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Stew of the Month: July 2014

Welcome to a new issue of Stew of the Month, a monthly blog from Digital Systems and Stewardship (DSS) at the University of Maryland Libraries. This blog provides news and updates from the DSS Division. We welcome comments, feedback and ideas for improving our products and services.

New Technologies

In May, Preston Tobery visited the University of Michigan’s 3D lab. The lab is located in the Dudestadt Center on the North Campus. The entire first floor of the Dudestadt Center is dedicated to the 3D lab. Preston spent 5 hours with a host of managers, specialists and technicians that work there. The 3D lab have 9 Cubify Cube 3D printers which they allow students to use self-serve. Once a student passes the requirements, they are giving a key to unlock a box that the printer is in and can use it. The Michigan Immersive Digital Experience Nexus (M.I.D.E.N.) is one of the cooler technologies they have. It’s in a 10 foot room and projects on 3 walls and the floor. Using a headset and controller, one can walk around virtual 3D objects, look underneath the 3D objects, or interact with the 3D objects. Preston was able to walk around a virtual castle, a small town, and interact with a cadaver from the “Visible Human Project”. The 3D lab also has a 3D theatre room that has a projector which can show 3D movies, 3D interactive simulations, 3D video feeds and 3D PowerPoint presentations.

There are many more technologies and equipment that the 3D lab has. After seeing everything in the lab, Preston was able to bring back a few things to use here in our Libraries. One thing he learned was about a chemical solvent that dissolves support material after a 3D objected is printed. When used, this method has produced smoother 3D objects. One other thing he learned was the importance of adjusting the temperature of the extruder and heat bed. By adjusting the temperature of these two parts, there have been fewer print jobs that have failed.

The 3D lab also has other 3D printers, a 3D scanner, an Oculus Rift VR headset, and a motion caption area. If you would like to know more details of his visit and all the equipment in the University of Michigan’s 3D lab, click here

DSS worked with Tim Hackman in Public Services to nearly complete a project to add Library Computer Availability information to the Libraries’ website, mobile website, and large screen monitors in several branches.  The monitor installations are scheduled to take place in August. The Computer Availability applications show where free and available public computers are located in various Library branches.


The National Endowment for the Humanities announced in July that it was awarding the University of Maryland Libraries $290,000 to digitize an additional 100,000 historic Maryland newspapers as part of the National Digital Newspaper Project.  Jennie Knies is the co-principle investigator on the grant and Liz Caringola will continue as project manager for this second phase of the project. The newspapers will complement the urban and immigrant perspective captured in Der Deutsche Correspondent, the German-language newspaper that was the focus of the project’s first phase, funded by the NEH with a grant of $325,000 in 2012. Those papers are now digitized and accessible at the Library of Congress database Chronicling America.

Digitization activities

Robin Pike and Eric Cartier continued set-up work on the Performing Arts Audio Digitization Studio (PAADS), configuring and calibrating equipment. They hope to start training students on the setup in September.

Robin worked on vendor-based digitization contracts for more than ten projects, which will start in August.

Software Development

The upgrade of Hippo CMS from 7.7 to 7.8 proceeded but was impacted by the departure of key developer Irina Belyaeva.  Implementation of 7.8 has been deferred until after start of the Fall 2014 semester in order to accomplish the higher priority website refresh scheduled for release in August.

Mohamed Mohideen Abdul Rasheed participed in two two-week development sprints helping to build the new Fedora Commons Repository version 4.  This is a major milestone because despite many years of using open source software the Libraries have not significantly contributed back to that community built software.  DSS will begin a process to migrate our Digital Collections to Fedora 4 beginning this coming Fall.


The University of Maryland Libraries have recently signed on with EZID (http://ezid.cdlib.org/) and as a result, we are now assigning DOIs (digital object identifiers) to all new records in DRUM.

The Libraries has recently become a charter member of the Library Publishing Group, a new organization developed to support the publishing activities of libraries.  Opportunities to serve on committees and working groups, participate in professional development and training, or attend conferences and networking events are open to all library staff.  Please contact Terry Owen or Jennie Knies if you are interested in participating in this organization.

A webpage has been created for past events of the Future of the Research Library Speaker Series.   Links to video recordings and/or PowerPoint presentations are available (if provided by the presenter).  A fall event is currently in the planning stages.

USMAI (University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions Consortium)

HathiTrust public domain resources in Find It in the Catalog: For College Park, Linda Seguin implemented a modified version of the California Digital Library’s HathiTrust SFX target. Based on the OCLC number in the Aleph record, SFX will search in HathiTrust and present a link in the Find It menu if *public domain* full text is available. This could be implemented for any campus that wants it. Example:

The life and letters of Lewis Carroll (Rev. C.L. Dodgson) Collingwood

Aeon Request Links in the Catalog: For College Park, Linda  Seguin and Hans Breitenlohner implemented request links in the Full View of the record in catalogusmai, which use SFX to populate bibliographic and location data in request forms in Special Collections’ Aeon system. They also assisted in the setup of Shibboleth authentication for Aeon.

Single Sign On for ILLiad via EZproxy: For Salisbury University, Linda Seguin is working with Salisbury’s Shibboleth administrator and OCLC support to implement single sign on for ILLiad via EZproxy. This is the method that OCLC recommends, rather than using Shibboleth directly with ILLiad, although they do not seem to have ironed out the process.

