Archive for the ‘Library’ Category

Getting your hands dirty with the Digital Manuscripts Toolkit

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Getting your hands dirty with the Digital Manuscripts Toolkit by Emma Stanford. (3 March 2017 3.00pm — 5.00pm Venue: Centre for Digital Scholarship, Weston Library (Map)

From the webpage:

In this workshop offered jointly by Bodleian Digital Library Systems and Services and the Centre for Digital Scholarship, you’ll learn how to make the most of the digitized resources at the Bodleian, the BnF, the Vatican Library and a host of other institutions, using software tools built around the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF). After a brief introduction to the main concepts of IIIF, you’ll learn how to use Mirador and the Digital Manuscripts Toolkit to gather images from different institutions into a single viewer; rearrange, remix and enhance image sequences and add new descriptive metadata; add transcriptions and annotations to digitized images; and embed zoomable images or whole manuscripts into your own website or blog. You’ll leave with your own virtual workspace, stocked with the images you’re using.

This event is open to all. No technological or scholarly expertise is necessary. The workshop will be most useful if you already have a few digitized books or manuscripts in mind that you’d like to work with, but if you don’t, we can help you find some. In addition to manuscripts, the tools can be applied to digitized printed books, maps, paintings and ephemera.

To participate in the workshop, you will need your own laptop, with internet access via eduroam or the Bodleian Libraries network.

If you are planning on being at the Bodleian on 3 March 2017, call ahead to reserve a seat for this free event!

If not, explore Mirador and the Digital Manuscripts Toolkit on your own.

The Political Librarian (volume 2, issue 2)

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

The Political Librarian

From the webpage:

The Political Librarian is dedicated to expanding the discussion of, promoting research on, and helping to re-envision locally focused advocacy, policy, and funding issues for libraries.

We want to bring in a variety of perspectives to the journal and do not limit our contributors to just those working in the field of library and information science. We seek submissions from researchers, practitioners, community members, or others dedicated to furthering the discussion, promoting research, and helping to re-envision tax policy and public policy on the extremely local level.

Grab the entire volume 2, issue 2 (December 2016) for reading while stopped on the DC Beltway, January 20, 2017.

Libraries need your help to survive and prosper during the rapidly approaching winter of ignorance.

Humanities Digital Library [A Ray of Hope]

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Humanities Digital Library (Launch Event)

From the webpage:

17 Jan 2017, 18:00 to 17 Jan 2017, 19:00


IHR Wolfson Conference Suite, NB01/NB02, Basement, IHR, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU


6-7pm, Tuesday 17 January 2017

Wolfson Conference Suite, Institute of Historical Research

Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU

About the Humanities Digital Library

The Humanities Digital Library is a new Open Access platform for peer reviewed scholarly books in the humanities.

The Library is a joint initiative of the School of Advanced Study, University of London, and two of the School’s institutes—the Institute of Historical Research and the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies.

From launch, the Humanities Digital Library offers scholarly titles in history, law and classics. Over time, the Library will grow to include books from other humanities disciplines studied and researched at the School of Advanced Study. Partner organisations include the Royal Historical Society whose ‘New Historical Perspectives’ series will appear in the Library, published by the Institute of Historical Research.

Each title is published as an open access PDF, with copies also available to purchase in print and EPUB formats. Scholarly titles come in several formats—including monographs, edited collections and longer and shorter form works.
(emphasis in the original)

Timely evidence that not everyone in the UK is barking mad! “Barking mad” being the only explanation I can offer for the Investigatory Powers Bill.

I won’t be attending but if you can, do and support the Humanities Digital Library after it opens.

The Joy of Collective Action: Elsevier Boycott – Germany

Friday, December 16th, 2016

Germany-wide consortium of research libraries announce boycott of Elsevier journals over open access by Cory Doctorow.

Cory writes:

Germany’s DEAL project, which includes over 60 major research institutions, has announced that all of its members are canceling their subscriptions to all of Elsevier’s academic and scientific journals, effective January 1, 2017.

The boycott is in response to Elsevier’s refusal to adopt “transparent business models” to “make publications more openly accessible.”

Just guessing but I suspect the DEAL project would welcome news of other consortia and schools taking similar action.

Over the short term, scholars can tide themselves over with Sci-Hub.

Cory ends:

No full-text access to Elsevier journals to be expected from 1 January 2017 on [Göttingen State and University Library]

How many libraries will you contact by the end of this year?

The Koch Brothers are Attacking Libraries – FYI – Funding Appeal

Saturday, December 10th, 2016

EveryLibrary has a funding appeal you need to seriously consider.

