InsideOLITA

Offical blog of the Ontario Library and Information Technology Association

OLITA Project Award 2015 – nominations open until November 15!

Each year, the Ontario Library and Information Technology Association (OLITA) Project Award is awarded to a project that demonstrates leadership in the application of technology to:

  • benefit library users,
  • enhance library operations, and
  • extend partnerships.

In addition to the recognition of their peers, the recipient of the award also enjoys an expenses-paid trip to the annual CLA conference, courtesy of OCLC Canada, where they will present the project at the annual OCLC / CLA symposium.

We know that there are plenty of library projects in Ontario that use information technology in innovative ways to solve problems faced by the library community, and we want to hear about them!

Eligibility

  • Nominations must be for a project and not an individual.
  • Nominations may be made by the library representative or by others.
  • All projects must be operational by the close of the nomination period.
  • Libraries must be operating within the province of Ontario.

If you are participating in, or know of a project that you think is worthy of consideration for the OLITA Project Award (to be presented at the OLITA annual general meeting during the OLA SuperConference 2015), please submit a nomination by November 15th, 2015.

This content is published under the Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Join the OLITA council for 2015! Nominations open until November 15.

Joining OLITA council is a fantastic way to shape the ways that library technology is embedded in Ontario Library Association efforts. You’ll collaborate with great people and be able to directly impact the directions that OLITA takes in the future. It’s also a great way to network with other council and board members, vendors, and other OLA members in the province.

We are seeking nominations for the following positions:

  1.  Vice President / President Elect (3 year term)
  2.  Councillor-at-Large (3 year term) – 2 positions

Councillors currently lead exciting initatives such as the Technology Lending Library, coordinating technology-related articles in Open Shelf, assessing OLITA Project Award nominations, and shaping the information technology content at the OLA SuperConference and Digital Odyssey events. In the past few years, OLITA Council has also been instrumental in the development of the OLA Event code of conduct and associated procedures. You will be able to direct your contributions according to your interests and efforts.

The Vice President / President Elect serves as VP for the first year before becoming President in their second year, and finally serving as Past President / Treasurer in the third year. During your first two years you will be a member of the OLA Board, and you will help coordinate the overall activities of OLITA.

Find information and the nomination form on our Election Information page. Board/Council experience is not necessary and you don’t have to live or work in the GTA. In fact, the only criteria you’ll need is to be an OLA member and be interested in technology aspects of library work. New professionals are also welcome to get involved.

Don’t be shy: nominate yourself (or a colleague who is interested in running) for a Councillor or VP position today!

Nominations due November 15th, 2014

This content is published under the Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Linked Data Pt 2 – Resource Description Framework (RDF)

This is the second part of a three part Appetizer on linked library data.  If you are new to linked data please take a couple of minutes to read part 1. In the first part of this appetizer I introduced you to some of the concepts behind linked data. In part 2 we will look at some of the web standards that make linked data work:

  • Model data using RDF
  • Identify everything using a uniform resource identifier (URI)
  • Use a common web format such as XML, JSON etc.

Model data using RDF

In part 1 we talked about using structured data so that machines can make use of it. We identified several pieces of information about Margaret Atwood that I can turn into statements:

  • Margaret Atwood is a person
  • Margaret Atwood’s name is “Margaret Atwood”
  • Margaret Atwood was born 19391118
  • Margaret Atwood was born in Ottawa, Ontario
  • Margaret Atwood is a novelist
  • Margaret Atwood wrote “The Handmaid’s Tale”

If you look closely at the statements I have created about Margaret Atwood you can break them up into 3 parts:

  1. Margaret Atwood (the resource we are interested in)
  2. Was born in (the relationship between the resource and something else)
  3. Ottawa, Ontario (the thing that describes the resource)

Resource Description Framework (RDF) Triples diagrams

In the model behind linked data, RDF, this statement is called a triple. Each triple, or statement, is made up of 3 pieces: subject — predicate–object. The subject is the resource we are focused on, the object is what we are saying about the resource, or our description of the resource, and the predicate explains the relationship between the resource and what we want to say about it.

RDF Data as a Web of Data

Showing RDF triples as a web of information rather than a table

 

The statements about a particular subject, Margaret Atwood, can be visualized as a web of information about that resource. The statements all relate through the subject Margaret Atwood but are otherwise independent of each other unlike in a database where several pieces of information about a resource are commonly collected together in a record, for example in a MARC authority record.

The neat thing about this web of information is that an object in the Margaret Atwood web, for example Ottawa, can be the subject of another web in your data set.

Two webs of triples joined together

Two webs of triples joined together

For example, we may know that:

  • Ottawa is the capital of Canada
  • Ottawa has a population of  883, 391
  • Ottawa is the birthplace of Bruce Cockburn

By joining the object Ottawa from the data around Margaret Atwood to the resource Ottawa as a subject in its own right we can follow different paths to learn more about a resource. For example, we now know that Margaret Atwood was born in the capital of Canada and we gain some information about other artists who were born in the same place.

