Thursday, May 23, 2019

What Makes a Good Library Website? (And a question about copyright)

What makes a good library website?
Last year, I start the iSchool Public Libraries Initiative (IPLI).  In the fall, two MSLIS students - as part of their work with the IPLI looked at the state library websites for all 50 state libraries.  What they found were websites that varied in how they were organized and in their usefulness. One of the MSLIS students has a background in information technology (IT) and became interested in what libraries - of all types - could be doing differently with their websites.  Sabrina Unrein took that exploration and create a paper on the topic entitled, What Makes a Good Library Website?  She introduced the paper on May 20 through a blog post.

Haven't we talked about this before, as a profession?  Haven't we already improved our websites?  Yes, we've talked about it, and some libraries have improved their websites.  However, some have not kept up with those improvements and those sites are out of date and not accessible to those with vision impairments.

Is you website content using copyrighted materials?


Sabrina did not touch upon copyright, because her efforts were focused on how websites are structured.  However, as you're reading her report and looking at your website, now would be a good time to review your graphics. Are you using graphics which you created? Are you using works with an appropriate Creative Commons license? Are you using works in the public domain?  Are you using works where you have received written permission from the creator?  If you find works on your site that cause you to answer "no" to any of those questions, now would be a good time to remove them. 

Review your website regularly


Is your website up to date and using current technologies? That is a question which you need to ask yourself regularly.  I would suggest that you review your site yearly, at least, with more frequently reviews being more useful.  Do not let your website get so out of date that updating its structure, content, or technology requires more time or money than you can give.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Article: Accused of ‘Terrorism’ for Putting Legal Materials Online

While judicial decisions, recorded by U.S. courts, have been held a being in the public domain, states have turned to legal publishers to make the materials available, and copyright has become an issue.  In 1888, the Supreme Court ruled that:
The whole work done by the judges consitutes [sic] the authentic exposition and interpretation of the law, which, binding every citizen, is free for publication to all, whether it is a declaration of unwritten law, or an interpretation of a constitution or a statute. Nash v. Lathrop, 142 Mass. 29, 35, 6 N. E. Rep. 559. In Wheaton v. Peters, at page 668, it was said by this court, that it was 'unanimously of opinion that no reporter has or can have any copyright in the written opinions delivered by this court; and that the judges thereof cannot confer on any reporter any such right.' What a court or a judge thereof cannot confer on a reporter as the basis of a copyright in him, they cannot confer on any other person or on the state.
In Georgia, the state believes it can stop someone from publishing court decisions, because of the annotations, which are not part of a judge's ruling.  A federal appeals court has rules against the state, and now the state has asked the Supreme Court to step in, even though it ruled on this in 1888. 

The New York Times has a good article on this and it is a fascinating read. Can a state limit who publishes court rules? Can it limit how much is published?  And if a state can control the dissemination of rulings, what affect will this have on its residents?

Monday, May 06, 2019

Can the search committee see you working in their environment?

Glass wall in Hotel Andaluz
Below is a post I wrote in the Facebook group Library Think Tank (#ALATT) on April 1 and it is now joke.  It is a post that I don't want to lose, so I'm placing it here.  (Please note that it has been updated to fix wording in a couple of places.)


Can the search committee see you working in their environment?


I'm currently on three search committees (and have been on many before this) and I know that we ask versions of this question when we are reviewing candidates. Does this person have the right skills, or can the person (quickly) develop the needed skills? Does the person's attitude mesh with ours? Is the person on the same trajectory as us? Is the person demonstrating that they want to fit in with us?
Yes, we review the person's resume/CV, interview the person, check references, etc., all with an eye towards whether the person is the correct person for this opportunity at this time. The person might not be ready.

Questions (for you to ponder) for those of you on the job hunt, how do you demonstrate to the search committee that you see yourself working in that environment? What is in your cover letter, which connects you to that environment and its needs? Do they see on your resume that you have the skills they are looking for? Through your interview (Skype, telephone, or on-site), can they see that you will fit in? Have you taken the time to learn something about that organization and do you use that information in your interview? If you have to give a presentation, have you inserted what you know about the organization?

When you ask about your piercings or hair color, what you are asking is whether the search committee and organization will see you as fitting in. When they look at everything about you (resume, etc.), will they see someone who belongs in their organization? Or do your materials, presentation, interview, etc. paint a picture of you such that the fact you have piercings or colored hair become the dominate piece of information about you?

Friday, April 12, 2019

#UNYSLA Spring Conference: What to do when things do not go according to the Project Plan!

Jeremy Cusker (Cornell University Libraries) talked through a collaborative journal subscription project, that was focused on lowering costs. He noted that when a vendor carries open access journals, that it doesn’t reduce the costs. He also noted that it wasn’t possible to be completely data driven.  Some selectors felt that how faculty felt about specific journals needed to be considered. 

The day then ended with a quick panel discussion with some of the presenters:
  • Jill Wilson
  • Erin Smith
  • Emily Clasper
  • Elaine Lasda
  • Jeremy Cusker
  • Kelly Johnson
One question they all answered was: What have you done when things go wrong?

Final thoughts

This was a wonderful day of learning about project management. It both reinforced what we knew, and allowed to gain new knowledge.  The event was held in the Erie Canal Museum, which was a nice location.  Lunch was catered by Scratch Farmhouse Catering, which was awesome.  The event was sponsored by EBSCO and Elsevier.  Thanks to the reps for coming to Syracuse and telling us about their products.

Next year is the Chapter's 75th anniversary!  I'm looking forward to the celebrations!

#UNYSLA Spring Conference: Adapting to Change: Revising the Plan

Erin Smith and Laura Benjamin (SU Libraries) undertook a massive endeavor to free up space in the Syracuse University Bird Library, which required shifting a high number of books. They needed to shift books from the second floor to make more space for students.  No books could be shifted outside of Bird Library and there wasn't enough time to do weeding.

Will the books fit?
  • They did a shelf count and they measured the collection 
  • They were only able to add 84 shelves, which was not enough.
  • While all the books would fit into the library, the shelf fill rate would be higher than recommended.
Who will do the work?  The fact that staff is unionized impacted that.  They were able to work through this issue.
 
The developed strategic fill rates for each call number based on growth.  They created four fill rate categories. 

They used an Excel spreadsheet to map every shelf in the library.  This was a ton of work, but it helped them recognize when their plan was not yielding the free space they expected.

They made a glossary so that all workers were calling things by the same names.

Erin and Laura talked us through an amazing 8-month project that was fraught with problems that crept in.  They found creative solutions for addressing the problems they encountered, including not having enough space.  The good news is that they got done on schedule.

Long term impacts
  • No extra room
  • Ongoing discussion on future plans for space
Broader takeaways
  • Solid planning gives you a framework to rely on, even when the project doesn’t play out as planned
  • Keep the goal and related projects in mind when making changes