Monday, May 22, 2017

Getting to Know TS Librarians: Stephan Licitra

1. Introduce yourself (name & position). 
Hi, my name is Stephan Licitra. I am the Technical Services Librarian for the State Law Library of Montana. I received my MLIS in 2015 and so this is my first professional position in libraries. Before I received my degree I worked and volunteered in public, academic and special libraries. Wherever I was, I greatly enjoyed learning about that library and what made it special. 

2. Does your job title actually describe what you do? Why/why not?
Yes and no. I am charged with acquiring, processing, cataloging, discarding library materials, some reference, working with the ILS and vendors. Some pretty traditional stuff. But people not familiar with libraries associate Technical Services to mean computers, and programming; which I don’t do. 

3. What are you reading right now?
Currently, I am reading William Durante’s, "The Renaissance."

4. You suddenly have a free day at work, what project would you work on?
I would spend the day tiding up the catalog records. As we are part of a larger consortium there are always more that can be done when it comes to data quality. Having good, consistent data will make it possible for great functionality in the future. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Preservation of Electronic Government Information Project (PEGI)

A recent article in Against the grain highlights PEGI - the Preservation of Electronic Government Information Project.  This project is a two year initiative designed to address the growing awareness of the "serious ongoing loss of government information that is electronic in nature." Participants include the Center for Research Libraries, the Government Publishing Office, the University of North Texas, the University of Missouri, and Stanford University.

Historically, the print production workflow for government information helped insure that content was sent to NARA, GPO and depository libraries for preservation. Now that most government information is disseminated digitally, production workflows are variable, resulting in a larger volume of  "fugitive" publications.

According to the PEGI project narrative, the focus of of the project is "at-risk government digital information of long term historical significance." The project proposes focusing on "activities of triage, drilling down into agency workflows ... and undertaking advocacy and outreach efforts to raise awareness of the importance of preserving digital government information."  The project intends to undertake a comprehensive environmental scan, provide recommendations for information creators, and create and educational awareness and advocacy program.

A final goal is to create a PEGI Collaborative Agenda to identify collaborative actions to "make more electronic government information public, preservable, and preserved in multiple environments that include distributed sites in academic libraries and other heterogeneous locations that are indexed, contextualized and usable."

Library of Congress Releases Digital Catalog Records

The Library of Congress announced is making 25 million records from its online catalog available for free bulk download. This is the largest such release in the Library's history. The records can be found at, and they are also available at

From the Library's announcement:

“The Library of Congress is our nation’s monument to knowledge and we need to make sure the doors are open wide for everyone, not just physically but digitally too,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “Unlocking the rich data in the Library’s online catalog is a great step forward. I’m excited to see how people will put this information to use.”

The new, free service will operate in parallel with the Library’s fee-based MARC Distribution Service, which is used extensively by large commercial customers and libraries.  All records use the MARC (Machine Readable Cataloging Records) format, which is the international standard maintained by the Library of Congress with participation and support of libraries and librarians worldwide for the representation and communication of bibliographic and related information in machine-readable form.

The data covers a wide range of Library items including books, serials, computer files, manuscripts, maps, music and visual materials.  The free data sets cover more than 45 years, ranging from 1968, during the early years of MARC, to 2014.  Each record provides standardized information about an item, including the title, author, publication date, subject headings, genre, related names, summary and other notes.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Library Systems Report 2017

The Library Systems Report by Marshall Breeding was released earlier this month.  This report "documents ongoing investments of libraries in strategic technology products made in 2016." It lists any mergers and buyouts for 2016 as well as a look into open source ILS products.  This report was written from a survey requesting details about vendor's organization, sales performance, and narrative explanations of accomplishments. It also includes information taken from press releases, news articles, and other publicly available information.  Breeding sums up the overview of the report in his first paragraph:
"The library technology industry has entered a new phase: business consolidation and technology innovation. Development of products and services to support the increasingly complex work of libraries remains in an ever-decreasing number of hands. Not only have technology-focused companies consolidated themselves, they have become subsumed within higher-level organizations with broad portfolios of diverse business activities. The survivors of this transformed industry now bear responsibility to deliver innovation from their amassed capacity. Modern web-based systems delivering traditional library automation and discovery capabilities are now merely table stakes. Real progress depends on building out these platforms to support the new areas of service emerging within each type of library."
The full report can be read here:

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Open Access Legal Research Repository, LawArXiv, Launched

The movement toward open access continues in legal research with the launch of LawArXiv.  LawArXiv will provide provide open source, open access archives for legal research. This non-profit venture seeks to provide platform that is owned and controlled by the scholarly legal community. LawArXiv will accept preprints and post prints where the author has the copyright on their work.

The LawArXiv repository was developed jointly by the Legal Information Preservation Alliance, the Mid-American Law Library Consortium, NELLCO, and the Cornell Law Library, with the Center for Open Science providing the technological infrastructure via its Open Source Framework. The COS platform also serves as a preprint service, allowing organizations to control their branding, licensing requirements and taxonomy.

COS has established a preservation fund of $250,000 to ensure the archive will survive for at least 50 years should the COS be forced to curtail its operations.

For more information, see the COS press release or visit the  LawArXiv site.

Friday, May 5, 2017

UXF: User Experience Friction at the Library

A recent post on Designing Better Libraries takes aim at user experience friction. According to the definition from The Pfeiffer Report, UX friction is “basically anything which separates the device we use from that ideal user experience,” and “is the slow-down … that occurs when the user experience of a device deviates from our expectation or knowledge.” (

UXF is often seen in web page designs where unnecessary steps have been added, or where poor or specialized verbiage is used. This latter example is often seen in library catalogs and discovery systems where specialized terminology is used to indicate material statuses (e.g., “in transit”). Additionally, customers seeking materials for current use typically need to wade through listings of materials of varying availability, and these customers may not realize that a physical item is not actually available in their current location until after they’ve sought it out on the shelf.

Basic steps to reduce friction include:
  • Reducing anxiety
  • Removing avoidable steps
  • Mitigating context switching

To read the full post, visit

Monday, May 1, 2017

Measure the Future

Many of us are familiar with the myriad needs for statistics - reporting to outside agencies; making the case for more staff/space/money to our administrators; making the case for retaining the staff/space/money we have to our administrators; internal space, service, and collection planning ... the list goes on.  We are also familiar with the limitations of our current statistical gathering methods.  That's one of the reasons I was excited to learn about Measure the Future, a project from Jason Griffey, It will allow us to place sensors in various places around the library to measure the volume and flow of traffic while protecting patron privacy.  The sensors are ours once purchased and the project has a strong open-source ethos.  We plan to start using it soon and I hope others are able to take advantage of it as well.