A look at access and availability of alternative format by visually impaired adults and students in Nigeria

Hello all! This is an article I found for one class this semester where it somehow seems applicable to every class I’m taking.  I thought it would be worth documenting, and throwing out there that if anyone else finds any interesting resources on alternative formats in libraries in developing countries, please send it my way!

Adetoro, N. n. (2012). A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF AVAILABILITY AND ACCESS TO ALTERNATIVE FORMAT BY VISUALLY IMPAIRED ADULTS AND STUDENTS IN NIGERIA. African Research & Documentation, (119), 15-25.

This 2012 article addresses the issue of the lack of reading materials available for people (with a specific focus on secondary school students) not only in Nigeria, but around the world.  Adetoro is sure to make the distinction that this study focuses on the availability of and access to (which are very much too different things) reading materials in Nigerian libraries.  In the U.K. alone, 95% of visually impaired library users are turned away because alternative formats are not available.  Many NGO’s provide resources, and many groups have taken an interest in this subject, but they are fragmented.

Several problems arise when dealing with this issue. Adetoro attributes one to librarians who, in the past, had no training in working with visually impaired visitors.  There arose a barrier between the user and staff, which has created the long term problem of visually impaired users feeling like a burden.  This problem starts before the issue of availability even begins.  The visitors seeking alternative formats may not even try in the first place because of assumptions dealing with a library’s lack of knowledge and resources.  Another problem is that libraries can be averted from requesting alternative materials because of fear of them going unused or unwanted.  People with visual impairments are encouraged to speak up and be specific about which materials they would want and use.

8 libraries for adults and 6 secondary school libraries were studied.  Statistics show that the adults and the students questioned thought there was an availability to Braille resources, while that availability to large-print books and books on tape did not have that same availability.  The survey made the distinction between “readily available”, “available”, “not readily available”, and “not available”, which I still have questions about.  Perhaps further research into this topic can give me more answers. Discussion of this study raised many possible answers.  Braille is by far the most available resource for visually impaired users in these particular libraries.  Why are the others not so available? Adetoro mentions the possibility of reasons outside of library control, including out of date technology and lack of funding.

How do we solve this?  Adetoro thinks solutions include “co-operative strategies…and collaboratiosn with NGO’s and corporate bodies to widen and increase their resource base” (2012).  He also calls on the Nigerian government to make more of an effort to invest in public libraries overall, and to provide resources for ALL of their patrons, and more training for their librarians.

LS 566- Summary #2- Walters

https://smartech.gatech.edu/bitstream/handle/1853/14421/7.2walters.pdf?sequence=1

Institutional Repositories (IR), where data information is stored in a central location, are changing the way university libraries handle the distribution of information because they are now producers of the information and data. Tyler O. Walters specifically uses the example of Georgia Tech’s IR SMARTech, hosted by the Digital Initiatives Department. This new technology is a complete scholarly game changer, and it’s university-wide.

For the future, as it grows, new standards and rules will need to be developed for IR. This digital archive of university-created materials is diverse and extensive, giving the researcher a large playing field of resources at their fingertips.  Walters also explains that many different information specialists create a digital library initiative (DLI) unit to act as a “conduit for other departments within the library, exploring the contributions these areas can make to IR development” (215).

DLI units have shifted from solely archives and special collections to focusing on the larger issue of HOW this affects “scholarly communications” in universities. It takes all of the departments of the university to come together to use this system to meet the needs of the students (who, in my experience, expect quick resources at their fingertips). DLI units at Cornell and Tennessee, Walters explains, have various activities which encourage not only student participation, but the individual departments’ participation to create content as well. All of this promotes growth of the IR throughout the university.  The question is- how is all of this maintained?

Georgia Tech created its own Digital Initiatives Work Group (DIWG) that includes a librarian and/or department manager, and two other librarians and skilled professional personnel.  The elements of managing a university’s digital intellectual output creates a pyramid of sorts, with the base consisting of behind the scenes set up and programming of the IR.  It then moves up to user training and marketing, which would be more towards the front side of things (This is my understanding, although I could be wrong about this.) The manager of all of these areas and the created metadata has to be familiar with it all (creation, maintenance, and migration).

