Data and Specialized Services: 2020/09 (Sep)


  • Dates and times for the first all-virtual Software Carpentries workshops have been set for mid-October, and the 25 spots were filled within 30 minutes of being sent out. Such demand!


  • Carried out scheduling of team meetings and Zotero/Mendeley workshop for the Fall, representing the first full semester with new members now fully on-boarded.
  • Christine Malinowski once again partnered with LIRSians Shikha Sharma and Phoebe Ayers to provide a virtual library resources & citation management session to the current Leaders for Global Operations program cohort.


  • Scheduled fall workshops, focusing on revising offering for effective remote delivery
  • Completed schedule for FY21 DMS projects
  • Amy Nurnberger was invited to co-author UNESCO policy paper on open data


  • The first virtual in-house Intro to GIS workshop was provided to fellow library staff as part of the Information Services Training Program. There are plans to do a second more hands-on workshop in the future.
  • Additional annual class orientations were reworked to be able to be offered virtually, i.e. 11.107/11.407 & 4.163J / 11.332J

Distinctive Collections: 2020/09 (Sep)


On Monday, September 1, Michael A. Toler delivered the first lecture of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture’s Fall Program, “Tangier at the Crossroads: Memories of Cosmopolitanism and Dreams of Technological Modernity.” The lecture compared early 20th century development of Tangier with early 21st century development. The focus of the fall lecture series is Islam in Africa.

Institute Archives & Special Collections: 2020/09 (Sep)

DDC – Institute Archives and Records Management program

Kari Smith presented a tutorial on the Institute Archives and the Institute’s Records Management Program to 14 staff and officers in the Offices of the President and of the Corporation during the week of Sept 21, 2020. The 90 minute sessions were arranged by the Executive Director of Finance, Administration, and Operations, Office of the President. The tutorial included context for the Institute Archives and Records program; a timeline of the Institute Archives and relevant Institute Policies regarding records management; considerations for transferring historically important records to the Institute Archives; details about the records held in the Institute Archives for all Administrative Offices including gaps in the collections (thanks to Myles Crowley for his assistance); and information about digital archives and records management. Smith also met with the Deputy Secretary of the Corporation, who encouraged follow up with the Corporation and Office of the President reporting lines regarding transfer of records to the Institute Archives to fill gaps and ensure that 2020-21 is documented fully in the Institute Archives. A new FAQ handout on Recordkeeping at MIT is available from the Records Management Program LibGuide:

Distinctive Collections: 2020/09 (Sep)

The Combining Collections Summer 2020 project was completed. This project brought together Collections Team and Processing Team staff to determine if there were any archival collections that could be merged. Examples include combining collections that have the same creator such as Office of the Treasurer collections, or collections that have the same theme such as small donations by alumni that document their student work. A final report will be completed soon.

Distinctive Collections recently released on Github a 1978 version of source code to the game Zork from the MIT Tapes of Tech Square (ToTS) Collection. This adds to the 1977 version that DDC released earlier this year.

Liaison, Instruction, & Reference Services: 2020/09 (Sep)

Library teaching and orientations go online!

In the Fall, along with reference and consultation, teaching keeps LIRSians busy!  A few reported highlights:

  • Graduate Student Association orientation.  Drumroll….Barbara Williams, Jen Greenleaf, Nina Davis Millis, Rob Caplin, Myles Crowley, Helen Bailey, Brigham Fay, Steph Kohler, Leah Walker, Deborah Lenares, and Howard J Silver.
  • 17.263: Electoral Politics, Prof. Caughey. Jen G.
  • 10.990 Chem Eng new grad students.  Ye L.  Used a poll to visualize student expectations for session, and 1 minute papers to understand what they learned that was new, what questions they still had for follow-up.
  • 5.361/2 Expression and Purification of Enzyme Mutants / Kinetics of Enzyme Inhibition. Ye L. Pre-assignment using Qualtrics to compare Google with PubMed, students shared results for additional help.
  • Knight Science Journalism Fellows orientation. Ece T. and Barbara W.  On Labor Day to accommodate their schedule.  Well done!
  • 12.410J Observational Techniques in Optical Astronomy. Chris S. Breakout rooms and teams working to find info on library homepage and in resource databases.
  • 21W.035.01 Communicating Science to the Public. Chris S.  Created community by opening her session with acknowledgment of MIT student’s death,  taking a moment to feel sorrow together and recognize the loss.
  • 22.ThT NSE Thesis Prospectus. Chris S.  Zoom poll to discover prior student knowledge of resources, to guide live demo of additional resources in NSE Libguide.
  • 1.013  Senior Civil and Environmental Engineering Design. Chris S & Elizabeth S. Active Learning via breakout rooms, in which students worked on a database comparison chart hosted in Google Slides.
  • 2.s009 Explorations in Product Design. Nick A. Elizabeth S. Digital treasure hunt for standards, market research, company data, books/articles and patents.  Via Zoom with breakout rooms.
  • 2.671 Instrumentation and Measurement. Elizabeth S.  In-class activities using embedded Canvas quizzes, where students practiced keyword generation and located literature for project proposals.. Embedded timer (from youtube) to help breakout room teams pace their work.

