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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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Stew of the Month: April 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.

General Announcements

Karl Nilsen put together the forum “Doing Digital: Skills, Knowledge, and Roles in Libraries and Archives” to discuss roles of digital technology and skills librarians and archivists use at work for the School of Information students at UMD. Robin Pike participated as a panelist on the forum.

Robin Pike presented “Managing and Maneuvering Mass Digitization” at the Mid-Atlantic Region Archives Conference (MARAC) spring meeting in Rochester, NY (April 24-26, 2014). She discussed the management of in-house and outsourced digitization projects, and the workflows her department has created to improve efficiency for specific processes.

Department Updates

Consortial Library Application Services (CLAS)

On April 25th, the CLAS team received a report that that USMAI web site was down, and found both the public and staff side USMAI sites were down. When the sites were brought back up, it was discovered that the public-facing site, usmai.org, had suffered a spam attack, and had to be taken back down for a short while for repairs. Kudos to Ben Wallberg and the Software Systems Development and Research staff for analyzing the situation and quickly restoring the USMAI.org site.

Hans Breitenlohner and Linda Seguin have implemented Aeon request links in the Aleph TEST catalog for College Park special collections locations. Aeon is automated request and workflow management software specifically designed for special collections libraries and archives, providing improved patron service as well as item tracking, statistics, and security features.

Linda has also extracted College Park’s bound serials bibliographic and item records and sent them to CIC (Committee on Institutional Cooperation) for analysis.

Coppin State and UMUC alerted the CLAS team to the fact that 53 titles had been dropped from the netLibrary/EBSCO Ebooks free collection that we had originally acquired under netLibrary. Linda and Ingrid Alie deleted the records from the catalog and deactivated the titles in all 16 SFX instances.

In April the CLAS team spent some time on analyzing and creating a Kuali OLE test project plan. Each team member has created some initial testing criteria related to specific functional areas (circulation/resource sharing; acquisitions and serials; electronic resource management; cataloging/metadata management; system user management). OLE version 1.5 had been scheduled for release at the end of March, but the schedule has been revised and the release is now targeted for July. For now, the team will work on becoming familiar with available OLE documentation, terminology, and configuration. We will also begin testing to the extent possible using sample data, and/or manually created test data.

Digital Conversion and Media Reformatting (DCMR)

On April 11, Special Collections and University Archives hosted the Saving College Radio Symposium, which complemented the ongoing WMUC exhibit in the Hornbake gallery. The event balanced the importance of college radio culture and the value of such collections in academic libraries and archives. Eric Cartier presented “Preserving the WMUC Audio Collection,” and Cartier, Henry Borchers, and student audio digitization assistant Emily Rainey provided tours of the Hornbake Digitization Center.

Borchers, Cartier, and Pike all attended the Mid-Atlantic Region Archives Conference (MARAC) spring meeting in Rochester, NY from April 24-26. The keynote session by Kathleen Roe focused primarily on one theme of the conference—advocacy in the profession. Cartier found the three sessions on audiovisual materials to be the most valuable, to learn what other individuals and institutions are doing to sustain our sound and moving image cultural heritage.

DCMR collaborated with Jen Eidson of Special Collections and Stephen Henry from MSPAL to digitize five posters (two in-house and three through a local vendor) so the scans could be enlarged and displayed at the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library’s exhibit as part of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center’s presentation of Mexican Revolution, a multimedia performance. An online exhibit is also available.

DCMR also collaborated with Interlibrary Loan staff in Access Services and Special Collections staff to create a new workflow to digitize public domain and university publications from Hornbake Library, requested through ILL. While the process will take slightly longer than regular ILL for patrons, this new workflow will ensure that the publications are uploaded to the Internet Archive, making them accessible to future patrons.

Cartier was appointed as the co-chair of Emerging Technologies Discussion Group (ETDG) for one year. He will coordinate future sessions with Neil Frau-Cortes, highlighting the technological interests of Libraries’ staff and faculty. Cartier also coordinated the second annual Edible Book Festival on April Fool’s Day with Eric Bartheld and Aaron Ginoza, which boasted nearly 20 entries.

Digital Programs and Initiatives (DPI)

Jennie Knies, Ben Wallberg, and Ann Levin have been meeting to discuss development of a questionnaire that will enable us to quickly generate Service-Level Agreements (SLAs) with UMD Libraries staff interested in testing or piloting various software products in a timely and systematic way. SLAs define and set expectations related to things like server space, backups, application support, and upgrades.

