Welcome to a new issue of Stew of the Month, a monthly blog from Digital Services and Technologies (DST) at the University of Maryland Libraries. This blog provides news and updates from the DST Division. We welcome comments, feedback and ideas for improving our products and services.
Historic Maryland Newspapers Project
With the stay at home order in Maryland and throughout much of the nation due to coronavirus, the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project (HMNP) has transitioned to remote work. While some of our vendors have had to shut down, we have been able to move forward on some batch production and outreach. Quality review for batches continues, and we’re still able to send batches for post-processing by one of our vendors.
For outreach, we’re focusing on engaging the education community on twitter during this time of distance learning especially social studies and history teachers to share Chronicling America as a great online tool for primary sources. We’re using hashtags such as #sschat, #edchat, #distancelearning, #historyteachers, and #twitterstorians. Pam is working with two of our HMNP board members, Lisa Eaker, a Lecturer from the UMD College of Education and Grace Leatherman, Executive Director of the National Council for History Education (NCHE), to reach more of the education community sharing Chronicling America as an online resource including it on a College of Education resource list and in a NCHE newsletter. Also, our student assistants are finding content in the Maryland newspapers related to the 1918 influenza epidemic to tweet as well.
Hornbake Digitization Center
The Digitization Assistants Vanessa Barker, Natalia Grajewski, Amanda Scott, and Jane Sonneman focused primarily on digitizing materials for the Special Collections and University Archives exhibit on the Voting Rights Act, which included many photographs, documents, oversized documents, and two audio reels. Assistants also digitized newspapers for an upcoming online exhibit for the Prange Collection. In addition to fulfilling patron requests, assistants continued work on two long-term projects, digitizing deteriorated issues of the Baker’s Journal, a trades newspaper, and photographs from the Works Progress Administration collection.
After spring break, when work moved exclusively online, the digitization assistants began quality control and derivative creation of the MacKaye collection, a collection of previously-digitized DC punk fanzines held by Special Collections in Performing Arts. While experiencing some issues getting used to at-home network speeds, the assistants are now hitting their stride and have completed fanzines for 45 bands, with 568 remaining.
Other Digitization Activities
In February and March, we received two batches of video files and the single batch of image files of performance programs for the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange grant, a project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The third batch of videos has been stalled due to the vendor’s closure because of coronavirus. New project assistant Alexis Woolford was trained to perform quality control immediately before the university closed campus, and has been working to QC files remotely on servers instead of from hard drives. We have adapted how we do QC on a project this scale to accommodate for the closure. Digital Projects Assistant Liz Holdzkom was instrumental in testing set-up and workflow for QC on this project.
Juana Godinez continued to transfer and create derivative files for films and videos previously digitized on-demand under Library Media Services. She has also successfully transitioned this project while working at home. To date, she has transferred files for 839 recordings.
Holzkom continued to progress with the QC of vendor projects for which we had previously received files, including the Diamondback and patron requests that had to be sent to a vendor. Importantly, she reviewed the sample for the FY20 Student Newspapers; due to creative formatting choices of the original print newspapers, we are finding that the algorithms used to OCR and organize text blocks in modern student newspapers are having difficulty, which has caused significant rework on previous batches. We received a test issue to check and make sure the algorithm is correctly processing articles, and we are willing to accept imperfectly processed articles (e.g. when a title appears in the middle of an article); perfectly processed issues would require substantial human intervention and increase the cost a lot.
Robin Pike worked with Laurainne Ojo-Ohiquare (SCUA), Liz Holdzkom, Juana Godinez, and Linda Sarigol (Preservation) to send out the FY20 Basketball Films and FY20 LMS Vinegar Syndrome Films projects to the digitization vendor in February. These projects are currently on hold due the vendor’s closure because of coronavirus.
Pike also worked with the Digitization Initiatives Committee to finalize the FY21 Digitization Project Proposals and submit them to ALT for funding.
Finally, Pike and McClanahan worked closely with many USS employees to get 8 students and 1 staff who had never teleworked before up and running to telework. This was particularly challenging and required extensive configuration and testing of specialized software on laptops. DCMR uses unusual opensource software like the Digital Viewer and Validator and QC Tools, which require additional setup beyond installation. Pike and McClanahan greatly appreciate the work of USS!
Digital Programs and Initiatives
DPI continues to be focused on several long-term projects in progress, including the Avalon project, Archelon development, the digital archive migration to Amazon Web Services, and new collections in DRUM.
