​Why I am totally excited to attend Code4Lib BC

I attended my first Code4Lib last winter, in 2013. Through invitation or eavesdropping, I found out about this two day unconference and paid my $20 to attend. It was a wonderful and challenging couple of days, during which time I listened to a lot of very smart cataloguers talk about linked open data and finally learned how to use github to share taco recipes. Folks were welcoming, and even though I really didn’t understand a lot of the more technical stuff it was inspiring and well worth my time.

Despite being neither a prolific coder (my skills top out at html/css) nor a professional technologist of any sort, I’m interested in the endless places where technology and libraries overlap. Making better, more useable tools and services necessitates understanding what happens behind the technology we interface with. Helping users navigate library technologies means that we need a better understanding of it ourselves.

This is to say, I’m interested but I’m not the savviest, and there is nothing in my job title that makes me more suited than most to a 2-day library technology conference. But was it relevant? Absolutely.

I recently read a blog post by Andromeda Yelton where this statement stopped me in my tracks: “We do not have the technical skills to verify whether our products are in line with the values we espouse” (in reference to Adobe Digital Editions). We are expected to understand such a range of services— from critically evaluating products for both usability and by ethical standards, to teaching digital literacy skills on the front lines, and building better repositories and products for our own libraries and institutions. How is a wider understanding anything but valuable? Two days of interactive learning and sharing is bound to be the highlight of November.

This fall’s Code4Lib will feature amazing topics that range from practical hands-on to ethical discourse. And in unconference spirit, you are invited to join whichever discussions or workshops you like. In fact, please pitch a session! The shape of the days remains open.

So what about being a newbie? If you’re feeling like you’re intrigued but not convinced it’s for you: please know it is for you. The main Code4Lib wiki has a great section on How to Hack Code4Lib that includes tips like:

  • Share your passion
  • Be ready to learn new stuff
  • Don’t be intimidated by what looks like the “in crowd” (there is no in crowd), and
  • Expect 80% of the value of the conference to come from things other than the presentations

Tickets are selling out faster than you might expect. Pay your $20 and register for this amazing event. Bring your laptop and an open mind and I hope to see you there.

And as much as I want to see you November 27 & 28 at SFU Harbour Centre for the second annual Code4Lib BC, if you can’t make it out (or if you’re extra excited and just want more!) check out the 2015 Code4Lib Conference happening Feb 2015 in Portland, Oregon.

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Revenge of Miscellany

Have your patrons received unsolicited emails asking them to publish in an open-access journal, join an open-access journal’s editorial board, or present at a conference they haven’t heard of before?  Beware of pseudo-academic publishers and promoters taking advantage of the open-access model.  This might seem like an issue for only academic libraries, but one of my engineers recently asked for help figuring out whether a journal that wanted to publish his paper was legitimate.  The email was so poorly written and proofread that I wouldn’t have published with them anyway!  The publisher also appeared on Beall’s List of apparently predatory publishers.  Subscription-based and advertising-based publishers can be unscrupulous too, but open-access is particularly vulnerable partly because it’s so new.  Here are sources of more information and lists to check:

The jobhunters among us may find this Mashable article useful: 5 Reasons Why Employers Don’t Respond After a Job Interview. (via SLA Connections newsletter)

What Does the HathiTrust Decision Mean for Libraries? examines the US Court of Appeals decision on mass digitization, in detail and with relatively plain language (via Andornot Consulting newsletter).

Sean Kheraj updated his list of online sources for historical Canadian newspapers on ArchiveHistory.ca.  “I found that Canada’s online historical newspaper archive is very limited, fragmented, and difficult to access… It turns out that there are a lot of people out there in search of historical Canadian newspapers on the Web and there doesn’t seem to be an adequate national index.” (via Andornot Consulting newsletter)

Halifax Public Libraries has a cool and technically interesting new Central Library opening soon!  Take a 3D tour here.  Even the American Society of Civil Engineers noticed: New Library Puts a Twist on Design.

Scribd e-book service has figured out which title is most downloaded in each US state. Personally I’m with Illinois & Wisconsin. Do any of you use Scribd?

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Techs on Board the SS Librarianship


Last Sunday Ashley and Tamarack got together with Allison and Sam of the SS Librarianship Podcast. We chatted for much longer than the lengthy hour plus of the recorded episode, while being treated to delicious Lucky’s Doughnuts and listening to a raging June thunderstorm. Our chit chat touched on current entertainment forays, from Joss Whedon to Diana Gabaldon, and of course, we talked libraries.

It was great to get to talk about techs with our new librarian colleagues. We didn’t get to cover everything under the sun in this one podcast, but we think we gave a little entrée for librarian listeners who aren’t really sure what the heck a library technician is.

We invite LTAS members and friends to have a listen! And then check out the archives—there are 36 other fun and interesting episodes before this one.

— Ashley & Tamarack

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Vancouver Meetup and New LTAS Chair

On May 25, 2014 the Vancouver Chapter had a Meetup at The Pint.  Thank you to everyone who came out!  It was great to see new faces, even if the room was too loud for group-wide conversation.  We welcomed colleagues on their way to the CLA conference from Rossland, BC, and Saskatoon, SK. Continue reading

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Vancouver Meetup – March 2014

Ashley Van Dijk and Tamarack Hockin co-hosted LTAS Vancouver’s first meetup of 2014 at the Kingston Grille’s Wine Library (yes, seriously). 11 of our colleagues made it out to share a bit about what’s new in their professional worlds. Continue reading

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Miscellany Returns

Fighting the perception that school libraries aren’t necessary, by The Adventures of Library Girl (via Stephen’s Lighthouse). Has the library fallen out of step with the school, or do people not know about the library’s good work?

Attention my jobhunting brothers and sisters: The Five Basic Questions Interviewers Really Want You to Answer. – Lifehacker

Author Lemony Snicket is setting up a prize for librarians who have faced book-banning adversity.

Together with the American Library Association, he is therefore setting up a new $3,000 award, The Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced With Adversity. “The Snicket prize will remind readers everywhere of the joyous importance of librarians and the trouble that is all too frequently unleashed upon them,” said Snicket, who is funding the prize from his own “disreputable gains”. “This seems like a better way to channel money to librarians than my previous strategy, which was incurring exorbitant late fees,” said the author.

The Guardian, Jan. 31, 2014 (via Stephen’s Lighthouse)

Ever wonder why Google returns results that don’t actually contain your search term?  Here’s one reason why: “Google has patented going beyond individual words to consider the entire query and then substitute words.”   – Web Search Guide and Internet News post.

Pictures of futuristic-looking libraries all over the world – Open Education Database (via Stephen’s Lighthouse).

Google searching tips from Lifehacker, with a couple of updates. – Web Search Guide and Internet News

Presentation slides full of marketing resources for libraries,  by Kathy Dempsey of Libraries are Essential (via Stephen’s Lighthouse).

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Employment Sites Beyond BC

As you may have read in my recent email to the listserv, LTAS has shut down its ProBoards online bulletin board.  Since communication options and preferences have changed over the years it was not being used much.  Thanks to Stephen Karr for setting up and managing the board!

Going forward I plan to publicize job postings in a weekly-ish email to the LTAS listserv.  I monitor postings for BC lib. tech. & asst. jobs in various library systems (public, academic, school, health board, provincial & national government) as well as CLA, AALT, SLA, and ARMA. You can also send job postings to ltascareers at gmail.com. Big thanks again to Mandy Schwarz for setting everything up!

One of the great things Mandy set up was a list of employment sites with postings from other provinces.  It will live on here in this blog post. Continue reading

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