In April, the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project hired a Wikipedian-in-Residence for the summer months. Donald Taylor is currently a Master’s student of Economic History at UMD and has been an active contributor to Wikipedia since August of 2008. Donald’s first day is Monday, May 5. Welcome, Donald!

There are now nearly 54,000 pages of Maryland newspapers available on Chronicling America.  All are from the German-language newspaper Der Deutsche Correspondent and range in date from 1858 thru 1900. English titles coming soon!

Several presentations from the 2013 fall meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) in Philadelphia have recently been deposited in DRUM (http://hdl.handle.net/1903/15025).  MARAC was founded in 1972 to address archival issues of concern to archivists and manuscript curators in the mid-Atlantic states New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.  Presentations from past conferences are also available in DRUM (http://hdl.handle.net/1903/12510).

Terry Owen was re-elected as a member of the University Senate Executive Committee (https://www.senate.umd.edu/committees/sec/index.cfm) for 2014-2015.

Jennie Knies has been working with Joanne Archer and Cassie Schmitt in Special Collections to develop policies and procedures for born-digital content workflows.  The trio gave a presentation to the Special Collections Collaborative in mid-April with an overview of our status, and a discussion of the UMD Libraries’ current and near-future capabilities.

Josh Westgard participated in the open government wikihack at the Sunlight Foundation, sponsored by Wikimedia DC (http://wikimediadc.org/wiki/Home) on April 5-6.  Back in the office, he worked on various file management tasks, and in that context developed a general purpose file-system-traversal script that can be used to facilitate inventorying, analyzing, and manipulating large collections of files.  He continues to participate in the Libraries’ Coding Workshop, which provides a platform for interested staff from throughout the libraries to learn programming and support each other in working on small coding projects.  The group previously worked through the Python course offered by Codecademy, and is now using a Python training course through Lynda.com.

Alice Prael has been investigating the functionality of Microsoft’s Sharepoint software by using it to collage and gather material to assist with the implementation of the Digital Preservation Policy. She also is assisting in a project to reconvert a portion of JPEG images created for the Prange Digital Children’s Book Collection to match current requirements and specifications.

Software Systems Development and Research (SSDR)

Shian Chang attended the Kuali Community Workshop to get the latest information on the development of Kuali OLE.  OLE 1.5 is scheduled for release in July;  SSDR and CLAS are putting together plans to test the 1.5 release once it is available.

Cindy Zhao and Shian Chang worked with Heather Foss in the Development Office to put the finishing touches on the new Legacy Bookplate website feature to highlight contributions to the Libraries.  They also continued planning with Laura Cleary for the Special Collections and University Archives Hippo based Exhibit feature and together selected the Bootstrap based Unify theme for the basis of the Exhibit theme.

Work has continued on the upgrade of DRUM to DSpace 4.1. Irina Belyaeva completed the initial review of the code base and migration to new GitHub hosted DRUM repository forked from the base DSpace repository.  Mohamed Abdul Rasheed joined Irina Belyaeva on the upgrade and they have moved on to configuring and testing the new version, with an eye toward releasing for testing in May.

In the area of Digital Collections, Paul Hammer led an effort to analyze our current loader program for Prange Collection objects.  Analysis began with monitoring the server performance under various loads to determine where the bottlenecks were for creation of Zoomify access derivatives for images.  It was determined that the load process performance could be improved by running multiple zoomification processes in parallel.  Paul began work on modifications to the loader program.  Paul also worked with the team to iteratively test and modify the loader program for Katherine Anne Porter correspondence objects as feedback from DPI arrived.  Mohamed, Paul, and Irina worked together to iron out the wrinkles on changes to the Admin Tools application for use with our new Solr search and discovery tool.

DSS uses WuFoo for its hosted webform solution and SysAid for our Helpdesk ticket tracking system.  Using the APIs available with each system, Joshua Robusto created a prototype for a middleware software component, which will allow us to map WuFoo form submissions into SysAid tickets.

User Systems and Support

The Maryland Day Experience:

April 26th, 2014, better known to Terps as Maryland day, was a wonderful experience for Maryland Students, Staff and guests alike. DSS and Public Services had the opportunity to showcase the 3D Printer and the Google Glass in the presidential suite.
Students and guests were very excited and engaged by the opportunity to see and test out some of the newest technologies offered.