The Koch Brothers are Attacking Libraries

From the post:

We are continuing to see the Koch Brothers Super PAC, Americans for Prosperity go after libraries. This last election cycle was the fifth clear example of their involvement in the agenda to defund libraries. We need your help to fight back. When the Koch Brothers and AFP puts out an anti-tax and anti-library attack, they do it with direct mail and robocalls – and they always do it late in the campaign. We need the resources to confront these anti-tax forces before they can start in the next town. Help us stop them with a one time donation today or a $5-10 monthly donation.
… (emphasis in original)

I won’t repeat the crimes committed against libraries by the Koch Brothers and their Super PAC, Americans for Prosperity, here, they are too sickening. The EveryLibrary post has a sub-set of their offenses described.

Be sure to check out the EveryLibrary site and their journal, The Political Librarian.

From their What We Do page:

EveryLibrary is the first and only national organization dedicated to building voter support for libraries. We are chartered “to promote public, school, and college libraries, including by advocating in support of public funding for libraries and building public awareness of public funding initiatives”. Our primary work is to support local public libraries when they have a referendum or measure on the ballot. We do this in three ways: by training library staff, trustees, and volunteers to plan and run effective Information Only campaigns; by assisting local Vote Yes committees on planning and executing Get Out the Vote work for their library’s measure; and by speaking directly to the public about the value and relevance of libraries and librarians. Our focus on activating voters on Election Day is unique in the library advocacy ecosystem. This is reflected in the training and coaching we do for campaigns.

If you have ever fantasized about saving the Library at Alexandria or opposing the sack of Rome by the Vandals and the Visigoths, now is your chance to do more than fantasize.

Libraries are islands of knowledge under siege by the modern analogues of the barbarians that plunged the world into centuries of darkness.

Will you piss and moan on Facebook, Twitter, etc. about the crumbling defenses of libraries or will you take your place on the ramparts?


Every Congressional Research Service Report – 8,000+ and growing!

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

From the homepage:

We’re publishing reports by Congress’s think tank, the Congressional Research Service, which provides valuable insight and non-partisan analysis of issues of public debate. These reports are already available to the well-connected — we’re making them available to everyone for free.

From the about page:

Congressional Research Service reports are the best way for anyone to quickly get up to speed on major political issues without having to worry about spin — from the same source Congress uses.

CRS is Congress’ think tank, and its reports are relied upon by academics, businesses, judges, policy advocates, students, librarians, journalists, and policymakers for accurate and timely analysis of important policy issues. The reports are not classified and do not contain individualized advice to any specific member of Congress. (More: What is a CRS report?)

Until today, CRS reports were generally available only to the well-connected.

Now, in partnership with a Republican and Democratic member of Congress, we are making these reports available to everyone for free online.

A coalition of public interest groups, journalists, academics, students, some Members of Congress, and former CRS employees have been advocating for greater access to CRS reports for over twenty years. Two bills in Congress to make these reports widely available already have 10 sponsors (S. 2639 and H.R. 4702, 114th Congress) and we urge Congress to finish the job.

This website shows Congress one vision of how it could be done.

What does include? includes 8,255 CRS reports. The number changes regularly.

It’s every CRS report that’s available on Congress’s internal website.

We redact the phone number, email address, and names of virtually all the analysts from the reports. We add disclaimer language regarding copyright and the role CRS reports are intended to play. That’s it.

If you’re looking for older reports, our good friends at may have them.

We also show how much a report has changed over time (whenever CRS publishes an update), provide RSS feeds, and we hope to add more features in the future. Help us make that possible.

To receive an email alert for all new reports and new reports in a particular topic area, use the RSS icon next to the topic area titles and a third-party service, like IFTTT, to monitor the RSS feed for new additions.

This is major joyful news for policy wonks and researchers everywhere.

A must bookmark and contribute to support site!

My joy was alloyed by the notice:

We redact the phone number, email address, and names of virtually all the analysts from the reports. We add disclaimer language regarding copyright and the role CRS reports are intended to play. That’s it.

The privileged, who get the CRS reports anyway, have that information?

What is the value in withholding it from the public?

Support the project but let’s put the public on an even footing with the privileged shall we?

Using Search Terms and Facets on (Video) (Evaluation Help?)

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

Using Search Terms and Facets on (Video)

I would love to tell you about the contents of this video!

However, not having Flash is the only effect way to defeat Flash vulnerabilities.

Adobe advises 1.3 billion people are vulnerable to Flash security issues but I am not one of them.

If you care to review this resources and submit comments, I would appreciate it.

Digital Humanities In the Library

Sunday, July 31st, 2016

Digital Humanities In the Library / Of the Library: A dh+lib Special Issue

A special issue of dh + lib introduced by Sarah Potvin, Thomas Padilla and Caitlin Christian-Lamb in their essay: Digital Humanities In the Library / Of the Library, saying:

What are the points of contact between digital humanities and libraries? What is at stake, and what issues arise when the two meet? Where are we, and where might we be going? Who are “we”? By posing these questions in the CFP for a new dh+lib special issue, the editors hoped for sharp, provocative meditations on the state of the field. We are proud to present the result, ten wide-ranging contributions by twenty-two authors, collectively titled “Digital Humanities In the Library / Of the Library.”

