Skip to content

CNI Spring 2016 Notes

April 5, 2016
san antonio riverwalk

flickr – Pedro Szekely

CNI Spring 2016 in San Antonio was, as always, a worthwhile trip. Somewhat different this time was that I gave an “issues” talk with Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe on our ongoing struggles to integrate IT functions and staff successfully into the library mainstream (title: From Invasive to Integrated: Information Technology and Library Leadership, Structure, and Culture – slides). We had a great turnout and people came ready to contribute, which was both encouraging and much appreciated. We both plan to write reflective blog posts on what transpired in that session.


Defining the Scholarly Record for Computational Research
Victoria Stodden, U of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Noted several ways that technology has impacted research, one that caught my eye was the notion that there are “deep intellectual contributions” embedded only in software. It’s not sufficient simply to capture such work in a methods discussion in an article, so how do we surface these intellectual contributions? Another impact is how nearly all of research has been digitized and has become accessible due to the Internet. These objects also have intellectual property rights attached to them that enable (or not) reproducibility and other extended work. Read more…


PASIG Prague 2016

March 11, 2016

National Technical Library, Prague

This is apparently the first time that PASIG has been held in Europe; it’s also the first time I’ve attended. My goal was to come speak about the Ontario Library Research Cloud, both to get the word out about the model we followed as well as to expose that model to a bit of peer critique and commentary. In that regard, it’s been a successful journey and I hope that it just started a conversation that will continue on.

It was a very well organized and catered event. The reception even included a chartered vintage tram that took us to Obecní dům, a somewhat touristy yet glorious Jugendstil monument in Prague. Given the modest registration fee, the quality has been remarkable. Many thanks to those who planned and carried out this event.

Day 1

Digital Preservation Bootcamp

OAIS Model, Theory & Practice
Neil Jefferies, Oxford U

Gave an overview of OAIS. Noted, after the overview, that one of the problems is what he defines as a SIP (submission information package) problem, i.e.- we often don’t have good (or any) metadata for certain collections. That’s not a good reason not to ingest them into an archival system. Also, DIP (dissemination information package) problems exist. Read more…

Office holiday gifting

December 23, 2015

flickr – aetches

When I started as an AUL at McMaster, I took on about 25 direct and indirect reports in the units that fall under my role on the organizational chart. I had been there about ten months when the first holiday season rolled around. Not surprisingly, a few of my reports gave me holiday gifts, for which I was quite grateful. It soon occurred to me, however, that in my administrative role, this presented me with multiple conundrums.

First, there’s the practical issue of making sure that any gift giving I engaged in be fair and equitable. If I only exchanged gifts with those who had initiated it with me, then it may look like I’m singling people out and ignoring others, even if discreetly done. If instead I choose to give everyone a gift, then those who hadn’t given me anything may feel obligated to reciprocate, even if I said it’s not necessary. (Nevermind the fact that I can barely shop for my children, let alone 25 people, but that’s a personal issue.) Not reciprocating, however, with the kind individuals who had given me a gift also seemed a poor solution.

The other issue this presented was that were I to respond with gifts to all, I would be making the assumption that at the end of December we are all celebrating the same holiday and that that holiday is an occasion for gift giving. Even in the small sample of 25-30 people in my areas, that just isn’t the case. As an atheist Unitarian, I’m already sensitized to the practice of saying “merry Christmas” in work settings where we stress that we want to be inclusive and diverse.

When this first happened, I spoke about it with my wife, who suggested what I have found to be a sensible and workable solution. She suggested that I make a donation to a charity in honour of the people who work for me, and then share that with them along with holiday greetings (that avoid Christianized formulations) and my sincere thanks for their work over the year. Having just done this for the fifth time, I like to think it has gone over well with many of the people who report to me, although it may still perplex a few of them. I try to pick a charity that does broadly good work related to basic social justice issues, and have mixed it up in terms of local versus global. I confess that part of what I’m trying to do is raise awareness for some of these charities, as well as to encourage others to consider replacing gift-giving with charitable giving.

Is this a sensible way to address the issue this time of year presents? Have others found a better way?

