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Category Archives: Libraries

Who is “Public” Data Really For?

LitHub: “…Both words—“public” and “open”—invite a question: For whom? Despite the efforts of Mae and Gareth, and Tom Grundner and many others, the internet as it exists is hardly a public space. Many people still find themselves excluded from full participation. Access to anything posted on a city web page or on a .gov domain is restricted by barriers of cost and technical ability. Getting this data can be particularly hard for communities that are already marginalized, and both barriers—financial and technical—can be nearly impassable in places with limited resources and literacies. Data.gov, the United States’ “open data portal,” lists nearly 250,000 data sets, an apparent bounty of free information. Spend some time on data.gov and other portals, though, and you’ll find out that public data as it exists is messy and often confusing. Many hosted “data sets” are links to URLs that are no longer active. Trying to access data about Native American communities from the American Community Survey on data.gov brought me first to a census site with an unlabeled list of file folders. Downloading a zip file and unpacking it resulted in 64,086 cryptically named text files each containing zero kilobytes of data. As someone who has spent much of the last decade working with these kinds of data, I can tell you that this is not an uncommon experience. All too often, working with public data feels like assembling particularly complicated Ikea furniture with no tools, no instructions, and an unknown number of missing pieces…” [h/t Barclay Walsh]

Legal Research & Writing: An Undergraduate Pre-Law Course Design

Strieber, Rachel Kathleen, “Legal Research & Writing: An Undergraduate Pre-Law Course Design” (2021). Senior Theses. 416. https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/senior_theses/416 “The purpose of this project-based thesis is to develop an undergraduate pre-law course that teaches legal research and writing (LRW) and to design its respective description, topics, reading materials, sample syllabus document, and a sample lesson plan. The… Continue Reading

2021 Library Systems Report

American Libraries,  Marshall Breeding – Advancing library technologies in challenging times: “In a year complicated by a global pandemic, the community of vendors providing technologies to libraries made important strides to meet pressing needs and make ongoing progress in their longer-term initiatives. Though the pandemic disrupted library services—as well as funding—in 2020, concerted efforts were… Continue Reading

Where Should You Buy Your Books?

The New York Times – Where Should You Buy Your Books? “Bookstore or Amazon? Curbside pickup or delivery? We answer common questions readers might have.  The last year has seen expanded options for buying books online, as more bookstores have developed websites, and e-commerce sites like Bookshop.org gain traction. But massive retailers like Amazon continue… Continue Reading

Library supply catalog from 1899

BoingBoing: “The Smithsonian Libraries’ Trade Literature Collection includes catalogs, sales brochures, and other materials “that were once part of the merchandising of business.” What a fascinating source of design, technology, and marketing history! At the Smithsonian magazine blog, library technician Alexia MacClain goes meta in a post about one curious item in the Trade Literature… Continue Reading

Marketing to Internal Clients: How to Engage the “Chair”

Feit Consulting: “With so much uncertainty, one thing is clear: librarians and information specialists will (or should) be ready for it. To be recognized and become a major player in any firm’s changing landscape, one must become a leader in that change. There are many ways to approach this, but this article will address marketing… Continue Reading

REALM Project – New research and resources on vaccines and variants

OCLC – “New research and resources on vaccines and variants – New toolkit resources: “Mask policies: While mask-wearing policies continue to vary regionally in the United States, libraries, archives, and museums are navigating how to message, enact, and enforce them. This roundup features articles on topics ranging from legal implications to staff training to disability… Continue Reading

Here Are 458 California Law Enforcement Agencies’ Policy Documents All in One Place

EFF: “At this moment in history, law enforcement agencies in the United States face a long-overdue reevaluation of their priorities, practices, and processes for holding police officers accountable for both unconscious biases and overt abuse of power. But any examination of law enforcement requires transparency first: the public’s ability to examine what those priorities, practices,… Continue Reading