We make the in/of distinction pointedly. Like the Digital Humanities (DH), definitions of library community are typically prefigured by “inter-” and “multi-” frames, rendered as work and values that are interprofessional, interdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary. Ideally, these characterizations attest to diversified yet unified purpose, predicated on the application of disciplinary expertise and metaknowledge to address questions that resist resolution from a single perspective. Yet we might question how a combinatorial impulse obscures the distinct nature of our contributions and, consequently, our ability to understand and respect individual agency. Working across the similarly encompassing and amorphous contours of the Digital Humanities compels the library community to reckon with its composite nature.

All of the contributions merit your attention but I was especially taken by: When Metadata Becomes Outreach: Indexing, Describing, and Encoding For DH by Emma Annette Wilson and Mary Alexander has this gem that will resonate with topic map fans:

DH projects require high-quality metadata in order to thrive, and the bigger the project, the more important that metadata becomes to make data discoverable, navigable, and open to computational analysis. The functions of all metadata are to allow our users to identify and discover resources through records acting as surrogates of resources, and to discover similarities, distinctions, and other nuances within single texts or across a corpus. High quality metadata brings standardization to the project by recording elements’ definitions, obligations, repeatability, rules for hierarchical structure, and attributes. Input guidelines and the use of controlled vocabularies bring consistencies that promote findability for researchers and users alike.

Modulo my reservations about the data/metadata distinction depending upon a point of view and all of them being subjects in any event, its hard to think of a clearer statement of the value that a topic map could bring to a DH project.

Consistencies can peacefully co-exist with with historical or present-day inconsistencies, at least so long as you are using a topic map.

I commend the entire issue to your for reading!

Seriously, Who’s Gonna Find It?

Monday, April 25th, 2016


Graphic whimsy via Bruce Sterling,

Are your information requirements met by finding something or by finding the right thing?

Cory Doctorow on Librarians

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Just in case you missed Cory’s tweet on April 21, 2016:

Saying “Librarians are obsolete now that we have the Internet” is like saying “Doctors are obsolete now that we have the plague”

If that doesn’t make sense to you:

  1. Time yourself finding relevant information about any topic.
  2. Ask you local librarian for relevant information on the same topic.
  3. Compare the results of 1 and 2.

Do you get it now?

Making the most of The National Archives Library (webinar 29 March 2016)

Saturday, March 5th, 2016

Making the most of The National Archives Library

From the webpage:

This webinar will help you to make the most of The National Archives’ Library, with published works dating from the 16th century onwards. Among other topics, it will cover what the Library contains, why it is useful to use published sources before accessing archive records and how to access the Library catalogue.

Webinars are online only events.

The Library at The National Archives is holding a series of events to mark National Libraries Day. The National Archives’ Library is a rich resource that is accessible to all researchers.

We run an exciting range of events and exhibitions on a wide variety of topics. For more details, visit

Entrance to The National Archives is free and there is no need to book, see for more information.


Tuesday, 29 March 2016 from 16:00 to 17:00 (BST)

Assuming that 16:00 to 17:00 GMT was intended, that would be starting at 11 AM EST.

I have pinged the national archive on using BST, British Summer Time, in March. 😉

NCSU Offers Social Media Archives Toolkit for Libraries [Defeating Censors]

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

NCSU Offers Social Media Archives Toolkit for Libraries by Matt Enis.

From the post:

North Carolina State University (NCSU) Libraries recently debuted a free, web-based social media archives toolkit designed to help cultural heritage organizations develop social media collection strategies, gain knowledge of ways in which peer institutions are collecting similar content, understand current and potential uses of social media content by researchers, assess the legal and ethical implications of archiving this content, and develop techniques for enriching collections of social media content at minimal cost. Tools for building and enriching collections include NCSU’s Social Media Combine—which pre-assembles the open source Social Feed Manager, developed at George Washington University for Twitter data harvesting, and NCSU’s own open source Lentil program for Instagram—into a single package that can be deployed on Windows, OSX, and Linux computers.

“By harvesting social media data (such as Tweets and Instagram photos), based on tags, accounts, or locations, researchers and cultural heritage professionals are able to develop accurate historical assessments and democratize access to archival contributors, who would otherwise never be represented in the historical record,” NCSU explained in an announcement.

“A lot of activity that used to take place as paper correspondence is now taking place on social media—the establishment of academic and artistic communities, political organizing, activism, awareness raising, personal and professional interactions,” Jason Casden, interim associate head of digital library initiatives, told LJ. Historians and researchers will want to have access to this correspondence, but unlike traditional letters, this content is extremely ephemeral and can’t be collected retroactively like traditional paper-based collections.

“So we collect proactively—as these events are happening or shortly after,” Casden explained.

I saw this too late today to install but I’m sure I will be posting about it later this week!

