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Empowering libraries through technology
Updated: 2 hours 51 min ago

Jobs in Information Technology: July 2, 2020

Thu, 2020-07-02 14:22

New This Week

Visit the LITA Jobs Site for additional job openings and information on submitting your own job posting.

Categories: Library News

Jobs in Information Technology: June 26, 2020

Fri, 2020-06-26 12:22

New This Week

Visit the LITA Jobs Site for additional job openings and information on submitting your own job posting.

Categories: Library News

Jobs in Information Technology: June 19, 2020

Fri, 2020-06-19 13:02

New This Week

Visit the LITA Jobs Site for additional job openings and information on submitting your own job posting.

Categories: Library News

Core Virtual Happy Hour Social ~ June 26

Fri, 2020-06-19 11:01
Our Joint Happy Hour social at Midwinter was such a success that next week we’re bringing Happy Hour to you online—and registration is free!

We invite members of ALCTS, LITA, and LLAMA to join us on Friday, June 26, 5:00-7:00 pm Central Time for Virtual Happy Hour networking and/or play with your peers in a game of Scattergories.
Wear your favorite pop culture T-shirt, bring your best Zoom background, grab a beverage, and meet us online for a great time! Attendees will automatically be entered to win free registration to attend the Core Virtual Forum.
Winner must be present to redeem prize.
Registration is required.

Register now at:
Categories: Library News

Michael Carroll Awarded 2020 LITA/Christian Larew Memorial Scholarship

Thu, 2020-06-11 14:08

Michael Carroll has been selected to receive the 2020 LITA/Christian Larew Memorial Scholarship ($3,000) sponsored by the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) and Baker & Taylor.

This scholarship is for master’s level study, with an emphasis on library technology and/or automation, at a library school program accredited by the American Library Association. Criteria for the Scholarship includes previous academic excellence, evidence of leadership potential, and a commitment to a career in library automation and information technology.

The Larew Scholarship Committee was impressed by what Michael has already accomplished and look forward to seeing what he will accomplish after graduation in 2021. Michael has already shown a strong interest in digitization projects. He currently manages a team of students working with digitization. Previously, he has scanned and cataloged many collections. He has also assisted the Presbyterian Historical Society in creating sustainable processes for digitization. Michael has also shown his willingness and ability to work with a wide variety of projects and technologies that span both technical and non-technical including working with content management systems and mold remediation. 

When notified he had won, Carroll said, “I graciously accept this honor and look forward to the opportunities it will make possible in my developing career.”

Members of the 2020 LITA/Christian Larew Memorial Scholarship Committee are: Dale Poulter (Chair), Christopher Lawton (Past Chair), Julia Bauder, Faye Mazzia, and Harriet Wintermute.

Categories: Library News

We are back on Twitter Friday for #LITAchat

Wed, 2020-06-10 16:14

The fourth in this series of #LITAchats will start on Friday, June 12 from 12-1 Central Standard Time on Twitter. We will be asking you to chat with us about self-care. What are you doing to take care of yourselves during this time? How do you unplug without feeling guilty? 

We hope you’ll join us for LITAchat and chat about self-care techniques and figuring out how to better take care of ourselves during these tough times. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

Join LITA on Twitter

Catch up on the last #LITAchat

Categories: Library News

Join us for ALCTS/LITA/LLAMA e-Forum!

Mon, 2020-06-08 12:50

Please join us for a joint ALCTS/LITA/LLAMA e-forum discussion. It’s free and open to everyone! Registration information is at the end of the message, along with subscription management options for existing listserv members.

Continuing to Manage the Impact of COVID-19 on Libraries

June 9-10, 2020

Moderated by Alyse Jordan, Steven Pryor, Nicole Lewis and Rebecca Uhl

Please join us for an e-forum discussion. It’s free and open to everyone!

Registration information is at the end of the message.

Each day, discussion begins and ends at:

Pacific: 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Mountain: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Central: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Eastern: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Over the past several months, COVID-19 has significantly impacted libraries and library technical service units and departments, including requiring staff to work remotely and determining what services they can provide. As states begin to reopen, libraries face challenges as they determine how to re-open and begin providing in-person services, while still providing a safe environment for staff and patrons. In this special joint ALCTS/LITA/LLAMA e-Forum we will discuss any changes in how everyone is coping, as well as providing an opportunity to discuss re-opening concerns and challenges.


Alyse Jordan serves as Associate Librarian at Arizona State University. Her library and higher education experience includes assessment, teaching, research, collection development, and instructional technologies. Alyse offers a commitment to actively mentoring colleagues and students in their discovery of information, professional development, and personal growth opportunities.

