ASIS&T Speakeasy: Assistive Learning Technologies

By Lindsay Menachemi

Staircase picture

“The world is disabling to people in a wheelchair only if the people building it are filling it with stairs.” – Marc Castellini, Pratt Institute student


The way we design our physical and digital worlds can promote social inclusion if done well, or social exclusion if done poorly. It may not always be a designer’s intent to purposefully exclude certain people, but even ignorance is a choice. If a designer doesn’t consider accessibility or universality to be a part of their approach, more often than not, the resultant products restrict people in unanticipated ways.

On Tuesday, November 7, the ASIS&T student organization at Pratt Institute sponsored a speakeasy on Assistive Learning Technologies. Three students in the Information Technologies core curriculum class –Marc Castellini, Arushi Jaiswal, and Hanyu Zhang— presented a research-based web guide on assistive learning technologies, geared towards universities. I think that much of what they discussed can be applied more broadly to libraries, and to UX design principles for any product.


Why LIS professionals need to care

First, let’s highlight the problem in more detail. As Library and Information Science students, we have a responsibility to promote equity and inclusion. Social exclusion, after all, is just another form of powerlessness. (Gehner 41) Compound this with the ALA’s official position: in December 2006, the ALA implemented the “Library Services for People with Disabilities Policy,” a policy that recognized that “many people with disabilities face economic inequity, illiteracy, cultural isolation, and discrimination in employment and the broad range of societal activities” (ALA 2006). As part of the policy, it recommends proactive integration of assistive technology in libraries. A wonderful sentiment, only, there are two issues afoot here:

  • The policy was approved and published 10 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act. This is not a matter to ignore; it tells us much about the prioritization of assisting those with disabilities.  And of all organizations, why would the ALA, an organization devoted to equal, unfettered access to information, respond in such a latent manner? This surprised me greatly.
  • The policy states that library staff “should be aware of how available technologies address disabilities and know how to assist all users with library technology.” (ALA 2006) “Should” is always hard to implement and track – “must” is usually much more effective, as it implies some sort of consequence. But surely there are guidebooks on the ALA website to assist librarians with their education and integration of assistive technologies? Well, the only tool on the ALA website dedicated to serving adults with disabilities is the “ASCLA Professional Tools – Standards and Guidelines – Resource List” link, and when selected, it returned a ‘404 – Page Cannot Be Found’ error. There are two other resource links, but these serve a very specific audience: children with disabilities that affect their ability to read print materials.
  • This resources page was last updated in 2007. March 29, 2007. I’m sure I don’t need to tell all of you how much technology has changed in 10 years.

It all begs the question: as a profession, how serious are we about providing services to people of all ages with all kinds of disabilities? How serious can we be when our own flagship organization offers this level of service?


How big is this problem, anyway?

I know, I know, in principle, it shouldn’t matter how many people this issue impacts, but it seems to matter nonetheless. ADA-PARC (ADA Participatory Action Research Consortium) made 2014 American Community Survey data available in interactive format.  (ADA-PARC 2014) It shows us that 12.3% of the total U.S. population self-declares as having a disability of some kind. That equates to approximately 43.5 million people. I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to conceptualize a picture of how many people that figure truly represents. What if I told you that 43.5 million people is the number of people living in the entire country of Canada…. if it had 10 million more people! The level of social exclusion here is huge by any means – whether you’re measuring by numbers or principle.


Equalizing power through assistive technology tools

Our responsibility as LIS professionals escalates when you consider that, “Social exclusion is not simply a result of ‘bad luck’ or personal inadequacies, but rather a product of flaws in the system that create disadvantages for certain segments of the population.” (Gehner 2010) So what can we do? What Castellini, Jaiswal, and Zhang have created is a great start. The web toolkit provides a wide overview of cognitive and physical impairments and maps them to the specific LT (low-tech) and HT (high-tech) assistive technologies that can help. Low-tech can include things that are low-cost, and low-barrier of entry: highlighters, pencil grips, raised line paper. High-tech is the cool stuff we read about in Wired: speech-to-text programs or voice recognition are good examples, both of which limit the need for a keyboard. For dyslexic students, it’s even possible to use symbol-based learning, such as Widget symbols on SymbolWorld, or Makaton symbols, to improve understanding and absorption. Last but not least, web accessibility is another area that incurs massive reward without incurring massive expense. Simple changes can include: using the W3C’s HTML tag best practices to assist with read-aloud services, avoiding dropdown menus, and eliminating Javascript use. There are many, many ways to get started, and I encourage you to view their site to learn more.


