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.
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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.

UMD Libraries Join BitCurator Consortium as Charter Member

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  Often, equipment or software necessary to use older disks is obsolete or unavailable.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

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

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

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

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

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Stew of the Month: August 2014

Welcome to a new issue of Stew of the Month, a monthly blog from Digital Systems and Stewardship (DSS) at the University of Maryland Libraries. This blog provides news and updates from the DSS Division. We welcome comments, feedback and ideas for improving our products and services.

New Technologies

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

Before:

 b41b43 b42

After:

aft1 a2  a3af4

Collection-building

Statistics

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

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

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

ArchivesSpace

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

Prange Digital Children’s Book Collection

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

Aeon

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

Digitization Activities

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

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

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

Software Development

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

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

Services

USMAI (University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions Consortium)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Staffing

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

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

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

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

Events

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

Conferences and Workshops

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

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

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

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

Stew of the Month: July 2014

Welcome to a new issue of Stew of the Month, a monthly blog from Digital Systems and Stewardship (DSS) at the University of Maryland Libraries. This blog provides news and updates from the DSS Division. We welcome comments, feedback and ideas for improving our products and services.

New Technologies

In May, Preston Tobery visited the University of Michigan’s 3D lab. The lab is located in the Dudestadt Center on the North Campus. The entire first floor of the Dudestadt Center is dedicated to the 3D lab. Preston spent 5 hours with a host of managers, specialists and technicians that work there. The 3D lab have 9 Cubify Cube 3D printers which they allow students to use self-serve. Once a student passes the requirements, they are giving a key to unlock a box that the printer is in and can use it. The Michigan Immersive Digital Experience Nexus (M.I.D.E.N.) is one of the cooler technologies they have. It’s in a 10 foot room and projects on 3 walls and the floor. Using a headset and controller, one can walk around virtual 3D objects, look underneath the 3D objects, or interact with the 3D objects. Preston was able to walk around a virtual castle, a small town, and interact with a cadaver from the “Visible Human Project”. The 3D lab also has a 3D theatre room that has a projector which can show 3D movies, 3D interactive simulations, 3D video feeds and 3D PowerPoint presentations.

There are many more technologies and equipment that the 3D lab has. After seeing everything in the lab, Preston was able to bring back a few things to use here in our Libraries. One thing he learned was about a chemical solvent that dissolves support material after a 3D objected is printed. When used, this method has produced smoother 3D objects. One other thing he learned was the importance of adjusting the temperature of the extruder and heat bed. By adjusting the temperature of these two parts, there have been fewer print jobs that have failed.

The 3D lab also has other 3D printers, a 3D scanner, an Oculus Rift VR headset, and a motion caption area. If you would like to know more details of his visit and all the equipment in the University of Michigan’s 3D lab, click here

DSS worked with Tim Hackman in Public Services to nearly complete a project to add Library Computer Availability information to the Libraries’ website, mobile website, and large screen monitors in several branches.  The monitor installations are scheduled to take place in August. The Computer Availability applications show where free and available public computers are located in various Library branches.

Collection-building

The National Endowment for the Humanities announced in July that it was awarding the University of Maryland Libraries $290,000 to digitize an additional 100,000 historic Maryland newspapers as part of the National Digital Newspaper Project.  Jennie Knies is the co-principle investigator on the grant and Liz Caringola will continue as project manager for this second phase of the project. The newspapers will complement the urban and immigrant perspective captured in Der Deutsche Correspondent, the German-language newspaper that was the focus of the project’s first phase, funded by the NEH with a grant of $325,000 in 2012. Those papers are now digitized and accessible at the Library of Congress database Chronicling America.

Digitization activities

Robin Pike and Eric Cartier continued set-up work on the Performing Arts Audio Digitization Studio (PAADS), configuring and calibrating equipment. They hope to start training students on the setup in September.

Robin worked on vendor-based digitization contracts for more than ten projects, which will start in August.

Software Development

The upgrade of Hippo CMS from 7.7 to 7.8 proceeded but was impacted by the departure of key developer Irina Belyaeva.  Implementation of 7.8 has been deferred until after start of the Fall 2014 semester in order to accomplish the higher priority website refresh scheduled for release in August.

Mohamed Mohideen Abdul Rasheed participed in two two-week development sprints helping to build the new Fedora Commons Repository version 4.  This is a major milestone because despite many years of using open source software the Libraries have not significantly contributed back to that community built software.  DSS will begin a process to migrate our Digital Collections to Fedora 4 beginning this coming Fall.

Services

The University of Maryland Libraries have recently signed on with EZID (http://ezid.cdlib.org/) and as a result, we are now assigning DOIs (digital object identifiers) to all new records in DRUM.

