Stew of the month: August 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.

Digital  Programs and Initiatives

Minority Health and Health Equity Archive Migrated to DRUM

The Minority Health and Health Equity Archive (MHHEA) is an open-access repository of scholarship on health disparities and health equity. The Archive is managed by Dr. Stephen Thomas, Professor in the School of Public Health.  MHHEA came to UMD Libraries in the fall of 2015 from the University of Pittsburgh, and was originally set up using the EPrints repository platform.  After hosting the site in Eprints for three years, DPI determined that the functional requirements of the site could be met by our existing DSpace-based repository (DRUM), with just a few small changes to the existing system. Furthermore, we determined that the long-term maintenance of the Archive would be better ensured at a lower cost by having its data stored in the same repository as the rest of the Libraries’ open-access research collections.

The first step in carrying out the migration was to determine how best to represent EPrints data in DRUM, including mapping metadata fields and content types.  Judi Kidd spearheaded this work as part of a field study project in the iSchool. The conclusions of this initial investigation were later supplemented by further research and testing by Anne Hendrick, DRUM GA, and Carlos Alvarado, DPI GA, with support from Terry Owen and Josh Westgard. These results of all these efforts were presented in a poster at the 2019 Libraries Research and Innovative Practice Forum.

Unlike DRUM, MHHEA has bibliographic references to scholarship that is not necessarily stored in the repository itself but rather somewhere else on the web. Allowing users to create records with external links and no internally stored file required development work by SSDR. These externally-linked resources presented an additional challenge during the migration, when it was discovered that the majority of external links were suffering from some degree of “link rot” (that is, the links either out of date or entirely broken).

The migration was carried out using custom-developed migration scripts that can extract data from EPrints and write it to the package format that DSpace uses for bulk imports. During the migration process, Terry Owen and Josh Westgard worked together to ensure that as many links as possible could be updated using a web crawler. Those that could not be updated automatically were excluded from the initial migration and flagged for follow up by stakeholders.

Dataverse Pilot

DPI successfully completed an internal pilot of Dataverse, a repository platform designed for research datasets. The Dataverse pilot examined the Libraries’ current repository workflows for research datasets, evaulated the Dataverse application, and investigated data repository capabilities at peer institutions within the BTAA. Margaret Rose Hunt, graduate assistant for User Services and Resource Sharing, served as the data curation lead and primary researcher for the pilot in fulfillment of her iSchool Field Study Internship.

Software Development


Digital Collections Common Search – new interface with the new Digital Collections theme and Solr based search

Treasury of World’s Fair Art and Architecture – new interface based on our exhibit theme

Archelon – completed Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Milestone 1 – Authentication and Access Control, Administration

Under Development

Archelon – began implementation of MVP Milestone 2 – Batch Export of Metadata

Bloomreach Experience Manager (aka Hippo CMS) – begin work on upgrade to version 13

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

The CLAS team responded to 128 Aleph Rx submissions and 18 e-resource requests from across the consortium’s libraries in August.

It was another busy month of support requests as USMAI libraries prepare for the return of their students. Despite the heavy load progress continued on our major projects.

Web Platform Migration Project

After some deliberation, we backed out of our plan to deploy on AWS. There were several unknowns that we were figuring out as we went along. Ultimately, the benefits of an AWS deployment wouldn’t outweigh the risks. We will proceed with our normal application hosting practices.

We continued to flesh out the design and configuration of the Confluence site. There are many different ways that we could structure the site and permissions. After exploring a few different approaches, we’ve settled on a few key decisions that focus on design simplicity, content transparency, and utilizing Confluence’s features. We have also explored a couple methods to get content out of the current Drupal sites and batch import it into Confluence, which will make the migration process much easier.

We know many USMAI members are champing at the bit for a new USMAI web platform. We’re ready to see it happen too! The project will take longer than our initial early September release plans, but we want to make sure we have a well-planned and structured platform for USMAI communication and collaboration.