The 3D Printer demo was done by Preston Tobery and Victoria Quartey, who gave a number of  very informative demonstrations on the 3D Printer, allowing patrons to see and have a basic understanding of how the printer turns plastic filaments into the desired printed object. Guests received 3D printed mini testudo as Memorabilia that was printed from the 3D printer.

The Google Glass demonstrations were done by: Neha Rao, Sandra Ayensu, and Stephanie Karunwi. The Google glass was a favorite with Maryland day guests! Everyone from Alumni, to current students, President Loh and Provost Mary Ann Rankins got a chance to test out the functionalities of google’s newest wearable computer, and more importantly, take a selfie with it on.
Maryland day was a great opportunity for the Libraries to show the University of Maryland community the technological advancements that continue to be made.


President Loh trying out Google Glass


Preston setting up the 3D printing lab for demo



Prospective UM student testing Google Glass


DSS staff with President Loh


Preston presenting a 3D printing of Testudo



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A Brief Introduction to APIs

These are the notes accompanying a presentation to the UMD Libraries Emerging Technologies Discussion Group on April 22, 2014.

The Wikipedia definition for API, or Application Programming Interface, is

In computer programming, an application programming interface (API) specifies how some software components should interact with each other.

This is a very broad definition but does emphasize the primary feature that an API is a computer-computer interface, rather than the human-computer interface with which we are most familiar.  Keyboard, mouse, and display are generally used to create a visually based human-computer interaction experience, like with a GUI or web browser .  But in general these are difficult for computers to interact with, so separate APIs are created which allow programs to interact with each other.

One traditional type of API is the code library.  A code library consists of a set of function calls, which are well documented, for a program to use to interface with another application.  For example, see these excerpts from the DSpace 4.1 API documentation for the org.dspace.content  package the org.dspace.content.Item class. DSS uses this API for an automated load of Electronic Theses and Dissertations from Proquest into DRUM (see EtdLoader class).

Web Service as API have become very popular with the advent of network based services.  A web service is typically served over HTTP, the same protocol used for requesting web pages via your browser.  Most web services provide data back in the form of either XML or JSON. JSON was developed as a more light-weight alternative to XML when programs began to be executed from the web browser using JavaScript, though is now used widely outside of JavaScript programs.

See these examples using the Google Maps API:

In many case a service will provide a Web Service API and a code library API which calls the Web Service for you.

Getting started with the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) API

This section is by Karl Nilsen, Research Data Librarian.

DPLA has a Web Service API that provides programmatic access to over 7 million metadata records collected from a variety of libraries, archives, and museums. While the query process can seem complicated at first, the basic actions are pretty simple: you submit queries in HTTP and receive responses in JSON-LD. The responses won’t be especially readable, but it’s important to keep in mind that JSON (and HTTP) will typically be consumed by programs rather than humans. If you build an application for non-technical users, you probably won’t show them the HTTP queries or the JSON responses at all—instead, you’ll create an interface that makes query design and response visualization more user-friendly. That being said, you have to understand the query design and response structure if you want to produce applications that satisfy your users’ expectations and support their research methods. To help you understand the possibilities and limitations of their API, DPLA provides a detailed guide to query design and response structure.

Before you can use the API, you need to get a personal API key from DPLA. Your key acts as a unique username, and you have to include your key in every HTTP query. DPLA uses the API key as mechanism for protecting their system against abusive or excessive users. For example, if your queries burden their system, they can block your API key. As a rule, you shouldn’t share your API key with anyone.

At ETDG, I demonstrated a few queries written in Python, but you can write the same queries in other programming languages. The code is merely a set of instructions for sending the HTTP query, receiving the JSON response, and manipulating the results.

Here’s a simple script that submits a query for “bicycle” in any metadata field, returns only 10 results, and prints the result:

# activate additional functionality in Python
import urllib, json

# design your query
api_call = urllib.urlopen('http://api.dp.la/v2/items?q=bicycle&page_size=10&api_key=YOUR_API_KEY_GOES_HERE')

# submit your query to the API
results = json.load(api_call)

# print the response

To improve the readability somewhat, you could print the results with this command:

print(json.dumps(results, indent=4)) 

If we run this code, we receive 10 results (as we requested). Before we consider a more complex example, it’s important to understand which 10 records, of all the relevant items in DPLA, we received. There are close to 2500 items in DPLA that contain “bicycle” in the metadata, so why did we receive these particular records? Are they the earliest 10 records in the database by data of publication, the most recent, a random sample, the latest 10 additions to the database, or another set? We should probably contact DPLA to find out exactly how their system works, but given that we don’t know just yet, we wouldn’t want to draw any conclusions from the results. (Even if we requested all 2500 items, we should still ask questions about the provenance, scope, and representativeness of the results.) DPLA provides various parameters for limiting and sorting data, and these techniques can help us make our results interpretable.

