Today, Hannah Stitzlein began work at the University of Cincinnati Libraries as the metadata librarian. Hannah was previously visiting metadata services specialist for the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In this role, she developed best practices for the Illinois Digital Heritage Hub, taught metadata workshops, assessed digital collection metadata and developed workflows. Prior to her visiting position, Hannah spent three years with the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Her library experience also includes internships with Wisconsin Library Services, the Lloyd Library and Museum and the Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions. Hannah holds an MLS from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a BFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art.
In the role of metadata librarian, Hannah will be responsible for providing leadership and guidance in the development and implementation of metadata and data management strategies to support discovery, access, management and preservation of the libraries physical and digital collections.
On Monday, May 14, Margaux (Maggie) Patel started work at the University of Cincinnati Libraries as the business and data analytics librarian. She will be a part of the Walter C. Langsam Library’s Research and Teaching Service Department.
Maggie comes to UC from the American Financial Group in downtown Cincinnati where she was a research specialist. At American Financial she prepared reports for the other staff at the company using many of the business databases we also have at UC Libraries. She worked with data and helped the staff organize and analyze their data. She taught instruction workshops, and made e-learning objects using Articulate Storyline software. Maggie taught at Brown Macke College and worked at law firms before American Financial.
The University of Cincinnati Libraries were awarded an Equity & Inclusion Incentive Grant for the proposal “Exploring the Diverse Career Paths within Libraries,” which aims to introduce and educate minority high school students to the academic library profession for the purpose of attracting them into the profession.
Submitted by UC Libraries, in collaboration with Cincinnati Public Schools, University of Cincinnati Admissions, and partners within the library, the grant will support the creation of two half-day programs for up to 60 college-bound high school minority students from local area schools. Throughout the course of the day, the students will: take a tour of the library; meet faculty and staff with a range of skills and educational backgrounds; engage in learning activities related to library professions; learn about the experiences of student workers currently employed by the library; and gain an understanding of the multitude of career options the library has to offer.
This outreach initiative will address the current trend of retiring librarians, introduce students to diverse disciplines and cultivate interest in the library profession among the visiting students. It will also show how IT skills can be used in the library profession and educate the student visitors about library student worker jobs. Student visitors will be given flash drives uploaded with additional information about libraries to continue to engage them after the day is over.
UC Libraries’ faculty, staff and student workers who help to facilitate the program will gain valuable experience and professional development in diversity and inclusion.
The university’s Equity & Inclusion Incentive Grant program seeks to support collaborative efforts between colleges and units to enhance diversity and inclusion through innovative practices that align with the goals and objectives in the Diversity Plan.
Congratulations to UC’s Hong Cheng, Craig Person and Michelle McKinney on their selection to participate in Library Leadership Ohio 2018!
The State Library of Ohio and OhioNET are pleased to announce the cohort of developing leaders selected to participate in Library Leadership Ohio 2018. Participants were carefully chosen based on their outstanding leadership potential; excellent communication skills; successful library employment experience; initiative, commitment and reasonable risk taking; forward-thinking approach to problem solving; and commitment to the profession.
“Library Leadership Ohio has long been recognized as Ohio’s premier institute for helping future leaders identify and develop their skills. It is gratifying to look around the state and see LLO graduates in key leadership positions throughout Ohio’s library community,” expressed State Librarian Beverly Cain. “I look forward to meeting the 2018 Library Leadership Ohio class and working with them to lead Ohio’s libraries to even greater levels of achievement.”
“OhioNET is pleased to partner again with the State Library of Ohio to facilitate development of the next generation of library leaders in Ohio. We have been working since last fall to make sure that LLO 2018 gives the greatest opportunities for invited attendees to learn from—and with—each other, and to further develop strong ties across library types,” said OhioNET Executive Director/CEO Michael P. Butler. “Library Leadership Ohio is a tremendous example of what collaboration can do for the benefit of the entire Ohio library community, and I am grateful to all who have helped to make LLO 2018 a reality.” Continue reading UC Librarians and Staff Member Selected to Participate in Library Leadership Ohio 2018
Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously stated that “sunlight was the best disinfectant,” enshrining a principle of transparency as a cornerstone for open democracy and good governance. The United States passed the Freedom of Information Act following Watergate in 1974, and many states subsequently adopted their own freedom of information (FOI) laws (often times referred to as sunshine, open records, or right to know laws). Freedom of information laws give the public broad rights to access records, however the burden to obtain the information still falls on the individual.
Since the passage of FOI laws, there has also been a movement towards what is known as proactive disclosure. This is when public entities proactively share information, data, and records with the public. The internet has made proactive disclosure cheaper and easier, and has given rise to many efforts towards what is known as “open government,” in which data sets from the government are made available to the public.
Transparency of information is an idea that most people agree on in principle, but in practice, the implementation is very uneven. Furthermore, there isn’t conclusive evidence that transparency leads to improvement for the public. In “Transparency With(out) Accountability,” Shkabatur (2012) notes that voluminous amounts of government information are now available, however a lack of context around that data, agency discretion over what to release, and a lack of enforcement has not led to government accountability.
An example of this paradox of transparency can be seen with environmental information. State and federal environmental laws require the disclosure of massive amounts of environmental information. On the other hand, that information is often not contextualized and agencies are not necessarily required to make information easy to find and understand, as long as it is available somewhere. In other words, Ohio may release information related to where gas wells are located, but it does not have to share other information that would make this information meaningful to the general public, such as how many complaints have been filed in proximity to a given well.
In this example, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources can technically say they are being “transparent” – after all, they are providing information about wells on a website accessible to the public. But unless you are a subject specialist, many of the available well records are incomprehensible to the general public. The records show evidence of actions that an agency took (approving construction and ongoing production of a well), but few of the records shed any light on the broader policy decisions and directions of the agency.
