Code4Lib North: Day 1 Afternoon Notes

Lightning talk followed by workshop and breakout discussion.

Hashing for Fun and Profit

Mat Trudel

  • Hash: one way mathematical function that redues string of data into fixed length number
  • easy to compute, hard to reverse, like a fingerprint
  • SHA-I: 160 bits, 40 characters long
  • can use to identify the same file for storage purposes
  • makes asset storage very simple
  • cost of a duplicate copy is a db row of metadata
  • Tons of other useful properties: content addressable, useful for detecting file changes, computed using file itself, etc.

Intro to (Scholars Portal) SFX

Dana Thomas

  • sources = starting point for SFX requests – button/link
  • can set up Journals A-Z list, indexes, library catalogue, Google Scholar
  • objects
  • targets = location for full text resources
  • object portfolios = items associated with particular target services
  • thresholds most commonly used relating to coverage dates, also used for display logic
  • OpenURL = standard which carries the metadata from the source, used to lookup the options for that item
  • because OCUL schools all through SFX, can just replace school name when searching for the same item
  • parse parameters set by vendor, then set inside SFX for each vendor
  • request = OpenURL sent from a source to SFX
  • clickthrough = choice in SFX menu
  • can do batch changes using data management tool
  • can pull statistics report for use of e.g. specific journal through all your sources
  • essential for collection management
  • SFX Statistics: have all our stats since Jan 2008 rolling with 1-2 month delay

Breakout Discussion: What should University Librarians (or equivalent) know about library technology and library technologists?

Mike Ridley

  • used to be a very small group of people who dealt with technology
  • now involve a very diverse group
  • vendor saying one thing, staff saying another = trust your staff
  • vendors tell you what you want to hear
  • staff have to live with the decision that you make, who want to steer you into the decision that will make it easier in the end
  • need to broaden the audience of vendor meetings, need a senior technologist
  • need to look at both short and long term impacts and goals
  • need to make staff enjoy what they’re doing
  • we’re competing with the big IT industry when drawing talent, so need to do something to keep them
  • cannot treat your IT staff as second class as if they’re secondary
  • don’t understand and seen as commodity, can’t engage with them
  • leave some room for creativity, allow them to interact with community, do research, etc. just like a librarian
  • count participation in conferences, contributions to open source projects
  • need to ask questions, not pretend that you know
  • important to have mix of library and non-library trained
  • can hire students to get more, new ideas
  • cannot only hire IT people, because goal isn’t to create technology but value
  • should not set a ceiling for technologists in promotion
  • depending on the type of person, IT people don’t necessarily want promotion, but also don’t need a MLIS
  • give people the equipment you need
  • it’s the little things that count, not just salary, it’s the work environment
  • allow your staff to contribute back to the community
  • have a culture of yes, don’t be afraid of failure
  • we’re too risk-averse
  • there is a serious risk in doing nothing, but we don’t always see it that way
  • need to always look at the cost of status quo
  • open source aren’t spending a lot of money marketing to library admin
  • no philosophy around technology, just wires and boxes
  • what is a UL’s view of technology?
  • open source is a commitment to staff, not technology
  • paying vendors: making the choice between paying vendor staff instead of your own staff
  • why are we buying technology for users that don’t fit their need?
  • going the open source route doesn’t mean you can’t pay a “vendor” to support and develop your library
  • sanctity of your own data, need assurance that your data is true
  • always emphasize the users
  • need an open mind set
  • IT team needs communications support, and sometimes your IT team may not even realize it
  • a lot of it boils down to communications
  • role of central IT is to ensure security, stability
  • good to cooperate with central IT, and develop good relationship with them
  • ensure central IT understand there are a few integral, critical systems
  • articulate the differences between central IT and library IT, but should also be strategic cooperation
  • need to include other departments e.g. whichever does website CMS
  • the IT AUL/AD/head needs to be a known entity
  • need to model intelligent use of technology
  • productivity and efficiency – sell it
  • some staff members will not want to move forward, but at least have awareness that our users use technology different
  • need a workforce to embrace the future, even the job titles and descriptions
  • need to look at the job descriptions of the rest of the library staff too, because need the flexibility for other staff to get involved and collaborate

Sorry, they’re not organized, but the big ideas seemed to be:

  • respect and listen to your staff, especially when making big decisions, consult with them
  • have your staff known and involved at the larger level, particularly collaborating with central IT (if applicable)
  • competing with larger IT world when hiring/retaining staff
    • consider hiring IT with library experience, not requiring a MLIS especially for promotion to a higher level position
    • good work environment and incentives: not stuck in a dank hole, encourage research/creativity/work on open source projects/etc.
    • should have a diverse team with job titles/descriptions that reflect the constant changes in technology
  • leading by example: attitude towards staff, openness to technology (even if don’t have time to use it)
  • provide IT with communications support, especially internally and to sell ideas to admin

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