Friday, December 30, 2016

Reflecting Diversity

Diversity Mural unveiling 2012
Diversity Mural at the Univ. of the Fraser Valley
In many different ways, our world today has us focusing on diversity - racial, ethnic, gender, language, and geographic.  We have people talking about the benefits of diversity, as well as people who want uniformity. Uniformity is comfortable and easy. Diversity of thought and opinion, which can create innovation, comes as a natural outgrowth of having a diverse group of people.

I believe that diversity is important.  In my position as the director of an academic program, the question that I often ask myself is:
How do we demonstrate that we value diversity and that it is important?
Often you will find text on an organization's web site that talks about valuing diversity. This is especially true if the web site contains job announcements.  If you're like me, you will also look at the photographs an organization uses as a way of deciding if diversity is important to them.  If those organizations understand that diversity is important to us, they should try help us see them as valuing diversity in order to make their organizations more attractive to us.

It is then amazing to me that organizations - that want and need to attract a diverse group of people often in order to have a large pool of prospective customers - show themselves as not being diverse. Pick up a conference brochure, a trade magazine, or promotional literature.  Does it in some way show that the organization behind it values diversity?  If not, how does that make you feel about the organization? Or if yes, how does that make you feel?

The question then becomes how to communicate those feelings to the organization, especially if their text, photos, etc. show that diversity is not important to them. That is my dilemma. How do I tell an organization - especially a library organization - that in our current environment where some want uniformity, it should show that it values diversity and reflect that value in everything it does?  I had hoped that the correct words would have come to me in 2016.  The societal actions in 2016 make me hope that the right words do emerge in 2017.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

What color is your robot?

Definition of what a robot is
What is a robot?
Months ago - after the report was released about events in Ferguson (MO) and before the events in Baltimore (MD) - Paul Signorelli and I had a phone conversation about race and discrimination. As we often do, our conversation wandered and touched on several other topics and we somehow stumbled on the topic of robots.

In science fiction, robots do take on humanoid form; however, the robots in our midst tend to be very machine-like.What if our robots could look like humans? What skin color would they have?

A robot
Perhaps the answer seems obvious to you. Perhaps the answer does not seem problematic. Perhaps it is because we have no robots among us that look like us.

Recent events in the United States demonstrate that we still have issues in our communities in relation to race and culture. A person's skin color can be interpreted by others as an indication of that person's value in the community or even value as a human being. Skin color can provide privilege or be a disadvantage.

What privileges do we want robots to have? How will those privileges be signaled?

Although I started this post months ago, it is still timely both because of racism in our world and because of our increased reliance on robots of all kinds. You might take a moment and think about what you want your robots to look like and, if human-looking, what color will they be?

If you haven't thought about racism, watch this video.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Article: Marching Bravely Into the Quagmire: The Complete Mess that the “Transformative” Test Has Made of Fair Use

In 2014, Stephen Carlisle, J.D. published "Marching Bravely Into the Quagmire: The Complete Mess that the 'Transformative' Test Has Made of Fair Use."Carlisle is the copyright officer at Nova Southeastern University in Florida.  In the article, Carlisle provides examples of the problem with determining if a use is transformative.  He says:
The problem the Supreme Court created is that the creation of a derivative work is supposed to be an exclusive right of the copyright owner, and requires permission or a license. Indeed the word “transformed” is right there in the definition of what a derivative work is. Yet now, with this language from the Supreme Court, a work that is “transformed” is fair use and is therefore not an infringement of copyright.
 I'm glad to have found this article.  Transformative use is always an intense topic in my spring copyright class, and now I have this article to add as a reading. Does it make the topic more clear? No, but I think it will help the discussion.

Stephen Carlisle publishes regularly on the NSU Copyright Office web site.  You may want to go and see if another article is of interest to you.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Visit to Scanarkist in NYC

Image from Wikimedia
Last Monday, I had an opportunity to visit Scanarkist, which is both a digitization service bureau and an authorized business partner for Treventus Mechatronics.  They are also a sales partner for the Bookeye and WideTek scanners from Image Access.  It was the Treventus ScanRobot that I had come to see and I also got a peek at Nainuwa and other software solutions.

