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Stew of the Month: February 2015

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.

Digitization Activities

Robin Pike received back from digitization vendors 98 digitized video recordings from the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange collection in from Special Collections in the Performing Arts (SCPA), and 25 volumes of AFL-CIO News and 29 volumes of the Schedule of Classes, both held in Special Collections in University Archives (SCUA). Eric Cartier will perform and manage quality assurance and ingest processes on these shipments over the next few months.

Eric Cartier and Josh Westgard collaborated to make more than 140 Madrigal Singers sound recordings available in UMD Digital Collections, digitized by a vendor in 2014. The Madrigal Singers collection is held in SCPA, and contains recordings from the UMD musical group who performed “vocal and instrumental music dating from the pre-Renaissance period to twentieth-century America” between 1958-1983.

Rachel digitizing_AliceinWonderland

Digitization Assistant Rachel Dook scanning books.

Rachel_cropping_quality checking_AinW

Rachel Dook rotating and cropping scans, and then doing a quality control inspection.

Digitization assistants began scanning covers, title pages, inscriptions, and selected illustrations for the upcoming Hornbake Library exhibit Alice 150 and Counting…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll – Selections from the Collection of August and Clare Imholtz.

Digital  Programs and Initiatives

Graduate Assistants Alice Prael (Digital Programs and Initiatives) and Amy Wickner (SCUA) presented at the Emerging Technologies Discussion Group (ETDG) February meeting about their work with born digital workflows.  They have been testing the forensic workstation (FRED) and tools including BitCurator and the Forensic Toolkit Imager to determine the best process for handling born digital content. The attendees posed questions and incited a compelling conversation on legacy media and the challenges in working with born digital media.

A DRUM Roll Please! With the addition of 247 electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) from the fall 2014 semester, there are now more 10,000 ETDs in DRUM dating back to 2003. Check out some of the most recent research by UMD graduates here. Also, the Archive of Immigrant Voices from the Center for the New History of the New America has recently been added to DRUM. The Archive currently contains eleven recordings and transcripts of immigrant oral histories with many more scheduled to be added in the new future.

Software Development

WuFoo Connector enterprise integration tool for submitting WuFoo forms into SysAid and AlephRx was completed and released to production.

Hippo CMS 7.8.8-1 was released to production with several bug fixes and performance improvements, along with a slight refresh for the Digital Collections home page.

We have embarked on a year long effort to overhaul the Libraries’ Website, consolidated with the Libraries’ Website, Mobile, to provide a new Responsive Web Design based interface.  This new interface will allow for access to all website content on any device (desktop, tablet, and mobile) with navigation and display optimized for the particular screen size on each device.  Working with the Web Advisory Committee we established high level objectives for the project and major milestones.  Look for the new interface in January, 2016.

User and System Support

Since September 2014, The John and Stella Graves Makerspace has garnered a lot of interest and offers for events and demonstrations.  Recently, we were contacted by Professor Kari Kraus, an associate professor in the iSchool (College of Information Studies) and the Department of English.

Professor Kraus was interested in incorporating 3D printing into both her graduate and undergraduate classes. She is teaching ENGL 467: Computer and Text, an undergraduate English course with twenty-five students. She is also teaching INST 644: Introduction to Digital Humanities, an iSchool graduate course with eleven students. Both classes are reading a short story, written by Philip K. Dick’s, Pay for the Printer. The science fiction short story is based in a war-ravaged future, humanity has come to depend on an alien species known as the Biltongs, possessed of the ability to replicate items identically – although the copies only last for a short time. When the Biltongs become decrepit, the humans are forced to rediscover the skill of building. She wanted her classes to recreate some objects from the story using modeling software with a warping tool on our 3D printers.

Sandra and Preston demonstrating the 3D printer.

Sandra and Preston demonstrating the 3D printer.

On March 3rd and March 11th, 2015, Preston and Sandra gave an introductory course on 3D printing and scanning to both her undergraduate and graduate courses. They spoke about the different tools and devices on the Makerbot Replicator 2 3D printer, introduced Makerbot Desktop software, and other fundamentals teachings of 3D printing. Although, most of the students did not have any experience with 3D printing, they were engaged and eager for more knowledge. At every mention of different websites such as thingiverse, tinkercad, and mesh mixer, students followed along on their laptops. Even though Preston and Sandra talked about new-age technology, one student continued to use good ole’ paper and pen to write her notes. Preston and Sandra gave numerous opportunities to ask questions, re-explain a concept, or even become interactive with the printer by unloading and reloading the filament. There was a little bit of hesitation at first but students eventually warmed up and soon everyone wanted a turn. There was a slight issue with the printer which inhibited a student from doing one of the exercises. However, the problem was resolved and it became a teachable moment. Most students were amazed about the real-world applications of 3D printing such as producing prosthetic limbs. Sandra spoke about a certified user of the John and Stella Graves Makerspace, Luke, and his ability to print prosthetic hands for children who do not have them. A certified user is a patron who has proven their proficiency through a skill test.