Looking ahead

So, how can we escalate this issue to more LIS professionals’ attention? Here are a few things I’ve done so far, and a few thoughts of what else we might do:

  • I’ve privately corresponded with the student group that created the Assistive Learning Technologies site, and asked if they would consider submitting their work to the ALA for linking. Considering the paucity of information on the site, I felt that it would be a worthy contribution to the ALA Diversity group’s page. Even if they don’t include the site itself, my hope is that it brings to the ALA’s attention the lack of updated information available on their site.
  • I’ve emailed the Diversity committee at ALA to request that the broken link to their outreach toolkit is addressed, and that they consider updating their page to reflect current resources and technologies.
  • Next time you’re at an industry event or surfing a group’s website, get curious. See what you can find about assistive technology integration, or accessibility issues in general. How is the group addressing these issues? Do you agree with their approach? How can it be improved? If you can’t find anything at all, what a great opportunity to begin the conversation!
  • If you are an information professional currently working in an organization, assess the ways in which your organization (its website, its programs, etc.) are inclusive or exclusive of people with disabilities. If it can do better (and it usually can), can you adopt some of these technologies or re-design the website in a way that facilitates universal use?

Last but not least, look at the world around you with a critical eye. Sometimes all it takes to start moving things in the right direction is the different point of view.



ADA-PARC. (2014). “Percentage of Total Population with Disabilities.” Retrieved from

American Library Association. (2006 December 4). “Library Services for People with Disabilities Policy.” Retrieved on November 8, 2017 from

American Library Association. (2007 March 29). “Outreach Resources for Services to People with Disabilities.” Retrieved from

Castellini, M., Jaiswal, A., Zhang, Hanyu. (2017). “Assistive Learning Technologies.” Retrieved from

Gehner, John. (2010). “Libraries, Low-Income People, and Social Exclusion.” Public Library Quarterly, 29:1, 39-47

Protected: Observation of Radical Reference

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Analyzing the Effects of Data Collection on Endangered Animal Populations

By dgallomc

Bloomberg's Data For Good Exchange 2017

Bloomberg’s Data For Good Exchange 2017

On September 24, 2017 Bloomberg hosted the fourth annual Data For Good Exchange. According to Bloomberg, the conference enables data scientists from academia, industry and public sector actors from government and NGOs to build relationships, share insights and progress, and encourages them to work together on applying modern machine learning and data science methods to challenges in the public and non-profit sectors (Data for Good Exchange 2017). The event held panels that addressed novel methods for collecting data; collaborations to address the global refugee crisis; utilizing data to aid vulnerable and youth populations; and the effects of big data and judicial bias in the criminal justice system. Throughout the different panels, major themes appeared regarding the ethics of data collection and research. Specifically, panelists touched upon the possible unintended consequences of research. Although various panels and papers discussed these effects, an organization called Wildbook presented the most concrete consequences.

Wildbook is an initiative that merges crowdsourcing, computer vision and data science for conservation efforts to combat animal extinction. It aggregates photographs and videos of animals to provide information regarding endangered animal populations across the world. Wild book’s technology merges algorithms and machine learning to identify animals through their physical characteristics such as cheetah spots or whale flukes. According to Wildbook, the organization combines vision and user interaction design to create a quick and accurate edge mapper to identify animals by their individual characteristics (Services).

Wildbook - Cheetah Marking Area

Wildbook – Cheetah Marking Area

According to a data scientist at Wildbook, the team launched the organization in order more accurately count populations of endangered species. Prior to Wildbook, scientists estimated animal populations throughout the world utilizing satellite imagery, a measurement practice that has proven to be imprecise and costly. Now through the usage of Wildbook’s technology, tourist photography and YouTube videos can be scraped according to their dates and geo-location. The blending of algorithms and machine learning can then detect the animal’s specific physical characteristics to collect information on the animal’s network, travel patterns and population size.

