Catch a live podcast about resilient mesh networks in Brooklyn

Come catch a live recording of Library Bytegeist at a public radio event in Brooklyn! We will be talking about the community-run mesh wi-fi network they have built in Gowanus to remain resilient in the case of future disasters, either natural or man-made.

You can RSVP at the BRIC event page.


Friday, May 5, 9:00 – 9:30 pm


Gallery at BRIC House

647 Fulton Street (Enter on Rockwell Place)

Brooklyn, NY 11217


Molly Schwartz, Fellow at the Metropolitan New York Library Council, host and producer of Library Bytegeist

Raul Enriquez, Technology Coordinator & Training Specialist, New America / Resilient Communities

Mario Peart, Digital Steward with the Gowanus Fifth Avenue Committee (FAC)

This recording will be part of the Public Access / Open Networks exhibit. This exhibition will present both key and lesser-known figures who worked in the Public Access arena, as well as contemporary artists experimenting with the democratic potential of new media platforms on the Internet. The show highlights the historical relationships between community-produced media and political action, documenting the potential for social change and creative reimagining through this technology.


Resilient Networks NYC is a multi­stakeholder partnership building local wireless networks in six Superstorm Sandy­impacted neighborhoods. In each neighborhood, New America’s Resilient Communities Program is partnering with a local community organization on the front lines of climate adaptation and economic resilience. With our support, our partners are training local residents as “Digital Stewards” to conduct outreach, collaborate with local businesses and leaders, and design, install, and maintain resilient public WiFi systems.

When telecommunications systems are functioning normally, these public WiFi networks will provide access to the internet. Because commercial networks often fail in emergencies, however, the networks also feature redundant connections, local hosting, and backup power systems. This design will allow the networks to function as response and resilience organizing platforms in emergencies, enabling community ­based organizations to communicate with each other, with local residents, and with first responders, even when other systems fail.

A photo of the digital stewards training in Hunts Point

Bite-Sized Bytegeist episode: Talking Audio Restoration with Gabe Liberti

What is it like to restore audio on classic films? For this bite-sized Bytegeist we sat down with Gabe Liberti to talk about his time as an audio restoration engineer at the Criterion Collection. These days Gabe uses his sound engineering skills to design interactive installations as part of the design duo, Dave and Gabe:

For more about the degradation and obsolescence of magnetic media, check out episode 4, where we talk to Rachel Mattson about the XFR Collective: Librarybytegeist – Rachelmattson

Audio mastering by Dalton Harts

Tools used to record this podcast:
Blue Yeti microphone:

Music and Soundtracks:
Opening and closing track: “Magic” by Otis MacDonald
This podcast uses these sounds from freesound:
Katana by Halleck (
Flute by Uncle Sigmund ( )
Taiko by dirtydowntowner ( )
bnpppjd.aif by dropthedyle (

The METRO Community: Who We Are and What We Use: An Interview with Shawn Averkamp of The New York Public Library

Shawn_stacksShawn Averkamp is Manager of Metadata Services at The New York Public Library where she directs strategy, production, ontology design, and quality control for digital resource and discovery metadata. Previously she worked as Data Services Librarian and Interim Head at the University of Iowa Libraries Digital Research and Publishing department, contributing to the Libraries’ digital collections, institutional repository, and crowdsourcing platform, DIYHistory, and as Metadata Librarian at the University of Alabama Libraries. She earned her MLIS from the University of Iowa and holds a BA in Music from Luther College.