ALOT (Autumn Library Teaching Online) team work:

  • The Reflective Practitioner, Part I.  Barbara Williams and Joy McNally, Knowledge Manager and Research Librarian at Union of Concerned Scientists, Shannon H. and Rob C.  Theory, case study, and 2-person teams to be set up going forward to develop this as practice in professional settings.  Part II in December.  Attendees included academic librarians (MIT and beyond), staff and some students.
  • Interactive and Engagement Tools for Online Learning. Rob C, Shannon H, Ece T, and Barbara W.

MIT Reads

  • Tommy Orange, the author of There There, will be joining an audience of MIT community members and friends Oct 20, 5pm eastern time, via a webcast with live Q&A and a student moderator.  We are also working with the Indigenous People’s Advisory Council to organize a private discussion for  indigenous students with Mr. Orange.
  • Our planning group is busy thinking about how best to host meaningful discussions on Zoom, Goodreads, and/or other social media platforms.
  • MindHandHeart has awarded us a grant of $2000 to support an online poetry/spoken word event.  S Kohler of IDLA is taking the lead on planning the program, and wrote the successful grant application!

Lewis Music Library

  • Cate Gallivan and Nina Davis-Millis have eased into on-campus work, initially (during Stage 1) filling scanning requests and putting materials on e-reserves.  As of September 30, all three of us will be on campus at least one day a week,  to gear up for Stage 2 (access to tangible materials.)
  • We coordinated with Music and Theater Arts to ensure that the specialized equipment and materials required by performance-based classes are available.
  • Forrest Larson has completed a titanic task: working through a large backlog of oral history processing.  A loud and rambunctious celebration will be in order when the oral histories are available!  Forrest has additional good news to share: his review of a collection of interviews with jazz great Charles Mingus was just published by The Oral History Review (

Other LIRS activities included re-joining the chat service as a way to help out during restart, testing changes to the web site, supplying data to the Synthesis and Restart teams, updating documentation so that public service staff have accurate info to share, submitting team and service annual reports, reviewing best practices for virtual meetings (thanks Tina, for leading) and starting to plan for the collections database review.  And, of course, supporting faculty and students with semester start!

Information Delivery & Library Access: 2020/09 (Sep)

Stage One Services are up and running, we are still working on smoothing out revised workflows and statistics collections.

Stage Two Services started 9/28/20 and seem to be running well as of day 2.  We are leaning heavily on our Resource Sharing colleagues to help us all learn the ins and outs of shipping, on UX and ITS colleagues for helping to enable and advertise the redesigned services and a huge thanks to Maria R., Judith and Stephanie TM for helping us figure out an interim shipping pick up solution while we wait for MIT to enable our vendors to work with us.  Thanks to Lisa for all her work helping all the departments work together to get our services running.

Thanks to all the IDLA staff who have rolled with ALL the changes to our work and scheduling in the face of the unknown demand!

Like most of our colleagues, Alma work is looming large on our crowded horizons.

