Stew of the month: November 2017

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 Historic Maryland Newspaper has published two more batches totaling 22,565 pages to Chronicling America. These batches include The Midland Journal, a title published in Rising Sun, MD, a small town in far northeast Maryland, providing researchers and history enthusiasts a unique perspective into Maryland’s diverse history, focusing on agriculture. One more batch has been approved by the Library of Congress and will be online soon, with another batch currently at LC. The remaining six batches are in progress at the digitization vendor or are back at UMD for quality review.

Rebecca Wack reached out to partners for the next grant cycle, which will include the Maryland State Archives, the Greenbelt Cooperator office, the Montgomery County Historical Society, and the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument museum in Washington, DC for the fourth grant application. She is currently exploring additional partnerships for additional non-English titles. The fourth application will focus on strengths in local Maryland news, non-English titles, a Maryland suffrage paper written by women (digitized in time for the centennial of its publication and Women’s Suffrage), papers of record in Maryland, and titles expanding into the 1923-1963 period.

Rebecca, Robin Pike, and Doug McElrath (SCUA) began writing the fourth grant application; Rebecca and Doug will be Co-Principal Investigators and Robin will be moving into an advisory role.

Synergies Among African American History and Culture (AADHum)

We received the files for batch 2 back from the vendor. Robin Pike is managing assistant Cecilia Franck in performing quality control of the files.

Other Digitization Activities

Robin Pike worked with Joanne Archer and Laura Schnitker to ship one large batch containing the Arthur Godfrey wire recordings and the Maryland Public Television videotapes to the audiovisual digitization vendor. She received back two shipments from one digitization vendor–the first containing the Athletics videotape digitization project and the Spiro Agnew audiotape digitization project, and the second containing Library Media Services films, the American Bandmasters Association audiotape recordings, and Woody’s Children audiotape recordings. All of these projects were funded through the Digitization Initiatives Committee Process.

Robin worked with collection managers to refine project ideas for the Digitization Initiatives Committee proposal process.

Robin met with Rebecca, Mary Dulaney (Development), and Joanne Archer (SCUA) to debrief about the October grants workshop and begin planning future grant-writing workshops for 2018.

Robin and Rebecca also met with Liz Novara, Eric Stoykovich, and Joanne Archer (all SCUA), and Mary Dulaney to discuss and plan an application for the third round of the CLIR Recordings at Risk grant application to digitize a few hundred audiotape recordings from the Spiro Agnew collection. The application is due in February.

Robin met with Mary Dulaney and Joanne Archer separately to assist with National Historic Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) grant application planning for a potential project to further support the National Federation of Community Broadcasters audio collection.

To plan for Eric Cartier’s departure in January, he began working on updating digitization center procedures, and Robin began managing daily operations of the Hornbake Digitization Center.

Digital  Programs and Initiatives

Fedora Community Contributions

Over the past two months, UMD Libraries contributed back to the Fedora community through first identifying, and then developing a solution for, a significant performance bug in Fedora. The bug in question was causing the repository to lock up with respect to write operations during large batch ingests of student newspaper content. The underlying cause was not immediately apparent, but after much trial and error and troubleshooting in both SSDR and DPI, we were able to determine that it was being caused by the repository’s internal audit module.

This experience illustrates both some costs and benefits of participation in an open-source community. During the troubleshooting process, the wider Fedora community (accessible through the weekly Fedora Tech calls) was ready to assist with debugging advice and by attempting to recreate our specific issue. Unfortunately, it proved to be a very difficult error to reproduce in a deterministic way, which made it difficult for the community to provide concrete assistance with debugging. In the end, it fell to the UMD Libraries to identify and resolve the problem, which resulted in some not insignificant costs in staff time and project delays. By contributing our discoveries and solutions back to the community, however, we hope that others can avoid encountering the same issue in the future. In turn, the UMD Libraries will benefit from future bug fixes and feature development happening at other institutions. Of course, the promise of shared solutions to common problems and needs will only be realized as long as there is a healthy community of adopters who are using the software at production scale and actively contributing back to the project.

