Heritage Public Library

Culture, Books and Arts.

August 13, 2016

Making Libraries Visible on the Web | The Digital Shift

OverDrive find a libraryIn Library: An Unquiet History, historian and curatorial fellow for Harvard’s metaLAB Matthew Battles describes Melvil Dewey’s impatience with inefficiency in library work in the 1870s. “To Dewey, local interests and special needs were less important than the efficient movement of books into the hands of readers,” he writes.

That crisp statement of purpose should be an inspiration to the current discussions around making library collections and programs visible and available on the web.

A visitor to Libraryland looking at project websites, reading journals, and listening to conference  presentations might think that our only goal is to build new databases that use RDF triples and semantic web ontologies and express our frustration with some guy named Marc. There is clear passion for change, but we’d have to explain to our visitor that all of this technical activity has a genuine outcome in mind: to connect readers to the wide variety of collections and services that libraries offer, even when the user is starting from a search engine on the open web. The work to replace outdated methods of managing library metadata will allow more readers to connect to library collections and services more often, wherever they are searching.

Rachel Fewell, central library administrator for the Denver Public Library, describes it this way: “We are in an in-between world where we have two groups of people: [the] ones who already go to the library and the ones who never think about the library.”

Making libraries more visible on the web has two benefits: improving the service for the ones who are already committed to the library—they use search engines, too—and giving libraries the opportunity to reach those who never—or only sometimes—think about the library.

Declaring the outcomes we want matters, because the stakes are high. Commercial search engines have been wildly successful at connecting searchers to content because they have prioritized convenience, ease of use, and relevance of results over uniformity of presentation. Libraries now have an opportunity to understand the rules of the web and to integrate their collections and services into these convenient interfaces. Failing to do so would be a missed opportunity and a risk to the relevance of libraries.

To rise to the challenge, libraries must be explicit as to how the convenience of the user is paramount and following the rules of the web is critical to reaching people in this in-between world.

How did we get here?

How libraries drifted from a focus on the convenience of the reader can be traced through the development of library catalogs and inventory systems. Cataloging historian Dorothy May Norris tells us that the first known library catalog was written directly on the walls of the library of Edfu in Upper Egypt between 237 and 57 BCE. It was “just a bare list of books.” While the ongoing maintenance of a painted catalog doesn’t fit with today’s rapidly changing collections, if the goal is to broadcast the contents of the holdings to readers in the library, it works; the library’s assets are right there on the wall.

From there, catalogs evolved into codices: hand-crafted volumes that recorded collections for the librarian and the select few who had access to the codex. The early years of the modern era brought the card catalog, which first appeared in the 1790s in Vienna. In the 19th century, Dewey made a number of recommendations toward the standardization of library equipment and internal processes, all with the goal of more efficiently getting books into the hands of the reader. The 20th century brought mainframe computers that could store the details of millions of books and journals, increase the efficiency of library transactions, and reduce the cost of sharing cataloging data. So began the focus on the efficiency of library inventory management and catalog maintenance. The literature of library science shifted to information studies and library operations, and the language of librarianship shifted to training library users how to use these new systems.

How the web works

In the late 20th century, search engines appeared on the scene. These were built by technology companies totally focused on the convenience of searchers as a means to reach their business goals. They revolutionized information retrieval by exclusively addressing what the searcher wants: highly relevant information on the first screen of results. Over time, those search engines have developed preferred methods for the presentation of data on the web to make it available for harvesting and indexing. While libraries were early adopters of web-based catalogs, they have not widely adopted the preferred methods for allowing their data to be consumed by search engines and ranked in search results.

The good news for libraries is that the technology for integrating with search engines is not a secret art only accessible to businesses with large technology budgets. Because it improves their results, search engine companies do not keep the best practices of website design and data structure a secret. Of course, they don’t share the precise algorithms they use—those are trade secrets that distinguish one search engine from another—but they are clear about how they want websites to be structured and what they value in the data setup and content. Let’s take Google Search as an example. It has three areas of search results: traditional results, the list of web pages and documents that it is famous for; the Knowledge Card, which includes information about people, books, places, and events such as sports or movie times; and sponsored links. Each of these has rules that must be followed for prominent placement in results.