This is nice within your own data set; you can pivot on your information from different perspectives. However, the point of linked data is to connect, or allow the potential for connection, with other data sets. For example, DBpedia makes connections to data sets such as GeoNames and the New York Times linked data pages which can allow mash-ups of descriptions about resources. How does a machine make these connections?

Identify Everything with a URI

A linked data web is not just a web of documents it is a web of things. That is, we don’t just have a URL for a page about Margaret Atwood, we also need to identify Margaret Atwood herself as a resource. We identify resources by giving them a uniform resource identifier (URI) which is generally in the form of an HTTP URL so that a machine can go to the location and find out more about the resource, such as the resource type and relationships to other resources. Ideally the URL returns information in RDF. Using the HTTP standard and a standard RDF model allows a program to find connections to other related data without needing to know the specifics of many different application programming interfaces (APIs).

RDF statements using URIs instead of strings

 

In the statement “Margaret Atwood has birth place Ottawa” we can represent each part of the statement with a URI in DBpedia (in this example I have used the human-readable URLs):

  1. http://dbpedia.org/page/Margaret_Atwood for Margaret Atwood
  2. http://dbpedia.org/ontology/birthPlace for birth place
  3. http://dbpedia.org/page/Ottawa for Ottawa

In some cases it doesn’t make sense to create an identifier for a piece of information, for example a birth date or a title. However, you can specify information to let the program know date format or language of the title.

Using Vocabularies

While there are some formal differences between schemas, vocabularies and ontologies, I’m going to use the term vocabulary for simplicity. In the example above we stayed within the DBpedia vocabulary but in RDF you can mix and match vocabularies in one statement. In fact it is encouraged to use common vocabularies. For example, when linking the DBpedia resource “Ottawa” to the GeoNames resource “Ottawa” DBpedia uses a property from the Web Ontology Language (OWL): owl:sameAs. This is a really commonly used relationship to link data sets together:

Ottawa (DBpedia) is the same as Ottawa (GeoNames)

http://dbpedia.org/page/Ottawa — http://www.w3.org/2002/07/owl#sameAs — http://sws.geonames.org/6094817/

Similarly rather than defining in a DBpedia what a “homepage” is DBpedia simply uses the Friend of a Friend (foaf) vocabulary which has already created a property for homepage.

Using a Standard Format

Finally you need to publish these RDF statements in a format that is commonly used on the web. In order for programs to use these statements about things they need to be serialized in a way that a program can understand. There are many different ways to serialize RDF including XML, Turtle, JSON, and JSON-LD. Any of these formats should lead to the same triples. If you are on a linked data site, such as a DBpedia page or the New York Times linked data pages, look for a link to different serializations or try entering .rdf at the end of the URL.

Here is an abridged version of the N3/Turtle serialization of the DBpedia resource Margaret Atwood. I’ve emphasized a couple of areas for comment:

@prefix owl: <http://www.w3.org/2002/07/owl#> .
@prefix dbpedia:  <http://dbpedia.org/resource/> .
@prefix ns5: <http://data.nytimes.com/> .
ns5:N10507958644473712303    owl:sameAs dbpedia:Margaret_Atwood .
@prefix foaf: <http://xmlns.com/foaf/0.1/> .
@prefix ns16: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/> .
ns16:Margaret_Atwood  foaf:primaryTopic dbpedia:Margaret_Atwood .
@prefix rdf: <http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns#> .
dbpedia:Margaret_Atwood rdf:type dbpedia-owl:Person ,
dpedia-owl:Writer ,
foaf:Person .
@prefix rdfs: <http://www.w3.org/2000/01/rdf-schema#> .
dbpedia:Margaret_Atwood rdfs:label “Margaret Atwood”@en ;
foaf:depiction
<http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/21/Margaret_Atwood_Eden_Mills_Writers_Festival_2006.jpg> .
dbpedia:Margaret_Atwood        dbpedia-owl:birthDate    ”1939-11-18″^^xsd:date ;
dbpedia-owl:birthPlace    dbpedia:Ottawa ;
dbpprop:placeOfBirth    ”Ottawa, Ontario, Canada”@en ;
dbpprop:website    <http://margaretatwood.ca/> ;
foaf:surname    ”Atwood”@en ;

In the bold areas you can see that the New York Times resource “N10507958644473712303” is the same as the DBpedia resource Margaret_Atwood and that the DBpedia resource Margaret_Atwood has the type “Person.”

The web is a messy place and not all data can be nicely formatted and interconnected but in the next appetizer on linked data I will talk about some of the ways linked data can be used by libraries and why libraries may want to publish their own data to the web.

Some Resources

Tim Berners-Lee (2009) Design Issues. Linked Data (open access)
Tim Berners-Lee (2009) The next web. A TED talk, February 2009.  (open access)
Karen Coyle. Understanding the semantic web: bibliographic data and metadata. Chicago: American Library Association, 2010 (Library Technology reports ; v. 46, no. 1) (subscription required)
Tom Heath and Christian Bizer (2011) Linked Data: Evolving the Web into a Global Data Space (1st edition). Synthesis Lectures on the Semantic Web: Theory and Technology, 1:1, 1-136. Morgan & Claypool.  (open access)
LinkedDataTools.com (2009) Introducing Linked Data and the Semantic Web  (open access)
W3C Working Group (2014) RDF 1.1 Primer.

