Wednesday, March 30, 2016

What’s Your Library Doing for Preservation Week?

Preservation Week is just around the corner and if you haven’t made plans to celebrate, there’s still time to pull something together. As the sponsor of Preservation Week, ALA has a toolkit of resources – from handouts, to free webinars (with the bonus that previous years’ webinars are archived here as well), to bibliographies of resources. All of these resources can be used to help promote preservation in your library at any time of the year, and can even be used as an event (or the event) during Preservation Week.

In addition to these resources there is also a preservation expert willing to answer your questions. She also does a monthly raffle to give away a document preservation kit to one lucky individual who asked a question! Ask Donia is a great tool for seeing what some of the current concerns in preservation are. Topics include digitization, preserving fragile types of materials, displaying archival or fragile materials, and performing conservation tasks.

While some libraries are able to make Preservation Week a big event, it by no means needs to be. Start small – send a message to your staff with links to preservation resources (you can even use link to ALA!) or put together a small display to raise awareness with your patrons. And don’t feel like you have to have an event during the week of April 24. Preservation is important year round so events and awareness should always be on your radar!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

An Introduction to RDF for Librarians

If you have read anything about BIBFRAME, or Linked Data, or the Semantic Web, you have probably heard about Resource Description Framework (RDF). RDF is an important thing to understand, since it relates to the future of bibliographic data; however, it is often presented in a very complex manner. 

I recently came across a blog post by Ruth Kitchin Tillman, the Digital Collections Librarian at the University of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Libraries, titled “An Introduction to RDF for Librarians (of a Metadata Bent)”. I found this post to be a very accessible introduction to the underlying concepts of RDF. Tillman explains how RDF is used to describe resources, what serialization means, with special focus on serializing RDF using Turtle, how RDF is used to link resources together, and how meaning is encoded. She also offers suggestions for continued reading, should you want to learn more about RDF. Overall, in my opinion, this post lays out some very complex topics in clear, understandable language.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

To Weed or Not to Weed…

Much as a good garden may have some weeds, a good library may have some weeds as well. So let’s take a second to chat a little about the ‘anti-acquisition’ – otherwise known as the ‘weed.’ 

Susannah Tredwell wrote today about this very topic, offering readers a host of typical questions asked when weeding a collection, ranging from simpler questions such as “Do we own anything more current on the subject?” to more difficult questions that attempt to determine the value of the older book.  Tredwell reminds readers that even in a law library, “a book can still be valuable even if the information that it contains is no longer current.” The law field is a field where incorrect materials can be fraught with danger to the professionals who depend on them in court, but Tredwell makes some wonderful points about ways older, even incorrect materials can still be of value to patrons.

These points reminded me of an engaging post I had read last week by Jeffrey Meyer, recounting his experience with a particular patron at the public library. This patron was challenging the decision to keep a particular book about climate change, which they claimed was riddled with half-truths and propaganda, in the collection. Meyer reminds us that the library is not the fact police, and that “the Fact Police are as dangerous as the Morality Police. If we start removing materials because they are “factually inaccurate,” we will embark on a twisted Soviet-style purge of our treasured collections. Thanks, Jeffrey. I couldn't have said it better myself.

But before you think I'm an anti-weeding kind of gal, let me point you to one more resource that promises to remind you that hoarding is not the same as collection development. is a site run by Mary Kelly and Holly Hibner, public librarians in Michigan.  They state that their site is “a collection of library holdings that we find amusing and maybe questionable for libraries trying to maintain a current and relevant collection.”  And amusing they are... One of my favorites is My Beautiful Mommy, in which Mommy picks her child up from school to take her along on a trip to the plastic surgeon.  

Want a little more information on weeding or all things acquisitions?  Karen Muller recently offered her list of essential resources for understanding acquisitions in libraries, including Rebecca Vnuk’s The Weeding Handbook: A Shelf-by-Shelf Guide.