Nicole Lewis is Lead Cataloger at the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library. She is responsible for coordinating cataloging workflows and is one of the library’s ILS system administrators. She currently prepares database cleanup projects, including supplemental training, for several cataloging and acquisition staff to work on during the library closure.

Steven Pryor is Digital Scholarship Librarian at the University of Missouri. He studies faculty publication activity, promotes open access and institutional repository participation, and leads Software Carpentry initiatives and other work to promote digital research skills for students and faculty.

Rebecca Uhl is Principal Cataloger at Arizona State University. She is coordinating remote work for 13 catalogers in three different units within technical services, including providing training and coaching catalogers in new and different tasks.

What Is an e-Forum?

An ALCTS e-forum provides an opportunity for librarians to discuss matters of interest, led by a moderator, through the e-forum discussion list. The e-forum discussion list works like an email listserv: register your email address with the list, and then you will receive messages and communicate with other participants through an email discussion. Most e-forums last two to three days. Registration is necessary to participate, but it’s free.

For information about upcoming e-forums, please visit

How to Register

You must register your email address to subscribe to or access an electronic discussion list on ALA’s Mailing List Service. Once you have registered for one e-forum, you do not need to register again, unless you choose to leave the list. Find instructions for subscribing and unsubscribing online. (

If you’re busy and you don’t want to actively participate, or if the number of emails gets to be too much, here are some options for managing your subscription.  If you can’t figure things out, please email  Be kind to everyone else on the list and don’t email “Take me off this list” requests to all participants. Also, please don’t mark the emails as spam or it will shutdown the listserv.

1.  How to unsubscribe: If you wish to unsubscribe to the e-Forum entirely, scroll to the bottom of the most recent message that was posted to the list, and click on the link next to this text: “To unsubscribe from this list, clink here.”  Or you can log into and you should see the option “unsubscribe” on the left sidebar. Just click on that and enter your email address to unsubscribe from the list. The entire discussion will be available at the above URL as well, if you’d prefer to read it later.  You can always re-subscribe to the list at a later date if a future topic is of interest to you.

2.  Get digest format: If you would like to receive fewer emails, you can set your list settings to digest format.  Go to:, log in using the email and password that you received when you signed up for the list.  Choose “subscriber options” on the left.  Then in Receiving mode, choose “digest MIME format.”  The digest is set to provide one message per 25 messages sent to the list and are generated Monday-Wednesday-Friday at 3 PM Central Time.

3.  Use email filters and threads to keep your inbox organized: If you want to participate fully in the e-Forum, but want to keep the email messages separate from other email, you can probably set up a filter in your mail client, which will have e-forum messages directly delivered to a folder of your choice, as opposed to your in-box (just don’t forget to check the folder!), or flag the messages to alert you that they are e-Forum messages.  You can also organize the folder by threads to keep track of conversations.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.


Nicole Lewis and Rebecca Uhl

ALCTS e-Forum co-coordinators

Categories: Library News

Together Against Racism

Fri, 2020-06-05 17:59

ALA and Core are committed to dismantling racism and white supremacy. Along with the ALA Executive Board, we endorse the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA)’s May 28 statement condemning the brutal murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police Department officers. In their statement, BCALA cites Floyd’s death as “the latest in a long line of recent and historical violence against Black people in the United States.” Not only does Core support the sentiments of BCALA, we vow to align our values regarding equity, diversity, and inclusion with those of BCALA and other organizations that represent marginalized communities within ALA.

We also stand strong with the Asian/Pacific American community, which has been the target of xenophobia and racism in the wake of the outbreak of COVID-19, and support the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) and their statement that, “There is no excuse for discriminatory sentiments and actions towards Asians and Asian/Pacific Americans. APALA rejects coronavirus-related hostility, anti-Asian stereotypes, and racism against Asians, Asian/Pacific Americans, or anyone perceived to be Asian.”

Together we will have conversations to determine how we can build anti-racist structures in Core from the outset. We want to build the foundation together so we can get it right and make it meaningful. We can’t provide a detailed plan or schedule yet because we need to involve everyone in our community, provide true engagement, and recognize those who are already doing this work.

While we take steps toward building this foundation, we encourage our members to follow and support the work of ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services.


