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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.



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.


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.


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.

About Jennie Levine Knies

Jennie Levine Knies is the Manager, Digital Programs and Initiatives, University of Maryland Libraries.

One comment on “Stew of the Month: October 2014

  1. Another impressive update! I especially appreciate the improvements to the RX form, and Preston and Sandra’s expertise and support with the Makerspace.


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