Slide images are from a presentation I did for a University of Waterloo IST Friday morning seminar in December 2013.

Acknowledgements

Thank you to Dan Scott, Corey Harper and MJ Suhonos who all answered questions for me related to this post! I appreciate everyone’s patience. Thanks also to Dan for help with proofreading.

This content is published under the Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

H4ck an Ebook Reader

The OLITA Technology Lending Library has a challenge.  We want to see what creative and interesting things you can do to hack an ebook reader.  We have a collection of 17 Sony eBook Readers and we want to see what creative alternate use you can put them to. We send you one and in 3 months tell us what you did with it by writing an Appetizer on the OLITA blog.  Winner gets bragging rights.

Interested?

The ebook reader is the Sony PRS-350PC

Check out this blog post to see how someone loaded a custom firmware on this device.

Or how about this hack to uncover the underlying Android operating system powering the device.

Want one?  

Please tell us where to send it and it is all yours.

This content is published under the Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Digital Odyssey 2014 – Registration Now Open

Digital Odyssey 2014 Conference Registration is now open! Make sure you sign up early to get a spot in the workshops.

Friday June 6th, 2014

9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Oakham House*, Ryerson University
55 Gould St Toronto, ON M5B 1E9

2014’s Conference theme is “Code, the Most Important Language in the World.” The focus is on improving programming language literacy and becoming active in code and our communities.

Code is the common language between us and computers, the instructions we give our devices to get them to do what we want. Code is an integral part of human communication today and the more you can empower yourself with code, the better off you will be. Technology permeates all area of our lives and work, and whether you know it or not, someone somewhere wrote code that determines what you what you can and cannot do with every device and platform you interact with.

As librarians, we encounter technologies in all aspects of our work and we help our patrons navigate this technical world. To thrive in your interactions with technology it is important know what code is and the general concepts behind writing it. If you are ready to embrace code and bend computers to your will, even better. Improving our collective code literacy will help empower us in our daily work and let us better help our patrons learn this important skill.

Want to learn more about coding? Sign up for the “Learning Through Games” workshop where you will learn programming concepts and logic through gameplay with Scratch, an introductory programming language designed to help teach basic programming logic and techniques.

Interested in setting up a workshop to help your patrons learn to code? Sign up for the “Train the trainer” workshop and earn how to run and modify a Scratch workshop by doing it. Together, Kids Learning Code, Maker Kids, TIFF and Toronto Public Library, have developed comprehensive, maker curriculum for educators who work in formal and informal learning environments with the objective of increasing Toronto youth access and engagement with advanced technology and digital tools! These workshops and activities allow youth to create something with purpose, driven by their own vision and also empower teachers to be makers.

Twitter hashtag #DO14

Registration Rate: Members: $160 Non Members: $190

 

Program

8:45 – 9:30 Breakfast & Registration
9:30 – 9:40 Welcome
9:40 – 10:45 Keynote – Chrys WuDeveloper Advocate for The New York Times

Slides

10:45 – 11:00 Break
11:00 – 12:00 Session One – Open Source software projects and communities(Panel Speakers: Randy Metcalfe, Kirsta Stapelfeldt, Graham Stewart) Workshop One – Learning Through Games (leader CoderDojoTO)
12:00 – 1:00 Session Two – Using and developing APIs(Panel Speakers: David Fiander, Vanessa Sabino, Nathan Vexler)
1:00 Lunch
1:30 – 2:30 OLA AGM
2:30 – 3:30 Session Three – What is #LODLAM?! : Understanding Linked Data in Libraries, Archives [and Museums](Alison Hitchens)

Slides

Workshop Two – Train the trainer – Scratch (leader MakerKids)
3:30 – 3:45 Break
3:45 – 4:45 Closing Keynote – Sean YoInformation architect, web expert and community builder, Hive Waterloo

Slides

4:45:00 Final Remarks

Keynote Speakers

Chrys Wu

Over the course of her intrepid career, Chrys Wu a.k.a. @MacDiva has been a strategist, journalist, coder and cook. She is currently Developer Advocate for The New York Times, where she leads internal and public-facing initiatives of New York Times Developers. Prior to joining The Times, she worked with organizations like The Gates Foundation, The Knight Foundation, The Los Angeles Times, and NPR and its affiliates to deepen connection to people through community-systems architecture, user-centric design and code.

Chrys has been an invited speaker at The White House, has been called a “trusted consigliere” in New York tech, and is a trustee emeritus of the Awesome Foundation, a global network of chapters that grant $1,000 monthly to bring something awesome to the world. She is a global and local organizer of Hacks/Hackers, a rapidly expanding international group that brings journalists, technologists and designers together to reinvent news and civic information; and she leads NYC Ruby Women and Write/Speak/Code, two local initiatives to empower women who code.