Scanarkist had exhibited at the IFLA conference in August, where a number of digitization vendors had their equipment on display.  While I had seen the equipment at IFLA, it was good to have an opportunity to sit down with them.  (I must thank my schedule which placed me in NYC walking distance from their location.)  I want to note a few things from that visit:
  • ScanRobot 2.0 MDS:
    • The ScanRobot can scan up to 2,500 pages per hour.  Watching it work, this page count seems quite do-able.  (I say that because often the count is based on optimum conditions, etc.)  
    • It will scan with very little human interaction, although they recommend having someone nearby in case the ScanRobot detects an errors (e.g., flipping two pages at once).  In  service center, I believe a person could watch a couple machines at once.
    • The 60° V-shape book cradle means that it is gentle on a book's spine.
    • The machine uses prism capturing technology, which creates an undistorted image.
    • The machine is on wheels and can be moved between locations or taken into the stacks.
  • Nainuwa (software):
    • The Nainuwa will handle a variety of different media, including images from the ScanRobot.
    • It is possible to search within a document and then use information displayed to go directly to where the search term is mention.
    • A part of an image and its OCR content can be copied and pasted.  While this is a useful feature, it can be associated only with specific types of users if copyright/ownership is a concern. 
    • Content can be zoomed and bookmarked. Bookmarks can be organized so you can retrieved related images.
    • The software has a responsive design, which means that it works on a wide variety of computing devices.
  • Other software mentioned were:
    • Scan Gate
    • Scan Flow
    • Customized tools
So who needs a book scanner these days?  Not everything that should be digitized has been digitized, even when it comes to books. Yet not everyone can purchase a book scanner which costs over $100,000.  Institutions with limited budgets - or institutions who need to scan books but don't have enough materials to warrant their own book scanner - need to be able to partner with someone. That partnership would allow for the purchase of an automated book scanner, which could then be shared.  I can see the Treventus - or similar technology - as a consortial purchase.  In fact, we have consortia who are sharing software and equipment already. They may not, though, have thought about a hardware purchase like this because of its cost.  Justifying the purchase would be important, as well as knowing that the consortium would "get its money's worth" or be able to sell the equipment once they are done (as a way of recouping some of the cost).

By the way, Scanarkist will lease the ScanRobot.  We did not talk about what that meant in terms of cost, but it sounds like an option that could ameliorate some of the cost concerns.

Finally, it was wonderful that several vendors were at IFLA and were able to bring their equipment.  I don't think it is clear to vendors, though, which conferences they should attend and why.  Clearly they cannot go to all of them. And any conference will pitch themselves as "the place" to be.  I wonder if there is a place for library vendors to receive unbiased advice on where to exhibit?

Friday, December 23, 2016

U.S. House Judiciary Committee Members Begin to Propose Copyright Reform

U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. are releasing proposals to reform the US. Copyright Office and the U.S. Copyright Law. In a statement, Goodlatte said:
Today [Dec. 8] we are releasing our first policy proposal, which identifies reforms to modernize the Copyright Office so that it can meet the challenges of the 21st Century. Among the reforms in this document are granting the Copyright Office autonomy with respect to the Library of Congress, requiring the Copyright Office to maintain an up-to-date digital, searchable database of all copyrighted works and associated copyright ownership information, and many others reforms. 
One of those  policy proposals will be on music licensing issue.  According to Variety:
The proposal also would subject the Register of Copyrights to a nomination and consent process, with a 10-year term limit subject to renomination. They also are calling for adding staffers to the office, including a chief economist, chief technologist, and deputy register.
Clearly this past election will cause many things to be reconsidered and the time may be ripe for changes.  I hope that the changes are well thought out, especially when it comes to copyright, since how we handle intellectual property affects every creator in the U.S. (both individual and corporate).

