Code4libBC: Lightning Talks Day 1

Notes from the first day of talks at the 6th annual Code4libBC unconference 2018.

What’s an Unconference?

Slides with notes

Art of the Kludge by Julie Cole

Having issues with scanner, and sometimes the Circa would disappear.

  • scanner was a relic
  • starover button too close to sheflist button
  • shelflist doesn’t work all the time
  • circ would sometimes stop working, maybe?


  • buy a new scanner
  • want total package where minimize chanceo f UI error, rlies less on network, supports volumes, provides context and history
  • but with what?
  • limited means of updating ILS and no web server
  • Inventory from PostGreSQL only part that requires network connectivity, run at beginning of process and limited to certain locations
  • Call from Python because already use it and use Panda data Frames, and used tkinter with GUI on top

Updating the ILS:

  • Selenium and Chromedriver to update Sierra with Circa
  • fallback: save log files on Screen
  • use upload and bulk update


  • found out CIRCA was timing out
  • found data issues
  • able to separate inventory collection from inventory followup

Using LibAnswers as an E-Resource Management and Ticketing System – Patricia Pang

University of Victoria Libraries, Acquisitions for Electronic Resources

  • using Serials Solutions 360
  • fix broken links

Why did we need a ticketing system?

  • several steps, lose track of emails
  • long wait times: did publisher get back to us?
  • several people: did someone already respond?
  • staff vacations: did anyone respond?
  • succession planning


  • made a list of needs
  • lit review
  • reviewed open source and proprietary options: RT, JIRA, Sharepoint, LibAnswers
  • LibAnswers by SpringShare; already using for FAQs; got second stream and started trial in March


  • Sources: Summon 2.0 Reports feedback; feedback form in catalogue; 360 Link Problem Report; individual emails from staff
  • LibAnswers can create a form, and set up who is notified
  • can better see which ones have been answered, whole thread, make notes and set status, prevent duplicates by marking email replies from users marked as admin and tickets as claimed
  • can have different views with different systems
  • has macros
  • better than shared inbox with better tracking

What I would change:

  • establish tags and categories
  • better guidelines of what should be sent
  • wider promotion


  • get more units involved for single point of contact
  • analyze statistics

Breaking Down the (perceived) IT Silos – Jeff Narver

Director of Infrastructure and Resources at FVRL

After starting:

  • met with IT staff, what do you want to do, what are your challenges, if you have a problem, can you call someone from another city?
  • didn’t understand they were part of larger communities
  • IT didn’t understand other departments
  • started talking about the elephant in the room. Took 2 hours for the elephant to be taken out of the room
  • tray of cow toys to represent sacred cows

Some solutions:

  • Integration: 10 people in the IT department, but no systems librarian; so bring in some librarians; now sit with IT
  • Project management: every IT person is assigned to a project (some simple, some long term), participate at all stages with very thorough post-mortem; also ensure someone outside of IT is part of IT projects
  • Shadowing: observe at another library
  • Survey: work with InfoTech to do 3 surveys: end-user, managers (20), IT department (self-evaluation)
  • Tech Triage Training: IT and front-line staff don’t speak the same language; designed a half day workshop for ~25 staff to cover IT basics (2-3 times per year)
  • IT Preconference at BCLA: create a forum where library IT people can discuss
  • Planning: primarily succession planning
  • Nothing in isolation!

The Never-Ending Wrangle: Enabling Fulltext Search in Supplejack – Daniel Sifton

  • OurDigitalWorld Ontario Gov. Docs: Solr and Drupal based; talked about replacing with SuppleJack which was used for BC Newspapers
  • metadata aggregator developed by Digital NZ
  • committed to rebuild something to do fulltext, but SuppleJack doesn’t do fulltext, just metadata
  • define schema with Solr in the background, map metadata that’s ingested, parsed it into source metadata, OCR text extracted from PDF as HTML, and parser push to JSON API


  • had to extract URLs from MARC records -> compiled URLs file
  • bulk recursive download of 86,000 PDFs, ~77GB,
  • recursive extract of OCR,
  • delete all PDFs -> 3 GB
  • recursive insert HTML tags to convert txt files to HTML,
  • change extension
  • convert MARC to XML
  • modify front end client for new functionality (contact Matt)
  • put it all on a webserver
  • parser mapping source metadata to schema; add attribute of fulltext by marking div
  • ERROR! Solr only allows 32kb, and SuppleJack only supports string
  • reached out to NZ developers: fixed the problem within a week!
  • could now add the text type
  • MongoDB limit for object 16KB limit
  • truncated fulltext ~4 million characters = ~4 MB
  • readded to ~16 MB
  • part 2 will be serials with issues
  • also have a SuppleJack sandbox if people want to play with it


