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Aug 15 / Kimberly

NYT: As Data Overflows Online, Researchers Grapple With Ethics

This article that appeared in the New York Times on August 12, 2014.

With data surrounding us and coming from everywhere, we need to develop ethics for research dealing with personal data. Facebook, this means you.

Once forced to conduct painstaking personal interviews with subjects, scientists can now sit at a screen and instantly play with the digital experiences of millions of Internet users. It’s the frontier of social science — experiments on people who may never even know they are subjects of study, let alone explicitly consent.

“This is a new era,” said Jeffrey T. Hancock, a Cornell University professor of communication and information science. “I liken it a little bit to when chemistry got the microscope.”

But the new era has brought some controversy with it. Professor Hancock was a co-author of the Facebook study in which the social network quietly manipulated the news feeds of nearly 700,000 people to learn how the changes affected their emotions. When the research was published in June, the outrage was immediate.



Jun 6 / Kimberly

CLA 2014: The Economic Impact of Libraries

The Economic Impact of Libraries, part of the CLA 2014 workshop, “Driving Change for Community Impact”. Presented by Kimberly Silk, University of Toronto and Elizabeth Glass, Toronto Public Library. Silk begins with a look at different types of impact studies and then introduces how the Toronto Public Library engaged the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto in 2013 to study of the economic impact and benefits of the library in its community. TPL shares the findings of the study, discusses the importance of demonstrating the economic benefits of public libraries to key stakeholders including city councils, library board members, and the local community, and provides tips for others wanting to show the impact of their libraries.


Apr 24 / Kimberly

Using Good Data and Great Stories to Communicate Value

Earlier this week I attended a fantastic symposium hosted by Dysart & Jones, Defining New Metrics for Library Success. Held at the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto, the 2-day event focused on libraries in all sectors who must work to identify their stakeholders, and the unique value libraries can demonstrate to those stakeholders.

Attended by over 100 information professionals from across North America, sessions covered the opportunity and importance for libraries to understand the motivations of their stakeholders, and to build strategies for data collection to support their success stories and inform stakeholders to make good decisions.

I presented the study I co-authored, “So Much More: The Economic Impact of the Toronto Public Library to the City of Toronto.” The focus of this presentation was the importance of knowing exactly what evidence your stakeholders need — and then presenting that evidence in a way that’s easy to understand. In the case of this study, we were fortunate in that Toronto City Council specified exactly what they wanted, and in turn we were very clear on what evidence, backed-up by data, that we needed to provide.

I have posted my presentation on SlideShare; all presentations can be viewed via the Defining New Metrics for Library Success web site.