Let me take a closer look at this 3D printed car. What can I do with the 3D printer?

Let me take a closer look at this 3D printed car. What can I do with the 3D printer?

Come to me 3D printed elephant, let me take a closer look...

Come to me 3D printed elephant, let me take a closer look…

For those who sat in on the class as an observer, most thought it was a very approachable learning experience. The content was deep but they were impressed to see their ability to stay in the moment to get the students to understand the concept of 3D printing.

USMAI (University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions) Library Consortium

The CLAS team responded to 94 Aleph Rx submissions (including keeping track of all those weather-related closings!) and 32 e-resource requests. Of note, David Wilt has been working with University of Baltimore to improve the process of getting fines and fees information out of Aleph and into their bursar’s financial system. Hans Breitenlohner has been working with Salisbury University to implement single sign-on (SSO) using Shibboleth.

Testing of Kuali OLE continues and February marked an important time as College Park’s implementation group got their first look at the “sandbox” OLE environment set up by CLAS. The sandbox environment is currently running version 1.5.6 and the team is looking forward to the release of version 1.6 soon. Team members participate in weekly implementation meetings where they learn from and help out other institutions working towards the implementation of OLE.

The migration of the Metalib application to a new virtual machine environment continues and is still on schedule for a production cut-over at the end of March.

Staffing

Nathan Putnam has now taken on the role of Acting Manager of Digital Programs and Initiatives (DPI) in the DSS Division; he will continue to be the manager of MSD in the CSS Division.

Conferences, workshops and professional development

Robin Pike attended The Library Collective Conference in Knoxville, TN February 19-20, and presented on the panel “Finding a Way: Negotiation Tips and Tactics” about working with digitization vendors.

Publications

Graduate Assistant Alice Prael co-proposed a paper with SCUA GA Amy Wickner on their recent work with born digital media and workflows, which was recently accepted to the Practical Technology for Archives journal.

Visits

Pam Mitchem and her team from Appalachian State University Libraries, Boone, NC, are planning a digital scholarship center.  They identified the University of Maryland’s digital programs and initiatives as a model to investigate and visited College Park on a fact-finding expedition. Trevor Muñoz, Terry Owen and Josh Westgard met with the ASU team for a productive exchange.

Four members of the technology team at Archbishop Curley High School in Baltimore arranged a visit to us; they are planning to develop their traditional library into a Digital Media Resource Center. They were due to meet with Robin Pike, Eric Cartier, Carleton Jackson and Uche Enwesi on Friday 6th March but our Snow Day intervened and the visit was canceled. Perhaps they’ll be able to visit another day.

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Stew of the Month: January 2015

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.

Digitization Activities

With Jennie Knies’s departure, the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project has moved from Digital Programs and Initiatives to Digital Conversion and Media Reformatting.

Our film digitization vendor delivered the files for 47 deteriorated films from the Library Media Services collection, which will be ingested into the Films @UM collection next month. This project was funded through the work of the Digitization Initiatives Committee.

In December, Neil Frau-Cortes and Robin packed 300 books from the brittle Hebraica collection, to be shipped to a digitization vendor. This is the first digitization shipment of a multi-year project to digitize the unique books and serials in this collection.

Eric trained student digitization assistants Rachel Dook, Massimo Petrozzi, and Brin Winterbottom how to digitize open reel audio tapes by transferring episodes of National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” from the 1970s. Their new capabilities will provide us more flexibility when scheduling in-house audio digitization.

Digital  Programs and Initiatives

The new year started out on a difficult note for DPI, with the official announcement that our fearless leader, Jennie Knies, would depart before the end of the month to take up the position of head librarian at the library of Penn State University, Wilkes-Barre campus. While we wish Jennie all the best in her new endeavors, and look forward to continued contact with her on the conference circuit out there in library land, her departure — after nearly 15 years of service to the UMD Libraries and more than two years as founding manager of our department — leaves a big hole in the division that will not be easily filled.  After we spent much of the month repeatedly attempting to execute the following command to no avail:

    mysqldump -f jennies_brain.db > filingcabinet/knowledge.sql

Jennie mercifully agreed to write it all down. ;-)  Thanks, Jennie, for everything!