CNI Fall 2015 notes

December 16, 2015

As per usual, this week’s CNI meeting offered a surfeit of updates and reports on a number of interesting and emerging projects. After making the hard choices about what to skip and what to see, I tried to take detailed notes on the talks below.

I’ve been doing this for a number of years–taking extensive notes and publishing them via this blog–and have heard from many of you via various channels that the notes are useful. They certainly help me with remembering what I’ve heard, as well as when and where and from whom. Please share any suggestions or requests with me through whatever channel works for you or via the comments below.

Digital Dissertations in an Increasingly Welcoming Landscape
Amanda Visconti, Purdue; Matthew Kirschenbaum, Maryland

Noted that she wants to move beyond a discussion of whether digital dissertations are ‘equal’ to written chapters to a broader discussion of the many ways that one can achieve scholarly goals. Interested in the work that takes public digital collections and makes them “truly” available to all, not just to specialized scholars. In other words, public humanities in a participatory vein. Read more…

OCUL Digital Curation Summit 2015

October 19, 2015
fall colours in dundas

Fall colours in Dundas

The 2015 OCUL Digital Curation Summit was held in the Lewis & Ruth Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship at McMaster University Library. The organizers did a great job pulling together a diverse array of topics and updates. Below are notes from some of the talks; the afternoon consisted of back-to-back introductions to Islandora and Archivematica. I chose not to take notes during those but rather to pay attention and pick up the details.

I am not going to tell you where to stick it!
Richard Godsmark, McMaster U

Provided a tour of data storage, noting that it’s a relatively recent development that we have had portable data. Dates to the 1980s and data cassettes. With the emergence of floppies, things go a bit further: Iomega Zip, optical disks, USB sticks, and the profusion of memory cards, e.g.- SD, compact flash, etc.

Now we live in an era of cloud storage services: Dropbox, Box, OwnCloud, Drive, etc. Many varieties, different function and services.

One of his concluding thoughts was that it’s less important where you put data than how you protect it. Also raised the very interesting point that how we assess data or information when we come across it is very tied to our time and notions. As we know in libraries, what seems useless or trivial may not be in the future. Of course, the challenge inherent in this is that the quantity of information and data created today is simply overwhelming. Read more…

ARL Forum 2015 notes

October 14, 2015
LeDroit Park Historic District in Washington DC

flickr, NCinDC

Designing Digital Scholarship: Research in a Networked World
Julia C. Blixrud Memorial Lecture
Tara McPherson, U of Southern California

Started by pointing out the issues of scale with digital scholarship: hundreds of hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, millions of Instagram images, etc. Beyond that, there’s also an explosion of data. She showed various examples of municipal use of data and pointed out that there are very valuable and rich scholarly datasets as well. As she put it, we hear about data from our provosts all the time.

Noted that humanists don’t typically use the term data, but that it’s data being used regardless of what one calls it. Archives such as the Shoah Foundation archive are simply a different kind of data when viewed in this light.

Interesting notion: “preservation is no longer separate from access.” Taken literally, that’s a very daunting challenge. Read more…

Access 2015 Toronto Thursday and Friday notes

September 22, 2015
wvrst in toronto

Wvrst – home to many good Access conversations

I chose to lump my Thursday and Friday noted into one post. I spoke on Friday, so obviously couldn’t take notes on that, and for the same reason was slightly distracted during the opening panel, so the only notes I took were for Amy Buckland’s excellent closing keynote.


Can I Actually Use It? Testing Open Textbooks for Accessibility
Tara Robertson, CAPER-BC; Kendra Levine, U of California at Berkeley

Believe this was the first time I’ve experienced a talk with a live DJ providing a soundtrack, although I’ve seen it done in recorded talks. It was … interesting, not least since it was the first talk of the day. It did wake me up! It also made it harder to multitask, which is a good thing. She had my full attention.

Tara gave an introduction to CAPER-BC (Centre for Accessible Post-secondary Education Resources BC). They are now working with open textbooks as a way to reduce the textbook costs for students. She showed a graph that clearly illustrates how textbook prices have risen in cost at a rate well beyond the CPI or even home prices. This leads to a situation where a majority of students now admit that they have opted not to purchase a required textbook for a class. As she put it, this often leads to students starting the semester without the resources they need. Read more…