Speakers and Talks

This list is growing every day – keep checking back for more exciting speakers and topics! Note that the speakers are listed in alphabetical order and proposal briefs may change slightly between now and September.

Keynote Speaker: Amy Buckland

Amy Buckland recently moved to the University of Chicago where she is the Institutional Repository Manager. Previously she was Coordinator of Scholarly Communications at McGill University Library, where she was responsible for open access initiatives, publishing support, copyright, digital humanities, and research data services. She has a bachelor of arts degree from Concordia University (Montreal) where she studied political science and women’s studies, and an MLIS from McGill University. Prior to joining the library world, she worked in publishing for 14 years, and thinks academic libraryland is ripe for a revolution.

Dale Askey (McMaster University)

Doing More with 3D Printing

3D printing isn’t new to libraries nor to Access, but in the Lewis & Ruth Sherman Centre for Digitial Scholarship at McMaster University, we are delving deeper into the technology. We currently have a fleet of five printers of three different types. While two of them are used for public printing, the other three form a research cluster of printers, where we do comparison testing and other experiments. Our intent is to create a body of knowledge of use to our own campus and beyond for those who need to know detailed information about 3D printers. Currently, most information either stems from manufacturers or either happy or disgruntled customers and thus lacks rigour and method. This lightning talk will introduce some of the work we have done and highlight some of the key quirks of current 3D printers.

Peter Binkley, Tricia Jenkins, Kenton Good (University of Alberta), and Alan Harnum (Toronto Public Library)

Changing the Way We Do Things

Over the past year, Toronto Public Library’s web services department and the University of Alberta Libraries have both introduced new approaches to managing development and infrastructure. This joint panel will provide an overview of TPL’s work using the public cloud and U of A’s work with creating deployment infrastructure, using modern automation tools like Ansible, and developing an environment of cooperation including a shift towards Agile software development.  Let us tell you the story of this process of change, lessons we’ve learned, and where we think the road leads from here.

Michel Castagné (University of Ottawa)

Ensmartening the Web

This talk will be an exploratory presentation on second-generation smartwatches. First will be a look at how (and how well) this kind of wearable technology works, as well as some of the current adoption statistics. Then some explanation and speculation on how (and what) libraries can develop for smartwatches, including discussion of native apps and exposing data through JSON-LD and knowledge graphs.

John Durno (University of Victoria)

The Lost World of Telidon: Challenges in the Conservation of Glenn Howarth’s Digital Art

In 2012 the University of Victoria Archives received a donation of materials from the estate of the late artist Glenn Howarth, RCA. Included in the donation were several 5.25″ floppy disks containing the only known copies of the artist’s early digital artworks. Created in the early 1980s using locally developed software implementing the PDI/NAPLPS standard developed by the CRC, these artworks were deeply enmeshed in the technology of their era. When our Archives was approached by a local curator wishing to review the works for inclusion in a planned retrospective, we undertook a project to make the artworks accessible in a modern computing environment. This talk will discuss the particular challenges we encountered as well as larger questions relating to maintaining the authenticity of digital artworks across multiple generations of computing hardware and software.

Lisa Goddard (University of Victoria)

Ask What DH Can Do for You

New modes of knowledge production in the Digital Humanities emphasize collaboration, scale, and interdisciplinarity. These changes highlight a need for collaborative authoring and research environments that are able to ingest large amounts of text and image data, to support the contribution of annotations and revisions by multiple researchers, to enrich texts with geographic, bibliographic, and numerical data, and to allow for semantic tagging and linking. This ignite talk will consider some opportunities and challenges in developing library interfaces that allow our users to become collaborators who help to build rich interpretive and narrative environments around library collections.

Thomas Guignard (Ontario Colleges Library Service)


Let’s face it, it is time to disintegrate the ILS. Over time, integrated library systems have grown from computerised card catalogues to large systems aiming to offer libraries all the tools of their trade in one coherent toolbox. Unfortunately, after years of steady inclusion of features (that were not always those that libraries needed the most), such systems have become extremely complex. Slowed down by intricate interdependencies, vendors are struggling to keep up with the rapid evolution of third party solutions in virtually all of their traditional functions. Local cataloguing is on the decline, gradually replaced by distributed metadata repositories. Discovery layers have pushed the OPAC nearly out of existence, allowing the antiquated technology to survive only to handle circulation functions – largely because APIs to delegate those functions are still incomplete. Many libraries have stopped using their ILS acquisition module altogether, because it failed to interface with the invoicing and accounting systems of their host institutions. Serials modules still reflect the era of predominantly print journals and fail to integrate with knowledge bases, link resolvers and electronic resource management systems. Patron data is increasingly delegated to federated identity solutions. Sophisticated collection and circulation analysis can only be achieved by painstakingly extracting relevant data out of ILS databases and feeding it to dedicated statistical software. As a result, circulation is the only major ILS functionality that has yet to be matched by a better, more versatile and more powerful third party solution. Or is it? We will explore what existing solutions are currently available to replace ILS modules and discuss the very real possibility of dispensing with the ILS altogether.

