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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.

Discuss!

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