Code4libBC Day 1: Lightning Talk Notes

Notes from the first day of lightning talk presentations at Code4lib BC.

Code4lib/BC: What’s it all about – Cynthia Ng

Go see my presentation post

Canadian Federated Data Repository – Alex Garnett


  • FRDR – Federated Research Data Repository
  • designing infrastructure for a national research data repository (partnership between Computer Canada CARL and Globus) using Compute Canada hardware
  • support: place to deposit large data sets, any datasets, preservation for long term usability, archiving of data sets, discover and de-silo datasets,
  • storage can be distributed, owned and operated by institutions. mutiple CC sites could run endpoints
  • scalable
  • harvester index of data repositories supports: OAI, CKAN, CSW with metadata crosswalked and indexed by the same harvester, generate JSON-LD for search
  • goal is to supplement existing repository sites and improve discovery, breaking down silo-ing
  • using the UBC digital collections search interface
  • want to link out to data, so results points back to original site
  • can deposit database using heavily modified DSpace
  • authentication through GlobusID, Google, ORCID
  • direct web upload interface has been replaced for now
  • can sync from local computer or server using Globus Transfer
  • major things that work: deposit, preservation, ORCID sign on, etc.
  • DSpace license = MIT

Using Ms Access to make vendor reports or local workflows less painful – Trevor Smith

  • comes from furstration with results out of ILS with data that can’t be shared
  • move to Sierra provided direct SQL queries to database
  • why Access? already part of MS Office
  • can save, share, store, link to other Office products
  • need to share differently depending on audience
  • makes summarizing queries easy
  • provides an easy way to create reports
  • after pulling funds numbers
  • to help spending and collections budget targets: can help see how much have spent vs. should have spent
  • all about having Access do the math for you

Games Day in the Library – Kevin Brash


  • ALA has yearly games day that they promote in November
  • convinced WVML to participate
  • why games in the library?
  • have kids playing games in the library all the time; had user who wanted library to ban game playing, but did not want to start banning content
  • but important part of culture
  • year 1: mario event. Wii Mario Kart. Was going to connect to ALA server, didn’t get that to work, but kids still had fun
    • was difficult to get IT on board because secure network was shared with rest of city
    • board games were largely ignored
    • lots of student volunteers
  • year 2: got a little more budget
    • had minecraft installed on computer labs
    • two camps of kids: where they wanted to bash each other; creative group
    • was going to join up with ALA, and didn’t happen, but that’s okay
    • approached a meetup organizer from Extremely Shy and looking for friends (a group who plays board games in a pub)
    • older audience (20s) played board games
  • year 3: board games came back, and more board gamers
    • still had some of the other games though many kids had moved on from WiiU and minecraft
  • IT considerations
    • a few barriers: particularly network access

What’s in the Bag? Indexing and querying Bags with Elasticsearch – Mark Jordan


  • bags: something typically for digital preservation. put stuff in bag and put the bag in long term storage
  • standard for organizing content in a directory
  • bag has data and descriptive metadata, technical metadata, islandora object, bag creator info
  • technical metadata primarily checksum
  • have bags, yay! How to organize them?
  • no prescribed way
  • proof of concept on managing content to scale without having to look inside the bag; just want to index, not have to look inside each bag to know what’s in it
  • questions: which bags were created on specific dat? contain specific file in their data direcotyr? with specific bagit version? specific keywords? etc.
  • BagIt Indexer: index script puts into Elasticsearch, find: querying of index, watch: watches for new, moved, updated or deleted bags, and update index
  • storage location of bags with watchers -> index (Elasticsearch); preservation staff can search index; automated processes that can also query index to use it
  • demo: have directory with zips inside, want to index bags, index by specifying bags and what to index which in example is the MODS file
  • find command can list all bags with name of bags and location, can tell you what’s in the bag.
  • questions: how to integrate indexing and watching services into diverse workflows and storage platforms?
    • how to represent changes across versions of Bags?
    • how to use Kibana to visualize the index?


