Stew of the month: July 2016

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

Elizabeth Caringola and student assistant Kerry Huller continued to review batches of digitized Maryland newspapers and submitted the files to the Library of Congress. No new Maryland titles were made public on Chronicling America during July.

Other Digitization Activities

Robin Pike and Vin Novara submitted a 53-page grant application to the National Endowment for the Humanities, Humanities Collections and Reference Resources grant to describe and digitize the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange collection held by Special Collections in Performing Arts.
Robin continued to work on setting up vendor contracts and the digitization sole source for FY17 digitization projects and completed the projects’ plans. She will continue to work with collection managers in doing preparatory work for the digitization projects that will start in the fall.
C1 Digitization Assistant Caroline Hayden completed a 100% quality review inspection of 105 Hebrew and Yiddish books totaling 29,298 pages, the first of three batches for this FY16 project, funded through the DIC digitization project proposal process.
Student Assistant Cecilia Franck began to review over 28,000 digitized newspaper pages and metadata of The Diamondback. This project was funded through the DIC digitization project proposal process, through a UMD Launch crowd-funding campaign lead by Anne Turkos, and by a mini-grant from the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area.
Jenna Cuza-Barteau digitized 56 photos and 1 pamphlet for a UMD faculty member under Digital Data Services.
Eric Cartier, Caroline Hayden, and Shane James completed an audiovisual equipment inventory documenting legacy hardware which includes reel-to-reel decks, turntables, cassette decks, VCRs, U-matic players, and Betamax players, stored on the fourth floor of Hornbake Library. The team identified, labeled, organized, and shelved the equipment, which can be used as replacement machines or spare parts.

Digital  Programs and Initiatives

Fedora 4 Updates

DPI, on behalf of DSS, is pleased to announce that our Fedora 4 repository initiative has passed a major milestone, and is now ready to accept content. Check out this post for detailed information about our Fedora initiative.

Josh Westgard has been working on a batch loading tool for newspaper content in Fedora 4.  The Python-based tool extracts metadata from a variety of input formats, converts the metadata to RDF triples, adds additional content modeling triples to connect individual resources, and posts the RDF and binary assets to Fedora 4 via its RESTful API.

MARAC Presentations Deposited in DRUM

Twenty-nine presentations from past MARAC Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conferences ( dating back to 2011 have recently been deposited in DRUM, bringing the total to 98.
The semi-annual conference began in 1972 and represents a regional consortium of archivists who live and work in the states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia, and in the District of Columbia.

Other Activities

GA David Durden explored creating a self-serve dashboard in Google Analytics to assist curators and collection managers in accessing usage statistics for digital collections. He  concluded his internship at MITH and has started a research project to investigate digital preservation systems and provide a comparison of their features and functions.

Software Development

Hippo CMS

The Equipment Availability and Computer Availability information on the website each pull their information from external systems using backend feeds.  Each of their Hippo implementations were difficult to maintain and modify, so they both received behind the scenes updates to their code.  While we were at it we also added minor theme updates for responsive web design.

Based on user and staff requests we have added a new Libraries Hours Weekly page, in addition to the existing Daily Hours page, for easier viewing of a week at a glance for a particular branch.

Set up of the new Libi (Libraries’ Intranet) infrastructure in Hippo is complete, with work underway on the Home Page implementation, Single Sign On using the DivIT CAS authentication service, and Solr indexing of Box documents.

Digital Collections

The Loris IIIF Image Server has been selected as a preferred platform for serving images through our website and work is underway to integrate with our Fedora 4 repository.

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

Support to USMAI

The CLAS team responded to 82 Aleph Rx submissions and 35 e-resource requests from across the consortium’s libraries in June.

Aleph Upgrade

Preparations for the upgrade from Aleph version 20 to version 22 neared completion in July. The upgrade is scheduled for the evening of August 6th.

A new Aleph desktop client was released for all campuses along with installation instructions. Instructions, download links, and other upgrade information is available on the USMAI Staff Site.

Loyola Notre Dame Library

The CLAS team met with Loyola Notre Dame Library (LNDL) staff on July 15th to kickoff the project to move LNDL to USMAI shared systems. Overviews of systems used by USMAI were given and details of the project, including communications, risks, and project priorities, were discussed. The bulk of the transition will be moving LNDL data and processes from their current Voyager ILS to USMAI’s Aleph instance.

Two of four scheduled follow-up meetings to discuss distinctions between LNDL’s and USMAI’s business processes were held in July with the final two scheduled for August. These meetings will help identify any significant differences between LNDL and USMAI operations and initiate the process to configure Aleph for LNDL.

