Stew of the month: September 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

Pam has been training three new student assistants on the HMNP project and batch production. The digitization vendor sent the first digitization batch back and we began quality review on those files. Pam sent the final batch of microfilm reels to Backstage Library Works for duplication.

New student assistants Mark, Sarah, and Bryanna have been working on metadata collation on one of our final titles for this round, The Republican, which was published in Oakland (Garrett County) beginning in the late 1800s. The students have been helping with quality control for the first batch received back from our vendor for the Czech language title the Telegraf. Additionally, Mark, Sarah, and Bryanna have been helping with selecting content for social media posts, conducting copyright research on newspaper titles, and assisting with mailings to vendors.

Other Digitization Projects

Robin Pike continued to work with the Budget and Business Services Office to finalize paperwork and documentation for the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange grant funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Jane Zhu and Andrea White have been essential in making changes.

Robin worked with Joanne Archer (SCUA), Bria Parker (DMS), and Josh Westgard (DPI) to finalize the ingest of the Spiro Agnew audio digitization project funded by a Council on Library and Information Resources grant. Robin, Joanne, and Laura Cleary (SCUA) wrote a final report and submitted it to CLIR September 30. The project made available 591 files across 588 metadata records in UMD Digital Collections, which were added to 173 recordings digitized in a pilot project. The speeches of Governor and Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, as well as the audiotapes produced by American citizens, document the grass-roots populism of the 1960s and 1970s, and the emergence of the “Silent Majority” as a major constituency in American politics.

Robin also worked with Bria, Josh, and Rebecca to experiment with sample video files provided by our audiovisual digitization vendor. We are debating changing our technical specifications for video files to increase embedded metadata provided with the file, which could change how we do digital preservation and how we ingest content into our digital repository (important to consider with the upcoming migration). This exploration has delayed the FY20 contract for audiovisual digitization but Robin aims to have a contract in place in October.

Hornbake Digitization Center

The Hornbake Digitization Center is pleased to offer a new copy stand for use in digitization projects and requests. Many thanks to the wonderful USS team for assembling the base and helping us rearrange equipment in the lab to make room. The copy stand features an LED light kit and captures images through the Canon 6D Mark II DSLR camera purchased earlier this year. Testing of the copy stand and its tethered capture through Adobe Lightroom software is underway, and a new suite of services made possible through the equipment, including higher-resolution, preservation-friendly (easier on spines) rare book capture and uniform 3D object photography, should be available soon.

While the HDC is an active service provider for the Libraries, we are also a hands-on learning space. Any Libraries employees, including GAs and student workers, who are interested in broadening their digital imaging skillset are welcome to contact Digitization Services Librarian Rebecca Wack ( to discuss job enrichment opportunities.

Digital  Programs and Initiatives

Year of Data Science Update

David Durden presented at the UMD Year of Data Science Inaugural Event on September 20, 2019 regarding his involvement in the project “Building a Network for Informal Data Science Instruction.” The project was funded by the Office of the Provost as part of the first round of Year of Data Science projects in collaboration with the Soci-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC). To build an informal data science instruction network, the University Libraries and SESYNC recruited 14 individuals representing inter-disciplinary data science research to become certified Software and Data Carpentries instructors – The Carpentries are an international network of instructors and practitioners who collaboratively develop, maintain, and teach technology curricula for researchers and librarians. Participants completed the instructor training and certification process throughout spring 2019 with four of these new instructors representing the UMD Libraries. This cohort will collaboratively develop and teach workshops throughout 2019 and spring 2020.

New ETDs in DRUM

UMD theses and dissertations from 2003 to the present are archived in DRUM. More than 300 documents were added to the collection from the 2019 summer semester, bringing the total to 15,000+. Here’s a breakdown of the number of documents added from each college/school:

87 A. James Clark School of Engineering
75 College of Computer, Mathematical & Natural Sciences
42 College of Behavioral & Social Sciences
41 College of Arts & Humanities
20 College of Education
14 College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
12 School of Public Health
9 Robert H. Smith School of Business
4 School of Public Policy
3 College of Information Studies
3 School of Architecture, Planning, & Preservation
2 Philip Merrill College of Journalism

Announcing ORCID@UMD

DPI and SSDR collaborated with the Graduate School over the summer to develop and implement a web application to facilitate the creation and registration of ORCiD researcher identifiers for current and future gradaute students. ORCiD is a persistent personal digital identifier used for disambiguation and ensures that individuals receive appropriate acknowledgement for their research across institutions. The University of Maryland, College Park is a partcipating member of the ORCiD Consortium. Find out more and register your ORCiD!


DPI continues maintenance work on a number of significant activities, including:

  • Migrating the library’s digital archive from DIT’s tape system to Amazon Web Services
  • Upgrading OJS
  • Adding content and supporting development of several Solr database projects
  • Ingesting content into various repositories, such as maps scanned for the Geoportal initiative, and Agnew audio project.
  • Preparing for Open Access Week in October.