Do you see the potential of such tooling for defeating would-be censors of Twitter and other social media?

More on that later this week as well.

New York Public Library – 180K Hi-Res Images/Metadata

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

NYPL Releases Hi-Res Images, Metadata for 180,000 Public Domain Items in its Digital Collections

from the post:

JANUARY 6, 2016 — The New York Public Library has expanded access to more than 180,000 items with no known U.S. copyright restrictions in its Digital Collections database, releasing hi-res images, metadata, and tools facilitating digital creation and reuse. The release represents both a simplification and an enhancement of digital access to a trove of unique and rare materials: a removal of administration fees and processes from public domain content, and also improvements to interfaces — popular and technical — to the digital assets themselves. Online users of the NYPL Digital Collections website will find more prominent download links and filters highlighting restriction-free content; while more technically inclined users will also benefit from updates to the Library’s collections API enabling bulk use and analysis, as well as data exports and utilities posted to NYPL’s GitHub account. These changes are intended to facilitate sharing, research and reuse by scholars, artists, educators, technologists, publishers, and Internet users of all kinds. All subsequently digitized public domain collections will be made available in the same way, joining a growing repository of open materials.

“The New York Public Library is committed to giving our users access to information and resources however possible,” said Tony Marx, president of the Library. “Today, we are going beyond providing our users with digital facsimiles that give only an impression of something we have in our physical collection. By making our highest-quality assets freely available, we are truly giving our users the greatest access possible to our collections in the digital environment.”

To encourage novel uses of its digital resources, NYPL is also now accepting applications for a new Remix Residency program. Administered by the Library’s digitization and innovation team, NYPL Labs, the residency is intended for artists, information designers, software developers, data scientists, journalists, digital researchers, and others to make transformative and creative uses of digital collections and data,and the public domain assets in particular. Two projects will be selected, receiving financial and consultative support from Library curators and technologists.

To provide further inspiration for reuse, the NYPL Labs team has also released several demonstration projects delving into specific collections, as well as a visual browsing tool allowing users to explore the public domain collections at scale. These projects — which include a then-and-now comparison of New York’s Fifth Avenue, juxtaposing 1911 wide angle photographs with Google Street View, and a “trip planner” using locations extracted from mid-20th century motor guides that listed hotels, restaurants, bars, and other destinations where black travelers would be welcome — suggest just a few of the myriad investigations made possible by fully opening these collections.

The public domain release spans the breadth and depth of NYPL’s holdings, from the Library’s rich New York City collection, historic maps, botanical illustrations, unique manuscripts, photographs, ancient religious texts, and more. Materials include:

Visit for information about the materials related to the public domain update and links to all of the projects demonstrating creative reuse of public domain materials.

The New York Public Library’s Rights and Information Policy team has carefully reviewed Items and collections to determine their copyright status under U.S. law. As a U.S.-based library, NYPL limits its determinations to U.S. law and does not analyze the copyright status of an item in every country. However, when speaking more generally, the Library uses terms such as “public domain” and “unrestricted materials,” which are used to describe the aggregate collection of items it can offer to the public without any restrictions on subsequent use.

If you are looking for content for a topic map or inspiration to pass onto other institutions about opening up their collections, take a look at the New York Public Library’s Digital Collections.

Content designed for re-use. Imagine that, re-use of content.

The exact time/place of the appearance of seamless re-use of content will be debated by future historians but for now, this is a very welcome step in that direction.

Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Volume 15, Richard II

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Volume 15, Richard II by By M. C. B. Dawes, A. C. Wood and D. H. Gifford. (Covers the years 1 to 7 in the reign of Richard II.).

From the homepage for the series:

An inquisition post mortem is a local enquiry into the lands held by a deceased individual, in order to discover any income and rights due to the crown. Such inquisitions were only held when people were thought or known to have held lands of the crown. The records in this series relate to the City of London for the periods 1485-1561 and 1577-1603.

I admit that some of my posts have broader audiences than others but only British History Online could send this tweet:

BHO at the IHR ‏@bho_history 2h hours ago
One final new publication to keep you busy over the holiday: Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem vol 15. Enjoy! …
0 retweets 0 likes

Be sure to explore the British History Online (BHO). With a goal of creating access to printed primary and secondary sources from 1300 to 1800, the BHO site promises to be a rich source of historical data.

Modern Pathfinders: Creating Better Research Guides

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

Modern Pathfinders: Creating Better Research Guides by Jason Puckett.

From the Amazon description:

Whether you call them research guides, subject guides or pathfinders, web-based guides are a great way to create customized support tools for a specific audience: a class, a group, or anyone engaging in research. Studies show that library guides are often difficult, confusing, or overwhelming, causing users to give up and just fall back on search engines such as Google. How can librarians create more effective, less confusing, and simply better research guides?