Research: 2020/09 (Sep)

CREOS Updates for Sep 2020

Information Delivery & Library Access: 2020/08 (Aug)

Stage One Services Restart kicked off 8/31/20! IDLA has some staff now regularly cycling onto campus, and last week we had volunteers coming on site to begin the cleanup work needed to get everything back in order.  Here are a couple highlights as well as other points of interest:

  • Many ID&LA staff continue to work on Alma implementation prep at this stage, including Fulfillment, Primo, Reporting, and Data Prep – meetings have begun with the AMO and all the teams are working to overcome blockers posed by rotations on site and general high load coming from the services restart planning.
  • MIT’s Resource Sharing has been busy!
    • Successfully upgraded to 9.1
    • Participated in the recently concluded RapidILL COVID-19 initiative.  This project filled requests for non-Rapid libraries during a very difficult time when many libraries would have struggled to obtain materials for their users continuing their studies and research.  Between March and August, this pod filled 34,330 article and book chapter requests.
    • Allyson Harper-Nixon has been serving as chair of the Ivy Plus Borrow Direct Operations Group since early summer
  • August 31st was the last day for graduating students to request labels!  We received 57 requests for labels to return an estimated 250+ items.
  • Since August 25th, we have processed 2,300 returns and still going strong.
  • The Reserves team has been working heroically to get through all the accumulated reserves requests which we delayed by the late release of the class schedule.  The team is working closely with A&A to fill text orders with electronic copies whenever possible and has begun scanning for reserves on site this week.
  • As Stage One gets going, it’s important to remember how dependent we are on others on campus and further afield to get our work done!   We are:
    • Working with HD to restart courier deliveries
    • Working with Maria and our vendors to make sure materials coming and going from campus is running again despite construction, access issues and staffing limits
    • Scheduled YourMove to get returns back to their home locations this week so we can focus on shelving and making them available for services
  • Working with many other departments to contribute to Stage Two plans.

Data and Specialized Services: 2020/08 (Aug)


  • GIS, DMS, and CMWT all participated in the virtual asynchronous and live Zoom Rotch Library orientations for SA+P.
  • We are happy stakeholders Image of person holding t-bone steak, because, punswith LIRS in building the new Carpentries community at MIT.


  • CMWT held a “LaTeX authoring with Overleaf” online workshop.

Distinctive Collections: 2020/08 (Aug)

Processing Team

  • Alex McGee, Chris Tanguay, and Greta Suiter attended SNACSchool, and are now SNAC (Social Networks and Archival Context) editors. SNAC is a free, online resource that helps users discover biographical and historical information about persons, families, and organizations that created or are documented in historical resources and their connections to one another. Users can locate archival collections and related resources held at cultural heritage institutions around the world.
  • A new iteration of D2C2W2G (Department of Distinctive Collections Contingent Workers Working Group) met to begin working on an all department approach to contingent working hiring and managing. Members include: Alex McGee, Ayako Letizia, Chris Tanguay, Jenn Morris, Kari Smith, Michael Toler, Myles Crowley, and Nicola Mantzaris.
  • Alex has been elected Vice Co-Chair of the Society of American Archivists’ Women’s Collections Section. She will serve a one year term as vice chair, before serving as section Co-Chair in 2021-2022.
  • Chris presented at the Society of American Archivist’s annual meeting (virtual) as part of the panel “Archivists with Disabilities.”
  • Distinctive Collections has reviewed more than 600 of its local name authorities in ArchivesSpace during the month of August as part of a metadata cleanup effort. Almost half of these records are now associated with Virtual International Authority File (VIAF) records. NACO record authorities for the DDC (excluding AKDC and Visual Collections) have now been completely reviewed and updated as needed (1875 records).

Scholarly Communications & Collections Strategy: 2020/08 (Aug)

  • Sadie Roosa presented a technical demo of DSpace@MIT as part of the Information Services Training series
  • The Right Working Group (RWG) have finished the first draft of workflow proposal for digitization to support streaming media for course reserves
  • Created a new DSpace community for the Research Computing Project and set MITEI up to start populating their collection
  • Connected with ACS technical staff to begin setting up their autodeposit feed into the OA Collection in DSpace
  • Altered aspects of the OA workflow to increase metadata coming from Elements into DSpace and mitigate some depositing issues
  • The Collection Strategists are preparing for restart and are currently assessing the increased number of textbook requests and a new offering from Cambridge University Press (CUP) that may help with this. They are also looking into Overdrive for suggested purchases
  • The scholarlypub team is creating a form to help with reserve digitization requests that exceed the existing 10% standard

Liaison, Instruction, & Reference Services: 2020/08 (Aug)

For LIRS, semester start-up is well underway.