January also saw the adoption of our first official (non-journal) publication associated with our nascent e-publishing program. A Colony in Crisis: The Saint-Domingue Grain Shortage of 1789 (http://colonyincrisis.lib.umd.edu), is a series of “primary sources from an episode in the history of Saint-Domingue,” translated and curated by Abby Broughton, Kelsey Corlett-Rivera, and Nathan Dize. We say ‘adoption’ rather than ‘release’ or ‘publication’ because the Colony in Crisis website has been around for a while already, associated with a larger effort to make freely available a series of French Pamphlets from the Libraries’ Rare Books collection, the fruits of which can be browsed in the UMD French Pamphlets collection on the Internet Archive. By adopting the site into the e-publishing program, the Libraries are taking responsibility to support and ensure the continued accessibility of the authors’ work into the future.  Additional e-publications are in the works.

Software Development

The upgrade to Hippo CMS 7.8 has been completed.  We have taken advantage of the new Solr integration feature in 7.8 to migrate Jim Henson Works to Solr and, working with Special Collections in Performing Arts (SCPA) staff, to add the new Score Collections Database.  Hippo CMS 7.8 also provides new application architecture features which will be implementing to increase performance and reliability.

Libi, the staff intranet,  was upgraded to Drupal 6.33 and a number of minor bugs were fixed.  This completes the first round of changes in response to coordination with the Libi subcommittee of the Library Assembly Advisory (LAAC).  The subcommittee is currently soliciting Libraries staff feedback on the future of Libi which will inform our future plans for Libi, which may include an upgrade from the outdated Drupal 6 to Drupal 7/8 or possibly a new implementation.

We have begun a project, along with Libraries’ HR,  to develop an online student application submission form and supervisor workflow integrated with the Libi.  This system will replace the current paper workflow for students to submit their applications and supervisors to review the entries for matching skills and available hours, which is a manual, time-intensive processing of reading through stacks of paper entries.

Database Finder was released roughly one year ago as an easier to use alternative to databases in Research Port, providing un-authenticated access to database information and improved search and discovery.  Working with Nevenka Zdravkovska, the Web Advisory Committee, and Subject Specialists we have specified a second round of improvements for Database Finder: 1) Research Port categories and sub-categories will be added to the database information along with a faceted browse, and 2) Categories will be linked to Subjects for contextual help and links from Database Finder to Subject Specialists.  The implementation project is still to be scheduled.

User and System Support

Mobile carts for conference rooms

As User and System Support (USS) spoke to users of the Libraries conference rooms, it became apparent that these spaces are hosting both static and dynamic events. In some cases people, chairs and tables remain in place for the whole event whilst other meetings involve movement of attendees and rearrangement of furniture to facilitate discussion. When the time came for updating the technology in The Dean’s Conference Room and rooms 7113 & 7121, USS decided to provide portable and easily used equipment.

cart1

Each of the three carts have:

  • 70 inch TV
  • HDMI laptop connection with adapters for multiple types of connections: Mac, Windows, Android phone…
  • DVD/VCR player
  • high definition web camera and a high quality microphone
  • wireless keyboard and mouse
  • USB hub to transfer documents to a mini-PC (for example, take your PPT on a thumb-drive and upload it – remember to delete it from the mini-PC afterwards)
cart3

Clear instructions for users.

Back of unit: the small red box is the mini PC

Back of unit: the small red box is the mini PC

3D printing was utilized on the carts; Preston created and printed custom brackets to hold the laptop and microphone cables neatly.

The main benefit of these carts is mobility; they can be quickly unplugged and moved to another space in the library as needed. [Carts must be returned to their original room at the end of meetings.]  A battery backup keeps things powered on for up to 10 minutes while the cart is being moved or if we lose power. Other benefits include web meetings and recording using Adobe Connect. The “all-in-one” piece design makes them visually appealing and easy to use.

We have had positive feedback on their use: Tim Hackman (Director, User Services & Resource Sharing), says “they’re easy to use and self-explanatory”. Eric Bartheld (Director of Communications) reports that “It’s very easy for a presenter to plug in his or her Apple laptop – which wasn’t the case before.  Great improvement”.

USMAI (University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions) Library Consortium

The Consortial Library Applications Support (CLAS) team continues to support the consortium’s existing shared systems while preparing for the next generation of systems. In January, the team responded to 113 Aleph Rx submissions and 25 e-resource requests. Timely responses to these requests have helped libraries in the consortium perform their daily operations and pursue new initiatives to make their work more effective and efficient.

David Steelman researched some workflow issues with Aleph Rx submissions and, with the team’s review, has modified the interface to make submitting requests more intuitive. No issues have arisen with request submissions since the modifications were implemented.

The team continues its investigation of Kuali OLE, participating in regular meetings with other partners and testing system functionality in all functional areas. Hans Breitenlohner and David S. developed and shared with the OLE community a PERL script for copying bibliographic import profiles, making the process of creating new bib loaders much less error prone. In anticipation of expanded testing by College Park staff and members of the USMAI Next-Gen ILS Working Group, a Zoho Projects site has been created to facilitate communication and documentation during the testing. Plans to provide a stable testing environment have also been made.

