Thursday Threads: Library RFP Registry, Transformed Libraries talk at IMLSfocus, DIY VPN

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Welcome spring in the northern hemisphere! Thoughts turn to fresh new growth — a new tool to help with writing documents for procuring library systems, a fresh way to think about how libraries can transform and be transformed, and spring cleaning for your browsing habits with a do-it-yourself VPN.

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Library Technology Guides Procurement Registry

The Library Technology Guides Procurement Registry provides a free and convenient service to allow libraries to post procurement opportunities for technology products. The registry focuses on library-specific technology products including integrated library systems, library services platforms, discovery products, and RFID technologies.

By aggregating information and documents related to current and historic procurement projects, the repository helps libraries and vendors gain insight in to the requirements that libraries expect to be fulfilled by these products.

Documents and data from past procurement projects have been collected from the Web sites of libraries and other publicly available sources. Requests for Proposals available in this Registry should be assumed to be copyrighted by the institutions that issued them or consultants that developed them and any content in those documents should be incorporated into other procurement document only with the explicit permission of the copyright holders or in accordance with any associated Creative Commons licenses. These documents provide useful background and perspective libraries developing their own requirements for new technology procurement projects and for vendors to inform their development priorities.

Marshall Breeding is building a useful resource for anyone that needs to purchase a library technology system of some sort through an RFP process. As the description above says, this registry will have valuable insights from others that have gone through the same process. I would encourage users not to get “tunnel vision” though — not simply adopt one of these documents as their own. The process of creating an RFP is an important exploration of what the institution needs and how it will score responders. Don’t use the registry as a shortcut but as a source of inspiration for structuring your own document and as a check to make sure you’ve thought of all of the important components.

[Andromeda Yelton’s] #IMLSFocus remarks [on libraries transforming and being transformed]

I was going to talk about why ongoing tech training is hard, the nuts and bolts of pedagogy, and what you can do to help. Maybe I still will in Q&A. But right now, 40 miles north of us, Baltimore is burning. Or it isn’t: it is ten thousand people protesting peacefully against many years of secret violence, violence kept secret by habitual gag orders, with national media drawn like moths to the mere handful of flames. The stories I hear on Twitter are not the same as the stories on CNN. And we, as cultural heritage institutions, are about our communities and their stories, and about which stories are told, which are made canon, and how and why.

So I want to talk about how technology training and digital platforms can either support, or threaten, our communities and their ability to tell their stories, and to have their stories reflected in the canonical story that we build when we build a national platform. I want to make it explicit what we are doing in this room, today, is about deciding whose stories get told, by whom, and how. Whose are widely recognized as valid, and whose are samizdat, whose get to reach our corridors of power only through protest and fire.

My #IMLSFocus remarks, by Andromeda Yelton, 1-May-2015

Last week at the first of three IMLS Focus events, Andromeda Yelton spoke passionately about the need for openness in the systems that make up our libraries — that openness of application interfaces are needed to transform the users of a library as much as they are needed to transform the library itself. To listen/watch her remarks, go to the panel recording and skip ahead about 2 minutes. And I had to look up samizdat in Wikipedia to get the context.

How to setup your own private, secure, free* VPN on the Amazon AWS Cloud in 10 minutes

So, we all know the benefits of using a VPN like privacy, anonymity, unblocking websites, security, overcoming geographical restrictions and so on. However, it has always been hard to trust a VPN provider who could potentially log and intercept your internet traffic! Launching a private VPN server will give us the best of what a VPN truly offers. This guide will walk you through all the steps to running your own VPN server in about 10 minutes.

This is pretty straight forward. Amazon offers a free year of a micro-sized compute instance to new Amazon Web Services Customers (hence the asterisk in the title). The blog post comes with instructions on how to set it up and how to configure your Android, Mac, and Asus router to the new VPN. The same sort of instructions would work for iOS, Windows and Linux systems — the software running on the AWS server supports the standard PPTP and L2TP with IPSEC VPN protocols.

(This post was updated on 29-Jan-2016.)