Walters points out, “For libraries to set new scholarly communication trends and support the SPARC agenda, well-developed IRs will be necessary” Many specialists come into play.  Making all of this available are the developing IR “engineers” to design the interface, making it useful an easy for the user.  For public libraries, marketing is extremely important to gauge the needs to the surrounding community– not everyone is a scholarly researcher.  What do they need? Who is the community? Knowing the answers can create a more scholarly experience. Another example are those of archives and special collections that hold university materials.  They will work with the DLI unit to collect for the IR.  Archivists also are key for promoting the value of university documents and objects; therefore, they protect them for the future.

To sum all of this up, libraries are no longer passive receptors of information; rather, they can create it and engage other institutions and departments to do the same! It’s a brilliant plan, and I’m curious to see what the future holds for the expanding IR field.  What new positions will be created? How far will it go? Chances are, even if you’re not specifically a librarian, you will be exposed and involved in this new, exciting world of Institutional Repositories.

Museum Programs for people with Alzheimers

Hello readers! Hope your Friday is wonderful so far.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/how-museums-are-helping-people-memory-loss-180957768/

 

I found a great piece (that was actually kind of serendipitously posted on Facebook by a friend) from the Smithsonian about how several Minnesota museums (in particular, the Woodson Art Museum) are offering classes and creating exhibits for people with memory loss, or as my grandmother so creatively called it, “Old-Timers Disease”.  I did a bit of research on this topic for another class, and viewing famous paintings from a particular era or taking a class to exercise one’s artistic abilities can at the very least alleviate some pain these people experience, and in some cases it can even slow the progression of their disease.  I’m in love with this topic, and if anyone finds anything else on it, please send it my way!

Thanks for reading, forever and always,

~Lauren Collier

LS 566- Article Summary #1- Brown

First of all, Hello again! Time for a new class, and a fresh start.

Here’s an article by Tom Brown, http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2016/04/classical-music-metadata-101.html and my thoughts on the matter:

Tom Brown, a guest poster for Hypebot.com writes about the standards for metadata as it pertains to Digital Service Providers (DSPs) in classical music.  Ideally, Brown argues, there would be a standard method to producing and maintaining classical music metadata, but DSPs have been under fire for NOT giving enough attention to the classical genre.  How do we correct this?

“Supply classical content in a way that’s homogenous with the way the same content is managed by the digital services that invest the most in it (2016).”  For example- iTunes!

Let’s take iTunes and run with it, since it’s big and well-known. iTunes has its own set of standards for metadata that include categorization by:

  1. Reference source (International Music Score Library Project)
  2. composer names (which can vary)
  3. primary artists- up to three at album level; track level (soloists, orchestra, conductor)
  4. Album titles
  5. track titles
  6. opera titles
  7. Languages (sometimes multiple)
  8. Casing

(#s 2-8 can all be referenced by the IMSLP)

We can learn a lot for iTunes metadata techniques.  The challenge comes from making a way for that kind of categorization to be applied across the board for all classical music- not just that of iTunes’ inventory.  Also for future music that comes years and years down the line, what will constitute as “classical”?  Will Lady Gaga every achieve that status? Will a brand new categorization be formed? The topic is worth investigating, and one I find very intriguing.

LS 560-A Technology Encounter

Hello there readers.  Today I’m going to tell a little story about a conversation I had with my grandfather about how he uses computers and other pieces of technology.  It took me a little while to be able to speak with him in person about all of this, but I knew I wanted to “interview” him because I believe he is in the minority for his age group. He has quite a liking for all things technical (as does his son, my father.)  Both of my parents are extremely computer proficient, and I have grown up around my father building computers and my mother selling them through contracts with government departments throughout the state.  (JHCollier Computers!) So, I wanted to expand my horizons a little bit.

