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Prepared For Disaster

Each year, the Library’s Discovery, Technology and Publishing department participates in the Information Services disaster recovery exercise. We do this in order to prove that we can provide continuity in case some unfortunate incident occurs.

Right now you are probably thinking “Unfortunate incident? Continuity? Disaster recovery? What does all that mean, and why should I care?”

The disasters, I discuss here, focus on those disasters that could threaten our network infrastructure and so, for simplicity’s sake, I call them “technology disasters.” Such a disaster could affect all systems that communicate on the UR network. Everything from email and Banner to even being able to browse UR’s website. A technology disaster can be very serious and could occur as part of a larger disaster, affecting the whole school physically (a tornado or hurricane as examples), or could be totally unnoticed by the UR community at all until, of course, they try to do something on the network.

What does technology disaster mean?

We live, and work, in a connected world and those connections occur through servers, routers, cables, cell towers, and people being available to monitor and react to issues that occur. A technology disaster threatens those connections. Anything that can unexpectedly cause any of these resources to become unavailable can potentially be disastrous, depending on the amount of time involved to recover the connections. Student records, staff and faculty compensation, and online learning are examples of systems that could be affected by a technology disaster.

These disasters can occur in many different ways but they generally have similar end results in common regardless of the type of disaster. For whatever reasons they occur (natural, accidental or man-made), time is of the essence. The examples below assume long term issues:

Loss of power – Long term power outages.
Loss or failure of equipment – Due, for example, to a water pipe bursting and flooding a server room, a UPS failure or a fire destroying cables that are necessary for data to flow across campus.
Loss of location – Due to having to abandon a server area due to smoke, water or fire.
Loss of internet connectivity – Due to losing UR’s long term connection to the internet.
Loss of personnel availability – Due to UR staff not being physically available to be on campus.

What does continuity mean?

Continuity involves determining which systems provide essential University services and making sure those systems are back online as soon as possible. This essential service determination was made by Information Services managers in close discussions with other departments on campus. The library system is included among these essential services: students must interact with Library resources for class assignments, and faculty members rely on our services for their research and teaching.

What does the Library disaster recovery exercise involve?

The Library’s part in this exercise includes building our database and web server, and developing documentation in a disaster recovery environment. Later, when the disaster is declared, we repeat this process and fine tune our documentation. This time however, since the information services disaster recovery exercise focuses on a long term disaster as a worst case scenario, we recreate the Library’s server at a secure site in a different geographic region, outside the Richmond area thus mitigating the losses in the examples above in a matter of hours instead of days.  After the exercise we store the software and documentation off campus at a secure site.  In the event of an actual disaster, that software and documentation will then be transferred to the remote location and we will have our servers up again quickly.

October Is Scary… In More Ways Than One.

Each year I look forward to October because Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love to see the decorations, people in costumes and, of course, the scary Hayrides. October, however, has taken on a new significance since President Obama designated October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

It’s great to focus attention on cybercrime because the list of recent cyberattacks against big business goes on and on:

Anthem – Hackers were able to breach a database that contained as many as 80 million records of current and former customers, as well as employees.

Target – hackers stole credit and debit card records from more than 40 million Target customers, as well as personal information like email and mailing addresses from some 70 million people.

Staples – Hackers compromised the information of about 1.16 million credit cards.

Home Depot – About 56 million payment cards were probably compromised.

JPMorgan Chase – Account information of 83 million households and small businesses were compromised.

Community Health Systems – Information including names, birth dates, Social Security numbers and addresses — for 4.5 million patients had been compromised.

Doing the math, on just these few hacking instances, I count over 334 million records that have been stolen. Google says the population of the United States is 318.9 million. Do you shop at Target? If so, there is a 34% chance the hackers got you if you used plastic to pay for your purchase. If you used a Chase card to pay, that percentage increases still more.

It’s both disturbing and frustrating at the same time. How can I possibly protect myself against these unseen criminals who seem intent on stealing my personal information? It’s a good question and, thankfully, I found a lot of information online concerning becoming more security conscious.