The migration to Aleph has a completion window from January 3rd to 17th.

Communication and Collaboration Platform Analysis

As part of an anlysis of the consortium’s platforms for facilitating communication and collaboration, a survey was launched on and the USMAI Staff Site to gather feedback about the level of effort required by users to accomplish their objectives on the sites. The survey is built around a metric called the Net Easy Score.

Interviews, focus groups, and documented observations will also be used to gather data. The analysis is expected to identify consortial requirements in order to guide future direction of our collaboration tools.


DCMR welcomed Scott Pennington, the Project Manager for the digitization portion of the “Synergies Among African American History and Culture and Digital Humanities initiative” Mellon Foundation Grant, a partnership with the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) and the College of Arts and Humanities.

DCMR also welcomed Shivika Khare, Jenna Cuza-Barteau, Shane James, and Jonathan Lin who began work as Student Digitization Assistants. Shivika will be working on a large Digital Data Services project, scanning the office records of a campus office over the next few months.

Conferences, workshops and professional development

Robin was a panel presenter for a Lyrasis webinar “Unblurring the Lines Between Archives, Libraries, and Museums,” part of their Second Friday series, on July 8. Robin also guest-lectured on the management of digitization in special collections for the “Special Collections” course at The Catholic University of America’s MLS program on July 18.

Robin Pike and Kate Dohe had their separate presentations accepted to the Digital Library Federation Forum, which will be held in November 2016.

Kate Dohe was accepted into the ADVANCE Program for Inclusive Excellence‘s 2016-2017 “Keeping Our Faculties” cohort.

Kate Dohe has been accepted as a presenter at the 2016 Charleston Conference this November.

Joshua Westgard presented “The Transmission of Bede’s Scientific Works” at the 6th International Conference on the Science of Computus in the Middle Ages in Galway, Ireland, 8-10 July 2016.

Fedora 4 Update

On behalf of DSS, I’m pleased to announce that we have passed a major milestone with our digital repository upgrades: Fedora 4, our next-generation repository, is now officially “in production,” meaning we can begin adding digital resources to it for management. DPI is already working on a plan for adding materials to the new repository, and individual stakeholders will hear more soon about their collections.
What does Fedora 4 mean for UMD Libraries?
To end users, this upgrade is essentially invisible. Fedora 4’s release is an architectural improvement–essentially, it is the new foundation on which we can build first-class digital collections and efficient workflows for asset management and preservation. Implementing Fedora 4 gives us:
  • Flexible, standardized data modeling. We will be able to handle a wider array of simple and complex content types, as well as a greater range of file formats.
  • Scalability. We’re not far away from thinking of our digital assets in terms of petabytes of data; Fedora 4 will enable us to manage those assets responsibly.
  • The potential for increased automation. Fedora 4’s application “hooks” and workflow triggers give us the ability to develop new automation scripts and integrations.
  • New technology options to eventually improve the experience of both internal library users and repository visitors. Two exciting next steps with Fedora 4 include selecting and evaluating a new administrative interface for staff, and implementing a new image viewer for newspaper content (based on IIIF, a framework for speedy, flexible image delivery backed by a number of high-profile libraries).
  • Increased participation in a robust, open community of institutions using Fedora. Rather than creating our own special, customized installation (which would become difficult to maintain over time), our team contributed code enhancements and feedback to the Fedora project, taking an active role in shaping the software platform.
What’s next?
DSS is already working on a few key repository projects:
  • Preparing the repository for the Diamondback ingest. This will be the first substantial collection loaded into Fedora 4, and to prepare for it, we are working on methods for batch loading, as well as implementing a new and improved image viewer.
  • Selecting, testing, and implementing an administrative interface for staff. We are researching our options for a new staff interface for Fedora 4 items, and will have more to share in the fall.
  • Planning for scaling our storage to meet our needs. A small task force will evaluate options and costs for high-capacity storage this fall, and we should begin implementing recommended improvements in 2017.
  • Organizing the backlog of materials for ingest, planning for digital preservation, public user interface research and migration of assets from our old Fedora repository–this work will continue throughout 2016 and into 2017.
Finally, please join me in thanking the many team members involved in this release from DSS. In particular, Josh Westgard, Mohamad Abdul Rasheed, Peter Eichman, and Ben Wallberg spent an untold amount of hours sweating the details, squashing bugs, questioning assumptions, and drawing on whiteboards to get UMD Libraries to this point, and they all deserve a hearty congrats.