Monday, July 24, 2017

What can we learn from IT project management?

The implementation of educational technology is common practice for academic and firm librarians but rarely is there a tightly organized framework developed for an implementation similar to those in Information Technology. What could librarians learn about IT project management?

Jennifer Vinopal, Associate Director for Information Technology for University Libraries at Ohio State University, was the keynote speaker at DEVCONNECT, OCLC's conference for library developers and she speaks to the importance of harmonizing library and IT initiatives. You can watch her speech and read the full article on OCLC NEXT:

Getting to Know TS Librarians: Jesse Lambertson

1. Introduce yourself (name & position). 
My name is Jesse Lambertson and I'm the Head of Cataloging & Metadata at Georgetown Law Library in Washington, DC.

2. Does your job title actually describe what you do? Why/why not?
Yes in that I am in charge of all workflows & procedures related to Marc-based cataloging & processing of, mostly print, but also loading records from ebook vendors too. In addition, because we also work collaboratively with Special Collections and Digital Initiatives, we also work with Dublin Core and EAD finding aids with cross-walking - this function of my work is likely to increase. But in addition to actual cataloging & metadata, there are also a lot of meetings on completely different topics such as requirement gathering for ILS migration - but engagement in the Georgetown Law Library community is one of the great joys. 

3. What are you reading right now?
I am reviewing Intrepreneurship for Librarians for Library Quarterly (having just submitted a book review about style guides for the internet to Library Journal) and have just started Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler for a book club I run a couple times per year on a local internet radio station.

4a. If you could work in any library (either a type of library or a specific one), what would it be? Why?
It would be amazing to work in a academic law library wherein we focus on law and the work of Franz Kafka - because, lets face it, Kafka is one of the most famous lawyers in literary history. Literary thinking can represent some of the best humanistic thinking around. Wouldn't that be fun? :)

4b. You suddenly have a free day at work, what project would you work on?
I believe I would study scripting in python with an eye on mastery. This is an amazingly powerful language, highly customizable for different contexts and librarians should all embrace coding in their day-to-day work - no matter if they are in public services or technical (IMHO). :) I would do this in order to automate a few things as well as look for research opportunities in which python could be used to gather data. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Proxy Servers for Electronic Resources

As I recently struggled with Wolters Kluwer to get our CCH Intelliconnect service to work properly through EZProxy, this topic turned out to be rather timely. Many of our libraries already subscribe to a number of databases and other electronic services, and for law libraries our most popular services such as Lexis and Westlaw require individual logins and accounts. Managing those accounts can be time consuming, but for the user they typically ensure uniform access to the resource from on- or off-campus.

For many of our electronic resources, however, we tend to push for IP authentication instead of user accounts. IP authentication means that we set up the service to recognize the IP addresses (the numeric address of a ‘computer’ on the Internet) for our library or university campus. When a user connects to the service from the library, they are magically (in their eyes) identified to be a legitimate subscriber and granted access. But what about our patrons that are not actually in the library at the moment? One of the benefits of these services is supposed to be 24/7 access…

This is where proxy servers can be a key addition to your service! Basically, a proxy server (such as EZProxy from OCLC) acts as an intermediary for the electronic resource. Users connect to the proxy server, that server authenticates the user in some way, then the proxy server actually connects to the resource. The user never connects directly to the resource, so the only IP address the service sees is that of the proxy server.

In some institutions, proxy servers may also be used for on-campus access as well, simplifying the overall setup and allowing tighter control over who can access the services. Proxy servers might be set up on local servers as hosted services, depending on an institution’s size and resources. It's not always simple to configure or troubleshoot problems, as my recent experiences with Wolters Kluwer can illustrate, but the benefits of a proxy server can be many.

To learn more, visit Library Technology Launchpad’s recent post at

Monday, July 3, 2017

Project management software

In the most recent issue of Computers in Libraries, Li Chen and Xueying Chen wrote about using a free software called Trello for project management. (Li Chen & Xueying Chen, How to Manage Library Projects with Trello, Computers in Libr., May 2017, at 19.) Project management software can be incredibly helpful for technical services departments - we are so workflow-dependent and we often manage large projects with several moving parts and lots of detail to track. At Boston University, we use the University-licensed SharePoint program to manage our projects, but recognize that there are lots of great options out there. It looks like Trello has the advantage of more visual tools, but SharePoint integrates with other Microsoft products we are already using; each library needs to consider what is important to them when evaluating these programs. Moving to project management software has helped us with projects like getting an institutional repository off the ground and managing our subscription agent renewal reviews. Does anyone have project management software they love? What makes it so great? I'm curious to hear about it in the comments.