Metalib (a.k.a. ResearchPort) is in the middle of a migration from aging hardware to its new virtual machine environment. With Hans leadership, the team is currently testing and fixing bugs in order to prepare for a production cutover tentatively scheduled for late March.

Staffing

David Dahl joined us in early January as Director of the CLAS team. He has had a busy first month as can be seen from his USMAI/CLAS blog entry above.

The Historic Maryland Newspapers Projects hired two new student assistants to assist in metadata collation, quality review, and outreach. Melissa Foge and Kerry Huller are both candidates for Master of Library Science in the College of Information Studies.

The Hornbake Digitization Center welcomed three new digitization assistants, Caroline Hayden, Ryan Jester, and Marlin Olivier, all first-year students in the College of Information Sciences.

Welcome to DSS, David, Melissa, Kerry, Caroline, Ryan, and Marlin!

Aaron Ginoza has joined SSDR as a participant in the job enrichment program.  Aaron will be working roughly four hours per week for six months, with these enrichment objectives:  1) participate in the responsive design project for the Libraries’ website by increasing web technology skills (HTML/CSS/Javascript) and researching responsive design options, 2) implementing social media improvements for the website and 3) learning the software engineering workflows for web development.

Conferences, workshops and professional development

“‘Is This Enough?’ Digitizing Liz Lerman Dance Exchange Archives Media,” a session that Bria Parker, Vin Novara, and Robin Pike proposed to the ICA-SUV conference, was accepted. They will co-present in July 2015.

Francis Kayiwa attended OCLC’s Developer House in Dublin OH from December 1-5, 2015. Developer House is a place where library technologists can gather together for five days to share their perspectives and expertise as they hack on OCLC web services. Working with other technologists from other organizations, Francis helped create a “Today in History” beta application. See for more information on Developer House Project.

Francis Kayiwa also attended the Code4lib Conference in Portland Oregon from February 9th – 12th. Francis co-taught a half day pre-conference on the use of Docker technology. Docker is relatively new software containerization software that is used to provide software as service.

Appointments

Babak Hamidzadeh has accepted an invitation to serve as Senior Advisor of Information Science for SESYNC, the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center based in Annapolis. The center is “dedicated to accelerating scientific discovery at the interface of human and ecological systems” with projects as diverse as storm water management and North America Beavers. Babak hopes, with this appointment, to align and link directly technical development in both organizations, namely UMD Libraries and SESYNC.

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Fedora 4 Digital Repository Implementation Project

I would like to take this opportunity to formally announce the launch of the Fedora 4 Digital Repository project, which aims to implement a new system to replace our existing 7-year-old Fedora 2.2.2-based Digital Collections.  Fedora has come a long way in the last several years and we are very excited about the possibilities offered by the newest version.  Because the differences between our older version and the latest are so diverse, this is a more complicated project than a simple upgrade.

An initial project planning group consisting of myself, Ben Wallberg, Peter Eichman, and Bria Parker, have outlined our primary objectives for the project:

  • Leverage repository improvements provided by Fedora 4 application
  • Migrate selected existing services and applications
  • Develop new features

You may read more about Fedora 4 as an application here: http://duraspace.org/node/2394.  Our complete objectives document is also available for reading: Fedora 4 Objectives.

It is important to note that we are hoping that this new repository will reduce some silos in our portfolio, and be more than just a place to house metadata and access copies of select digital assets.   We are moving forward with an awareness of the importance of a system to not just house, but manage, our digital assets, and to allow for more flexibility over who, what, when, where, and how our staff and our users can work with our content.

At a practical level, some of the changes/improvements we hope to make include:

  • Replacement of existing Administrative Tools interface with a community-developed and maintained application, such as Islandora.
  • Batch ingest mechanisms that can be user-operated and integrated with the Administrative Tools
  • Replacement of current homegrown metadata schemas with standard schemas, such as MODS and PREMIS
  • More advanced content model, allowing description and control of objects down to the node level, rather than at the descriptive record level
  • Enhanced user-generated reporting
  • Flexible authentication and authorization controls

This is a major project, one that will take approximately a year although we have yet to set firm milestones or deadlines. In the meantime, we are ceasing any major developments on the existing Fedora repository, with exception of crucial maintenance issues. We have noted and categorized existing outstanding metadata sweeps and will handle those during the migration process.  We appreciate your patience as we work on the new system, which will be a most welcome improvement.

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Stew of the Month: November-December 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.

