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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.

One comment on “Stew of the Month: June 2014

  1. You guys have been busy! Nice to hear about all of your great work this summer.


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