Sean Yo

Sean builds websites and communities, often at the same time. He spent more than a decade in Higher Education Enterprise IT, co-founded Resonant Studios, a web development company in 2005 and most recently was Chief Architect at InGamer, a technology startup building a second-screen companion fantasy game for live broadcast Sports. Sean is a leader in the tech community of Waterloo and Guelph, including running the Guelph Web Makers Meetup and Accessibility Camp Guelph. Sean’s most recent ventures are Hackademy, a non-profit focused on digital literacy and coding skills for kids and Hive Waterloo, a network for technology communities modelled on Hive NYC. A frequent technical presenter, Sean has spoken at local, provincial and national technology conferences both in Canada and the US. You can connect with Sean at seanyo.ca

 

Program Speakers

David Fiander is the Web Services Librarian at Western University in London Ontario. His research interests include the retail ebook market, how ebooks are used in the academic setting, and building systems that support librarians’ work. He has a long history with open source, and was a software developer specializing in network protocols and standards-based software development before becoming a librarian.

Alison Hitchens is a Cataloguing & Metadata Librarian at the University of Waterloo Library and a sessional lecturer in the Faculty of Information & Media Studies at Western University teaching classification and indexing.  She is the chair of the Ex Libris Users of North America (ELUNA) Primo Product Working Group and member of the joint ELUNA/IGeLU Linked Open Data Special Interest Working Group.

Randy Metcalfe is a former head of OSS Watch, the UK national advisory service on free and open source software for further and higher education. Subsequently he was the initial program manager of eIFL-FOSS, which advocates free and open source software use in libraries in developing and transition countries. He has experience as a communications manager for a national charity in the UK and for projects based at the University of Oxford. He continues to work as a communications consultant whilst pursuing an alternate career as an author.

Vanessa Sabino loves analysing data. She started her career as a developer in 2000, and now she uses her skills in IT, mathematics, and business working as a data analyst for Shopify, helping shape the commerce in Canada and around the world.

Kirsta Stapelfeldt holds MLIS and MA degrees from Dalhousie University. She comes to the library from the University of Prince Edward Island and the Islandora project, where she managed the development of the Islandora Digital Asset Stewardship platform and worked with UPEI’s Virtual Research Environment service. She has also worked as a consultant in the private sector for organizations developing and migrating large digital collections, and creating online research workflows, as well as in communications and undergraduate instruction.

Graham Stewart has been working in libraries since 1976. He is currently the Network and Storage Services Manager for Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries. His interests include: planning large scale, automated computing systems; maximizing reliability and availability for online services; the open source world; improving the culture of IT; improving users’ experiences of technology.

Nathan Vexler is a Computing Consultant at the University of Waterloo specializing in the delivery of the University’s Open Data service ( http://api.uwaterloo.ca ). Nathan first advocated for Open Data as a student. 4 years later he is the point person for the service he lobbied for. Outside of campus, Nathan works with Open Data Waterloo Region—an organization which spearheaded the first ever Go Open Data conference (this year held in Toronto: http://2014.go-opendata.ca/). He is also the Partner Manager at the digital literacy network Hive Waterloo—an organization he co-founded with fellow speaker @seanyo and others. Connect with him on twitter @cartoon_nate

 

Workshops Leaders

CoderDojoTO: CoderDojo is a global movement about providing free and open learning to youth, with an emphasis on computer programming. The Toronto chapter was founded to bring this movement to the GTA, inspire other chapters, and partner with other organizations to better introduce kids to coding.

MakerKids is one of the only makerspaces for kids in the world. It’s a non-profit workshop space where kids can learn about and do things like 3D printing, electronics, and woodworking. We offer workshops, camps, afterschool programs and more at our location in Roncesvalles in Toronto, and participate in external events in the GTA and beyond. We enable kids to build their ideas with real tools and materials; our goal is to inspire and empower kids to think, design, experiment and create. Our Board of Advisors includes Dale Dougherty (CEO of Maker Media, MAKE Magazine and Maker Faire) and Massimo Banzi (CEO of Arduino). You can learn more about us through this recent Wired article. Sign up for our mailing list to keep up to date with what we’re up to.

 

Event Sponsor

Ryerson University Library & Archives

 

* Please note that due to the fact that Oakham house is an older building, their wiring is not able to handle more than 10 plugged in laptops. Please bring fully charged laptops or risk being disappointed.

This content is published under the Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Digital Odyssey 2014 Save the date – June 6th 2014

Please save the date for the Ontario Library Information Technology Association’s annual conference: Digital Odyssey!

Friday June 6th, 2014, Oakham House, Ryerson University

2014’s Conference theme is “Code, the Most Important Language in the World.” The focus is on improving programming language literacy and becoming active in code and our communities.

Code is the common language between us and computers, the instructions we give our devices to get them to do what we want. Code is an integral part of human communication today and the more you can empower yourself with code, the better off you will be. Technology permeates all area of our lives and work, and whether you know it or not, someone somewhere wrote code that determines what you what you can and cannot do with every device and platform you interact with.

As librarians, we encounter technologies in all aspects of our work and we help our patrons navigate this technical world. To thrive in your interactions with technology it is important know what code is and the general concepts behind writing it. If you are ready to embrace code and bend computers to your will, even better. Improving our collective code literacy will help empower us in our daily work and let us better help our patrons learn this important skill.