Here’s a script that builds a more complex query. It submits a query for “bicycle” in any metadata field, restricts the results to photographs, returns only the text description that accompanies each item, returns up to 400 results, and saves the text descriptions to a file. The script removes any items that return 0 (no description found in the metadata), so the actual number of results may be less than 400. (Code revised 2014-05-21)

txt_file = open("descriptions.txt", "w")</pre>
<pre>api_call = urllib.urlopen('http://api.dp.la/v2/items?q=bicycle&sourceResource.format=Photographs&fields=sourceResource.description&page_size=400&api_key=YOUR_API_KEY_GOES_HERE')
results = json.load(api_call)

for item in results.get('docs', 0):
    text = item.get('sourceResource.description', 0)
    if text != 0:
        text = text.encode('utf-8')


Since we constrained the responses to a particular metadata element (text descriptions), we can easily retrieve only the information that interests us and skip the rest. Moreover, we can also retrieve hundreds or thousands of results in seconds. Imagine how long it would take to copy text descriptions by hand from DPLA’s user interface! Here are three examples from the descriptions:

Three men, one in uniform (police?), adjusting the wheel of a bicycle on a dirt track, with onlookers on the bleachers in background. Probably a gathering of students at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

The reverend Mirko Mikolasek rides a bicycle which had been made by the Evangelical Church of Cameroon. He is surrounded by children.; Mirko Mikolasek is a missionary of the Société des missions évangéliques de Paris (Paris evangelical mission society).

3 images. Bicycle trip, 3 September 1958. Gary Swanson–22 years (California Institute of Technology fellowship winner, returns from 4500-mile bicycle trip). ; Caption slip reads: “Photographer: Mack. Date: 1958-09-03. Reporter: Farrell. Assignment: Cyclist. Special instructions: Early Friday. 29-30-4: Gary Swanson, 22, Caltech Fellowship winner returns from 4500-mile bicycle trip.

Having retrieved these descriptions and saved them in a plain text file, we could proceed to analyze them in various ways. The descriptions may tell us something about bicycles and bicycling in America and elsewhere. Content analysis or natural language processing could be productive approaches.

RSS  and Atom

RSS (Rich Site Summary) and Atom are APIs for syndication (or feeds) of published content.  But rather than being specific to a vendor or its services, it is a standard designed to be reused by multiple applications and services.

The UMD Libraries website is used to publish news on a regular basis.  See this nice interface for a human to visit the website and get the latest news.


But what if I don’t want to visit this page regularly to get the lastest news.  What if I want a program to do it for me and also aggregate this news with news from other sites.  The main website interface is not easy for a computer to parse so we also publish the news using the RSS API at  http://www.lib.umd.edu/news/feed


Now someone can create a program or service, like Feedly, to regularly check for news updates for me and present them to me whenever new content is published.


Google Calendar

When we needed to add a calendar function for library open/close hours to the website we didn’t have a stock solution within Hippo CMS.  Google Calendar offers a nice interface for creating events and is especially easy to create repeating events with exceptions,  eg McKeldin Library is open every Monday 9-11 during the Spring semester except on Labor Day.  We use Google Calendar to maintain hours information and then use the provided API to create Hippo documents to display in the website:


[Author's Note: while researching this post I discovered that we use Google Calendar API v2 which will be deprecated in favor of the new v3 API based on JSON data objects instead of the GData format. I'll refer to v2 since that is what we currently use, but any new code should use the new API v3.]

The Google Calendar API v2 is a web service which is built on top of and extends the standard Atom protocol.  The documentation provides all you need to extract your data so you can of course write your own custom code but it could be a bit of work to do from scratch:


Fortunately Google additionally provides code libraries which handle the parsing for you.  See for example the Java Guide which we use since Hippo CMS is implemented using the Java language.  We call the Google Calendar GData API to get the list of calendar events, convert them to Hippo documents, and then make them available for navigation on the website.


