Stew of the Month: September 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

Born-Digital Workflows

Graduate Assistant Alice Prael (Digital Programs and Initiatives) began work with fellow graduate assistant Amy Wickner (Special Collections and University Archives) to formalize and finalize born-digital workflows and processes using the forensic workstation (FRED) in Hornbake Library and a suite of tools that include Bit Curator.

Coding Workshop

Josh Westgard and Bria Parker (Metadata Librarian, Technical Services) began planning to relaunch the UMD Libraries’ Coding Workshop. The first meeting will be in October.

ESRI Geoportal Sandbox

Paul Hammer worked with Jennie Knies and Mary Kate Cannistra (Public Services) to install and configure a sandbox version of a tool called “ESRI Geoportal.” Esri Geoportal Server is a free, open source product that enables discovery and use of geospatial resources including datasets, rasters, and Web services. It helps organizations manage and publish metadata for their geospatial resources to let users discover and connect to those resources. The Geoportal Server supports standards-based clearinghouse and metadata discovery applications. The trial will run through January 2015.

Journal Survey Tool

DSS Staff (Jennie Knies, Mark Hemhauser, Paul Hammer, Uche Enwesi) worked with staff in Collections Services and Strategies to put the finishing touches on the Journal Survey Tool, a web-based application that will be used this fall to solicit input from faculty, staff, and graduate students about priorities for serials.  The main work on this project was completed this past spring, with extensive assistance from Josh Westgard.

One Button Studio Presentation Cart

Public Services and DivIT created a presentation room on the 2nd Floor of Mckeldin in the Terrapin Learning Commons (TLC) area a few years ago. The room was intended to be used so students could record presentations to analyze before presenting in class. At the time, the room contained a wide-screen TV, Blu-Ray player, Dell computer, and a hi-def mounted camera in the back of the room. However, the room’s setup wasn’t as user-friendly as hoped. Also, curious students that were using the room for group study would always seem to break something that involved calling a vendor to fix.

USS reexamined the situation and envisioned other ideas that could be used to accomplish the intended goal. A technician in USS discovered the “One Button Studio.” The software provided a very simple user interface to record video to a USB flash drive. After more investigation and testing, USS acquired a Mac minicomputer, display monitor, digital camera, shot gun microphone, small audio mixer, HDMI adapter, and a rolling cart to begin building the One Button Studio environment. The mac mini, audio mixer, HDMI adapter and cables are all hidden inside the rolling cart’s cabinet. The system is on a rolling cart so that it is mobile and can be used in multiple locations. Using the One Button Studio cart is very simple. Once the power for the cart is plugged in, the hidden mac mini automatically turns on and load the One Button Studio software. The student only needs to power on the digital camera. Once the software loads, the student can plug a USB flash drive into the USB connector. Once an image appears on the screen, the student presses the One Button device that will start the recording process. When the student is finished recording, they press the One Button device again. The application then converts the video to a file and saves it on the flash drive for the student to watch later.

The cart is currently behind the TLC desk so it is loaned out like any other device from the desk. This way we can have accountability when things get missing or break. The process from acquiring the One Button technology to finally providing a finish product to TLC took the effort of multiple staff in USS. This was truly a collaborative effort.

Tanner Wray from Montgomery College visited Mckeldin Library with some other colleagues in order to see the One Touch Button cart. Tanner was truly amazed. Many schools have rooms dedicated for recording. But, this was the first time he seen someone design a portable system for recording.



Picture of the cart full length



This just show the cart with the Camera, Monitor Mic, USB reader and button to start the recording.









Publications from the Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI) are currently being deposited in DRUM (http://hdl.handle.net/1903/15555).  ALEI (http://umaglaw.org/) is a new collaboration between the University of Maryland College Park College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences committed to providing Maryland farmers with the information they need to prosper while complying with the complex network of laws and policies protecting the integrity of the state’s food system and environment.

Presentations from the spring 2014 MARAC (Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference), held in Rochester NY this past April, have recently been deposited in DRUM (http://hdl.handle.net/1903/15602).  “Film, Freedom, and Feminism” was the theme for the spring meeting.