  • Jennifer Bowen, ALCTS President
  • Christopher Cronin, ALCTS President-Elect
  • Tyler Dzuba, LLAMA President-Elect
  • Lynn Hoffman, LLAMA Past President
  • Bohyun Kim, LITA Past President
  • Anne Moore, LLAMA President
  • Emily Morton-Owens, LITA President
  • Kristin Martin, ALCTS Past President
  • Evviva Weinraub Lajoie, LITA President-Elect

  • Thomas Ferren, ALCTS Program Officer
  • Brooke Morris-Chott, ALCTS Communications Program Officer
  • Jenny Levine, LITA Executive Director
  • Julie Reese, ALCTS Deputy Director
  • Fred Reuland, LLAMA Continuing Education & Communications Program Officer
  • Chrishelle Thomas, LITA Marketing & Membership Manager
  • Kerry Ward, ALCTS Interim Director, LLAMA Executive Director
  • Alana Warren, ALCTS Continuing Education Assistant
Categories: Library News

We are back on Twitter tomorrow for #LITAchat

Thu, 2020-05-21 17:52

Are you ready for the next Twitter #LITAchat? Join the discussion on Friday, May 22, from 12-1pm Central Time. We will be asking you to tell us about challenges with working from home. Are there things you can’t do and wish you could? Are there issues with your home setup in general? Anne Pepitone will lead the discussion.

We invite you to join us tomorrow to share your experiences and chat with your colleagues.

Follow LITA on Twitter

Catch up on the last #LITAchat

We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

-The LITA Membership Development Committee

Categories: Library News

LITA Job Board Analysis Report – Laura Costello (Chair, Assessment & Research) LITA Assessment & Research and Diversity & Inclusion Committees

Thu, 2020-05-21 15:28

Background & Data

This report comes from a joint analysis conducted by LITA’s Assessment & Research and Diversity & Inclusion committees in Fall 2019. The analysis focused on the new and emerging trends in skills in library technology jobs and the types of positions that are currently in demand. It also touches on trends in diversity and inclusion in job postings and best practices for writing job ads that attract a diverse and talented candidate pool. 

The committees were provided with a list of 678 job postings from the LITA job board between 2015-2019. Data included the employer information, the position title, the location (city/state) the posting date. Some postings also included a short description. The Assessment & Research Committee augmented the dataset with job description, responsibilities, qualifications, and salary information for a 25% sample of the postings from each year using archival job posting information. Committee members also assigned metadata for the type of position and indicated the presence or absence of salary information in the posting.

Literature Review

The dataset analyzed for this project is aimed at job postings in library technology. There are several examples in the literature of job advertisement analyses that focus on library technology skills and the particular requirements and skillsets required for these types of positions. Despite the focus on technology skills, examples from the literature still show that a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) or equivalent degree is required between 79.3% and 90.1% of the time (Choi & Rasmussen, 2009; Triumph & Beile, 2015).

As in the sample examined in this study, many library jobs have a strong technology component. Triumph and Beile (2015) found that computer skills were explicitly stated and required in all but 17.2% of positions. Additionally, Choi & Rasmussen (2009) found that experience with digital library/digital information systems or services and web development/design experience were the most sought-after skills in academic library technology job postings from 1999-2007. An analysis of the jobs posted to Code4Lib from 2008-2018 (Gonzales, 2019) found changes in the technology skills required over that time period, including an increase in demand for Python, XML, and Java.

The presence of salary information in library job postings has also been examined in the literature. Triumph and Beile (2015) found that only 35.2% postings in their sample listed salary information. Silva and Galbraith (2018) found that women and librarians with less experience were less likely to engage in salary negotiation and recommend clarity in salary information in job postings for greater equity.

Job Trend Analysis

The LITA ARC examined several aspects of jobs posted to the LITA job board including information about the pool of employers and the type of employment sought. The committee also looked at the types of skills and qualifications sought in job postings and the presence of salary information. There were 395 unique employers in the dataset and 71% of these were unique. 11% of employers returned to post multiple jobs in the same year while 18% returned in different years to post jobs. In the sample of jobs coded by ARC (n=172), most of the postings were for librarian positions (45.6%) followed by library technology (22.7%), administrative or director (19.2%), staff (11.6%) and teaching faculty (0.6%). An analysis of job title keywords from the sample reflected this breakdown and revealed mostly simple descriptive job title language. A word cloud of the results below shows “librarian” in the top position. Terms like “library,” “technology,” “director,” “services,” and “digital” were also popular in job titles.

Figure 1: Word Cloud of Job Title Keywords

The sample was a mix of library and technology jobs, so the percentage of the jobs posted to the LITA job board that required an MLIS was lower than what was observed in the literature. Only 62.2% of jobs required an MLIS overall. The figure below shows a pie chart of the overall percentage and a breakdown of required MLIS by job type: 94.9% of the positions coded as librarian required the MLIS, 78.8% of admin/director positions, 12.8% of technology positions, and 5% of staff positions.

