Schedule 2012

Thursday, Oct 18   |   Friday, Oct 19   |   Saturday, Oct 20   |   Sunday, Oct 21

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Thursday, October 18, 2012


9:00 – 4:30

Hackfest @ Coach House, McGill University

9:00 – 4:30

Learn Python @ McGill Library

Janina Szkut

The class is of an introductory nature, and will consist of two parts.

The first part introduces the fundamentals of programming, as implemented in Python, and the second part will be a hands-on session where you will get to take Python for a spin and bend it to your will.

Please bring your own laptop.

5:30 – 7:30

Opening Reception @ the Delta Hotel

Come down for a drink and meet up with new and old friends. We’ll have a registration table set up so you can beat the Friday morning rush and pick your badge and swag.

Friday, October 19, 2012

8:15 – 9:00 Breakfast
9:00 – 9:30 Welcome and housekeeping
9:30 – 10:30

Opening Keynote

“We were Otaku before it was cool”

Aaron Straup Cope

Senior Engineer (Internets and the Computers)
Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institute

10:30 – 10:45 Coffee break
10:45 – 11:00 Ignite talk

Social Feed Manager

Daniel Chudnov, George Washington University

11:00 – 11:15 Ignite talk

Discovering the hard to find: new media in traditional journals

Heather Cunningham, University of Toronto

11:15 – 12:00

Locked in the cloud: What lies beyond the peak of inflated expectations?

John Durno & Corey Davis, University of Victoria

According to Gartner, cloud computing is “the most hyped subject in IT today.” (Hype Cycle Special Report, 2011). In the world of library technology, this observation is borne out by the intensive marketing of the emerging class of “Next Generation” library systems, which it is claimed will build economies of scale, eliminate redundancies in library workflow and infrastructure, and facilitate the development of innovative new services.

But efficiency gains are just part of the cloud’s calculus. As Joe McKendrick recently wrote, “going with a cloud solution means buying into the specific protocols, standards and tools of the cloud vendor, making future migration costly and difficult.” (Forbes, 2012.) When a significant part of library’s data and technical infrastructure resides with a single cloud provider, what happens when license terms change for the worse, or costs increase excessively, or a better system comes along? What happens when you can only access your data via the vendor’s APIs? And is it even your data anymore? This presentation with examine the unique tension between the cloud and vendor lock-in, both generally and in relation to the experience of the our institution.

12:00 – 1:30 Lunch @ Centre Mont Royal
1:30 – 2:15

Adventures in Linked Data: Building a Connected Research Environment

Lisa Goddard, Memorial University

This is the story of how one linked data fangirl finally got her hands dirty. The Canadian Writer’s Research Collaboratory (CWRC) is a CFI funded initiative to establish an online infrastructure for literary research in Canada. Bringing together scholars, programmers, and librarians from across Canada, the project exemplifies the themes of collaboration, scalability, and interoperability that characterize the emerging digital humanities research environment. Linked data is the basis of a machine readable web that will enable vastly more sophisticated queries against human language materials. As such, it holds particular promise for researchers inthe largely text-based disciplines of the humanities.This session explores one librarian’s experience working as part of a large research team to implement linked data from the ground up. We’ll follow CWRC’s progress from the initial daunting question of where to start, through the development of a linked data roadmap for the project. We’ll discuss lessons learned in the attempt to make sense of a tangle of possible platforms, tools, standards, and ontologies. Finally we’ll reflect on new opportunities and roles for libraries as the humanities struggle to redefine themselves in the digital age.

2:15 – 3:00

Big Data, Answers, and Civil Rights

Alistair Croll, Lean Analytics

The human race is colonizing a second world. We’ve got two lives: the real, atomic, messy, wetware-powered one; and the virtual, digital, analyzed, connected one. And when those two worlds collide, interesting—and terrifying—things happen.

Every click, tap, and swipe adds to the digital breadcrumb trail we leave in our wake. When we read a digital book, it reads us back, learning from us. That information can be used in ways we don’t expect, and often don’t approve of.

With an abundance of information at our fingertips, it’s also easy to be swayed by data. Without context, we substitute volume of information for accuracy of information, polarizing us across political spectra and turning “fair and balanced” into “teach the controversy.”

In this session, author and analyst Alistair Croll will explore the consequences our online lives, and look at just a few of the ways that Big Data and ubiquitous computing are changing the way we live, love, work, and play.

