Last week kicked off the six day library extravaganza known as ALA Annual. The conference, hosted by the American Library Association, was held in Chicago, IL to discuss, learn, and exchange ideas about libraries on the theme “Transforming Our Libraries, Ourselves.” With 25,000 attendees, masses of sessions and talks, and a mountain of freebies, ALA can be an overwhelming experience — we managed to find our way, and wanted to share what we did and learned there.
One of our main goals was to present our “Halfway Remarks” poster on behalf of all of the BHL NDSR Residents. Alicia Esquivel of the Chicago Botanic Garden, and Ariadne Rehbein of the Missouri Botanical Garden attended and presented.
Last week I attended the Inaugural Digital Data in Biodiversity Research Conference sponsored by iDigBio, the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, the University of Michigan Herbarium, and the University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology. The conference brought together biodiversity researchers, data providers, data aggregators, collection managers, and librarians. We talked about creating digital biodiversity data, sharing this data and using it in research.
The presentations, posters and workshops highlighted research trends in biodiversity and projects that have open access missions similar to BHL’s. I was able to give a talk about using statistical analysis to calculate the size of biodiversity literature and present a poster about visually representing the collection at BHL.
The other week I participated in WikiCite 2017, a conference, summit, and hackathon event organized for members of the Wikimedia community to discuss ideas and projects surrounding the concept of adding structured bibliographic metadata to Wikidata to improve the quality of references in the Wikimedia universe. As a Wikidata editor and a librarian, I was pumped to be included in the functional and organizational conversations for WikiCite and learn more about how librarians and GLAMs can contribute.
The Basics (briefly and criminally simplified)
Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums are institutions that collect, preserve, and make available information artefacts and cultural heritage items for use by the public. Before databases librarians managed card catalogs to facilitate access, which were translated into MAchine Readable Cataloging (MARC) data format digital records to create online catalogs (ca. 1970s-2000s). As items in collections are being digitized, librarians et al. add descriptive, administrative, and technical/structural metadata to records and provide access to digital surrogates via digital library or repository, depending on copyright. Metadata, however, is generally not subject to copyright and is often published by GLAMs for analysis and use via direct download, APIs, and in more and more cases, as Linked Open Data. As a field, we’re still at the beginning of this transformation to Linked Open Data and have significant questions still to answer and thorny issues still to resolve.
Diagram of a Wikidata item https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Wikidata:Introduction
Wikidata is a source of machine-readable, multilingual, structured data collected to support Wikimedia projects and CC0 licensed under the theory that simple statements of fact are not subject to copyright. Wikidata items are comprised of statements that have properties and values. In the Linked Open Data world these items are graphs with statements expressed in triples. As Wikimedians and Wikidata editors add more of this supporting structured data to Wikipedia, the idea of adding bibliographic metadata to Wikidata started coming up. Essentially – “Here are some great structured data that are incredibly important to the functionality of Wikipedia; how can we add them to this repository that we’re creating in a useable way?” As many librarians (and really anyone that’s written a substantial research paper) are aware, citations are complicated. Continue reading
This post is brought to you by the BHL NDSR Cohort. I, Alicia, introduce our conference packed month of April. Next, Ariadne recaps our DPLAFest presentation followed by Pam’s overview of our NDSR Symposium panel discussion. Lastly, Marissa and Katie offer some feedback and reflections from our first round our presentations.
April was a busy month for all of us residents! We attended and presented at two conferences in two different cities: first, at the 4th annual DPLAFest in Chicago and then the NDSR Symposium in Washington D.C. the following week.
L to R: Ariadne, Pam, Marissa, Katie and Alicia at DPLAFest 2017.
DPLAFest is organized by DPLA, the Digital Public Library of America, which provides free, digital materials from America’s libraries, archives, museums and cultural heritage institutions. The network of DPLA is established on a “hub” model which brings together digitized and born-digital content from across the country to a single access point. BHL serves as one of the content hubs for DPLA which means BHL content gets passed along to DPLA. Our work with BHL connected mainly to the DPLAFest themes of digital libraries and open access content and collaboration across types of institutions.
In considering how to consolidate my thoughts from Code4Lib 2017, I spent some time reviewing the pre-conference workshops and the interesting and directly relevant talks from last week. Ultimately, as I am sure many other attendees discovered, I found that the framework of the conference and a lot of our work as library technologists was best examined by Christina Harlow in her keynote “Resistance is Fertile.”1 There were many (many) other presentations and discussions throughout the conference that were inspiring, enlightening, and compelling, but Harlow synthesized the meaning behind what we all do and applied to it a language and a methodology for doing it better.
And it was remarkable. I think people even cried a bit. We all stood up at the end and clapped a lot.
And over the next few hours and days I thought about how BHL and my position as an NDSR resident fit into this framework and how I can be an agent who advocates for not just Open Access to content but also its ethical and operational background. Harlow keenly argues for investigating the transparency of library policies if not to resolve inherent biases in programming, systems architecture, and design then to encourage further democratizing the “means of production” (of datasets, of metadata, of documentation) in pursuit of accessibility and true openness.2 Continue reading