Figure 2: Pie Chart Showing Percentage of positions with MLIS Required

The ARC also examined 70 complete postings from 2019 to understand the trends in job posting language. A word count analysis was conducted on the full text of the job descriptions, skills and duties, and qualifications. Data was cleaned to combine similar terms and clarify usage of ambiguous terms. Though only 19% of the jobs in this sample were categorized as administrators or directors, leadership, management, and supervisory skills were the most frequently mentioned skills in 2019 (436 instances). Communication, collaboration, and teamwork skills were also highly sought after (328 instances) followed by planning and strategic skills (152 instances). Technology skills frequently mentioned included development (116 instances), general digital and technology skills (331 instances), and software/hardware administration and maintenance (176 instances). Sought after library skills included information/research (370 instances), reference (41 instances), data (115 instances), collections (120 instances), cataloging/metadata (79 instances), instruction/teaching (120 instances), and scholarship or scholarly communications (72 instances). In addition, these specific technology tool skills were frequently mentioned:

  • Web, websites: 116 instances
  • Discovery: 43 instances
  • Databases: 32 instances
  • Repository: 31 instances
  • Statistics: 19 instances
  • Server: 17 instances
  • ILS: 13 instances
  • Proxy: 13 instances
  • Primo: 12 instances
  • php: 12 instances
  • Digitization: 12 instances
  • Alma: 12 instances
  • Python: 11 instances
  • HathiTrust: 11 instances

Salary information was posted for 39% of the positions that had complete information (n=223). This percentage is higher than the figure found by Triumph and Beile in their 2015 analysis, which could mean a positive trend in salary posting information. The highest listed annual salary was $233,000 and the lowest listed was $33,880. The average salary range was $67,331-$89,282.

Diversity & Inclusion Best Practices

The Diversity & Inclusion Committee analyzed a sample of the augmented job posting information and developed several recommendations for position posting.

Recommendations for Job Descriptions:

Best Practices:

Job Requirements:

  • Regularly revise or rewrite job descriptions to ensure that job requirements are clear and focused on the results of an activity rather than standardized requirements (Hire for Talent)
  • Avoid posting requirements that are nonessential and may disqualify candidates who are otherwise qualified for the position (Hire for Talent)
  • Clearly indicate the physical working conditions and hours of work (Hire for Talent)
  • Exclude educational requirements if they are not necessary for success in the position (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Recruitment, Hiring and Retention)


Choi, Y., & Rasmussen, E. (2009). What qualifications and skills are important for digital librarian positions in academic libraries? A job advertisement analysis. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 35(5), 457-467.

Gonzales, B. M.  (2019). Computer programming for librarians: A study of job postings for library technologists. Journal of Web Librarianship, 13(1), 20-36.

Mathews, J. M., & Pardue, H. (2009). The Presence of IT skill sets in librarian position announcements. College & Research Libraries, 70(3), 250-257.

Silva, E., & Galbraith, Q. (2018). Salary negotiation patterns between women and men in academic libraries. College & Research Libraries, 79(3), 324.

Triumph, T. F., & Beile, P. M. (2015). The trending academic library job market: An analysis of library position announcements from 2011 with comparisons to 1996 and 1988. College & Research Libraries, 76(6), 716-739.

Yang, Q., Zhang, X., Du, X., Bielefield, A., & Liu, Y. (2016). Current market demand for core competencies of librarianship—A text mining study of American Library Association’s advertisements from 2009 through 2014. Applied Sciences, 6(2), 48.

Additional Resources

Categories: Library News

Congratulations to Dr. Jian Qin, winner of the 2020 LITA/OCLC Kilgour Research Award

Tue, 2020-05-19 17:03

Dr. Jian Qin has been selected as the recipient of the 2020 Frederick G. Kilgour Award for Research in Library and Information Technology, sponsored by OCLC and the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA). She is the Professor and Director at the iSchool, Syracuse University. 
The Kilgour Award honors research relevant to the development of information technologies, especially work which shows promise of having a positive and substantive impact on any aspect(s) of the publication, storage, retrieval and dissemination of information, or the processes by which information and data are manipulated and managed. It recognizes a body of work probably spanning years, if not the majority of a career. The winner receives $2,000, and a citation.

Dr. Qin’s recent research projects include metadata modeling for gravitational wave research data management and big metadata analytics using GenBank metadata records for DNA sequences, both with funding from NSF. She also collaborated with a colleague to develop a Capability Maturity Model for Research Data Management funded by a grant from the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR). She was a visiting scholar at the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), where she developed the learning object vocabulary project. She has published widely in national and international research journals. Dr. Qin was the co-author of the book Metadata and co-editor for several special journal issues on knowledge discovery in databases and knowledge representation.
“Dr. Qin has made immeasurable contributions to the field of metadata throughout her 20 year career, including writing Metadata, now in its second edition. This title is award winning and a core text in the field.  She has shown that it is possible to bridge the gap between the theoretical and the practical, not always an easy undertaking.”
When notified that she had been selected, Dr. Qin said, “I have always been awed by Kilgour’s legacy and feel tremendously honored to be selected for this award. I am grateful and humbled by this recognition from the LIS community.”
Members of the 2020 Kilgour Award Committee are Emma Kepron (Chair), Aimee Fifarek (Past Chair), David Ratledge, Colby Riggs, and Andrew Pace (OCLC Liaison).

