Friday, March 12, 2010

Ignored segregation: inaccessible websites

I wrote my article, "Tending a wild garden..." as a paper while working on my Masters of Library Science. I was taking a class on "Resources and Services for People With Disabilities" and was amazed to learn how much of the Web is inaccessible to persons with visual and other impairments. I also was struggling to grasp the recommendations of the Web Accessibility Initiative and how it would affect my future work designing and maintaining library websites. My paper was a step in that direction.

It is sad that in a country that prides itself on equal rights for all that such an inequity lacks an adequate remedy in law. The current regulations and guidelines have no enforcement "teeth," and the only way to redress this is for persons with disabilities (PWD for short) to sue the worst offenders (e.g. Target).

According to a recent posting on the Accessibility Watch blog,
On 26 January 2010, the Federal IT Council (FITC) in Switzerland (Informatikrat des Bundes – IRB) accepted the changes to P028 Version 2.0 with unanimous consent. As a result of these changes, existing federal websites must meet WCAG 2.0 Level AA by 31 December 2010. New federal websites must meet this conformance level immediately.

Someday the U.S.A. will do better.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

March 2010 issue now online

The index and linked articles for the March issue are at It can be accessed by all LITA members.

A Partnership for Creating Successful Partnerships, by Carl Grant

When Marc asked me to write this column I eagerly accepted because I feel strongly about libraries leveraging their role to their greater advantage in the rapidly changing information landscape. I see sponsorships and partnerships as an important tool for doing that. However, as noted in Marc’s column in this issue, we’d been having a discussion about the continuing involvement of Ex Libris in the LITA/Ex Libris Student Writing Award. Like many of you, we at Ex Libris are trying to keep our costs low in this challenging economic environment so that we can in turn keep your costs low. Thus we are closely evaluating all expenditures to ensure their cost is justified by the value they return to our organization. I won’t repeat the discussion already outlined by Marc above, but will just note with great pleasure his willingness to not only listen to my concerns, but to try and address them. His invitation to write this column was part of that response, a chance for me to share my thoughts and concerns with you about sponsorships and partnerships and where they need to go in the future.

To do that, I’d like to expand on some of the concepts Marc and I were discussing and talk about how to make sponsorships and partnerships successful. I want to look at what successful ones consist of as well as what types are needed in our profession tomorrow.

Editorial Board Thoughts: Issue Introduction to Student Essays, by Sandra Shores

The papers in this special issue, although covering diverse topics, have in common their authorship by people currently or recently engaged in graduate library studies. It has been many years since I was a library science student—twenty-five in fact. I remember remarking to a future colleague at the time that I found the interview for my first professional job easy, not because the interviewers failed to ask challenging questions, but because I had just graduated. I was passionate about my chosen profession, and my mind was filled from my time at library school with big ideas and the latest theories, techniques, and knowledge of our discipline.

Monitoring Network and Service Availability with Open-Source Software, by T. Michael Silver

Silver describes the implementation of a monitoring system using an open-source software package to improve the availability of services and reduce the response time when troubles occur. He provides a brief overview of the literature available on monitoring library systems, and then describes the implementation of Nagios, an open-source network monitoring system, to monitor a regional library system’s servers and wide area network. Particular attention is paid to using the plug-in architecture to monitor library services effectively. The author includes example displays and configuration files.

Tending a Wild Garden: Library Web Design for Persons with Disabilities, by R. Todd Vandenbark

Nearly one-fifth of Americans have some form of disability, and accessibility guidelines and standards that apply to libraries are complicated, unclear, and difficult to achieve. Understanding how persons with disabilities access Web-based content is critical to accessible design. Recent research supports the use of a database-driven model for library Web development. Existing technologies offer a variety of tools to meet disabled patrons’ needs, and resources exist to assist library professionals in obtaining and evaluating product accessibility information from vendors. Librarians in charge of technology can best serve these patrons by proactively updating and adapting services as assistive technologies improve.

The Path toward Global Interoperability in Cataloging, by Ilana Tolkoff

Libraries began in complete isolation with no uniformity of standards and have grown over time to be ever more interoperable. This paper examines the current steps toward the goal of universal interoperability. These projects aim to reconcile linguistic and organizational obstacles, with a particular focus on subject headings, name authorities, and titles.

Tagging: An Organization Scheme for the Internet, by Marijke A. Visser

How should the information on the Internet be organized? This question and the possible solutions spark debates among people concerned with how we identify, classify, and retrieve Internet content. This paper discusses the benefits and the controversies of using a tagging system to organize Internet resources. Tagging refers to a classification system where individual Internet users apply labels, or tags, to digital resources. Tagging increased in popularity with the advent of Web 2.0 applications that encourage interaction among users. As more information is available digitally, the challenge to find an organizational system scalable to the Internet will continue to require forward thinking. Trained to ensure access to a range of informational resources, librarians need to be concerned with access to Internet content. Librarians can play a pivotal role by advocating for a system that supports the user at the moment of need. Tagging may just be the necessary system.

Dublin Core, DSpace, and a Brief Analysis of Three University Repositories, by Mary Kurtz

This paper provides an overview of Dublin Core (DC) and DSpace together with an examination of the institutional repositories of three public research universities. The universities all use DC and DSpace to create and manage their repositories. I drew a sampling of records from each repository and examined them for metadata quality using the criteria of completeness, accuracy, and consistency. I also examined the quality of records with reference to the methods of educating repository users. One repository used librarians to oversee the archiving process, while the other two employed two different strategies as part of the self-archiving process. The librarian-overseen archive had the most complete and accurate records for DSpace entries.

Geographic Information Systems: Tools for Displaying In-Library Use Data, by Lauren H. Mandel

In-library use data is crucial for modern libraries to understand the full spectrum of patron use, including patron self-service activities, circulation, and reference statistics. Rather than using tables and charts to display use data, a geographic information system (GIS) facilitates a more visually appealing graphical display of the data in the form of a map. GISs have been used by library and information science (LIS) researchers and practitioners to create maps that display analyses of service area populations and demographics, facilities space management issues, spatial distribution of in-library use of materials, planned branch consolidations, and so on. The “seating sweeps” method allows researchers and librarians to collect in-library use data regarding where patrons are locating themselves within the library and what they are doing at those locations, such as sitting and reading, studying in a group, or socializing. This paper proposes a GIS as a tool to visually display in-library use data collected via “seating sweeps” of a library. By using a GIS to store, manage, and display the data, researchers and librarians can create visually appealing maps that show areas of heavy use and evidence of the use and value of the library for a community. Example maps are included to facilitate the reader’s understanding of the possibilities afforded by using GISs in LIS research.