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Traditional Results: The most important of the dozens of best practices are to keep your website unblocked from crawlers, include video and pictures, maintain high word frequency for keywords, put keywords in the URL, maintain a high degree of adjacency of the keywords, use synonyms for the keywords throughout the page, and manage the overall quality of the pages, including frequent updates. Provide a page for each element of inventory (titles, services, and programs for libraries) that has a durable link structure that can be used by other websites as a reference. Finally, PageRank matters—that’s where the number of times a page is linked to from another page is counted, following the principle that if something is referred to more than something else it is probably more relevant. When calculating relevance, search engines look at all of these rules. The sites and pages that follow the rules most closely are rewarded with better positions in the results.

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Knowledge Card: Follow the rules of the semantic web. Use universal identifiers for “things” like people, works, objects, and places. Provide complete descriptions of library locations, branches, and services in the structured data stores that the search engines draw from—think Wikidata. Richard Wallis, an expert on the semantic web for libraries, gives this advice: “To get your content into the Knowledge Card, semantic properties will prove more fruitful and effective than simple words.” That means using linked data and use the same HTTP URIs (uniform resource identifiers) that are used in other libraries and on the web.

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Sponsored Links: Payment for placement is the rule here. Payment is a legitimate strategy in content marketing for commercial and noncommercial organizations—including libraries.

The world of commercial websites is well aware of the rules described above and significant energy goes into management of the structure of commercial websites and the presentation of their data. Libraries have the opportunity to improve their relevance on the web by observing those rules, monitoring the capabilities and compliance of their web-based catalogs, and finding all of the opportunities they can to use services that follow the rules.

What’s going on today?

Libraries have not been ignoring their generally poor results in search engine relevance, but much of the energy goes into discussions of changing the model for storing bibliographic data—that is, replacing the MARC21 standard for data exchange with something more web-friendly and transforming metadata operations into processes that convert existing MARC21 data or create new data in new models.

The Library of Congress (LC) has spearheaded that effort with the Bibliographic Framework Initiative or BIBFRAME. Beacher Wiggins, the director for acquisitions and bibliographic access at LC, says web visibility is “one of the topmost desires of BIBFRAME.”

Linked Data for Libraries, an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation–funded project of the top research libraries in the United States, has taken on the task of developing a shared database of BIBFRAME data to experiment with entirely BIBFRAME-based cataloging work flows. Phillip Schreur of Stanford University, one of the project leaders, says, “MARC was designed to represent cards, not web pages” and “in the future we’ll be working on the web.”

Service organizations have also made contributions. OCLC Research has used its big data tools and scientists to experiment with creating linked data representing works and persons mined from the massive WorldCat and Virtual International Authority File datasets. These trials could prove useful in the effort to use universal identifiers across all libraries.

The commercial firm Zepheira has taken a more straightforward approach to improve library visibility on the web. Its founder and president Eric Miller says, “The promise of moving library assets to become visible on the web is exciting. It is also a move that will be most successful with planning and a comprehensive view of the library’s assets: service locations, books, articles, events, programs, services, and people.”

To do this, the company is offering a service called the Library.Link Network (see Library.Link Builds Open Web Visibility), which converts traditional library data about all of the library’s collections and services into what Zepheira’s Jeff Penka calls “the meaningful vocabularies on the web.” It does this on a web infrastructure that surfaces the data in structures that search engines understand and can crawl. Zepheira’s goal is to create a network that allows a library to follow the rules of the web without having to manage the technical infrastructure itself.

Ebook and audiobook provider OverDrive has had tremendous success making library fulfillment options available in the search engine Bing’s version of Knowledge Card. OverDrive CEO Steve Potash refers to visibility on the web as “content marketing for libraries,” and he rates it a highly effective technique for the promotion of library ­services.

OverDrive has seen its success by following the rules and assiduously observing the “fabric and tools of the web.” This is in contrast to an approach that relies on standards created within the library field. Its goal is product promotion for OverDrive, but the result is a channel for the visibility of libraries on the web. Potash considers it a “working relationship that enables the sharing, reading, sampling, and ultimately marketing of library content to effectively promote library services at scale.”