Prange Children’s Book Collection, cleanup and wrapup

Paul Hammer, working with Jennie Knies and Prange Collection staff continued the process of quality control on the Prange Digital Children’s Book Collection.  At the time of writing, all 8,059 books have been successfully imported into Digital Collections.

Research Data

Karl Nilsen and Robin Dasler made substantial progress on deploying a local copy the Extragalactic Distance Database (EDD). Steps included configuring the Apache HTTP server, securing the MySQL database and user accounts, loading data into the database, initializing a Git repository for the application code and creating a development branch.
Karl Nilsen and colleagues in Research Data Services drafted a collection policy for data, software code, and other research products that were generated, produced, or collected by UMD researchers and their collaborators at other institutions. The policy will help guide the Libraries’ data curation and digital scholarship activities.

Digitization Activities

Robin Pike worked with Joanne Archer (SCUA), Yelena Luckert (Research Services), Vin Novara (SCPA), Bria Parker (MSD), and Linda Sarigol (LMS) to coordinate a schedule to ship materials to digitization vendors over the next fiscal year.

Since Robin and Eric Cartier finalized the digitization setup, Eric began training digitization assistants Audrey Lengel, Alison Skaggs, and Abby Yee at the Performing Arts Audio Digitization Studio (PAADS). This studio will serve as the location to digitize audio requests and future projects from the Performing Arts Library, Special Collections in Performing Arts, and International Piano Archives at Maryland. It will be staffed by trained DCMR digitization assistants who will split their time between the Hornbake Digitization Center and PAADS, as needed.

After students digitized selected audiocassettes from the Katherine Anne Porter papers and the Paul Porter papers, Eric determined that the cassettes had substandard audio quality and performed basic audio restoration using specialized software on ten selected recordings with the worst audio quality. Special Collections personnel will determine if this level of audio restoration is sufficient, or if we will use a vendor to perform this work. This process goes beyond DCMR’s normal operations but is merited by the research importance of these prominent collections.

In celebration of Banned Books Week (September 21-27), SCUA had DCMR digitize numerous book covers and spines for the online exhibit on Flickr.

DCMR staff provided digitized images and retrieved digital video files from the Football Films collection to Athletics Archivist Amanda Hawk for the Maryland Athletics Hall of Fame ceremony, which will occur on October 3.

Software Development

Shian Chang and Cindy Zhao, working closely with Laura Cleary in Special Collections, completed building the web framework for Special Collections exhibits in Hippo CMS.  The first exhibit released is Beyond the Battle: Bladensburg Rediscovered which uses the Unify responsive website template.  Once fully implemented we will be able to cut new exhibit sites from a template on-demand, without any need for custom programming.

Peter Eichman dusted the cobwebs off the AlephRx homegrown ticket tracking system used to track consortial requests/problems for Aleph.  He has moved the code base into GitHub and modernized the development environment using Vagrant and along the way made some improvements to the interface and fixed some bugs.

Mohamed Abdul Rasheed has continued progress on migrating the Jim Henson Works to a Solr based search as well as adding a new database search for Special Collections in Performing Arts (SCPA) scores database.  Completion of both projects is expected in October.

Digital Scholarship and Publishing

In September, the Libraries officially approved the launch of a formal Digital Scholarship and Publishing Program.  The program builds on current offerings and introduces a new suite of services that are flexible, extensible, and vital to the needs of our faculty.  This includes providing platforms
to publish electronic journals and other types of digital publications and a limited menu of consulting services related to publishing, such as training on author identity.

After a banner inaugural year, the UMD Libraries Open Access Publishing Fund is up and running again for 2014-2015.  Submission information and selection criteria are available at http://www.lib.umd.edu/oa/openaccessfund.

USMAI (University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions Consortium)

Kuali OLE (Open Library Environment) implementation: The Consortial Library Applications Support (CLAS) team has been meeting with Ben Wallberg (DSS) to develop further an existing plan for testing OLE. The plan will later be executed to conduct the tests of the system. David Steelman, the developer working with the CLAS team, using an open source tool called “Vagrant”, has constructed a reproducible environment in which Kuali OLE development can be done.