The Department of Homeland Security maintains a website that leads the way in helping us become better educated about this issue, and it offers tips and resources targeted at specific groups. I chose to link the ones below that are most relevant to our University community. They address computer and mobile device security that we should all review from time to time:

Students K-8, 9-12, and Undergraduate
Parents and Educators
Young Professionals
Older Americans

I will include other helpful links at the end of this article that will also give you some ideas on how to better protect yourself. While companies need to become better able to manage their server security, there are a few things that we can do to keep from compromising our own security.

Here’s my top 10 list of things to do to keep from compromising yourself:

  1. Use strong passwords. Carefully choose a password in excess of 8 characters.  It helps to pick a phrase and then change a vowel or two to numbers.  For instance, I once used JustL3tM3In.  It was easy to remember because I could easily remember “Just Let Me In”.  It was secure because I included upper case, lower case, and numbers with 11 characters. Be creative and maybe even switch an ‘@’ for ‘a’ if your pass phrase has an ‘a’ in it.  Two more things about passwords, never allow your computer or mobile device to remember a password and never share your password.
  2. Keep your software up to date. This includes patches, antivirus, and security software for your mobile device as well as your computers.
  3. Time your posts. If you are into social networking, wait until you are back home to post pictures or information about your trip so that no one knows your home is unattended.
  4. Keep a close eye on your devices.  Never leave your mobile device or laptop unattended in a public place.
  5. Turn off remote connectivity. If you are not using Bluetooth, or wireless networking, turn them off on your mobile device.
  6. Always be cautious about what you receive or read online — if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Sometimes the very act of opening an email or visiting a website will allow your device to become compromised. If you get an email from someone you don’t know offering you a million dollars to help them do something or an email that looks like it is replying to an email that you sent, although you cannot remember sending an email to that person, it’s a good idea to delete it without opening it to read.
  7. Ignore pop-ups because they often contain malicious software. These pop-ups trick users into doing something the hacker needs them to do in order to attack them. For instance, if you click on something the pop-up offers, like an interesting survey or some “AMAZING” product information link, you could unintentionally help the hacker. If you see something that you are really interested in, open another browser window and do a Google search to see what people say about it before you simply click the link.
  8. Only use secure websites for online shopping and banking. Always make sure there is an https in the address bar. Most of the time there will only be an http (no S). HTTPS means it is a secure website. Never enter anything that you are concerned about (social security number, birthdates, credit card numbers, etc.) without seeing the https.
  9. Don’t store your card details on websites. Err on the side of caution when asked if you want to store your credit card details for future use.
  10. Different site, different passwords. Most online users own accounts in over a dozen sites. For instance, if a hacker guesses your Facebook password and you used that same password at a site like Amazon, then the hacker has your Amazon password and perhaps even your email password.

So Happy National Cyber Security Awareness Month! Follow these tips, and the others listed at links below, and you may very well ‘trick’ the hacker instead of ‘treating’ them… ( I couldn’t help myself, I love Halloween! )

Links:

Homeland Security: http://www.dhs.gov/national-cyber-security-awareness-month

University of California Santa Cruz: http://its.ucsc.edu/security/top10.html

U.S News & World Report: http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2015/01/13/10-ways-to-keep-your-phone-safe

Bookbinding with Brien Beidler at the Charleston Library Society ~ Part II

In August, with Brien’s help, I was able to construct two blank journals using the German four piece case method, in full-cloth, using different headbands (one sewn and one pasted in), and two different end-sheet structures. A thorough explanation of the German Case (or Bradel) Binding can be found here: http://www.philobiblon.com/casebd.shtml

As Brien was instructing me, I tried to take notes, but I also wanted to focus as closely as possible on what he was showing me. So fortunately, James was taking more detailed notes on the same steps and he was kind enough to share them with me. They are charmingly illustrated in his own blank journal that he had made not too long ago. Here is an example:

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What follows below is a series of photos with brief descriptions documenting what I made during my time spent with Brien,  James, and Wren at the Library Society of Charleston.

Bertha the Board Shears

Bertha the Board Shears

This is truly an indispensable tool. It makes both trimming and making sure your work is square a breeze. Some of the most important things I learned during the four days I spent with Brien is how essential it is to make sure everything is square and to be as precise as possible, to not rush, and to take your time to do things carefully the first time. Bookbinding should not be rushed. It is not a sprint and each step should be considered and and enjoyed.