About LITA

The Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) is the leading organization reaching out across types of libraries to provide education and services for a broad membership of systems librarians, library technologists, library administrators, library schools, vendors, and others interested in leading edge technology and applications for librarians and information providers. LITA is a division of the American Library Association. Follow us on our Blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

About OCLC

OCLC is a nonprofit global library cooperative providing shared technology services, original research and community programs so that libraries can better fuel learning, research and innovation. Through OCLC, member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the most comprehensive global network of data about library collections and services. Libraries gain efficiencies through OCLC’s WorldShare, a complete set of library management applications and services built on an open, cloud-based platform. It is through collaboration and sharing of the world’s collected knowledge that libraries can help people find answers they need to solve problems. Together as OCLC, member libraries, staff and partners make breakthroughs possible.

Categories: Library News

LITA/ALA Survey of Library Response to COVID-19

Tue, 2020-05-12 13:18

The Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) and its ALA partners are seeking a new round of feedback about the work of libraries as they respond to the COVID-19 crisis, releasing a survey and requesting feedback by 11:59 p.m. CDT, Monday, May 18, 2020. Please complete the survey by clicking on the following link:

LITA and its ALA partners know that libraries across the United States are taking unprecedented steps to answer the needs of their communities, and this survey will help build a better understanding of those efforts. LITA and its ALA partners will use the results to advocate on behalf of libraries at the national level, communicate aggregated results with the public and media, create content and professional development opportunities to address library staff needs, and share some raw, anonymized data elements with state-level staff and library support organizations for their own advocacy needs. 

Additional information about the survey: All library types are encouraged to respond. We are surveying at the library organizational level and are not collecting outlet/branch data. Financial-related data will only be used in aggregate and not shared in raw data format. Any raw data that is shared with states or other library support organizations outside of ALA will be anonymized. The survey should take about 15 minutes to complete, and all completed respondents will be automatically entered to win one of ten $30 gift certificates to the ALA Store.

Special thanks to the Colorado State Library’s Library Research Service and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Public Library Data Alliance partners, Association of Research Libraries, and the ACRL Academic Library Trends & Statistics Survey Editorial Board. Additional information about the survey can be found at:

Categories: Library News

#CoreForum2020 is now a Virtual Event!

Mon, 2020-05-11 12:15

Join your ALA colleagues from across divisions for the 2020 Forum, which is now a virtual event! 

WHERE: In light of the COVID-19 public health crisis, leadership within LITA, ALCTS, and LLAMA made the decision to move the conference online to create a safe, interactive environment accessible for all.

WHAT: Call for proposals have been extended to Friday June 12, 2020. 

WHEN: Forum is scheduled November 18 and 20, 2020

HOW: Share your ideas and experiences with library projects by submitting a talk for the inaugural event for Core:

For more information about the LITA, ALCTS, LLAMA (Core) Forum, please visit 

Categories: Library News

Jobs in Information Technology: May 6, 2020

Thu, 2020-05-07 11:30

New This Week

Visit the LITA Jobs Site for additional job openings and information on submitting your own job posting.

Categories: Library News

WFH? Boost your skill set with LITA CE!

Tue, 2020-05-05 14:44

Reserve your spot and learn new skills to enhance your career with LITA online continuing education offerings.

Buying Strategies 101 for Information Technology
Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 1:00-2:30 pm Central Time
Presenter: Michael Rodriguez, Collections Strategist at the University of Connecticut

In this 90-minute webinar, you’ll learn best practices, terminology, and concepts for effectively negotiating contracts for the purchase of information technology (IT) products and services.

View details and Register here.

Using Images from the Internet in a Webpage: How to Find and Cite
Wednesday, June 3, 2020, 2:00-3:30 pm Central Time
Presenter: Lauren Bryant, Priority Associate Librarian of Ray W. Howard Library

In this 90-minute webinar, you’ll learn practical ways to quickly find and filter creative commons licensed images online, learn how to hyperlink a citation for a website, and how to use creative commons images for thumbnails in videos and how to cite the image in unconventional situations like this.

View details and Register here.

Troublesome Technology Trends: Bridging the Learning Divide
Wednesday, June 17, 2020, 1:00-2:30 pm Central Time
Presenters: Callan Bignoli, Director of the Library at the Olin College of Engineering and T.J. Lamanna, Adult Services Librarian at Cherry Hill Public Library 

In this 90-minute webinar, you’ll learn how to make a difference through democracy, identify insidious threats surveillance capitalism poses to our patrons, the use of third-party trackers on library websites, and publishers trying to staunch subscription losses by collecting and selling user data.