Digitization Activities

Robin Pike worked with Joanne Archer, at UMD Special Collections, to coordinate sending 40 wire recordings from the Arthur Godfrey Collection, 160 open reel audio tapes from the WAMU Archives, and 229 volumes from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) archives, labor collections, university publications, broadcasting serials, political serials, and Maryland state documents to multiple vendors for digitization. Eric Cartier and students in the Hornbake Digitization Center digitized and uploaded a batch of 83 volumes of the MARAC newsletter to the Internet Archive.

Software Development

DSS has joined as a development partner in the creation of the DuraSpace supported Fedora 4, which we will used to replace our existing Fedora 2 based architecture for Digital Collections.  Though late arrivals to the multi-year development effort we intend to participate in the ongoing development of the core Fedora 4 platform in parallel with our own implementation.  Fedora 4.0.0 was released on November 27.  We have begun the process of setting up our own development server and investigating the technology options available to us.

User and System Support

The year 2014 was a very productive year for User and Systems Support (USS). This year, 7,155 service requests were created in Sysaid. The following projects were accomplished during the year:

  1. During this period, USS was involved with various major projects such as the creation of the Makerspace, & Laptop bar to the replacement of over 100 staff computers and public access computers.
  2. USS supported the Terrapin Learning Common (TLC) spaces in various branch libraries from the specification of the type of equipment to purchasing of equipment such as video cameras, Google Glass and Oculus Rift. Working with library TLC staff, USS has increased the loaner laptops from 45 to over 100 laptops. The additional laptops have significantly helped reduce student wait time.
  3. USS was able to convert a one-button studio created by the staff of Princeton University into a one-button cart for UMD. The one button cart is a portable recording station for students and faculty to create videos. It can be used anywhere by just plugging it into a power outlet. Once plugged, the students can use it without assistance
  4. Last year, USS experimented with a 3D printer from Makerbot. They expanded their horizons and worked with other departments such as Public Services to open 3D printing services to the student community. In the beginning, students sent in requests to print souvenirs such as shot glasses but are now using the 3D printers for class assignments and projects. In this year alone, USS has successfully printed over 300 items, which equates to over 2,274 hours of printing. USS staff also provided over 25 consultations to students that needed assistance with creation and printing of their items. Our next task is mastering 3D scanning and how to provide needed support to our patrons who need help scanning 3D objects.
  5. USS also compiled statistics from Sysaid for 2014. As previously mentioned, 7,155 service requests were created in Sysaid. This number includes all departments that used Sysaid too. The service requests ranged from installation, troubleshooting, and resolving of problem reports from different services such as Researchport issue, catalog issues and various online database related problems. Of the 7,155 opened requests, USS closed 5,665 service requests, which is 79% of all service requests opened this year. In comparison to 2013, that is a 28% increase.
  6. In 2014, USS also expanded its community outreach initiatives. On April 26th, 2014, better known as Maryland Day, USS showcased many of our new gadgets in the Presidential Suite, which included the 3D printer and Google Glass. Students and alumni were very excited and engaged by the opportunity to see and experiment with our newest technology offered by the Libraries. For UMD’s homecoming, we were selected to showcase some of the Libraries newest technology available to the campus community. We were a big hit among attendees and experienced a lot of interest and excitement about our various services.
  7. On December 13, 2014, USS hosted ProjectCSGirls, a national nonprofit, dedicated to closing the tech gender gap by cultivating a love for technology and introducing computer science to girls starting from adolescence. This program attracted over 55 girls of various ages and from different schools. USS staff provided technical support that made the program run smooth and was certainly a success.

We want to thank everyone for their support and we look forward to an impactive, collaborative and innovative 2015 as we move USS to the forefront library sphere/services.

I will like to thank all User and System Support staff for all their hard work in accomplishing the projects list above.

USMAI (University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions) Library Consortium

OLE status: The Consortial Library Applications Support (CLAS) team put a lot of effort into the OLE project in the period from mid-October to mid-November, and at the CLD meeting on November 20 delivered a detailed report of what the team had learned and accomplished to that point. Work on OLE continues: Mark Hemhauser has focused on identifying the necessary data elements for requisitions to advance to encumbered purchase orders, for invoices to appear paid in the ledger/budget summary report, budget structure functionality, and initial investigation of consortial use of acquisitions. Hans Breitenlohner and David Steelman have been working closely with the systems librarians to analyze and address problems as they are uncovered. David has been collaborating with Mark to document problems with purchase orders and invoices, and has taken the initiative to file a number of specific issue reports in the Kuali organization’s JIRA feedback portal. David and Hans have both worked on the problem reported by Linda Seguin regarding display of bibliographic records with Hebrew characters.