The Libraries has recently become a charter member of the Library Publishing Group, a new organization developed to support the publishing activities of libraries.  Opportunities to serve on committees and working groups, participate in professional development and training, or attend conferences and networking events are open to all library staff.  Please contact Terry Owen or Jennie Knies if you are interested in participating in this organization.

A webpage has been created for past events of the Future of the Research Library Speaker Series.   Links to video recordings and/or PowerPoint presentations are available (if provided by the presenter).  A fall event is currently in the planning stages.

USMAI (University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions Consortium)

HathiTrust public domain resources in Find It in the Catalog: For College Park, Linda Seguin implemented a modified version of the California Digital Library’s HathiTrust SFX target. Based on the OCLC number in the Aleph record, SFX will search in HathiTrust and present a link in the Find It menu if *public domain* full text is available. This could be implemented for any campus that wants it. Example:

The life and letters of Lewis Carroll (Rev. C.L. Dodgson) Collingwood

Aeon Request Links in the Catalog: For College Park, Linda  Seguin and Hans Breitenlohner implemented request links in the Full View of the record in catalogusmai, which use SFX to populate bibliographic and location data in request forms in Special Collections’ Aeon system. They also assisted in the setup of Shibboleth authentication for Aeon.

Single Sign On for ILLiad via EZproxy: For Salisbury University, Linda Seguin is working with Salisbury’s Shibboleth administrator and OCLC support to implement single sign on for ILLiad via EZproxy. This is the method that OCLC recommends, rather than using Shibboleth directly with ILLiad, although they do not seem to have ironed out the process.

RapidILL: For all campuses, Linda Seguin has placed documentation on the USMAI web site with instructions on how to request an extract of serial holdings from Aleph for RapidILL, and for campuses to do their own extracts from SFX for electronic holdings. http://usmai.umd.edu/groups/communities-interest/circulation-reserves-and-ill/rapidill Linda also uploaded holdings for the Center for Environmental Science (CE), UM Eastern Shore, Saint Mary’s, and Towson.

Ingrid Alie is helping the Center for Environmental Science (CE) to edit their Link resolver option in their OCLC Service Configuration WorldCat Registry so when their users click the “Find it” button from WorldCat local, SFX will search in CE SFX knowledgebase and show a link in the Find it menu for full text article (if it is available) or ILLiad (if it is not available).

David Wilt has been processing semi-annual Recurring Task Lists (where each campus specifies changes to tables, etc., needed for next 6 months); has created and/or revised Sub-Library, Collection Code, Item Statuses for Salisbury, Towson, and College Park; together with Hans, has worked on notice revisions for UMUC and Morgan State; and ran reports to facilitate weeding, storage, mold remediation for Frostburg, Salisbury, and College Park.

Mark Hemhauser has created a report of open orders by vendor for Maryland Law; created a special serials claim report for Health Sciences; and produced a new subscription report for College Park.

Hans has installed the Kuali OLE program on a local server and the team has been working out the bugs of the install so testing can begin in the next month.

Staffing

Digitization Assistant Sarah Ostrye accepted the Research Library/Digital Archivist position at the Gemological Library in Carlsbad, CA.

Ryan Donaldson and Massimo Petrozzi will be starting as Student Digitization Assistants, who are both starting at the School of Information Studies this fall.

Software Developer Irina Belyaeva moved on to MetiSpace Technologies, subsidiary of GMV, Spain to take the position of Senior Software Engineer, Satellite Systems.

Conferences and Workshops.

In July Brandon Eldred and Uche Enwesi attended Dell User Forum.  Jennie Knies, Liz Caringola, Eric Cartier, Trevor Muñoz, Karl Nilsen, Robin Pike all attended Digital Preservation 2014 in Washington, DC.  Trevor Muñoz was presented with a National Digital Stewardship Alliance Innovation Award, where he was recognized for his work developing and teaching best practices in data curation in the digital humanities and for his work advocating for digital preservation as a core function of librarianship, archival work, and scholarship.  Karl Nilsen and Robin Dasler were on a plenary panel, Stewarding Space Data, at Digital Preservation 2014. They talked about Research Data Services’ preliminary efforts to curate and preserve the Extragalactic Distance Database, an online resource for determining the distance to galaxies that was constructed by a UMD faculty member in collaboration with colleagues at other institutions. This project is an important pilot project for Research Data Services and will help the Libraries build capacity to curate complex digital data collections and systems.

Karl Nilsen recently attended the annual conference of the International Association for Social Science Information Services & Technology (IASSIST). IASSIST is the foremost professional organization for data librarians in the social sciences. Data librarianship is expanding into new and exciting areas in order to meet the needs of faculty and students in data-intensive, computation-driven research contexts. Based on the presentations and discussions at IASSIST, librarians in the social sciences can expect to receive more and more inquiries about unconventional data sources (web scraping, administrative data, APIs), data wrangling technologies, and data management best practices.