RapidILL: For all campuses, Linda Seguin has placed documentation on the USMAI web site with instructions on how to request an extract of serial holdings from Aleph for RapidILL, and for campuses to do their own extracts from SFX for electronic holdings. http://usmai.umd.edu/groups/communities-interest/circulation-reserves-and-ill/rapidill Linda also uploaded holdings for the Center for Environmental Science (CE), UM Eastern Shore, Saint Mary’s, and Towson.

Ingrid Alie is helping the Center for Environmental Science (CE) to edit their Link resolver option in their OCLC Service Configuration WorldCat Registry so when their users click the “Find it” button from WorldCat local, SFX will search in CE SFX knowledgebase and show a link in the Find it menu for full text article (if it is available) or ILLiad (if it is not available).

David Wilt has been processing semi-annual Recurring Task Lists (where each campus specifies changes to tables, etc., needed for next 6 months); has created and/or revised Sub-Library, Collection Code, Item Statuses for Salisbury, Towson, and College Park; together with Hans, has worked on notice revisions for UMUC and Morgan State; and ran reports to facilitate weeding, storage, mold remediation for Frostburg, Salisbury, and College Park.

Mark Hemhauser has created a report of open orders by vendor for Maryland Law; created a special serials claim report for Health Sciences; and produced a new subscription report for College Park.

Hans has installed the Kuali OLE program on a local server and the team has been working out the bugs of the install so testing can begin in the next month.


Digitization Assistant Sarah Ostrye accepted the Research Library/Digital Archivist position at the Gemological Library in Carlsbad, CA.

Ryan Donaldson and Massimo Petrozzi will be starting as Student Digitization Assistants, who are both starting at the School of Information Studies this fall.

Software Developer Irina Belyaeva moved on to MetiSpace Technologies, subsidiary of GMV, Spain to take the position of Senior Software Engineer, Satellite Systems.

Conferences and Workshops.

In July Brandon Eldred and Uche Enwesi attended Dell User Forum.  Jennie Knies, Liz Caringola, Eric Cartier, Trevor Muñoz, Karl Nilsen, Robin Pike all attended Digital Preservation 2014 in Washington, DC.  Trevor Muñoz was presented with a National Digital Stewardship Alliance Innovation Award, where he was recognized for his work developing and teaching best practices in data curation in the digital humanities and for his work advocating for digital preservation as a core function of librarianship, archival work, and scholarship.  Karl Nilsen and Robin Dasler were on a plenary panel, Stewarding Space Data, at Digital Preservation 2014. They talked about Research Data Services’ preliminary efforts to curate and preserve the Extragalactic Distance Database, an online resource for determining the distance to galaxies that was constructed by a UMD faculty member in collaboration with colleagues at other institutions. This project is an important pilot project for Research Data Services and will help the Libraries build capacity to curate complex digital data collections and systems.

Karl Nilsen recently attended the annual conference of the International Association for Social Science Information Services & Technology (IASSIST). IASSIST is the foremost professional organization for data librarians in the social sciences. Data librarianship is expanding into new and exciting areas in order to meet the needs of faculty and students in data-intensive, computation-driven research contexts. Based on the presentations and discussions at IASSIST, librarians in the social sciences can expect to receive more and more inquiries about unconventional data sources (web scraping, administrative data, APIs), data wrangling technologies, and data management best practices.

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Preston Tobery Visit to University of Michigan

Report on University of Michigan 3D Lab Visit

May 9, 2014


Preston was able to visit the University of Michigan’s 3D Lab after attending the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) conference. I spent approximately 5 hours with a host of managers, specialists and technicians that work in the lab. The setup was an entire floor of the Duderstadt Center, located on the North Campus. The other departments in the Dudestadt Center are the Art, Architecture and Engineering Library, Computer Aided Engineering Network (CAEN), and the Digital Media Commons. Mr. Shawn O’Grady (Digital Fabrication Specialist) was my contact for 3D printing and scanning. Mr. Ted Hall (Advanced Visualization Specialist) was my contact for 3D visualization and motion capture.

Open Access 3D Printing

Their public 3D printing consisted of up to 9 Cube 3D printers. Patrons are able to watch tutorial videos on how to operate the printer. After watching the video, they would take an online knowledge test. Once they passed the test, they were able to secure time on the printing calendar to print their models. The patron would hand over their campus ID to receive a key to unlock a printer. Patrons would provide their own material, and printing is free. The Cube printers takes a cartridge of PLA filament, unlike our MakerBot printer which takes rolls of filament. The initial cost of the printers was $1,000 each. The cost of the filament cartridges are $49.00 each. I was told by Mr. O’Grady that the service hours on these printers have been massive. He has spent over 65 hours fixing these printers in the last 6 months. Currently, only 3 of the 9 printers are operational.

Rapid Prototyping Lab

They had several different machines to create 3D models from patron’s 3D files.

The Dimension Elite is a 3D printer that uses ABS filament to create the models. It has dual print heads and can print the model and supports separately. The support material is chemically dissolvable after the print is finished. The builds are slightly faster than the MakerBot and have greater resolution when complete. Price for printer and startup pack – $31,900

Next was the ZCorp Spectrum Z510 composite 3D printer. This printer uses a powdery composite material to produce the models. It prints in full color using inkjet-like ink cartridges. The printer spreads a thin layer after thin layer of composite, binder and color ink at 1 inch per hour. After the model is complete, the technician digs it out of the un-bonded composite. It is then finished with several chemicals to make the model stronger.

Finally, Mr. O’Grady showed me a 3D print model from a printer that they are looking to purchase, the 3DSystems ProJet 3500HD. The model was very detailed. The model looked like it had been injection molded. There were no visible lines and the model was able to be taken apart and snapped back together. There are times that our UMD patrons ask about very detailed models being printed on our MakerBot. Unfortunately, our printer doesn’t have the capability to print in such high resolutions.