It would be possible to query Google Calendar in real-time, when the hours page request is made, but for performance and availability reasons we choose to sync the data to Hippo so Google Calendar is only consulted when we initiate a pull of the latest data.


The Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) is a standard API for the harvesting of metadata.  We expose our DRUM and Digital Collections metadata for harvesting using OAI-PMH.  OCLC uses this API to harvest our metadata for inclusion in WorldCat (see WorldCat Digital Collection Gateway).

Additional Resources

Here are some additional resources you may be interested in exploring.


 Library of Congress

Google Scholar

Google has not provided an API for Google Scholar.


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Stew of the Month: March 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 will provide news and updates from the DSS Division. We welcome comments, feedback and ideas for improving our products and services.

General Announcements

We have been working diligently on security updates and complying with our campus security policies. We are  currently facing some AV equipment issues in our Special Events Room. We apologize for the problems this has caused and plan to address this and treat it as a high priority.

Department Updates

Consortial Library Application Services (CLAS)

In support of UMBC’s plans to participate in Rapid ILL, David Wilt did an extract of UMBC’s serials and microfilm holdings information from Aleph, and uploaded the file to the RapidILL.org site.

David also completed work on implementing the materials booking function in Aleph for Towson. He is now working on configuring and implementing the booking function for Shady Grove, where it is wanted for booking equipment.

Hans Breitenlohner is working with Salisbury on implementing Single Sign-on (SSO).

Linda Seguin got Ex Libris to fix a problem with the way SFX sends title searches to the Aleph catalog, a glitch in formatting that added plus signs (+) to the search string, causing the searches to fail. She has tested the fix and confirms that the problem is corrected.

Linda also made changes and re-indexed 30,000 records in the Aleph Test OPAC in support of a USMAI Cataloging Policy Committee (CPC) proposal to display and index uncontrolled subject headings to compensate for the lack of LC subject headings in Ebook Library (EBL) records.

Heidi Hanson and Ingrid Alie will be attending the ELUNA 2014 Annual Meeting in Montréal, Canada, April 29 – May 2.

Digital Conversion and Media Reformatting (DCMR)

On March 31, Robin Pike attended the Society of American Archivists Accessioning and Ingest of Electronic Records one-day workshop, hosted by UMD Libraries. It focused on aspects of accessioning and ingesting born digital records into an archive, what submission agreements and donor agreements may look like when dealing with born digital records or collections of paper and born digital records, and tools that may be beneficial during the process of ingesting digital records for transferring files or creating a disk image, validating files and files formats, scanning for personally identifiable information, and file conversion or normalization.

The majority of Robin’s time in March was dedicated to FY15 project planning. As the chair of the Digitization Initiatives Committee, she collaborated with Joanne Archer, Heather Foss, Eileen Harrington, and Carla Montori to analyze project proposals and compile a draft budget for outsourced digitization projects across UMD Libraries. Resources Group will be discussing the proposed budget in April. Robin reviewed notes from December through February digitization stakeholder meetings and began to compile a list of potential in-house projects. She will be working with collection managers to solidify this list of FY15 in-house projects and clarify all the projects over the coming months.

Henry Borchers completed video digitization setups for VHS and Betacam and has made considerable progress with creating procedures and workflows. He has now tested digitization for DVCAM/MiniDV, VHS, and Betacam formats. Henry has focused on creating streamlined equipment configurations that increase automation and decrease manual configuration when switching between different format equipment. DCMR will test this setup on pilot projects in the coming months.

On March 27-29, Eric Cartier attended the Sound+ conference hosted by the UMD English Department. The event featured scholars who discussed the “relationship between sound and text,” emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of sound studies. Eric found the session “Sounding the Humanities, Sounding the Sciences” which featured discussion on auditory scene analysis and research results on how brains parse foreground and background sounds, particularly interesting.

Eric worked with John Schalow and Joe Carrano to develop a more streamlined process to review digital object metadata to expedite the approval of digital images created in-house. DCMR’s long-term goal is to dramatically decrease the amount of time to perform quality assurance on the file and metadata between an object’s digitization and when it becomes public.

Students in the Hornbake Digitization Center worked on digitizing numerous requests and small projects including digitizing audio cassettes and 1/4″ open reel tapes from the Katherine Anne Porter papers, expanding upon the effort to digitize large portions of the correspondence in the collection. Publicly-available digitized materials are linked from the finding aid and can also be found by searching digital.lib.umd.edu. Students also digitized photographs and book illustrations for the upcoming Special Collections Bladensburg exhibit, which will open in the fall.

