how a search works. The video “How Search Works” by Matt Cutts gives a great overview. After watching this short video, discuss how conducting a search is different from talking to a person. Instead of using a complete question, we need to identify key terms for our search. Work through the original question, getting rid of unnecessary words and adding essential terms. Show students the difference in results when using the search terms: Tyson favorite food Percy Jackson. Have students work in small groups to work through developing search terms for several other search questions. Challenge students to take what they learned in this lesson and share it with their parents. Re-teaching a concept is a great way to make learning stick, and it’s a bonus to encourage students to share newly acquired knowledge with their parents.

Tiffany Whitehead

The Google a Day Challenges are another great resource available through Google Search Education. These questions require students to conduct a series of searches or use a variety of Google tools to arrive at the answer. These questions would be great to use as warm up activities at the start of class or as an early finisher assignment.

I opted to print these questions on cards and have students work in small groups to search for the answers. Groups worked together to answer as many of the Google a Day Challenge questions as possible in a 20 minute period.

This activity was a big hit, and students wanted to complete more of the challenge questions on their own time, just for fun. One problem we ran into is that a number of educators have blogged about these challenges and included the questions and answers in their postings. Which means if students typed in the question, they would actually be linked directly to the answers. After discovering this, I made a few questions of my own. You could easily use these ideas to create a number of questions requiring students to conduct several searches and use different tools, like Google Translate or Google’s Currency Converter, to arrive at their answer.

• Quelle est la population de la plus grande ville de France?

Create a question such as this one that requires students to use Google Translate.  Translation will show this question is asking, “What is the population of the largest city in France?” Then, students will have to search to find the name of the city and its population.

• After a trip around the world, you return home with 52 British Pound Sterling, 5300 Serbian Dinar, and 120 Euro. How much would this convert to in U.S. Dollars?

Make a question that requires students to use Google Currency Converter to convert all currency to U.S. Dollars, then add for the total.

• A famous athlete said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” What team did they play for in 1990?

Come up with a question that requires students to to find the name of a famous person from a quote or accomplishment, then search for another piece of information about that person.

• In the city that is at the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers is one of the world’s largest churches. What type of church is it?

Use reverse design to come up with questions. I recently traveled to Belgrade, Serbia and visited the Temple of Saint Sava, one of the ten largest church buildings in the world. Use what you know or have experienced to create interesting and complex questions.

In addition to lessons plans and Google a Day Challenges, Google Search Education also has a power searching portal and training opportunities (live and archived) for educators. It is essential that we meet our students where they are and help them develop the necessary skills to access information; Google Search Education is one such tool to achieve this goal.

Tiffany Whitehead, the Mighty Little Librarian, is the school librarian at Central Middle in Baton Rouge, LA. She is the past president of ISTE’s Librarians Network and was recognized as one of ISTE’s 2014 Emerging Leaders. Tiffany is National Board Certified in Library Media and was a 2014 Library Journal Mover & Shaker. She presents regularly at state and national conferences, sharing her passion for learning, libraries, and technology.

New Zealand: Dunedin City Library’s New Book Sorting System is Utilizing a “World First” Technology

La, 03/07/2015 - 19:28

From the Otago Daily Times:

Dunedin City Library has turned science fiction into real life with its new ”world-first” automated sorting system.

The million-dollar radio frequency identification (RFID) project now has the jewel in its crown with the installation of a new automated materials handling machine linked to the return boxes.

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The machine automatically checks the books in and sorts them into different bins depending on which section of the library they come from – a job that normally takes staff more than three hours every morning.

[Clip]

FE Technologies director Clint Agustsson said his company specialised in RFID technology for libraries but the Dunedin machine had one major new innovation called a singulator.

The singulator is the first ever built and can receive a whole pile of books or other returned items simultaneously, which it then separates and processes one by one.

Hoopla Launches New Interface, Recommendation Engine

Ti, 03/03/2015 - 20:27

Library streaming media provider hoopla digital has launched LightSpeed, the 3.0 version of its user interface, which includes a faster signup process for new users, a recommendation engine, multi-tiered genre-based searching, and an algorithm designed to tailor recommendations for patrons based on usage history.

The recommendation engine is a new feature that aims to offer an experience comparable to commercial streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu, without compromising user privacy. Jeff Jankowski, founder and VP of hoopla parent company Midwest Tape, noted that hoopla was designed for libraries exclusively, and that privacy concerns were addressed as a matter of course while developing the recommendation system. Search and viewing histories are stored by hoopla to facilitate better recommendations, but those histories are anonymized, Jankowski explained.

“We don’t even know if the user is a man or a woman,” he said. On hoopla’s servers, “it’s a number and a history, and that’s it. We just use that information to make the user experience better, and that’s our only goal.”

The new app also enables users to view movies or listen to streaming audiobooks or other content across multiple devices.

