Stew of the month: August 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.

Digital Conversion and Media Reformatting

Historic Maryland Newspapers Project

The Historic Maryland Newspaper Project is kicking off Grant Cycle 4. Currently in the works, collation for Maryland suffrage news (provided in partnership with the National Woman’s Party), along with a handful of non-English language titles published out of Baltimore, including Baltimore Wecker (German, 1856-1867), Il Risorgimento Italiano nel Maryland (Italian, 1922-1930), and Katholische Volkszeitung (German, 1874-1888).

Other Digitization Activities

Rebecca Wack, Digital Projects Librarian and former project manager for the Historic Maryland Newspaper Project, has changed roles and offices and can now be found in the Hornbake Digitization Center as the Digitization Services Librarian. At Hornbake Library, Rebecca plans to implement new training procedures for digitization assistants, boost outreach and services within the libraries and across campus, and build-up on-site AV digitization services. If you have any feedback regarding existing digitization services or requests for services you’d like to see offered in the future, please contact Rebecca at

Robin Pike submitted the final vendor quotes and the digitization sole source to the Business Office. We await beginning FY19 vendor digitization projects funded by the Digitization Initiatives Committee. Robin also worked to get information from curators for the vendor quotes outside of the digitization sole source; some quotes have progressed further than others. Robin also consulted with Preservation and Conservation and curators to best prepare materials for vendor digitization

Robin worked with Bria Parker, Adam Gray (both DMS), Laura Schnitker, Joanne Archer (both SCUA), and Josh Westgard to ingest the files and metadata from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters collection, funded by a CLIR Recordings at Risk grant. the collection is now online and linked to the finding aid. The project digitized 597 recordings, over 353 hours, 624 files, and 606 metadata records. Laura, Joanne, and Robin collaborated to write and submit the final report to CLIR, which documented all files and metadata and project expenditures, as well as this project’s impact.

Robin and Rebecca worked with Hilary Thompson (USRS) to contribute language related to digitization and capacity to comply with the Big 10’s special collections loan best practices.

Digitization Assistants Vanessa Barker, Cecilia Franck, Brahm Persaud, and Sydney Schneider have worked digitizing a Maryland family manuscript collection, and have completed digitization of the first phase of Spanish Plays, and a small collection of reels from the Martha Brooks collection.

Digital  Programs and Initiatives

Open Access Fund

The UMD Libraries’ Open Access Publishing Fund is now accepting applications for 2018-2019. Eligibility requirements and guidelines, along with a link to the online application form, are available here.

Prange Asset Migration

DPI collaborated with SSDR to migrate 2.41 terabytes of digital assets (478,840 jpg files) from our Fedora 2 digital collections repository to our new Fedora 4 repository. These assets are part of one of our largest digital collections, the Prange Children’s Books collection. While this migration should have little immediate effect on the public-facing website (in fact, one of the goals is to make it ‘invisible’ to the end user), it does represent a significant undertaking, and in terms of raw bytes constitutes a large proportion of all the content that was available to the public in our Fedora 2 repository. With this move now complete, our Fedora 4 repository is now operating truly ‘at scale’ with multiple terabytes and well over a million digital resources under management in the new system.

Avalon Media Repository Pilot

The Avalon Media Repository pilot is officially underway, and the kickoff “big tent” meeting with stakeholders from Special Collections, the Performing Arts Library, and DSS took place on August 30th.

UMD Libraries currently uses Sharestream’s MediaManager product as its content management system for digitized time-based media accessed through the Libraries’ legacy Digital Collections interface. While this commercial solution has made it possible for the Libraries to make audio and video from its collections available online, the application and its integration with Digital Collections has several constraints that make it challenging for curators, repository managers, and metadata specialists to efficiently manage large-scale media collections. DSS, SCUA, and MSPAL stakeholders wish to internally pilot the Avalon application to test its suitability as a replacement media management application.