View details and Register here.

Check out the LITA latest eLearning lineup and get details on courses that boost your skill set!

Can’t attend the live event? No problem! Register and you’ll receive a link to the recording.

Questions or Comments?

For all other questions or comments related to LITA continuing education, contact us at

Categories: Library News

May 5/1 Twitter #LITAchat

Thu, 2020-04-30 13:23

Last week, Anne Pepitone kicked off the discussion with Zoom Virtual Backgrounds, shared her favorites, and provided tips on how to use them.

The next Twitter #LITAchat will be on Friday, May 1, from 12-1pm Central Time when we’ll talk about apps that help you work from home.

What do you use to help with project management, time management, deadlines, or to just stay focused? We invite you to join us tomorrow to share, learn, and chat about it with your colleagues.

Follow LITA on Twitter.

We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

-The LITA Membership Development Committee

Categories: Library News

Jobs in Information Technology: April 29, 2020

Wed, 2020-04-29 12:55

New This Week

Visit the LITA Jobs Site for additional job openings and information on submitting your own job posting.

Categories: Library News

Data Privacy While Working From Home

Wed, 2020-04-22 12:53

Today’s guest post is brought to you by our recent presenter, Becky Yoose. Special thanks to Becky for being willing to answer the questions we didn’t have time for during our webinar!

Hello everyone from your friendly neighborhood library data privacy consultant!

We covered a lot of material earlier this month in “A Crash Course in Protecting Library Data While Working From Home,” co-sponsored by LITA and OIF. We had a number of questions during the webinar, some of which were left unanswered at the end. Below are three questions in particular that we didn’t get to in the webinar. Enjoy!

Working from home without a web-based ILS

We don’t have a web-based version of our ILS and our County-based IT department says they can’t set up remote desktop (something to do with their firewall)… do you have any recommendations on how to advocate for remote desktop? If I have to store patron data while working from home (setting up new memberships) would you advise using GoogleSheets (cloud-based) over Excel (hard drive)?

That is a tricky situation that requires a bit of strategizing before your next ask to your IT department. Let’s break this question down to two parts:

Advocating for remote desktop

Remote desktop on its own can be a convenient way of accessing important work applications and files, but on its own can open your network to a higher risk of a breach. This might be a reason why your IT department is hesitant in setting up remote desktop for your library, and it’s a valid concern. Nonetheless, there are ways in which your IT department can protect their infrastructure while still providing remote access to the system.

One common way to protect remote desktop access is through using a virtual private network, or VPN. Ask your IT department if they have a VPN set up for other departments in the organization. A VPN could address the firewall issue that your IT department mentioned, since firewalls can be a pain to manage for IT staff if they only go the remote desktop route. There will still be some firewall work for your IT department, but a number of commercial VPN products have resources (such as documentation, support staff, and an active user community) that can assist in furthering the protection of the network.

There is another reason why going the VPN/remote desktop route is a good thing to do for remote workers, which leads us to…

Local versus remote storage

First, if you are using a work machine at home and do not have access to your work network storage, use the work machine to store patron data, particularly if your IT department has set up encryption on your hard drive.

It gets complicated if you’re working on a home computer and don’t have access to your work network storage. Here are a few risks associated with your two options:

  • Personal computer hard drive
    • Housemates accessing patron data when using the computer
    • Patron data compromised due to lack of or outdated version of antivirus software
    • Persisting patron data on hard drive after normal deletion
  • “Free” personal account on third party cloud storage service
    • Vendors storing, processing, and sharing patron data under an end user license that does not adhere to legal regulations surrounding library data and privacy
    • Patron data compromised due to lax security measures or malicious attack on vendor system

One shared risk concerns legal regulation and patron data (disclaimer – I am not a lawyer, and the following is for informational purposes only). Depending on your state, there are a number of regulations surrounding the confidentiality and privacy of patron data. If you store patron data on your computer, your computer might be subject to search if there is a public disclosure or law enforcement request for that data. On the other side, would you know if your vendor gave your stored data to law enforcement? You’re dependent on the vendor’s law enforcement request policies… if they have one.

Tying it back to the first part, there are a number of privacy, security, and legal risks that can be mitigated with setting up a VPN and allowing for remote desktop access from there for remote workers. Because we are dealing with both technical and non-technical risks that have the potential to create major consequences for your organization if realized, start talking to folks in your administration who might be a strong advocate for when you go back to the IT department with your request. It never hurts to have some help from higher up, particularly if the IT department is still accepting the technical risks associated with relying on workers to use their home computers and personal cloud storage accounts.

Browser security

Can you speak on browser security please?

