In addition to the guide to viewing images, I created two videos to help DigitalNC users navigate our online collections.
In my User Education class today, we were able to talk to Emily Daly, an Instruction and Outreach Librarian for Duke University Libraries. Our class held a great interactive discussion, and I discovered some interesting things that the Duke Libraries are doing. In particular, I thought it was a great idea that the librarians launched an initiative within the department to create shared learning outcomes for their instruction sessions. They started by examining the instruction sessions for the introductory English classes. The librarians got together and identified all the things they all teach in these sessions, and then identified six that they felt were most important. Now, they are trying to do the same for other instruction sessions they hold for other various disciplines. It sounds like such a great program to help all the librarians give a structured, useful session for their students.
Yesterday I visited the North Carolina Library for the Blind and the Physically Handicapped. I went on the trip with low expectations – I didn’t expect it to be very well funded, so I was prepared for poor technology, little staff, and outdated furnishings. As we walked up to the building, I was disappointed that the building was a sad brick, almost completely windowless, and had very little parking. But very quickly, I was incredibly surprised by the technology and services provided by the library.
It turns out, that the library isn’t as warm and inviting as I had hoped because patrons don’t actually visit it. The physical space is just a set of offices, and a storehouse. The offices provide spaces for readers’ advisors, production of audio recordings, the printing of Braille texts, and other administrative functions. Instead of patrons coming to the library, they register for the service and materials are mailed directly to their homes. The library provides books in Braille, large print, and audio form. The audio books used to be provided via cassette tapes, but recently, the library has switched to digital formats, by loading digital forms onto flash drives. Each person registered for the service is loaned a digital player. The flash drives are encased in a rectangular piece of plastic, making them easier to hold and put into the digital player. They also have a hole in the end to make them even easier for physically handicapped people to hold them with just a finger.
Another interesting fact I learned was that the library was exempt from copyright restrictions. The library can make copies, printed Braille, large print, or audio, as long as the copies are going to their registered patrons. Additionally, the NC library has an extensive interlibrary loan system with similar institutions around the state. One of their services involves creating audio recordings of local magazines, which are all contributed to a national registry for all the libraries to use.
I was pleasantly surprised with the technology available for this service, but what really touched me, were the print/Braille children’s books. The library held children’s books that have both text and Braille. They can be used by blind parents to read to their children, or by sighted parents teaching their blind children Braille. I had no idea such products existed, and had not thought of services for blind children, or children with blind parents.
I attended a talk by Jessamyn West, where she discussed the “digital divide.” Guess what? Not everyone in America has Internet access! Of course, I knew that, but West had explored who doesn’t have Internet, where they don’t have it, and why they don’t have it. The results were pretty interesting. It turns out, that although this wasn’t the case 5-10 years ago, most people who do not have internet in the United States today don’t have it because they don’t want it, rather than because they can’t get it. Granted, there are still plenty of people who desire internet who are unable to access it due to their geographic region, but due to technological advances in the way the Internet has developed over the past few years, most people who want it, can access it somehow. West displayed various maps showing Internet access around the nation, and it was interesting to see where people had virtually no access issues, compared to where access wasn’t even possible. Additionally, age also played a factor in access, the largest connected group being the 25-40(ish) range.
The panel on diversity hosted by SCALA was one of the best panels I have been to at SILS. The librarians present had some really insightful views on diversity, and how you can realistically deal with diversity issues in the workplace. One librarian really emphasized how the the goal of diversity is not necessarily to recruit people who look diverse, but who have diverse backgrounds and experiences. It is more important to have a diverse collection of perspectives to creatively solve a problem or generate a new program. Another librarian discussed the challenges she faces in trying to address diversity in her job. Most librarian jobs are not created specifically to work on diversity issues, and while many organizations value diversity, they do not necessarily help their motivated and creative employees try new things to address diversity issues. Most of the time, you are going to be on your own.
Today I listened to a a talk by representatives from Esri, who demonstrated how social media has been implemented in ArcGIS. They first had us figure out how “social” we are online, by viewing a wheel of social platforms online. They then went on to discuss various social media developments, how they are used, who is using them, and why they are using them.
An interesting statistic that was presented was that 80% of Americans using social media expect emergency response programs to monitor social media. However, that does not occur very often – the best way to get assistance for an emergency is still to dial 9-1-1! But, Americans do have a good point. A few months ago, there was an earthquake felt along the eastern coast, and I found out about it through Facebook and Twitter long before any news sites had reported any information.
The Esri reps went on to demonstrate the basic uses of the ArcGIS applications, but then got to the interesting part – the connection between ArcGIS and social media. Like many other sites on the web, you can connect to social media share what you’ve found on ArcGIS, as well as share your own data and maps. But I think the best feature was the actual integration of social media into ArcGIS. They demonstrated how you can create your own map, with your own data, and then integrate Tweets into your map. For example, you created a map of all your favorite restaurants in Chapel Hill. Then, you can use the application to search for Tweets that were uploaded from any of those locations, or Tweets that mention any keywords you determine are related. Then you can view the Tweets right on your map!
Today I was able to attend a talk on the digital humanities by Brett Bobley, the Director of the Digital Humanities at the National Endowment for the Humanities. He spoke a lot about different digital projects the NEH is working on, and seemed particularly excited about newspaper digitization projects that are popping up all over the country. He described the different initiatives that are funded by NEH grants, and discussed a lot of what other libraries are doing out there. It was very exciting to know that the NCDHC is right out there on the front lines with advancing digital content available on the web. As I’ve learned through my work, it’s clear that there are still trends and workflows being hammered out. We are constantly trying to figure out the best ways to tackle this project, and it’s nice to know that there are others struggling with the same issues.
The NCDHC sometimes collaborates with UNC’s North Carolina Map Collection by contributing maps that we digitize from other collections. I was just assigned a group of state highway maps to research and upload online. The Digital Production Center in Wilson Library has already digitized the oversize maps, and I am going to assign metadata to them. I started on one map today, opening the files to examine and search for metadata clues. Maps are a bit different from images in their metadata content, in that the geographic data is more detailed, and there is much more description. Most of the maps in this particular collection are very similar, and were all made by the state of North Carolina, so their metadata varies little. However, there is still a good amount of work to be done in identifying the coordinates, dates and descriptions. My goal is to have all of these maps completed and online by the end of December.