Software Development


ORCID@UMD – new website and supporting application for campus researchers to register or connect their ORCID iD.  Provided through a collaboration of the University Libraries and the Graduate School

Libraries’ Website – added new Special Audience filter to the newsroom to highlight news of particular interest to faculty

Under Development

Archelon – continued work on MVP Milestone 2:  Batch Export of Metadata

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

Fedora Content Repository – Contributed two developers to the two week Fedora 6 Implementation Sprint 1

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

The CLAS team responded to 100 Aleph Rx submissions and 16 e-resource requests from across the consortium’s libraries in September.

UMUC Goes Global

UMUC’s rebranding as UMGC (short for “University of Maryland Global Campus”) launched on September 30th, and the CLAS team played its part updating references to UMUC and in Aleph, SFX, and on USMAI’s websites. We think we caught everything but let us know if you see references to UMUC.

Web Platform Migration Project

We’ve made good progress on a web scraping utility to pull content from the current sites and prepare them for batch import into Confluence. In addition to relieving some manual labor of copying and pasting content from Drupal to Confluence, one of the other benefits is that the script allows us to eliminate some HTML style elements that were popular in the days of red text and fixed table widths.

We’ve also begun some early work on a revamped landing page for Confluence will improve USMAI’s online collaboration, which is the primary objective of the migration. However, it’s not the most asthetically-pleasing online environment; we want to create a good first impression for visitors to, especially those who may not be too interested in the nitty gritty of, say, how to catalog an e-book.

This month’s work also included important discussions and decisions related to the platform’s structure, including a resource area lovingly referred to as “the blob”. We’ll be announcing a “preview webinar” shortly to give you a closer look at what’s ahead. Stay tuned!

Data Warehouse Phase-1

Our reporting environment is all set up to roll out Phase-1a (i.e. Collections data refreshed monthly) to USMAI libraries. Looking ahead to October we’ll be putting the finishing touches on some documentation and holding a few introductory sessions to get libraries started. Once again, stay tuned!

Meanwhile work on Phase-1b (i.e. daily updates of Collections data) continues as our developer capacity allows. Work in September included some refactoring of the ETL program for easier local development environment setup and testing.

User and Systems Support

The staff of User and System Support provided technical support for returning and incoming students in the Libraries during the first week of school. Between 9 am – 4 pm, we answered a variety of questions from how to download the printer drivers to opening a Terrapin Express account. 

The most frequent request we had to provide was activating Terrapin Express (TE). TE is a prepaid debit account that can be used at participating locations across campus. It’s a convenient way for students, faculty, staff, and university affiliates to access products and services across campus without carrying cash, and the University Dining Services provides this service. 

After noticing the influx of Terrapin Express accounts that we were assisting students in opening, we contacted Dining Services to help open incoming Freshman TE accounts. According to Dining Services, they were able to activate 3,769 out 5,669 accounts; since 1,900 accounts were already opened. After TE accounts were opened for new and incoming students, we were more efficient in helping the students with other requests. We are working with Dining Services to ensure that the opening of students’ Terrapin Express accounts will be a permanent solution going forward. 

Below are the tables of stats collected during the first week of school from last year and this year. It is clear that on-site student support is needed, and we are thinking of increasing our frequency of support during the first week.

USS Support to Students for the first week of school  8/27/18 – 8/31/18 

Type of assistance Totals
Bookeye 26
Terrapin Express 226
Downloading printer drivers 141
Printing 326
Card issues 46
Directing people to printers 49
Copying 42
Other (bathroom, water fountain, etc.) 85
Printer jams 0

USS Printer Support to Students   8/26/19 – 8/30/19

Type of assistance Totals
Bookeye 30
Terrapin Express 345
Downloading printer drivers 180
Printing 442
Card issues 35
Directing people to printers 59
Copying 62
Other (bathroom, water fountain, etc.) 50
Printer jams 2


Nima Asadi joined as a CLAS Applications Developer on September 30th.

We welcomed three new student assistants on the HMNP Project – Mark Parkhurst, Sarah McKenna, and Bryanna Bauer. Mark is in his last semester at UMD’s ischool for his MLIS degree, and Sarah and Bryanna are both in their first semester of their MLIS degrees.

Conferences, workshops and professional development

Robin Pike and Pam attended the National Digital Newspaper Program Conference in DC from September 10-12, which hosted project staff from all of the NDNP state awardees. Pam was on an NEH panel presenting on taking content back to communities and our selection of content from underrepresented groups. Robin was on a panel discussing managing the NDNP grant, including administration, staffing, and milestones.

Pam attended her last SAA Digital Archives Specialist (DAS) Subcommittee meeting as the DAS intern and gave her final presentation on the survey analysis. This analysis will help the subcommittee as they look at feedback from DAS students to make some changes and updates to the program.


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