3D Scanning

They had only one handheld 3D scanner, the Handyscan 3D laser scanner. The scanner featured an eye-safe scanning laser in tandem with an optical camera. The user applies small, white synthetic dots to the surface of an object in a random pattern. The camera tracks the relative position of these dots, and thus the object’s position in space. The laser records the object’s geometry and Handyscan’s software renders a 3D mesh in real-time, letting you know as you scan what areas to focus on. A small 4 inch scan took about 1 minute to complete. The scanner was $29K

3D Visualization

There were a few different pieces of equipment available to patrons.

The Michigan Immersive Digital Experience Nexus (M.I.D.E.N.) is a stereoscopic projection system that they playfully call “The Cave”. The room is a 10 foot square space with projections on 3 walls and the floor. The M.I.D.E.N. uses advanced cameras to track where the user is within the room. It adapts the simulation to what the person would expect to see. Users can walk around virtual objects, look underneath them, and interact with them. I was able to walk around inside of a castle with a flashlight, fly through space and worm holes and finally (the coolest part) was able to view and manipulate a 3D image of a male cadaver. This cadaver was a part of the Visible Human Project completed in 1994 by the National Library of Medicine. Total cost for the M.I.D.E.N. was around $100K.

The Stereowall is much like what you’ll find in a movie theater. It is a large stereoscopic projection system capable of projecting 3D movies, interactive simulations, live 3D video feeds, or 3D powerpoint slides. This system was low-cost, easy to build, and can accommodate large audiences. I thought it would be great for presentations, class discussions, etc. Total cost for this project was about $25K.

The Oculus Rift is a low cost virtual-reality headset designed to create an interactive virtual environment. The Oculus is about the same size as ski goggles and is worn the same. It has 360° head-tracking, so users can look around an environment seamlessly. Movements are tracked in real time creating a natural feeling of movement and visual perception. I used a keyboard to move around and explore.

Motion Capture

Vicon Motion Capture system consists of 8 portable 4MP cameras. It has the ability to capture a wide range of movements and object types. Using reflective markers strategically placed on an object of interest, the cameras can accurately record the object’s movement. Real-time access to the data can be provided through an SDK. Or, the data can be post-processed for greater fidelity. I did not get to see this in action since a student was using the system at the time. But, I did see a few videos.

Other areas in the 3DLab

I visited the GroundWorks Media Conversion Lab. The lab was used for production, conversion, and editing of digital and analog media. There were Macintosh and Windows computers equipped with CD/DVD drives, document scanners, slide scanners, slide film exposers. The video & audio equipment are available on a walk-in, self-serve basis. Also, there was a large format color printer available for a fee. They also had three conference rooms available for use in the lab.




The Dimension Elite 3D Printer – printing with dual filaments. White is the model, black is dissolvable supports.


Spectrum Z510 composite 3D printer.


Prints from the Spectrum Z510 – All models were student designs.


A print from the 3DSystems ProJet 3500HD that they are purchasing soon. Notice the high detail, these parts snapped together.


This is the Open Access 3D printing area using Cubify Cube 3D printers.


The lockable boxes were custom made on site and includes everything needed to print.


The setup for the Oculus Rift Virtual reality headset.


The Stereowall. It was interesting to be able to virtually walk through a student’s architectural building plans before the building was even built.


The dual projectors for the Stereowall. One filtered image for each eye.


The M.I.D.E.N system. I walked into 3 walls and a floor that needed to be logged on J


M.I.D.E.N uses 4 very large projectors and utilizes mirrors to project images onto the walls and floor.


M.I.D.E.N motion capture cameras (red lights) and speakers. The circles and squares are for calibration.


This is me flying through a virtual outerspace with sound. Motion was picked up on the 3D glasses I’m wearing and the PS3 controller in my hands.


The MakerSpace reservable electronics room. The bins contained electrical components like resistors, boards and wiring.


The opposite side of the MakerSpace reservable electronics room. Used for soldering components and vacuuming excess solder.


MakerSpace’s lounge area for patrons. This was in the larger MakerSpace area.


The MakerSpace area also has a workbench and many engineering related tools and equipment for making designs. This space also had 10 lab computers for instruction. They could make and learn in the same area.


Green screen setup in the 3D lab.


The 3D lab also had a setup for photography.

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UMD’s Digital Preservation Policy, updates

In early 2014, the UMD Libraries published its first Digital Preservation Policy.  In the policy, we specify that it must be reviewed on an annual basis, and so this summer, a small task force consisting of myself, Robin Pike, and Joanne Archer reviewed the document, and made a few minor changes. The most significant change was to add an entire section about “Financial Commitment.”  The other change was to modify how we approach actual implementation of the plan. More on that below, but first, what have we accomplished in the past year?

