Stew of the month: March 2018

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 Project is ramping up its education outreach efforts in anticipation of summer. Kicking off with participation in Maryland History Day and National History Day events, the HMNP will be focusing on generating classroom resources and Chronicling America usage guides, offering live demos and workshops for Maryland teachers, and producing a monthly newsletter to keep educators up-to-date on the Maryland content available on ChronAm.

Other Digitization Activities

Robin Pike worked with the members of the Digitization Initiatives Committee (DIC) (Joanne Archer, Carla Montori (CSS), Eileen Harrington (PSD), Mary Dulaney (Development)) to finalize the FY19 digitization project budget, which was presented to the Libraries Resources Group on April 2. Project proposers will find out the results of their proposals soon.

Robin sent out the following projects: Hebraica book project, batch 2 (general collections); Diamondback newspaper project, batch 2 (SCUA), and patron video requests that needed to be digitized by a vendor. The first two projects were funded by the DIC project proposal process.

Assistant Cecilia Franck completed quality control review of the AADHum digitization project files, a Mellon grant-funded project. The original materials were delivered back to the collection areas. Cecilia also performed or managed quality control review on files from the Internet Archive of Mass Media and Culture serials, the Black Explosion student newspaper, the Trades Unionist issues that were digitized by a vendor, and other requests that were sent to a vendor for digitization.

Digitization Assistant Kiri Houpt completed the digitization of 1/4” open reel audiotapes of interviews and performances from the Tanglewood Symposium, held by Special Collections in Performing Arts. Digitization Assistants Sydney Schneider and Brahm Persaud made considerable progress digitizing materials for the Prange fall exhibit and the Trades Unionist, a very brittle labor newspaper held by Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) that was first stabilized by Preservation and Conservation staff; these projects will continue in the coming months. Bryan Draper (Preservation) was also instrumental in building supports to digitize materials for the Prange exhibit, with the input of Robin. The supports facilitate the digitization of newspapers on the Epson flatbed scanners at a higher resolution, without letting the newspaper hang off the scanner bed. Karina Hagelin and Brahm Persaud continued to digitize historical manuscript collections.

Digital  Programs and Initiatives

Research Data Services

On March 27th David Durden led a workshop for Managing Research Data as part of the Research Commons’ Common Quandaries workshop series. Dave assisted with another Research Commons workshop, Introduction to the R Programming Language, on March 29th with statistical consulting GA Yishan Ding.
David was appointed to a 2-year term as a Member of the ACRL/DSS DataQ Editorial Board beginning July 1, 2018.

Interdisciplinary Dialogues: Big Data

Along with Kelley O’Neal, David Durden led a workshop on April 3, Intro to Working with Data in Python, as part of the Libraries’ Interdisciplinary Dialogues: Big Data event. David and Kate Dohe were also members of the planning committee, and served as session moderators or speakers for the event.

Terps Publish 2018

Terps Publish returned for a second year on April 10, to bring UMD’s student publishing community together for a roundtable discussion and publication fair.

Software Development

Digital Collections

We have released the new Gordon W. Prange Collection Posters and Wall Newspapers interface based on content loaded into our Fedora repository, which includes both an English language and Japanese language version.

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

The CLAS team responded to 83 Aleph Rx submissions and 18 e-resource requests from across the consortium’s libraries in March.

Coming Soon! New E-Content Report Forms

We’ve been hard at work to update the e-content report forms that staff at USMAI libraries use to submit service requests related to EZproxy, SFX, and Research Port. A significant piece of this update is to move the forms to a more modern form building application called Wufoo and map the forms to submit into our internal ticketing system. This work is almost complete and expected to be wrapped up in April. If you use these forms, you can expect a new and (we think!) improved look soon.

Web Platform Evaluation

CLAS continued its evaluation of web platforms for running USMAI’s website. An evaluation of Springshare tools was completed and an evaluation of Drupal was started. Each platform is evaluated according to a set of criteria necessary to fulfill the requirements for a public-facing website, as well as USMAI’s needs for collaboration and information-sharing. While Drupal is the current platform used for USMAI’s websites (and has some identified deficiencies in its current state), this evaluation looks at Drupal “out of the box” rather than starting with the configured/customized environment that is currently in place. CLAS will also evaluate Hippo CMS (which is used by the UMD Libraries website) and Confluence (which is also used internally in DSS for documentation). The evaluation is on track to be completed in May.

USMAI Data Warehouse

CLAS’ efforts to implement a data warehouse for USMAI began in earnest in March with the addition of our Data Warehouse Architect Alex Riccomini. The initial project plan is scoped to both stand up a data warehouse program and implement an initial data project using Aleph data. The first two months of that work are devoted to defining both program and project level requirements for the data warehouse. Throughout March, Alex has met with CLAS team members and others in DSS to better understand libraries, our current technical environment, and the reports that are currently run using Aleph data. (There are a lot of them!) In April, CLAS team members will be making visits to USMAI libraries in order to better understand their reporting needs at both a high level and, more specifically, for data coming from Aleph.


Work continued to prepare MD-SOAR for a production upgrade to DSpace 6. Internal testing revealed a few issues to resolve. The production release is now scheduled for early April.

Joseph Koivisto has been working on an internal procedure to support an effort to clean up metadata across all communities/collections. This procedure will minimize the risk of errant metadata updates happening during metadata cleanup activities – a good goal to have for any metadata cleanup project!

User and System Support


USS has been researching other methods to install or deploy applications to public computers. Using our current method, the time to image a computer and have all applications installed take hours. Deploying new applications, or updates, across all libraries’ public computers also takes hours to complete, along with too many errors and missed computers. We evaluated two solutions, VMware’s VDI and Software2’s AppsAnywhere.
We decided to go with AppsAnywhere because of cost of investment and the ease of deploying applications. AppsAnywhere uses application virtualization which will greatly reduce the size of our images and the amount of time it takes an image to deploy. Application updates and patches can be quicker and done in the background to not interrupt a user’s workflow. Application virtualization also allows applications to run on phones and tablets, which makes it possible to have fewer computers for public use.

Fleet Manager

USS also recently acquired KIC Fleet Manager. This application is used to manage the KIC scanners in the Libraries. It allows us to control, update, and monitor the scanners remotely. And it provides helpful statistics on usage. Some of the statistics it shows are sessions time, pages scanned per session, color or b/w scans, and output destination, such as email or USB.

Conferences, workshops and professional development

Kate Dohe was invited to speak at the NFAIS Humanities Roundtable on March 11, as part of a panel addressing “Communicating Value in Humanities Librarianship.”


Robin Pike and Laura Schnitker (SCUA) guest-lectured to 16 students about audiovisual media and its preservation for LBSC786, Library Archives and Preservation on March 14, 2018.

Robin met with a librarian and an archivist for The Phillips Collection to teach them about metadata standards, digitization standards, and setting up guidelines for both for their future repository on Thursday, March 8, 2018. She will hold a similar training session in April. These sessions are preparatory workshops for a future IMLS grant, for which Robin is a Project Advisor.


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