Although some benefits of Wildbook include the ability to more accurately gauge the number of certain endangered species, other benefits involve tracking mobility patterns, animal social networks, and individual animal wellbeing. Through the use of embedded geo-tagging properties in cameras and videography, scientists can track a population’s or an individual animal’s movement patterns. For example, the software allows scientists to research and track humpback whale travel patterns across the Atlantic and giraffe migrations in Africa. Although beneficial for animal behavior research, capturing movement patterns also allows scientists to observe the effects of severe weather conditions such as hurricanes and floods on animal populations.

Wildbook also allows scientists to observe an animal’s social network. It derives the information from photographs and videos where animals appear together, as well as through similar geo-tag location. Collecting information on an animal’s social network may be beneficial for studying animals’ behavioral patterns and species interactions. Scientists also benefit by tracking an animal at the individual level. For example, Wildbook can identify the exact animal depicted in a photograph by name and can present the animal’s history, including when they first appeared on Wildbook, what other animals comprise its network and where it was last seen. Providing information on an individual animal allows researchers to check into how the animal is living and examine its wellbeing.

Although Wildbook provides a collection of beneficial information that can influence scientist’s ability to study animal populations, the organization discovered impactful unintended consequence for the animals represented through the software. Wildbook’s population estimation, location and network capabilities facilitate the tracking of these animals, a feature poachers have began exploiting. Due to the software’s ease of use, location precision and it’s benefit of being up to date with scraping occurring daily, poachers can more easily find the geographical location of the animals they wish to hunt through the use of the software. According to the Program for Ethnographic Research & Community Studies (PERCS), a dilemma may arise in which the software pits the interests of the researcher against the interests of the community (Merz, 1998). In this case, the “interests of the community” lie in the wellbeing of the animals themselves, who most certainly don’t care about being assessed or tracked, but do suffer due to poaching activities.

Wildbook - Spotting Giant Sea Bass

Wildbook – Spotting Giant Sea Bass

During the conference, Wildbook researchers stated that they had not yet devised a solution to poachers exploiting the software. Although the organization pride’s itself on being accessible to everyone through open-access software, this makes it easier for poachers to obtain geo-location information on the animals. According to PERCS, careful consideration should also be given to publication and distribution channels when presenting research and data collection. They state that as we think about methods of reporting, we must also think about the locations of that reporting (Merz, 1998) as they may be impactful to subject of the research.

Overall, although scientists generally choose to perform research in order to raise awareness or solve problems facing individuals or populations, the research they perform carries weight and might sometimes have unpredictable effects. In the case of Wildbook, the benefit the software provides is important, but the consequences to wildlife are significantly impactful and might create greater repercussions for the populations being studied—endangered species throughout the world. Wildbook should weigh both the benefits and negative implications of their research as well as their information dissemination methods in order to ensure that their research subjects are not being disproportionately disadvantaged.



Data for Good Exchange 2017. (n.d.).

Services. (n.d.).

Merz, T. (1998). The Ethics of Fieldwork.




Future of Storytelling Festival Event

By wanyi

The future of storytelling (FoST) festival is an immersive storytelling event covers exhibits, panels conversations, lectures from thinkers and practitioners from diverse fields, interactive performance about how to use the cutting-edge technologies, media and communication ways to telling stories in the future. [FoST] On October 6th, I went to Staten Island for experience interesting people’s projects and explorations of storytelling.

Processed with VSCO with g3 preset

The consequence beyond my thought, I was excepted to just see some VR or AR shows and immerse in a thrill of the chase. It was thrilling and also meaningful when I finish the lecture about “Refining Identity through the lens of the media”.


