Remixing the Library

Last Friday, Angela Murillo and I had a fantastic time presenting our keynote at the University of Iowa B Sides Conference, “Unpacking the ‘Library’: Exploring Works in Progress Across the Fields of LIS.” And although I’m having trouble embedding the ol’ Prezi presentation in WordPress… I hope you’ll check it out here.  Here’s a screenshot to entice you:

Remixing The Library presentation screenshot

And here are our presentation notes.  You can click on any of these headings to go straight to that portion of the keynote:

I. Overview
II. Introductions
III. An Innovating Profession

a. Classification
b. Catalogs
c. Open Source Tools
d. Open Access Journals
e. Institutional Repositories
f. Creative Commons

IV. Building B Sides
V. Building Tools in the Future
VI. And B Sides is Still Innovating…

Or, just continue to view notes from the entire presentation:

I. Overview

  • We’re Rachel and Angela, and we’re going to be talking about librarians as innovators:
    • Librarians who have innovated in the past
    • How we were able to innovate in SLIS
    • Ways our profession can innovate in the future

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II. Introductions

  • Personal experiences being “in the field” for a year…
    • Rachel: Professional / Public
      • Bachelor’s degrees in English and Italian lit
      • MLIS from University of Iowa; Internship in Adult Services at Iowa City Public Library
      • Adult Programs Director at Lawrence Public Library (KS)
        • Community partnerships & development
        • Social media strategies
        • Technology instruction
    • Angela: Academic
      • Bachelor’s degrees in English, Spanish, and Geosciences
      • IMLS Digital Libraries Fellow
      • First year doctoral student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, School of Information and Library Science
      • IMLS DigCCurr Fellow, Digital Curation Fellow
        • SNA study in digital curation
        • Study of natural scientists’ use of social media in research process
        • Creating curriculum for both professional and academic audiences in regards to digital curation

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III. An Innovating Profession

  • Despite stereotypes of conservative librarianship practices, our profession has been innovating all along!  Here are a few examples of past library & information innovations:
    • Classification

      • Dewey Decimal System
        • Dewey invented DDC in 1873 (when he was 22!) and patented it in 1876.
        • “Remixed” / synthesized DDC from ideas by Nathanial Shurtlaff, William Lorrey Harris, and even philosophers G.W.F. Hegel and Sir Francis Bacon.
        • Relative locations and relative indices: items now placed in stacks based on their relationships to each other, instead of alphabetical or by accession number.
      • Maricopa County Library (AZ), Perry Branch: “Deweyless”
        • Went “Deweyless” in 2007.  Director Harry Courtright spearheaded initiative to use 50 “neighborhoods” divided into subsections, devised by the Book Industry Study Group (i.e. bookstores).
        • Dewey has a strong classification bias for Christianity and American history, not so much for computers, cooking and travel.  “A lot of times, patrons feel like they’re going to a library and admitting defeat because they don’t understand Dewey Decimal and can’t find the book they’re looking for.  People think of books by subject.  Very few people say, ‘Oh, I knew Dewey by heart.'”
        • Although some have called it “heresy,” the system won a National Book Foundation Prize for First Innovations in Reading, and has been featured by NPR, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Library Journal.(back to top)
    • Catalogs

      • Card Catalog: Bored Holes
        • Revolutionary French government of 1791 seized religious libraries and took inventory on the back of playing cards.
        • In 1840, Harvard College Librarian Thaddeus William Harris specified that every work in the library should be “slip catalogued” on a 6.5X1.5 inch slip. Then, in 1853, Boston Athenaeum librarian Charles Folsom bored a hole through each pile so they could be browsed while “preserving them in their proper order without confusion or danger of loss.”
        • In 1901, the Library of Congress started selling and distributing pre-printed catalog cards to libraries throughout the nation. Mass production allowed libraries to get multiple cards for each book — title, author, and subject.
      • Social OPACs: Bibliocommons
        • Launched in 2008 in Oakville Public Library (near Toronto, ON).  Company began as a nonprofit youth literacy initiative, when a pilot project with the Toronto Public Library prompted a broader look at library application.
        • Bibliocommons is a new “social discovery system” for libraries that replaces all user-facing OPAC functionality and allows  commenting, tagging, rating.
        • Gail Richardson, Oakville’s acting director of online services, has said: “This is revolutionary, as far as I’m concerned.  People don’t want a library that acts like just a glorified card catalog online.  They want a catalog that’s as good as Google and Amazon.”  Library users mostly want “easy reader’s advisory” — better way to get recommendations and connect with people online.(back to top)
    • Open Source Tools

      • Evergreen (created by Georgia Public Library Service)
        • In 2005, the library automation system for PINES, the lending network for Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS), was rapidly failing. GPLS and PINES approached other library software vendors, but every system evaluated, whether proprietary or open source, fell short in one way or another, usually due to fundamental design issues.
        • A few of the vendors GPLS met with admitted that they couldn’t handle PINES’ requirements, and didn’t want to try.  GPLS decided that instead of pointing fingers at vendors or complaining about the limitations of legacy software, their developers would write the kind of system we want our users to experience.
        • Open source software (OSS) is software that is free to download, free to use, free to modify, and free to view. OSS is open in every sense of the word.  If you have the know-how, you can modify any truly open source software.(back to top)
    • Open Access Journals