In the past year, various players at the UMD Libraries have embarked on projects or development that ultimately ties into our Digital Preservation Policy. These activities include:

  • A repository research team (Jennie Knies, Ben Wallberg, Babak Hamidzadeh) developed a high-level requirements document for a Bit-Level Preservation System. Ben Wallberg presented on these requirements at Open Repositories 2014 in Helsinki, Finland
  • Software Systems Development and Research (SSDR) installed the ACE Audit Manager tool on our Digital Repository at the University of Maryland (DRUM) DSpace system
  • A task force consisting of Jennie Knies (DSS), and Joanne Archer and Cassie Schmitt (Special Collections) continued the work of the UMD’s Born-Digital Working Group to finalize workflows for processing born-digital archival and manuscript materials.  While not complete, we have developed a plan to complete the first stage of workflows by the end of 2014
  • Over 120,000 files created and archived to UMD’s Division of Information Technology and subsequently to Iron Mountain and enhanced workflow for documenting said files
  • Robin Pike and Jennie Knies published “Catching Up: Creating a Digital Preservation Policy,” in Archival Practice 1, no. 1 (2014)
  • Began plans for upgrading Fedora repository from Fedora 2.2.2 to Fedora 4.0

Much of the work involving documentation and policy development, however, remains abstract and somewhat elusive.  In the past year, we have attempted to pull together all documentation of policies and procedures relating to digital preservation activities.  We have also begun the process of researching real costs of digital preservation (storage costs, human resources, etc.)  In addition, I have written something that I informally call “Policies of Where to Put Stuff,” and formally something like “Digital Preservation Networks Policy,” a document for which I have had writer’s block for the last four months, but hope to finish soon, as it is integral to how we manage digital content moving forward.

The Digital Preservation Policy, intended to be a high-level document to guide the creation and implementation of additional policies and procedures related to digital preservation, contained an appendix intended to outline the documentation necessary to implement the plan.  The appendix in the original plan was based on the Center for Research Libraries, Metrics for Repository Assessment, which were based on the ISO 14721:2012 standard. This standard is commonly referred to as the OAIS  reference model and was developed through the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS.)  The appendix was very detailed and while it was broken into easily-understandable categories and clearly defined the types of policies and procedures we needed to establish, we have found it difficult to map those requirements and categories to the policies and procedures currently in place.

In July, I was fortunate enough to attend Digital Preservation 2014, the annual meeting of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program and the National Digital Stewardship Alliance.  There I heard a wonderful presentation by Bert Lyons from AVPreserve entitled, Mapping Standards for Richer Assessments: NDSA Levels of Digital Preservation and ISO 16363:2012.  That was my “A-ha!” moment.  As Bert pointed out in his presentation, ISO 16363:2012 is very long and there is a lot of overlap between individual components. AVPreserve have created a wonderful document that maps the NSDA levels of digital preservation and the ISO requirements.

The NDSA Levels for Digital Preservation for those who are not familiar, are incredibly straightforward.  They are in a table and broken into five primary sections: Storage and Geographic Location, File Fixity and Data Integrity, Information Security, Metadata, and File Formats. Associated with each category are four increasingly more rigid levels of digital preservation. For example, to fit into Level 1 under Storage and Geographic Location, the requirement is to have two copies that are not collocated, and to move files from things like hard drives or DVDs onto your own storage media ASAP.  Done! We have achieved Level 1.

As I write, my graduate student is creating a version of the NDSA Levels that we can annotate. I loved the simple suggestion by Bret that we use the NDSA Levels as a sort of bar graph to visualize our progress.  We then plan to then use the AVPreserve mapping document to do a more detailed analysis of where we currently stand, and where we need to go with our digital preservation program.

Initially, we wondered if annual review of the Digital Preservation Policy was excessive. However, in these early stages of our program, I realize now how important it is to take stock at regular, and frequent intervals. The UMD Libraries are currently also revising our strategic plan, and the results of that activity will most likely make for interesting revisions in 2015, when we sit down to review the policy again.


Historic Maryland Newspapers Project receives funding for Phase 2

It’s our pleasure to announce that the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project at the University of Maryland Libraries has received funding for Phase 2 and will continue through August 2016 thanks to a generous $290,000 National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Historic Maryland Newspapers Project was first awarded an NDNP grant in 2012 to digitize 100,000 pages of newsprint published between 1836 and 1922. To date, approximately 107,375 pages of Maryland newspapers have been digitized and nearly 86,000 are available on the Library of Congress database Chronicling America. The bulk of these pages is from the prominent German-language Baltimore paper Der Deutsche Correspondent. The time frame of the digitized Correspondent spans 1858 to 1913.The following titles were also digitized during Phase 1 of the project:


  • The American Republican and Baltimore Daily Clipper, 1844-1846
  • The Baltimore Commercial Journal, and Lyford’s Price-Current, 1847-1849
  • Baltimore Daily Commercial, 1865-1866
  • The Daily Exchange, 1858-1861
  • The Pilot and Transcript, 1840-1841

Western Maryland

  • Civilian and Telegraph (Cumberland), 1859-1865
  • The Maryland Free Press (Hagerstown), 1862-1868

During Phase 2, we will complete digitization of Der Deutsche Correspondent (1914-1918) and will digitize a variety of English papers that reflect the regional diversity of Maryland. We look forward to collaborating with our colleagues at the Maryland State Archives during the second phase of the project.

See the press release from NEH: http://www.neh.gov/news/press-release/2014-07-21.

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Stew of the Month: June 2014

Welcome to a new issue of Stew of the Month, a monthly blog from Digital Systems and Stewardship (DSS) at the University of Maryland Libraries. This blog provides news and updates from the DSS Division. We welcome comments, feedback and ideas for improving our products and services.

This month, we are introducing a new format. Rather than listing activities by department, we are grouping them thematically. So much of our work spans multiple departments and it has been difficult in the past to decide where to place each announcement.


Although Digital Systems and Stewardship is often viewed as the “IT” branch of the Libraries, we actively create and steward increasing amounts of content, through submissions in our institutional repository, DRUM, through digitization by DCMR, and other methods.

