Stew of the Month: January 2014

Welcome to the inaugural 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.

Department Updates

Consortial Library Application Services (CLAS)

This month the CLAS team has been busy with creating many recurring circulation events in Aleph for the 16 libraries in the USMAI Library Consortium. This is to ensure new due dates, close dates and patron expiration dates…etc. for the Spring semester are properly set up in the system.  The team is also busy with various report and data cleanup requests for various campuses.  As College Park went live with the new financial system KFS in January, based on the feedback we received from the KFS team, our developer has been busy with fine-tuning our data extract.  Additionally, the team assisted SSDR with launching the new public-facing website for the USMAI Library Consortium.

Digital Conversion and Media Reformatting (DCMR)

In January 2014, we solidified a contract for legacy audiovisual equipment repair with a local vendor. We are sending several machines to enhance our capacity to digitize audio formats, particularly 1/4″ open reel tape and DAT, and will enable us to digitize VHS and Betacam. Henry Borchers is currently working on the video digitization set-up to include DVCam and MiniDV, VHS, and Betacam; he previously established a workflow for DVCam/MiniDV.

Borchers and Eric Cartier also analyzed the former digitization studio (currently inactive) within the Performing Arts Library, noting what equipment should be maintained in the space, and what needs to be replaced or repaired. Robin Pike is developing a draft plan, pending approval of the Michelle Smith Performing Art Library (MSPAL) staff, to develop the Performing Arts Audio Digitization Studio, a preservation-level audio digitization studio which will be dedicated to digitizing audio materials primarily from the International Piano Archive at Maryland (IPAM), Special Collections in Performing Arts (SCPA) collections. We hope to have the space fully operational and staffed in summer 2014.

Robin Pike has been meeting with stakeholders throughout the Libraries to discuss digitization goals for  fiscal year 2015 so I can compile projects into a year-long production timeline with a consistent level of work. This planning is beneficial when dividing projects between in-house or vendor-based work, and when thinking about requesting the digital storage necessary for all the new assets we will be creating. She has also been meeting with branch managers, collection managers, and subject specialists who have not previously used digitization services. We are discussing how we might be able to incorporate systematic digitization into the services or products in their departmental work plan in the upcoming years.

Digital Programs and Initiatives (DPI)

In January 2014, the Library Managers Group (LMG) approved the Digital Preservation Policy for the UMD Libraries. This document, which was written by a task force consisting of staff from across the Libraries, is the UMD Libraries’ first digital preservation policy and provides a set of high-level requirements that will drive our digital preservation policies, procedures and workflows moving forward.  Digital Programs and Initiatives will begin the work of implementing the policy in 2014.

Liz Caringola reports that the first issues of Der Deutsche Correspondent digitized by the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project were uploaded to Chronicling America this month. To see the issues that have been ingested by Library of Congress so far, visit Chronicling America (, go to the advanced search tab, and select Maryland from the state(s) menu.

Josh Westgard completed the final revisions on the migration of the VBIC (Virtual Business Information Center) website from the servers of the Smith School of Business into the Libraries’ website.  Because the Libraries’ content management system does not currently support the storage and display of relational data, a Python script was developed to convert the VBIC data from a CSV file (later stored as JSON for better handling of multi-valued fields) into HTML files that could easily be copied into the Hippo CMS.  The result is a compromise between a truly dynamic, database-backed website and a collection of static webpages.  See (the site) and (the converter scripts).

Terry Owen reports that the UMD Libraries Open Access Fund (, launched in September 2013, is off to a great start.  Six applications, mostly from graduate students, were processed during the fall 2013 semester and we have less than $3,000 remaining in the fund for this fiscal year.

The Libraries plans to continue participating in the Copyright Review Management System (CRMS) project in partnership with the University of Michigan.  A second IMLS grant has recently been submitted to extend the project to February 2016.  The CRMS is used to make copyright determinations for books in the HathiTrust.  Anyone interested in participating in the project can contact Terry Owen (

Audrey Lengel ( has recently joined the DSS/DPI staff as the new DRUM Graduate Assistant, shared with Collection Management.

