24 hours of Chicago ALA Annual Conference 2017

By Angela Mott, Production Support Team Leader

 

Well, that was a quick trip! ALA Annual was held in Chicago this year. I had 24 hours to get in there and meet up with as many clients as possible, so I tried to make the most of it. My feet didn’t much appreciate it, but I did my best.

After checking into the hotel on Saturday morning, I headed to Gino’s East for lunch (as “ordered” to do by my co-workers back in Virginia Beach). I arrived just as they opened at 11am and went with the waiter’s suggestion of a small deep dish pizza: ½ Meaty Legend and ½ Gino’s Supreme with Italian sausage. I was not disappointed. I managed to eat at least most of the toppings of half of it, but since I didn’t have a hotel room yet I donated the other half to a person as I was on my way to grabbing a taxi to the convention center. 

Once I’d made it through registration and to the Atlas Systems booth I found out about a Copyright session that was about to start…ALL the way at the other end of the convention center, of course. I made it just in time to see Collette Mak (University of Notre Dame) and Cindy Kristof (Kent State University) along with several other colleagues in their “I am Not a Lawyer: Providing Copyright Services in Libraries” session. Isn’t that the truth! So often library staff are called upon for copyright advice. In this session, folks shared how they deal with providing patrons the copyright information they need and not the copyright advice they want.

After that I headed back to the Atlas Systems booth where I was able to chat with several customers. My time in the booth is my favorite part of my work at ALA conferences. Seeing people in person who I usually only get to know over email and the phone is so much fun. In fact, I was so busy connecting with people that I forgot to take photos!

By the time the exhibit floor closed there was just enough time to rush back to the hotel, finally get into a room and then walk to Timothy O’Tooles where we were holding our Ares User Group Meeting. We’d booked a whole room just for the Ares folks and it was a great setting to talk about what everyone has been up to lately. I think you can see from the two photos I managed to grab that we had a great turnout for this dinner meeting.  Although I tried to get around to talk with everyone, even after a few hours I still couldn’t quite manage it. I wish I’d thought to get photos with everyone there, but my mind was on all the cool stuff sites are doing and I didn’t even think about it!

Genie gave a brief overview of what’s coming next with Ares and we told everyone to mark their calendars for the 2017 Ares Virtual Conference, which will be held the week after Thanksgiving. Some folks have already told me they have ideas for possible presentations, which is fantastic! I look forward to hearing more proposals soon—so let me know if you’re interested in presenting. We love having several sites share what they’re up to at that annual virtual event.

As for getting the Ares user community together in person, we can definitely call the 2017 Ares User Group meeting a rousing success. Stay tuned for details on where our next meeting will be held.

After a few hours of sleep (very few), I was back at the booth as the exhibit floor opened on Sunday. This time I tried to make sure to grab some photos! 

For example, a selfie of me, ready to chat on the Exhibit Floor!

I got to see Joe Ellison (Northwestern University) and we chatted about ArchivesSpace.

Mary Radnor (Fort Hays State University) stopped by to chat about Patron Driven Acquisitions. We originally met when she was at the University of Chicago.

And Todd Peters (Texas State University) stopped by to chat for a moment. He had been working recently with Shawn Styer and me on a recent project and it was great to get to meet him in person!

At 11am Sunday I grabbed a taxi to the airport and was soon on my flight home to Virginia Beach, leaving behind the skyscrapers of Chicago for the shipyards of Hampton Roads, VA. I snapped this photo of a huge ship in dry dock at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard as my plane got close to home. 

And now I’m back at my desk in Virginia Beach, busy working with sites from all over the world via emails, phone calls and GoToMeeting sessions. I definitely adore the traveling and getting to meet and talk with our customers face-to-face, but it’s also good to be home. Hope to see you next time!

The Printers’ File: A Study in Typewriters and Linked Data

BY DAN SPECHT, CFO AND VP SALES AND MARKETING

I make it a point to tell people that I am not a librarian.  I do this because I don’t want people to see me as an “impersonator” among the amazing and well-trained community of librarians.  Instead, I am just a guy who many times happens to be in the right place at the right time in the library world. 

