Stew of the month: November/December 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

Rebecca Wack has continued to make batch fixes in preparation to submit them to the Library of Congress, as well as prepare microfilm. She has continued to maintain a social media presence on Twitter with the assistance of student assistants Sydney Schneider and Jane Sonneman.

Robin met with Sydney and Jane to review copyright clearance procedures; they completed this work in early January.

In November and December, Robin worked closely with the Advisory Board to solidify the titles that will be digitized in Phase 4, which will be featured in a future longer post.

Robin has also been working with Tonita Brooks to solidify the vendor contracts. Microfilm duplication is anticipated to begin in January.

Other Digitization Activities

Robin Pike has worked with Joanne Archer and Liz Caringola as project managers as well as various curators to ship the following projects to digitization vendors in November and December: Mass Media and Culture Serials, Spanish Plays, University Publications, AFL-CIO RTI forms, student newspapers, Westinghouse audio reels, Maryland Public Television videos, Library Media Services films on various topics, experiencing degradation, and one film from the Prange collection. These projects are being funded through the Digitization Initiatives Committee project proposal process.

Robin has also met with Amy Wasserstrom (Prange) to create the technical requirements and sole source document for the continuation of the Prange Book Project digitization contract.

Robin underwent Kuali training to learn about the university grant management and proposal submission systems. She is now certified to submit projects.

Robin met with Vin Novara and Mary Dulaney regarding a proposal to the CLIR Recordings at Risk grant application, as well as meeting with Stephanie Ritchie and Joanne Archer regarding a proposal for a Ceres grant through CRL to digitize Maryland government publications on microfilm.

The Hornbake Digitization Center is wrapping up work on Series 1 of the Claude-Gray-Hughes-Tuck-Whittington Family Papers. Series 1, 3.5 linear feet of correspondence, is comprised primarily of letters between family members throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Claude, Gray, Hughes, Tuck and Whittington family papers date from 1793 to 1938 and represent a mixture of correspondence, from family, friends, and business associates; deeds; ledgers; literary writings; school notebooks; and receipts. The bulk of the material dates from 1820-1900. The material reflects daily life in Annapolis and the Naval Academy, conflicts with the Spanish in the Louisiana Territory, local and national politics, the Civil War and the embargo. It also reveals information on religion, family relationships, nineteenth century medical practices, and attitudes towards blacks and slavery.

The digitized work can be found in Digital Collections.

Rebecca has also met with collection areas to begin gathering in-house digitization projects for calendar year 2019. She is also beefing up project and task management procedures using the tool ClickUp in anticipation of new projects in 2019.

Digital  Programs and Initiatives

The Katherine Anne Porter Digital Collection

After a multi-year collaborative effort between Special Collections and University Archives, Discovery and Metadata Services, and Digital Systems and Stewardship, the Katherine Anne Porter: Correspondence from the Archives, 1912-1977 is now available online. Containing almost 4,000 letters from the extensive and well-described holdings related to Porter in literary manuscripts in SCUA, this collection is an online public resource that provides access to high-resolution digital images of original materials. It also demonstrates increased integration with other resources, along with rich contextual information about the life and times of Katherine Anne Porter. The project uses many of the Libraries’ emerging technologies, including Fedora 4 and the IIIF image viewer. The contextual information was built out with the Hippo exhibit template and integrated with Fedora, which is a unique contribution of this project.

CodeOcean Pilot Project

DPI is pleased to announce the pending launch of the CodeOcean pilot in February 2019. CodeOcean is a vendor-provided research data management service that provides researchers and developers an easy way to share, discover and run code published in academic journals and conferences. As an increasing amount of research generates code, it is urgently important for scholars to reproduce scientific results with both code and data. CodeOcean allows researchers to share code in an open source programming language, and users to execute that code without installing any local software packages or fiddly environment configuration.

DPI’s pilot will assess the need for such a service among UMD’s research community, as well as how effectively the service integrates with our existing service offerings and technologies. Liaisons are encouraged to reach out to David Durden for more information.

New Collection in DRUM

DPI has partnered with the National Center for Smart Growth (NCSG) on campus to make their research and publications available to a wider audience via DRUM. NCSG works to advance the notion that research, collaboration, engagement and thoughtful policy development hold the key to a smarter and more sustainable approach to urban and regional development. NCSG is housed under the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, with support from the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, the A. James Clark School of Engineering, the School of Public Policy, and the Office of the Provost. Check out some of their research here.

ArcLight Hackathon

On December 18, a number of UMD Libraries staff organized and participated in a day-long hackathon for Arclight, an emerging technology based on Blacklight that is designed to support discovery and digital delivery of archival information. Put another way, it is a potential end user interface for special collections materials that builds upon technology we already use. Participants from DPI, SSDR, Discovery and Metadata Services, and Special Collections and University Archives drew upon considerable user experience research regarding ArchivesSpace, as well as feedback and reports from other institutions that experimented with ArcLight, to organize objectives for the day:

  • Assess a variety of UMD archival descriptions within ArcLight
  • Identify and prototype desired usability and visual design changes
  • Evaluate metadata loading and handling in ArcLight and identify workflow requirements to integrate with other systems we use for special collections management (specifically, ArchivesSpace and Aeon)

Towards this end, Peter Eichman, Bria Parker, and Kate Dohe coordinated creation, testing, and troubleshooting of a Vagrant and Docker for ArcLight in advance of the hackathon. Graduate Assistants in DPI, Anne Hendrick and Carlos Alvarado, collaborated with Joanne Archer to review the interface and generate potential alternative interface mockups. Kate Dohe drew upon code created at the University of Albany to incorporate visual changes to labels for restricted and inaccessible materials. SSDR developers David Steelman, Mohamed Mohideen Abdul Rasheed, and Ben Wallberg worked to implement a variety of requested changes to data loading and display within the interface. Formal results will be shared with the ArcLight community in the coming weeks.