Browsers are our lifeline to the World Wide Web as much as they can be one of the main security vulnerabilities in our digital toolkit. When you are online, you are being tracked by a variety of third parties through cookies, web beacons, and scripts. You are also generating data that can be used for a number of reasons, from targeted or behavioral marketing to surveillance. Your browsing can also open you up to a possible attack through malicious scripts or other content that can cause havoc in your work network, computer, or your data life. Your choices around the browser you use, including your extensions and settings, helps determine the level of security and privacy of your online activity.

Your browser choice is affected by a number of factors, including your operating system, accessibility features, and the overall user experience. Some browsers are better than others with regard to “out of the box” privacy and security, while others have a number of settings and extensions that can provide a decent amount of privacy and security. There is no shortage of articles about which browsers are better for privacy out of the box (read more at ProtonMail, Wired, and Lifehacker), and you will notice that Brave, Tor, Firefox, and DuckDuckGo’s mobile browser tend to be in almost every article about privacy-oriented browsers.

No matter what browser you use, your browser settings and extensions also determine how safe and private you are online. Turning on private browsing (or incognito mode) in your browser can help, but that alone will not protect your online privacy. Lifehacker’s article about browsers and privacy has a good list of what to change and what to install when setting up your browser for secure, private online browsing:

In addition, I recommend the following extensions in addition to your ad-blocker extension:

Overall, your browser setup, combined with good digital privacy and security practices, can help protect your security and privacy.

Multifactor authentication

Our community college district has required access to our LSP, Alma, that requires multi-factor authentication when used through our single sign on provider. Can you talk a little bit about the benefits of multi-factor authentication?

Multifactor authentication, or MFA, is an authentication method that requires at least two out of the three types of items:

  • Something you know, like your password
  • Something you have, like your phone with an authentication app or like a physical key such as a YubiKey
  • Something you are, like your fingerprint, face, voice, or other biometric piece of information

(FYI – More MFA methods are adding location-based information to this list [“Somewhere you are”].)

MFA builds in another layer of protection in the authentication process by requiring more than one item in the above list. People have a tendency to reuse passwords or to use weak passwords for both personal and work accounts. It’s easy to crack into a system when someone reuses a password from an account that was breached and the password data subsequently posted or sold online. When combined with two-factor authentication (2FA), a compromised reused password is less likely to allow access to other systems.

While MFA is more secure than relying solely on your traditional user name and password to access a system, it is not 100% secure. You can crack into a system that uses SMS-based 2FA by intercepting the access code sent by SMS. Authentication apps such as Duo help address this vulnerability in 2FA, but apps are not available for people who do not use smartphones. Nonetheless it’s still worthwhile to enable SMS-based 2FA if it’s the only MFA option for your account.

This all goes to say that you shouldn’t slack on your passwords because you’re relying on additional information to log into your account. Use stronger passwords or passphrases – ideally randomly generated by Diceware – and do not reuse passwords or passphrases. Check out this video by the Electronic Freedom Foundation to learn more about Diceware and how it works. It’s a good way to practice your dice rolls for your next table top gaming session!

As a reminder – your security is only as strong as your weakest security practice, so once you have created your password or passphrase, store it in a password manager to better protect both your password and your online security.

Becky Yoose is the founder of and Library Data Privacy Consultant for LDH Consulting Services, a consultancy that guides libraries and vendors in protecting patron data without sacrificing operational data needs. For over a decade, Becky has wrangled library data in its various forms in academic and public libraries. Becky received her MA-LIS from University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2008, and has been a Certified Information Privacy Professional/United States (CIPP/US) with the International Association of Privacy Professionals since 2018. You can find her online at and @yo_bj on Twitter.  

Categories: Library News

Strategies for Surviving a Staffing Crisis

Wed, 2020-04-22 12:00
strategy” by Sean MacEntee  is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Library staff are no strangers to budget and staffing reductions. Most of us have way too much experience doing more with less, covering unfilled positions, and rigging solutions out of the digital equivalent of chewing gum and bailing wire, because we can’t afford to buy all the tools we need. In the last two years, my department at Northern Arizona University’s Cline Library operated with roughly half the usual amount of staff. In this post, I’ll share a few strategies that helped us get through this challenging time.

First, a quick introduction. My department, Content, Discovery & Delivery services, includes the digital services unit (formerly library technology services) as well as collection management (including electronic resources management), acquisitions, cataloging, physical processing, interlibrary loan and document delivery, and course reserves. We are a technology-intensive department, both as users and implementers/supporters of technology.

Here are some of the strategies we used to cope with extremely limited staffing and the departure of a number of key staff with significant institutional knowledge, most of whom we were not allowed to replace.