In Modern Pathfinders: Creating Better Research Guides, author Jason Puckett takes proven ideas from instructional design and user experience web design and combines them into easy-to-understand principles for making your research guides better teaching tools. It doesn’t matter what software your library uses; the advice and techniques in this book will help you create guides that are easier for your users to understand and more effective to use.

This may be a very good book.

I say “may be” because at $42.00 for 157 pages in paperback and/or Kindle, I’m very unlikely to find out.

The American Library Association (publisher of this work) is doing its members, authors and the reading public a disservice by maintaining a pinched audience for its publications.

Works by librarians and on pathfinders in particular would be help, albeit belated help, for technologists who have tried to recreate the labor of librarians. Poorly.

If and when this work appears at a more reasonable price, I hope to offer a review for your consideration.

55 Articles Every Librarian Should Read (Updated)

Friday, October 16th, 2015

55 Articles Every Librarian Should Read (Updated) by Christina Magnifico.

The articles cover a wide range of subjects but you remember the line:

People become librarians because they know too much.”

A good starting place if you are looking for sparks for new ideas.


Now over 1,000,000 Items to Search on [Cause to Celebrate?]

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

Now over 1,000,000 Items to Search on Communications and More Added by Andrew Weber.

From the post:

This has been a great year as we continue our push to develop and refine  There were email alerts added in February, treaties and better default text in March, the Federalist Papers and more browse options in May, and accessibility and user requested features in July.  With this October update, Senate Executive Communications from THOMAS have migrated to  There is an About Executive Communications page that provides more detail about the scope of coverage, searching, viewing, and obtaining copies.

Not to mention a new video “help” series, Legislative Subject Terms and Popular and Short Titles.

All good and from one of the few government institutions that merits respect, the Library of Congress.

Why the “Cause to Celebrate?”

This is an excellent start and certainly has shown itself to be far more responsive to user requests than vendors are to reports of software vulnerabilities.

But we are still at the higher level of data, legislation, regulations, etc.

Where needs to follow is a dive downward to identify who obtains the benefits of legislation/regulations? Who obtains permits, for what and at what market value? Who obtains benefits, credits, allowances? Who wins contracts and where does that money go as it tracks down the prime contractor -> sub-prime contractor -> etc. pipeline?

It is ironic that when candidates for president talk about tax reform they tend to focus on the tax tables. Which are two (2) pages out of the current 6,455 pages of the IRC (in pdf,

Knowing who benefits and by how much for the rest of the pages of the IRC isn’t going to make government any cleaner.

But, when paired with campaign contributions, it will give everyone an even footing on buying favors from the government.

Not unlike public disclosure enables a relatively fair stock exchange, in the case of government it will enable relative fairness in corruption.

Stand by your Library!

Friday, September 11th, 2015

First Library to Support Anonymous Internet Browsing Effort Stops After DHS Email by Julia Angwin.

From the post:

In July, the Kilton Public Library in Lebanon, New Hampshire, was the first library in the country to become part of the anonymous Web surfing service Tor. The library allowed Tor users around the world to bounce their Internet traffic through the library, thus masking users’ locations.

Soon after state authorities received an email about it from an agent at the Department of Homeland Security.

“The Department of Homeland Security got in touch with our Police Department,” said Sean Fleming, the library director of the Lebanon Public Libraries.

After a meeting at which local police and city officials discussed how Tor could be exploited by criminals, the library pulled the plug on the project.

“Right now we’re on pause,” said Fleming. “We really weren’t anticipating that there would be any controversy at all.”

He said that the library board of trustees will vote on whether to turn the service back on at its meeting on Sept. 15.

See Julia’s post for the details but this was just the first library in what was planned to be a series of public libraries across the United States offering Tor. An article about that plan in ArsTechnica tipped off law enforcement before nationwide Tor services could be established.

The public statements by law enforcement sound reasonable, need all the issues on the table, etc., but make no mistake, this is an effort to cripple making the Tor service far more effective than it is today.

There isn’t any middle ground where citizens can have privacy and yet criminals can be prevented from having privacy. After all, unless and until you are convicted in a court of law, you are a citizen, not a criminal.

There is a certain cost to the presumption of innocence and that cost has been present since the Constiution was adopted. Guilty people may go free or perhaps not even be caught because of your rights under the U.S. Constitution.

If you are in Lebanon, New Hampshire, attend the library supervisor’s meeting and voice support for Tor!

If you can’t make the meeting, ask your library for Tor. (See the ArsTechnica post for more details on the project.)

Asleep at the Wheel

Friday, September 4th, 2015

Asleep at the Wheel by Bob Berring.

From the post:

In 1987, those roseate times before social media and Google searches, Dr. James Billington was appointed the United States’ Librarian of Congress. The appointment did not bode well. My voice was part of the outcry over the fact that at a crucial juncture for the role of libraries in the world, a person was taking the helm who was neither a librarian nor an information professional. The New York Times, which I had always viewed as the sage voice of national reason, opined that the job was too big for a librarian. It called for a scholar like Dr. Billington. So it goes.