In June we added 419 theses and dissertations to DRUM from spring 2014 graduates, bringing the total number to 9,509.  Requests for embargoes are still running high with 44% for the spring semester.  Twenty-five percent were for 1-year embargos, 18% for 6-year, and even one permanent embargo (which are rarely granted).  If any subject librarians are interested in the details for any of their departments, contact Terry Owen (towen@umd.edu) and he will be glad to share the information with you.

Gemstone senior projects for 2014 are now available in DRUM.  Eleven new projects have been added to the collection bringing the total to 73.  Check out some of the research from the honors program:

DCMR staff digitize content in the Hornbake Digitization Center on two tracks: patron-based and project-based. In June, digitization assistants scanned many publications from the American Political Item Collectors Keynoter periodical, which features political collectibles and campaign buttons and paraphernalia, from Special Collections and University Archives; these publications are now available via the Internet Archive. In June, the Digitization Center added approximately 240 records to the UMD Libraries’ Digital Collections. 140 of the items were historic audio recordings from the University of Maryland’s radio station, WMUC.

Lastly, 565 books were added to the Prange Digital Children’s Book Collection. More on that below.

Prange Digital Children’s Book Collection

Phase one of the Prange Project’s mission was to create digital images of the Gordon W. Prange Children’s Books collection for preservation and access. The digitized materials would then be ingested into the UMD Libraries’ Digital Collections for access. The Children’s Book Collection contains 8075 books totaling 493,504 digital images, all digitized by a vendor.

Due to various reason including funding, resources, competing priorities and technology problems, ingest of the Prange Children’s Books have significantly lagged behind the digitization of the same materials. DSS’s project manager, Ann Levin, held discussions with the Prange staff, and identified ingest as their number one priority and first process to review. And so the process review began.

The review revealed the Prange ingest capacity as it stood was approximately 1,000 images per day with a backlog of approximately 162,000 images. To eliminate the backlog would take 162 days or 32-work weeks (~8.5 months) to ingest the remaining Children’s Books.

With the information in hand, the SSDR team of Ben Wallberg and Paul Hammer set out to identify the bottleneck and to figure out the ingest capacity utilizing the existing equipment and solution. They completed modifications to the Prange Children’s Book loader to improve performance by running multiple zoomification processes in parallel.  (“Zoomification” is the process required to create derivative files for viewing over the Internet. It refers specifically to a software tool that we use in our Digital Collections interface called “Zoomify”).  With these modifications, the ingest efficiency improved five-fold. We can now ingest 5,000 images each night and the Prange Children’s Book images ingest into Fedora is now expected to be completed at the end of July 2014 instead of Spring 2015.

What a great accomplishment!

Digitization activities

Robin Pike has continued to meet with many collection managers, developing FY15 digitization projects and discussing the setup and requirements for a few FY16 digitization projects.  Jennie Knies has joined her for many of these meetings in order to explain the ingest process into Digital Collections and to consult with regards to metadata and interface topics.

Digitization assistant Sarah Ostrye scanned photographs and documents for UMD Associate Professor of English and Associate Director of MITH Matthew Kirschenbaum for his upcoming book Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processingpublished by Harvard University Press.

Software Development


Irina Belyaeva, Mohamed Abdul Rasheed, and Ben Wallberg (SSDR) completed the upgrade of DRUM to DSpace 4.1.  The upgrade was quite an undertaking since we made the jump from DSpace 1.7 to 4.1.  The upgrade process included: 1) training two developers new to the DSpace application, 2) refactoring the code base to a GitHub hosted fork of the original DSpace code on GitHub, and 3) a three version upgrade from 1.7, skipping 1.8 and 3, to 4.  Users accustomed to searching DRUM will notice that the default Simple/Advanced Search has been replaced by the Discovery Module – which is basically a multifaceted searching and browsing function.  Even though this technique is new to DSpace, this might feel familiar from other platforms, especially WorldCat.  After searching for a topic in DRUM, relevant titles for your search will display along with options in the right sidebar to refine your results by Author, Subject, and Date Issued.  With the most up-to-date DSpace code in place we are set to begin working on implementing DOIs for DRUM over the summer.  Karl Nilsen and Terry Owen have been working to overhaul the “Help” pages, and the revised pages will be available this summer.

Hippo CMS

SSDR began an upgrade of Hippo CMS from 7.7 to 7.8 with the goals of staying current on this critical application and benefiting from performance/architecture improvements in the new version.

Project Management and Services

Service-Level Agreements (SLAs)

Jennie Knies, Ben Wallberg, Uche Enwesi and Ann Levin have been discussing ways to provide the best level of service to our customers while ensuring expectations are identified and met. These discussions centered on recurring services such as sandboxes and production services. Out of those discussion the idea of service offerings and Service Level Agreements were born.

DSS has created a draft Sandbox Service Offering and Service Level Agreement (SLA) templates.  A “Sandbox” is a term used in information technology to indicate a testing environment that allows for experimentation separate from a production environment. By its nature, a sandbox environment is temporary, and meant to be used as a place for exploration of new software or service. A “Sandbox” is typically used for assessing server based applications. It is an isolated, standalone system and not linked to any other system.  The drafts are in the process of review and will be distributed when the they are finalized. This offering is meant to give library faculty and staff the ability to request a quick and temporary environment to test new software or services. The SLA will define the responsibilities of DSS and the requestor as well as identify and document the requirements and expectations for the Sandbox and those responsible. In June, we drafted three SLAs and are working on several more to include production agreements.