Karl Nilsen organized a brown bag for librarians and staff on the role and meaning of digital data in the humanities. Karl and Trevor Muñoz spoke about trends, methods, technologies, and critical perspectives that are stimulating and supporting digital scholarship in the humanities. The brown bag was well-attended, and the lively discussion revealed a number of topics that will play an important role in future services and infrastructure:
  1. What practical things can the Libraries do to support humanities research that creates, manipulates, and analyzes digital data?
  2. How can individual librarians build knowledge and skills in this area?
  3. How do we support the linguistically and methodologically diverse interests of researchers?
  4. How can we effectively communicate the our services and resources (current and future) to faculty? 

Software Systems Development and Research (SSDR)

SSDR staff and the Web Advisory Committee worked together this Fall to add new features to the Libraries’ Website, released on January 23. Database Finder provides non-authenticated navigation of ResearchPort databases, which improves the users’ experience by providing faster access to the database list and by integrating with the main website and accompanying contextual help.   The Staff Directory has been improved by integrating Libraries’ HR directory data with Subject Specialist information, along with improved navigation of divisions, departments, and units.

SSDR and CLAS staff worked together to implement the new website for the USMAI Library Consortium.  See the earlier blog post New Public Website for USMAI Library Consortium for more details.

User Systems and Support

Five Ws of Microsoft Lync


Microsoft Lync is an enterprise-level communication application. While its primary function is instant messaging, Lync also offers more advanced communication features like voice and video chat, screensharing, and virtual presentations.


Only University of Maryland Libraries staff (including Shady Grove). Or, an individual outside the Library that staff initiates a Lync meeting with. Unfortunately, Lync is not available for other departments on campus.


At any appropriate time. Since Microsoft Lync can be installed on a wide range of devices, a staff can use Microsoft Lync at any time they feel necessary.


Microsoft Lync can be installed on Windows and Mac computers and laptops, Ipads and Iphones, and Android smartphones and tablets. So, Microsoft Lync can be used while at your desk. It can be used while sitting at any type of reference/circulation area. Or, maybe in a meeting to ask another staff member a question about a topic being discussed at the meeting. Microsoft Lync can also be used while teleworking, at a conference, arriving to or leaving from work, or any other time that an internet connection is available. And when appropriate, Microsoft Lync allows Shady Grove the chance to attend some meetings and presentations without coming to the College Park campus.


In the Libraries’ Innovation Fund Request Process in 2012, one of the proposals was to have an instant messaging system for the Libraries. The goal was to provide a way to facilitate internal communication amongst Library Staff. DSS and Public Services staff worked closely together and extensively tested a number of instant messaging applications. Microsoft Lync was chosen for a number of reasons. Some of those reasons were:

• The cost was free through the University’s MEEC contract
• Automatically interfaces with Microsoft Outlook
• Not required to create a new account on 3rd party system
• More robust than a free system, such as Skype
• Conversations are archived on the University’s Exchange server
• Supplements online meeting functions of programs like GoToMeeting and Adobe Connect

…and HOW?

Instructions on how to install Lync on the various devices, as well as getting started guides, are available for UMD Libraries’ staff on Libi. (

Maryland newspapers now available on Chronicling America!

I’m pleased to announce that the first digitized pages produced by the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project are now accessible on the Library of Congress website Chronicling America. Issues from the German-language, Baltimore newspaper Der Deutsche Correspondent are available for the years 1858, 1866, 1868, and 1870-1892. For a tutorial on how to search for Maryland newspapers in Chronicling America, see this post on the Special Collections blog.

Before current funding ends in August 2014, the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project will also digitize several English titles published in Baltimore, including the American Republican and Baltimore Daily Clipper, the Baltimore Commercial Journal, and Lyford’s Price-Current, the Baltimore Daily Commercial, the Daily Exchange, the Maryland Free Press, and the Pilot and Transcript, as well as one additional title from Cumberland, the Civilian and Telegraph.

For additional information, please visit the project’s website.