This class serves as your foundation for understanding and working with technology over the course of the MLIS and beyond. We’ll cover technologies specific to libraries and information professions, but we’ll also learn about some core concepts that should enable you to make sense of technology in general.
LIS classes often involve a push and pull between the theoretical and the hands-on, and this class is no exception! I want you to emerge from this class feeling confident about your ability to use, understand, analyze, evaluate, and critique new technologies. But because specific technologies come and go with such speed, it probably won’t best serve you to spend a lot of time mastering mouse-clicks in one interface or another. Instead, we’ll tend toward moving one level of abstraction from specific pieces of software, and toward the principles that govern that kind of technology in general.
Wherever possible, instead of leaving a reading for you in CCLE, I’ve provided a direct link to the file. This is because it benefits the author to cite usage statistics, and I want the author’s records to reflect accurately the number of their readers. You may need to be connected to the UCLA network, either directly or via proxy, in order to access these readings.
Class one: Intro & tech competencies
What’s this class about, and what should we expect from each other? Where did I come up with the specific topics on the syllabus? We’ll investigate various professional organizations’ lists of recommended tech competencies, decide if we’re missing anything important, and review current job ads for library and information professionals.
Class two: The library tech stack
Guest speaker: Stacey Knight-Davis, head of library technology services, Eastern Illinois University
What is a library…made of? That is, what kinds of technologies can you expect to find managing all of the different functions that a library serves? With the proviso that there are many kinds of libraries, and no universal tech stack, we’ll wade through the weeds of ILSs, ERMSs, link resolvers, discovery layers, and…whatever else there is, to try to figure out what does what.
- Chapters one and two: Matthews, Joseph R, and Carson Block. Library Information Systems, 2nd Edition. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2019.
- Breeding, Marshall. “ERM Strategies in Academic Libraries: Historical Evolution and Current Context.” Computers in Libraries 38, no. 3 (April 1, 2018): 17–21, https://librarytechnology.org/document/24077.
- Knight-Davis, Stacey. “Academic Library Technology: Possible Elements and Ways to Combine Them,” 2019. https://works.bepress.com/stacey_knight-davis/79/.
Class three: Evaluating technology
How do we know if a technology is a good fit for a particular use case? It’s a question not only of users, technical constraints, and affordances, but also of what we see as the purpose of the organization in question. In addition, we have to develop some kind of theory about why people do and don’t pick up on certain pieces of technology – and infrastructure studies can help with that!
- Star, Susan Leigh, and Karen Ruhleder. “Steps toward an Ecology of Infrastructure: Design and Access for Large Information Spaces.” In Boundary Objects and Beyond, edited by Geoffrey C. Bowker, Stefan Timmermans, Adele E. Clarke, and Ellen Balka, 377–415. MIT Press, 2016. http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/articleDetails.jsp?arnumber=7580323.
- Jenkins, Henry. “Interview with Morgan G. Ames on ‘The Charisma Machine: The Life, Death, and Legacy of One Laptop Per Child’ (Part I).” Henry Jenkins, October 7, 2019. http://henryjenkins.org/blog/2019/10/3/interview-with-morgan-j-ames-on-the-charisma-machine-the-life-death-and-legacy-of-one-laptop-per-child-part-i. (Also see this article for more detail on OLPC.)
- Rodriguez, Michael. “Technology Triage: Assessing and Managing Library Systems and Projects.” In The Small or Rural Academic Library: Leveraging Resources & Overcoming Limitations, edited by Kaetrena Kendrick and Deborah Tritt, 195–213. Chicago: ACRL Publications, 2016. https://opencommons.uconn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1059&context=libr_pubs.
- (Optional but illuminating!) Watters, Audrey. “The 100 Worst Ed-Tech Debacles of the Decade.” Hack Education, December 31, 2019. http://hackeducation.com/2019/12/31/what-a-shitshow.
Class four: Fundamental concepts in computing
Guest speaker: Shira Peltzman, digital archivist, UCLA
Computers have evolved enormously over the years, but three elements remain the fundamental concern of computing: processing, storage, and communication. We’ll talk about what this means and how you can use these concepts to understand a diverse array of technologies.
- R. E. Smith, “A Historical Overview of Computer Architecture,” Annals of the History of Computing 10, no. 4 (October 1988): 277-303, https://doi.org/10.1109/MAHC.1988.10039.
- Thompson, Clive. “The Gendered History of Human Computers.” Smithsonian Magazine, June 2019. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/history-human-computers-180972202/.
- Part I: White, Ron, and Timothy Edward Downs. How Computers Work. 10th edition. Indianapolis, Ind: Que, 2015. (It’s long, but there are a lot of pictures & it’s OK to skim.)