Continue reading “The METRO Community: Who We Are and What We Use: An Interview with Shawn Averkamp of The New York Public Library”

Digital Library Initiatives at NCSU vs. Code Camp: A 2-Way Interview


One of my favorite presentations at Code4Lib 2017 was delivered by Kevin Beswick and Nushrat Khan, two librarians with the Digital Library Initiatives (DLI) department at North Carolina State University (NCSU) Libraries. Their talk, Fostering a Departmental Culture of Peer Mentorship in Software Development, covered programs created in response to the growing number of new professionals, student workers and full-time staff entering the library with a desire to advance their software development skills. This certainly isn’t unique to NCSU and in addition to my own experience, I was reminded of a report released last year which reflected on feedback from past National Digital Stewardship Residents. Many of the participants expressed an expectation that tech education would be a larger part of their residency through a mentor or other on-site resource. Dev skills are increasingly necessary in our field but the breadth of library science as a discipline doesn’t leave much room for a comprehensive computer science curriculum, which leads to a lot of independent learning.

My own solution was to pursue a ‘coding bootcamp’ during my fellowship with METRO, I found the teaching techniques to be novel and effective. After meeting at Code4Lib, Kevin and I decided to get together to compare learning methods employed at NCSU with those at code camp. Here’s what came up in our conversation:
Continue reading “Digital Library Initiatives at NCSU vs. Code Camp: A 2-Way Interview”

Library Bytegeist Episode 6: Talking Privacy with Librarians

Libraries have always been places for free and unfettered intellectual exploration. But how is this threatened by the inherent leakiness and insecurity of the networks we use to access information these days? In this episode we talk to Alison Macrina, Bill Marden, Melissa Morrone, Chuck McAndrew, and Phoebe Stein about privacy policies, CryptoParties, Tor relays, and other adventures.

Related Articles and Resources:

BPL’s Digital Privacy Curriculum:

Protecting Patron Privacy, Library Journal, July 14, 2016 by Alison Macrina…atron-privacy/

ALA Questions and Answers on Privacy and Confidentiality…cfm&ContentID=15347

Library Patron Privacy in 2014 – Honoring the Legacy of Zoia Horn, CUNY School of Law, 2014, by Sarah Landon…ntext=cl_pubs

A Flaw in the Design, by Craig Timberg, May 30, 2015, The Washington Post:….036cf687d2ce

Library Freedom Project:

State Privacy Laws Regarding Library Records…rivacy/stateprivacy

EFF’s Surveillance Self-Defense:

Tactical Tech’s Security-in-a-box:


Down the Security Rabbit Hole:
Privacy Paradox podcast:
TechSNAP podcast:

Music and Soundtracks:
Opening and closing track: “Magic” by Otis MacDonald
This podcast uses these sounds from freesound:
probe1gain by pheonelai (
Intro 1L72 by Setuniman (

Tools used to record this podcast:
Blue Yeti microphone:

Library Bytegeist Episode 5: Talking Love Letters in the Digital Age with AMNH’s Iris Lee

Saving love letters in the digital age can be tricky. Iris Lee, a metadata analyst at the American Museum of Natural History, came up with a clever solution for saving the text messages between her and her partner off her old cell phone. Dr. Michelle Janning, professor of sociology, and Davy Rothbart, founder and editor of FOUND Magazine, weigh in with their thoughts about how and why people save love messages.

Episode transcript:…/edit?usp=sharing

Related Books, Articles, and Links:

Dr. Michelle Janning’s upcoming book, The Stuff of Family Life: How Our Homes Reflect Our Lives published by Rowman & Littlefield:

FOUND Magazine:


Cassettes from My Ex: Stories and Soundtracks of Lost Loves, by Jason Bitner, co-founder of FOUND Magazine:…cks/dp/0312565526

“Archiving Cell Phone Text Messages” by Mike Ashenfelder on the Library of Congress’ blog The Signal:…one-text-messages/

“Total Recall: How to Back up all the text message on your iPhone” in Wired:

Music and Soundtracks:
Opening and closing track: “Magic” by Otis MacDonald
“Scissor Vision” by Letter Box

Tools used to record this podcast:
Blue Yeti microphone:

Using OpenRefine to Reconcile Name Entities


OpenRefine is a well-loved tool among information professionals for cleaning “messy” data, mostly tabular data (Excel, CSV, TSV), but also record data in serializations like XML. Do you have values in an Excel spreadsheet with unwanted whitespace? Or multiple spellings for the same term? Then OpenRefine might be just the tool for you. OpenRefine is flexible enough to handle script-writing or the writing of regular expressions to batch alter values any way you choose. And scripting can be used for other purposes, too, including calling outside APIs to align new data with what you have.