The talker contains Wendy Calhoun, a writer, and producer of TV-serous; Joe Lewis, head of comedy, drama & VR Amazon studios and Jose Antonio Vargas, Kay Wilson Stallings. Wendy said she refuses to tell “color-blind” [2008] stories, for colorblind stories encourages the writers to be generic in their choice. In fact, the choice of giving a person or actor a cultural specificity could bring the character to life in a much more authentic way. [FoST] The reason why we avoid to express our true thought is that we could not be accepting the situation or the status quo of bias, prejudice and people’s thoughts based on their culture, community, and faith. [2004] She then pointed out that diversity is so much more than race and gender “When we talk about diversity, we say the female, people with color…Diversity is also height, weight…So many different things in the world.” That reminds me to think of Vinopal’s article [2006] about workforce diversity, the homogenization of gender, color and social category, generation, diversity covers so board range of society. We may see the importance of co-operating, for the enterprise culture, better serve the diverse community. but the reason why we still could not see the diversification may not only for the pipeline issues but the dishonesty. The dishonesty causes the ignorance of bias, that could not be measured by any questionnaire or interview. When information professional arranges the records, empathy matters, know the story and emotion of others and really put ourselves in their shoes. What I agree with is the importance of take action, no matter in gender realm or others, like Wajcman’s article let more female get into science, not only talk about what we should deserve and do nothing, only if the situation been changed, fewer judgement about what kind of job should what kind of people do. [2010] Annevar Bush’s As We May Think said scientific reasoning should not only limit to logical processes, that could impede our way for understanding the world. [1945] If we see technology as physical devices, it’s hard to create substantial technology progress. Yochai Benkler [2006] mentions social production in his book. If discards the threaten of intellectual property, people transact knowledge by lower cost, highly effective and board way. We are already breaking through the wall of disciplines, more identity conscious needs breakthrough.

The information heritage needs authentic, research and scrutiny, by achieves, librarians, writers…, Wendy Calhoun than describes her experience of research, once she needs to write a chapter about Kentucky, and she never been there before, so she went there and talked with Kentucky’s police officer, asked them questions. One officer named Walt told her she’s real-life bullet. She said, “Compare actually see where she lived, actually heard what she did, plus, the little more stories as we walk into the room and pitch it.”[FoST], that could be the real passion of doing the job. People were doing that have the extraordinary responsibility to make sure that all stories authentic as possible. You have to do the research. Do it right, not to not do it.



Work Citing

“FoST FESTIVAL.” Future of StoryTelling | Reinventing the Way Stories Are Told,

Burdman, Pamela (2008). “Exposing the truth and fiction of racial data” (PDF). California Magazine. Cal Alumni Association: 40–46. Retrieved 18 January 2008.

Jennifer Vinopal(2006). “The Quest for Diversity in Library Staffing: From Awareness to Action” In the Library with the Lead Pipe, quest-for-diversity, 2006.

Robert Jensen(), “The Myth of the Neutral Professional” Progressive Librarian No. 24, 2004.

Judy Wajcman (2010). “Feminist theories of technology” Cambridge Journal of Economics, Volume 34, Issue 1, Pages 143–152, 1 January 2010.

Bush, Vannevar (1945). “As We May Think” Atlantic Monthly 176, pp. 101-108, July 1945.

Pawley, C. (2003). “INFORMATION LITERACY: A CONTRADICTORY COUPLING” Library Quarterly73(4), 422-452.

Benkler, Y. (2006). “Introduction: a moment of opportunity and challenge” in The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. Yale University Press, 1–18.

SLA New York Conference and Expo 2017

By asrp

On Friday October 20th I attended the 2017 SLA NY chapter’s conference and expo at Baruch College in New York City. This year’s theme was Resilience: Navigating the Information Landscape. They had a lineup of fantastic speakers from all areas of information professions, all of whom have been resilient and successful in their careers in the ever-changing information world. The conference hosted two keynote speakers, and eight panels throughout the day. Although each panel held noteworthy speakers with much insight on career paths and the growth of information professionals, this article will focus on the two keynote speakers and a panel on fake news and how to combat misinformation.

