Five New Works of Library Tech Scholarship You Should Read

AI, information literacy instruction, digital preservation, and more!

a tech librarian looking at different academic scholarly articles to read

Academic journals are always turning out cool new pieces of library tech scholarship, but it can be hard to keep abreast of them. I once again have you covered with some pieces about librarianship, education, and technology that have stood out to me. I tried to pick pieces that survey a number of different topics, so hopefully you’ll find at least one you love. 

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🔨 Usability Testing Best Practices for Academic Library Websites & DIY Usability Testing Toolkit,” Alyssa Valenti (Weave: Journal of Library User Experience

A strong website design is a key way that libraries connect with their patrons. But to best serve their patrons, librarians must know how patrons actually use their websites. This is where usability testing comes in. In a usability test, a librarian asks patrons about their web preferences or have them complete some tasks on a website to see what issues they encounter. In this article, Valenti interviews several user experience (UX) librarians to build a toolkit of best practices. Even if you have no experience in UX, Valenti’s toolkit offers great, easy-to-follow strategies for implementing a usability test. 

Want to learn more about starting a patron-centered redesign of your library’s website? Check out the free webinar we ran on this topic

📜 “Digital Scholarly Journals Are Poorly Preserved: A Study of 7 Million Articles,” Martin Paul Eve (Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication

Using an almost hilariously large sample size of 7 million journal articles (which, as the author notes, is only a slim number of all journal articles), Eve checked the preservation status of these articles. Eve found that roughly 28 percent of all articles were seemingly unpreserved. Eve’s article goes into further depth about the percentage of works preserved in a single archive or multiple. But the title of the article puts a fine point on the study’s ultimate conclusion: digital scholarly articles are poorly preserved. 

Perhaps of additional interest: JLSC published their policy for AI-generated material. For those interested in the developing relationship between academic scholarship and generative AI, it’s worth a glance. 


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👩‍🏫 “Navigating Generative AI: The Teacher Librarian’s Role in Cultivating Ethical and Critical Practices,” Oddone, et al. (Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association

At this point, there’s no shortage of articles and think pieces about how educators should address generative AI in the classroom. Indeed, the authors of this piece trod over some familiar ground in the opening section, e.g., defining what AI is and how it affects education. However, they apply an interesting framework for teacher librarians to use to teach about generative AI, with an emphasis on ethics. The CATWOE framework (Customers, Actors, Transformation process, Worldview, Owners, and Environmental constraints) is a mouthful, but the authors show that the complexity of the framework is up to the task of engaging the complexity of AI in education. 

🖥️ “Academic Librarians as Teachers and Faculty Developers: Exploring the Potential of the ‘Teach the Teachers’ Model of Information Literacy,” Jane Hammons (C&RL

To further integrate information literacy into college curricula, some libraries have turned to a “teach the teacher” model. In short, this model emphasizes teaching professors and other educators about information literacy so they can pass these skills and considerations onto students through their entire time in school. Hammons takes an even-handed approach to identifying the trade-offs of this model. On the one hand, librarians are more than capable of working as faculty developers. On the other hand, many would be reluctant, even dismayed, to give up direct student interaction in the classroom—often a highlight of their jobs. Hammons’s article provides a great launchpad for further conversations on the future of information literacy. 

📂 “Using Airtable to Download and Parse Digital Humanities Data,” William K. Dewey (Code4Lib Journal

Airtable is an online tool that has become increasingly popular. It allows users to store data in files that are similar to spreadsheets, like Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets, but incorporates some components of relational databases to create connections across sheets and records. Better yet, Airtable doesn’t require coding knowledge. Dewey’s article looks specifically at the potential for using Airtable for digital humanities data. Airtable’s forgiving approach to users with limited-to-no coding knowledge makes it a great tool for humanities scholars who might lack this skill. But Dewey’s article also succeeds at providing a great introduction to this popular online software for those who haven’t tried it before. 


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