What’s next?

Most of the discussion around making library collections and services more available on the web has been dominated by exhortations to replace MARC21 or create new data in new models such as BIBFRAME. These are important tactics, but the discussions rarely refer to an outcome: improvement to the perceived value of libraries and the efficient movement of books and services into the hands of readers. Failing to declare the desired outcome risks the danger of focusing on process and technical detail over long-term goals.

The initiatives that are building the future of libraries on the web should be clear in relation to the outcomes we want, optimistic about our opportunities, and cognizant that following the rules of the web will reap big rewards.

Ted Fons is a principal consultant for Third Chapter Partners. A librarian for more than 20 years, he was Executive Director, Data Services & WorldCat Quality, OCLC, and Director, Customer Services, Innovative Interfaces

To learn more about how to raise the visibility of libraries on the open web, come to LJ’s daylong virtual event, The Digital Shift. Stacey Watson of the Denver Public Library and Erica Findley of the Multnomah County Library, OR, will speak about their libraries’ linked data efforts and their outcomes so far. To register for free, visit ow.ly/dnRb302tosM.

August 01, 2016

Making the Advocacy Decision

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALibrary trustees—whether elected or appointed—have the fiduciary responsibility to ensure that the library has the resources to provide the programs and services the community wants.

In some states, trustees take an oath of office. In others, there’s no oath but rather the expectation that they treat the job just as seriously as if they had taken one. The trustees set policy and also oversee the financial health and well-being of the library. The former delineates the library’s day-to-day business—how many books patrons can take out, how the rooms are used, etc. The latter, however, can be a bit tricky because trustees have to make the case for funding—either to the local municipality or to the voters.

No matter how a library is funded, trustees must decide that advocacy is going to be part of their identities as trustees. Yes, there’s a difference between public education and a vote yes effort—but they are both part of advocacy, and advocacy is part of a trustee’s mandate.

When library trustees are faced with the need to persuade their local government to provide more funding, or ask the voters to support the library’s budget or millage, or go to the public to procure community-based funding for a building, they must make an informed decision that includes the willingness to advocate for the library. It is essential for the entire board to be in support of the initiative. Sure, there will be discussion and there might even be a no vote or two. But as with any well-run, responsible committee, once the board makes a decision, it is imperative that all its members support that decision.

After deliberations in one upstate New York urban library, the decision was made to pursue becoming a library district by which the voters approve an annual budget and elect trustees. There was one board member who opposed the effort. He could not, in good conscience, support the effort to raise funds through a tax and he resigned. But instead of taking his discomfort public, he kept his disagreement with the board out of the spotlight. This is the best possible scenario when a board member is unhappy with an advocacy decision.

PUTTING A PLAN IN PLACE

Once the decision to move forward is made, the board must put a plan in place that educates elected officials or the voters. That public education should include talking points, a Q&A, a website on the initiative (especially if you’re going for a public vote), social media, and direct mail material. The board and the library have numerous opportunities to educate the public. Staff can explain the funding initiative and its pros and cons. The library director can make public presentations. Trustees can talk with municipal and community leaders. Together, they can build momentum.

Trustees are the backbone of a library’s advocacy efforts. If they don’t stand up for the library, why should anyone else?

Trustees also have the ability to say “vote yes” as long as they differentiate their civilian opinion from their role as board members and identify themselves as “Josephine Taxpayer” rather than “Josephine, the Library Trustee.”  Yet, honestly, would anyone expect a trustee to take their board member hat off and then say, “Vote no”?

FRIENDS, INDEED

Trustees can build effective community partnerships for the library starting with the library’s Friends group. These folks, as long as the Friends are a separate 501(c)(3), can spend all day saying vote yes. They can’t spend all their money saying vote yes—only up to 20 percent of their budget, according to the IRS—but they can go out into the community and talk, talk, talk.