The conference kicked off with our morning keynote speaker, CEO of Sterling Talent Solutions, Clare Hart, talking about opportunity, resilience, and success. Hart started by congratulating the audience, most of which have obtained or are in the process of obtaining a master’s degree, a degree held by less than ten percent of adults over the age of 25 in the United States. A Master’s of Library and Information Science can open up many opportunities to individuals seeking professions in libraries, information, data, and increasingly in the technology fields. There is an opinion by some that there will be less of a need for information professionals in the future, as more information is accessible to the public. Hart retaliates by discussing just a few information/data jobs that will be seeing a growth in the near future, such as: Market Research Analyst, Data Scientist, Operations Research Analysis, and Data Governance/Data Domain Curator. At a time of societal change, where some doors close others will open, and there will always be a need for information professionals in the digital shift. We are in an age of acceleration, and “we can’t escape these accelerations. We have to dive into them, take advantage of their energy and flows where possible, move with them, use them to learn faster, design smarter, and collaborate deeper.” Hart addresses the need to retool our educational systems to maximize skills and attributes that will prepare people with top employability skills, placing an emphasis on the communication and planning skillsets. Referencing her own transitional stages between jobs, Hart gives us a list of things to write down during times of transition: write down what you did well, what you could’ve done better or differently, where you want to go/what kind of company or organization you want to work for, research that job and write down the top choices while weighing the pros and cons. These lists will serve as lessons in self-awareness, one of the major components of being a successful and resilient information professional. It’s important to remember that we are all unique, and with a master’s in LIS we already have or are working towards “fabulous credentials,” that will help us take advantage of the many opportunities that are being created in the market today. We must remember that it’s our attitude that will help us get the most out of lifelong learning, and that being self-aware will lead to positive transitions. Hart concluded her presentation with those key takeaways to carry with us into our future professions.

With the rise of social media and the growing access of information and opinions to the public, fake news has become a buzzword. One of the morning panels, In-Credible Sources: Fake News in the Info Age, addresses the fake news of today and how journalists and researchers can combat it.  The panel was hosted by Brandy Zadrozny and Kathy Deveny. Zadrozny is a researcher and reporter for the Daily Beast, and previously worked as a news librarian at ABC News and Fox News. Deveny is a managing director at Kekst, a leading strategic, corporate, and financial communications firm, and previously worked as an editor and writer, including deputy editor of Newsweek. Both speakers focused on the topic of misinformation in an overly-saturated information society. News outlets like Fox employed news librarians to help with research and fact-checking, but now with the cutting of many news librarian jobs, the reporters are in charge of doing their own research and fact-checking. Zadrozny points out that many people are just simply over fact-checks and will continue to read what they want to read. A popular culprit of misinformation is what is known as the “sexy press releases.” In science and health research, scientists need funding, and they get funding by writing articles. The articles are boosted by press releases that feed the public snippets of facts that are easily misconstrued into untruths. Deveny talks about fake news in the corporate realm. A lot of fake news on corporations comes from competitors causing chaos. A company’s reputation is more in danger now than ever as people take to social media and the emergence of online boycotts. How do we combat fake news in the media when people just aren’t skeptical enough? This is the challenge for information professionals like Zadrozny and Deveny, how do we teach people to be more skeptical? A short answer lies somewhere in feeding the public what they want, turning fact-checks into something easily digestible by telling a story in a fun and entertaining way. To combat fake news and get beneath the lies and untruths of misinformation, we need to follow through on skepticism, going with our gut feelings. If a story doesn’t sound right, we need to get interested in checking things out, we need to start poking holes. By contradicting things and being more skeptical, we create controversy and garner more attention. Journalists and reporters can also start by putting out factual videos to combat fake news. But as people are flooded with an abundance of information through Twitter, Facebook, and dark areas of the internet, the challenge on how to get people to this level of skepticism still remains.