Following up from the November CLD meeting, Heidi Hanson and Ben Wallberg (DSS) met with Lea Messman-Mandicott and Betty Landesman of the USMAI Next Generation ILS Working Group, along with Chuck Thomas and David Dahl, to discuss strategies that will support the USMAI in understanding and evaluating the OLE system. Specifically, we are looking into how to give members of the Next-Gen ILS Working Group (and/or its sub-groups) access to our local “OLE sandbox” for testing at some time early in 2015.

Aleph support: From mid-October to mid-December, David Wilt has responded to requests for 20 ad hoc reports for 8 different campuses, 4 parameter change/notice text changes for 3 different campuses, and a request for a RapidILL extract for College Park. David also wrote specifications for multiple recurring reports for College Park, which Hans has now added to the reports schedule.

Linda Seguin worked on a number of requests related to bibliographic record loading and clean-up. For brittle Hebraica items that College Park is having digitized for HathiTrust, Linda created a new item process status (IPS), modified the HathiTrust extract program, updated items, loaded bibs and suppressed holdings/bibs as appropriate. For Health Sciences (HS), Linda loaded Springer ebook records using their old special loader. Since practices have changed since the last time this loader was used, considerable data cleanup was needed post-load. Since HS reported that this would be their second-to-last load of Springer records, we decided it was not worth updating the loader program itself. Linda also worked on Ebrary record cleanup for Towson, deleting all Ebrary PDA records that were for unpurchased titles. Catching up on a backlog of updates to the Ebrary Academic Complete collection, Linda loaded 27 files of new records and processed 22 files of deleted records. A complex deletion specification had to be developed in order to avoid deleting ebook titles that TU also holds in other packages.

Mark Hemhauser worked on creating a licensing database report for USMAI licenses; modification of serials claim letter address for College Park; continuing to advise Towson and UMBC on their move to shelf ready and loader issues related to it; update of USMAI page on the shelf ready loader. Mark also did some maintenance support for the College Park journal review web tool.

David Steelman, responding to an Aleph Rx request from UMBC, created a new version of the Equipment Availability page that would allow UMBC to generate their own page with any equipment that they want, by providing the system numbers for the equipment in the page request.

ResearchPort, SFX (FindIt), EZProxy support: In November, we upgraded EZproxy to the newly released version, 5.7.44, allowing us to disable SSL v3, which is vulnerable to Poodle attacks (the security exploit, not the dog). Ingrid Alie worked on correcting A-Z targets list for the Center for Environmental Science (CE) Research Port journal section so that it is in alphabetical order. Ingrid also worked on correcting the ScienceDirect database cross search for Health Sciences, Towson, UM Eastern Shore, Bowie, UM College Park, Salisbury, UM Law, Morgan State, and UMBC, because Elsevier is retiring their Federated Search platform. Cross search is now working for all of these campuses. Ingrid also generated a list of all database configurations from the proxy server for Towson.

Support for USMAI Groups and Committees: Linda established 13 new Listserv email lists in support of USMAI advisory groups and subgroups, and communities of interest/practice.

Mark Hemhauser served as Chair and Heidi Hanson served as a member of the search committee for the Director of the CLAS team. We were busy with interviews in October and early November, and were very fortunate to bring the search to a successful conclusion. David Dahl will begin as the new Director for CLAS on January 12, 2015.

CLAS team gets a nod: Elaine Mael at Towson wrote an article about the merger of Baltimore Hebrew University into Towson’s collection. “ITD” (DSS’s former name) gets mentioned quite a bit:

http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=99263274&site=ehost-live

Staffing

Peter Eichman joined SSDR as our new Senior Software Developer.  Peter’s academic background is in linguistics and philosophy. He is a UMD alumnus (B.A.s in Linguistics and Philosophy), and also holds an M.A. in Philosophy from USC. He is very familiar with UMD, not only as a student but also as a staff member, having worked for the ARHU Computing Services office and the National Foreign Language Center as a web application developer.  Peter’s first project will heading the major Digital Collections upgrade to Fedora 4.

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Stew of the Month: October 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

Peter Eichman led a DSS brown bag introducing and demonstrating Vagrant.  Vagrant is a developer tool to “Create and configure lightweight, reproducible, and portable development environments.”. DSS developers have already begun using Vagrant to support development of Libraries’ applications.

Josh Westgard has been focused primarily on setup and support of various web applications, including Omeka and ArchivesSpace, as well as digital preservation and file management tasks.

Collection-building

DRUM

Theses and dissertations from the 2014 summer sessions are now available in DRUM (http://hdl.handle.net/1903/3) bringing the total number to 9,799.