3:00 – 3:15 Break
3:15 – 4:15

A Library in a Box

David Fiander, Western University

The availability of low-cost, wireless routers that support open source operating systems,rechargeable battery packs, and large capacity USB memory sticks means that it is now possible to build a networked file server that doesn’t require access to either the internet or electrical power for about $100. The BiblioBox project is inspired by David Dart’s “PirateBox”( and Jason Griffey’s “LibraryBox” ( While those two earlier projects provide a general purpose file sharing service, BiblioBox attempts to provide an Open Publication Distribution System (OPDS) compatible ebook catalogue interface. This means that local users can connect to the BiblioBox directly from their ebook devices to search for and download documents. This presentation will give an overview of the hardware, development environment, and demonstrate the user’s and administrator’s interfaces to the system.

4:15 – 5:00

Question Answering, Serendipity, and the Research Process of Scholars in the Humanities

Kim Martin, Victoria L. Rubin and Anabel Quan-Haase, Faculty of Information and Media Studies, University of Western Ontario

This paper reflects on the role the physical library plays in research by humanities scholars and demonstrates a need for research tools that help to create an atmosphere which enhances the possibility of a chance encounter with information in digital collections. The field of automated question answering informs us of (both human and automated) methods for asking and answering questions: categorizing and interpreting questions as well as providing a small number of best matching or correct answers. We argue that some aspects of the serendipitous encounter with information that occurs in physical libraries can be recreated in virtual environments, by combining Question Answering with Natural Language Processing of library systems’ bibliographic descriptors (subject headings metadata) as well as the collection’s full texts, where available. The results can be visualized with eye-catching add-ons to library systems. To this effect, we propose three conceptual variations for a tool design. LOOK AROUND is a serendipity-enhancing tool that aims at aiding scholars in expanding their search experience and making new connections across relevant subject areas in digital libraries or large virtual electronic repositories. We emphasize that advantages of such a tool design for libraries and library users are three-fold: 1) it produces unique query-based representations of (full-text) digital library collections; 2) it provides a capability to automatically extract answers relevant to users’ specific in-depth interests; 3) it encourages repeated use of the library website at a time when information seeking is dominated by the page-ranking search engines.

6:00 +

Fend-for-yourself night!

Okay. We’d never really leave you all alone. We’ve made a map of various restaurants in the conference area for your dinning pleasure. If you want to go out and explore but need some recommendations – email us any questions!

After dinner we’ve made a 8:00pm reservation at the Old Dublin pub, one of Montreal’s oldest Irish pubs where we’ll have a drink or two. Consider this a home base to meet up with fellow conference attendees and explore the city.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

7:30 – 8:00 (!)

Early bird walk or run up the mountain

For those of you who want a little exercise we’ll have two volunteers in the lobby of the Delta hotel who will lead two groups on a 30 minute run OR a 1 hour walk up Parc Mont-Royal. Sign up will be at registration table Friday.

8:15 – 9:00 Breakfast
9:00 – 9:45

From Zero to 50K in 3 Weeks – Building a Digital Repository from Scratch, Fast

Brianne Selman, Winnipeg Public Library

Ever dreamt about how you would spend $50,000 if it was given to you? At WPL, we received funds earmarked for a digitization project – and only three weeks to decide how to spend them. So we dreamt, and we dreamt big – a brand new digital repository, community involvement in a local history project, and as many ways to make our data discoverable as we could think of.

We are building a digital repository up to current archival standards with an initial collection of historical postcards. One of the key elements to the project is collecting and discovering additional historical information in a collaborative way, through slide shows with historians to capture oral histories, digitization days for smaller collectors, collaboration with the indigenous research community, geotagging and fun apps for display, and an interactive site to gather information from the larger community.

From budgets and proposals, convincing historical postcard collectors to part with their archival materials, software procurement, sensitive topics and dealing with IT, to the final (ongoing) result, this presentation is about a unique digital repository build from its foundations. It will be interesting to those planning a digital repository, those already using a digital repository and interested in other deployments, or simply those who enjoy hearing dark tales about other peoples’ pain. There are sure to be plenty of lessons learnt from this one, including just-about-in-time project planning, the exposing of metadata for the world to see, and winning over the IT department as allies.