Berring mentions The Enemies of Books (1880) as a history of the struggles of libraries for centuries.

Let’s hope that Billington’s replacement is a militant librarian who recognizes the need to preserve our existing cultural legacy while embracing what will be the future’s cultural legacy now.

I can’t repeat the one story I know of the dealings of the Library of Congress and an institution in another country but suffice it to say the Library of Congress was more concerned with its status than with finding a way to obtain access to fairly rare biblical materials. To be fair, so were the people I was working for.

I had mistakenly thought that furthering access to rare materials would be a goal of anyone who wanted to “foster biblical scholarship.”

Being assured by each other that they were in fact fostering biblical scholarship was more important than any actual deeds to foster biblical scholarship. As Nietzsche once said, they “told the correct time and made a modest noise while doing so.”

Self-Censorship and Terrorism (Hosting Taliban material)

Monday, August 31st, 2015

British Library declines Taliban archive over terror law fears

From the BBC:

The British Library has declined to store a large collection of Taliban-related documents because of concerns regarding terrorism laws.

The collection, related to the Afghan Taliban, includes official newspapers, maps and radio broadcasts.

Academics have criticised the decision saying it would be a valuable resource to understand the ongoing insurgency in Afghanistan.

The library said it feared it could be in breach of counter-terrorism laws.

It said it had been legally advised not to make the material accessible.

The Terrorism Acts of 2000 and 2006 make it an offence to “collect material which could be used by a person committing or preparing for an act of terrorism” and criminalise the “circulation of terrorist publications”.

The Home Office declined to comment saying it was a matter for library.

Of course the Home Office has no comment. The more it can bully people and institutions into self-censorship the better.

A number of academics have pointed out the absurdity of the decision. But there is some risk and most institutions are “risk adverse,” which also explains why governments tremble at the thought “terrorist publications.”

While governments and some libraries try to outdo each other in terms of timidity, the rest of us should be willing to take that risk. Take that risk for freedom of inquiry and the sharing of knowledge. Putting a finger in the eye of timid governments and institutions strikes me as a good reason as well.

No promises but perhaps individuals offering to and hosting parts of the Taliban collection will shame timid institutions into hosting it and similar collections (like the alleged torrents of pro-Islamic State tweets).

I am willing to host some material from the Taliban archive. It doesn’t have to be the interesting parts (which everyone will want).

Are you?

PS: No, I’m not a Taliban sympathizer, at least in so far as I understand what the Taliban represents. I am deeply committed to enabling others to reach their own conclusions based on evidence about the Taliban and others. We might agree and we might not. That is one of the exciting (government drones read “dangerous”) aspects of intellectual freedom.

Digital Bodleian

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

I know very little of what there is to be known about the Bodleian Library but as soon as I saw Digital Bodleian, I had to follow the link.

As of today, there are 115,179 images and more are on their way. Check the collections frequently and for new collections as well.

One example that is near and dear to me:

Exploring Egypt in the 19th Century

The popup reads:

A complete facsimile of publications from the early-nineteeth-century expeditions to Egypt by Champollion and Rosellini.

The growth of “big data” isn’t just from the production of new data but from the digitization of existing collections as well.

Now the issue is how to collate copies of inscriptions by Champollion in these works with much later materials. So that a scholar finding one such resource will be automatically made aware of the others.

That may not sound like a difficult task but given the amount of material published every year, it remains a daunting one.

Comprehensive Index of Legal Reports (Law Library of Congress)

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

Comprehensive Index of Legal Reports (Law Library of Congress)

From the announcement that came via email:

In an effort to highlight the legal reports produced by the Law Library of Congress, we have revamped our display of the reports on our website.

The new Comprehensive Index of Legal Reports will house all reports available on our website. This will also be the exclusive location to find reports written before 2011.

The reports listed on the Comprehensive Index page are divided into specific topics designed to point you to the reports of greatest interest and relevance. Each report listed is under only one topic and several topics are not yet filled (“forthcoming”). We plan to add many reports from our archives to this page over the next few months, filling in all of the topics.

The Current Legal Topics page ( will now only contain the most current reports. The list of reports by topic also includes a short description explaining what you will find in each report.

No links will be harmed in this change, so any links you have created to individual reports will continue to work. Just remember to add as a place to find research, especially of a historical nature, and to find recently written reports.

There are US entities that rival the British Library and the British Museum. The Library of Congress is one of those, as is the Law Library of Congress (the law library is a part of the Library of Congress but merits separate mention).

Every greedy, I would like to see something similar for the Congressional Research Service.

From the webpage:

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) works exclusively for the United States Congress, providing policy and legal analysis to committees and Members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation. As a legislative branch agency within the Library of Congress, CRS has been a valued and respected resource on Capitol Hill for more than a century.