“If you already have something borrowed, as soon as you open the app you’ll see what you have borrowed, and it automatically bookmarks [your position] in the cloud and resumes immediately” when the app is relaunched, Jankowski said. “If you have an iPhone, and you stop listening to an audiobook five hours in, when you go home, and later you’re using your computer to surf the Internet, you can resume the audiobook…. With our new design, it opens up to that position and automatically, with one touch, you’re resuming where you left off.”

The visual appearance of the interface has also been updated, and now features “a brighter, white and blue scheme, more emphasis on high-quality images [in menus], easier to read fonts and copy. We’ve lost the black background, everything just kind of pops,” Jankowski said. The visual redesign prioritized the interface’s appearance and navigability on tablets and smartphones, and took into account usage trends since the service’s launch in July 2013, as well as feedback from hoopla’s public library partners.

The service has been growing rapidly, Jankowski said. About one year ago the pay-per-circ streaming service had about 50,000 registered users from libraries around the country. Now, hoopla serves about 650,000 library cardholders at almost 600 library systems.

“We’ve had great reception, great feedback and response from libraries and their cardholders,” Jankowski said.

Cardholders at hoopla-subscribing libraries will be able to use the new LightSpeed 3.0 interface this week by downloading the free, updated hoopla digital app for Android and Apple iOS devices. The updated app is expected to be available beginning Wednesday, March 4.

ALA, ARL Applaud FCC Vote on Net Neutrality

Pe, 02/27/2015 - 00:33

In a significant victory for supporters of Net Neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today reclassified broadband Internet as a public utility, and established a new Open Internet Order that applies to both fixed and mobile broadband.

The new Open Internet Order includes three “bright line” rules, specifically banning broadband providers from blocking access to legal content, applications, and services; impairing access to content, applications, and services; and prioritizing Internet traffic in exchange for “consideration of any kind.” This would prohibit Internet Service Providers from establishing “fast lane” schemes in which corporate customers are charged fees to have data pass quickly through a network, while websites and services that could not afford these fees would find their traffic deliberately throttled or slowed by comparison.

President Barack Obama, who declared support for this course of action in November 2014, praised the move in a statement, noting that the FCC had received more than four million letters and emails from U.S. citizens and companies during the agency’s open comment period last year, “overwhelmingly in support of a free and fair Internet.”

The American Library Association (ALA), a longtime advocate for net neutrality protections, applauded the move as well, with ALA President Courtney Young stating that, “America’s libraries collect, create, and disseminate essential information to the public over the Internet, and ensure our users are able to access the Internet and create and distribute their own digital content and applications. Network neutrality is essential to meeting our mission in serving America’s communities. Today’s FCC vote in favor of strong, enforceable net neutrality rules is a win for students, creators, researchers, and learners of all ages.”

Association of Research Libraries (ARL) President Deborah Jakubs agreed, stating that “libraries, colleges, and universities have long championed, advanced, and provided critical intellectual freedoms such as education, research, learning, free speech, and innovation. These freedoms rely on net neutrality, and today’s vote at the FCC ensures that network operators cannot act as gatekeepers and place commercial interests above non-commercial expression.”

Larra Clark, deputy director for the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) noted that grassroots advocacy, as well as organized efforts by ALA and other organizations, played an important role in the FCC’s decision.

“ALA worked closely with nearly a dozen library and higher education organizations to develop and advocate for network neutrality principles, and we are pleased the FCC’s new rules appear to align nearly perfectly,” she wrote.

In a statement issued after the vote, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler confirmed that advocacy efforts and public comments had played an important role in shaping the agency’s perspective on the issue during the past year.

“Last May, the [FCC] proposed a set of open Internet protections and, at the same time, asked an extensive series of questions about that proposal and about alternative approaches for protecting the open Internet,” Wheeler wrote.

“We asked about the benefits and drawbacks of different approaches, different rule formulations, and different legal theories. We asked the public to weigh in, and they responded like never before. We heard from startups and world-leading tech companies. We heard from ISPs, large and small. We heard from public-interest groups and public-policy think tanks. We heard from Members of Congress, and, yes, the President. Most important, we heard from nearly 4 million Americans who overwhelmingly spoke up in favor of preserving a free and open Internet. We listened. We learned. And we adjusted our approach based on the public record.”

Opposition remains

Although net neutrality advocates today can declare a decisive victory, their fight is far from over. The FCC’s authority to enforce these new rules hinges on the agency’s reclassification of broadband Internet as a public utility—akin to a telephone landline network or electrical grid, and thus subject to comparable government regulations and oversight.

Prior to today’s action, the FCC had classified and regulated broadband as an information service. With Verizon v. Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit determined in January 2014 that this classification gave the FCC less authority to regulate broadband services provided by Verizon and other companies. The court, however, also noted that these broadband providers could threaten competition and innovation without regulations, and suggested reclassification of broadband services as one possible way for the FCC to enforce such regulations.