9:45 – 10:30

Open Source OCR for Large Collections of Scanned Documents

Art Rhyno, University of Windsor

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) can be an essential step in enabling discovery for digitized collections and is a common requirement for putting analogue documents online. This session describes the use of Tesseract, an OCR application developed at Hewlett-Packard between 1985 and 1995, and made available by Google under an Apache License since 2006. Tesseract is a viable replacement for the best of the commercial OCR packages for many types of page images, and is amenable to Hadoop processing for dealing with large volumes of materials. Although Tesseract may require more image preparation work for optimum OCR, it forms part of a rich Open Source ecosystem of high calibre image processing tools, ranging from ImageMagick command line switches through to Gimp processing scripts.The presenter has pushed more than one million newspaper pages through commercial and open source OCR engines, has stared at the worst of microfilm-based scanning efforts, and spent nearly a decade publishing pages to add to the body of newspapers that create rich history and digitization headaches for future generations.

10:30 – 10:45 Coffee break
10:45 – 11:00 Ignite talk

Dead easy data visualization for libraries

Sarah Severson, Moment Factory

11:00 – 11:15 Ignite talk

New Means to New Ends

Mike Kastellec, North Carolina State University

11:15 – 12:00

Cooking with Chef at the University of Toronto Libraries: Automated Deployment of Web Applications in a Library Context

Graham Stewart, University of Toronto

The Information Technology Services department at the University of Toronto Libraries manages a substantial server and storage infrastructure in support of the Library’s roles of connecting users to resources wherever they are, and enabling excellence in teaching, research and scholarship. Our infrastructure runs well over 150 websites on many different servers, both virtual and physical.In 2011 we began using an open source tool, Chef, to manage our growing environment. Chef allows for the automation of server infrastructure by writing code to create abstract definitions of infrastructure elements, and applying these definitions to servers. In theory, everything required to build an infrastructure can exist as source code, independent of hardware. “Infrastructure as code”.Chef is an excellent tool for any organizing facing scaling problems, configuration challenges, efficiency issues, budget tightening, and for those considering cloud-based deployments.In particular, we have been using Chef to manage the installation and configuration of several applications of interest to the Library community: EZProxy, Endeca, Islandora, and Drupal. We have written “cookbooks” to enable the rapid deployment of these applications, in arepeatable and predictable manner.This presentation will discuss why tools like Chef should be of particular interest to Libraries in times of rapid technological change, growing user demand for resources, and ongoing budget constraints. The presentation will cover Chef’s design, capabilities, features, and advantages, and will include a live demonstration: building a Drupal server from bare hardware and adding it to a live web cluster.

12:00 – 1:30

Dine-around lunches

To get you out of the conference centre and exploring more we’ve organized some informal lunches centered around topics of discussion.

We’ve made a variety of reservations at local restaurants and the rest is up to you. Have a topic you want to learn more about? Want to convene a group together? Use the index cards at the registration table to assign a topic to a restaurant or sign up for a restaurant with no topic and take your chance.

1:30 – 2:30

David Binkley Memorial Lecture

“Keeping Books Open”

Hugh McGuire

Founder of Pressbooks, Librivox, iambic audio
Co-editor of Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto (O’Reilly)

2:30 – 2:50

Hackfest reports

2:50 – 3:35

SPLURGE: The Scholars Portal Library Usage-based Recommendation Engine

William Denton, York University
Cameron Metcalf, University of Ottawa
Kevin Bowrin, Carleton University

We will outline the birth and delivery of SPLURGE (Scholars Portal Library Usage-based Recommendation Generation Engine). SPLURGE came about as an idea to build up a book title recommendation service by pooling circulation data from university libraries in the province of Ontario. Following the precedent of a project that was launched by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) in the United Kingdom, a group of Systems folks in Ontario met and surmised it would be interesting to start collecting circulation data that could then be fed back into the school’s various catalogue interfaces. The data would make it possible to provide context-sensitive book suggestions, to researchers, in the search results: in the manner Amazon or EBay recommends items for purchase to its shoppers.Following the launch of a GitHub site for the project and armed with only a rough outline of the goals, over twenty five people from sixteen institutions gathered for a single hackfest event to explore and discuss the possible paths to further bring SPLURGE into fruition. Is this another add-on that will serve to simply spoon-feed our users? Or, will SPLURGE zestfully put the dip back into serendipity for those researchers who might have otherwise not connected potential resources in their initial catalogue queries? How too, might such a tool be used to aid in a Library’s collection development? All in all, it’s going to be a tool that lets you question the answers. We’ll show how it works, how we built it, how you can use it, and where it could go.