Aleph system support: Hans Breitenlohner investigated the recent pc_server performance issues, which were generating user reports of Aleph slowness on a nearly daily basis in recent weeks. Hans found that the problem stemmed from the way WorldCat Local (WCL), the Aleph z39.50 server, and the Aleph pc_server interact. The slowdowns in Aleph performance were occurring whenever a user searching WCL retrieved (or tried to retrieve) a title with a large number of items—and many titles in Aleph have well over 1200 items.

WCL requests records in online public catalog (OPAC) format, which includes item and circulation data. The z39 server retrieves item information from the pc_server, 50 items at a time, collects it, and returns it to WCL in a single response. This operation soon overloads the server capacity when there are large numbers of items. For example, a single hit on the New York Times (which has over 7,000 item holdings) in WCL would keep two of our CPUs (one quarter of our system) busy for about 17 minutes. Given these circumstances, it is not surprising that there were times when the requested work greatly exceeded the capacity of our system. To get around this, Hans added an additional check to the z39 server, which looks at the total number of items and modifies the response when the title has more than 1000 items. Hans’s fix seems to have alleviated the performance issues seen recently.

Security patching: On September 26, Ex Libris notified its customers of vulnerability to the ‘shellshock’ exploit in all Unix/Linux systems that use the Bash shell (a popular command-line shell), posing a threat to all Ex Libris systems/products running on Unix/Linux. DSS systems administrators were already aware of the issue, and promptly applied the necessary patches to all affected servers.

Acquisitions/serials support for USMAI: Mark Hemhauser has been working with Towson and Yankee Book Peddler (YBP) on setting up a loader for shelf ready firm orders. Mark also ran a fresh license report of USMAI licenses for College Park, and budget reports for Salisbury and the University of Baltimore.

Circulation support for USMAI: David Wilt ran 10 ad hoc reports run for Bowie, College Park, Morgan, Saint Mary’s, UM Law, UB Law, and Frostburg. David also updated, changed, or created new circulation rules/parameters and/or item statuses for UM Law, Shady Grove, and the University of Baltimore.

Aleph user interface support: The CLAS team noticed that we were receiving more problem report emails sent from the Aleph OPAC (catalog.umd.edu) by folks who are affiliated with the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). Because there was no specific option for “Montgomery County Public Schools” in the dropdown of choices for “campus affiliation” on the problem form, MCPS folks were forced to choose “Other”. The form sends the messages with “other” affiliation directly to the CLAS team, who would triage them and forward them to the appropriate staff. To streamline the process for MCPS patrons, Heidi Hanson modified the “problems/comments” form add an option to select “Montgomery County Public Schools” in the dropdown of choices for “campus affiliation”. Now problem report email messages from MCPS-affiliated users are routed directly to the usg_mcps email group monitored by Priddy Library staff, who serve as MCPS liaisons.


Josh Westgard joined Digital Programs and Initiatives on September 22, as Systems Librarian.

Alice Prael joined DSS in September as the graduate assistant, Digital Programs and Initiatives. Alice is currently in her second year at the iSchool, in the Digital Curation concentration.

The Historic Maryland Newspapers Project welcomed a new Student Assistant in September. Jordan Lee is in her second year of the MLS program and is a GA in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences Advising Office. Welcome, Jordan!

David Steelman joined SSDR as a System Analyst and will be providing software development and applicant support for USMAI, working along with the Consortial Library Applications Support (CLAS) team in DSS. David received his Bachelor of Science, Comprehensive, from Villanova University and his Master of Science, Computer Science, from the University of Maryland, College Park.  He is coming to us from Raytheon Solipsys Corporation where he worked as a Senior Software Engineer, working on projects such as the Tactical Display Framework (TDF), a Java-based object-oriented Command and Control Battle Management package.

It has rained and poured this month for SSDR in that we also welcomed three new Graduate Assistant software developers, each in the second year of their programs.  Sakshi Jain is in the Masters of Information Management program while Rohit Arora and Vivian Thayil are in the Masters of Telecommunications Engineering program.