In his statement today, Wheeler emphasized that the FCC does not plan to impose “utility style” regulation on U.S. broadband providers, but opponents of net neutrality have rallied negative attention to this possibility, arguing that imposing any new regulations on broadband providers will stifle innovation. Earlier this week, in a Wall Street Journal column titled “From Internet to Obamanet,” L. Gordon Crovitz argued that the classification could theoretically enable the FCC to review the fairness of Google’s search results, or arbitrarily force companies like Apple and Netflix to develop apps for unpopular devices, for example.

Describing the FCC’s action as “a bad solution to a problem that doesn’t exist,” Bill Kovacs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior VP for the Environment, Technology, and Regulatory Affairs said that the move would “plunge the industry into years of litigation and cause extreme regulatory and market uncertainty.”

Arguing that the FCC was imposing “1930s Rules on the Internet,” Verizon cheekily issued a press release in Morse code. Michael E. Glover, Verizon senior vice president, public policy and government affairs, translated it as calling the FCC’s decision “badly antiquated regulations [and] a radical step that presages a time of uncertainty for consumers, innovators, and investors. Over the past two decades a bipartisan, light-touch policy approach unleashed unprecedented investment and enabled the broadband Internet age consumers now enjoy.”

Wheeler has said that he expects the FCC to face additional lawsuits over the issue.

For additional reaction, commentary, and links to the FCC meeting and news conference, see Gary Price’s roundup on LJ infoDOCKET

hoopla Digital Announces Release of Version 3.0 ‘LightSpeed’ Interface, Roll Out Underway Across Platforms

To, 02/26/2015 - 18:24

Note: Library Journal’s Matt Ennis will have more on today’s hoopla Digital news in an upcoming article.

From hoopla Digital:

hoopla Digital today unveiled its new 3.0 LightSpeed interface and is now starting to roll out the upgrade to Android, iOS and online users in the U.S. and Canada.

[Clip]

hoopla digital’s LightSpeed interface – the 3.0 version of the service – offers a brighter white and blue interface with a more robust recommendations engine and visual features for faster content searches. The new interface also employs an advanced algorithm to provide a more tailored experience along with genre-based searching that empowers cardholders to discover, watch and listen to dynamic content faster.

[Clip]

Patrons using hoopla’s new LightSpeed interface, now have fast access to their borrowing history and newly discovered favorites with fewer touches via hoopla’s ‘Home Screen.’ With hoopla’s LightSpeed, high-resolution artwork provides rapid review of relevant titles and even accelerates the sign-up process for first-time users.

Today’s announcement also points out that hoopla Digital currently provides access to more than 275,000 movies, music albums, TV shows and audiobooks to patrons of 580 public libraries in the United States and Canada. The company launched just about two years ago (March 1, 2013) with 6 library partners.

Read the Complete Announcement

Learn More, Read the hoopla Blog Post

Note: The new versions of hoopla (ver 3.0)  for iOS and Android will not be available until March 6, 2015.

See Also: Map of hoopla Library Partners

Hoopla LightSpeed Release Information Sheet by LJ’s infoDOCKET

Ending the Invisible Library | Linked Data

Ti, 02/24/2015 - 17:29

To explain the utility of ­semantic search and, Jeff Penka, director of channel and product development for information management solutions provider Zepheira, uses a simple exercise. Type “Chevy Chase” into Google’s search box, and in addition to a list of links, a panel appears on the right of the screen, displaying photos of the actor, a short bio, date of birth, height, full name, spouses and children, and a short list of movies and TV shows in which he has starred. Continue typing the letters “ma” into the search box, and the panel instantly changes, showing images, maps, current weather, and other basic information regarding the town of Chevy Chase, MD.

The panels are powered by Google’s Knowledge Graph, a massive knowledgebase that launched in May 2012 with “more than 500 million [data] objects” drawn from sources including Freebase, Wikipedia, and the CIA World Factbook, “as well as more than 3.5 billion facts about and relationships between these different objects. And it’s based on what people search for, and what we find out on the web,” Amit Singhal, Google’s senior VP of engineering, wrote in an official blog post introducing the service. As the Knowledge Graph has grown, these panels have become an increasingly common feature that not only anticipates what users are searching for but also displays specific facts about people, places, historical events, and other topics in a convenient, quickly accessible format.

“As I talk to people about semantic technologies, and they ask whether it’s practical or whether anybody is using it, it’s like, no see this,” Penka says, noting that the technology is already in widespread use. As Penka explains, the World Wide Web began as a collection of web pages that were navigated with links. Now, and going forward, the web is increasingly about data and relationships among data objects.