Want to learn more about coding? Sign up for a concurrent workshop where you will learn programming concepts and logic through gameplay using Scratch, an introductory programming language designed to help teach basic programming logic and techniques.

In addition, program speakers will cover topics of linked data, open source software development and community, as well as using APIs.

Full Program and Registration details forthcoming.

This content is published under the Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Introducing Linked Data Part 1 (Without all the techie stuff!)

This is a three part Appetizer to introduce linked library data. The appetizers are based on 2 presentations that I gave at University of Waterloo. The first to public services staff and the second to university (not library) IT staff.

Why should you read this appetizer? Mentions of linked data (linked library data, linked open data etc.) are increasing at conferences, in webinars, tweets, blogs and articles and you may want to know what it refers to!

In part 1, I will introduce you to the topic, but stick to concepts rather than the technical side of how it is modelled and accomplished. I will be using (most of) the slides from “Introducing Linked Data.”

Defining Linked Data

Definition of Linked Data from Wikipedia

Definition of Linked Data from Wikipedia

One definition of linked data can be found on the linked data Wikipedia page.

There are a few points to highlight in this definition:

  • data is being published so that it is available on the web
  • this data is structured so that it is easier to use
  • it is published using standard web technologies so that it is easier to use
  • there is a difference between how humans consume information on the web and how computers consume information on the web

Human-readable vs. machine-actionable

Human-readable vs. machine-actionable

Human-readable vs. machine-actionable

Rather than use “machine-readable” library consultant Karen Coyle often uses the term “machine-actionable” data. I find this terminology more helpful, although it is the software that is acting rather than the machine. To think about the difference between human-readable and machine-actionable start by looking at this Wikipedia page for Margaret Atwood. Ask yourself, what do I know by reading the information on this page?

Some of the things that an English language reader can quickly know about Margaret Atwood are:

  • Margaret Atwood is a person — she looks like a person in her picture, she has a birth date and birth place, she is an author; these are types of information we associate with being a person
  • We know where and when she was born, what she does, what she has written, what her father does and that she is a voracious reader
  • We assume that if we click on the “Arthur C. Clarke Award” link text it will take us to a page about that award

We can easily digest these sentences and extract meaning or information from them. This page is pretty easy to use and understand by a person who reads English.

But what about machines?

The Classic Web

 

The Classic Web

The Classic Web

(This slide is based on the classic web diagram by Eric Miller)

In the classic web a machine would have a hard time acting on the information on a web page in any meaningful way. It can follow links from one page to another but it doesn’t have any information about how those pages relate to each other and what information those pages have about a resource. A user simply clicks on the link text for the URL and the machine takes her to a new location or resource. The two resources are linked by a miscellaneous, meaningless hyper-link. The user may assume that by clicking on a link called “homepage” that she will be taken to Margaret Atwood’s homepage but the machine is simply going from one location to another without any semantic information.

A Linked Data Web

Diagram of the web based on linked data

A Linked Data Web

(This slide was inspired by a semantic web slide by Eric Miller)

In the linked data web we give machines more information about the relationships between things. Sometimes there is no more information, I may just have a generic hyper-link from my page about Margaret Atwood to her home page. However, Wikipedia, using its DBpedia data, might define that Margaret Atwood is a person, that this URL being linked on the Wikipedia page is the URL for her homepage, and that this other page they are linking to has Margaret Atwood as a subject.

These statements allow the machine to follow its nose –what other attributes does DBpedia know about the person Margaret Atwood? what other pages are about Margaret Atwood? what other persons are there in Wikipedia who have a relationship to Margaret Atwood? The machine can act on the structured data.

Use Structured Data

Use Structured Data

Use Structured Data

I don’t like to assume that we all know what structured data is. The way I like to show structured data is by using something that we are all familiar with to some degree – spreadsheets! Librarians love spreadsheets, right?

If you type something like 4-30-2011 into Excel it recognizes the format and automatically changes it to a date. This is because you have used a standard, well-defined format. However, you can go one step further and format a cell or row of cells yourself and say to Excel these pieces of data are all dates. Excel then knows the rules for what it can do with dates. So you have one piece of information in a cell and you have told the machine the type of information it is and because of that type the machine knows what kinds of things can be done with it, for example how to sort, how to calculate number of days etc. It knows to treat dates differently than currency and differently again than textual data. Textual data itself can be totally unstructured or it might be a value in a field, for example the title field of a book record in a database.

Those of us who create catalogue records are used to thinking about data elements such as author, title, publisher, date. The question is have they been recorded in such a way that the machine knows which piece of information is the title and which piece of information is the author and what resource these pieces of information refer to?

Identify Your Data

Identify Your Data

Identify Your Data

 

To be structured we should identify our data elements and when applicable use standard formats, such as date formats. We need to identify for example the type of resource, her name,  her occupation and so on as separate pieces of information rather than burying that information in long paragraphs.

Publish Your Data on the Web

Publish Your Data on the Web

Publish Your Data on the Web

Once our data is identified then we should make that data available on the web so that it can be used with other data. For example, other resources about Margaret Atwood could retrieve from the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF) variant representations of her name and also a list of selected titles she has written. This is because VIAF has established a permanent identifier for the resource Margaret Atwood and has provided the associated data in multiple web-friendly formats.

