Tuesday, October 17, 2017

#NDPthree : Building Equitable Digital Communities

On Oct. 17, 2017, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) held a one-day event to discuss the National Digital Platform, review efforts to increase the digital capacity of libraries and museums which have occurred over the last three years, and look towards to the future.  Approximately 85 people attended the event in-person, and many others attended through a livestream or followed the event through Twitter (#NDPthree).  In the room were an amazing group of people from libraries and museums.  It was an impressive group, in terms of knowledge, that was quite willing to engage and share.  Everyone had received the NDP at Three Report, which provided a backdrop for the live discussions.

There will be a report from this one-day event and I believe it will be issued in early 2018. If you are interested in contributing your thoughts to the discussion, consider doing so through Twitter.   I wrote five blog posts about the event and I will admit that I did not - could not! - capture everything.  So these posts are a snapshot.  Perhaps they will spark you to want to know more or engage these people in a deeper conversation.

Event Welcome:  Kathryn Matthews, IMLS
Where have we succeeded and progressed?  Where does additional work need to be done?  Where do we need to be collaborating?  What should IMLS be doing in this area?
Time to look back and look forward.

Overview of NDP: Emily Reynolds, IMLS
The NDP represents the combination of software applications, social and technical integrations, and staff expertise that provide digital content, collections,and services to all library and archive users.
Approximate $11 millions in funding for each of the last three years.  However, over those years the number of grants has increased, meaning that the funding is being spread further.  Trends:
  • Building equitable communities
  • Expanding digital cultural heritage capacities
  • Opening scholarly communications 
She highlighted the following projects out of 111:
  • Design for Diversity, Northeastern University Librsries
  • ePADD Phase 2, Stanford University 
  • Creative Commons Certificate for Librarians, Creative Commons
Overarching questions:
  • Where have you seen the biggest return on investment in NDP funding in the past three years?
  • What do you see as the biggest gaps, needs, or challenges for advancing NDP over the next 3-5 years?
The day will be comprised of five panel discussion.

N.B. - At this meeting were James Neal and Jim Neal, both librarians who finally met each other in person at this event.  You will see both names in my notes.

Building Equitable Digital Communities 
James Neal, IMLS - Moderator

Bonnie Tijerina, Data and Society - The growth in privacy and intellectual freedom concerns. Worked on a collaborative project in NYC. Trained hundreds of staff in the NYC area.  Attracted the attention of the NYC mayor, which brought attention to the role of libraries in this area. Guides, etc., are being used by other libraries across the U.S. Privacy needs to be part of grants and efforts growing forward because of its importance.  Are our products and services adhering to our patrons’ privacy needs?

Sharon Strover, University of Texas at Austin - Has done research on hotspot loan programs.  What does access mean for library populations? What is the return of investment?  Where do people go for access: library, McDonalds, WalMart?  Borrowing a hotspot gives people access like others have. In rural areas, libraries are a key part of the infrastructure.  In rural communities, libraries need to work with others such as schools or statewide tech service centers in order to be successful.  She talked about the importance of erate, but noted that not all libraries are able to take advantage of it.  She also mentioned the role that private businesses play in this area.

Don Means, Gigabit Libraries Network - Libraries as early adopters.  Fiber to the library has allowed for the growth of libraries to provide WiFi.  Look at http://giglibraries.net for additional info and data.

Luke Swarthout, NYPL - Talked about work to address the ebook market and making it better for patrons.  There is a user experience problem. For example, too many clicks to download a book. Libraries as owners of the patron relationship.  Libraries do not currently decide on the patron’s relationship with ebooks.  Libraries need to own the infrastructure.  Referenced IMLS 2012 report on digital inclusion.  He noted that the report is his “favorite thing.”  If our work results that people can get to the Internet to view fake news and pop up ads, then our work is not done. So... the user experience needs to be better.  We need to build the tools to control how libraries interact With their patrons.  We need to get ebooks and digital content in more hands, not just for those who are well off.  
Kelvin Watson, Broward County Library - We need to focus on partners who can help create standards.  He noted a gift of tablet computers given after Hurricane Sandy, but that the gift came with no internet access.  They coupled those with the lending of WiFi hotspots and saw an increase in the number of loans.  His examples demonstrate his belief in collaboration. He talked about lending devices which have apps on them that help people interact with the library.  He noted the need for standards that transcend vendors.

Jim Neal - Comment around economics and preservation.  Luke noted the need to talk with publishers about economics.  Also talked about the need to think more about preservation of digital books. 

Question - Using the current state of Puerto Rico as an example, asked about WiFi and digital white space.  Don noted the need to design for portability and rapid redeployment.  In Sharon’s work, they were looking at hotspots that use cell service.  Don’s project is not using cell service, but radio frequency.
Question (from a tribal library in southwest New Mexico) - Not easy to get college textbooks in ebook format.    

Question - How are librarians prepared to teach digital literacy and privacy?  Bonnie talked about the curriculum they created.  Foundational learning. Need to understand how the internet works to then understand how to protect your privacy and data.  Curriculum and more at DataPrivacyProject.org

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