3:35 – 3:50 Break
3:50 – 4:05 Ignite talk

Sharing the Unshareable – Dental Clinic Images in a University Image Repository

Janet Rothney, University of Manitoba

4:05 – 5:00

Discovering New Dimensions

Marc Comeau, Riel Gallant and Michael Groenendyk, Dalhousie University

Through the summer of 2012, the Dalhousie Libraries implemented a pilot project to put 3D printing and scanning technologies in the hands of students who have not traditionally had access to it. The primary goal of this project was to help bridge the digital divide that currently exists with this technology. While 3D printers and scanners are already present on the Dalhousie campus, they are very expensive and used almost exclusively in closed environments such as engineering labs. As such, they are mostly unavailable to most Dalhousie students. Through this project we sought to expose the entire campus to affordable, relatively user-friendly 3D printers and scanners.

We will discuss how this came about, how it was implemented and what lessons we’ve learned along the way. For those who are curious, the 3D printer will be at Access 2012 for a demonstration.

7:30 +


A night that could only happen in Montreal.

Join us for drinks and dancing at the historic Pointe-à-Callière museum right in the heart of Old Montreal. Come down early! For the first hour and half (till 9pm) we will have guides on hand to take you on quick 20 minute tours of the archeological ruins & we’ll be running continuous screenings of the unique immersive multi-media show where you can ‘discover’ the history of Montreal.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

8:45 – 9:30 Breakfast
9:30 – 10:15

Why is it so hard to give away free books?

Marc Pillon, Windsor Public Library

You would think everyone would want a library card to access hundreds of thousands of free books and other media on every subject imaginable. But, that’s not the case. Why in many communities are active library users on the decline? Why won’t people come to the library? Perhaps it is the trip itself. In this age of Amazon, NetFlix, and Facebook, many of us are accustomed to quick and easy access to nearly everything. This level of access is especially well received with those of us who are just too busy to acquire services any other way. So busy in fact that going to the library is just too inconvenient.How do we conquer this problem? It isn’t feasible to put a library on every corner – or is it? What if the library were as convenient as getting gas or grabbing a coffee? This presentation will discuss the award-winning technology, partnerships, and philosophy that is driving Windsor Public Library to adopt new service delivery models both inside and outside the walls of the library including mobilizing staff with iPads and iPhones, removing desks, writing our own mobile apps, and providing service in non-traditional locations like department stores, grocery stores, coffee shops, pharmacies and special events. Windsor Public Library is just beginning this transition by creatively combining common parts from Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, and Telus.

10:15 -11:00

We Can Do Better! Integrating APIs to improve the user experience

Sonya Betz and Robert Zylstra, MacEwan University

Creating positive user experiences is central to the success of any online environment. We know that our virtual spaces should provide seamless streamlined access to resources and services. Unfortunately, the reverse is often true: users are thrust into a bewildering world of OPACS, databases, discovery tools, link resolvers, research guides, chat services, and web content. This nightmare array of disparate user spaces, multiple authentication schemes, confusing navigation, and frustrating mobile experiences alienates and distances users unfamiliar with the diverse tools librarians take for granted. Fortunately, the landscape of the vendor-client relationship is beginning to change, and we no longer need to rely as heavily on out-of-the-box user interfaces. With access to core resources and services via APIs, we can begin building the kinds of online spaces that our users want. At our institution, we are embarking on a project to begin integrating our ILS, discovery tool, and other web environments into our native content management system, working with vendors and developers to present search results, patron data, and content in a fully-featured cohesive online space. Phase one of this project will include an iOS app and a proof-of-concept mobile web environment (launch fall 2012), and as development progresses, we will begin to fully integrate targeted resources, services, and tools into our content management system.

11:00 – 11:15 Coffee Break
11:15 – 11:35

Hackfest reports

11:35 – 12:00


12:00 – 1:00

Closing Keynote

Brain Injuries, Science Fiction, and Library Discovery

Bess Sadler

Manager for Application Development
Digital Library Group, Stanford University Library