Scripto is an example of a sandbox service implemented in June. Scripto is a free, open source tool enabling community transcriptions of document and multimedia files.  A small project team consisting of Liz Novara, Joanne Archer, Liz Caringola, Jennie Knies, and Trevor Muñoz have been working to identify tools that might aid in developing crowdsourced transcription projects of manuscripts in Special Collections and University Archives. The team identified Scripto as a main contender and wished to experiment with it for a few months prior to making a decision about further use.  User Systems and Support (USS) set up a server space for the project, and SSDR along with input from Digital Programs and Initiatives (DPI), installed the Scripto application, which installation and configuration of WordPress, MediaWiki, and Omeka.

Computer Refresh

What better way to spend the summer than with a nice, cool, refreshing computer refresh?

Public Services and Spaces

User and System Support (USS) staff are in the process of updating over 500 public area computers.  The updates includes operating system refreshes and software updates to the latest version.  The software update process includes making sure that all the computers have the latest version of software and the license files for the software are update.  With the update, USS staff created a scripted single image that will be used on all the computer regardless of the model of computers.  The script will detect the kind of computer and apply the right computer driver and name the machine accordingly.  With this script, the refresh is moving faster and it takes less time to image a machine with little to no intervention from USS staff.

Loaner Laptop summer checkup

USS staff are currently working on refreshing the software and operating system of the loaner laptops which includes Macs and Dells.  The summer checkup includes refreshing the software on the laptosp and fixing an problems with the laptops such as cracked screens or broken AC power cords. As with the public computers, USS staff are also working on scripts that will automate the imaging of the laptops for a faster turnaround time.

Maker Space is Coming…

USS staff working with the TLC (Terrapin Learning Commons) group are working on setting up a Maker Space in the TLC.  We will have two 3D printers, one 3D scanner and other interesting things in the room.  Stay tuned for more once the setup of the space is completed.

Visix Digital Signage

Visix Digital Signage is a tool currently used in McKeldin Library and Library Media Services to display messages on large screens in public areas.  USS began an upgrade of Visix Digital Signage from to with the goal of staying current and closing out security holes on the old system.  As USS upgrades, they will also virtualize the operating system, which will save the Libraries money on hardware and will also improve performance.  The old system is running on a physical machine with a Windows XP computer and the new virtualized system will be Windows 2012 R2 Server on a vitalized server.

Visix Digital Signage will soon be coming to EPSL!


With the summer comes the usual changes in student staffing.  While it is sad to see people leave, we are always happy when our student assistants graduate and are able to find exciting employment elsewhere.  Audio digitization assistant Felicia Savage left Digital Collections and Media Reformatting (DCMR) to accept the Education Enrichment Coordinator position at The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History in New Mexico.

Conferences and Workshops

In June, Ben Wallberg wins the award for the most exotic conference location: Helsinki, Finland. Ben was attending the 2014 Open Repositories conference. Karl Nilsen also traveled internationally, attending IASSIST 2014 in Toronto, Canada.  Liz Caringola and Jennie Knies both attended the June meeting of the Maryland History and Culture Collaborative at Goucher College. Chamisa Carson, Aderinola Karurwi, Victoria Quartey and Uche attended Labman2014 conference.  Josh Westgard and Jennie Knies did not have to travel further than their own computers to attend a Library Juice Academy workshop on Ontologies and Linked Data.

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Stew of the Month: May 2014

Welcome to a new issue of Stew of the Month, a monthly blog from Digital Systems and Stewardship (DSS) at the University of Maryland Libraries. This blog provides news and updates from the DSS Division. We welcome comments, feedback and ideas for improving our products and services.

Digital Conversion and Media Reformatting (DCMR)

Henry Borchers accepted the Preservation Project Manager position with the Bay Area Video Coalition in San Francisco, CA. His last day at UMD was June 9.

Sarah Ostrye, a digitization assistant in DCMR, was awarded an honorary mention for the Outstanding Student Libraries Award for her stellar work.

Three digitization assistants in DCMR earned MLS degrees from the UMD College of Information Studies: Sarah Ostrye, Vanathy Senthilkumar, and Abby Yee. Senthilkumar began working as a processing archivist at the National Park Service in May; Ostrye and Yee plan to continue in DCMR through the summer.

Robin Pike and Eric Cartier attended the 48th Association for Recorded Sound Collections conference in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on May 14-17. The sessions discussed research on collections, individual and institutional collection development, collections maintenance and management, and digitization. Incorporating collections goals into the National Recording Preservation Plan remained a popular topic, continuing a dialog from last year’s conference.

On May 23, Cartier attended the “Katherine Anne Porter in Letters and Life” program in Hornbake Library, which featured talks about the correspondence digitization project. Cartier performed quality assurance on more than 4000 pages of correspondence and metadata records for the project.

Pike began FY15 digitization project meetings with collection managers to discuss the components of the upcoming projects—volume, scope, bibliographic description, preservation issues, copyright and access issues, technical specifications, and a project timeline. Many of these projects were proposed through the Digitization Initiatives Committee’s process and will be outsourced to digitization vendors.

Borchers and Cartier collaborated to set up an audio digitization workstation in the re-branded Performing Arts Audio Digitization Studio in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library. They also worked together to finalize procedures Borchers began for DVCAM, VHS, and Betacam digitization through a limited pilot project. Pike and Cartier will continue to develop video digitization capacity and establish in-house digitization production in the coming months.

Cartier, Ostrye, Special Collections and University Archives, and Metadata Services collaborated to digitize and make available via UMD Digital Collections the entirety of the UMD Libraries incunabula collection, which a graduate field study student was researching. The student’s first post of several will be featured on the Special Collections blog.

