Future Proofing Civic Data

Exploring the challenges of preserving open civic data for the long term

This past year, Temple University Libraries received a Knight Foundation Grant, “Knight News Challenge on Libraries,” to lead an exploratory research project, Future Proofing Civic Data, investigating the challenges of long-term preservation for open civic datasets.

Open civic data portals, such as OpenDataPhilly in Philadelphia, have been a growing trend in cities, states, and national governments over the last decade. Many governments and other civic partners began developing open civic data initiatives in order to make data originating from governmental agencies and civic organizations easily accessible online for immediate consultation, as well as for data reuse. Datasets can include anything from election results to operating budgets to an inventory of all the trees in a city. The hope is that these portals can help bridge the gap between citizens and government and stimulate civic engagement by making data of relevance to citizens easily accessible online.

However, portals do not always have fully formed or fully implemented plans to ensure the long-term preservation of those datasets, and best practices are yet to emerge in that domain.

The Temple Library project team interviewed over a dozen stakeholders about their use cases and needs and looked at several open civic data initiatives in Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh, to compare practices and examine real-life examples. We wrote up our findings in a white paper where we explore ten important factors that need to be taken into consideration, if we are to tackle long-term preservation of civic data successfully. We also look at how libraries could take the lead, or at least participate in the process.

Please see the full white paper for more details.

The project team was comprised of Joe Lucia (PI), Rachel Appel, Delphine Khanna, Chad Nelson, Margery Sly, and Gretchen Sneff.

Campaign 2012! All the Info You Need to Vote is Right Here!

A red, white and blue button with stars that says "vote". We created Voter Information –2012 Election Guide to give voters at Temple quality information on the upcoming presidential election. If you are a first-time voter, you can find information in the guide about polling locations and voter registration. To stay informed on daily campaign developments, to read public statements made by candidates, and to see what is being said about candidates, you can read the RSS feeds from fact checkers, reporters, polls, and bloggers. If you are curious about the history and political theory behind presidential elections the United States, you can find information about these subjects on the guide and through links to other research guides. Checking this guide regularly will keep you informed before you head to the polls in November.

Foundations Department at Tyler and Libraries Once Again Partner for Book Giveaway, Artists and Authors Talk

Third Annual Tyler School of Art Foundations/Paley Library Book Give Away and Artists and Authors Lecture Stop by the Paley Library Circulation Desk during the week of April 16 and receive your own copy* of Ellen Harvey’s New York Beautification Project. Between 1999 and 2001, Harvey executed small old-fashioned landscapes in oil on graffiti sites across New York City. New York Beautification Project documents the works and Harvey’s diaristic accounts of painting illegally throughout New York. The narrative of her “beautification project” is both provocative and hilarious, touching on such issues as who is allowed to make art in our society, and what distinguishes art from graffiti, while never losing touch with the frequently comical reality of creating a contemporary art project on the streets of New York.

Don’t miss Harvey’s lecture, Monday, April 16 at 11:00 in Tyler Room B004.

*The fine print:

  • From Monday, April 16 through Friday, April 20, copies of New York Beautification Project will be given away to the first 20 patrons to request a book and show their Temple ID to Library Circulation Staff. Any member of the Temple community can receive a book. Each day the giveaway will begin at a different time to accommodate the variety of schedules of our faculty, staff and students.
  • Monday, April 16, 9:00 AM, Get your copy of Ellen’s book right before she speaks!
  • Tuesday, April 17, 11:00 AM
  • Wednesday, April 18, 1:00 PM
  • Thursday, April 19, 3:00 PM
  • Friday, April 20, NOON

This annual program is sponsored by the Foundations Department, Tyler School of Art and Temple University Libraries.

It is made possible through the use of General Activity Fees.

Portrait of Ellen Harvey standing before paintings on a wall.

[image of Ellen Harvey]

Access to licensed Library subscription resources

The Temple University Libraries purchase at significant annual cost exceeding $5 million a wide array of subscription materials including databases, certain software programs, and online electronic journals and books. We negotiate these annual costs in order to minimize the expense to Temple University. In most cases the costs for these licenses have been based on Temple’s full-time equivalent enrollment although some are based on the number of simultaneous users allowed.

While we would very much like to offer alumni access from home or work to our subscription databases, online journals and ebooks, it is economically infeasible. When we negotiate and pay for licenses based on Temples 34,000 FTE enrollment, we are then contractually obligated to ensure that only current Temple students, faculty, and staff have access to the resource. If we were to allow the 200,000+ Temple alumni access to our licensed resources, library costs would increase an estimated five-fold.