Success or failure of the pilot will be measured according to the following broad requirements:

  • A media repository solution for specialized materials must support digital curation standards and workflows throughout an item’s lifecycle, including ingest, preservation, description, and access control.
  • A media system must provide a variety of users and stakeholders with the tools to effectively manage content at scale without creating choke points and backlogs.
  • A media system must support open, accessible technologies that can be customized by UMD Libraries staff (repository managers and developers) to meet local needs, and support interoperability and transmission between systems.

To afford sufficient testing time and workflow development, the Avalon pilot should last one year, and then stakeholders should assess success or failure of the project.

Software Development


We upgraded MD-SOAR to DSpace version 6.3.  The same upgrade for DRUM is in user testing and should be completed in September.

Digital Collections

The code and configuration for a new template/theme for use on the website has been completed and promoted to production. This also includes a new search interface for all content loaded into our Fedora Content Repository, currently at version 4.7.5. Once released the new home page will offer two search boxes, one for our current Fedora repository and one for our legacy Fedora 2 repository. The new feature has been turned over to curators to finalize the page content in preparation for public release.

We also updated the authorization systems for Fedora and several of our supporting backend applications.  They are now using the campus Grouper instance to manage authorized users. Grouper is an enterprise access management system designed for the highly distributed management environment and heterogeneous information technology environment common to universities. Operating a central access management system that supports both central and distributed IT reduces risk.  Grouper is part of the TIER Initiative.


We updated the REDCap application in development to use Shibboleth federated identity management for authentication.  This improves the current REDCap managed user table method by providing Web Single Sign On with campus users directory id and password and improves security by using campus HR systems to automatically disallow access once an employee leaves the university.  However, due to the proximity to the start of the semester, deployment to production has been deferred to the end of the semester.

Under Development

  • Upgrade to BloomReach Experience (formerly Hippo CMS) version 12
  • Bento style cross search of information resources
  • Bento style cross search for Special and Digital Collections
  • ArchivesSpace Aeon plugin for requesting materials

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

The CLAS team responded to 118 Aleph Rx submissions and 21 e-resource requests from across the consortium’s libraries in August.

Data Warehouse

Efforts continued in three main areas: Requirements, Reporting, and ETL. CLAS team members had at least fifteen (official) meetings and a number of other one-on-one discussion during the month as the effort ramps up. All Aleph Oracle and configuration tables that will be sourced for the data warehouse are now identified. Research into methods for extracting necessary data from Aleph continued, with key decisions expected in early September. Team members continue to make progress on defining requirements. It’s a laborious process but will go a long way toward simplifying the development process and laying the foundation for good documentation of the data in the data warehouse.

EDS Results Display Improvement

Last winter, USMAI’s UX Subgroup proposed a modification to the display of catalog results in EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) that would hide ebook records that were only held by other USMAI libraries. These are items that are inaccessible to the user, resulting in user frustration. Since that time, CLAS has worked with EBSCO to develop logic that filters out these results. The filter is now implemented for all USMAI libraries that use EDS.

New USMAI e-resources

Patrons at USMAI libraries now have access to five new database products starting this fiscal year. In August, CLAS configured these new resources to ensure that off-campus access was available and full text linking worked through SFX.

Library Technologies, Inc. is closing

USMAI has used Library Technologies, Inc. (LTI) Authority Express and Authority Update Processing services since 2006 to clean up bibliographic records in Aleph. LTI recently announced that they will be going out of business in March 2019. Over the next few months, USMAI’s Metadata Subgroup will be leading the effort to identify a replacement service.


A new feature was released in August that hyperlinks author and subject values in the simple item record. This, along with more uniform subjects being encouraged by autosuggest options during item submission, will provide additional avenues of discovery within MD-SOAR.


Brahm Persaud, Digitization Assistant, has left DCMR to concentrate on his internship before graduation in the spring. We wish him well!

Conferences, workshops and professional development

Dave Durden attended the 2nd Workshop on Scientific Archives in Washington, DC on August 13 and 14. Presentations topics of interest included data management from an archival perspective, the relationship between research data and scientific archival records, and novel methods of capturing the scientific record in the digital era.

Kate Dohe attended the ArchivesSpace Member Forum on August 14.

Robin Pike and Rebecca Wack attended the Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting from August 12-17, including a pre-conference workshop Robin took on using command line interface.


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