Make Connections

Make Connections

Make Connections

When publishing our data on the web it is especially useful if we can build connections between our data and other datasets. A useful dataset to link to is DBpedia, the dataset for Wikipedia, because many others also link here; you will have linked your data to a much larger universe with one mapping!

If we look at the DBpedia page for Margaret Atwood we can see that it includes the VIAF identifier. Do a search for VIAF to find the identifier.

The Famous Linked Data Cloud

The Famous Linked Data Cloud

The Famous Linked Data Cloud

How do I know that we should link to DBpedia to link to other things? By looking at the linked data cloud! You can see the large number of connections coming in and out of DBpedia in this visualization. The library related datasets are over on the right.

Connect Your Data

Connect your data

Connect your data

So we don’t simply expose our data to the web, we make connections in various ways that will lead to other connections! For example, if we want to define that Margaret Atwood is a person we may want to use the persons class from the Friend of a Friend (FOAF) ontology; if the place of birth is Ottawa then instead of the text string “Ottawa” we may want to link to the Ottawa in the Geonames database; if the occupation is novelist we may want to link to the LCSH linked data collection; and if the person is the author of “The Handmaid’s Tale” we may want to assert that this is the same resource as in the Open Library.

Some Technical Stuff

Some Technical Stuff

Some Technical Stuff

In part 2 of this appetizer I will give you some of the technical information around linked data, for example the use of identifiers, the RDF model and some common serializations.

Library Use Cases

Library Use Cases

Part 3 of this appetizer will go into more detail about the uses of linked data for libraries, archives and museums but here are a few ideas to get you thinking. We could used open linked data to enrich our bibliographic and authority data, for example pulling in biographical information to help disambiguate authors for our users, we may be able to align subject vocabularies, and we can share our many unique library collections with other communities on the web.

Some Resources

While you are waiting you may want to start your own exploration. Here are just a few linked data resources:

  • ›Colye, Karen. Understanding the semantic web: bibliographic data and metadata. Chicago: American Library Association, 2010 (Library Technology reports ; v. 46, no. 1) (subscription required)
  • ›Harper, Corey. Library linked data: tuning library metadata for the semantic web. An ALCTS webcast, March 16. 2011. (open access)
  • ›Berners-Lee, Tim. The next web. A TED talk, February 2009. (open access)
  • ›Heath, Tom and Christian Bizer (2011) Linked Data: Evolving the Web into a Global Data Space. 1st ed. Morgan & Claypool, 2011. (Synthesis Lectures on the Semantic Web: Theory and Technology, 1:1)  (open access)
  • Koster, Lukas (2011) Brief Introduction to Linked Data (open access)

Hope to see you for part 2!

Acknowledgements

I’d like to thank Corey Harper and MJ Suhonos for being patient and helpful when I have linked data questions. Also thanks to Nick Ruest and Lukas Koster who did a quick double-check of this post for me.

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Join the OLITA Council – nominations open

Joining OLITA council is a great way to learn about council work, get involved in OLA activities and increase your recognition in the field. You’ll collaborate with great people and have fun. It’s also a great way to network with other council and board members, vendors, and other OLA members in the province.

We are seeking nominations for the following positions

  1.  Vice President / President Elect (3 year term)
  2.  Councilor-at-Large (3 year term) – 2 positions

Find information and the nomination form on our Election Information page. Board/Council experience is not necessary and you don’t have to live or work in the GTA. In fact, the only criteria you’ll need is to be an OLA member and be interested in technology aspects of library work. New professionals are also welcome to get involved.

Nominations due November 15th, 2013

 

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OLITA Award for Technological Innovation Nominations Open

It’s time to nominate an innovative project for an OLITA Technological Innovations award! The award is presented at the OLA Super Conference 2014 but we need time to pick the winners. This means your deadline to nominate a colleague or yourself is November 15th.

The projects must be currently operational and from a library operating in Ontario. There are a couple of eligibility requirements and you might want to check out the previous winners‘ innovative projects.

And after you’ve nominated your favorite innovative project, check out all the other OLA and Divisional awards looking for nominations. This is the time of year to give recognition to someone you think has gone above and beyond. We look forward to honouring all your hard work next February.

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Photographing Fireworks

With summertime around the corner, Canada Day, and other festivals, here is an appetizer for taking pictures of fireworks.

What You’ll Need

1. A camera that can have its shutter open for 2 seconds or longer (almost all cameras have this capacity, except for the most basic film point & shoot models)

2. A tripod

3. (Where applicable) The camera’s remote control or cable release; if you have a DSLR, it usually has to be purchased separately

This will be your best friend; image from Wikimedia Commons, created by user Rfc1394/Paul Robinson.

This will be your best friend; image from Wikimedia Commons, created by user Rfc1394/Paul Robinson.

