Competency H

Technology. Each graduate of the Master of Library and Information Science program is able to demonstrate proficiency in identifying, using, and evaluating current and emerging information and communication technologies.

Introduction

In 2000, Crosby wrote that librarians “belong to the original information profession. And their jobs have been forever altered by technological advances” (Crosby, 2000, p. 3).  The author’s statement stands true today. Information and communication technologies are a strategic necessity for libraries and information organizations worldwide. The information creation, preservation, use, access, and retrieval have been all steadily shifting to digital formats and electronic communication networks. Libraries use integrated library systems in their daily operations: cataloging (creation, reading, updating, deleting of bibliographic records); circulation (check in/check out, holds, recalls, statistics, reserves); acquisitions control; serials control; online public access / OPACs (allowing users to find, identify, select, and obtain information); collection management and exchange; and analytics. Preservation technologies help libraries preserve and provide access to library collections, while communication technologies provide channels for libraries to communicate with their user base through websites and social networks. Finally, libraries venture out into new technology fields such as e-books, open-source systems, and mobile applications, while considering the potential use of emerging technologies such as linked data and embedded computing.

Consequently, technology has become an integral part of the professional knowledge framework, in turn shifting the employment outlook for libraries in the nearest future: as electronic resources become more available, “fewer librarians will be needed for assistance” in reference services, but the “increased availability of electronic information is also expected to increase the demand for librarians in research and special libraries, where they will be needed to help sort through the large amount of available information,” according to the 2010-2020 United States Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Identifying and using current and emerging information technologies

Ability to identify and use current and emerging information technologies is a fundamental skill of an online MLIS graduate. Since I began the program at San José State University in 2013, I have become proficient in the use of several learning management systems (LMS), including Blackboard, Desire2Learn (D2L), and Canvas. Thanks to my studies at SJSU, I have successfully used the online learning tools provided by these systems not only in my coursework, but in my career, as well—having recently assumed a role of a course designer on Canvas. I have also used several online conferencing tools, including Elluminate, Blackboard Collaborate, and GoToMeeting. Throughout my studies, I have demonstrated competency using these learning technology tools to interact with my instructors, work with course content and submit assignments, and collaborate with my classmates.

While in the MLIS program, I focused my studies on the following career pathways: (1) information organization, description, analysis, and retrieval; (2) digital services; and (3) emerging technologies. In particular, in order to gain information technology skills, I have completed the following courses:

  • LIBR 240. Information Technology Tools and Applications (HTML 5, CSS3, XML/XSLT, JavaScript, PHP)
  • LIBR 246. Information Technology Tools and Applications – Topic: Learning to use Drupal and Understanding Content Management Systems (CMS)
  • INFO 241-10, 241-11, and 241-12. Automated Library Systems – Topics: ILS (Integrated Library Systems); Current Expansions of the ILS (E-Books, Social Media);  and Emerging Technologies (Linked Data, the Internet of Things)
  • LIBR 284. Seminar in Archives and Records Management – Topic: Digitization and Digital Preservation
  • INFO 284. Seminar in Archives and Records Management – Topic: Encoded Archival Description (EAD3, DTD, XML Schema)

In each of these courses, I learned to identify and use current and emerging technologies for information organization, description, analysis, and retrieval. In INFO 284, I learned to use XML (eXtensible Markup Language) to code archival finding aids in accordance to the newly adopted Encoded Archival Description standard, EAD3. The LIBR 284 class provided me with digital preservation and content organization skills using the most up-to-date digitization standards and CONTENTdm—a digital collection management software developed by OCLC that allows users to store and organize digital items, add metadata, and upload their collections to the Web. In LIBR 240, I learned to code responsive websites using HTML5—the latest evolution of the standards that define HTML (a markup language used for structuring and presenting content on the World Wide Web) and CSS3 (Cascading Style Sheets, a style sheet language used for describing the presentation of a document written in a markup language). The LIBR 246 course has taught me how to design websites using Drupal 7—a scalable, open-source platform for web content management and digital experiences. Finally, through the library automation courses—INFO 241-10, 11, and 12—I have learned to produce reports on implementation of library technology systems, including ILS, ILS discovery layer, and Linked Data.

Evaluating information technologies

Staying abreast of current and emerging information technologies is vital for librarians and information specialists in the 21st century, in particular as it applies to evaluation of library services that are afforded through technological means, as well as assessment of new technologies that libraries can adopt in order to improve their services to the public.

With the knowledge I have acquired in the MLIS program, I am able to hone my evaluation skills as they apply to assessment of technologically sophisticated tools in determining the practicality for a library to adopt a particular tool. For example, through my library automation coursework—INFO 241-10, 11, and 12—I have learned to conduct evaluation of library technology vendors, as well as develop technology adoption proposals for implementation of integrated library systems, electronic resources management systems (ERMS), and integration of social media apps in academic library ILS and Facebook channels.

Evidence

To support my skills in this competency, I present the following examples of my work:

  1. The Encoded Archival Description assignment from INFO 284 (Seminar in Archives and Records Management – Topic: Encoded Archival Description)
  2. The Benchmarking assignment from LIBR 284 (Seminar in Archives and Records Management – Topic: Digitization and Digital Preservation)
  3. The LAPL Landmarks website—a final project from LIBR 240 (Information Technology Tools and Applications)
  4. The Electronic Resources Management System (ERMS) Adoption Proposal from INFO 241 (Automated Library Systems)

INFO 284 Encoded Archival Description assignment

The first piece of evidence to demonstrate my mastery of competency H is a final project from INFO 284 (Seminar in Archives and Records Management – Topic: Encoded Archival Description). In this assignment, I encoded a finding aid for an archived collection, Goreyphile: A Guide to the Ideal Realms Collection of Edward Gorey Miscellany—using EAD3, the third release of the Encoded Archival Description standard. This standard is used internationally in an increasing number of archives and manuscripts libraries to encode data describing archival collections, including corporate records and personal papers. The Encoded Archival Description Tag Library version EAD3 was released in 2015; it is prepared and maintained by the Society of American Archivists.