Shelley Gullikson (Carleton University), Susanna Galbraith (McMaster University), and Krista Godfrey (Memorial University)

Special Snowflakes: Applying New UX Tools to Library Systems

We’ve all heard that neither our libraries nor our users are special snowflakes. But are we? Three web librarians will apply the same techniques in their institutions, comparing results and identifying areas of user breakdown. By conducting both traditional usability testing and incorporating ethnographic research (which is rarely applied to library systems), we can determine if we really are special and unique. In doing this research at multiple academic libraries, we can see where our users share common struggles and understanding. Just like we’ve learned the value of sharing and building on each other’s code, maybe we can share and build on each other’s insights into user behaviour and determine if we really are special snowflakes.

Jenny Jing, Erin Tripp (Discoverygarden), Stacey Boileau (Ontario Colleges Library Service), Danielle Emon (Loyalist College), Ian Bigelow (Georgian College)

The Impact of Linked Data in Digital Curation and Application to the Cataloguer’s Workflow

Information organization and systems in libraries are in a state of significant flux. In systems there is a shift to XML and RDF-based schemas and ontologies while resource description content standards have changed from AACR2 to RDA. A move from MARC to BIBFRAME and other linked data applications is on the horizon. Linked data and the semantic web have become buzzwords, but what is linked data and why it is important for librarians? How can we use it in digital curation?  What can libraries do now to “prepare” for this change in their current practice?

In light of these questions, the panel presentation will discuss two projects. First, there will be coverage of a sample project using the Fedora-based open source framework, Islandora to demonstrate the concepts of connecting related data across the Web with URIs, HTTP and RDF. The second half of the presentation will describe how a consortia has taken a holistic approach to writing an RDA workflow to help front-line cataloguers develop a wider perspective  when it comes to resource description (creating more structured, future compatible metadata). Up for discussion: the current state and future possibilities of library metadata with a focus on the implications of linked data.

Tim Knight (Osgoode Hall Law School Library at York University), Sarah Sutherland (CanLII), and Christina Harlow (University of Tennessee)

Navigating Linked Open Data: a Panel Discussion
Libraries have a lot of legacy data to bring to the linked data table. As the potential of the semantic web grows, it’s clear that controlled methods of organization will be critical for its success. This panel discusses two projects to take existing library cataloging and metadata standards and transform them for use as and within Linked Open Data platforms. Tim and Sarah have set out to explore if library classification standards can facilitate and improve semantic navigation as an online controlled vocabulary. They are using a specialized legal classification scheme known as KF Modified. The project has two phases:  converting the current print based format, maintained in a legacy word processing platform, to XML and then mapping the results to SKOS and creating a dynamic data standard that can be published as linked data.Christina is creating a prototype workflow for extending existing library authority systems by ontology development for local terms. She is developing a local ontology using a RDF model and a suite of tools to allow the creation of a local authority dataset specific to Southern Appalachia, but that remains interoperable with the LoC, Getty and GeoNames Authorities through data modeling and using appropriate RDF statements.The panel will discuss opportunities and setbacks in their own projects, as well as areas for future development and collaboration.

Alison Neal and Dina Stevens (Vaughan Public Libraries)

Maker Culture on the Go: Portable Maker Kits at Vaughan Public Libraries

Combining technology and the current DIY movement, Vaughan Public Libraries has created eight ‘maker kits’ – portable maker spaces that can be transferred from one library to another.  Our kits feature such themes as circuitry, 3D printing, 2D design, robotics, coding, music and movie making.  The supplies and equipment we use are open to our customers and staff and programs are run to introduce the technology and its many applications to our patrons.

We would like to discuss how the uses of a vinyl cutter, a 3D printer, Lego Mindstorms, Circuitry and other technology has opened up new possibilities for our programming.  We would like to share our methods, our program ideas and our observations thus far on our Maker Kits and how the technology we use promotes education, creativity and discovery.