Software Development


We began customization of the new ArchivesSpace public interface for release in January, focusing on theme and navigation changes in support of UMD Libraries branding.  We are also testing out a new Aeon plugin for requesting materials which is a prerequisite for general release of the public interface and replacement of the old ArchivesUM application.

Bento Box Search

We have created a working prototype of a Bento Box search solution using NCSU’s Quick Search application. We have demonstrated search of our WorldCat Local instance as well as LibGuides and Ask Us.  Further work to prepare for a Beta release is now on hold pending review and approval of the Discovery Group Final Report and creation of an oversight body for the Bento Box project.

Web Accessibility Audit

The university has created in Interim UMD Web Accessibility Policy to improve accessibility of all campus websites used to conduct university business. The first phase of implementation includes an audit of all websites and the placement of a Web Accessibility link on all websites.  We have identified 37 Libraries’ websites matching the criteria and are nearing 100% completion for adding the required link.  Work will continue over the next three years to bring all websites up to meet W3C WCAG 2.0 Level AA accessibility requirements.

Digital Collections

The release of the new UMD Student Newspapers collection strained several of the components we use to search and deliver the newspaper content.  In response we have spent some time upgrading the backend Solr search and IIIF image delivery systems, as well as making performance improvements to the Mirador newspaper viewer itself.
The coding for the new Data Set Hosting feature in Archelon was complete some months ago, but delayed in getting approval to promote through to production.  We have now resumed getting this setup in the server environments and promoting through to production.  Once installed it will allow non public access data sets to be loaded in Archelon and distributed to users through single use download URLs.
The fedora content repository comes with a built-in fixity checker for single individual bitstreams, but does not contain any feature for regular review and reporting of all the bitstreams loaded into the repository.  We are building such a system which will check fixity on ingest and on a periodic basis for all bitstreams, record the results in the audit log, and notify staff in the case of failed checks.


Work continues on the new Libi staff intranet developed using Hippo CMS for the website and Google Drive for document management. We are wrapping up initial development in preparation for a Beta release of the application for early adopter testing and feedback.  The Libi Advisory Team is currently gathering volunteer groups to begin testing in February.  We are currently expecting to being production use of the new Libi at the end of the Spring semester.

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

The CLAS team responded to 109 Aleph Rx submissions and 33 e-resource requests from across the consortium’s libraries in November.

Aleph Inventory Functionality

The Inventory Working Group began its testing of Aleph inventory functionality. CLAS set up permissions for testers and analyzed the four Aleph functions used for inventorying in order to optimize the inventory process.

New SFX Journal Search and Citation Linker Interfaces

Ex Libris recently released a new user interface for Journal Search and Citation Linker. CLAS has configured the new interfaces for all USMAI libraries that use SFX.

The direct URL for Journal Search is:
The direct URL for Fetch item (Citation Linker) is:

where xx = two-letter campus code.

Ebook Central DDA Support

CLAS worked with ProQuest to have files of titles for the USMAI ebook DDA collections delivered automatically for loading into SFX. ProQuest was able to set up an FTP site and is delivering CSV files of titles weekly. Linda Seguin scripted the transformation of the file data for loading into SFX. Work remains to schedule the loading of data into SFX.


DSpace Version Upgrade

Work continued on the upgrade to version 6 of DSpace. The upgrade is expect to be deployed to the Libraries internal development environment in December. After an internal review, the upgrade will be moved to the Stage/Sandbox environment for MD-SOAR partners to review.

Conferences, workshops and professional development

Robin Pike and Rebecca Wack attended the Association of Moving Image Archivists conference in New Orleans, LA from November 29-December 2. Robin also presented on a panel session titled “Preservation is Painless: A Guide to Outsourced AV Digitization Project Management.” Her segment of the presentation focused on planning projects and resources around projects in a systematic way before coordinating with the vendor for digitization.

Robin began her service on the Digital Library Federation Forum’s Project Managers Group Steering Committee. This is a two-year, self-nominated position.

Ben Wallberg attended Samvera Connect at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. Samvera is a grass-roots, open source community creating digital asset management solutions for Libraries, Archives, Museums and others. We are not currently using Samvera but are considering doing so.  Ben attended the conference to gauge the state of the software and the community for potential use as part of our Digital Collections program.


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