The most challenging part of this assignment was to account for all the revisions that have been implemented in the new version of EAD3, including the deprecated and obsolete elements and attributes from EAD 2002, as well as the new  elements and attributes that had replaced the deprecated ones—while producing the EAD3 markup for the archival collection finding aid. In addition, whereas a variety of XSLT styling sheets are available for EAD 2002 version, the styling sheet for EAD3 has not yet been fully developed—therefore resulting in a delayed ability to generate an HTML version of the finding aid’s XML document, in order to view the finding aid online.

The successful completion of this project demonstrates my ability to identify and use the current technology standards in the field of encoded archival description.

Click here to view the EAD3 markup for the finding aid.

LIBR 284 Benchmarking assignment

The second piece of evidence to demonstrate my mastery of competency H is the Benchmarking assignment from LIBR 284 (Seminar in Archives and Records Management – Topic: Digitization and Digital Preservation). In this assignment, I analyze digital analogs of the original documents in various formats—archival photographs in color and monochromatic/grayscale, printed texts, and manuscripts—and identify the characteristics that would be most important to capture in the documents’ digitization. Based on this analysis, I identify the ways in which these characteristics relate to the choice of digitization equipment settings, such as resolution, bit depth, dynamic range, and bit depth, as well as  preservation issues.

This piece of evidence shows my knowledge of current standards and practices in digitization and digital preservation of information objects in a variety of formats. Through this work, I demonstrate my ability to use digitization equipment and Adobe Photoshop, in manipulating the digital files, identifying the files’ quality, and evaluating technical specifications for producing digital surrogates of best quality.

Click here to read the paper.

LIBR 240 LAPL Landmarks website

The third piece of evidence to demonstrate my mastery of competency H is a LAPL Landmarks website from LIBR 240 (Information Technology Tools and Applications).

This site was created as a final project for the LIBR 240 course. It is dedicated to the branches of my local public library system, Los Angeles Public Library, that are part of the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The idea stems from another class I took in the MLIS program—LIBR 204 (Information Organizations and Management). In LIBR 204, I did research on my local LAPL branch—North Hollywood Amelia Earhart Regional—and while interviewing Jeanne Rankin, the senior branch librarian, I learned that it was part of the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. I became interested in the topic and during preliminary research noticed that although the information is available about particular branches, on the LAPL web site and elsewhere, it is disconnected and not easy to find. And this is how the idea was born—to develop an online portal to the world of historic sites within the LAPL, so that all information could be easily accessed in one place.

The site is hand-coded using HTML5 and CSS3, PHP, and Java Script. It is designed using responsive design approach, in order to provide an optimal viewing experience across a wide range of devices, from mobiles to desktops—from a single code base. The social media features include access to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

This project shows my competency in developing custom-coded, responsive websites without relying on widely available content management systems, such as Drupal and WordPress. It demonstrates my proficiency  in using HTML5—the latest evolution of the standards that define HTML (a markup language used for structuring and presenting content on the World Wide Web) and CSS3—Cascading Style Sheets, a style sheet language used for describing the presentation of a document written in a markup language, as well as basic understanding of PHP and JavaScript.

Click here to visit the LAPL Landmarks website.

INFO 241 Electronic Resources Management System (ERMS) Adoption Proposal

The fourth piece of evidence to demonstrate my mastery of competency H is a CORAL ERMS: Technology Adoption Proposal from INFO 241 (Automated Library Systems). In this paper, I present a proposal to adopt CORAL electronic resources management system in a medium-sized private, research-intensive university library, with particular emphasis on graduate and doctoral programs, and digital scholarship.

Academic libraries use ERM systems  to track the selection, acquisition, licensing, access, maintenance, usage, evaluation, retention, and weeding of a library’s electronic information resources.  Some libraries use the ERM systems provided by their ILS vendors, while others opt to manage their electronic resource holdings using homegrown databases. With the increase of the electronic holdings ratio in the library collections, however, the latter have become disconnected, unmanageable, and chaotic. This proposal is intended to address the void and examine open-source CORAL ERM system as a solution to the homegrown electronic resources management system’s crisis. Information used in this proposal is based on several sources, including the ERM vendor’s website, published vendor reviews, and implementation reports at peer institutions.

This piece of evidence showcases my ability to identify and evaluate new library technologies and, based on that knowledge, develop technology adoption proposals in order to improve the library services, in particular, as they relate to consolidation and management of library electronic resource collections.

Click here to read the paper.

Conclusion

Through the coursework I have completed in the MLIS program, I have gained an understanding of the current and emerging information technologies driving the field of librarianship in the 21st century. Equipped with this knowledge, I have begun applying it in practice, identifying, using, and evaluating current and emerging information and communication technologies in my current work in an academic online educational environment. The skills I have acquired help me co-manage the design of online educational platforms and online delivery of educational multimedia resources to diverse audiences, at my workplace. I will carry on in developing my information technology skills, including library and information technologies, web design, and scripting languages.

References

Crosby, O. (2000). Occupational Outlook Quarterly. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2000/Winter/art01.pdf