As part of the Future of the Research Library Speaker Series, Martin Sandler, Director of the Center for Library Initiatives for the CIC, will be speaking on Thursday, 4 December from 10:00 am to 11:30 am in the Special Events Room.  Details are available at http://www.lib.umd.edu/speakerseries.

Conferences, Workshops and Professional Activities

Jennie Levine Knies, Doug McElrath, and Liz Caringola attended the annual meeting of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) from September 16-18 in Washington, DC.  Liz Caringola presented on the results of our Wikipedia project this summer. Liz also represented Maryland at a pre-conference meeting called Beyond NDNP, which discussed issues of project sustainability after NDNP funding ends, shared infrastructure, and standards and best practices for newspaper digitization.

Josh Westgard was notified that his poster, “The Bot Will Serve You Now: Automating Access to Archival Materials,” was accepted by the IEEE Conference on Big Data, which will be held October 27-30, in Bethesda, Maryland.

Jennie Knies joined the BitCurator Consortium Start-Up Committee.  The Start-up Committee is the decision-making group until the Executive Council is elected in spring 2015.

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Knight News Challenge: Libraries. Our application…

The Knight Foundation recently issued a news challenge: How might we leverage libraries as a platform to build more knowledgeable communities? Here at the University of Maryland Libraries, we felt that we had an idea.

Improving Discovery in Digital Newspapers through Crowdsourcing the Development of Semantic Models

“We will develop tools that enable users of digitized newspapers to intuitively create connections between the concepts, people, places, things, and ideas written about in the newspaper pages, which will facilitate further discovery and analysis by researchers at all levels.”
The process of working on this application was fun and inspiring.  Our Associate Dean for Digital Systems and Stewardship, Babak Hamidzadeh, had the original vision. He enlisted myself (Jennie Knies) and Liz Caringola, our Maryland Historic Newspapers librarian, to help flesh out some of the ideas.  The UMD Libraries’ Communications director, Eric Bartheld, and our Director of Development, Heather Foss, also contributed. Ed Summers (MITH) and Dr. Ira Chinoy (Journalism) provided excellent feedback and encouragement. Rebecca Wilson, the UMD Libraries’ graphic designer, created this compelling graphic under a very tight deadline.
The application itself had very strict word/character requirements, which was a fascinating challenge in itself.  750 characters (that includes spaces!) to communicate the entire idea?
We think that we are uniquely positioned to develop these types of tools – we have the enthusiasm, the content (thanks to the Maryland Historic Newspapers project and to Chronicling America), and the resources and expertise to make this a reality.  Fingers-crossed that we get a lot of “applause!” There are a lot of amazing proposals for the Knight Foundation to choose from, but I hope we get to be one of them.
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UMD Libraries Join BitCurator Consortium as Charter Member

The University of Maryland Libraries are in the midst of working on policies, procedures, and workflows for managing born-digital content.  3 1/2″ and 5 1/4″ floppy disks, along with Zip disks, CD-ROMs, and DVDs already live within the archival and manuscript collections within Special Collections and University Archives.  The challenges involved in preserving these media and the content stored on them are numerous.  Often, equipment or software necessary to use older disks is obsolete or unavailable.  The disks themselves may become damaged due to misuse, or, simply, time. Law enforcement agencies who need to read hard drives and other media for forensic research have been at the forefront of developing hardware, software and other tools to work with older media.  Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, BitCurator is a tool designed specifically for libraries and archives.  It is a fully-contained system that contains easy-to-use interfaces to allow for some standard activities necessary for copying, reading, and curating digital media. For the University of Maryland Libraries, the existence of BitCurator has saved us from having to reinvent the wheel when it comes to beginning our born-digital activities.  Our main installation lives in Hornbake Library, on our Forensic Recovery of Evidence Device (FRED).  This fall, two graduate assistants, Amy Wickner (Special Collections and University Archives) and Alice Prael (Digital Programs and Initiatives), will pick up where the UMD Libraries’ Born-Digital Working Group left off earlier this year to finalize some our basic born-digital workflows.

The BitCurator Consortium operates as an affiliated community of the Educopia Institute, a non-profit organization that advances cultural, scientific, and scholarly institutions by catalyzing networks and collaborative communities to facilitate collective impact. The University of Maryland Libraries have signed on as a charter member and are delighted to be involved in this endeavor.