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Politics and the Rule of Three

ThreeSince the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8 (2016), several U.S. organizations have publicly said that they will be backing up their data in other countries (e.g., news article on the Internet Archive).  In terms of having backup, IT professionals talk about the "rule of three".  Hanselman talks about what the "rule of three" is not.  It is not having backups on the same device or in the same server farm.  It is having backups on different media and in different geographic locations.  Yes, I believe that these organizations have been backing up properly. What is new is that they are thinking politically about where those backups are.  They want backups in locations where they will be protected from political interference.

In the U.S., we haven't had to think about our content from this point of view.  For those of you in the world for whom this is normal, I hope you will give us some advice.

Monday, December 05, 2016

NYLA2016 : Wrap-up and Session on Recruiting School Library Students

SU alumna Hannah Ralston
SU Alumna Hannah Ralston
It has been a month since the New York Library Association (NYLA) Annual Conference and time has flown.  Time - finally - for me to write a wrap-up blog post.

At the Business Meeting, it was announced that the NYLA membership now exceeds 5000 people for the first time ever. This is an important milestone for this statewide organization.  It was also mentioned that the 2015 Annual Conference had 1,243 participants (library staff, trustees and supporters).  The final total for 2016 has not been announced, but is over 1000 people.  NYLA is oldest state library association with the distinction of holding the largest state library association conference held on the U.S. East Coast.

Future NYLA Annual Conferences will be held at: 
  • 2017: Saratoga Springs, November 8-11
  • 2018: Rochester, November 7-10
  • 2019: Saratoga Springs, November 13-16
  • 2020: Saratoga Springs, November 4-7
SU faculty and MSLIS students
There are seven library and information science programs in NYS and many hold receptions during the NYLA Conference.  The SU iSchool had 64 alumni, current students (13 total), and friends at it reception. While the number of people packed into the reception is impressive, more impressive is that alumni employers were able to talk with students and other alumni about their current job openings.  When employers can network with potential job seekers, that is powerful.  [Thanks to Smote for the photo to the right.]

Melissa Jacobs, Barbara Stripling and I led a session entitled "Recruit, Retain, Repeat", which focused on recruiting school media (school library) students. Sponsored by the NYLA Section of School Librarians  and the School Library System Association, the session was described as:
School librarians are creative, innovative, and brilliant trailblazers. They are also in danger of extinction. Enrollment in graduate programs has substantially declined over the last decade, but school library vacancies are abundant throughout NYS.  Join your peers for an active conversation to brainstorm how we can recruit and retain for the next generation. Learn about education opportunities, scholarships, and partnerships offered by the New York City School Library System and Syracuse University iSchool and share your success stories of recruiting and training highly effective school librarians. The goal of this interactive session is for all participants to have an engaging conversation on the future of school librarianship and reverse the risk of extinction.
We began by reviewing statewide statistics of the number of school media students and data collected by NYLA on the number of school media specialists currently working in schools.  We then reviewed information on the pathways to certification for a school media specialist.  Finally, we had those present brainstorm ideas that would help all of us recruit more people into this valuable and important area of librarianship.

Our session time went by quickly. While the notes from the brainstorming have been typed up, I haven't yet communicated then back out - as I said upfront, time flies.  However, a few of the ideas were:
  • Creating an easier pathway for teachers who want to become school librarians.
  • Providing library orientation for student teachers, which teaches them about career opportunities while also showing them resources available.
  • Exhibiting/presenting at teacher conferences e.g., NYSCATE).
  • Pushing back on legislation which is making it harder to recruit school librarians.
Barb, Melissa and I are planning to submit a proposal to do a follow-up session at NYLA next fall.  

Finally, NYLA remains one of my favorite conferences!  It is large enough to host a variety of sessions, yet small enough to not be overwhelming.  I find it a real plus that it returns regularly to Saratoga Springs.  Saratoga is easy for people to get to from all areas of NYS.  It is also a beautiful location with tons of good food and gems like an independent bookstore (Northshire).  NYLA attracts all types of librarians, including special librarians.  So if you're in NYS, please consider adding NYLA to your conference list.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.