Stew of the month: September 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

Historic Maryland Newspapers Project

The first batch of newspapers for the 2014-2016 grant was accepted by Library of Congress and are now available on Chronicling America. The Catoctin Clarion from Mechanicstown (modern-day Thurmont), Maryland, is available from 1871-1919. Additional issues through 1922 will be uploaded in a later batch.

Other Digitization Activities

The sole source for the FY16 digitization vendor was approved. Robin Pike will contact collection managers to begin digitization after additional steps are completed (negotiating technical specifications, receiving quotes for estimates, sending signed quotes back, scheduling projects).

Robin worked with Vin Novara (SCPA) to submit a Letter of Inquiry to the Grammy Grant Foundation to apply for an Archiving and Preservation Projects grant to digitize the audio recordings in the Contemporary Music Project Archives.

Eric Cartier worked with Josh Westgard and Bria Parker (MSD) to make 98 digitized videos from the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange Archives (SCPA) and 39 digitized audio recordings from the Thirteen/WNET Arthur Godfrey Collection (SCUA) available in UMD Digital Collections. Both projects were digitized as part of the FY15 Digitization Initiatives Committee project proposal process.

Eric and assistant Cecilia Franck performed quality assurance on 137 digitized football films from the University Archives collections, which will be ingested into Digital Collections. Cecilia also performed sampled quality assurance on 590 digitized historic dissertations that will be ingested into DRUM.

Software Development

During internal testing of the new Hippo CMS  version 7.9 upgrade process we discovered some holes in our upgrade procedure and have been working on filling out the missing code and re-testing.  Unfortunately, progress on this issue was interrupted by instability problems in the production Hippo system which we tracked down to a conflict between several of our batch content loaders (Database Finder, Staff Directory) and a Hippo system architecture change we put into place in August.  As an interim step the instability problem has been fixed by disabling the batch loaders.  We are working with Hippo support staff to determine the root cause of the problem.

We are now in full implementation mode for the new Responsive Web Design template for the website.  This has involved some rapid design and decision making, as well as training for four developers new to Hippo CMS.  Once we complete our first draft of the core templates we will begin a process to promote the templates to the staging site for Libraries staff to get their first look their existing content rendered in the new site.  This will help them to make an assessment on how much work will be involved when it comes time to begin updating their content for the new site.

User and System Support

This summer, the Libraries embarked on a project to renovate the technology in classrooms 6103 and 6107 in Mckeldin Library. User Systems and Support (USS) and Teaching and Learning Services (TLS) worked together on the project to find a new way to use current technology along with different teaching methods in the classrooms so the rooms would be more dynamic and flexible. USS and TLS chose to try to have everything mobile. Since the furniture, Mac desktops, projector screens, and projector wouldn’t be able to support this new mobile initiative, they were all removed. Power outlets in the room were rearranged to go from supporting a static room to a more dynamic room.

USS evaluated and designed the technology, suggested furniture, and determined power outlet locations. To replace the projector, four 60 inch Sony Aqous TVs were purchased. sitting on mobile Peerless AV stands. The TVs weren’t installed on walls, but were installed on Peerless AV stands so the TVs can be rolled anywhere in the room (or outside the room). The main instructor laptop has an ActionTech wireless HD Video Transmitter installed on it. The transmitted video will go to an ActionTech wireless HD Video Receiver on each cart. This will allow an instructor the ability to show the same content to all the TV carts at the same time. The idea is to allow the students to be able to crowd around any TV so everyone can clearly see what the instructor is presenting, instead of the people close to the back of the room straining their eyes.   However, another purpose is to allow the students to split off in groups, each screen displaying different content so students can collaborate the assignments they are given. Each TV also has multiple inputs so students can connect and display what’s on the screen of their laptops, iPads, tablets, and other devices.

A special thanks goes to those in USS involved in getting the new room configurations and technology changed and installed — Alex Guzman, Brandon Eldred, Chamisa Carson, Francis Ifeacho, Grace Derbyshire, Pancratius Chuba, Preston Tobery, Sandra Ayensu, Stephanie Karunwi, Victoria Quartey. Also, thanks goes out to Rachel Gammons and the rest of Teaching and Learning Services for working with us to successfully renovate and add new technology in classrooms 6103 and 6107.


USMAI (University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions) Library Consortium

The CLAS team responded to 92 Aleph Rx submissions and 23 e-resource requests from across the consortium’s libraries in September.


CLAS Notes

In an effort to keep consortium members informed about important information and procedures, the CLAS team has started a weekly publication called CLAS Notes. Weekly notes are targeted at specific audiences (as determined by mailing list membership), but you can always view all the notes on the USMAI Staff Site at


David Steelman moved from a System Analyst position to a Software Developer position. David received his Bachelor of Science, Comprehensive, from Villanova University and his Master of Science, Computer Science, from the University of Maryland, College Park.  Before coming to work at College Park, he worked at Raytheon Solipsys Corporation where he worked as a Senior Software Engineer, working on projects such as the Tactical Display Framework (TDF), a Java-based object-oriented Command and Control Battle Management package.

Conferences, workshops and professional development

Liz Caringola and Robin Pike attended the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) annual meeting in Washington, D.C. September 16-18. Liz gave a lightning talk on the Gateway to Digitized Maryland Newspapers, a database using Hippo/Solr that will allow users to easily identify sources for digitized Maryland newspapers. The gateway should be online after the next Hippo upgrade. Look for an announcement and additional information at that time.

Robin also attended the one-day Digital Maryland AV Conference held at the University of Baltimore on September 25.

Chronicling America surpasses 10 million pages!

The University of Maryland Libraries joins the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities in celebrating a major milestone for Chronicling America, a free, searchable database of historic U.S. newspapers. The Library of Congress announced on October 7 that more than 10 million pages have been posted to the site. This number includes 117,082 pages of Maryland newspapers digitized by the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project and its content partners, the Maryland State Archives and Maryland Historical Society, from the following titles:

Titles are added on a rolling basis, so check back often, or subscribe to Chronicling America’s RSS feed to receive alerts when new titles are added.

For more information about the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project, please visit our website: