Code4Lib today kicked off with the warning that it would be a very full day, and it did not fail to deliver. Presentations and discussions from 9-5 get to be pretty intense after a while, but it’s still a great time.
In addition to the theme of usability that has emerged several times throughout the conference, some of my favorite presentations today were those that focused on data visualization. In particular, Matt Miller from NYPL Labs impressed with his representation of relationships among subject headings found in the NYPL catalog. This is worth a few photos:
Beginning with the full catalog, it’s possible to zoom in all the way to see individual subject headings, all grouped according to their relationships. The size of the nodes also reflects the number of occurrences in the catalog (note that it’s possible to see “History” from quite a distance). Clicking on the individual nodes brings up a list of titles associated with the heading, which users can click through to the catalog entries.
Another highlight was a session in the afternoon by Bess Sadler of Stanford (originally planned to include Mark Bussey of Data Curation Experts) that focused on the sustainability of Open Source projects through training. The discussion eventually moved into the realm of social justice and equality in libraries, and set Twitter and the audience abuzz in the best possible way. Among the topics touched upon was the disparity in income between coders and technical service librarians. The quote of the day (for me, anyway) had to be the very blunt statement that “Coders make more money than catalogers – and they do surprisingly similar work.”
During the day’s breakout sessions, I elected to sit in on the digital preservation discussion, which included a sizable number of participants. In addition to a lengthy conversation about checksums and the fact that firsthand encounters with bit rot were relatively rare, there was good discussion about issues of storage, funding, and staffing for digital preservation projects.
The one real downside of the day? Access to the wifi continued to be an issue, ensuring that the data plans of everyone in the room got a good workout. Below, a picture of the wireless login screen that refused to load.