To give a little perspective, my grandfather, who goes by “Papa Jack”, is 95 years of age.  He served in the air force during World War II, and has traveled all around Europe.  It seems as though he’s certainly lived a full and adventurous life; however, he rarely talks about those times.  Even though I do not know much about that part of him, I like to think it makes up a lot of who he is.  When I was much younger, I remember my dad bringing Jack a computer, printer, and other pieces of machinery to keep in a designated office area at my grandparents’ house.  Jack was, and continues to be a deacon for his church, and the time of the email was nigh.  He needed to print handouts.  He needed to be connected to his fellow church leaders outside of telephone calls.  IT WAS TIME.

As I spoke to him recently, I asked him how he felt about all of this stuff coming into his office all at once. He recalls the year being around 1997.  He told me he was pretty excited, but it was overwhelming to look at all of it.  He thought the things would be smaller.  He also mentioned that he thought the monitor was the entire computer, and when my father placed the computer on the desk, he asked, “What’s the box for?”

As the years passed, he slowly gained knowledge about the programs on his desktop. My grandfather has an email address he uses for church correspondence and keeping in touch with family. He is able to produce word documents and professional letters. He can very quickly look up what he needs to find on the internet. Jack was never in any hurry to have the newest piece of technology, however.  He used floppy disks until just a couple of years ago. (I remember seeing these everywhere around his house, growing up.) His absolute favorite past time on his computer is playing solitaire.  “What kind?” I asked.  “All of them. Any kind I can get!” he animatedly replied.

I asked my grandfather what type of program he mostly uses on his computer, besides his games.  He said probably email and Microsoft word.  But when he teaches Sunday school he uses the Notepad feature to type out his thoughts, and then copy and pastes it into a Word document to polish it from there. I couldn’t help but think that was an extremely clever way to use those applications, especially for someone with quite an age gap compared to me.  A notepad for rough drafts and quickly taking notes, and then using the more tailored app for making it presentable.  Just as he would have done before computers with an actual notepad.  Learning these habits from my grandfather made me proud that he embraced technology and uses it for his needs, but doesn’t really seem to stress about what he does not need.  He learns at his own speed, and my dad is there a lot of times to answer questions or to help install something new.  They make quite a pair.

I pushed him more to talk about email.  He told me he does not really see the need for attaching anything most of the time, but he knows how to do that.  Papa Jack also admitted that he sometimes has to copy and paste his emails into a word document and increase the font size to see it better.  This was an opportunity where I got to show him how to do that within his email/ web browser, and I was happy to do so.  He laughed and said he may or may not remember how do use it in the future, but thought it was a nifty trick.  This exercise showed me that sometimes people just enjoy their own routes in figuring something out– even if it isn’t the most efficient.  I’d say at 95 years old, someone who knows their way around the basic technologies we use today is doing pretty well.

Keep reading and learning, forever and always,

Lauren.

 

 

 

LS 560- The Introduction

Hello again, all seven of you who read this!

I have written a few times on here, but I will introduce myself again for the sake of my Information Technology class, here in my Fall semester of 2016.  My name is Lauren Collier, and I am a second year student at the University of Alabama’s MLIS program.  I am fresh off of an internship from the National Archives in Kansas City (and hope to do another post about that soon).  It was an amazing experience, and if anyone wants to talk about it or has questions PLEASE TALK TO ME ABOUT IT because I can’t shut up about it.

I graduated from UA in 2012 with my Bachelor degree– Anthropology with a minor in Evolutionary Studies.  I can’t tell you how useful that education has been for my LIS degree.  I never thought I would end up in this career path, yet here I am. And I’m loving every minute of it.

My dream right now is to end up in a museum, but I am very quickly falling for something archival.  LS 560 is a class I have tried to take in the past, but for whatever reason I’ve had to switch my schedule to take something else.  I am looking forward to finally taking this class, and I’m excited at the prospect of learning some concrete skills to take with me when I am in the field.  I would say I am pretty proficient with technology– my parents have a small computer business run out of our home, and I’ve grown up working with these machines that are the key to the rest of the world.  However; something that is SEVERELY lacking in my knowledge is coding.  I don’t know how much we’ll be doing in this class, but if it’s any at all it will be a vast improvement upon what I know now.