Hathi Trust
Several of our colleagues in the Libraries are now assisting us in making copyright determinations for books in HathiTrust.  As part of the CRMS-World grant with the University of Michigan,   Johnnie Love, Leigh Ann DePope, Loretta Tatum, Paul Bushmiller, and Yeo-Hee Koh join Donna King, Audrey Lengel, and Terry Owen as representatives of the University of Maryland Libraries on the project.

Historic Maryland Newspapers

In October the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project asked their Advisory Board to recommend newspaper titles for digitization during the 2014-2016 National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) grant cycle. Board members suggested titles from all over the state and ranked them in order of importance. After tallying and reviewing the results, Doug McElrath and Liz Caringola narrowed down the results to the following titles:

  1. Aegis & Intelligencer, Bel Air, 1864-1922 (published 1864-1923)
  2. Catoctin Clarion, Mechanicsville (Thurmont), 1871-1922 (published 1871-1942)
  3. Cecil Whig, Elkton, 1841-1922 (published 1841-current)
  4. Daily Banner, Cambridge, 1902-1922 (published 1902-1960)
  5. Democratic Advocate, Westminster, 1865-1922 (published 1865-1972)
  6. Montgomery County Sentinel, Rockville, 1856-1922 (published 1855-1974)
  7. Port Tobacco Times, and Charles County Advertiser, Port Tobacco, 1845-1898 (published 1845-1898)
  8. Prince George’s Enquirer and Southern Maryland Advertiser, Upper Marlboro, 1882-1922 (published 1882-1925)
  9. St. Mary’s Beacon/Gazette, Leonardtown, 1852-1922 (published 1845-1983)

The microfilm of these titles will be evaluated for technical quality and bibliographic completeness before making the final decision to digitize. In addition to these titles, the project will also complete digitization of Der Deutsche Correspondent from 1914 to 1918 in partnership with the Maryland Historical Society. Digitization for the second NDNP grant should begin in early 2015.

Plant Patents

Jennie Knies and Robin Pike met with staff of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Library (Nevenka Zdravkovska, Robin Dasler, Alex Carroll, and Jim Miller) to discuss a process and workflows for digitizing color plates from U.S. Government plant patents.  The pilot project is underway and the patents should be available via the Libraries’ website in early 2015.  The project will complement similar efforts at other institutions, for example, the New York Public Library, who has digitized the color plates from 2012-2014.

Digitization Activities

Fifty volumes were included in the monthly shipment of books and serials for digitization by the Internet Archive, and 46 deteriorating films from the Library Media Services collection were sent to a film digitization vendor.

Abby Lee digitized Harmony or Chord formation, relation and progression: being introductory to the art of Musical Composition to which is prefixed by a brief view of Musical Notation, circa 1871-1872, an unpublished, handwritten manuscript from the Lowell Mason Collection from SCPA. This document will be transcribed by SCPA staff to make this document searchable for their patrons.

Twenty-one historical French pamphlets and 121 university publications were digitized in-house and submitted to the Internet Archive as part of an ongoing effort to make additional unique materials in both of these collection areas available to the public.

Software Development

Peter Eichman promoted the latest AlephRx improvement into production for use by USMAI staff.

No other projects were completed but progress toward completion was made on:

Digital Scholarship and Publishing

The UMD Libraries Open Access Fund (http://www.lib.umd.edu/oa/openaccessfund) is now accepting applications.  Dean Steele was able to acquire additional funds from the Provost’s office, the Division of Research, and other deans on campus for 2014-2015.

USMAI (University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions) Library Consortium

The Consortial Library Applications Support (CLAS) team continued meeting with Ben Wallberg (DSS) through October, working on the process of installing and testing Kuali Open Library Environment (OLE) for UM College Park. Our initial OLE test installation was populated with demonstration data from other OLE partner institutions and proved to be difficult to work with. In early October, we installed OLE version 1.5.3, and started to have more success with loading our own local data for testing purposes.  CLAS team members are also participating in weekly online meetings of the OLE Implementation Group, which includes representatives from various OLE partners including Duke, Villanova, and Indiana University (among others). We plan to continue testing the OLE system to demonstrate its capabilities to USMAI for more informed decision making.

Peter Eichman (DSS) recently lent his programming skills to the CLAS team to make some improvements to the AlephRx problem reporting system. The updated version of AlephRx was rolled out on October 13. Improvements include:

  • a new functional area for reports—Password Reset—which we hope will make submitting these requests easier;
  • improved consistency of terminology throughout the AlephRx website (titles, labels);
  • a new format for email messages, to encourage replies through the AlephRx web site and help keep the comments related to each Rx together;
  • a fix to the “Active” filter on the list of reports, so it now correctly includes any reports not “closed”, and the filter buttons at top of summary list of reports have been rearranged in more logical order; and
  • a new “from” e-mail address, to ensure reliable delivery of emails to DSS.