Class five: Standards, protocols, and accessibility
Guest lecture: Prof. Jean-François Blanchette
Librarians know better than anyone that standards are the key to interoperability. Without these frameworks, we wouldn’t be able to share information across platforms and devices. But where do these standards come from? Who comes up with them? As we will see, these standards and their associated technologies can have major effects on people’s lives, and they can be particularly troublesome for people with disabilities. So how can we incorporate a disability studies perspective into our discussion of technology?
- Shapiro, C., & Varian, H. R. (1999). The art of standards wars. California management review, 41(2), 8-32.
- Russell, Andrew L. “The internet that wasn’t.” IEEE Spectrum 50.8 (2013): 39-43, https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/6565559.
- Chapter 3: Matthews, Joseph R, and Carson Block. Library Information Systems, 2nd Edition. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2019.
- Adams, Rachel, Benjamin Reiss, and David Serlin. “Disability.” In Keywords for Disability Studies, edited by Rachel Adams, Benjamin Reiss, and Serlin, David. New York, N.Y: NYU Press, 2019. https://keywords.nyupress.org/disability-studies/essay/disability/.
- Mankoff, Jennifer, Gillian R. Hayes, and Devva Kasnitz. “Disability Studies as a Source of Critical Inquiry for the Field of Assistive Technology.” In Proceedings of the 12th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility – ASSETS ’10, 3. Orlando, Florida, USA: ACM Press, 2010. https://doi.org/10.1145/1878803.1878807.
Class six: Digital redlining, data privacy, and justice
Guest lecture: Dr. Erin Rose Glass, digital scholarship specialist, UC San Diego Library
Did you know I can see a record of every time you log in to CCLE? Ick. Don’t worry, I never do this, but it’s just an example of the kinds of data institutions regularly and quietly collect about users. As an information professional, how do you balance user-responsiveness with respect for patron privacy? And why does it matter?
- Curran, Dylan. “Are You Ready? This Is All the Data Facebook and Google Have on You.” The Guardian, March 30, 2018, sec. Opinion. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/28/all-the-data-facebook-google-has-on-you-privacy.
- Glass, Erin Rose. “Ten Weird Tricks for Resisting Surveillance Capitalism in and through the Classroom . . . next Term!” Erin Rose Glass (blog), December 28, 2018. https://www.hastac.org/blogs/erin-glass/2018/12/27/ten-weird-tricks-resisting-surveillance-capitalism-and-through-classroom.
- Harwell, Drew. “Colleges Are Turning Students’ Phones into Surveillance Machines, Tracking the Locations of Hundreds of Thousands.” Washington Post, December 24, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/12/24/colleges-are-turning-students-phones-into-surveillance-machines-tracking-locations-hundreds-thousands/.
- Gilliard, Chris. Digital Redlining, Digital Justice. University of Oklahoma, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=MEPI7YctRqY&app=desktopConversation.
- Healy, Kieran. “Using Metadata to Find Paul Revere.” Kieran Healy, June 9, 2013. https://kieranhealy.org/blog/archives/2013/06/09/using-metadata-to-find-paul-revere/.
Class seven: How the internet works
Guest speaker: Dr. Scout Calvert
The internet can seem sort of magical: enter a URL, and there you are. But how does it actually work? What do we need to know in order to analyze networked devices and foresee potential trends and problems?
- Zuckerman, Ethan, and Andrew McLaughlin. “Introduction to Internet Architecture and Institutions,” August 2003. https://cyber.harvard.edu/digitaldemocracy/internetarchitecture.html.
- Blanchette, Jean-François. “A Material History of Bits.” Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology 62, no. 6 (June 1, 2011): 1042–57. https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.21542.
- Roberts, Sarah T. “Digital Refuse: Canadian Garbage, Commercial Content Moderation and the Global Circulation of Social Media’s Waste.” Wi: Journal of Mobile Media 10, no. 1 (2016): 1–18. https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1014&context=commpub.
- Livier Nuñez, Ruth. US Senate Testimony on Net Neutrality by Ruth Livier, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBpFZXa241Q.
Class eight: NO CLASS
Please use this time to work on your final projects.
Class nine: Machine learning and AI (in the library)
- Chapters one through three, Noble, Safiya Umoja. Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism. New York, N.Y.: New York University Press, 2018.
- Padilla, Thomas. Responsible Operations: Data Science, Machine Learning, and AI in Libraries. OCLC Research Position Paper. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC Research, 2019, https://www.oclc.org/research/publications/2019/oclcresearch-responsible-operations-data-science-machine-learning-ai.html.