The challenges that information professionals are facing, how to bridge the gap between information producers and information consumers, how to teach people to be more skeptical, or how to make our transitions into the growing technological society positive ones, are hard issues. Our afternoon keynote speaker Cynthia Cheng Correia, author, adjunct professor at Simmons College, and member of the Council of Competitive Intelligence Fellows, gave us some thoughts on how to address these challenges in her presentation, How Strong is your Professional Resilience? Correia teaches her students about competitive intelligence and how to prepare for the newer information landscape with tools to look at indicators in foresight. The questions she aims to tackle revolve around building a collective resilience. By combining professional preparation and personal resilience, we can create professional resilience in mindset and perspective. Resilience means being able to persist and adapt in the face of changes. It’s not just about fixing problems, but learning from them. In regard to the changes in information tools, Correia states that we need to keep up, that we need to think about how to respond, and that we need to anticipate. So how do we do this? We start with ourselves, our own independent resilience. It’s important to foster healthy relationships, through friends, family, colleagues, mentorships, and professional networks. These will give us a foundation of support, validation, empathy, and perspective. We also must be able to make a plan, this will aid in focus, problem-solving, foresight, and compartmentalizing. While making plans we must also remember to be positive in outlook (adjusting our approach to the problem at hand), realism (looking at the situation as it is), and a constant forward-looking attitude. Correia further goes into the importance of fostering our passions and growing with them, stating that the growth process isn’t about overcoming, it’s about enjoying the process and learning from it. She addresses the barriers to resilience: denial, habits, biases, silos (walls that we put up as “safe spaces”), behaviors, fear of failure, lack of self-awareness, and life’s challenges. These barriers aren’t just in individuals but in whole professions as well. In order to keep up with the changing information landscape, we must move past these barriers, strengthening our resilience, and re-evaluating our educational system to provide the proper tools for successfully navigation an information-heavy society.

The world of information is constantly changing and technologies are providing new ways of accessing and analyzing data and information. The information professions must keep up with these changes, following the latest news and trends in technology and building resilience in the workplace. This year’s SLA conference addressed some of these issues we are facing in current shifts, and provided stepping stones as to how to navigate them.

Protected: Government Document Archives in the Age of Digital Reproduction – A Gesture of Curiosity Inspired by Benjamin

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Response to “The Quest for Diversity in Library Staffing”

By Robin Miller

After reading Jennifer Vinopal’s article, “The Quest for Diversity in Library Staffing: From Awareness to Action” (2016), I have to admit I wasn’t surprised at the lack of diversity in the American Library system, but I did feel nonetheless a deep sense of disappointment. After reviewing the latest numbers published by the American Library Association (2009-2010), 88% of the credentialed librarians in this country are white. Of the 22% in our field that represent African Americans, Asian and Pacific Islanders (API), Native Americans, including Alaskan, Two or more races, and Latinos, there are only 138 active African American library directors in the US, according to Michael Kelley in “Diversity Never Happens: The Story of Minority Hiring Doesn’t Seem To Change Much.” He also notes that “African Americans and Hispanics are some of the strongest supporters of libraries, and yet they continue to be thinly represented among the ranks of librarians.” All of these figures are very disturbing, to say the least, and left me asking myself the same question, what can we do to effectively challenge the current racial and power structures that exist in our profession? (Hudson, 2017) I don’t believe that I have an answer, not just yet, but I want to be part of the conversation and take a stand.


In “The myth of the neutral professional” (2006), Jensen challenges us to stand up and take a side because “neutrality is impossible.” He continues, “[i]n any situation, there exists a distribution of power…To take no explicit position by claiming to be neutral is also a political choice, particularly when one is given the resources that make it easy to evaluate the consequences of that distribution of power and, at least potentially, affect its distribution.” We as LIS students have the resources. So now it is time for us to choose a side. Are we to stand by and idly watch as this lack of diversity continues to repeat itself, or do we choose to use our privilege and resources to affect change? We need to look at the failures of past diversity programs and not allow ourselves to repeat those failures by “diversifying without dismantling power differentials” (Vinopal, 2016) that currently exist.

These racial and power structures are not limited to the LIS profession, they are deeply entrenched in every area of our society today. But who will we be tomorrow? In “Why Diversity Matters: A Roundtable Discussion on Racial And Ethnic Diversity in Librarianship,” Juleah Swanson, Head of Acquisition Services at the University of Colorado Boulder, gives us a great place to start by asking ourselves, “What innovative ways can we educate and teach colleagues and students about complex issues like microaggressions, institutional racism, and privilege, reflecting both traditional means of teaching such as lectures and readings, and through learned experiences?” It is our responsibility as LIS students to continue to research and try to understand why these racial and power systems exist and lead the change that will diversify and better our profession.

