Stew of the month: February 2019

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

Robin Pike and Rebecca Wack worked to train Pamela McClanahan into the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project, teaching her about the larger initiatives of the nationwide program as well as the day-to-day collation and batch work. Pamela shipped the second batch of microfilm, which came from the content partners Maryland State Archives and the Montgomery County Historical Society and began the review of the first batch of microfilm received back from the vendor, coming from the content partner Center for Research Libraries. Students Jane Sonneman and Sydney Schneider began to collate the new title from microfilm. Pamela and Robin met with Creekside Digital, the selected digitization vendor, for the digitization kickoff meeting, and to deliver them the reel for the sample batch, due to the Library of Congress in the coming months.

Other Digitization Projects

Robin worked with Stephanie Ritchie, her student assistant Shaune Young (both STEM), Joanne Archer (SCUA), and Mary Dulaney (Development) to submit a Project CERES grant to digitize historic agriculture publications, primarily on microfilm. The application proposed digitizing an estimated 38,000 pages.

Robin also prepared and shipped out the Brooke manuscript collection digitization project, which is a collection of historic agriculture records and diaries from a Maryland farming family and is part of Historical Manuscripts in SCUA. She worked with Stephanie Ritchie, her former GA Kiri Houpt Burcat, Liz Novara, Joanne Archer (both SCUA), and all Preservation and Conservation staff to prepare this project for digitization as part of the FY19 DIC project proposal process.

Robin also coordinated with Laura Schnitker (SCUA), Bryan Draper, and Leigh Plummer (both Preservation) to pack and ship a medium-sized collection of fragile acetate to a vendor for digitization, which were requested by a patron.

As Co-Chair. Robin met with the Grants Committee members to further discuss cross-library initiatives, some of which may overlap with digitization. The committee is creating procedures and deciding on thematic needs across the Libraries and Mary Dulany, Chair, will be promoting information as it’s available.

Robin and Rebecca met with Kate Dohe and Carlos Alvarez (both DPI) to discuss future capabilities and workflows for the next digital collections repository administrative interface. One outcome of the meeting was that Kate and Carlos will be coming to a Hornbake Digitization Center staff meeting to talk to HDC students about their work and how they use the current Fedora administrative interface to talk about how the next generation interface could be improved to facilitate workflows and to make work easier or less repetitive.

Rebecca is collaborating with Laura Cleary and other SCUA staff on National History Day events in June. DCMR’s goal is to promote the use of digitized primary resources to the high school participants for future research.

Hornbake Digitization Center

Rebecca worked with Steve Henry, Vin Novara, John Davis, and Don Minaldi (all MSPAL) on an analysis of the equipment and space in the Performing Arts Audio Digitization Studio. This studio was a past collaboration between MSPAL and DCMR but hadn’t been used in a few years so it was in great need of updating. Robin and Rebecca worked to reconfigure the equipment and with USS, to update the software. Rebecca and Steve also coordinated for a technician to come out and service the equipment. Rebecca will be updating procedures and training MSPAL staff in the coming months in how to use the audio digitization setup to produce files for preservation.

After assessing equipment needs at the beginning of the year, Rebecca also worked with USS to acquire and reconfigure monitors for flatbed scanning stations, refresh those computers, and refresh two of the four flatbed scanners. This work required a lot of trouble-shooting during the configuration to get all the software working, so it took priority, as Rebecca is planning to start several projects in March, which she also spent February meeting with curators and planning those projects. Some of the upcoming projects include the Maryland Public Television exhibit, which will feature a lot of digital photography; a manuscript collection from the Prange collection area, which includes scrapbooks; and fragile newspapers from the Labor collections.

Digitization assistants continued work on staff and patron requests and one main project of Works Progress Administration photos.

Digital  Programs and Initiatives

Research Data Services

David Durden taught a segment on data management in the Research Commons’ workshop, “Organizing your Research and Using Citation Managers.” This workshop covered organizational skills, an introduction to data management, and offered a ‘choose your own citation manager adventure’ covering Mendeley, Zotero, or EndNote. The workshop was collaboratively developed and taught by Tahirah Akbar-Williams, David Durden, Sarah Over, Jordan Sly, and Nedelina Tchangalova. In addition, on February 25, David taught a workshop on data management to graduate students. This recurring Research Commons workshop covers data management plans, the data lifecycle, and practical solutions to data management for the student researcher.

David also presented and demonstrated REDCap to a School of Public Health Brown Bag workshop on survey tools on February 22, 2019. The Brown Bag featured demonstrations on both Qualtrics and REDCap with an emphasis on choosing the right electronic data capture tool for the job. David has also been developing a workflow and service model for migrating large research studies from Qualtrics to REDCap, including project file conversion, feature implementation and development, and data migration.