“If you want to be in that web of data, semantic technology,, BIBFRAME vocabularies, schema.org vocabularies, these are the ways you’ll speak to the web in a meaningful fashion,” Penka says.

Off the MARC

Librarians have long been aware of this shift and have even longer understood that Machine Readable Cataloging (MARC) standards, developed at the Library of Congress (LC) in the 1960s, were becoming an anachronism in an increasingly networked world.

“MARC has always been an arcane standard,” OCLC senior program officer and LJ blogger Roy Tennant wrote in a much-cited, bluntly titled LJ column “MARC Must Die” in 2002. “No other profession uses MARC or anything like it. When we shop around for software to handle such records, we are limited to the niche market of library vendors. For their part, vendors must design systems that can both take in and output records in MARC format.”

MARC has since been left further behind. In 2011, Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft Bing announced a joint alliance called schema.org, a collection of structured data ­schemas that enable web designers to include information in their HTML pages that identifies entities and relationships among entities. For example, in a recent column, ­SearchEngineLand.com’s Barbara Starr explains how a musician’s official website could use structured data markup to specify that the musician would be performing at a specific venue, with a specific address, on a specific date. When Google crawls the web, it can read this markup, improving search results and enabling Google’s Knowledge Graph panels to display results.

In this search engine environment, archaically formatted MARC records will get short shrift. As Penka notes in another example, using Google to search by name for many of the largest libraries in North America, such as the New York Public Library (NYPL), will pull up a Knowledge Graph panel, but it essentially characterizes NYPL as a business—with a logo, a primary location, and current leadership—rather than a knowledge institution.

Enter NYPL’s name along with the title of a recent best seller, and Google will return prominently displayed, appropriate links from OverDrive and Bibliocommons, since both systems present data in a way that can be crawled by Google. While many libraries will benefit from these OverDrive links if an institution’s entire name is searched along with a book title, most users simply do not use Google this way. And even if they apply these atypically specific searches, patrons of most libraries would see a page full of links to official library ­Facebook posts about a title, or events—often past events—and other information unrelated to a library’s holdings.

Reframing with BIBFRAME

“What we need to do is not just talk amongst ourselves better, but we need to start communicating or formatting our data in such a way that we can be visible and seen by…other large organizations, such as the Facebooks and the Yahoo!s and the Bings and the Googles” of the world, Beacher Wiggins, LC’s director for acquisitions and bibliographic access, said during a September 2014 segment of LC’s “Digital Future and You” webcast series that outlined the goals of LC’s Bibliographic Framework Initiative (BIBFRAME). “This is fundamental because so many of our users are beginning their search from these places.”

BIBFRAME had its genesis in 2011, following a test of the Resource Description and Access (RDA) descriptive cataloging standards conducted by the National Agricultural Library, the National Library of Medicine, LC, and two dozen other institutions. “Many of the libraries taking part in the test indicated that they had little confidence RDA changes [from Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, Second Edition (AACR2)] would yield significant benefits without a change to the underlying MARC carrier,” Deanna Marcum, LC’s associate librarian for library services, wrote in “A Bibliographic Framework for the Digital Age,” an open letter explaining LC’s plans to develop a replacement for MARC. “Several of the test organizations were especially concerned that the MARC structure would hinder the separation of elements and the ability to use URLs in aenvironment.”

A contingent of librarians, led by OCLC, have advocated for the use of schema.org as a foundation for the replacement of MARC, since these schemas are already supported by Google and other search engines. However, as OCLC senior research scientist Carol Jean Godby acknowledges in the 2013 working paper “The Relationship Between BIBFRAME and OCLC’s Linked-Data Model of Bibliographic Description,” schema.org was not designed with libraries in mind.

“There is no representation of the FRBR [Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records] Group I concepts Work, Expression, Manifestation and Item,” Godby writes. “There is no clear distinction between content and carrier. Very few relationships among creative works have been defined. There is no concept of collection or series. And there are no models of transactions involving library resources and the organizations that provide or receive them, such as libraries, universities, publishers, e-content aggregators, and data service providers.”

In May 2012, LC partnered with Zepheira to accelerate the development and launch of BIBFRAME, stating that “a major focus of the project is to translate the MARC 21 format to amodel while retaining as much as possible the robust and beneficial aspects of the historical format,” rather than, for example, augmenting schema.org to work with ­libraries.

Ultimately, LC plans for BIBFRAME to replace MARC and already offers a free tool to convert MARC records to BIBFRAME. But the standard’s vocabularies and the time line are still in flux. In his September webcast, Wiggins said that the transition could be as few as two years or as many as five years away, but BIBFRAME “definitely is going to lead us into theworld.”