When people think of the energy industry, they often picture heavy industrial equipment – pipelines criss-crossing prairies, oil rigs along coastlines, or earthmovers pushing mountaintop overburden into valleys below. But what about the invisible equipment? How do we visualize the caverns that store nuclear energy production waste? How do we know where the underground piping is that connects us to the grid? How can we tell when there are wells nearby?
We cannot see invisible infrastructure, and even visible infrastructure blends into the background of our daily lives. But we can see the outlines of all infrastructure by inspecting the records associated with it. Some recordkeeping associated with the energy industry’s infrastructure is available to the public – permits that must be filed with state and federal agencies, for example. Other recordkeeping conducted for internal corporate administration is considered private business information. Some business information may be shared with the public if an energy company is a public company, but other forms of information may be proprietary.
One of the fastest growing sectors of domestic energy production is hydraulic fracturing of shale formations, better known as fracking. Ohio is located in a major shale formation and is the 7th largest producer of natural gas. According to the Energy Information Agency, “[t]he Utica Shale has contributed to the rapid increase in natural gas production in Ohio, which was almost 19 times greater in 2016 than 2011.” Ohio’s neighbors of West Virginia and Pennsylvania are part of the Utica and Marcellus Shale formations, and also rank highly for natural gas production (Pennsylvania is the #2 domestic producer, West Virginia is #8).
Most oil and gas activities are regulated at the state-level, and therefore different states have varying regulations around fracking. As a result, the impacts from fracking are experienced differently depending on where you live. Since there is a different regulatory landscape from state to state, this means that the information and records concerning fracking vary across state lines. To put it another way, this means that the public has different levels of information about fracking depending on where it’s carried out.
An illuminating example can be found with disclosure of chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing. Many states use the registry FracFocus for chemical disclosure. However, a recent study of FracFocus showed that 92% of submitted chemical disclosures for wells “withheld at least one ingredient record” by classifying it as a trade secret, confidential or proprietary business information (Konschnik and Dayalu, 2016, p. 508).
This issue will almost certainly continue to be of regional importance for both industry and concerned citizens. Ohio and Pennsylvania increased their production of natural gas more than any other states between 2015-2016, and the Energy Information Agency “projects that natural gas production will increase in both 2017 and 2018 as natural gas prices rise.” As the federal government and many states continue to embrace domestic fossil-fuel production over renewable energy, this is a topic that deserves our attention.
Ohio’s status as a “water-rich state” has meant that it has long been a flashpoint for concerns over how to ensure protection of our water resources, particularly as Ohio’s waterways have played a significant part in regional industry. One of the most famous images of the environmental movement was Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River catching on fire in 1969 – it was not the first time, as it had caught on fire several times before, going back to the mid-1800s. If you want to learn more about the political atmosphere of Cleveland during this event, UC history professor (and friend of the Archives and Rare Books Library) David Stradling has written a book about it.
One of the landmark federal laws that was placed under authority of the newly established EPA was the 1972 Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Act actually traced its origins to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948, and was the result of many amendments to the 1948 law. The Clean Water Act requires significant recordkeeping and information systems in order to support implementation of the law. Much of the Clean Water Act’s powers are delegated to state environmental protection agencies (for example, Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency, or Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection). One of the major parts of the Clean Water Act is a permitting system known as the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). The NPDES system “regulates discharges of pollutants from municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants, sewer collection systems, and stormwater discharges from industrial facilities and municipalities.”
As a system of bureaucratic recordkeeping, the NPDES system reveals much about how we have attempted to take hard-to-quantify aspects of our environment, and pack it down into standardized documentation about human impact.
For example, reviewing a recent draft permit for a wastewater facility in the greater Cincinnati area, this permit will last for five years. It requires the wastewater facility to self-report sampling levels of their discharges to one of the tributaries of the Ohio River. Sampling must take place Monday through Friday but the time of day doesn’t have to be reported, and the permit holder must retain records for three years. One can imagine arguing for modifying any of these recordkeeping requirements upwards or downwards, based on your orientation towards deregulation or to environmental protection.
Recordkeeping is not a neutral act. What is reported and recorded reflects information necessary for regulatory fulfillment. Choices about recordkeeping – what to record, when to record it, who should record it, how often to record it, where to store it, and public vs proprietary access, reflect competing values attached to environmental information.
The relationship between local, state, and federal environmental protection has always been complicated – both by accident and by design. When the earliest environmental protections began, they typically started at the local and state levels, often following some kind of environmental disaster – and thus, environmental protections developed unevenly. By the time, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created in 1970, the decentralization of environmental policy was deliberately embedded in the original organization of the agency: much of EPA’s enforcement and regulatory duties are delegated to state environmental agencies.
Over the last couple years, I’ve been exploring the relationship between record keeping, archives, and environmental policy. Right now, I’m shifting my research gears towards the role of recordkeeping practices in the formulation and enforcement of environmental policy.
To understand how we’ve arrived at today’s environmental problems and policies, it’s helpful to go back to the past and look at one of the most influential periods of federal action on natural resource protection. During Roosevelt’s New Deal, major environmental protection projects were undertaken, as well as the introduction of a major federal regulatory state. The Civilian Conservation Corps employed thousands of young men to build trails and buildings still in use today, as well as undertaking environmental restoration projects such as reforestation. While most of today’s major federal environmental laws have their roots in the 1970s, the legal foundation for federal action to be taken on issues that no state can resolve on its own can be traced back to many New Deal-era regulations. Continue reading An Environmental Legacy