Randy Oldham and Adam Doan (University of Guelph)

AODA: Enabling Innovation

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) can, at first glance, seem rather restrictive and may leave you wondering how you can continue making content available online while not violating the AODA. While the AODA contains a few exemptions which offer more wiggle room, adopting these exemptions can mean that we’re not really operating within the spirit of the legislation. As we gain more experience with the AODA, we notice that certain types of content are inherently difficult or costly to make fully AODA compliant. [The presenters] will present several innovative ways to deliver web content while still meeting AODA requirements. This presentation is geared to anyone who puts content on the web: regardless of your level of technical web prowess, we’ve got something for you.

Julienne Pascoe (Canadiana)

Héritage: Metadata Challenges and Opportunities

Canadiana’s Héritage Project is a ten year initiative to digitize and make accessible online over 60 million pages of Canadian archival microfilm. A critical question posed by digital heritage projects of this scope is how to generate description and access to largely undescribed, hand-written archival material. While a challenge that is characteristic of archival collections, it presents an opportunity to assess tools and strategies for metadata development using the latest approaches to online discovery, transcription and Linked Open Data. We will explore the latest projects at Canadiana that work with describing and exposing Héritage resources, including the translation of metadata transcriptions to a semantic web environment. Providing an overview of the Héritage project, the session will discuss some key challenges faced in providing digital access to archival resources as well as highlight strategies for the generation and publishing of metadata within a linked data framework.

Tara Robertson (CAPER-BC) and Kendra Levine (University of California at Berkeley)

Can I Actually Use it? Testing Open Textbooks for Accessibility

Play this song (http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Vicnet/Mr_Hadopi/07_-_Up_And_Down) while reading the following.

Kendra will provide a live soundtrack to this talk to get people thinking. Tara will briefly describe the BC Open Textbook project and talk about the process of user testing these open textbooks with post-secondary students who have print disabilities. She will focus on the lessons learned in this process and how this data fed into the creation of a toolkit on accessibility for open textbook authors. This toolkit (http://opentextbc.ca/accessibilitytoolkit) is rooted in universal design with the goal that the open textbooks will be accessible from the beginning and that this will benefit all students. keywords: accessibility, universal design, user testing, open textbooks Tara manages alternate format production of textbooks and other course materials for post-secondary students with print disabilities. She also advocates for students with print disabilities and collaborates with other organizations to improve access to accessible materials. Kendra works with transportation researchers, providing guidance on data, information, and research management. She also DJs and manages the music library at a college radio station.

Dan Scott (Laurentian University)

DIALLED: Distributed Index of All(*) Library Location and Event Data

Libraries have a discoverability problem on the web; not just their resources, but libraries themselves are almost invisible. Search engines draw on social media to surface libraries as businesses with mixed success. OCLC offers the WorldCat Registry but their non-commercially licensed data depends on manually maintained contributions and the data for some of Canada’s largest public library systems is woefully out of date or non-existent. One way forward is for libraries to do a better job of representing their own data (location, hours, contact information, branch relationships) in a structured format. I have previously led a preconference in manually marking up library web pages with schema.org structured data, but we need to make it easier for every library to adopt. Thus, through the summer of 2015, I will have been leading an effort to supply templates for web pages and themes for common content management systems that automatically publish compliant schema.org metadata for libraries and events. This session will present the results of that effort and encourage our most influential library technologists to adopt those templates or approaches for their own libraries.

Daniel Sifton (Vancouver Island University)

Contest of Champions: Headless Battle!

A URL checker can tell you about a 404 or a redirect, but what happens when your e-resources are telling your users they don’t have access when they should?

Frustration, confusion, disappointment . . .

Librarians too are left wondering, what other things are broken, and how do we find them?

This summer at VIU we’re working with screen scrapers in our very own “Contest of Champions” by benchmarking tools in jruby, ruby, and python that drive headless browsers to identify possible access problems with our eResources.

In this session we’ll recap the trials and victories of our champions and consider the future applications of the winner.

Virtual gladiators vying for glory! Headless battles! Libraries don’t get more exciting than this!

Sarah Simpkin (University of Ottawa) and Sam Popowich (University of Alberta)

Virtual Collaboration: Tips and Tricks for Working Together at a Distance

In spring 2015, two librarians set out on a quest to improve their programming skills together — remotely! In this session, we’ll discuss our strategies for remote pair programming, showcase the projects we attempted, and share our best practices for getting started with a remote set-up. Pair programming can seem like a daunting challenge, but many developers have spoken about its benefits, both in terms of clarifying the thinking around a problem, as well as improving the quality of the code and the productivity of the developers. As a gentle introduction to pair programming, we decided to work together on a couple of well-defined projects. Remote pair programming raises challenges around communication and infrastructure, and in this talk we will discuss those challenges and how we met them. We will also talk about our experiences in working as a pair, as well as remotely. Finally, we’ll share what we learned about coding, design, and software problem-solving in libraries.