Archelon Product Development

DPI staff are working on identifying features and functional requirements for Archelon, the administrative staff interface for Fedora 4+. Building out this application to serve the digital production needs of a variety of Libraries’ staff is an essential requirement for modernizing digital collections operations and processes, and it is necessary for the Libraries to have such an application in place before substantial migration of content from the old Fedora 2 repository can begin. As part of this process, Kate Dohe, Carlos Alvarado, and Anne Hendrick have conducted initial stakeholder interviews, listening sessions, and observations. The team is currently developing user stories to facilitate software development, and define a minimum viable product that can evolve in tandem with the needs of curators, archival coordinators, digitization specialists, repository managers, metadata technicians, and other staff who need to manage unique digital content.

Do you create, edit, or administer digital collections content? Please let us know what you’d like to see in Archelon – email DPI, or contact Kate directly, for more discussion. We need your input!


In close collaboration with the Graduate School, DSS staff will develop and maintain an application to ease the sign-up and permission-granting process for University of Maryland faculty, staff, and students who wish to use ORCID, a researcher identification system that is widely used by faculty reporting tools, funding agencies, and publishers. UMD is an institutional member of ORCID, and this application will enable the university community and administrators to more effectively capitalize on this membership. Product development and mockups are underway.

Software Development

A quiet month, release-wise.

Under Development

  • Libi – continuing to fix bugs and setup groups in new Libi; full URL cutover and freezing content in old Libi is currently on hold, pending resolution of usability issues discovered during testing
  • Hippo CMS / Website – updates for improved permissions and maintenance as well as additional content editing features in the Channel Manager; Proof of Concept for a Research Guides template and content maintenance in Hippo
  • Fedora 2 architecture improvements: migrating Relationships Behavior, Handle Service, and OAI-PMH Server from a custom Lucene search app to Solr
  • Fedora 6 research and planning
  • Restart work on Bento Search in preparation for an Alpha release and usability testing
  • Proof of Concept for a Common Search interface with new theme and Solr backend to replace the current theme for Digital Collections
  • ORCID@UMD application for sign-up and permission-granting process

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

The CLAS team responded to 119 Aleph Rx submissions and 22 e-resource requests from across the consortium’s libraries in February.

Data Warehouse Phase-1

February marked our last month with our Data Warehouse Architect Alex Riccomini, and it was a busy month! We were able to get a sample set of 100,000 items loaded and made available within Jasperserver Reports so that the team could begin researching and setting up the reporting environment. An initial structure for users/roles/permissions has been established and systems librarians have been working to replicate some commonly requested reports. On the back end, ETL design documentation was reviewed and corresponding database tables were created. These will serve as useful guideposts for continued development of the ETL program. We will miss Alex’s expertise but are now equipped to see Phase-1 through to completion.

Aleph-ILLiad NCIP Integration

Progress has been made on the integration of Aleph and ILLiad for incoming ILL items. This integration is set up and will be ready for testing by the pilot libraries in March.

Nexis Uni issues

Most (if not all) USMAI libraries subscribe to Nexis Uni, which has had a couple access issues this month. The first is issue is a security warning that users see when accessing Per a LexisNexis FAQ, the starting URL should be Your session will still use the secure HTTPS protocol after this initial request. The second issue has to do with Nexis Uni links from SFX resolving to a “Login to Lexis” screen rather than directing the user to the appropriate resource. CLAS has reported this issue and several other libraries have also indicated that they are experiencing the same issue.

We’re Hiring!

CLAS has a job opening for an Applications Developer. If you know someone (or are someone!) who meets the requirements and is interested in making Maryland higher education better by supporting 17 Maryland university and college libraries, we’d love to have you apply: The application closing date is April 1st.


Pamela McClanahan started February 4 as the new Digital Projects Librarian. She is the new Project Manager on grant-funded projects, including the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project and the Spiro Agnew audio digitization project. She will be writing new grants as they come up as well.

Conferences, workshops and professional development


Josh Westgard, Kate Dohe, David Durden, and Joseph Koivisto published “Digital Repositories: A Systems Perspective” in New Top Technologies Every Librarian Needs to Know, ed. by Kenneth Varnum and published as part of the Library and Information Technology Association’s LITA Guide series. The chapter describes and assesses various repository platforms and technologies in modern digital programs, as well as emerging trends and use cases.

Kate Dohe published “Care, Code, and Digital Libraries: Embracing Critical Practice in Digital Library Communities” in In the Library with the Lead Pipe. This article interrogates the ways the open source digital library practitioner community has become a re-enactment of local power dynamics that privilege wealth, whiteness, and masculinity at the expense of meaningful inclusive practice and care work, and how that ultimately harms the end user experience of these products and threatens the future of digital library initiatives.

Conferences and Talks

On February 8, 2019, David Durden participated in a panel session, “Sustainable Data Management for the Solar Decathlon,” with art librarian Patti Cossard and student assistant Michael Molyneaux-Francis at the 11th annual Bridging the Spectrum Symposium.

On February 28, David Durden was invited to speak on data librarianship as a career path to graduate students in the UMD iSchool course, “Serving Information Needs.” His talk covered core skills for data librarians and discussed the variety of data librarian positions.


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