Digital Programs and Initiatives (DPI)

Jennie Knies attended the Library Publishing Coalition Forum in Kansas City, MO, from March 5-6.  The UMD Libraries are members of the Library Publishing Coalition, whose mission is “to foster collaboration, share knowledge and develop common practices, all in service of publishing and distributing academic and scholarly works.” This useful and interesting meeting featured plenary speakers, panel discussions and work groups devoted to articulating the role of academic libraries in the area of digital publishing. Slides are also available for select presentations. A discussion session on “Beyond the Article” was particularly interesting. It highlighted that we are not alone in grappling with the blurred lines between digital projects, data, born-digital records, especially with regards to humanities data.  Digital Programs and Initiatives is in the process of drafting a plan for digital publishing at the UMD Libraries and the information obtained at this forum greatly informs our work in that area.

On March 7, Liz Caringola attended the Digital Maryland Conference 2014, held by the Maryland Digital Cultural Heritage (MDCH), the Maryland State Library Resource Center (SLRC), and the Enoch Pratt Free Library. Liz presented on the progress of the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project thus far and its plans for the future. Other presentations focused on the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), Artstor, CONTENTdm, and a sampling of the many digital projects that local institutions are currently working on. See the conference website for the agenda and list of speakers.

The Historic Maryland Newspapers Project has extended the deadline to apply for the Wikipedian-in-Residence position until April 18, 2014. For more information, see a previous Digistew blog post or the job posting.

Marlin Olivier joined Research Data Services as our Data Curation Assistant. Marlin is in the digital curation specialization at the iSchool and has a bachelor’s degree in biology and religion. In addition to working with Research Data Services, Marlin works for a non-profit that manages digital performance royalties.

We are working with the Center for Agricultural and Natural Resource Policy – CANRP (https://agresearch.umd.edu/canrp) to include their publications in DRUM.  Located in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Maryland, CANRP provides research, education and outreach on public policies facing Maryland, the US, and the world.  A wide variety of the center’s publications will be deposited in DRUM including extension bulletins, fact sheets, monographs, policy reports, and research briefs.  Check out some of their research at http://hdl.handle.net/1903/14189.

The UMD Libraries is now a member of the MDPI (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute), a publisher of more than 100 scientific peer-reviewed, open access journals.  As a member, UMD authors receive a 10% discount on article processing fees for submissions to any MDPI journal.

Response to the UMD Libraries Open Access Publishing Fund has been so good that funds have already been exhausted for this fiscal year.  Thanks to Dean Steele and the Library Resources Group, an additional $5,000 has been added to the fund which will hopefully sustain the service until the end of June.

Josh Westgard worked a lot on archiving files for permanent preservation in March.  Besides backing up the usual monthly output of the digitization center, he helped to inventory and archive a large number of .warc files from the Libraries’ web crawling program, as well as several thousand images from a special digitization project on the correspondence of Katherine Anne Porter.  In the context of the Prange Collection digitization project, he helped to inventory and consolidate records relating to files that were first created and archived nearly a decade ago.  In addition, he helped to prepare and validate the metadata for the Katherine Anne Porter project for ingest into the Libraries’ Fedora-based digital collections repository, and drew up procedures for applying access controls to audio and video assets in Libraries’ digital collections.

Software Systems Development and Research (SSDR)

Irina Belyaeva began work on the DRUM upgrade to DSpace 4, which will be a rather large three version jump since we last upgraded in July 2011.  This upgrade serves not only to stay current with the latest DSpace bug fixes, security updates, and new features but also paves the way to begin adding new DRUM based services for Research Data.

Shian Chang and Cindy Zhao have been working with Laura Cleary in Special Collections and University Archives to begin adding a new Exhibits feature to Hippo.  This project will use a new Hippo 7.7 feature called Blueprints to allow SSDR staff to routinely create new Exhibits for Special Collections without any custom programming.  The Exhibit website template will feature Responsive Web Design for display on desktops, tablets, and phones using the Bootstrap web toolkit.

Development and support for Drupal based sites has been on the rise recently in SSDR, so Paul Hammer used the Lynda video instruction site to get initial training and then configured a new sandbox environment for SSDR and CLAS use.  Paul is now set to join Cindy Zhao and Shian Chang as the development support team for Libi, the USMAI public website, and the USMAI staff website.