Continue reading “Using OpenRefine to Reconcile Name Entities”

The METRO Community: Who We Are and What We Use: An Interview with Liza Harrell-Edge of the New School

Liza_archivesLiza Harrell-Edge is currently Manager of Digital Initiatives at the New School Archives and Special Collections. She previously worked at NYU’s Fales Library on collections including the Kathleen Hanna Papers, the Erich Remarque Papers and the Sylvester Manor Archive.

Continue reading “The METRO Community: Who We Are and What We Use: An Interview with Liza Harrell-Edge of the New School”

Using Beautiful Soup with Python for Webscraping



  • Introduction to the process of webscraping, using Python and Beautiful Soup


  • People who want to understand the process for extracting data from web pages, especially in situations when direct access to the backend database might not be possible;
  • People who program in Python and want to know more about the HTML parser Beautiful Soup;
  • Digital humanists, scientists, infographic designers, etc..

Continue reading “Using Beautiful Soup with Python for Webscraping”

Distilling nlp4arc 💦

Notes by Katie M.

This past week I traveled to University of North Carolina for nlp4arc, an intimate symposium marking the start of Bitcurator NLP (this Andrew W. Mellon funded project is aimed at developing a suite of natural language processing tools for archives). The meeting opened with 11 presentations by educators and archivists who shared their experiences building and applying NLP to analyze digital collections. Our second half was scheduled to be more of an ‘unconference,’ with group-selected topics of interest to be discussed in smaller circles. Unfortunately, midway through, the university announced Chapel Hill’s water supply was being shut off immediately due to a county-wide water emergencyforcing us to evacuate while discussing things like the frozen NYPL in The Day After Tomorrow, and “preppers.”

Despite this interruption, we had enough time to review active and closed projects, and walk away with ideas that should be considered or incorporated into future software. Here were my personal takeaways:

Your name is a small part of your identity
Daniel Pitti chose a more theoretical approach to his talk, focusing on the challenge of identity and in the context of NLP tools, the limitations of a ‘name’ entity. He described the makeup of an individual as being part physical person (what we see when we people-watch) and many parts social person (work-self, hobbies-self, friend-self, etc.). None of which are represented by a name.

“To form a “reliable” identity we must triangulate across multiple sources providing mutually corroborating facts and contexts assembling fragments into a constellation that “identifies” that person.”

Are we looking for questions or answers?
This point was expressed by attendee Stephanie Haas, a UNC professor with over 20 years of NLP research and experience. When conversation circled around the responsibility of an archivist versus that of a researcher, she responded by questioning our expectations of natural language processing. Effective platforms may expose new lines of inquiry through dynamic arrangement, but we may not ever find an application use that will allow us to touch a document just once.

Communities sustain projects
(this practical advice is a point I continue to revisit)
Our final presentation was delivered by Carl Wilson, tech lead of He mentioned a number of projects that he described as fascinating and complex but ultimately, unsuccessful. Many projects mentioned over the course of the morning contained a common thread of frustration with being unable to sustain the work, citing issues like tech challenges, lack of funding and low use. Yet, Wilson makes the point that when communities care, anything is sustainable. If a user community is too exclusive, it resists the kind of expansion and care that arises through community-formed documentation, bug reports, feature requests, etc.

On that note, I was left considering how Bitcurator NLP is currently at a stage which holds the most potential: the beginning. At the next symposium maybe the conversation will be interdisciplinary, inviting non-archivist/academic voices to discuss their experiences (more diverse as well, ten of eleven nlp4arc speakers were male). This is an opportunity to develop a platform that will be accessible to a community of users, not just select experts.

Tools mentioned:
Stanford NLP
CMU Sphinx