There are times when the Friends make all the difference. At an urban library in Westchester County, NY, that was on the brink of closing, the board chose to move forward with asking the voters for $4.35 ­million. But it was the Friends who made the campaign happen. Composed of older residents who lived and taught there, as well as professional women, the Friends reflected the demographics of the community. Together with staff, volunteers, and the board they created a bandwagon effect that brought in all the local segments and culminated in saving the ­library.

No matter what the decision is, however, it all starts with the trustees. It is this body that makes the decision to move forward. It is this body that makes the difference for the community through their support of the library. They need to work together, with full intent, if they are going to succeed.


Libby Post is President/CEO of Communication Services and serves on the American Library Association’s Library Advocacy Committee.

August 01, 2016

James Franco, “Directing Herbert White”

James Franco

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Every poet has their obsessions and for James Franco they are childhood, gender, sex, innocence, and the work place he knows best: the film industry. Within these poetic frames we’re introduced to various voices, landscapes nearly worn out with elegy, and a repertoire of imagery that is both tender and violent. Franco is our poet of earnest grotesquerie, favoring clarity to vagueness as he depicts the bizarre zones of early experience that crash against poems of adulthood that occupy spaces most readers do not have access to: film and celebrity. However, Franco’s poems seem to argue that a kinship exists between the world of the adolescent and the world of a movie set. In his poems, we see the intersection of both and the distinctions between sincerity and artifice are blurred and complicated by a speaker who seems simultaneously anchored in both of these perceptual districts. In addition to Franco’s fidelity to the bramble of childhood memory and glittering industrial complex of show business, his poems are deceptively musical, employing internal rhymes and capturing the tiny voltage of music inside every syllable, creating a sonic landscape one might miss if you don’t read the poems aloud. When the book Directing Herbert White (Graywolf Press, 2014) was first published, it made a big splash in the otherwise small pond of the poetry world, and it reminded me of what Franco does best: challenges society’s notions of the artist and the dynamic – and at times rigid communities – they inhabit. During out chat we talk about the relationship between childhood and violence, the creative writing workshop as a site of instruction, his various poetic influences, and so much more.

November 11, 2015

Jeannine Atkins, “Little Woman in Blue: A Novel of May Alcott”

Jeannine Atkins

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Even people who have never read Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and its two sequels (Little Men and Jo’s Boys) probably have at least a vague memory of hearing about the March girls–Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy–whose father is away serving as a chaplain in the U.S. Civil War and who often struggle to put bread on the table. Meg, the oldest sister, follows a conventional life for the time by marrying young and bearing twins. Jo, the rebel, forges a career as a writer. Beth is the homebody, sweet and uncomplaining. And Amy, the youngest sister, has artistic ambitions but surrenders them to marry the son of a wealthy man.

For all their realistic feel, the events in Little Women turn out mostly to be the product of its author’s imagination. This is nowhere more true than in Alcott’s portrayal of Amy, a fictionalized version of her youngest sister, May. In Little Women in Blue: A Novel of May Alcott (She Writes Press, 2015), Jeannine Atkins reintroduces us to the story of May’s life, focusing on her persistence against the odds, her refusal to accept the need to choose between career and family or settle for a genteel life in poverty, and her careful balancing of her own yearning to paint against the onslaught of domestic demands. From this richly detailed exploration of rivalry and sisterhood, we gain a new appreciation for an extraordinary woman, celebrated in her day but since obscured by her more famous sibling. May was, in the language of our own time, determined to “have it all.” Read this book to discover whether she succeeded.

October 26, 2015

Top 5 Books for Men Who Do Not Read

Apart from a couple of portions, the majority of guys would rather play a video game or view than check out a book. Possibly, this is why, books are the last things, which come to mind when thinking of perfect manly presents.

It is hard to purchase books for somebody who barely checks out. Not just you need to discover an ideal category for them, you likewise need to discover a book they will really take pleasure in reading. Here are couple of book titles, recommended for those non-reading males who decline books for the simple factor that they do not have the persistence:

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The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

About: It has to do with teenage angst and alienation of Holden Caulfield, who shows the readers, his account of 24-Hours he invested in New York city City. When he grows up, he comes to understand that the adult years is absolutely nothing, however, a sham and hopes to maintain the youth innocence.