  • For Civil & Environmental Engineering graduate students, Chris Sherratt and Elizabeth Soergel introduced themselves and the libraries with a compact 5 min slide show on Zoom.
  • In Nuclear Science & Eng, Chris Sherratt’s orientation got a ringing endorsement from the following speaker for whom Chris had located a relevant paper from 1948.
  • Ye Li used Slido to interact with 45 DMSE graduate students. Her presentation (Access & Discovery, Organization & Reproducibility, Scholarly Communication & Impact) garnered later follow-up questions as well as interest in further workshops.

Online Teaching

  • Kai Alexis-Smith and Elizabeth Soergel are the Steering Team for ALOT (Autumn Libraries Online Teaching) in which small teams are working collaboratively to move library instruction online according to the best practice we can adopt and learn about quickly.  9 teams have launched with participants from almost all depts in the library – there are about 29 people involved.   The Steering Team will have midpoint team check-ins and coordinate a sharing out as each team completes their work.
  • The Ivy Plus Research, Teaching & Learning Group held a  meeting to discuss their Canvas library integration and experience. Jen Greenleaf helped plan the meeting, Mark Szarko and Chris Sherratt also attended.  Most other Ivy Plus schools have integration with Canvas so that either a libguide or library webpage is automatically included on all class pages.
  • Barbara Williams demo’d a new tool – Kudoboards –  for building community in online orientations and instruction.  Used with AeroAstro and Knight Journalism Fellows, with more experimentation underway.

 Support for Computational, Open & Reproducible Research

  • SRLT approved the joint proposal from LIRS and DSS on MIT Libraries Organizational Membership in the Carpentries Community. We will join Carpentries via the New England Software Carpentry Library Consortium (NESCLiC) as a contributing member, enrich our staff expertise, and build a learning community on campus in the areas of digital scholarship, open and computationally reproducible research. Ye and Ece will lead the Carpentries at MIT project team for implementation.
  • Ece and Mark worked with the SHASS leaders of the Program in Digital Humanities on a workshop series called Enhancing Instruction at a Distance: Digital Tools for SHASS Teaching,  helping to plan the content, presenting on timelines, and co-hosting on Zoom. Afternoon sessions (Aug 24-28) included:  Annotation Tools, Extending Canvas, Mapping & Timelines, and Textual Corpus Analysis. Between 30-50 mostly faculty attended each session, from multiple departments in SHASS as well as from Sloan, MISTI, and Mathematics.
  • Ye Li presented a virtual poster on “Chemists’ Data Needs for Machine Learning Research” during the American Chemical Society (ACS) Fall 2020 National Meeting.  Several MIT faculty members and data analytics vendors participated in the Chemical Information Division (CINF) symposia on “Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence in Computational Chemistry” and “Reaction Prediction & Synthesis Planning” which Ye facilitated as program co-chair.
  • With Katie Zimmerman and Laura Hanscom, Ye co-taught a FSCI2020 online course on “FAIR for Data and Texts Not in the Open: Overcoming Legal, Technological, and Economic Barriers.” Participants came from 20+ organizations in 6 time zones. They are planning to teach the course at MIT during IAP 2021.

Reference and outreach high fives of the month!

  • Success! Back in March, on behalf of an MIT user, Chris Sherratt requested a scan of a 1976 technical report from a contact in a UK archives. The digitized report arrived in August, which the graduate student was very happy to use in his dissertation.
  • Relationships from one outreach project often pay off in multiple ways.  After a July presentation by Katharine Dunn for the MITEI Communications staff, they reached out to Chris Sherratt about adding content to DSpace. Chris connected them to Sadie Roosa and now categories for MITEI publications created years ago in DSpace will be populated.

Organizational Effectiveness

  • Tina Chan led LIRS in a discussion and expansion of our community agreements, incorporating some ideas from MIT’s Day of Dialog and other sources, aimed at fostering inclusion, fairness, and equity in our meetings.
  • Rob Caplin is working on both onboarding with other administrative support staff as well as participating in the health and safety work of re-start.
  • All LIRS teams (discipline based communities of practice as well as interdisciplinary teams) are using workplans to guide their meeting agendas and projects for the Fall semester.  These become part of a larger packet, including individual liaison reports, that will be given to our new AD, Alexia Hudson-Ward!

Research: 2020/08 (Aug)

CREOS Updates for Aug 2020

  • Completed a bibliography of key research in the economics of open monographs, to be made public through the CREOS website
  • Released a preprint of “Data Literacy for Entrepreneurs” through SocArxiv
  • Review of upcoming grant opportunities
  • Vacations happened 🙂