Fangmin Wang, Namir Ahmed, and Sally Wilson (Ryerson University)

Ryerson Library’s Digital Media Experience Lab: Serendipity in the Digital Age

The Ryerson University Library & Archives’ Digital Media Experience (DME) Lab is one of many exciting initiatives/spaces in the newly opened Student Learning Centre – a library of the 21st century. The DME Lab exists to help Ryerson students learn basic and advanced technology skill-sets while exposing them to new and emerging technologies such as 3D printers, Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headsets, Drones, Arduinos, MaKey-MaKeys, etc. It aims to support curricular and extracurricular student learning through hands-on workshops, peer tutoring and one-on-one instruction. At Ryerson, not every student has equal access to new and emerging technologies. 3D printers for example are only available to students enrolled in specific faculties. The Ryerson Library saw an opportunity to learn from other Library Makerspaces, while stamping our lab with Ryerson’s unique DNA. Since opening in February, the DME Lab has generated tremendous interest among students. It has also helped build meaningful partnerships with faculty and other experts on campus. The result of this is a collaborative learning environment that enables students and faculty to discover new possibilities powered by emerging technologies for their academic and career success. In this presentation we will share our stories of the creation of the lab, key observations and our most important ‰Û÷take-aways’. Though we’re still learning and experimenting, one thing is clear: people build communities, not technology.

Mita Williams (University of Windsor)

Library of Cards

The card has become the dominant design pattern of the web and the app. Cards are so ubiquitous that they hide in plain site: Twitter and Facebook use cards as does Google. Cards can swiped, or rearranged, or flipped through but unfortunately, cards cannot be moved between applications as each app is a walled garden. Librarians have yet to explore what cards – with their array of affordances and functionality – could mean for literature and scholarly communication. This is particularly troubling because libraries have been at the forefront of developing and using index cards as a means to organize their collections for hundreds of years. This talk will explore how we might transform the “Paper machine” driven by index cards into new forms of sharing on the web.

Robert Warren (Carleton University) and Sharon Farnel

Linked Open Data: the Value-add to a Postcard Collection

The Prairie Postcards Collection consists of 14,000+ postcards depicting various aspects of life on the Canadian Prairies from the late 19th through the mid 20th centuries. For this project, the metadata, originally encoded in MODS, was transformed into Linked Open Data, including the automated addition of URIs from geonames.org and other online vocabularies. In addition, the images were automatically analyzed and labeled as colour, black & white or sepia toned. This data was compared with the human supplied metadata on colouration to assess the accuracy of the software. Lastly, the openCV library with off-the-shelf facial detection code was used to determine the presence of people within postcards and annotate them using the generic friend-of-a-friend ontology. The result is a rich set of linked data that adds value to the collection but is also a valuable stand-alone dataset that might be useful to a variety of researchers, such as someone interested in tracing the spread of colourized postcards on the prairies. This talk and poster will describe the processes and tools used to create the Linked Open Data. Sample visualizations of the collection contents as seen through its metadata will be presented and the spread of photographic technological innovation on the prairies posited. The potential of using these tools and processes on other image collections will be discussed.

Lydia Zvyagintseva (Edmonton Public Library)

In Our Own Words: Libraries, Makerspaces and Community Engagement

If you build them, will they come? Makerspaces have appeared in public and academic libraries across North America, and community members have flocked to them in order to build 3D object, create digital graphics and self-publish books using the equipment and resources available. This lightning talk reflects on the partnership between a major urban public library and a local digital civic engagement group to build a small non-traditional collection and capture local history. In Your Own Words was a project organized by Open Edmonton aimed to collect Edmonton’s oral histories using the newly-installed recording studios, part of the Edmonton Public Library’s Makerspace. Once a week, citizens were invited to come into the space to record semi-structured interviews loosely based on a particular theme. Using low-cost cloud storage and high-quality digital recording equipment, typically unavailable to average citizens, the group aimed to lower the barriers to participation in an oral history project. The stories were uploaded onto SoundCloud, a cloud-based audio sharing site, where the collection was made freely accessible. As the co-founder of the Open Edmonton, a civic technology start-up, and a recent MA/MLIS graduate, I situate this project in the theories of community engagement and civic participation to demonstrate how community groups and libraries can leverage technology to build relationships and support local knowledge preservation.