Monday, March 23, 2015

Libhub initiative launches sponsorship program

The Libhub Initiative, the effort founded by Zepheira to encourage the use of Linked Data to expand Library Visibility on the Web, announces a sponsorship program which now includes Atlas Systems, Innovative, and SirsiDynix. Through their sponsorship, each of these industry leaders is acknowledging the critical importance of Visibility for libraries, and shows interest in the use of technologies that support libraries wherever their customers may be.

See details at (from Library Technology Guides, March 23, 2015).

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Feedback on Library of Congress' Recommended Format Specifications

Last year the Library of Congress released Recommended Format Specifications (see post here) to serve as a guide for long term preservation and access to both analog and digital materials. As they move forward, and to maintain the currency of the guide, an annual review of the formats is being implemented. To this end, they are requesting feedback before March 31, 2015 that will  be taken into consideration during this year's review. Feedback can be addressed to one of the email contacts here.

Additional information about the review process is available on The Signal.

Friday, March 13, 2015

AALL representatives program

We’ve all seen the recent announcement from the AALL Executive Board of plans to discontinue funding for many of our representatives to external library organizations. These include the ALA Subject Analysis Committee, CC:DA (Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access) and the MARC Advisory Committee (MAC), among others. As technical services law librarians, we understand and appreciate the vital importance of our involvement with these committees.  Our representatives bring the concerns and interests of the law library community to these organizations, and bring the concerns of national and international policy-making bodies back to our organization. One example of our representatives’ significant accomplishments is the development and implementation of a law-focused form/genre term vocabulary to enhance discoverability of legal resources. This positioned the law library community at the forefront of the Library of Congress’ ongoing effort to establish form/genre vocabularies across disciplines. 

Identification by our CC:DA representative of an unworkable instruction in RDA (Resource Description and Access) concerning treaties led to a revision of the RDA instructions in that area. Without this change, we would have been faced with the absurd prospect of dozens of multilateral treaties being cataloged under Albania. Additionally, this change brings consistency to the treatment of treaties, facilitating discoverability by our users. More recently, our current CC:DA representative successfully put forth an RDA revision proposal to eliminate the conventional collective title “Laws, etc.” which most law catalogers felt had long outlived its usefulness. The impact of this work extends well beyond law libraries to any library collecting treaties or laws and cataloging them in accordance with RDA. 

MAC and its predecessor, MARBI (Machine-Readable Bibliographic Information Committee), have been responsible for creating dozens of new MARC fields and subfields to accommodate RDA-related content designation, allowing for greater metadata granularity with an eye toward eventual deployment as linked data. 

The movement of bibliographic data to a linked data environment seems inevitable. Elimination of our presence on the national and international policy-making bodies that are steering the larger library world forward will place law libraries at a severe disadvantage. We cannot afford to isolate ourselves during this time of rapid transition when what is called for is full participation and involvement in the organizations making decisions that will affect our libraries far into the future. 

The Executive Board’s regrettable decision undermines the Association’s mission to be “the recognized authority in all aspects of legal information.” At a time when many technical services law librarians already feel marginalized and underserved by AALL, the Executive Board is unfortunately sending a message that further validates those concerns.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Video Digitization

Videos are a challenging format to work with, especially when it comes to reformatting video from analog to digital. In addition to staffing this kind of a project, there are also hardware and software concerns: Is the appropriate player available for this VHS (BETA, U-Matic, etc.)? Is there a way to connect it to a computer for conversion? Do I have the appropriate software for import and/or manipulating files?

Once you’ve addressed those concerns, then things get hard. The output format must be addressed as well as long-term preservation concerns. Let’s talk about the output first. Is your newly digitized item going to stay a digital file? Does it need to be streamed? Will it be burned to a playable DVD? All of these impact the output file format you will need…and may necessitate multiple formats depending on your end goal(s). And to tie into preservation, is the output format one that is sustainable over time?

To assist in making these decisions, the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative, recently developed a guide for Digital File Formats for Videotape Reformatting. This guide is made up of 5 documents that have table components for easy comparison among digital file wrappers (more commonly known as formats/file extensions) and encodings. If you’d like a more detailed description of the project’s parameters, check out Comparing Formats for Video Digitization on The Signal.

Friday, March 6, 2015

GPO announces name change, new logo

In recognition of their 154th anniversary, the GPO has announced their official name change to the U.S Government Publishing Office and has launched a new logo. The name change acknowledges the shift GPO has made from being primarily a printer of official United States government documents to being a provider of official United States government information.

The name change was approved in Section 1301 of H.R. 83.

The full text of the announcement is available at