“ ‘Diversity’ is named and defined in places of great power.” – Sandra Ríos Balderrama



Balderrama, S. (2000). This Trend Called Diversity. Library Trends: Ethnic Diversity in Library and Information Science 49 (1): 194-214.

Hudson, D. J. (2017). On “Diversity” as Anti-Racism in Library and Information Studies: A Critique. Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies 1(1). DOI: 10.24242/jclis.v1i1.6

Jensen, R. (2006). The myth of the neutral professional. Questioning Library Neutrality, ed. A. Lewis. Library Juice, 89–96.

Kelley, M. (2013). Diversity Never Happens: The Story of Minority Hiring Doesn’t Seem To Change Much | Editorial. .

Swanson, J., Damasco, I., Gonzalez-Smith, I., Hodges, D., Honma, T., and Tanaka, A. (2015) Why Diversity Matters: A Roundtable Discussion on Racial And Ethnic Diversity in Librarianship. .

Vinopal, J. (2016). The Quest for Diversity in Library Staffing: From Awareness to Action. Lead Pipe

Exploring the Archives with MoMA

By MiaBathke

Two weeks ago, The Museum of Modern Art Archives, Library, and Research Collections invited university students and faculty to come learn about the library and archives, what they have to offer, along with an introduction  to their online catalog. The event began with a series of presentations, an introduction to the Archives and Library, overviews and discussion of MoMA’s exhibition history pages on,       electronic resources, archival processing, library cataloging, and artists’ books. Before attending, I had     expected a very hands-on experience of the inner workings of the library and archive, gaining information about and insight into how they acquire and catalog their books, objects, and information. What I got instead was a comprehensive walk through of the MoMA’s online catalog and services available to the public both physically at the library as well as electronically.         MoMA archives

After introducing ourselves to the library staff and them doing the same with us, we were then introduced to the library; what it is, who can access it and how, and what is all in the library. An integral player in all this information is the MoMA’s online catalog. So what is there to know about MoMA’s library and their catalog? The most important thing to know about the MoMA’s catalog is not that it is completely online, nor is it the ease of searching everything from books to auction catalogs to archives. The most important part is that they decided to name it DADABASE and that is hilarious. In all seriousness what we learned as library and art history students about the DADABASE could easily be learned through some individual exploration of the museum’s page though often the existence of it falls under the radar of the average layman. That was a long-winded way of saying that I had no idea I had access to MoMA’s library and I had no idea what treasures it held and I am positive that I am not an anomaly in this scenario. It is a paradox of accessibility- a tool anyone can use, if only they know where to look for it.

Anyone who has access to a computer and internet has access to the DADABASE and anyone subsequently can make an appointment to see specific books or materials at the library through the website. We were shown during the meeting that the online catalog is much like any other online one search catalog. One of the librarians working at MoMA walked us all through searching the finding aids for the MoMA archives and their holdings.

As interesting and comprehensive as it is, the catalog is not perfect. We explored some of the errors in searching that can happen which are solves simply by being in the know, or of course consulting a librarian. In some cases, the catalog is tricky to search unless you are in the know about its organization. For example,  in the records for the finding aids in the archives section, the container lists, though mostly great,  if you search by the name of a person who was involved with press interviews you may get some results but others are hidden and more or less unsearchable. This flaw is due to the fact that the high volume of these interviews lead them to being cataloged by last initial. For example when looking through the Rona Roob Papers, and scrolling down to the “Collectors and Collecting,” a portion of this section stops being organized by individual collectors and begins with the truncated “collectors A-F.” The only way to find this document based on a collector that is in that “A-F” section is if you know the year and papers where the person you’re looking for would be recorded. The individual collectors in this section are not individually cataloged or tagged like in the sections organized by name instead of initial. This however, is really the only big flaw with how they online archive catalog is laid out and is easily solved by enlisting the help of one of the librarians.