Similar to schema.org, what the BIBFRAME standard will do, Wiggins explained, is structure library records in a way that enables Google or other search engines to “extract meaningful information…and then do something with it. Google can tell the searcher who just got this hit where [a resource is] located, such as the D.C. Public Library. Possibly even tell you the special location, that it’s available in the Southeast branch, the Northeast branch, the MLK branch. Could possibly go even further and say, hey, here’s the call number so the searcher can walk right through the door and just find it right on the shelf.”

Restructuring the budget, too?

Jeremy Nelson, metadata and systems librarian for Colorado College in Colorado Springs, notes that a structured data approach that works well with commercial search engines has the potential not only to transform the way library content is discovered but also to transform the way libraries spend on data management.

A commercial software developer prior to becoming a librarian, Nelson has been researchingand potential applications in libraries since 2008 and is currently working with the University of Denver, Colorado State University, and the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries on the Redis Library Services Platform, which combines an open source, Redis-based BIBFRAME data store that he developed, with Colorado College’s open source, lightweight HTML5 Django mobile Aristotle Library Apps for discovering, accessing, and managing library information. Colorado College’s Tutt Library eventually plans to replace its ILS (integrated library system) with this platform.

Linked data can produce better search results, “and that’s probably the most end user, practical reason that I think libraries should support,” Nelson says. “But I’ve been really frustrated as a librarian at small libraries, or even at large libraries, with the complexity and cost of these expensive enterprise ILSes…. My own research is trying to see how we can useto replace these, really to me, archaic and hard-to-use legacy systems.”

Libhub: a BIBFRAME test case

Zepheira, which LC contracted to develop BIBFRAME, last year announced the Libhub Initiative, a proof-of-concept project that aims to build a network of libraries using BIBFRAME standards to link data between institutions and other resources, in order to illustrate how these standards can increase the visibility of library resources on the open web. Modern structured data markup, and links between institutions regarding that data, will help search engines confirm the authoritative accuracy of references to books, people, places, events, and electronic resources by the libraries using these standards, thus elevating library rankings in general search results, and potentially featuring library resources in structured data–­dependent Google Knowledge Graph panels.

“I find the opportunities around BIBFRAME exciting, because the promise goes well beyond simply replacing MARC behind the scenes…to empower[ing] libraries to speak in a unified voice that the web can understand,” Eric Miller, Zepheira cofounder and former leader of the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Semantic Web Initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says in a webcast explaining Libhub. “The Libhub Initiative is focused on one goal: How can libraries, as a community, surface data in a meaningful, connected way that raises web visibility?”

Vailey Oehlke, director of libraries for Multnomah County, Portland, OR, which has shown early interest in ­BIBFRAME and Libhub, says that “thisformat exposes [library resources] more broadly to the public.” Like Nelson, she later added that the standards could help ensure a library’s control over its own records, rather than entrusting that data to ­vendors.

“One of the things that informs our thinking, in large part, is the degree to which we’ll have control over our data,” she says. “And as is the case with most libraries, increasingly our data, access to it, and our ability to control it [are] more and more in the hands of vendors, whose bottom line, understandably, is their revenue. We simply have a different motivation, different needs. An opportunity, such as Libhub, that, on the face of it, appears to be not profit motivated but really about exposing that data…is very attractive to us.”

The Denver Public Library was the first public library to join the Libhub Initiative, and as collection services manager Rachel Fewell explains, “We want to be able to move forward and meet library customers where they are [on the open web]. We don’t want potential library customers to have to come to our website to understand what we are providing…. We work really hard on creating excellent catalog records, and we want to expose them to as many people as we can, so we saw this as the next logical step…. Why hide our hard work in MARC format that’s not available to the vast majority of the Internet?”

Are You Ready?

Zepheira also recently launched aReadiness Assessment product to help libraries analyze “the state of their current collections, systems, and staffing to determine what should be done to make them more visible to their communities,” as well as a “Practical Practitioner” online education platform to help library leaders learn about the new standard and understand concepts ofmore broadly.

The five-week online curriculum includes webcasts, hands-on exercises, regular “office hours” during which participants can discuss coursework with Zepheira executives and experts, community forums where participants can chat about coursework among themselves, and, following completion of the coursework, permanent membership in an online “alumni community” offering continued access to these resources and contacts.

Individual list price for the Practical Practitioner course is about $1,400, although Zepheira also negotiates group discounts for institutions that wish to have multiple staff complete the program.

DPLA Receives Funding From Sloan Foundation to Begin In-Depth Discussion About Ebooks and Their Future

Ma, 02/23/2015 - 20:37

From a Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) Announcement:

Books are among the richest artifacts of human culture. In the last half-millenium, we have written over a hundred million of them globally, and within their pages lie incredibly diverse forms of literature, history, and science, poetry and prose, the sacred and the profane. Thanks to our many partners, the Digital Public Library of America already contains over two million ebooks, fully open and free to read.