Ben Wallberg, Jennie Knies, and Joshua Westgard attended the March 10 meeting of the Washington D.C Fedora User Group.  We received general updates on the Fedora community and DuraSpace and on development of Fedora 4.  Area Fedora users reported on their current activities, with Ben providing the UMD Libraries’ update.  Upon disclosure that we are running the ancient Fedora 2.2.2 version there was discussion of possible upgrade paths.  There was some dissent, but the general consensus was that we should avoid a two step upgrade (2 to 3 followed by 3 to 4) and jump straight to Fedora 4 given that we could defer implementation until after Fall 2014.  We also discussed how we might begin Fedora 4 training for SSDR staff through the process of Fedora 4 beta testing.

Sneaking in on the last day of the month, Mohamed Abdul Rasheed rejoined SSDR as our newest Software Developer.  See a previous post for a Research Study he worked on the last time around.  Welcome back Mohamed!

User Systems and Support

The team has been busy updating our security software and procedures in compliance with the campus policies and procedures. The team also has planned in the past month, technology procurement and budget for FY15.

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Expanding Audio Digitization Capacity: Introducing PAADS

In 2012, the UMD Libraries Digitization Center expanded from three Epson 10000XL flatbed scanners and one Zeutschel OS12000 to include one more Epson 10000XL, an Epson V700 Perfection, and the beginnings of an audio digitization station. Two years later, we have two operational audio digitization workstations and one video digitization workstation nearing completion. Over the last several months, we have been planning the next stage in developing digitization capacity at UMD Libraries–reorganizing, updating, and staffing the former digitization lab in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library (MSPAL), now known as the Performing Arts Audio Digitization Studio (PAADS).

Under the management of DCMR, PAADS will be an extension of audio digitization efforts in the UMD Libraries. The studio is located within MSPAL and will primarily serve the digitization requests and projects for collections within MSPAL, including the International Piano Archives at Maryland (IPAM) and Special Collections in Performing Arts (SCPA). With the increasing volume of requests from these collection areas, we realized the value of expanding digitization operations into the library. The studio will allow DCMR to digitize these collections without coordinating the transfer of physical materials between libraries, and will provide faster access to digitization-on-demand for requests.

Creating a digitization studio in this space is a smart decision for increasing access to collections and is a good financial option for expanding our operations. The space was originally designed as an audio studio with optimum sound absorption and minimal vibration interference, making it an ideal space for preservation-level digitization work. Most of the legacy media players are already housed in the space (though a few pieces will need to be repaired). We will update the digital convertor, interface, and a few auxiliaries. We also plan to update the wiring and connections to reflect a more streamlined audio digitization workstation, which relies on multi-purpose equipment and more flexible software. The proposed PAADS configuration is very similar to the configuration of the audio workstations in the Hornbake Digitization Center; the similar setups will enable us to train students more quickly.

Project Timeline
After a conversation with MSPAL staff, Robin Pike, Henry Borchers, and Eric Cartier met to discuss expanding audio digitization in October 2013. Over the next two months, Borchers and Cartier documented and assessed the equipment in the digitization studio. Borchers delivered an analysis report to Pike in January 2014, which she integrated into the Analysis and Proposal sections of a larger plan. Pike delivered this plan to MSPAL staff in February and they collaborated to complete it throughout March. The Associate Deans of Public Services and DSS recently approved this plan.

Parts of the Plan
The plan addresses the business case and operational need in the Introduction. Borchers’s Analysis includes a list of the equipment and their operational status, and the overall operational and functional status of the studio in its current configuration. The Proposal features a list of new equipment to purchase, a budget, and details of the plan to reconfigure the space. The Installation Timeline follows the Proposal, and is based on the hours Borchers estimated it took him to set up one audio digitization wotkstation in the Hornbake Digitization Center. It also includes a list of dependencies or restrictions on the timeline, such as the availability of new equipment and unforeseen issues with legacy equipment currently in the studio. Pike also included a Staffing Plan, stating who would be in the workspace, when, and that DCMR’s goal is to staff the space approximately 20 hours/week, if budgets permit. It concludes with a plan for staff hours and access, a communication plan between MSPAL and DCMR during the setup phase and during production operations, and a commitment to maintenance of the space.

We ordered the new equipment this week and hope to start installing it at the end of April. Borchers and Cartier plan to photograph the progress of the space so we can share the phases towards completion on this blog.


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