 

Endsheets with airplane linen hinges

Endsheets with airplane linen hinges

Two stacks of signatures ready to be pressed

Two stacks of signatures ready to be pressed

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Pressing the signatures

Pressing the signatures

My signatures under the weight of a book press

Setting up the sewing frame & sewing the signatures

Setting up the sewing frame

Sewing the spine on linen tapes with straight stitches and kettle stitches at the heads and tails

Sewing the signatures on linen tapes with straight stitches, and kettle stitches at the heads and tails

Sewing the spine on linen tapes with straight stitches and kettle stitches at the heads and tails

Sewing two books at a time

Setting up to round the spine in the Job Backer

Setting up to round the spine which was by far the most difficult part of the whole process. Perhaps one day, with lots of opportunity to practice, I will get the hang of it.

A better view of the Job Backer (sorry I forgot to take photos of the French backing hammer and the English backing hammer)

A better view of the Job Backer (sorry I forgot to take photos of the French backing hammer and the English backing hammer)

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Hand sewn two-color end bands

Hand sewn two-color end band

With red & blue silk floss for the Spiders!

Sewing the signatures and the end bands were my favorite parts of the entire bookbinding process. Perhaps it is because I felt the most comfortable with a needle in my hand. Or perhaps it is my sheer love of textiles and needlework. After years of carefully studying and stitching reproduction 17th, 18th, and 19th century needlework samplers, I was happy to translate my skills into book making. It is no surprise to me that traditionally women in a bindery would be found at the sewing frame.

Two different styles of hand made end bands

Two different styles of hand made end bands

Straining the paste -- an example of when the master learns from the apprentice. Thanks, James!

Straining the paste — an example of when the master learns from the apprentice. Thanks, James!

Pasting down the cloth to the boards. You can see the “four pieces” of the German case binding: the boards, the book cloth for the covering, the connecting strip, and the spine stiffener, clearly in this photo.

Pasting down the cloth to the boards. You can see the “four pieces” of the German case binding: the boards, the book cloth for the covering, the connecting strip, and the spine stiffener, clearly in this photo.

Two cases (interior)

Two cases (interior)

Two cases (exterior)

Two cases (exterior)

Here is Brien showing off his experiment using the airplane linen as the exterior book cloth. We both thought it turned out very nice especially once it was dry. You can see a photo of the finished book on Brien’s blog: http://brienbeidler.com/

Here is Brien showing off his “experiment” using the airplane linen as the exterior book cloth. He worked on his own book while I worked on my two. We both thought his book turned out very nice, especially once it was dry. You can see a photo of the finished book on Brien’s blog: http://brienbeidler.com/

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My completed books

I am so grateful to Brien for allowing me into his workspace for several days and for his willingness to share some of his knowledge and experience with me.

 

Open Source, Free Like A Puppy…

Scott McNealy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, is famous for once having said that “Open source is free like a puppy is free” (Donoghue).  He is, of course, talking about the expenses necessary for taking care of the free puppy.Corgi

Open source is kind of like that.  It is free by definition.  Dictionary.com defines open source as “pertaining to, or denoting, software whose source code is available free of charge to the public to use, copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute”.  That said, open source is actually much more than just free.  Open source is, for the large part, community-supported by people who have technology issues a lot like yours.  A person may need an application for something so, in some cases, they create it, maintain it, add functionality, put it out there for you to freely use and answer questions to help you bring the application on line.  Using McNealy’s puppy example, it would be like the puppy buying itself, coming home to your house by itself, house breaking itself and learning to fetch your slippers, again… all by itself.  It’s really hard for me to see the bad thing in this but, believe it or not, there are some valid concerns.

Open source software development is flourishing and very much in use all over the world.  While proprietary software companies complain about open source, Forrester Research reports that 76% of developers have used open source technology at some level (Baldwin).  That means even companies that create or purchase ‘off the shelf’ software use free, open source software tools to build with – companies like Apple, the first major computer company to make open source development a key part of its ongoing software strategy, and Microsoft who initially went to war against open source development.