A/V Digital Collections Updates

In December, after resolving several software bugs and developing a workaround that had prevented loading content with one particular access rule, Josh Westgard finalized the ingest of more than 800 items of digitized audio and video using a DPI-developed batch ingest script for Fedora 2 external (streaming) content.

Software Development


After a multi-year development effort we have released the new Libi staff intranet into production.  This new Libi has several significant new features: 1) The “new” Libi Advisory Team has overseen development and provides ongoing management and governance provided, 2) all content in Libi is accessible to Libi users, 3) it is implemented in Hippo CMS as a pure website rather than a wiki, and 4) it’s primary purpose is for publishing documents, using Google Team Drive as the document management platform.

New Libi and old Libi will operate in parallel while staff migrate their content.  Migration is not automatic but we do have some export capabilities to aid in the migration.  All migrations are scheduled to be complete by April 1 when old Libi is frozen for all content updates and begins preparing for its final shutdown.


We have updated both DRUM and MD-SOAR with new functionality for creating Digital Object Identifiers (DOI).  We have have removed the old EZID service with an integration to DataCite, in which we are new members.  Final transition should occur in early January.

Archival Collections

We have completed work to upgrade to ArchivesSpace 2.5.1, user interface improvements for the public interface, and improved stability and performance for the indexing process.  This new version is turned over to stakeholders for quality assurance testing.  We anticipate a promotion to production in early January, with a final shutdown of ArchivesUM by January 25.

Digital Collections

We are pleased to announce the community release of Fedora 5.0.0 which has been overseen by DuraSpace and built by the Fedora community, including our own developers. See the  Release Notes for further information. We have worked with the broader community to create this new version and have already begun preparing for the testing and updates for an upgrade to Fedora 5 in 2019. We also worked on improving our Fedora infrastucture by exploring alternate RDF triple stores to replace Fuseki and by fixing several bugs in regular fixity checking.

In the Fedora 2 environment we completed the HTTPS implementation for improved security by implementing HTTPS for our backend services. We also updated the Admin Tools application to use CAS for authentication and Grouper for authorization.

Website / Hippo CMS

While preparing to test and release the new Hippo Projects feature we discovered a number of issues with our content permissions and editing structure which prevent us from implementing Projects.  We have analysed the issues and will be enacting a number of content permissions and Channel Manager improvements in the Spring before we release Projects.

Annual Staffing Requests

We upgraded the Annual Staffing Requests application to version2.1 which contains several bug fixes and new features for FY20 request cycle, which is now underway.

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

The CLAS team responded to 173 Aleph Rx submissions and 24 e-resource requests from across the consortium’s libraries in November and December.

2019 Work Plan

Nearing the end of 2018, CLAS has been busy making plans for 2019. This year’s process for assembling the team’s work plan was a bit different than previous years with a greater focus on input from USMAI’s member libraries. The goals of the refined process were to (1) ensure close alignment between CLAS activities and USMAI priorities, (2) better anticipate locl library projects that will require CLAS support, and (3) create greater awareness of CLAS work priorities. We have some exciting work lined up for 2019, including (but not limited to!) migrating USMAI’s websites to a new, more collaborative web platform, integrating Aleph and ILLiad, completing our Phase-1 data warehouse project, and improving our tracking systems for service requests. You’ll hear more about these as work progresses in 2019!

Data Warehouse

Work on the data warehouse Phase-1 project continued in November and December with progress being made on multiple fronts.

Dimensional Modeling

A star schema for the Collections reporting area was drafted and finalized. This provides the basis for what collections data will be stored, and how it will be stored, in the data warehouse. From this, systems librarians worked on writing mapping specifications that will be used for developing the data transformations from Aleph into the data warehouse.


The decision was made to write custom Python scripts for our data transformations/mapping. While Pentaho was considered, the transformations required for this project are not complex enough to justify the learning curve for Pentaho. An ETL server environment and database tables have been established for the ETL process. Development of the ETL code has started. The extract scripts to pull data from Aleph were also rewritten in Python and have been extracting Aleph data for several months now with minimal issues.


TIBCO’s Jaspersoft Enterprise Edition has been procured as the reporting layer for the data warehouse. This tool will allow users to view standard reports and create their own ad hoc reports and dashboards. The software has been installed and work is underway to configure the reporting environment.

Conferences, workshops and professional development

Heidi Hanson attend the 2018 LITA Forum in Minneapolis from November 8-10.

In December, Josh Westgard attended and helped to organize a meeting of the DC Fedora Users Group at Johns Hopkins University on December 17-18.

Kate Dohe and Josh Westgard attended the APTrust Members Meeting at Georgetown University on December 12 and 13.

Kate Dohe attended CNI on December 10-11.

Kate Dohe published the article “Linked Data, Unlinked Communities” in the interdisciplinary feminist science magazine Lady Science, as part of a series on feminism and library technologies.

Rebecca Wack attended the Association of Moving Image Archivists Conference from November 28-December 1, 2018.


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