two kittens
Source: West, A. (2012). 001_Snapseed. CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Restoring an interactive videotex art exhibition from the mid-1980s – John Durno

  • grew out of project to restore art project in 2015/2016 made in telidon; successful with art exhibit that ran for 6 months
  • during the course of the project, found out a number of artists whom work in the same format and thought were unrecoverable
  • Microstar runs well in DOSbox
  • got in contact with an artist who sent floppy disks
  • problem is that some of the art works had some interactive pieces
  • much of the hardware is now unavailable e.g. videotex
  • had to build the interactive NAPLPS
  • DOS Box can map to external ports, which were actual virtual ports, which then interacts with a custom script
  • artwork set up using Raspberry Pi

IT things at FVRL: Sphero/Spark robots, Green Screens and VR Experience – Traci Monchamp / Lewis Vacek / Tamarack Hockin


  • library of ‘things’
  • how to do things in the background to bring digital and new technology to the public
  • created a “Playground of things” as part of STEAM initiative
  • a lot of new things require more expertise: Ukelele (70), green screen (1 per branch), VR (2), Sphero SPRK+ (112 + 84 coming + 24 for staff use + 21 branch use)
  • didn’t realize how popular they would be
  • technical challenges: budgets, hardware, software, management
  • tablets: needed MDM (which had its own challenges; using Sophos), manage 50+ devices, training staff, lending, cataloguing and processing
  • tablets are locked down
  • cloud version was completely different from in-house version
  • cataloguing was easy enough
  • processing was difficult especially cases

ILS Migration Change Management: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly – Janice Banser


  • ILS pieces are complicated
  • moved from Millenium to Alma
  • was on Millenium 20+ years with custom Discovery and Summon
  • 2014: vendor presentations, 2015 steering committee, 2016 chose Alma/Primo, 2017 May – Go Live
  • change management needed
  • huge shift in staff workflows: emphasis move to e-resources
  • hired a change management consultant using ADKAR model, training (3 day in-person + sandbox, video), CUPE retirement offer, internal communication
  • big gap: faculty; assumed liaisons would get in touch with faculty; really missed the OPAC; working hard to get faculty comfortable with Primo
  • Public Services task group, improved documentation, informal user testing

Contest of champions: Headless Battle – Daniel Sifton


  • value of throwing into something that you didn’t know much about
  • spent a summer trying to add and improve the vendor ebook access checker built by NCSU
  • didn’t really know Ruby at the time
  • original used JRuby and headless browser, require celerity, csv, highline/import, open-URI
  • first effort to move away from Celerity to Ruby with Capybara/Poltergeist; but had long winded error handling, could invoke “headed” browser
  • second effort: Ruby with Watir, Watir-Webdrive; but much slower, and error handling was so-so
  • third effort: uses Python with BS4 import BeautifuSoup, Selenium Import Webdriver, CSV, time, RE, Requests; use straight scrape without browser headless or not, error handling decent; easy to maintain because in parts
  • added GUI: put in vendor input, csv input, and specify csv output
  • all available [on github](

Getting Started with RFPs – Trevor Smith

  • ILS servers within 1 year of EOL
  • asked vendor for quote, but too much
  • wanted to put out RFP
  • got budget lined up, talked to procurement, IT, asked SFU for their RFP
  • updated the SFU list, have procurement walk through RFP process, staff review their sections
  • timeline: put out RFP in April, wanted to implement by September, and go live in December
  • actual timeline: signed contract in October
  • stayed with same vendor but did get better price, modern cloud service (hosted Sierra), more packages
  • takeaways: get other people involved, talk to: procurement, IT folks, colleagues/staff

Lunch Time

squirrel eating
Source: Trimming, P. (2013). Concentrated Eating. CC-BY 2.0

Author: Cynthia

Technologist, Librarian, Metadata and Technical Services expert, Educator, Mentor, Web Developer, UXer, Accessibility Advocate, Documentarian

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