This serendipity was truly the case in late January 2017 when I found myself invited to a meeting led by the American Antiquarian Society (AAS) at the Bobst Library at New York University regarding the transformation of the Printers’ File into Linked Data. 

The story of the Printers’ File begins with Avis Clarke, pictured below.  Over her 43 year career at the American Antiquarian Society, she compiled 25 drawers of cards in a card catalog that would become the Printers’ File.  As noted on the AAS website,  “Culled from biographies, reference books, and newspapers, this information details the work of printers, publishers, editors, binders, and others involved in the book trades up to 1820, and book historians and genealogists have consulted these files ever since.” (http://www.americanantiquarian.org/printers-file)

If you think of it, Avis was creating Linked Data with her typewriter, starting 90 years ago.

Image courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society

Image courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society

AAS estimates that the Printers' File documents approximately 10,000 people in book trades. The cards detail their occupations, the firms they worked with, and newspaper associations in addition to basic biographical information. A sample of the cards follows, showing the detail stored by Avis in her labor of love.

Image courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society

Image courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society

Circle forward to today and, thanks to a project led by Molly Hardy, AAS entered the card files into a database over several months.  From that point, working with the team at Zepheira, the database was transformed and reviewed via an iterative process into the Linked Data introduced at the workshop I attended in January. 

That day in New York I split off into a project group with librarians from the Bodleian, Folger, Beinecke, and Morgan Libraries (among others). Together we broke down the various listed professions identified in the Printers’ File Linked Data, focusing on the work of making paper.  I wondered how I could hide the fact that I didn’t have a clue how people made paper in the early 1800s – or today, for that matter!  However, I was sure of one thing.  The passion and commitment with which this group of librarians attacked this project were special.  And, again by fate or fortune, I was an outsider at a special event.

What is unique about this project is the commitment of not only the staff at AAS but the group of actively engaged peers from across the library and research communities that met in New York in January to review the work “completed to date.” I specifically note it as the work completed to date because even with all of the hours invested so far, there are still anomalies to be addressed and fixed over time. 

The amazing work of Avis beginning almost 90 years ago is a striking parallel to the current spirit of the transformation process. When Avis sat in front of her typewriter to create file cards, she didn’t worry about whether her work was perfect or if each record was totally complete.  What she created was an amazing data set that did its best to replicate and preserve the available information.  The partners in the transformation process today are hoping to achieve the same results.  The result of the transformed data is a richer more connected network of information.  Is it perfect in every way?  Probably not – but it is now highly structured with the ability for a wide community of users to help identify and update potential errors. 

I am not a librarian, but I greatly respect the commitment of librarians from Avis Clarke to Molly Hardy and the current AAS staff.   Thanks to this project, with a few mouse clicks I learned that James Flanagan was a Weigher of Hay – along with being a Judge, Bookseller, Lawyer and in the New York print trade from 1807-1840. 

 Which would never have happened without Avis Clarke and her typewriter.

Koalas, Kangaroos, and Sydney from 440 Feet Up: Aeon Onsite Implementation and Training at the University of Melbourne Provides an Extraordinary Experience

BY KATIE GILLESPIE, AEON IMPLEMENTATION CONSULTANT

In February 2017, I had the honor of representing Atlas Systems in Australia. It was the trip of a lifetime and I was so thrilled to visit libraries and special collections all over Australia and New Zealand. This trip had a lot of firsts for me – my first long-haul flight, first time on the other side of the equator, first time feeding a kangaroo, and first time climbing a suspension bridge.

My first stop, after nearly 36 hours of travel, was Melbourne to train and implement our inaugural Australian Aeon site. I’d been working remotely with staff at the University of Melbourne Cultural Collections Reading Room and their various collections for about 2 months. We switched up our typical implementation model and decided to set up Aeon at a very basic level, get staff trained, go live in the Reading Room, and then revisit workflows in a few months to determine what changes or adjustments needed to be made. The training went smoothly. Staff felt comfortable learning Aeon and were happy to find that we had incorporated their current workflows and practices into their instance of Aeon. On my last day, I spent some time sitting in the Reading Room to see it from a patron’s perspective and worked with staff to finalize their set up. Many thanks to the Aeon project manager, Kiah McCarthy, who worked tirelessly to ensure that systems, staff, and the Reading Room itself were ready to go live with Aeon.

