Scholars Portal Day 2014

Posted on 12 Dec 2014 Conference, Technology, Communities

“From DIY to Working Together: Using a Hackerspace to Build Community”

From DIY to Working Together


The opening presentation from Mita Williams discussed the journey of establishing Hackforge at Windsor PL. While the programs included in Hackforge membership were intriguing -- equipment, tech talks, software guild meetings, open data hackfests -- the emphasis was on the development of community rather than simply the provision of 3D printing. 5 keys to success were expanded on:

  1. “Institutions reduce the choices available to their members.” ~ Clay Shirky
    Organizations that are already established make numerous “medium-sized” choices, but never have the opportunity to make the big choices which define an enterprise. Start-ups by necessity require “random walks” and “navel gazing” as each decision defines the organization and its values. “Make sure the way you do things matches why you do things.”


  2. Show your work.
    To support young IT professionals and build a culture of mentorship and ingenuity, Hackforge espouses the belief that you must “do your work in public”. Your collaborators must be able to find you.


  3. Acknowledge who is not in the room.
    In order to be inclusive, lack of diversity in audience needs to be acknowledged. The diversity in race and gender you want to see in attendance must be reflected from the top-down in the composition of the organizational committees.


  4. A mailing list is not a community.
    This topic successfully made listservs a dirty word for the remainder of the day. While the in-person community surrounding Hackforge seems exceptional, she also presented a few new software options (Nation Builder, Slack) as alternatives to existing social media or mailing list management tools.


  5. Invest in but do not outsource community management.
    Here, Williams touched on some additional important tips for inclusivity. Be accessible to beginners. Be a place for the patient and the forgiving.


For more detail on this presentation, Williams' blog, New Jack Librarian, does a thorough rundown of her session with photos and slides.

Scholars Portal Updates


Ontario Library Research Cloud (OLRC)

The original proposal for an Ontario preservation cloud funded by OCUL was 250TB. The main node at U of T now stores 1250 TB and will provide subscription services to OCUL libraries. The impetus of the project was to develop a low-cost per TB Canadian solution supported by “in-house” expertise and distributed geographically. Development is now focusing on OpenStack software solutions, such as Permafrost. A hackfest was recently held to brainstorm ideas for end-user software tools.


In 2012-2014 Scholars Portal investigated citation management tools, presenting members with scenarios for engagement. Following this feedback, the RFP process closed unsuccessfully, leading to the cessation of support and hosting of RefWorks. Some schools are staying with RefWorks and moving to US-based servers; however, many are transitioning to alternative software. Western’s message has been to support citation management as a process, but to allow users to select their preferred tool, informing them of features available from each.

Ask a Librarian

The latest from Ask has been the piloting of French service, staffed by uOttawa, Laurentian, Glendon, and Scholars Portal mentees. The 67 hours per week of French chat augment the current service hours of the libraries, and receive between 23 and 34 questions per month.

Mad Men Elevator Conversation

OCUL Collaborative Futures

Presented by Martha Whitehead, this topic was particularly provocative. OCUL is conducting strategic long-term planning for services such as SFX and RACER, in addition to recognizing the opportunity provided by the contracts with ILSes of many member institutions coming up for renewal. A feasibility study looking toward 2020 is examining options for an Ontario-wide library collection and hoping to gain a picture of the total cost of ownership of managing our collections. The focus will be on next-gen shared library services platforms and collaboration to manage and preserve our print and e-resources. They aim for their business case to be “thorough and concise”, “visionary and pragmatic”, and “compelling for stakeholders”.

OCUL Communities Update

Each of the OCUL communities provided an update on their recent work and areas of interest.

  • Publishing/Hosting: Facilitating discussion and sharing best practices. Determining the role the library should play as a host versus publisher of resources.
  • Digital Curation: Preserving heritage and research data to assist with reproducibility of results.
  • Government Information: Access, preservation, and use/interpretation of government information.
  • Visual Resources: Investigation of present practice of visual resource collections, from 35mm slides to digital images.
  • Resource Sharing: Considering migration away from RACER while remaining sustainable/efficient and tackling challenges such as the sharing of e-books.
  • Public Service Renewal: Inspiring staff to renew their skills as empathetic and knowledgeable front-line personnel.
  • Accessibility: Establishing the ACE portal of accessible print books, and planning for the 2015 requirement of AODA compliance for all public entities.