Preparing Beforehand

Familiarize yourself with your camera’s settings long before the day of the event. Mount your camera on the tripod and practice taking some night shots around your yard, or in wide open area, like a park or on top of a hill. You should be able to locate your settings by touch in low lighting, especially if you are using a DSLR. If you have a choice between “live view” and an eyepiece, try using the eyepiece as much as possible, since the rear LCD screen is illuminated and can interfere with your night vision. (The screen is also distracting to anyone who happens to be behind you.)

If you are using a point & shoot camera, experiment with the different options for nighttime photography (even the most basic digital camera should have options for exposures between 5 and 30 seconds; for fireworks, you should need no more than a 10-second exposure). The most challenging part of this type of photography with a point & shoot camera is to keep it in focus – if you do not have a manual option – between exposures. Sometimes focusing to infinity (a setting usually marked by an icon resembling mountains in the distance) does not always work, as your scene may be closer than the camera’s definition of infinity. If you are able to go to the site a few days beforehand, you can take test shots and see what are the best options for focusing on a scene.

Remember, most firework displays tend to be in the 15-minute range. You do not have much time to work with and enjoy the show at the same time.

Pick a Location

Don’t just aim your camera at a blank spot in the air and wait for it to fill up with the pyrotechnics; include some reference points to your setting (e.g. cityscape, dock, etc.) For safety, most firework displays are set up over a body of water, which also provides you with a horizon and reflections to add to your scene.

Since fireworks can be seen from quite a distance, you may prefer picking a location away from the main venue, which will be less crowded and may also have less ground illumination interfering with your pictures.

For the third year in a row, the Timmins Canada Day fireworks display was set up by the McIntyre Headframe - more information about the setting at the end of this appetizer. For a break from the front-on view with the lake, I picked a less crowded location about a kilometer to the west, which created a different effect. Note: This is a 5-second exposure at f/7.1., which creates the illusion of daylight; however, at 10:20pm, it was still twilight.

For the third year in a row, the Timmins Canada Day fireworks display was set up by the McIntyre Headframe – more information about the setting at the end of this appetizer. For a break from the front-on view with the lake, I picked a less crowded location about a kilometer to the west, which created a different effect. Note: This is a 5-second exposure at f/7.1., which creates the illusion of daylight; however, at 10:20pm, it was still twilight.

 

Try to get to your location long before it gets dark in order to be able to set up your camera on its tripod, get your scene in focus, and take some test shots. You may have to change some of your settings (e.g. exposure time) as it gets darker, but keep in mind the fireworks give off quite a bit of illumination.

Allow for about a good 6 feet (2m) radius of where you set up with your tripod, as you may have to move everything from side to side to get the desired scene, and try not to get in the way of other people. Try to avoid setting up around young children running around, and always be aware of your surroundings.

If you have a remote control, especially one that plugs into the side of the camera like a cable release, you may want to use it to reduce the risk of the camera body from moving between shots.

Resist Using These Features

Flash: Make sure your camera’s built-in flash has been turned off; it is often turned on by default in some nighttime shooting modes. In addition to being distracting, having the flash on means the camera will be taking exposures of 1/60th a second or faster, and any objects in its immediate vicinity will be illuminated. You will end up with bright foreground/backs of people’s heads and dots of light from the fireworks in the distance.

Fireworks Mode: Although many point & shoot cameras have a fireworks setting, try not to rely on it solely, as you do not have much control over the results. In addition to a fixed exposure time of a few seconds (good for getting the firework trails), this setting may have built-in colour saturation that could give an artificial feel to the pictures. Use it in moderation.

High ISO Numbers: If you can adjust the ISO (the image sensor light sensitivity), try to avoid going over 1600. Although you will get brighter pictures with shorter exposure times, the darker areas of your scene can become quite grainy (resembling a fuzzy television signal), which can be quite noticeable if you make large photographic prints.

Really Long Exposures (“Bulb” Mode, not on all cameras): Although it may seem like a creative endeavour to get a minute or more worth of fireworks in a single shot, what will actually result is an overexposed frame resembling daylight with pale streaks of fireworks. You should be able to get good pictures using exposures of 15 seconds or less.

The Bulb setting also requires the shutter release to be held open manually, and unless you have an accessory remote control that can lock the shutter release, you will end up having to hold down the button by hand. Even with a tripod, it will be a matter of only a few seconds before your body shake transfers to the camera and blurs the image.

Some Settings to Try

If you are comfortable using your camera in Manual mode, and have a good feel for what you can expect for lighting, you can experiment with a small aperture (f/16 or higher) and exposure times varying from 5 to 30 seconds in length. (For aperture size, a bigger number designates a smaller opening to let in light.) You can try setting a larger aperture (up to about f/4) with shorter exposure length, and still get a good sense of depth in your scene.

If you want your camera to take over the guess work or experiment with different effects, here are few modes you can try.

Burst Setting: Most cameras have a mode for taking rapid-fire pictures back to back, dubbed the “burst” setting. The adjustment for that should be found where around the same area you can find a timer to delay the shutter release up to 10 seconds. Sometimes the adjustment will be labelled “Drive” and you should see an icon that changes from a single rectangular frame to three frames overlapping each other. When you select this mode, you will be able to take a “burst” of images by holding down the shutter release button for a few seconds, and then letting go. Depending on the camera, it can take anywhere from 3 to 14 frames per second*. This is good for using with the rapid speed and sequence of fireworks, but you will also be deleting quite a few “okay” shots for every really good one you have.

