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Apr 1, 2019
"Peer analysis" is a tool used in finance, management, and even sports -- and you do it unconsciously all the time. We're simply finding the similar items in a large dataset by one or more dimensions, and then seeing how they compare in other dimensions. In other words, if you're the director of a small library in Ruraltown, Nebraska, you don't want to compare your library's collection numbers to those larger library systems in Omaha and Nebraska.
Mar 22, 2019
A data librarian is a librarian who specializes in helping people find and use data. While I'm not a librarian myself, I do help librarians find and use data, so when I saw this book mentioned on Twitter, I was quick to hop on our local library's OPAC and request a copy. Quick summary: a fantastic introduction to the strategies and tools used by data librarians!
Mar 15, 2019
With the news this week that the Trump Administration is trying to destroy the Institute for Museum and Library Services - for the third year in a row - library advocates across the United States snapped into action. ALA fired up a "send an email to your representative" tool as well as an interactive table for looking up your representative's and senator's respective votes on past library funding bills. As BookRiot says, not hyperbolically: "[d]efunding the IMLS would effectively end all federal funding of public libraries."
Feb 28, 2019
Are you going to build a community digital project, like a new online app or map for your city or region? Make sure to check out the project toolkit from the US Census Bureau's "The Opportunity Project" for some great tips and resources! The toolkit includes helpful explanations of the chief steps of planning, building, and supporting a digital product or service - and since it's provided by the Census Bureau, there are tons of links to data sources from federal, state, and local sources.
Feb 26, 2019
Something big is coming in 2020 - and we're not talking about the presidential election or the Olympics... it's the decennial US census! And libraries have a critical role to play to ensure that their communities are represented in the census data, and the resulting program dollars that will flow. Thankfully, the US Census Bureau and other organizations are working together to help everyone be counted fairly.
Feb 2, 2019
You can create simple online maps using free tools like Google's My Maps, but for serious collections of local landmarks, or historical/cultural resources, you'll need something more powerful, such as the custom platform that we built for Chicago Ancestors. I recently came across the open source platform "Arches," popularized by a digital history project in Los Angeles, that provides powerful geodata management capabilities perfect for digital humanities projects.
Jan 21, 2019
If you haven't visited the Data.gov website before, you'll need to wait until the federal government re-opens to check out the thousands of free public government dataset that used to be available to explore and download. And if your library or community uses that data for an application or project - you already know that you're out of luck! (In the meantime, you can still read our 2017 Public Library Quarterly article about open data in the library.)
Jan 8, 2019
Our last blog post about accessibility focused on making sure that your website was easy to access by people that use assistive technologies, such as screen readers, which read aloud what's on a computer screen to users with low or no vision. I recently attended a fantastic webinar on actual screen reader software itself by Kelsey Flynn of the White Oak Public Library District in Illinois, presented through the LITA webinar series. Kelsey covered some of the basics of accessibility software, including deep dives into the five most popular screen reader titles.
Some of my key takeaways:
Dec 12, 2018
Remember the famous viral clip of a Senator on the floor of the Senate holding aloft a snowball as proof that climate change was surely a hoax, or the meme-inspiring "the Internet is not a big truck; it's a series of tubes" quote from a different Senator? Well, those zany congresspeople were at it again during last month's Congressional hearings with Google:
This clip might be late night comedy fodder, and many people are correctly pointing out that the specific question isn't really answered by whether the device was an Android or an iPhone -- but it proves a greater point that our legislators are often woefully misinformed about the technology that they are quick to regulate. That wasn't always the case, and it doesn't have to be the case now.
Nov 28, 2018
As someone who has worked on community technology projects for nearly twenty years, it was always conventional wisdom that we had to reach people offline to bring them online. In other words, we couldn't solely do outreach via the Internet when we were targeting people that were, often by definition, completely offline. As librarians in an increasingly digital world approaching 2020, it can be frustrating to see low uptake of digital services or low participation rates in online programs, like summer reading. When studies show that Americans of all ages and economic groups go online in increasing numbers, why is the online use rate of our digital services not skyrocketing?