”Open source is an intellectual-property destroyer,” former Windows chief Jim Allchin famously quipped in 2001. “I can’t imagine something that could be worse than this for the software business and the intellectual-property business” (Cooper).

And who can forget that old timeless classic…

“Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches,” former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told the Chicago Sun Times a few months later. “That’s the way that the license works” (Cooper).

Now, however, in May 2014, Microsoft finally made official its unofficial decision to incorporate some open-source code into its developer and programming languages. More recently, Microsoft put 22-year company veteran Mark Hill in charge of a global group to cultivate open-source developers to write applications that work with Azure, the Microsoft cloud service that competes against the likes of Rackspace, Google, and Amazon (Cooper).

As Microsoft eventually came to understand, there are a lot of benefits to using open source.  To name just a few:

1. Keeps costs down.
2. Improves quality because code problems are resolved quickly.
3. Delivers agility by speeding up the pace of software development and innovation which allows businesses to react quickly and thereby not be dependent on vendors schedules.
4. Mitigates business risk by reducing dependence on a single or multiple vendors.

We use a mix of proprietary and open source software in Discovery, Technology, and Publishing to administer the library servers and applications such as the library catalog, digital collections and various departmental work flows.  There are times when we would like to have functionality that we don’t currently have but that’s been true of the vendor supplied software as well as the open source software.  For that reason, I don’t really distinguish between the two types because I just kind of see them as each being a toolbox that I need to use to get the job done.  Open source plays a huge role in our success as a department.

But let’s not forget that the ‘free puppy’ criticism does also have some merit.  The first thing is training.  People are resistant to change and so they are not likely to explore using an open source alternative application instead of Windows or Apple for things like their desktop or MS Office needs.  Another issue is support.  Proprietary software vendors provide support for their products and, if you use open source, you may have to provide your own developer to get the functionality you desire. Lastly, some great open source software development simply ceases for whatever reason and you may be left with no one to provide patches or software updates, again possibly requiring the hiring of a developer to maintain your software.

While these are valid concerns, open source application usage is growing quickly all over the world, in all industries.  Technology costs a lot of money and the financial advantage to using open source software must outweigh the ‘free puppy’ concerns or companies would not be moving in that direction.

On a personal note, I use open source software daily and I will always look for a free open source application before I buy something because I generally just need something for a single use or for a short time.  I use applications like Notepad++ which is better than the notepad built into Windows, 7-Zip which allows me to zip and unzip files better than the one in Windows, VLC Media Player which is much better than Windows media player for manipulating various video formats and WinSCP for transferring files.  I also use various open source tools like MultiMon Taskbar which allows me to have a task bar on my second monitor.

If you’ve never installed open source software, here’s some sage advice.  Make sure you research what you want to install by looking for reviews of the application before you download and install it.  Read the installation instructions and make sure you understand what they want you to do.  Try to download it from the site that actually produced it and not a third party site.  This just makes certain you are getting a ‘clean’ copy and not a possibly modified copy of the application you want.  Finally, there are probably a lot of applications just like the one you’re looking for so if you install it and you don’t like it, don’t give up.  Just uninstall and go find another one.

So… How ’bout that free puppy now?

corgibottom

 

Donoghue, Andrew “Open Source ‘is free like a puppy is free’ says Sun boss.” ZDNet. CBS Interactive, June 8, 2005. Web July 22, 2014.  http://www.zdnet.com/open-source-is-free-like-a-puppy-is-free-says-sun-boss-3039202713/

Cooper, Charles “Dead and buried: Microsoft’s holy war on open-source software.” C|Net. CBS Interactive, June 1, 2014. Web July 22, 2014.  http://www.cnet.com/news/dead-and-buried-microsofts-holy-war-on-open-source-software/

Baldwin, Howard “4 reasons companies say yes to open source.” Computerworld. Computerworld, Inc., January 6, 2014. Web July 22, 2014 http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9244898/4_reasons_companies_say_yes_to_open_source