But we have felt since DPLA’s inception that even with the extent of our ebook collection, we could be doing much more to connect the public, in more frictionless ways, with the books they wish to read.

[Clip]

At the DPLA, we are particularly enthusiastic about the role that our large and expanding national network of hubs can play. Many of our service hubs have already scanned books from their regions, and are generously sharing them through DPLA. Public domain works are being aggregated by content hubs such as HathiTrust, with more coming online every month. It is clear that we can bring these threads together to create a richer, broader tapestry of ebooks for readers of all ages and interests.

That’s why we’re delighted to announce today that we have received generous funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to start an in-depth discussion about ebooks and their future, and what DPLA and our partners can do to help push things forward. Along with the New York Public Library, we plan to intensify the discussions we have already been having with publishers, authors, libraries, and the public about how to connect the maximal number of ebooks with the maximal number of readers.

Read the Complete DPLA Announcement

Brief Comment From Gary Price, infoDOCKET Founder and Editor:
We hope that DPLA includes an ongoing discussion about ebook subscription services (Scribd, Oyster, etc.) and potential short and long term implications on libraries (particularly public libraries).

See Also: From October 2013, A Look at the Super Cool DPLA Ebook Bookshelf

Flipped, Blended, or Stirred: Using Video to Enhance Learning in the Classroom | Tech Tidbits

Ke, 02/18/2015 - 09:40

Use of video in the classroom is a promising, effective tool for student and teacher learning and education. In her article “Understanding the Role of Video in Teacher Learning” Miriam Sherin, professor in the School of Education and Social Policy and the Learning Sciences Department at Northwestern University, demonstrates that while teachers initially used video to ask basic, comprehension-based questions, increased use of video in instruction can help them go much deeper and challenge students to achieve more in-depth reasoning with more inquiry-based questions. And who better to help the teachers find new tools and go deeper than us, their school librarians and media specialists?

Video in the classroom can also promote strong discussions, liven up a lesson, and can be downright fun. This media seems to be everywhere. More and more teachers are using videos for flipped or blended instruction, creating learning experiences outside of the classroom. Students are creating videos that can demonstrate subject mastery and understanding. As they create, they demonstrate not only their understanding—the very process of creating the video can lead to richer learning, creativity, failing, and then relearning.

Students in my school are using iMovie to create commercials showcasing their persuasive writing skills. Students have created “you were there”–type historical video news reports. Our students have also used the video format to visually illustrate and narrate their “I Am” poems which define their values and goals, and can bring a tear to any parent’s eye.

The wealth of video tools available can also provide rich professional development opportunities for teachers trying to strengthen their own skills, using sites like Teachingchannel.org and Mission100percent.com. These sites provide quality instruction demonstrating best practices for teachers. The Teaching Channel also provides the opportunity for individual teachers to contribute to the collective knowledge, giving us increased opportunities to learn from each other.

In the blended classroom venue, my teachers have been asking for tools they can use to create tutorials or screencasts, enhancing their online presence. Some teachers are creating screencast tutorials in YouTube and organizing them using Google Playlist, which makes it easy for teachers and students to locate. Another example is the creation of video tutorials explaining the use of databases or ebook access, which are then posted on the library website or in the teacher’s Google Classroom or Blackboard class.

Some of my teachers have their students create video tutorials, which can be posted on a blog or website for other students and parents. Any teacher can attest to the fact that they learn their subject best when they have to break it down into steps in order to teach it to others. Students, too, learn more as they create the videos and explain processes.

Each video tool meets a need and this month, I’d like to share my top favorite video tools starting with two very nice Chrome extensions, which do screen capturing. Screencastify is a video screen capture program that stores video in a special folder in Google Docs. It also has the option to embed webcam videos, which might be you explaining some process or concept to your students. Snag It is also a Chrome app and extension that allows users to capture and manipulate still images from their screens, as well as capture video with narration.

Touchcast is a great tool to create an interactive video that allows users to click active hyperlinks right in the video to view and manipulate online information. To create a Touchcast, the user must download software for PC or Mac platforms, but it is well worth it. There are also educational Touchcasts available on the site that can be viewed before creating your own. This is a great tool for blended classrooms, as seen in this example of interactive video for education.

Edpuzzle is a YouTube annotation tool for creating or editing YouTube videos by clipping the source, and adding narration, quiz questions and comments. Teachers can add students to their virtual Edpuzzle classroom, view which students have completed the video lesson, and post grades. This free resource was created by math teachers in Barcelona, Spain; check out the great video introduction to Edpuzzle.

There are so many ways to use video in the classroom. You can individualize instruction, show classroom procedures, create professional development tutorials, assign student-created videos to demonstrate learning, or even use video as a tool for reflection. Next month, I’ll share some tutorial creation tools that are fantastic, and easy to use. These video tools and their uses in education are getting stronger and stronger. The right one is waiting just for you!