“Managing born-digital acquisitions is becoming a top concern in research libraries, archives, and museums worldwide,” shares co-founder Dr. Christopher (Cal) Lee. “The BCC now provides a crucial hub where curators can learn from each other, share challenges and successes, and together define and advance technical and administrative workflows for born-digital content.” Co-founder Dr. Matthew Kirschenbaum adds: “Tools without actively invested communities wither on the vine, become dead bits. The BCC is not just an extension of BitCurator, in a very real sense it will now become BitCurator.”

Institutions responsible for the curation of born-digital materials are invited to become members of the BCC. New members will join an active, growing community of practice and gain entry into an international conversation around this emerging set of practices. Other member benefits include:

•    Voting rights
•    Eligibility to serve on the BCC Executive Council and Committees
•    Professional development and training opportunities
•    Subscription to a dedicated BCC member mailing list
•    Special registration rates for BCC events


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Stew of the Month: August 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

This past summer, User Services and Systems (USS) initiated a project with the Public Services Division to convert the former Reference desk space in the front of McKeldin Library into a “Laptop Bar” to provide seating and power for students using their personal laptops in the library.  USS acquired power surge protectors in the shape of pyramids to be placed on the tables for student use. PSD acquired bar-style chairs for the area. The Laptop Bar was completed by the beginning of the Fall 2014 semester and has been a major success. Students started using the space immediately. Below are before and after photos:


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In the process of gathering our ARL statistics for FY2014, we can note the following increases in our Digital Collections and DRUM holdings since June 30, 2013 (2013 numbers in brackets):

  • Images/Manuscript records in Digital Collections: 17,376  [13,990]
  • Film Titles in Digital Collections: 2,673 [2232]
  • Audio Titles in Digital Collections: 356 [200]
  • Internet Archive titles: 4,382 [3,906]
  • Prange Digital Children’s Book Collection: 7,936 [4,450]
  • DRUM (e-theses and dissertations): 9,511
  • DRUM (technical reports & other): 5,581
  • DRUM TOTAL: 15,092

Those numbers are the result of hard work from staff throughout DSS, as well as content selectors and creators from throughout the Libraries.


ArchivesSpace is the open source archives information management application for managing and providing web access to archives, manuscripts and digital objects.The UMD Libraries has been running a sandbox version of ArchivesSpace for use by Special Collections and University Archives for many months.  In August, DSS completed a Service Level Agreement for the production version of ArchivesSpace, and Paul Hammer (SSDR) converted the existing sandbox server to a production instance.

Prange Digital Children’s Book Collection

We are proud to announce that all of the Prange Digital Children’s Books (8082 of them) have been loaded into our Fedora Digital Collections repository.  However, as is often the case, the final cleanup takes the longest amount of time.  Paul Hammer (SSDR) and Jennie Levine Knies (DPI) worked together with Amy Wasserstrom  and Kana Jenkins in the Prange Collection to troubleshoot the final 200 books that have load issues. Graduate Assistant Alice Prael (DPI) also assisted in cleaning up duplicates and comparing data lists in order to help identify the problem records.


On August 1, Special Collections and University Archives officially began using a hosted version of Atlas System’s Aeon software. Aeon is automated request and workflow management software specifically designed for special collections, libraries and archives. Jennie Knies and Paul Hammer worked with Special Collections staff to implement request buttons in both ArchivesUM and Digital Collections to pass metadata to Aeon forms to automate the patron request process.

Digitization Activities

Robin Pike worked with vendors and collection managers to solidify digitization contracts for materials that will be sent to digitization vendors during FY15. The formats represented in the digitization projects include books, serials, pamphlets, photographs, microfilm, open reel audio tape, wire recordings, VHS tape, and 16mm film. The collection areas represented in the projects include Special Collections and University Archives (labor collections, university archives, mass media and culture, rare books, Prange collection materials), Special Collections in Performing Arts, Library Media Services, and Hebrew language materials from the general collection.