We therefore regularly review with Computing Services staff the protocols such as the Temple Portal by which we together ensure that only current students, faculty and staff are able to access these restricted licensed resources and that alumni and others are excluded. On Tuesday April 10 such a review resulted in resetting access in order to properly exclude from off-campus access alumni with Temple email accounts. A handful of Temple alumni who had earlier been able to get into some of our restricted resources will as a result now encounter turnaways in keeping with our license restrictions.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. As always, alumni and other guests are welcome to come to campus and access these resources from within the library where we are allowed by contract to offer on-site access to these resources. As of April 11, we are making provisions for Temple alumni currently enrolled as students in the Senior Scholars program to continue to have access as current students.

Jonathan LeBreton
Senior Associate University Librarian

Talk Radio Host Rob Redding

iTunes U link (for downloads)

Subscribe to this podcast series

Rob Redding is the talk show host of the Redding News Review, a syndicated radio program heard Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on the Genesis Communications Network (GCN). On Sundays his program airs between 7 and 10 p.m. on GCN, SiriusXM Satellite Radio Channel 128, and other affiliate radio stations. He also maintains the Redding News Review news web site. He has appeared on Fox News, NPR, and CSpan.

On February 1, he visited Temple University to discuss the presidential elections and his new book Where’s the Change?: Why Neither Obama, nor the GOP Can Solve America’s Problems. Before he spoke in Anderson Hall, he stopped by Paley Library for an interview.

—Fred Rowland


Out of Left Field: The Interview

Audio Download Link (for later)

Professor Rebecca Alpert has had a longstanding interest in baseball since she began following the Brooklyn Dodgers in her youth. As a professor of religion, she has written on topics of modern Judaism and Jewish studies, and on the role of gender and sexuality in religion. When she learned of prominent Jewish booking agents in the Negro Leagues of the 1930s and 1940s, she was able to combine her interests in Jewish studies and baseball. The result is her new book Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball, published in 2011 by Oxford University Press. On February 15, I had the privilege of interviewing Professor Alpert on her new book.

—Fred Rowland


Sustaining Scholarly Publishing

In September, I sat down with the director of the Temple University Press Alex Holzman to speak about an AAUP report entitled “Sustaining Scholarly Publishing”, which he helped to organize during his tenure as president of the American Association of University Presses (AAUP). The 2011 report tries to make sense of recent changes in scholarly publishing. Though increasingly fractured by the proliferation of business models, the current publishing environment also provides excellent opportunities for future scholarship.

[The report is available from two different sources.]

The interview with Alex Holzman provides an excellent overview of the Temple University Press as well as the contemporary business, economic and academic environment in which university presses operate. Although we use the report as a touchstone for our conversation, there a lot of details included in the report that we do not cover. I strongly recommend taking the time to read the comprehensive and clearly written report.

Listen to the audio of Part I

Audio Download Link (for later)

Listen to the audio of Part II

Audio Download Link (for later)


—Fred Rowland

Library Prize: eligibility expanded

The eighth annual Library Prize for Undergraduate Research and the second annual Library Prize for Undergraduate on Sustainability & the Environment will be held in the Spring 2012 semester. The purpose of the prize is to encourage the use of the Libraries’ resources and to highlight the best research among Temple undergraduates. This year’s prize submission deadline is Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 5 pm.

This year the eligibility requirements have changed to include students participating in the McNair Scholars Program, The Creative Arts, Research and Scholarship (CARAS) Program, and students who finish their coursework in December 2011 and graduate in January. Below are the complete eligibility requirements.

To be eligible to win the 2012 Prize, applicants must:

  • be Temple undergraduates at any class level and in any discipline, and be enrolled, i.e. taking a class or classes, in the Spring 2012 semester or having completed all undergraduate coursework during the Fall 2011 semester (i.e. graduating in January 2012).

  • have completed their research project for a credit course at Temple during the Spring 2011, Summer 2011, Fall 2011, or Spring 2012 semesters, or began The Ronald McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program in the Summer of 2011 or received funding for The Creative Arts, Research and Scholarship (CARAS) Program during the Spring or Fall of 2011.

  • agree to contribute to a display about their research in theLibrary during the year following receipt of the Sustainability Prize

  • agree that all winning prize materials will become permanent property of the University Archives and may be displayed on the Library’s website

  • agree to attend the Library Prize Awards Ceremony during the week of April 30 to May 4, 2012.  (You need to attend the Awards Ceremony in order to win the Library Prize.)

We look forward to another great year for the Library Prize. If you have any questions about the new eligibility requirements, or any other questions, please email the libprize@temple.edu