OCLC Works Toward Linked Data Environment | ALA Midwinter 2015

Ti, 02/17/2015 - 19:21

In the early days of the World Wide Web, many libraries blocked search engines from crawling their sites and used other means to insulate library records from the open web. “Some of the reasons were cultural, some of them were fears of commercial takeover of our resources…but we actively disengaged,” said Richard Wallis, technology evangelist for OCLC and chair of the W3C Schema Bib Extend Community Group during the “OCLC Links and Entities: The Library Data Revolution” session at the American Library Association’s 2015 Midwinter conference in Chicago.

Since then, despite several projects that have started to share library data with the wider web, “a lot of that reticence to engage, historically, is still there,” Wallis added. Yet the library community is increasingly aware of the need to enhance the discoverability of library resources on the open web using Google and other popular commercial search engines.

In an effort that parallels and complements the Library of Congress’s Bibliographic Framework Initiative (BIBFRAME), OCLC is using schema.org to help facilitate this discoverability using linked data, explained Wallis and his colleague Ted Fons, executive director, Data Services and WorldCat Quality Management for OCLC.

The “Web of Data”

Using embedded metadata or microdata to optimize search engine rankings and drive relevant traffic to websites became an increasingly common practice during the past decade. The better a search engine crawler or algorithm can verify what a web page is about, the better ranking within search results.

In 2011, Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft Bing jointly announced the launch of schema.org, a structured data markup vocabulary that enables webmasters to nest metadata within HTML5 web pages, using microdata tags that all three search engines will recognize (see a summary of an example from the schema.org website below). The standardized system has accelerated the adoption of structured data markup, and has enabled new search engine features, such as Google’s “Knowledge Graph” panels, which display basic information about entities such as people, places, and events alongside search results.

Enter Entities

“Instead of describing a page or showing you a page of information as a [search] result, [structured data markup] is starting to describe a thing on the planet,” Wallis explained.

The transition from a World Wide Web of linked pages toward a “Web of Data” is well underway, but library data—in particular library catalog data—is being left behind.

“We have a web of data that is forming,” Wallis said, displaying a PowerPoint slide with a visual depiction of complex, linked relationships between various entities. “All of these Webs of Data pictures start to look a bit galactic to me, but to follow that analogy, we’re in a position at the moment where we’re in danger of a library-shaped black hole appearing in this Web of Data. We’re not very visible on the web at all.”

In this environment, the MARC (MAchine-Readable Cataloging) standards that libraries have used for forty years to format cataloging records for computer systems present two key problems in terms of discoverability. First, MARC does not structure metadata about library resources in a way that modern search engines—or any non-library software—will recognize.

Second, Wallis distinguished between MARC records and the way in which structured data markup defines “entities.” A MARC record will contain a lot of information about a specific resource, including the title, author, and publisher of a book, for example. Yet a single MARC record is essentially isolated. Like an old card catalog record, it points to a single resource. By contrast, using structured data to define an entity, such as an author, enables a computer system to link that author to other entities—other books he or she has written, other people he or she is associated with, places, etc.—via uniform resource identifiers (URIs) and web addresses where related structured data is present.

Schema.org, OCLC, and BIBFRAME

For library data, Schema.org does have shortcomings. As OCLC Senior Research Scientist Carol Jean Godby notes in “The Relationship between BIBFRAME and OCLC’s Linked-Data Model of Bibliographic Description: A Working Paper,” Schema.org has defined very few relationships among creative works, there is no way to describe collections or series, there is no way to represent the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) concepts of “work,” “expression,” “manifestation,” and “item,” and “there are no models of transactions involving library resources and the organizations that provide or receive them, such as libraries, universities, publishers, e-content aggregators, and data service providers,” Godby writes.

In terms of a cataloging standard, schema.org’s basic microdata tags offer a coarse level of granularity comparable to a Dublin Core record, Godby explains. Catalogers can record information such as “creative work, person, author, director, place, organization, publisher, copyright date, book, ISBN, and so on.”

The structured data efforts of the Library of Congress and OCLC diverge, if only somewhat. With BIBFRAME, the Library of Congress has opted to address the shortcomings of schema.org by starting from the ground up, building a model that can replicate the data contained in MARC records and expose it using linked data techniques. Meanwhile, with Google, Bing, and Yahoo! supporting schema.org, OCLC views the standard as vital if libraries want to see their content exposed on the open web. The organization has been working to expand Schema.org vocabularies to better accommodate library data. As Godby explains, Schema.org’s designers “never intended it to be a global ontology. Rather, Schema.org is proposed as a starting point, or a scaffolding to which a more detailed ontology designed by interested communities of practice would be attached.”

To that end, OCLC has been centrally involved with the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Schema Bib Extend community group that aims to expand schema.org markup language to include additional bibliographic information and other data used by libraries.