Digitization assistants completed projects for the campus community. Audrey digitized Athletics media guide covers that will be used to produce posters, which will be gifts for an upcoming alumni event. Several assistants digitized photos of Terrapin football players, which will be used in the new Terrapins in the Pros interactive exhibit at the Gossett Team House.

Abby digitized Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference programs. Additional MARAC publications will be digitized this year, both in-house and through the Internet Archive, making this regional resource more available to archivists everywhere.

Software Development

Working with the Web Advisory Committee, Shian Chang and Cindy Zhao completed a refresh of the Libraries’ Website interface.  The update includes addition of the new UMD responsive wrapper, as required by a new campus brand integrity program (see http://brand.umd.edu/websitepresentation.cfm), change of the main menus seen on every page to a new “mega menu” dropdown style, enabling users to view more options with integrated explanatory text, and new social media image bar on the bottom of homepage.  This refresh is part of a general plan for constant, iterative improvements to the website and a specific plan to ultimately convert the entire site to a responsive design.

SSDR has been planning on adding Solr client capabilities to Hippo CMS for some time, but discovered recently that Hippo CMS 7.8 comes with a  Solr Integration feature out-of-the-box, supporting both index/search for internal Hippo documents and search for external documents.   Mohamed Abdul Rasheed reviewed the functionality and determined the external search feature capable of handling our needs.  He started work migrating our existing Digital Collections interfaces (Digital Collections, Jim Henson Works, World’s Fair) to the new Solr based search as well as adding new database searches for Special Collections in Performing Arts (SCPA) scores and recordings databases. The databases will continue to be maintained by SCPA staff in FileMaker Pro but exported to CSV, imported into Solr, and exposed through the Libraries’ Website for search and discovery.


USMAI (University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions Consortium)

Kuali OLE (Open Library Environment) implementation: Consortial Library Applications Support (CLAS) team members have been participating in weekly teleconferences with University of Pennsylvania staff who are working on UPenn’s OLE implementation. Both groups are discovering that key implementation documentation necessary for bringing up a test instance is missing. At present, we have OLE software installed on a local server, but it is populated with demo data. We have not yet been able to load our own data for testing. We are hopeful that forthcoming teleconferences will provide the information and guidance we need to proceed.

USMAI Advisory Groups: As interim Chair of the Digital Services Advisory Group, Mark Hemhauser completed a first meeting with the Reporting and Analytics Subgroup and the Metadata Subgroup, where he shared the information from CLD about Advisory Group funds and reporting plans. Mark also shared information on membership terms and the group chairs with the USMAI Executive Director. The CLAS team also compiled a list of current email lists and reflectors supporting USMAI communications and sent it to the Executive Director. Linda Seguin revised the Groups page on the USMAI staff web site, added new group pages, and created and distributed editing logins to each advisory group/subgroup.

SFX support: Linda revised SFX parsers to get both Romanized and vernacular text in Aeon request form for College Park’s Prange collection. Linda revised the Aleph Source Parser to get publication information from the new(ish) MARC 264 field for use in SFX linking. Linda and Ingrid Alie added the HathiTrust local target to Salisbury University’s and the UM Health Sciences and Human Services library’s SFX instances.

Circulation support for USMAI: David Wilt set up new Item Statuses in Aleph for the University of Baltimore and College Park; produced ad hoc reports for Frostburg, Bowie, Towson, University of Baltimore, College Park, Saint Mary’s, and UMBC; and completing a patron load for Eastern Shore. David also worked on setting up the booking function in Aleph for Shady Grove.

Acquisitions/serials support for USMAI: Mark exported data from the USMAI licensing database for College Park’s licensing evaluation project; produced a variety of subscription reports for College Park as part of a database clean-up project; produced a special claims report for Morgan State; and helped staff at the University of Baltimore identify a problem with dirty order data after fiscal rollover and provided training on order closing procedures and order clean-up. Mark also flipped the budget code to make corrections on 75 orders, saving UB staff a lot of manual effort.

Aleph database support for USMAI: Linda and Hans Breitenlohner ran a new extract of College Park holdings for their participation in HathiTrust. Linda sent a sample file of book records to RapidILL for UMBC. Linda also deleted withdrawn/purged items for UMBC, College Park and Health Sciences, and with assistance from Heidi Hanson, loaded bibliographic record sets for UMBC, the Center for Environmental Science, and Health Sciences.