Initially meant for adult readers, the unique ultimately made its specific niche among an ideal audience, the young grownups. Remarkably crafted by Mr. Salinger, the sensible styles and characters make it a credible story for all.

DILEMMA by Joseph Heller

As drawn from Amazon, “Embedded in Italy throughout The second world war, this is the story of the unparalleled, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero who rages since countless individuals he has actually never ever fulfilled are attempting to eliminate him. His actual issue is not the enemy it is his own army, which keeps enhancing the number of objectives the males should fly to finish their service. If Yossarian efforts to excuse himself from the dangerous objectives designated to him, he will be in an offense of DILEMMA”.
For whom: Male, who are diehard fans of action, war stories, reasoning and black humor, they would certainly treasure this book.

Brief Stories from Rabindranath Tagore by Rabindranath Tagore.

About: Composed at some point in between 1891 and 1917 by Tagore, this book puts together sixteen narratives of his, which depict the variegated human feelings, as females and males handle the borders of modern Hindu society.
For whom: Tagore, among India’s biggest authors, artist, painter, and poet, records the life of India in all his stories, and this is no various. He does not evaluate in his stories and the readers need to draw their own conclusions. This book is definitely for those who are touched by basic best part, depths of understanding and empathy.

Midnight’s Kid by Salman Rushdie.

About: “At the stroke of midnight …” on August 15, 1947, an independent India was born therefore was Saleem Sinai, the lead character. Quickly he understands that his time of birth has a direct cable to the occasion occurring in post independent India. He likewise recognizes that he has telepathic powers, which link him to thousand other kids born at midnight on August 15, 1947, and their unique powers.

For whom: Loaded with a magic-realistic look, this book will quickly discover takers in those who have actually established a taste for historical fictions. Salman Rushdie’s brilliant storytelling technique mesmerizes the reader from the starting up until completion.

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom.

About: As extracted from Wikipedia, “Paper sports writer Mitch Albom states the time invested with his 78-year-old sociology teacher, Morrie Schwartz, at Brandeis University, who was passing away from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)… The resulting book explains these fourteen Tuesdays they satisfy, supplemented with Schwartz’s lectures and life experiences and sprinkled with allusions and flashbacks to modern occasions.

For whom: It is for guys of any ages who have actually forgotten the genuine significance of life and ways to live it.

October 26, 2015

How To Write A Good Book And Publish It

Composing a very popular book is an author’s dream. Every enthusiastic author wants that he or she might compose a book that millions of individuals in the world will desire to read. A lot of individuals compose books, however just a handful of them go end up being effective authors.

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1: Be Passionate to your craft

An enthusiastic individual does not offer up at the very first sign of hardship. Instead, an enthusiastic author will get up and move forward every time he or she falls down. That implies what a bestselling author will keep going if somebody turns down a manuscript or does not invest in him or her.

2: Compose Something Significant

The topic of the book might discuss to individuals how they can carry out a certain action to reach a greater point in their lives. The book might consist of an interesting imaginary trip. Otherwise, the book will get lost in the works that have actually currently been developed.

3: Get Help With the Mechanics

A bestselling book has to satisfy grammatical certifications for it to advance. Some individuals will not look at a book that includes a mistake. An author can work with a personal editor who can help with the tasks.

4: Pick an Efficient Publishing Path

The favorable part of composing a book is that numerous publishing services are readily available. Web sites such as Kindle Direct Publishing, XulonPress, and Lulu permit authors to self-publish their books for a little part of the profits. The self-publishing procedure permits authors to avoid the step that includes providing one’s work to a publisher.

5: Promote Your Book

KDP permits its authors to provide their books for totally free for up to 5 days. An author can promote his or her book by working with marketers or performing self-advertisements on different sites. Individuals will ultimately share a great book with their buddies and household members, and the author’s appeal will spread out.

Social media is an outstanding method to spread out the word about an approaching or brand-new books. Ending up being a bestseller and releasing a bestselling book are 2 jobs that need a significant quantity of devotion and effort. Any individual who desires to understand how to be a bestselling author will have to begin with that faith.

Some more tips to start off, check it out!