  1. Collaboration with other departments for cross training and mutual support. We worked with Information Technology Services (ITS) to re-evaluate the library’s role versus that of central IT in a centralized IT environment (for more information on IT centralization, see my co-authored posts for the LITA blog, IT Centralization: Impact on Academic Libraries part 1 and part 2). ITS was able to take on some additional responsibilities that were formerly managed by library IT staff, freeing us up to focus on library-specific hardware, applications, and services. We also worked with other departments in the library to redistribute work. Subject librarians took an active role in collection development, including leading an initiative to reduce our electronic resources and serials budget by about $500,000. Overnight staff in User Services & Experience helped with interlibrary loan processing. Dean’s Office staff took over shepherding licenses through the university contracting process. Cross-training and detailed documentation are essential to make this strategy work well.
  2. Staff learned new skills and responsibilities and gained broader knowledge of processes that had been opaque to them previously. Some department staff picked up tasks from departing staff. As mentioned above, subject librarians became more involved with collections. That change was particularly valuable, because they gained deeper insight into the collection budget, the packaging of information products, and license terms and conditions. That experience paves the way for them to have a more active role in collection development going forward, something they had wanted for years. If you take this approach, it’s critical to document new assignments in position descriptions and performance appraisals. Also, compensate employees for increased responsibilities if you possibly can. Work with your HR department to determine options (temporary or permanent reclass, bonus, raise, etc.) available at your institution.
  3. We assigned additional, higher-level work to student workers. This strategy can be controversial and is often impossible in unionized workplaces (which we are not). We had little choice under the circumstances. In some cases, work that had been performed by staff was well-suited for students and will likely continue to be student work going forward. In other cases, students were (and in some cases still are) doing staff-level work. That’s not ideal, given the turnover among student workers, but it can benefit both the student and the library if managed carefully. In one case, we hired a former student worker as classified staff once she graduated. She was able to meet the minimum requirements for the position because of the higher-level work she had been assigned as a student. As with strategy 1 above, cross-training and detailed documentation are essential to ensure continuity as students leave and are replaced.
  4. Ruthless prioritization. We stopped doing some things. We reduced the time spent on others. To do that, we used the library and university strategic plans and the library’s operating plan as guides for prioritization. We also worked with library leadership to ensure that they would support our changes and that those changes wouldn’t have a negative impact on other library units. When staffing is inadequate, some things simply will not get done. It’s much better to be intentional about what falls off the plate than to let it happen randomly.
What I learned from leading a department through this crisis

I learned two valuable lessons from leading staff through this challenging time:

  1. Prioritize communication and interpersonal relationships. It’s so easy to get mired in the to-do list and jump frantically from one task to another, but as someone in a leadership position, communication is one of—if not the—most important task on my list. Unfortunately, I didn’t always prioritize accordingly, and when I didn’t, problems happened. It’s critical to think about and share big-picture strategies, keep people apprised of the status of projects, and respond to questions and concerns promptly.
  2. A closely related lesson: support remaining staff. Do not just add more work and expect them to cope. Help them review their workloads and identify activities to drop or decrease. Be honest about whether or not you can compensate them for the additional and/or higher-level work. Especially if you can’t, consider other ways to maintain morale and help staff feel valued and supported. Recognize and celebrate successes, check in with people about how they are doing and what you can do to help. Listen carefully to what they tell you and be willing to adjust assignments and expectations based on the feedback you receive. Sometimes the task that is causing a staff member the most stress can be eliminated, automated, adjusted, or reassigned. Be willing to do those things.

Thanks to the current pandemic, many of us will have to cope with hiring freezes, furloughs, and yet more budget cuts. Many decisions and options will be taken away from us. Our power lies in how we respond and adapt. I hope the experience and lessons I’ve shared here give you some ideas to help you respond and adapt effectively.

Categories: Library News

April 4/24 Twitter #LITAchat

Mon, 2020-04-20 17:06

A lot has changed since we had our last Twitter #LITAchat, Core passed and then COVID 19 happened. We are all navigating new territory in our jobs and life overall. So we wanted to bring you a weekly set of LITAChats discussing our shared experiences during these strange times. 

The first in this series of LITAchats will start on Friday, April 24 from 12-1pm Central Standard Time. We will be asking you to show us your Zoom Virtual Backgrounds! We know that Zoom conferencing has been popular among many workplaces so we thought what would be better than showcasing some of the creative backgrounds everyone has been using. If you don’t have a background no worries, you can share about the best backgrounds you have seen from colleagues. Don’t know how to turn on Zoom Virtual Backgrounds? We will cover that too!

We hope you’ll join us on Twitter for the next #LITAchat and bring as many backgrounds as you can! 

Looking forward to hearing from you!

-The LITA Membership Development Committee

Categories: Library News