Along with exploring and understanding the catalog and what is available to us as users, we learned about MoMA’s collection of artist books. They have a large variety of books that were created with the intention of being an artist book but some are a little more liminal. Something I found interesting and a bit unorthodox was how they decided to catalog artists books. Again, most are easy as most are sold and created as artists books but something MoMA does  differently is catalog books that aren’t artist books per se, but are instead artist books because they exhibit artistic elements. One example is a midcentury  advertising catalog  of which they have many issues. They would have the catalog regardless because it contains interesting and relevant information to MoMA but they decided to catalog it as an artist book instead of a magazine because the cover has interesting and unique design elements that were not necessarily common for a magazine of its type. 

The Museum of Modern Art Archives, Library, and Research Collections event was a little different than what I had gone in expecting. Regardless, I learned a lot about the MoMA archives that I truly wish I had known sooner. I know however, that they will be a great resource come thesis season for history of art grad students including myself.

Maximizing Generalizability, Precision, and Realism: A review of Incorporating Eye-tracking in UX Research to Inform Design

By armgar

Jen Romano–Bergstrom is a UX Research Lead at Instagram and Facebook. Some of her work currently involves survey design, usability testing, and writing. She is also known for using the research method known as eye-tracking to collect data based on human behavior. This technology now allows for users’ physical actions—all along with emotional responses—to be tracked for further analysis (Facebook Research, Person: Jen Romano–Bergstrom).

For a company and app like Instagram, this means they can determine what content users favor and how to guide them to it easily. The data is shared with influencers and advertisers. What does this mean to a regular user or the general public? Well, better placed ‘Like’, ‘Share’, and ‘Comment’ buttons…and ads, of course.

Furthermore, how would the methods employed in eye-tracking measure up to McGrath’s strategy circumplex in determining successful research on human behavior?


Romano-Bergstrom sums up that eye-tracking studies may be better for conducting research on those users who are not good with verbalizing their thoughts. The most notable (emphasized by Jen) is that people do not read dense text on Facebook and they only read what they need to read. Users are also reported to consume this content on mobile faster than they do on desktop.

The notable aspects of these summaries is that the Actors, in accordance with McGrath’s research strategies, cover a vast portion of the population. Evidence has been gathered between young and old, experts and novices, and mobile and desktop users in remote and lab settings.


Eye-tracking involves tracking users’ eye movements. Specifically, as users scroll through the apps, researchers can follow the linear movement of the eye and record lengths of time given to spans of attention versus gaze. This data can be represented virtually and in real-time. The maps created by the eye movement can be processed as video recordings or static images for later review.

There is a high level of control in recording the data represented: if the gaze falls of the screen, it can still be observed, but won’t affect the mapping process. The researcher can determine whether those ‘off-screen’ actions are relevant or not.


Researchers are also able to watch as users learn to interact with the product — something that can tell a lot about users’ behaviors. It is also valuable in the sense that testing can be accomplished successfully in unmoderated and remote testing.

Designers are able to test initial drafts by displaying screenshots and mock-ups on-screen that perform basic functions. Post-launch testing of features and things like copy, icons, placement  can also be administered.

The Dilemma

McGrath undoubtedly stresses that you cannot maximize all there criteria (McGrath 1994). In this case, the design of the eye-tracking research methods are well beyond flexible. 

There are three categories of the user experience data collected with Eye-tracking: Observational, Self-Report, and Physiological. Click patterns can be analyzed through observation. Meanwhile, users are more likely to think-aloud in a setting where eye-tracking is administered. They can report satisfaction and difficulty of the task more readily. If moderators are present, they have a chance to debrief the users. Tracking is also being expanded to include collection of emotional and electro-dermal activity through new quantitative/numerical coding.

From a physiological perspective, researchers can track the eye and observe what attracts users’ attentions. They can discover areas of confusion and/or interests. From this, designers and researchers can validate their updates to the content or the site’s interactive elements.


Facebook Research, Person: Jen Romano–Bergstrom. Retrieved October 27, 2017, from

Jen Romano-Bergstrom, Incorporating Eye-tracking in UX Research to Inform Design (personal communication, October 11, 2017).

McGrath, J. (1994). “Methodology matters: doing research in the behavioral and social sciences.” Original paper. private/readings/mcgrath_methodology_matters.pdf.

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