The CLAS team extends its thanks to our USMAI colleagues who were tapped to do testing of the form in the week before the rollout—your help in quality assurance testing is much appreciated. Many thanks also to Linda Seguin, who spearheaded the internal testing of the revised AlephRx system and took care of many details necessary to make the changeover to the new version go smoothly.

Staffing

DCMR welcomed two new digitization assistants: Rachel Dook and Brin Winterbottom. Rachel is also the Graduate Assistant in Preservation and Conservation and Brin is also an hourly student in the Art Library. Both are students in the iSchool.

Francis Kayiwa joined USS as a System Analyst and will be providing System Administration and User Support. He received his Bachelor from St. Bonaventure University and his Master of Library Science from State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY at Buffalo).  He is coming to us from Richard J. Daley Library, University of Illinois at Chicago where he worked as a Library Systems Coordinator.

Events

On Saturday, October 18, 2014, Sandra, Preston, Victoria and Uche from USS was asked to provide a 3D printing demonstration for alumni before the homecoming football game. The event was located in the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center. USS displayed two of our 3D printers, the Makerbot Replicator 5th generation and Makerbot Replicator 2. Throughout the event, we printed miniature copies of Testudo similar to the statue in front of the McKeldin Library. We gave away over 100 miniature Testudo statues in assorted colors. The red Testudo miniature statue was popular for obvious reasons. We were easily the busiest table and experienced a lot of interest and excitement about 3D printing from all age groups. People were so excited, that some of our 3D models we had on display mysteriously walked away. Also, someone at the event was even willing to pay for a larger red Testudo statue we had on display. We communicated that 3D printers can produce prosthetic limbs but can also produce everyday household items, such as a wrench or cup. Many alumni were pleased to know how applicable 3D printing could be. We received many questions on why 3D printing is available in the Libraries, but not in other places on campus, specifically Engineering and Architecture We received many questions on why 3D printing is available in the Libraries, but not in other places on campus, specifically in the Engineering and Architecture programs. We explained that libraries are no longer centered on books, but now provide more of an innovative and technology driven environment for creative thinking and entrepreneurship. Many alumni were pleased to know that this service is available in the Libraries for all campus students. And even though we cannot be 100% certain, USS feels that the successfulness of our 3D printing demonstration was the reason why Maryland won the homecoming football game later that day.  Go Terps!

Conferences, Workshops and Professional Activities

Eric Cartier attended the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) in Baltimore on October and delivered a presentation entitled “Creating Digitization Workflows That Work at UMD Libraries.”

Liz Caringola joined Eric Cartier as co-chair of the Emerging Technologies Discussion Group.Liz Caringola attended MARAC and presented on the impact that links and citations in Wikipedia articles have on driving traffic to the digitized newspapers of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) and suggested next steps for NDNP participants that wish to pursue activities related to Wikipedia.

Jennie Knies and Babak Hamidzadeh attended the Fall Academic Preservation Trust (APTrust) meeting in Washington, DC.  Jennie gave a presentation on the University of Maryland Libraries’ high-level preservation ecosystem and discussed potential uses for APTrust services within that context.

Ben Wallberg, Paul Hammer, Mohamed Abdul Rasheed, and Joshua Westgard along with Bria Parker from Metadata Services attended the DC Area Fedora Users Group meeting where they connected with other local Fedora users and received a nice overview of new features in Fedora 4.  Paul Hammer attended the second day of the meeting to receive Fedora 4 developer training.

Josh Westgard attended the IEEE conference in Bethesda, MD on Oct. 27-30, where he presented a poster describing his work to improve an upload bot currently being used by the National Archives to upload digitized materials from its collections into Wikimedia Commons.  The poster was summarized in a short article published in the proceedings of the conference: “The Bot Will Serve You Now: Automating Access to Archival Materials,” Proceedings of the 2014 IEEE International Conference on Big Data, Oct. 27-30, Washington DC, ed. Jimmy Lin, et al. (ISBN 978-1-4799-5665-4), pp. 73-74.

With leadership from Josh Westgard and Bria Parker, the Libraries Coding Workshop began meeting on a weekly basis on Oct. 13, and is going strong.  The participants are working through CodeAcademy lessons, and on collaborative projects, using Python, shell scripting, and XSLT.  Karl Nilsen gave a brief demonstration of natural language processing in the UMD Libraries Coding Workshop using 108 volumes of The Carpenter, a periodical produced by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. The periodical is part of the Libraries’ collections in labor history, and digitized issues are available from the Internet Archive.

Karl Nilsen completed a one-day course on natural language processing taught by District Data Labs.

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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.

 

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Picture of the cart full length

 

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

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Collection-building

DRUM

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.

Staffing

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.

Events

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.
 KnightProposalImage
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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