Thanks for reading.  Keep doing that.

~Lauren Collier

My internship story.

I wanted to tell a little bit about the process I went through in getting my Summer internship this year.  This will be my final post for LS 534, and I think it will be a good one.

I received an email on the UA listserve for SLIS about an internship opportunity through and organization called the Washington Center in D.C.  They were looking for diversity interns, which meant that they wanted students of all different kind of backgrounds and experiences to work in fields all over the country that highlighted different types of people.  I applied, and was very excited to see an organization that seemed to speak for everything I want in a job.  I want to provide a service for all types of people!

…it also helps that the Washington Center would pay for my housing and give me a stipend on top of that.  You know.  Whatever.

Anyway, I sent in all of the information they asked for- the standard stuff. Cover letter, resume, writing sample, letters of recommendation, and all that.  The application took about 2 weeks to complete, including the wait time for the letters of rec.  Those are always so nerve wracking for me.  Professors who are kind enough to do this for their students are so amazing.

This was back in February.  I was told that I would only receive one offer for an interview at most, and that internships were VERY competitive.  It was in my best interest to take a job if I was offered one because ANOTHER ONE WOULD NOT COME ALONG.  This was made very clear to me.  I get it.  We are all in a big cesspool of unemployment just waiting to be rescued or eaten.  Get out and survive, or die trying.

As of the end of April, I hadn’t heard anything.  I figured I was not picked for an interview, and I decided to look for other summer plans.  I checked my email one afternoon and saw that I had an invitation to interview with a woman who works at the National Archives and Records Administration in Kansas City, MO.  She told me she had received my resume through TWC, and she wanted to talk to me as soon as possible over the phone.  We set up an interview time for the following day.  I was ecstatic.  I couldn’t believe I was finally getting an opportunity to prove myself.

The next day, I was a nervous wreck.  What if I don’t have all of the information she wants me to have? What if I can’t remember what I did for undergrad? WHAT IF I ACCIDENTALLY SAY MY FAVORITE ACTIVITY IS CLUBBING BABY SEALS?! I couldn’t stand it. The phone rang and the conversation began.  And that’s exactly what it was. A conversation.  I didn’t feel like I was in an interview at all.  Since then, I’ve been told that the best interviews feel more like a back and forth between two people who are just trying to see if they can work well together.  So, I became more comfortable.  She told me all about her work at the NARA, and how our project would be dealing with boxes and boxes of records and photographs from the Red Rock Reservation.  Lots of organizing, lots of labeling.  But I would have a chance to see some of the oldest and rarest photos and papers from this particular area.  It sounded like a dream job.

We talked a little more, and I told her I hoped I could fill the shoes of the person she was looking for to work with her.  She said, “I’ll have my decision by the end of the day, and I have two more people to interview after you.”  Basically, if she picked me, I would hear from TWC with an offer.  If she didn’t, I would hear nothing, and it was goodbye forever.

I had a feeling that even though the decision on her end would be made, TWC would take their time in letting people know about their offers.

I was wrong.

At 9:30am the following day, I had an offer from the Washington Center saying they would love for me to move to Kansas City for 10 weeks to work FOR MONEY at the National Archives and Records Administration.  I couldn’t believe it.  I cried for half and hour and hyperventilated for much longer.  After the initial shock, I accepted the offer and began the background check process.  This was about a week ago, and I still don’t know where I am going to live or if I can bring my cat with me, but I am so thrilled.  I want to use this blog over the summer to talk about the kind of work I will be doing.  Maybe I’ll even be able to post some pictures from where I work and photographs that I’ll be digging through.  I am so fortunate for this opportunity, and you better believe I am taking it and running.  Don’t underestimate yourself, ever.   Don’t forget where your passions lie, and don’t be afraid to be honest about who you are and where you want to go.  More to come soon.

 

Keep reading, keep digging, keep fighting. Forever and always,

~Lauren Collier