Aleph system support: The CLAS team and DSS staff are monitoring a recent pattern of Aleph slowdowns that have been occurring this month. We are currently restarting the Aleph server manually when slowness is reported.


Peter Eichman joined DSS as a Contingent-I Systems Analyst in SSDR, providing broad software development support for UMD and Consortial applications. Peter is a UMD alumnus (B.A.s in Linguistics and Philosophy), and has also worked for the ARHU Computing Services office and the National Foreign Language Center as a web application developer.   Peter started on August 19 and is currently working on improvements to Aleph Rx, the DSS issue tracking tool for Aleph.

On August 22, Josh Westgard, graduate assistant in DPI, graduated from the iSchool’s MLS program in Curation and Management of Digital Assets.

Ann Levin, the DSS Project Manager, left the UMD Libraries in August.  Ann made a significant impact during her time with DSS, developing documentation procedures and working on several projects, most notable the Prange Digital Children’s Book Collection.

Amrita Kaur joined the DSS staff as the Coordinator. Amrita has worked for the University Libraries for many years, and was most recently in the Architecture Library. Welcome, Amrita!


The Historic Maryland Newspapers Project hosted UMD Libraries’ first public Wikipedia edit-a-thon on August 18. 24 people attended, either in-person or virtually through an Adobe Connect meeting (recording available here https://webmeeting.umd.edu/p37wtrvy3iw/). We invited speakers from Wikimedia DC, the Library of Congress, as well as our own Doug McElrath, Jennie Knies, and Donald Taylor, to share information about resources to be used during the editing portion of the event. Participants enhanced and added articles related to Maryland newspapers and Wikimedia DC’s Summer of Monuments project and uploaded digitized images from our National Trust Library Historic Postcards Collection to WikiCommons.

Conferences and Workshops

Trevor Muñoz, Karl Nilsen, Ben Wallberg, and Joshua Westgard attended the Code4Lib DC 2014 conference at George Washington University on August 11-12.  Josh Westgard led a session on spreadsheets.  This was a topic he suggested at the start of the unconference planning, so the unconference protocol was for him to moderate the discussion.  The participants in the session talked about strategies and tools for managing data stored in spreadsheets, or data that must pass through a spreadsheet while migrating from one storage location to another.  One highlight of the discussion was the description of csvkit (https://csvkit.readthedocs.org), a Python module for the cleanup and manipulation of data stored in csv files. A breakout group split off in order to begin learning csvkit later in the conference.

Josh Westgard attended a one-day workshop on “Building Data Apps with Python” offered by District Data Labs (http://www.districtdatalabs.com).  The workshop covered application set up, best practices for application design and development, and the basics of building a matrix factorization application.

Jennie Knies, Liz Caringola, Robin Pike and Eric Cartier attended the Society of American Archivists annual conference in Washington, DC on August 11-16. Robin currently serves as the chair and Eric serves on the steering committee of the Recorded Sound Roundtable. Robin chaired and presented on the panel session Audiovisual Alacrity: Managing Timely Access to Audiovisual Collections. Eric contributed audiovisual clips from UMD’s collections for the first AV Archives Night, a networking event featuring content from attendees’ repositories, hosted by Audiovisual Preservation Solutions at the Black Cat. Liz Caringola was a panel speaker for the session “Taken for ‘Grant’ed: How Term Positions Affect New Professionals and the Repositories That Employ Them.” Karl Nilsen gave a talk on database curation and preservation as a part of a panel on stewarding complex objects. Download the slides from DRUM: http://hdl.handle.net/1903/15573. His talk was based on Research Data Services’ efforts to curate and preserve the Extragalactic Distance Database, an online data collection that was created by astronomers at UMD and other institutions.

Liz Caringola attended one of the weeklong Humanities in Learning and Teaching (HILT) workshops offered by MITH “Crowdsourcing Cultural Heritage.”  Karl Nilsen completed the HILT digital forensics course.

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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.


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