Monday, December 21, 2015

Mashcat: Catalogers and Developers Working Together

If you are interested in the intersection of library catalog data and library computer systems, then the Mashcat movement is for you. To quote their website, “’Mashcat’ was originally an event in the UK in 2012 which was aimed at bringing together people working on the IT systems side of libraries with those working in cataloguing and metadata. Three years later, Mashcat is a loose group of metadata specialists, cataloguers, developers and anyone else with an interest in how metadata in and around libraries can be created, manipulated, used and re-used by computers and software. The aim is to work together and bridge the communications gap that has sometimes gotten in the way of building the best tools we possibly can to manage library data.”

Most of the time, Mashcat exists mainly as a product of social media, with the hashtag #mashcat. There is also a monthly (approximately) Twitter chat.

The first ever North American Mashcat event will be held on January 13, 2016 (timed to coincide with ALA Midwinter).  Registration is full, but there is a waiting list. In the mean time, you can read the planned events for the day and join me in hoping presentation materials will be made available after the fact.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Goverment Publications in the Digital World: Enhancements, Changes, Partnerships and More

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Thomas and

As THOMAS works its way towards its retirement, a wide variety of enhancements are being made to in order to make the transition between resources as seamless and painless as possible for users. The latest set of enhancements includes a new quick search for legislation, the Congressional Record Index and the history of bills from the Congressional Record Index, featuring search functionality similar to the Advanced Legislation search provided on THOMAS. To view a complete round-up of the latest enhancements to the site, as well as a refresher on earlier enhancements you may have missed throughout the year, check out the Library of Congress blog

United States Government Publishing Office (GPO)

GPO is the first federal agency to become a member of the Technical Report Archive & Image Library (TRAIL). For those not familiar with TRAIL – it is made up of approximately three dozen member groups, mainly Federal depository libraries, and works to provide discoverable, permanent and unrestricted access to U.S. Government agency technical reports. Obviously these two groups share a number of common goals, and the stage is set for some major collaboration. To learn more about this partnership or TRAIL itself, start out with the official press release.

Circular A-130 & The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

The public comment period recently closed on Circular A-130, “Managing Information in Strategic Decision Making”. This document establishes policies for the management of Federal information resources, and incidentally, the document hasn’t been updated in fifteen years. 

Imagine how much statutory requirements and technological capabilities have expanded and changed since 2000. At this point, our nation needs guidelines and policies to ensure the protection of our privacy and maximize their ability to harness the power of today's technology. In early December, the Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Shaun Donovan, delivered remarks at the Federal Privacy Summit and discussed the driving forces behind revising Circular A-130. “As technology and threats evolve, so must our policies.  In order to meet today’s complex challenges, we must continue to double down on this Administration’s broad strategy to enhance privacy practices and fundamentally overhaul information security practices, policies, and governance.”

The new A-130 centralizes a wide range of policy updates on acquisitions, cybersecurity, information governance, records management, open data, and privacy, replaces a federated procurement approach with more directed guidance and ensured timeliness in IT acquisitions, delineates the responsibilities of various departments when it comes to securing our federal systems, and mandates that government data that is public facing be accessible, discoverable and of usable quality.

While the public comment period is closed, rest assured that the American Association of Law Libraries did weigh in on the comments. Take a look at what they had to say here and here. Currently, the OMB is analyzing all submitted feedback and revising the policy as necessary.  Stay tuned in the coming months for the revised version of the policy as well as an opportunity to comment on Circular A-108, which should help agencies promote transparency and implement the Privacy Act.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Hop to It!! Apply for Research Funds Today!

It’s Quick, It’s Easy, and Your Research Will Benefit Your Technical Services Colleagues.
The AALL OBS-SIS and TS-SIS FROG (Funding Research Opportunities Grant) Committee is always accepting applications.  
The FROG provides support for law librarians to perform research or assessment projects which will enhance our profession.  FROG applicants must be members of AALL and must show evidence that their research will benefit technical services law librarianship. The OBS/TS FROG Committee will award up to $1,000 in grants in a single year.
“AALL's Strategic Plan envisions that AALL and its members will be the recognized authority in all aspects of legal information. AALL's Research Agenda seeks to make that vision a reality by stimulating a diverse range of scholarship related to and supportive of the profession of law librarianship.” -- AALL Research Agenda 2013-2016.

For research topic ideas, visit the FROG website and AALL's Research Agenda page.
For more information on the grant and the application process, visit:
If you have any further questions, please email the FROG Committee Chair, Kerry Skinner at