In “Common Ground: Exploring Compatibilities Between the Linked Data Models of the Library of Congress and OCLC,” a paper published in January, Godby corroborated with Ray Denenberg, an executive at the Library of Congress. The authors note that the BIBFRAME initiative and OCLC’s efforts with schema.org share several similarities, although OCLC is primarily focused on improved visibility on the web, while BIBFRAME aims to address the long-term curation needs of libraries.

The Library of Congress has “a bottom-up approach, starting off with…very detailed MARC data that’s there not only for discovery purposes, but for curation purposes, and how would we expose that using linked data techniques,” Wallis said. “Whereas, from a schema.org point of view, we have a general purpose vocabulary, which, with some lobbying, [OCLC has] made even more library friendly.” Wallis added that the Godby / Denenberg paper “is a very intriguing document, and demonstrates how compatible these approaches are with one another.”

Schema.org Simplified

The schema.org website offers a simple example to explain microdata tags. Basic HTML markup for a description of the movie Avatar, with a link to a trailer might look like this:

Avatar

Director: James Cameron (born August 16, 1954)

Science fiction

Trailer

The same entry with schema.org microdata tags would look like this:

Avatar

Director: James Cameron (born August 16, 1954)

Science fiction

Trailer

The HTML example only tells a web browser how to display a few lines of human-readable information, with a hyperlink to another page on a server. But this markup does not give a search engine any machine-readable information about what the text means. Adding the schema.org “itemscope” attribute notifies a search engine that the information within a tag container is about a specific entity. The “itemtype” attribute defines the type of entity being described, such as “movie” or “person.” And the “itemprop” attribute enables webmasters to include additional information regarding different properties of that entity, such as a person’s name or birthdate, or the genre of a movie.

Ohio: Grand Opening of Cleveland Digital Public Library (ClevDPL) Taking Place Today

La, 02/14/2015 - 22:57

The grand opening, including a ribbon cutting and reception, of the Cleveland Digital Public Library is taking place today at its physical location inside the Main Library located in downtown Cleveland.

ClevDPL will normally be open from 10 a.m – 6 p.m. (Monday-Friday) and includes a touch wall, preservation lab, digital hub, learning commons.

Learn More via the Cleveland Digital Public Library web site.

We will also update this post with links to coverage as it becomes available.

Two promo videos are available and are embedded below. The library is using the slogan, “Create * Conserve * Connect” on some webpages and calendars q

DPLA (Digital Public Library of America) Announces New Service Hubs in Tennessee, Maine, Maryland, and Caribbean

Pe, 02/13/2015 - 18:51

Great news! Keep the service hubs as well as content hubs coming.

From the DPLA:

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is pleased to announce the addition of four Service Hubs that will be joining our Hub network. The Hubs represent Tennessee, Maryland, Maine and the Caribbean.

These Hubs were selected from the first-ever application process for new DPLA Hubs, intended to give both prospective Hubs and DPLA a better sense of what is involved in bringing on a new Hub. Each Hub has a strong commitment to bring together the cultural heritage content in their state to be a part of DPLA, and to build community and data quality among the participants.

In Tennessee, the Service Hub responsibilities will be shared by the University of Tennessee – Knoxville, Tenn-Share and the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Tennessee plans to make available important material on the Civil Rights Movement, and Appalachia and the Great Smoky Mountains.

In Maryland, the Service Hub responsibilities will be shared by Digital Maryland, based at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, and the University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions (USMAI). The collections Maryland plans to make available include materials about Women’s Suffrage, the Civil War, World War I and II, agriculture, sports, transportation and historic architecture.

In Maine, the Service Hub will be run by the Maine State Library. Collections to be shared with DPLA as part of the Maine Service Hub include materials from the Maine Memory Network, a project of the Maine Historical Society, which in turn represents collections from a number of smaller institutions throughout Maine and from the full history of Maine, among other important topics. In addition, important films that are a part of the North East Historic Films collection and the Maine Music Box Sheet Music collection will be shared.

The final Service Hub, representing the Caribbean, is a partnership between the Digital Library of the Caribbean and the University of Florida. Topics and genres to be shared with DPLA from this Hub include Caribbean maps and materials about the Panama Canal, the sugar industry, and vodou.

“We are excited to welcome these four new Service Hubs to the DPLA Network,” said Emily Gore, DPLA Director for Content. “We look forward to sharing their aggregated content with the content of our other Hubs and with the public. We appreciate the commitment by these Hubs to broadly share cultural heritage content and to improve data quality.”

A second call for new DPLA Hubs will occur in June of 2015.

Source: DPLA

Learn More About Service Hubs and Content Hubs

See Also:  “On Being a Hub: Some Details Behind Providing Metadata for the Digital Public Library of America”  (July 15, 2014)

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