      • PLoS, Public Library of Science
        • PLoS began in early 2001 as an online petition by Patrick O. Brown, a biochemist at Stanford University, and Michael Eisen, a computational biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
        • Petition called for scientists to pledge that they would discontinue submission of papers to journals which did not make the full-text of their papers available to all, free and unfettered, either immediately or after a delay of several months.
        • PLoS organizers then started their own journal; began full operation on October 13, 2003, with the publication of a peer-reviewed print and online scientific journal entitled PLoS Biology. Has since launched seven more peer-reviewed journals.  The PLoS journals are what it describes as “open access content”; all content is published under the Creative Commons “attribution” license.(back to top)
    • Institutional Repositories

      • Bepress (Berkely Electronic Press)
        • Robert Cooter, Professor of Law, Berkeley, co-editor of The International Review of Law and Economics, 1987.  The journal was acquired by a major publishing company raised the price by 400 percent.  Professor Cooter felt that what happened with IRLE represented a major crisis in scholarly communication.
        • Motivated by what he viewed as a broken system, Professor Cooter approached fellow Berkeley professor Aaron S. Edlin, and together they launched a sustainable alternative: Berkeley Electronic Press. Professors Cooter and Edlin wanted to put control back into the hands of scholars and libraries.
        • Readership has grown to more than one million professors, researchers, and practitioners worldwide, and scholars download bepress articles over 1,000 times per day.(back to top)
    • Creative Commons

      • Copyright Background
        • Original Copyright language: “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries,” e.g. striking a balance between public and private interests.
        • But copyright terms have been growing more restrictive in favor of private interests:  1790: 2 14-year terms, or 28 years; 1831: a 3rd term, totalling 42 years; 1909: a 4th term, totalling 56 years; 1976: life of author + 50 years; 1998: life of author + 70 years.
      • Lawrence Freaking Lessig
        • Restrictive “Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act” passed on October 27, 1998.  But Eric Eldred, web developer from New Hampshire, decided to continue making “public domain” works available via civil disobedience.
        • Lessig challenged constitutionality of the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension act in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Eldred, but was defeated 7-2.
        • Meanwhile, a group of people working together to prepare the case of Eldred vs. Reno formed Copyright’s Commons: “a coalition devoted to promoting the public availability of literature, art, music, and film.” Renamed Creative Commons Jan. 16 2001; officially launched on Dec. 16 2002.  Just one hour after Eldred was defeated by the Supreme Court, representatives from the Wiliam and Flora Hewlett Foundation donated a check for $1,000,000 to launch Creative Commons.(back to top)
  • The field is still progressing/changing, lots of creativity and energy; exciting time to be in our profession.  We’re innovators at heart!

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IV. Building B Sides

  • B Sides is an innovative tool we built to meet a demand that we saw
    • We’d been discussing restrictive publication models in our coursework at the U of I School of Library and Information Science: steep licensing fees, narrow copyright terms, restricted access, etc.
    • Realized we had the creativity and drive to build a new, more open, student-driven publication tool
    • Its name and its purpose:
      • “B Sides” name inspired by Public Enemy and mix / remix culture of 80s mixtapes
      • creates an inclusive venue for disseminating new “unauthorized” voices and ideas into the profession
    • Collaboration was key across multiple departments:
      • U of I School of Library and Information Science
      • U of I Digital Library Services
      • Berkeley Electronic Press (Bepress)
    • Cost very little money:
      • only spent about $300 for graphics and one alumni mailing
      • the rest was hard volunteer work and taking advantage of existing frameworks via partnerships
    • Outcomes:
      • provides a way for students’ work to find an audience
      • allows students to participate in the scholarly publication process through reviewing and editing, and publishing
  • We don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time.  But if a tool isn’t working or doing what we want it to, we don’t have to be afraid of creating a new tool.
  • Take ownership — realize that no one else is going to fix this for you or give you a break.  You are your institution’s best advocate.
  • Our profession traditionally likes to “enforce” rules, while looking to external authority figures to fix / change / decide things.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

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V. Building Tools in the Future

  • Scientific data and digital environments
    • online lab notebooks (scientists)
    • Use of old scientific data to solve new problems
    • building curriculum for professionals and student to work in new digital environments
  • Transliteracy
    • “Reading” and “Information Seeking” across multiple formats
    • Mashups, videogames, mobile apps, social media
    • Exploring ways for patrons to get more out of their preferred formats, rather than teaching them how to use the “right” e.g. “traditional” format.
  • Public libraries as community spaces
    • rethinking and innovating the role of libraries in the community to build a “vibrant life of mind.”
    • e.g.: ecoliteracy: community gardens, growing workshops, native plant tours, interpreting consumer labels, energy efficiency workshops

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VI. And B Sides is Still Innovating…

  • Began as a journal, now it’s evolved into a conference & more.  It needs to grow and evolve in order to remain meaningful to the primary users / stakeholders: that’s the core significance of innovation.

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