Data Warehouse Phase-1

Work on Phase-1 continued in August, including a briefing to CLD on the project’s current status and recommendations for next steps. Those next steps include rolling out Phase-1a (monthly snapshots of Collections data) to staff at USMAI libraries and continuing development of Phase-1b (daily updates of Collections data) as capacity allows.

To prepare for a USMAI-wide rollout, we have been doing some refining of the Collections data design and developing documentation. A special “thank you” goes to our beta users who provided valuable early feedback to help us fine-tune the reporting environment that will make for a more user-friendly reporting environment. With the technical aspects worked out, we will begin strategizing and executing our rollout over the coming months. Stay tuned!

User and Systems Support

LMS merger

This past summer was quite a busy one for User and System Support. Outside of preparing the public desktops and laptops for the Fall semester and replacing staff desktops, we had three major projects.

At the beginning of summer, it was announced that Library Media Services (LMS) and part of the Media Commons would be merging with McKeldin due to the expansion of the iSchool department. On July 2nd, we began with removing all technological equipment: over 40 public and staff computers, 10 TV carts, 10 laptops, over 8 DVD/VHS players, printers, and more.  

Hornbake Gallery Exhibit

Next, we partnered with Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) for their upcoming gallery exhibit in Hornbake celebrating Maryland Public Television (MPT) 50th anniversary. We were able to set up eight iPads on stands. Each iPad has a different webpage corresponding to the programs that were on MPT at the time. Our next task was to have a video montage of MPT that SCUA edited to continuously play when visitors came into the exhibit. 

We were able to use a mini PC and load it with a software called Media Zone Trigger Pro software onto a TV stand with a Microsoft Xbox Kinect. The idea was that the video would play only when someone was in front of the TV and stop when that person left. With the Xbox Kinnect, we were able to set the range of where people would step into and the video would start playing. As soon as they left that range, the video would stop playing and replay from the beginning when someone stepped back into the range.  This part of the setup was interesting because we had used a camera but after several hours of testing, we were able to determine that the camera would not do exactly what we needed and the Xbox kinect was a better choice due to the fact that the Xbox kinect scans in 3D and was more accurate. Working with great partners from SCUA was also very helpful and a pleasure; they helped the project run smoothly.

STEM Sandbox

We worked with Research Commons, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Librarians, and Public Services to curate an augmented reality sandbox. The project goal was to develop a real-time integrated augmented reality system to physically create topography models which are then scanned into a computer in real-time, by using backgrounds for a variety of graphics effects and simulations. 

Working with these departments, we actually had to build a sandbox. Off to Home Depot, we went to purchase wood for the box. We ordered an Xbox Kinect, white sand, a Dell PC, and a projector. We had a spare TV stand from the LMS closure that was used for this project. We configured the DELL PC with the Linux and began programming the application. 

After many unsuccessful tries, we realized that the wrong version of the Kinect was used. Luckily, we had a spare Kinect in the TLC area. We calibrated the sandbox but to no avail. The projector that was ordered did not properly fit into the sandbox. 

Once we switched the Kinect and projector, manipulated the orientation of both items and calibrated the sandbox, we were in business!  

Working the various partners we were able to successful work on this project.


DPI Welcomes New GAs

DPI is pleased to introduce two new graduate assistants in their basement lair. Allison Buser is the new DRUM GA. Allison assists in the day-to-day operations of DRUM such as depositing documents, responding to inquiries, and more. In addition, she also supports Research Data Services in the management of REDCap. Allison can be reached at 5-9432 or Porter Olsen is the new DPI GA, and he will be partnering across units on a number of major projects, including Archelon, Avalon, and digital preservation. Porter may already be a familiar face around the Libraries, having previously worked with MITH on the BitCurator project. Welcome, Allison and Porter!

Conferences, workshops and professional development

Pam McClanahan attended ALA June 21-24 including participating in NDNP newspaper meetings held at the Library of Congress during ALA to discuss issues related to newspaper preservation and access. Pam followed up with part two of her SAA – Digital Archives Specialist (DAS) student survey analysis at the DAS committee monthly meeting. Additionally, Pam volunteered at National History Day as a judge for the junior group website division seeing student projects from all over the country.


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