[Humanist] 29.146 job at the NYPL Labs

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Jul 7 21:32:25 CEST 2015

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 146.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Tue, 7 Jul 2015 12:08:23 -0400
        From: Katina Rogers <katina.rogers at gmail.com>
        Subject: Job opportunity at NYPL Labs - Space/Time Directory Engineer

Hello everyone,

Please see below for a terrific job opportunity with NYPL Labs. The full
job posting is available at http://bit.ly/1GuD1Ql.


The New York Public Library is seeking a uniquely qualified individual to
join its digital R&D team, NYPL Labs, in the service of building a
historical geospatial data platform for New York City. This project, The
New York City Space/Time Directory (http://spacetime.nypl.org), fuses The
Library’s collection of maps and historical data with the latest in web
mapping technology in order to make them available to the public as a
service. (This also taps into our love for time travel metaphors.)

Do you want to change how libraries and other public institutions engage
with civic tech, how the public interacts with history, and to give New
Yorkers a ubiquitous connection to their city’s past? Are you interested in
contributing to a major public knowledge project that could serve as a
model for other cities?

If your answer is an enthusiastic “yes” -- and you care about
collaboration, curiosity, technical excellence, and continuous improvements
-- NYPL Labs is the right place for you.


The Job:

You’ll be designing and building the architecture and infrastructure for a
historical geospatial web service. It will look an awful lot like a modern
geospatial web service (and may share a lot of the same tools and code).
You’ll be using the same processes used for making a modern service such as
OpenStreetMap while also applying conflation processes to NYPL’s historical
collections and crowdsourced data.

Note: You won’t be starting from scratch. Over the past few years, NYPL has
developed a workflow for digitizing and geo-rectifying historical maps, and
for mining building-level vector data through computational process and
crowdsourcing. We've even prototyped a historical gazetteer. We need your
help to build upon these foundations to create a true open source, open
access search of New York’s historical places.

You will join NYPL Labs’ Product and R&D Group, the band of artists,
designers, and technologists behind Building Inspector (
http://buildinginspector.nypl.org/), NYPL Digital Collections (
http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/), The Stereogranimator (
http://stereo.nypl.org/), and more. You’ll be working hand-in-hand with
NYPL’s Geospatial Librarian, Labs’ Director, our Interaction Lead, our
Metadata team, and a host of other collaborators, internal and external, to
craft and build the Space/Time Directory.

As Space/Time Directory Engineer, you will:

- Build a backend spatial database system supporting the integration of
heterogeneous historical and contemporary datasets

- Design a system to disambiguate, confirm and confer the connections
between places and spaces over time using a combination of expert
knowledge, crowdsourcing, and consensus computation

- Design data contribution channels and remediation tools for librarians,
archivists, domain experts and members of the public

- Build easy-to-use and well documented APIs

- Design and publish reproducible tools, software, and workflows to allow
the flourishing of other Space/Time Directories to public, open access

- Communicate your work to the world through blogging, conferences, and
hack events and workshops hosted by NYPL Labs

- Advocate and facilitate a broader public conversation around this project
and and how it fits into the new definition of what libraries can be

Your office will be NYPL’s flagship library and architectural landmark, the
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd St. (also known as “The One With The
Lions”, or “The Library From Ghostbusters”). The work is on a roughly 9-5
schedule (flexible), with periodic evening engagement activities, a bit of
travel, and the very occasional weekend commitment. But we take the
life/work balance very seriously, and the Library provides and excellent
benefits and vacation package. It's a great place to work.

This position is supported by a generous grant from the Knight Foundation (
and is guaranteed for two years. There is a strong desire to continue the
project beyond that, and the Library has a track record of moving
grant-incubated projects into core operations.


- Comfortable building a large, scalable data infrastructure

- Extensive expertise in web back-end technologies such as Python, Ruby,
PHP, or Node.js, Go

- Experience collaborating closely with front-end developers and designers

- Appetite for engagement with a community of contributors, technical and
nontechnical alike, beyond the institution's walls

- Ability to write excellent prose as well as code

- Aptitude for learning and teaching new technologies

- Comfortable in both collaborative and self-directed environments

Bonus Points:

- Contributor on a large open-source project

- Experience working with some of the following:

- PostGIS

- ElasticSearch


- OpenStreetMap Infrastructure

- Neo4J or similar graph database

- Interesting hobbies

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