CRS is well-known for analysis that is authoritative, confidential, objective and nonpartisan. Its highest priority is to ensure that Congress has 24/7 access to the nation’s best thinking.

Imagine US voters being given “…analysis that is authoritative, …, objective and nonpartisan,” analysis that they are paying for today and have for more than the last century.

I leave it to your imagination why Congress would prefer to have “confidential” reports that aren’t available to ordinary citizens. Do you prefer incompetence or malice?

The Archive Is Closed [Library of Congress Twitter Archive]

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

The Archive Is Closed by Scott McLemee.

From the post:

Five years ago, this column looked into scholarly potential of the Twitter archive the Library of Congress had recently acquired. That potential was by no means self-evident. The incensed “my tax dollars are being used for this?” comments practically wrote themselves, even without the help of Twitter bots.

For what — after all — is the value of a dead tweet? Why would anyone study 140-character messages, for the most part concerning mundane and hyperephemeral topics, with many of them written as if to document the lowest possible levels of functional literacy?
As I wrote at the time, papers by those actually doing the research treated Twitter as one more form of human communication and interaction. The focus was not on the content of any specific message, but on the patterns that emerged when they were analyzed in the aggregate. Gather enough raw data, apply suitable methods, and the results could be interesting. (For more detail, see the original discussion.)

The key thing was to have enough tweets on hand to grind up and analyze. So, yes, an archive. In the meantime, the case for tweet preservation seems easier to make now that elected officials, religious leaders and major media outlets use Twitter. A recent volume called Twitter and Society (Peter Lang, 2014) collects papers on how politics, journalism, the marketplace and (of course) academe itself have absorbed the impact of this high-volume, low-word-count medium.

As far as the Library of Congress archive, Scott reports:

The Library of Congress finds itself in the position of someone who has agreed to store the Atlantic Ocean in his basement. The embarrassment is palpable. No report on the status of the archive has been issued in more than two years, and my effort to extract one elicited nothing but a statement of facts that were never in doubt.

“The library continues to collect and preserve tweets,” said Gayle Osterberg, the library’s director of communications, in reply to my inquiry. “It was very important for the library to focus initially on those first two aspects — collection and preservation. If you don’t get those two right, the question of access is a moot point. So that’s where our efforts were initially focused and we are pleased with where we are in that regard.”

That’s as helpful as the responses I get about the secret ACM committee that determines the fate of feature requests for the ACM digital library. You can’t contact them directly nor can you find any record of their discussions/decisions.

Let’s hope greater attention and funding can move the Library of Congress Twitter Archive towards public access, for all the reasons enumerated by Scott.

One does have to wonder, given the role of the U.S. government in pushing for censorship of Twitter accounts, will the Library of Congress archive be complete and free from censorship? Or will it have dark spots depending upon the whims and caprices of the current regime?

New: Library of Congress Demographic Group Terms (LCDGT)

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

From an email:

As part of its ongoing effort to provide effective access to library materials, the Library of Congress is developing a new vocabulary, entitled Library of Congress Demographic Group Terms (LCDGT). This vocabulary will be used to describe the creators of, and contributors to, resources, and also the intended audience of resources. It will be created and maintained by the Policy and Standards Division, and be distinct from the other vocabularies that are maintained by that division: Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms for Library and Archival Materials (LCGFT), and the Library of Congress Medium of Performance Thesaurus for Music (LCMPT).

A general rationale for the development of LCDGT, information about the pilot vocabulary, and a link to the Tentative List of terms in the pilot may be found on LC’s Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access website at

The Policy and Standards Division is accepting comments on the pilot vocabulary and the principles guiding its development through June 5, 2015. Comments may be sent to Janis L. Young at

A follow-up question to this post asked:

Is there a list of the codes used in field 072 in these lists? Some I can figure out, but it would be nice to see a list of the categories you’re using.

The list in question is: DEMOGRAPHIC GROUP TERMS.

To which Adam Schiff replied:

The list of codes is in and online at (although the latter is still lacking a few of the codes found in the former).


Digital Approaches to Hebrew Manuscripts

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Digital Approaches to Hebrew Manuscripts

Monday 18th – Tuesday 19th of May 2015

From the webpage:

We are delighted to announce the programme for On the Same Page: Digital Approaches to Hebrew Manuscripts at King’s College London. This two-day conference will explore the potential for the computer-assisted study of Hebrew manuscripts; discuss the intersection of Jewish Studies and Digital Humanities; and share methodologies. Amongst the topics covered will be Hebrew palaeography and codicology, the encoding and transcription of Hebrew texts, the practical and theoretical consequences of the use of digital surrogates and the visualisation of manuscript evidence and data. For the full programme and our Call for Posters, please see below.

