Issue 23, 2014-01-17

Editorial Introduction: Conscious Resolutions

Hack your life with 10 New Year’s resolutions from Code4Lib Journal.

by Shawn Averkamp
Coordinating Editor, Issue 23

What are your New Year’s resolutions? To start blogging? Contribute code? Learn how to version control? It’s that time of year when we reflect on the past and resolve to improve. This issue features 10 actions you can take today to reboot your practices and perspectives.

Get in shape: Want to get your library website into shape? In “The Road to Responsive: University of Toronto Libraries’ Journey to a New Library Catalogue Interface,” Lisa Gayhart, Bilal Khalid, and Gordon Belray offer their regimen for creating a lean and flexible discovery layer.

Clean up: Isn’t it time you cleaned up your metadata? Mark Phillips, Hannah Tarver, and Stacey Frakes show you how to use Open Refine and Google Fusion Tables to combat metadata clutter with “Implementing a Collaborative Workflow for Metadata Analysis, Quality Improvement, and Mapping.” In “Recipes for Enhancing Digital Collections with Linked Data,” Thomas Johnson and Karen Estlund share this one weird trick for boosting your quality control. Using an RDF statement-based approach, you can swiftly normalize values and supercharge your controlled vocabularies.

Get organized: Ivey Glendon and Melinda Baumann tell you how they crafted the ultimate project workflow in “How the WSLS-TV News Digitization Project Helped to Launch a Project Management Office.” Learn how a new project proposal process helped to set priorities and streamline production.

Be more productive: Master your time with a productivity hack from Austin Dixon. “Use of Cue Sheets in Audio Digitization” shows how you can efficiently split out audio tracks in just 3 easy steps.

Make a difference: In “A Video Digital Library to Support Physicians’ Decision-making about Autism,” Matthew A. Griffin, Dan Albertson, and Angela B. Barber detail a prototype they built to assist physicians from underserved areas in assessing autistic patients.

Learn something new: With this issue we bring you back to the basics with two instructional articles. “Unix Commands and Batch Processing for the Reluctant Librarian or Archivist” by Anthony Cocciolo provides a gentle introduction to performing common digital library-related tasks at the command line. In “Automated Processing of Massive Audio/Video Content Using FFmpeg,” Kia Siang Hock and Li Lingxia teach you how to manipulate audio-visual content at the command line with the open-source software FFmpeg. While these topics may feel rudimentary to many seasoned Code4Libbers, the decision to include them in this issue was, in part, based on conscious resolution.

Challenge your assumptions: When the question of publishing a how-to article on basic Unix commands was proposed, I will admit that, even as a relative newbie to Unix who would benefit from such an article, my knee-jerk reaction was to dismiss the topic as too elementary for this audience. But when I turned around to question those assumptions, I was pleased to see other committee members already questioning them for me. It can be easy to forget that the immense body of knowledge contained in the Journal, on the Code4Lib listserv, and at the Code4Lib conferences represents the collective contributions of many, and it’s tempting to imagine the whole of that knowledge embodied within each of our peers. The reality–that we are each both beginner and expert alike–can be difficult to parse when so much of our interaction happens between our online identities. It can be even harder to gauge the composition of our readership when many of our peers aren’t raising their voices in these venues at all. Despite our best intentions to be inclusive, it is often the most vocal participants who shape our perceptions of a community.

Foster community: One of the great things about the Code4Lib community, and perhaps what makes it more appreciative of diverse views than other tech communities, is the difference in the paths we all followed to get here and the respect for the range of skills and perspectives each of us picked up along the way. Within the editorial committee alone, we have taught English abroad, product planned, crunched numbers, tuned tiny violins, raised children, traveled the world, and composed electronic sonatas. In choosing which proposals make it to publication, the editorial committee is usually its own sounding board. The range of ideas you see in the Code4Lib Journal reflects vetting by a unique blend of histories, personalities, interests, and expertise. I am proud to have the opportunity to work with a group where this diversity of backgrounds sparks lively and challenging discussions on content, scope, and editorial process, where the response “Well, this is how it’s always been done” is rarely, if ever, the final word. While we may not be a completely representative sample of the audience we serve, our differences inspire a willingness to challenge our processes and scope in order to support a diverse readership.

Be a mentor: Learning new skills is all fine and good, but why not share some of your own? Sure, some of us have been hacking on computers since age 13, but many of us haven’t, and we all still have much to contribute to the Code4Lib community. Make a resolution this year to submit a proposal to the Code4Lib Journal.

Meet new people: Finally, with the new year, we also welcome new editors. Heidi Elaine Dowding, Bill Dueber, Dan Scott, and Jason Thomale join us to add their unique perspectives and fresh ideas to the editorial committee mix. We look forward to having them on board as we embark on another year of learning, evolving, and improving.

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