University of Melbourne’s Baillieu Library

University of Melbourne’s Baillieu Library

The University of Melbourne Cultural Collections Reading Room serves The University of Melbourne Archives, Grainger Museum, and Special Collections (which includes Rare Books, Rare Music, and the Print Collection).

The University of Melbourne Cultural Collections Reading Room serves The University of Melbourne Archives, Grainger Museum, and Special Collections (which includes Rare Books, Rare Music, and the Print Collection).

The staff at University of Melbourne were warm and welcoming. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet and train them in person after several months of communicating via conference call. The head of their Reading Room, Carl Temple, was a gracious host and ensured that I didn’t eat a meal alone for the duration of my stay in Melbourne. I was so happy to get to see the city from a local’s perspective and from them I learned a great deal about Australian history. On my last day, they invited me to join them for the opening of the library’s newest exhibition, Plotting the Island, which made use of their new gallery space to display manuscripts, maps, and artifacts related to the exploration of Australia.

At the exhibition opening with Leanne Mccredden, Carl Temple, and Kiah McCarthy

At the exhibition opening with Leanne Mccredden, Carl Temple, and Kiah McCarthy

Before I left Melbourne, I switched to my secondary duty of visiting and exploring libraries, calling on several local universities and the State Library of Victoria. My visit there began my “Australian Tour of State Libraries,” with subsequent visits to the state library in New South Wales and Queensland. The buildings were all beautifully constructed and open to the public to wander, so I was able to see several exhibits and installations, in addition to peeking into their reading rooms. 

The main reading room at the State Library of Victoria. It’s open to the public – many students use this space to study and members of the public use the available chess tables to challenge their minds. The top three levels contain stacks and exhibit space.

The main reading room at the State Library of Victoria. It’s open to the public – many students use this space to study and members of the public use the available chess tables to challenge their minds. The top three levels contain stacks and exhibit space.

After 6 days in Melbourne, I flew to Sydney. I was excited to explore such a historic and famous city and happily spent the weekend walking and taking ferries to as many parts of the city as I could. I walked the Royal Botanic Gardens, toured the Sydney Opera House, took a ferry to Manly Beach, and visited the Taronga Zoo. I toured the Art Museum of New South Wales, where I took in several exhibits of aboriginal art and a special installation of projects done by state high school students. And on my last morning, I participated in the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb, where I saw the harbor from 440ft above ground. The climb wasn’t very physically taxing, and is very safe, as long as you can get past the height! The tour guide shared a story about a 92-year-old woman he led on a climb who had attended the bridge opening in 1932 when she was 10 years old. She came back over 80 years later to see it from the top!

At the top of the bridge, with the Opera House behind me on the left and the Queen Mary II docked in the Harbor on the right.

At the top of the bridge, with the Opera House behind me on the left and the Queen Mary II docked in the Harbor on the right.

In Sydney, I continued my tour of Australian State Libraries where I visited the State Library of New South Wales and conducted a meeting with librarians from a local university.

The State Library of New South Wales in Sydney.

The State Library of New South Wales in Sydney.

My next stop was a quick 24 hours in Brisbane for more introductory meetings (and a visit to the State Library of Queensland, of course). I flew from Sydney early in the morning so I would have time to make it to one of my bucket list tourist destinations. I’ve always wanted to hold a koala, so after I arrived, I took a city bus to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. The sanctuary bills itself as the world’s first and largest sanctuary, where they have over 130 koalas, dozens of kangaroos, and many other Australian animals. I got to hold a koala and walk through a field of kangaroos, allowing for petting and feeding (and selfies, of course). This was, by far, my favorite tourist spot and something I’ll never forget. If you are planning a trip to Queensland, Australia any time soon, I’d recommend Lone Pine as a stop on your journey!

This is Hamlet. He’s 4-years-old and if the keepers hadn’t been watching, I might have tried to bring him home.

This is Hamlet. He’s 4-years-old and if the keepers hadn’t been watching, I might have tried to bring him home.

My new kangaroo friend – she ate out of my hand, let me hang out in her sun spot to pet her, and posed for this photo before I left.