Organised by the Departments of Digital Humanities and Theology & Religious Studies (Jewish Studies)
Co-sponsor: Centre for Late Antique & Medieval Studies (CLAMS), King’s College London

I saw this at the blog for DigiPal: Digital Resource and Database of Palaeolography, Manuscript Studies and Diplomatic. Confession, I have never understood how the English derive acronyms and this confounds me as much as you. 😉

Be sure to look around at the DigiPal site. There are numerous manuscript images, annotation techniques, and other resources for those who foster scholarship by contributing to it.

One Subject, Three Locators

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

As you may know, the Library of Congress actively maintains its subject headings. Not surprising to anyone other than purveyors of fixed ontologies. New subjects appear, terminology changes, old subjects have new names, etc.

The Subject Authority Cooperative Program (SACO) has a mailing list:

About the SACO Listserv (

The SACO Program welcomes all interested parties to subscribe to the SACO listserv. This listserv was established first and foremost to facilitate communication with SACO contributors throughout the world. The Summaries of the Weekly Subject Editorial Review Meeting are posted to enable SACO contributors to keep abreast of changes and know if proposed headings have been approved or not. The listserv may also be used as a vehicle to foster discussions on the construction, use, and application of subject headings. Questions posted may be answered by any list member and not necessarily by staff in the Cooperative Programs Section (Coop) or PSD. Furthermore, participants are encouraged to provide comments, share examples, experiences, etc.

On the list this week was the question:

Does anyone know how these three sites differ as sources for consulting approved subject lists?

Janis L. Young, Policy and Standards Division, Library of Congress replied:

Just to clarify: all of the links that you and Paul listed take you to the same Approved Lists. We provide multiple access points to the information in order to accommodate users who approach our web site in different ways.

Depending upon your goals, the Approved Lists could be treated as a subject that has three locators.


Friday, May 1st, 2015

OPenn: Primary Digital Resources Available to All through Penn Libraries’ New Online Platform by Jessie Dummer.

From the post:

The Penn Libraries and the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies are thrilled to announce the launch of OPenn: Primary Resources Available to Everyone (, a new website that makes digitized cultural heritage material freely available and accessible to the public. OPenn is a major step in the Libraries’ strategic initiative to embrace open data, with all images and metadata on this site available as free cultural works to be freely studied, applied, copied, or modified by anyone, for any purpose. It is crucial to the mission of SIMS and the Penn Libraries to make these materials of great interest and research value easy to access and reuse. The OPenn team at SIMS has been working towards launching the website for the past year. Director Will Noel’s original idea to make our Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts open to all has grown into a space where the Libraries can collaborate with other institutions who want to open their data to the world.

Images of the manuscripts are currently available on OPenn at full resolution, with derivatives also provided for easy reuse on the web. Downloading, whether several select images or the entire dataset, is easily accomplished by following instructions or recipes posted in the Technical Read Me on OPenn. The website is designed to be machine-readable, but easy for individuals to use, too.

Oh, the manuscripts themselves?

Licensing is a real treat:

All images and their contents from the Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection are free of known copyright restrictions and in the public domain. See the Creative Commons Public Domain Mark page for more information on terms of use:

Unless otherwise stated, all manuscript descriptions and other cataloging metadata are ©2015 The University of Pennsylvania Libraries. They are licensed for use under a Creative Commons Attribution Licensed version 4.0 (CC-BY-4.0):

For a description of the terms of use see, the Creative Commons Deed:

In substance and licensing such a departure from academic societies that still consider comping travel and hotel rooms as “fostering scholarship.” “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16)

Almost a Topic Map? Or Just a Mashup?

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

WikipeDPLA by Eric Phetteplace.

From the webpage:

See relevant results from the Digital Public Library of America on any Wikipedia article. This extension queries the DPLA each time you visit a Wikipedia article, using the article’s title, redirects, and categories to find relevant items. If you click a link at the top of the article, it loads in a series of links to the items. The original code behind WikiDPLA was written at LibHack, a hackathon at the American Library Association’s 2014 Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia:

Google Chrome App Home Page

GitHub page

Wikipedia:The Wikipedia Library/WikipeDPLA

How you resolve the topic map versus mashup question depends on how much precision you expect from a topic map. While knowing additional places to search is useful, I never have a problem with assembling more materials than can be read in the time allowed. On the other hand, some people may need more prompting than others, so I can’t say that general references are out of bounds.

Assuming you were maintaining data sets with locally unique identifiers, using a modification of this script to query an index of all local scripts (say Pig scripts) to discover other scripts using the same data could be quite useful.

BTW, you need to have a Wikipedia account and be logged in for the extension to work. Or at least that was my experience.


Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums (GLAM CC Licensing)

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums (GLAM CC Licensing)

A very extensive list of galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAM) that are using CC licensing.

A good resource to have at hand if you need to argue for CC licensing with your gallerys, library, archive, or museum.

I first saw this in a tweet by Adrianne Russell.

Update: Resource List for March 5 Open Licensing Online Program