When using the “burst” setting, you have to keep in mind that you will end up with exposures are going to be fractions of a second long. Depending on how dark your location is, you will have to use a larger aperture opening and a higher ISO. The pictures created will have a good sensation of “frozen in time”, but they may have a static feel to them.

The burst mode of my DSLR created a 0.6-second exposure of fireworks in action. In order to make a decent exposure, the lens aperture was set to f/4 and the ISO at 800. This is the best of several frames in sequence.

The burst mode of my DSLR created a 0.6-second exposure of fireworks in action. In order to make a decent exposure, the lens aperture was set to f/4 and the ISO at 800. This is the best of several frames in sequence.

 

* Note: This latter figure is for high-end professional DSLRs.

Aperture Priority Mode (A or Av)

You can try setting your camera to the aperture priority mode (“A” or “Av”, depending on the make of camera), and then set the aperture to a small size like f/20. The camera’s computer then calculates what would be the best length of time for the shutter to stay open to make a proper exposure. What should result is an exposure several seconds long, which will include the firework trails and give you a sense of motion in the scene.

The aperture was set to f/20 and the ISO to 800 - the camera determined an exposure time of 15 seconds.

The aperture was set to f/20 and the ISO to 800 – the camera determined an exposure time of 15 seconds.

Shutter Priority Mode (S or Tv)

Shutter priority mode essentially works the opposite way Aperture priority; you set the exposure time (and ISO, if applicable), and the camera determines what aperture would give the best exposure. A disadvantage to Shutter priority – especially if you start a longer exposure in low lighting – is that the aperture could be quite large, overexposing the scene as it becomes more illuminated over a short course of time.

Extra: A Few Inexpensive Special Effects

Although fireworks on their own are usually spectacular, you may want to try something a little different withe some shots. Two methods of making interesting special effects without spending a fortune on filters are diffraction glasses and a simple kaleidoscope. Simply hold either up to the lens (you may lose some focusing on the scene) when you take the picture.

Diffraction Glasses: These are sometimes called fireworks glasses or rainbow glasses and can be found at party supply stores, science toy stores, or are sometimes given away at large fireworks venues (and of course, you can find them on ebay). They consist of a thin translucent film that breaks all viewed light into its component colours, like looking through a prism. The most economical ones have film lenses with cardboard frames, while more sturdy ones have plastic lenses and frames. Sometimes you can find diffracting lenses sold one their own, too. As individual units, diffracting glasses should not cost more than a couple dollars, but you may end up having to buy them in bulk if you have to order them online. (Here’s the link to a retailer in Nova Scotia: http://fireworksfx.com/rainbow-glasses.html; you can also find them on ebay, or some may be sold at fireworks venues.)

2012 Fireworks Rainbow

These photographs were taken using a diffraction filter called a "Jupiter Scope", which looks to have been sold between the late 1960s and 1980s; there's more information here: http://www.lomography.com/magazine/reviews/2012/05/21/the-stupendous-power-of-the-mysterious-jupiter-scope-filter

These photographs were taken using a diffraction filter called a “Jupiter Scope”, which looks to have been sold between the late 1960s and 1980s; there’s more information here.

 

 

Open-ended Kaleidoscope: There some inexpensive toy kaleidoscopes consist simply of a multifaceted piece of clear plastic on the end of a housing with an eye hole on it, which could work against the small lens of some point & shoot cameras, but if you want something that can be held up to the end of a DSLR lens, you’ll need something bigger. You can take the eyepiece and end off a toy tubular kaleidoscope (be sure it isn’t a valuable antique!), or you can make a basic kaleidoscope three long, thin mirrors – or similar shiny material with an opaque backing, which can then be held up to your camera’s lens. If you have a younger family member or friend, making a kaleidoscope and using it for fireworks photography could be a good summer activity.

An “Instructables” Project for Making a Kaleidoscope for Photography (Involves mirrors and a glass cutter):

http://www.instructables.com/id/KALEIDOSCOPE-for-PHOTOGRAPHY/

A more child-friendly kaleidoscope project (not illustrated); skip steps 6 & 7 about filling the end with trinkets; step 8 is also optional:

http://www.ehow.com/how_6208170_make-simple-homemade-kaleidoscope.html

Note: I have not yet tried using a kaleidoscope with my camera, but if anyone has experimented with this effect, please leave a comment and let me know how it worked out.

About the pictures: These photographs were taken in Schumacher, Ontario (a community about a kilometre east of Timmins) on Canada Day 2011 and 2012. In the 2011 photos, lake in the foreground is Pearl Lake and the structure in the background is the McIntyre Headframe – remains of the mine site by the same name. A headframe houses the hoisting mechanism for access to the mine shaft below. The illuminated “X” on the building is the logo for the Xstrata mining company, which sponsored the fireworks display that year. In the 2012 photos, only the top of the headframe is seen from the side. The sky was somewhat overcast and even as late as 10:20pm, it was still twilight, not dark.

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