Digital Programs and Initiatives (DPI)

In May the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project submitted the final batch of newspapers to be digitized during the 2012-2014 National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) grant award. In total, the project was able to digitize 107,341 pages of Maryland newspapers, exceeding the requirement of 100,000 pages.

Audrey Lengel  and Donna King have recently completed training on the Michigan Copyright Review Management System (CRMS) as part of the CRMS-World project.  They join the ranks of individuals from 18 other institutions who are busily making copyright determinations  for books in HathiTrust published outside the United States, specifically in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.  To date, more than 230,700 records have been reviewed for the project (more than 7,900 have been reviewed by UMD) with approximately 71% of these placed in the public domain.

With the fiscal year drawing to a close, funds for the UMD Libraries Open Access Publishing Fund (http://www.lib.umd.edu/oa/openaccessfund) have been exhausted and we are no longer accepting applications.  The fund was launched in September 2013 with an initial balance of $10,000 and an additional $7,500 was added over the course of the year.  Thirteen  applications were approved for an average of $1,350 per article.  A majority of the applications were submitted by faculty and graduate students from the College of Computer, Mathematical & Natural Sciences but applications were also received from ag and natural sciences, education, and sociology.  For fiscal year 2015, we will be evaluating how best to proceed and an announcement will be made once a decision has been reached.

Karl Nilsen and Robin Dasler gave a presentation on NSF data management plans to faculty and graduate students. The presentation was designed to help researchers understand the requirements, design their plan, and deal with special situations. The response from attendees was positive and their questions and comments highlighted some of the data management issues faced by researchers.

Karl Nilsen completed a MOOC on the R programming language called “Getting and Cleaning Data². The course introduced various techniques for acquiring and reading diverse types of data and carrying out common data wrangling tasks. The course is part of the Data Science Specialization offered by Johns Hopkins University via Coursera.

On Friday, May 30 and Saturday, May 31, Jennie Knies attended a meeting of the BitCurator Professional Experts Panel. The BitCurator project is a joint effort led by the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (SILS) and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) to develop a system for collecting professionals that incorporates the functionality of many digital forensics tools. The UMD Libraries are currently exploring the use of BitCurator to aid in the curation of born-digital content in Special Collections and University Archives. At the meeting, representatives from approximately fifteen institutions discussed how they use BitCurator, and the research team discussed new features, and future directions of the Mellon-funded project.

In May, Jennie Knies and Josh Westgard worked together with Ben Wallberg, Irina Belyaeva and Paul Hammer (SSDR), Robin Pike (DCMR) and Joanne Archer, Beth Alvarez and Liz DePriest (Special Collections) to finalize a batch ingest of over 2000 pieces of correspondence from American author Katherine Anne Porter into Digital Collections. This ingest is one part of a process that involved creating a new content type in our Fedora-based digital repository for correspondence and integrating support for both OCR (optical character recognition) text and hOCR (OCR with page location information) XML.  This project also prompted investigation and development of a new type of loading process for digital content. The correspondence is not yet publicly available, however, the ingest is complete and the content and metadata are safely in the repository!

Jennie Knies and Ben Wallberg worked together to participate in a test phase of the Academic Preservation Trust (APTrust), of which the UMD Libraries is a member.  Jennie compiled several “bags” of data from Digital Collections and DRUM. A “bag,” which is created according to a specification called “BagIt,” is essentially a collection of files and metadata, compiled in a standardized way. It enables uniform transfer of digital content from one system to another.  In this test, Jennie and Ben created several bags and then submitted them to the APTrust to ensure that the APTrust’s submission mechanisms were operating correctly.

On May 20, Liz Caringola, Jennie Knies, and Josh Westgard presented to the UMD Libraries’ internal “Emerging Technologies Discussion Group (ETDG) on XML and its use in libraries. In the presentation, they discussed some of the important types of data that are frequently serialized into XML (particularly metadata schemas such as EAD, METS, or MODS, and TEI for marking up text). In addition, they introduced some useful software tools for working with XML documents, and briefly discussed the role of namespaces, and the difference between well-formedness and validity.  Finally, they ended the presentation with a discussion of two use-cases: Liz Caringola described the role of XML in the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project, and Josh Westgard walked through an example of how XML can be generated programmatically using Python’s lxml module.

DPI’s very own Josh Westgard was awarded the “Outstanding Graduate Assistant of the Year,” award at the UMD Libraries  in appreciation for his outstanding service as a graduate assistant to Digital Systems and Stewardship. As noted in the citation, his work has demonstrated our need for a suite of services and skills not previously found in our staff. Through his innovation, enthusiasm, and expertise, we have identified new ways that Digital Programs and Initiatives should serve the UMD Libraries and improve access to our collections. Congratulations, Josh!

Software Systems Development and Research (SSDR)

Completed Projects

  • Ingest of Katherine Anne Porter correspondence objects into Digital Collections

Ongoing Projects

  • Special Collections and University Archives Hippo based Exhibit feature
  • DRUM upgrade to DSpace 4.1.
  • Prange Collection performance improvements for Zoomify creation on ingest into Digital Collections
  • New Workstation Availability feature on the website
  • WuFoo to SysAid integration middleware

New Projects Underway

  • Website upgrade to Hippo CMS 7.8

Look at all the people…

A few months ago, one of my colleagues, Paul Hammer, a software developer with the UMD Libraries’ Software Systems Development and Research (SSDR), stopped by my office and mentioned to me that something in one of my recent blog posts was bothering him. Specifically, it was these two sentences:

Unfortunately, unlike our dependable analog collections, keeping track of all of this digitized content can sometimes be unwieldy.   One of my big goals is to reach the point where an inventory of these digital collections can provide me with the equivalent of a “Shelf location” and statistics at the push of a button.

