COVID19 etc.

It’s the return of the blog! I’ve been thinking about doing this for a couple of months now. #COVID19 wasn’t the impetus, but it definitely had an effect and pushed me forward to type the text below. Our social, labour, government, and economic structures have been thrown upside-down, I’m exhausted from work, and super-caffeinated 18 hours a day, so here we are.

Before starting with the roll, by the way, I wanted to give you a little idea of how my parents’ health has been improving thanks to the fact that they have taken more seriously treating their arthritis problem with ideal medicine. With covid, I feel that many centers have begun to take more seriously the fact that online store s are quite profitable and you can in many cases find the medicine you need just a click away. Now yes, let’s go with the article

  • COVID19 Ontario Summary File

For the past week, I’ve been collecting the summary stats posted by the Government of Ontario at this link and throwing them into a spreadsheet, hosted here. The Gov’t and our public health agencies in Canada are doing a great job in this time of crisis, but this work I’m doing is a required step right now because the provincial numbers are only cumulative snapshots of the provincial casecount, at the date and time that they’re posted. i.e., there is no room for historic analysis in the existing page. If you want to track data into a trendline, you need the file I’ve posted.

So, by using the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, I’ve been harvesting older versions of the page, scraping out the data, and throwing it into the spreadsheet. Until the province has the time to put together a better document on their own, I’ll continue doing this. When this crisis ends, I’ll likely pull an ATI request to get a complete dataset right from the source. In the meantime, this is what we’ve got, provincially.

I’ve done a lot of this work by hand and need to automate some of it in the future. There are better methods and functions out there but given the timeliness of the issue, I’m choosing to post now and re-learn skills I used to have later. (See the last bullet below for context.)


  • RDM Policy in Canada

So, the last time i posted about this topic (around the year 1961), RDM policy in Canada was still largely a set of intentions, motherhood statements and ideal states we’d like to get to. We knew what worked and what didn’t by way of looking at what other nations had instituted, but policy-setting and implementation – two very big, distinct, and slow-moving things – were still in their infancy.

Now, in spring 2020, we were expecting to see a policy announcement through Tri-Agency, but #COVID19 has got in the way. Word on the street is that a policy, based on the existing draft pillars of institutional strategy, data management planning, and data deposit, will still hit implementation this spring (or this year), but we need to give the Agencies space and time to deal with COVID19 themselves. As a firm believe in social distancing, I’ll give them that.

  • Where have all my coding skills gone?

Related to the first bullet above. There was a time I had enough harvesting skills by way of rudimentary tools and apps to easily harvest text from the web. I suppose that time ended about 5 years ago as my position responsibilities shifted, so that’s fine. But I’m really saddened to have lost these skills. I’ve been feeling a bit out of touch on this front for about a year now, to be honest, and this COVID19 harvested has shone a spotlight on the issue. When things are all said and done, I think I’m going to allocate some leave time to re-learn what I used to know.

2016 Waterloo Region CMA Population Density by Census Tract map now live


2016 Waterloo Region Population Density

A Wednesday morning FYI for you:  I’ve now posted a map detailing Waterloo Region CMA’s population density in 2016 by census tract.  I went back to my old ways and developed the map with QGIS and then exported it into leaflet.js, which basically means that it’s super fast.  Tableau’s maps are very easy to develop, but their usability isn’t ideal.

Take a gander at the map here…

The Shortsighted Closure of 54 Public Library Locations in Newfoundland

Here are some quick thoughts on today’s announcement that the Province of Newfoundland will close 54 public libraries, leaving the system with only 41 locations. It’s a travesty for a province’s educational, literacy, and information access goals, regardless of its fiscal crisis. You can follow the public fallout of this poorly conceived plan by following the #nlpublib hashtag.


One thing that really bothered me in this announcement is the consolation that the Newfoundland Library Chair, Calvin Taylor, tried to make. What follows is a statement that tries to focus on the positive in a very bad situation, but what it does is pinpoint how awful and shortsighted this action is.  The CBC reports that:

[Taylor] said 85 per cent of residents in the province should be within a 30-minute drive of a remaining branch — which will be open a minimum of 30 hours a week — and available to people in a service area where they go for groceries or to do their banking.

This argument is incredibly shortsighted. It presumes that all library users have vehicles or are able to drive, or even have access meaningful public transit. But that doesn’t begin to describe the makeup of our contemporary towns, cities, and communities. Even in rural and remote communities, the poor, the young, and the elderly often don’t have access to a car, and these three groups often represent a very, very large percentage of a library’s users.

If a library is open for only a paltry 30 hours a week (and likely mostly during afternoon weekday hours) but only a few can make their way to its doors, will anyone care?

The CBC article also mentioned that Newfoundland has some of the lowest literacy scores in Canada.  I can’t speak to that since literacy is not my field, but certainly closing so many access points to free learning, educational, and cultural resources cannot improve such a rate.

If you live in Newfoundland and Labrador, then you should contact your MHA and your local councillors immediately to make a protest because time is of the issue in situations like this. If you live outside of Newfoundland, like I do, then you can still lend a hand by raising a flag and making the situation known.  The closure of so many library locations is an unacceptable policy decision and unacceptable cost-cutting measure than can kneecap a generation.

Required Reading, 9 January 2014


Required Reading:

  • Joyce, R. (ed.) (2013) : Research Data Management: Practical Strategies for Information Professionals
    • “This volume provides a framework to guide information professionals in academic libraries, presses, and data centers through the process of managing research data from the planning stages through the life of a grant project and beyond. It illustrates principles of good practice with use-case examples and illuminates promising data service models through case studies of innovative, successful projects and collaborations.”
  • Vines, T.H., et al. (2013) : The Availability of Research Data Declines Rapidly with Article Age
    • This link truly is required reading.  Vines et al. conduct a statistical analysis that shows the persistent decline in the availability of and access to research data as well as the lowered chances of finding a working PI e-mail address) over time in scholarly literature. This is the proof you can give to doubting Thomases about the need for proper research data management and digital preservation principles.
    • “Our results reinforce the notion that, in the long term, research data cannot be reliably preserved by individual researchers, and further demonstrate the urgent need for policies mandating data sharing via public archives.”
    • [Mendeley link]

Required Reading, 8 January 2014


Required Reading:

  • OCLC : Starting the Conversation: University-wide Research Data Management Policy
    • A call for action that summarizes the benefits of systemic data management planning and identifies the stakeholders and their concerns. It suggests that the library director proactively initiate a conversation among these stakeholders to get buy-in for a high-level, responsible data planning and management policy that is proactive, rather than reactive. It also addresses the various topics that should be discussed and provides a checklist of issues to help the discussion result in a supportable and sustainable policy.”
  • Chronicle : Born Digital, Projects Need Attention to Survive
    • “A team . . . often based in academic libraries or digital-scholarship centers-has to conduct regular inspections and make sure that today’s digital scholarship doesn’t become tomorrow’s digital junk.
      . . .
      Mr. Daigle advises scholars who want to pursue digital-humanities work to consult with their librarians and put long-term archiving strategies in place early on. ‘Think about the life cycle of preservation,” he says. “The more you do that, the longer it’s going to be around, and that is time well spent.'”
  • The Tyee : What’s Driving Chaotic Dismantling of Canada’s Science Libraries?
    • On the ongoing dismantling of government research libraries in Canada
    • “I saw a private consultant firm working for Manitoba Hydro back up a truck and fill it with Manitoba data and materials that the public had paid for. I was profoundly saddened and appalled.”