Current Cites

July 2020

Edited by Roy Tennant

http://currentcites.org/2020/cc20.31.7.html

Contributors: Warren Cheetham, Leo Robert Klein, Edward Lim Junhao, Nancy Nyland

Editor's Note: Current Cites has been published every single month for the last 30 years, without fail. We are the second longest-lived Internet publication in existence (beat out only by TidBITS by a few months). When I started this publication, I would have recoiled at the idea of taking on such a responsibility had I known what would eventually unfold. I'm the only original contributor left, and I've been it's editor longer than anyone (I did not begin as editor, and we've had two other editors).

After two years of retirement, I now am eager to either shutdown or transfer responsibility for my remaining professional responsibilities. This publication is the last of my obligations. Thankfully, I've found a suitable Editor to take over, Edward Lim Junhao. Since the infrastructure I've used for many years to produce the publication has relied on a number of technologies that now seem overly difficult and/or archaic (Perl scripts, XSLT, command line processing, even a step that requires the long-outdated Lynx web browser), it seemed like well past time to move to a different platform.

Edward has therefore found a different way to take Current Cites forward into a new world. I wish him, and our faithful readers, all the best of luck. And speaking of our "faithful readers," thank you for your collective 30 years of attention. We all appreciated it very much. More than you know. Be well and prosper. - Roy Tennant

New Editor's Note: I started subscribing to Current Cites only in January 2019. I thought it was cute, appearing in my email inbox with its retro look – Courier font! I was unaware of what an institution it has been.

I wrote to Roy in December 2019 when he announced retiring from Current Cites. I thought it would be a shame to see this monthly publication disappear into the Wayback Machine. We will miss Roy's dedication and expertise as he steps away from Current Cites.

I hope to continue to be a steward for one of the longest, continuously-published online publications. The goal remains the same: "a team of librarians monitoring information technology literature, selecting only the best items to annotate for this free publication." We will continue to do so without monetizing or cashing in on this valuable publication.

Lastly, we will be moving to a new collaborative publishing platform shortly. I hope to expand on our pool of contributors to have 3-12 annotated citations every month.

Towards the next 30 years. – Edward Lim


Birchmeier, Bryan, Erika  Dyck, and Kathie P.  Baker, et. al."A Compilation of Short Takes on Working from HomeJournal of Scholarly Publishing  51(4)(July 2020): 246-262. (https://muse.jhu.edu/article/760729). - Nice contemporary snapshot of five people, mainly academic or scholarly, who are currently obliged to work at home due to COVID-19. As one professor explains, "My days are now filled with Zoom meetings, helping kids with homework, webinars, making meals, phone calls, laundry, emails, cleaning the kitchen, online research, and writing in tiny blocks of time." - LRK

Chan, Seb. "On Planetary In 2020: Curatorial Activism And Open Sourcing In Service Of Digital PreservationFresh and New  (48)(June 2020)(https://sebchan.substack.com/p/48-on-planetary-in-2020-curatorial). - This piece presents a fascinating journey through an act of ‘curatorial activism’ by staff at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, when in 2013 they acquired and released the source code (with an open licence) to the iOS app called Planetary. Designed for the Apple iPad, “Planetary has been described as a “visual music player”—an interactive visualization of a user’s music library”. It was downloaded approximately 7 million times. By acquiring and opening the source code, not just the closed source model, staff opened the door to the ongoing care and maintenance of this software. Comparing the management of the software to keeping a panda in a zoo, rather than a lifeless object in a museum, is an apt description. Chan outlines the future-focused curatorial reasons for the acquisition, links to an interesting preservation report on the software from 2019, then interviews a developer who brings the program back to life with a new piece of software Planetary Remastered. - WC

Chan, Seb. "On Planetary In 2020: Curatorial Activism And Open Sourcing In Service Of Digital PreservationFresh and New  (48)(June 2020)(https://sebchan.substack.com/p/48-on-planetary-in-2020-curatorial). - This piece presents a fascinating journey through an act of ‘curatorial activism’ by staff at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, when in 2013 they acquired and released the source code (with an open licence) to the iOS app called Planetary. Designed for the Apple iPad, “Planetary has been described as a “visual music player”—an interactive visualization of a user’s music library”. It was downloaded approximately 7 million times. By acquiring and opening the source code, not just the closed source model, staff opened the door to the ongoing care and maintenance of this software. Comparing the management of the software to keeping a panda in a zoo, rather than a lifeless object in a museum, is an apt description. Chan outlines the future-focused curatorial reasons for the acquisition, links to an interesting preservation report on the software from 2019, then interviews a developer who brings the program back to life with a new piece of software Planetary Remastered. - WC

Cordell, Ryan. "Machine Learning + Libraries: A Report on the State of the FieldThe Signal, The Library of Congress  (14 July 2020)(http://labs.loc.gov/static/labs/work/reports/Cordell-LOC-ML-report.pdf). - This is an extensive report (almost 100-pp) looking into the possibilities and challenges of machine learning in libraries. The last section on recommendations is valuable in equipping libraries that are keen to implement machine learning applications and cultivating expertise in this area. There is even a short section on ‘Parallel Reports’ where the author acknowledges and discusses three other similar reports, which form a great literature review on this topic. - ELJ