Have a stretch and a snack!
tiger stretching

Children’s Coding Gadgets and Early Literacy Skill Development – Code-a-Pillar, Osmo, and Sphero – Caitlin Ottenbreit

  • Code-a-Pillar: thinking about pattern of colours and blocks, as young as 1.5 years old; practice pattern, algorithm, experimentation, higher level: recursion; different pieces that provide instructions, talk through and can run
  • Osmo: set that goes with iPad and apps, use pieces to provide instruction; as young as 3 years old; analog to digital interaction; prep for more complicated coding like Scratch
  • Sphero: digital manipulating physical object; block coding, similar to Scratch; requires reading so 6 years old if have parent, but can do 10+ years old
  • not yet catalogued, but plan to build into kits for lending

Open to change: Migrating to Evergreen – James Fournie / Gwenda Bryan / Dan Sifton / Geoffrey Allen

Getting close to launch, so sharing.


  • Dan: was with Symphony since 1999, got very expensive and old; community and reputation; more functionality
  • James: VCC was already planning a migration; cost is a big factor; value; a lot of chaos in the ILS market right now which means a lot of risk; community is an important part of the org
  • Gwenda: cost, community; hosted via BC Libraries Co-op

What’s missing?

  • booking modules, ERM, EZproxy
  • booking modules is not great, but similar to existing Sierra module

How are you managing change?

  • Trello to track what needs to get done
  • comprehensive technical manual that has everything well documented; replacing ILS pieces
  • identifying champions; more informal learning, teachable moments
  • focus on software as a tool
  • lots of opportunities for training with different staff involved

Digitization Challenges for Small Organizations – Christine Meutzner

Nanaimo Community Archives

  • ~1000 requests for digitization of photos
  • email back with basic metadata
  • demand has increased and will continue to do so
  • expectation of quick delivery
  • a lot of the time, metadata is not attached or embedded, if reposted
  • many small organizations: collections only have technical but no other metadata embedded, often on a different page
  • consequences: integrity of collection as a whole, political purpose, single items that are decontextualized, donor-repository relationship, currently means extra work to include metadata (if embedded, wouldn’t have to include in emails), often difficult to find
  • photo not having embedded metadata is like having a physical photo with no writing on it
  • technical challenges: can fairly easily embedded, software for batch modification, though can delete without a lock
  • start: creating standard with what minimal metadata to include
  • large institutions could help? provide training to smaller organizations

Weeding in a better form – Trevor Smith

  • need to move entire collection into storage
  • thus wanted to do weeding
  • 10+ years since last circ, older than 2007 = 10-20%
  • customized printout: wanted more information, better formatted, easy to skim
  • highlighted data based on number of circs and price; colour coded; broken up by subject
  • what could go wrong: FC (History of Canada) and another subject was missing; shortened timeline
  • needed to split the work to have staff pull books out partially so it was easy to weed

University of Vic Libraries – John Durno


  • Retro-computing Collection that started as a hobby.
  • Media Archaeology Research Collection (MARC): collection of 70s-90s computing equipment is assembling; potential expanded collection mandate
  • why?: for research, teaching, study: games, software histories, electronic literature, archival applications, data recovery, Digital Art restoration
  • history:
    • 2014: digital archaeology workstation for data recovery; considered building “old” computers using new parts
    • 2015-2016: Videotex art restoration,
    • 2016: Ideafest “Retro computing in the Library” (study leave project)
    • 2016: first purchasing services shipment with old Macs, workstations, laptops; needed to sort through and see what was functional
  • development: further campus finds e.g. Atari 1040XT for 25 years in a chemistry lab, terminal, shoebox-size emulator, next cube
  • connections to makespace with kit computers
  • storage issues: but clearing out some of the old server space, which has been helpful
  • documentation is very important especially on how it works
  • acquisitions
  • challenges: repair, components, funding, storage
  • 2018: YCW student
  • next steps: working on equipment, better inventory, website, permanent lab, use it or lose it! so need promotion


That’s the end of the talks. Time for lunch then breakouts!

owl looking beseeching

Author: Cynthia

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

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