Paul reminded me that a lot of human effort, management and coercion went into acquiring, tracking, cataloging and circulating information in the analog world.  If the staff, managers and profession were not diligently encouraging librarians, archivists and other professionals into using similar standards and practices, then no two collections would be remotely comparable.  He noted: “We need to recognize that this effort is just as big and difficult in the computer world.  Computers do not do all of this work for you regardless of how much we wish out were otherwise.  Computers just offer a really big room of shelves on which to put things and the ability to program helpers.  Helpers who are only capable of doing *exactly* what you ask of them — at nearly speed of light.”

I want to thank Paul for putting things in perspective.  First, his comments reminded me that Rome was not built in a day. Second, as Paul, and many of the recent projects I have worked on have shown, computers will only do exactly what you tell them to do and only contain as much logic as the human provides to them.  Third, I think that it is safe to say that standards and best practices are even  more important in the digital world than in the analog.

Last year, the UMD Libraries received funding for a project to digitize a portion of correspondence written by the American author, Katherine Anne Porter, whose papers reside at the University of Maryland.  What seemed at first to be a straightforward project turned into quite a complex and interesting one that is still not 100% complete.  At least a dozen UMD Libraries’ staff participated in some portion of the project, not to mention external parties such as our digitization vendor.  Joanne Archer in Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) managed the project.   Two content specialists within SCUA (Librarian Emeritus Beth Alvarez and PhD candidate Liz DePriest) selected the approximately 2000 letters for the first phase of digitization.  Robin Pike, Manager, Digital Conversion and Media Reformatting (DCMR), facilitated the contracts and negotiation with the digitization vendor.  The correspondence was digitized in eight batches, and Special Collections staff had to prepare metadata for every letter, and prepare the packages for delivery.   Once digitization was complete, Eric Cartier (DCMR) performed QC on all of the deliverables (TIF, JPG, OCR text and hOCR xml).  Trevor Muñoz, Assistant Dean for Digital Humanities Research, used the raw data to develop several proof-of-concept possibilities for future data use and analysis.  Josh Westgard, graduate assistant for Digital Programs and Initiatives (DPI), facilitated transfer of the files for preservation.

And that is not all.  Fedora as a repository is an excellent example of a computer system that needs to be told exactly what to do.  We have not, to date, added any complex objects of the type of these letters (digital objects represented by an image, an OCR file, and an hOCR file).  DPI gathered the requirements for this new object type (UMD_CORRESPONDENCE) and delivered them to Software Systems Development and Research (SSDR).  Ben Wallberg, Manager, SSDR and two developers, Irina Belyaeva and Paul Hammer, worked to translate those requirements into reality.  What followed was a period of testing and analysis.  Likewise, we currently add content to our Fedora repository in three ways: 1) one-by-one using a home-grown web-based administrative interface and 2) using project-specific batch loading scripts that require developer mediation, and 3) using a batch loader developed by Josh Westgard in DPI that currently only works with audio and video content. For the Katherine Anne Porter project, logic dictated that we go with Door #2, and use a project-specific batch loading process.  In this case, SSDR and DPI agreed to use this as an excuse to develop and test an alternate method for batch ingest, with an eye towards developing a more generic, user-driven batch loader in future.

Irina and Paul worked on the batch loader for Katherine Anne Porter, and, when it was ready for testing, we ran into a series of minor, but educational complications.  First, it was necessary to massage and clean-up the metadata much more than anticipated, since SCUA had been using the spreadsheet to capture more information than needed for ingest. Second, other types of metadata errors caused the load to fail numerous times. This led, however, to the development of more rigorous validation checks on the metadata prior to ingest.  After the load was complete, I worked with Josh Westgard to analyze the success and we uncovered additional minor glitches, which we will account for in later loads.

The work is not complete.  The letters are ingested, but not viewable.  We still need to make changes to both our back-end administrative tool and our front-end public interface in order to accommodate this new content type.  And who knows what other types of user needs and requirements will necessitate additional work.  The data itself is rich and interesting.  Our hope is that it will be used both by scholars conducting traditional types of archival research as well as digital humanists interested in deciphering and analyzing the texts by computer-driven means.

This spring, Digital Systems and Stewardship hired its first ever Project Manager.  Ann Levin comes to the UMD Libraries with years of experience working on systems much more complex than our own.  As is obvious from the project description above, all of our work currently touches many different people with different skills and priorities within our organization.  It is our hope that we can start to formalize some of this work, develop more consistent workflows, and develop policies and procedures that ensure adherence to specified best practices and standards moving forward. The work has already started.  As Paul correctly pointed out to me several months ago, working with computers requires just as much, if not more, human involvement than some of our analog work. Planning is key. One reason the word “digital” causes instant anxiety for many people is that just as things such as access and indexing can move much more swiftly in a digital system than analog, it is also possible to entirely eliminate data instantly.  Paul provided this analogy:

Imagine an archive where everyone working there had the power to empty and restock the shelves with a wave of their hand.  That any given shelf could suddenly disappear.  That a box that used to be really popular can still be taken off the shelf but we have forgotten how to open it.  All of these things are all too possible in digital storage.  Think of the extra vigilance necessary just to know that what you have is really what you have.

Scary. But my original sentiment remains the same. With every new project, we move closer towards trusting our work, and reaching a point where creating, managing, and providing access to digital content really can seem as simple as the “push of a button.”  We just need to recognize all of the work, effort, and vigilance that goes into creating that single button.


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