Dey, Matthew, Harley  Frazis, and Mark A.  Loewenstein, et. al."Ability To Work From Home: Evidence From Two Surveys And Implications For The Labor Market In The Covid-19 PandemicMonthly Labor Review, U.S. Bureau Of Labor Statistics  (June 2020)(http://doi.org/10.21916/mlr.2020.14). - The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has a fascinating study on what occupations and industries allows work to be done from home, in contrast with what’s happening during this COVID-19 pandemic. As you may have guessed, possibly about 45% of U.S. employees are in occupations where remote or telework work is realistic. However, even with the pandemic, only about 10% were working from home. Perhaps the next time your employer tells you that you cannot work remotely, this report can help you argue that you can telework indeed. - ELJ

LaConte, Keliann. "Creativity and Active Learning in Libraries: Variations on 'STEM' in the United Kingdom and IrelandInternational Leads  34(2)(June 2020): 17 -19. (http://www.ala.org/rt/sites/ala.org.rt/files/content/intlleads/leadsarchive/202006.pdf). - Libraries must instruct their patrons in the use of library technology, at least at a basic level, for those patrons to be able to use the library. Many libraries go much further by offering sessions in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) topics. This survey of libraries in the UK and Ireland found that “[c]oding is the top STEM-rich learning experience offered in libraries across the UK and Ireland.” Survey participants indicated that they would like to have more resources available online that are targeted specifically toward technology instruction in libraries. One of the sources offered is the Science-Technology Activities and Resources Library Network (STAR Net) at www.starnetlibraries.org. Although this article is a brief summary of the survey, the full results are available at “Libraries&STEM Learning: Results from a Survey of Libraries across the UK and Ireland." - NN

Onyancha, Omwoyo B. "Knowledge Visualization and Mapping of Information Literacy, 1975–2018IFLA Journal  46(2)(1 June 2020): 107-123. (https://doi.org/10.1177/0340035220906536). - Lit-review of information literacy from the mid-70s till now. Goals include looking at what terms were used, in what disciplines, and finally, what qualified as 'literacies' through the period. The author discusses the change in focus from 'computer research' prior to 1990 to concepts like 'information technology' and of course, the 'World Wide Web' later on. Note, this is the lead article in an issue focused on 'Information literacy: From practice to research and back again'. - LRK

Reynolds, Paul. "People Points  (2007-2010)(http://www.peoplepoints.co.nz/). - People Points is a blog that was kept by New Zealand internet advocate and library champion Paul Reynolds, from 2007 until 2010, when his sudden and untimely death robbed the library and broader GLAM sector of a passionate, informed, and incredibly strong voice – a voice thick with Scottish brogue which was often heard in the Q&A section after a conference presentation at library events in New Zealand (his adopted home) and Australia (where we adopted him). Paul’s blog covers an exciting and challenging period for libraries, galleries, archives and museums of all shapes and sizes as they grappled with the opportunities presented by the participatory web, newly arrived smart phones, open data, mass digitisation of collections, cloud computing and so much more. Paul’s vision, found through his blog posts, is another trusted voice I have turned to recently, looking for those big picture ideals that can guide my operational decisions relating to digital projects in my library. Paul covered so much in just over three years of blogging. Some of the tools and projects mentioned only exist in the Internet Archive now, however his thoughts and commentary on those projects are worth their weight in gold. Paul continually challenged and encouraged libraries to ‘do more’, because in his words, “Our tools are in front of our ideas and our bravery”. - WC

Tennant, Roy. "Digital LibrariesLibrary Journal  (1997-2007)(http://roytennant.com/column/index.cgi). - Leading my library team through our local response to the global COVID-19 pandemic has had me looking to the past for inspiration and advice. The mechanics of pivoting even more library programs and services online in a short period has been relatively easy. The bigger challenge is leading the sustainability of these digital initiatives, through helping others understand the role of libraries in digital spaces. I have been looking to my professional peers and elders for advice, people who have not only pioneered digital transformation in libraries, but have also communicated those experiences in journal columns, reports and conference presentations. Roy Tennant, the creator and publisher of Current Cites, is one of those voices I trust, and it has been enlightening and reassuring to dive back into Roy’s ‘Digital Libraries’ column which he wrote for Library Journal from 1997 – 2007. Covering almost everything about digital libraries, Roy’s writing is timeless. He has a viewpoint and voice, writes with the authority of working on and pioneering real-world digital library projects, and he isn’t afraid to have fun. A collection of Roy’s columns from 1997 to 2003 were published in a book, Managing the Digital Library (available via HathiTrust https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015079343664&view=1up&seq=5). The grouping of columns into subject chapters is useful. A secondary source of inspiration has been Current Cites itself, a platform nurtured by Roy for decades, containing thousands of useful articles. Roy, for your original writing, and for facilitating access to the wisdom of others, please accept my sincere thanks. - WC