Corgi puppy images from:  http://www.pinterest.com/lizzygrace96/oh-my-corgis/

Notepad++ : http://notepad-plus-plus.org/download/v6.6.7.html
7-Zip : http://www.7-zip.org/
VLC Media Player – http://www.videolan.org/vlc/index.html
WinSCP – http://winscp.net/eng/docs/introduction
MultiMon – http://www.mediachance.com/free/multimon.htm

April Update

Stats for April 2014

  • Materials cataloged/awaiting cataloging: 4,750/381
  • Catalog records revised: 4,403
  • Page images digitized: 2,610
  • Still images digitized: 576
  • Library catalog visitors/page views: 14,443/64,971
  • Library catalog searches: 26,082
  • Digital collection visitors/page views: 3,171/10,020

Project Snapshot

UR Scholarship: 77 more theses and undergraduate honors papers were deposited into the Scholarship Repository in April. In our ongoing retrospective digitization effort, 20 more papers (894 pages) were imaged and prepped for uploading. This work will continue during the summer.

Centennial Exhibit: In big news, we have determined a title for our project. It comes from an article Dr. Boatwright wrote for the Religious Herald in 1910 shortly after the Richmond College Board of Trustees approved the purchase of land at Westhampton for the new site. (See Angie’s great post for more information about the Religious Herald.) After an eloquent description of the varied landscape and features of the area, Dr. Boatwright writes: “Amid such surroundings we plan to build for the centuries. May our twin Colleges soon crown the western heights above the river and the lake!” As tribute to Dr. Boatwright’s vision and leadership in bringing the colleges to our present location, we have titled the site “For the Centuries.” Work continues on the project as a whole.

Draw Back the Curtain: Our department has been supporting this ongoing documentary project for some time, and in April we digitized an additional 256 items, which brings the imaging portion of our work to a conclusion. In the meantime we’ve installed an Omeka instance for the project team to work with during the summer – they will be using it in parallel with the museum exhibits and documentary, bringing the stories of Jewish immigrants to Richmond from the former Soviet Union online.

Student Employees Make a Successful Year

As the school year comes to a close here at Boatwright Memorial Library and we reflect on everything we have accomplished since last summer, we can’t help but wonder how it would have all been achieved without the help of our phenomenal student employees. In our department, Discovery, Technology, & Publishing, we have 13 student employees, including two who will be graduating in just a few days (we’ll miss you!).  Chances are, if you have seen a really cool digital project or found a neatly labeled book in the stacks, one of our students helped to make that possible.

Amy, Moe, and Sam at the Student Employee Luncheon sponsored by the Friends of the Library

Amy, Moe, and Sam at the Student Employee Luncheon sponsored by the Friends of the Library.

Student employees in Discovery, Technology, & Publishing (DTP) perform a wide variety of tasks that require creativity, responsibility and ingenuity. Some of the duties that students take on for us include digitization for Interlibrary Loan (if you got your article request in the blink of an eye, a student employee helped with that!), photographing archival material, image editing, computer programming and website development, copy-cataloging, labeling, discards, and various stacks maintenance tasks.  On top of their regular jobs, we often have students who venture out of the realm of DTP to help other departments who need assistance.

Do you remember the Westhampton scrapbook that was discussed in an earlier blog post? A huge amount of the work done to complete the interactive scrapbook it has become was done by Amy, one of our student employees. She and another former student employee, Michael, collaborated to build a dynamic map of UR student hometowns with data that three other students, Jeremy, Scott, and Dodo, worked many hours to collect. Both of these fun endeavors will premier with the launching of our digital project celebrating the centennial of the UR Westhampton campus in June. Furthermore, many of the archival images you will see on the website were photographed by camera-operator extraordinaire, Jackie, a student employee who is also interested in pursuing graduate work in the library and information sciences.

Jackie frequently works in our camera studio photographing archival material.

Jackie frequently works in our camera studio photographing archival material.

The jobs that student employees complete for our department are imperative to our operations running smoothly, but truly the best thing about having them work here is the fact that they remind us daily why we want to make this the best library it can be: to be a useful, helpful and memorable part of student life. It may sound like I’m doting upon them, but if you worked with this bunch of students, you would, too!