Hippo CMS – successfully launched Hippo version 13 to production, following a delay to avoid a major change at the beginning of the Spring semester
Archelon – completed implementation of MVP Milestone 3: Authority Control and Controlled Vocabulary and released to stakeholders for testing. Manage and edit either blacklists or whitelists for controlled vocabulary. Support rightsstatements.org copyright options for materials.
Archelon – began planning and implementation of MVP Milestone 4 – Batch Import: Metadata. Provides batch import of metadata for repository objects, through uploaded CSV or Turtle files.
Drupal 8 – continued training on how to use and develop for Drupal 8, in preparation for an eventual plan to migrate both Libi and Libraries’ Website to Drupal. Successfully demonstrated content migration from Hippo to Drupal 8.
Provided development support for the tracking and migration of all 221 TB of archived UMD Libraries digital content from the DIT provided archiving system to AWS Glacier.
Begin planning and testing for an implementation of Kubernetes as the container orchestration system for our Docker-based applications.
USMAI (University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions) Library Consortium
The CLAS team responded to 196 Aleph Rx submissions and 56 e-resource requests from across the consortium’s libraries in February and March.
There was an uptick in support requests starting in mid-March as member libraries’ operations adjusted to the COVID-19 epidemic and their institutions transitioned to online teaching.
To help member libraries adjust to remote work, we created a “Continuity of Operations” page in the Member Portal with details about methods for accessing Aleph from home, avoiding the accumulation of fines and fees, and other information related to operational changes. This is part of a larger COVID-19 space in the Member Portal, that includes information about each library’s operational status, discussion forums (requires an account to view/participate), and webinars related to the pandemic.
Off-Campus E-resource Access
With the move to online teaching and the closing of campuses, we anticipate an increase in EZproxy traffic in order to access e-resources. We have set up some utilities to help us more closely monitor EZproxy usage in order to ensure that it continues to work reliably for member libraries. While we have noticed an increase in traffic, EZproxy has remained stable.
Legacy USMAI Staff Site Decommission
CLAS team members made a last major push to clean up content in the Member Portal prior to the decommission of the Legacy USMAI Staff Site at the end of February. If you’re a staff member at a USMAI library, now is a great time to create an account in the Member Portal. While a lot of content is available without a login, some content can only be viewed with a login. Plus, you can fill out your profile for others to see your areas of interest and expertise. Links that previously pointed back to the legacy staff site have been updated to link to their equivalent page in the Member Portal. You may still come across dead links that are part of the historical record (e.g. minutes, reports, etc.)
New Data Warehouse Reporting Topic
We’ve added a new Reporting Topic to the data warehouse: BIBs and HOLs (Current). This topic allows staff to do reporting on bibliographic and holdings records. See this blog post in the Member Portal for more information.
The numbers are in! As part of assessing the MD-SOAR platform in advance of its potential renewal this summer, Joseph Koivisto has been crunching some numbers.
Here are some quick highlights:
- Total number of deposited items: 13,304 (and counting)
- Total number of authors with works deposited: 9,966
- Total number of user accounts: 1,756
- Total downloads in FY20: 270,373 (and counting)
User and Systems Support
With news of the Coronavirus looming closer to campus, USS took strategic steps to ensure a smooth Libraries-wide transition to telework.
We first created a group policy to make information like the IP address and workstation number more accessible for staff to locate and use to remote into their workstations from home. After the Group policy was deployed, documentation on remoting into your PC or MAC was created and uploaded to Libi.
USS gathered every and all staff loaner laptops (PCs and MACs) that were available. We reimaged and cleaned 64 laptops for staff to use during the telework period. Hotspots were purchased to accommodate staff who did not have home internet connectivity.
Due to the number of documentation we were creating each day, a “Telework Technology Guidelines and Procedures” page was generated on Libi. The page has information, resources, and instructions for various telework technical procedures.. The page is often updated with revised and new documentation. We advise Library staff to check the page for any updates.
With the announcement of campus not reopening anytime soon, we took a few steps like shutting down all public computers and more documentation to assist staff during the telework period.
Students asked to borrow laptops; however, DIT already loaned out most of their loaner laptops. We gathered 72 of our loaner laptops and began to re-image, clean, and deploy them to DIT. Chatting with our DIT partners, they have informed us that only a hand few of laptops are left from the 72 the Libraries sent to them. We anticipate more laptops might be needed as midterms and finals are approaching.
USS partnered with DIT to implement a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) resource for UMD students, staff, and faculty to access campus provided software. DIT used a Windows desktop image created by USS to provide software applications for individuals who may not have specific software on their devices.
We hope to continue to provide top line customer service to UMD students and staff during this time of uncertainty.
Pam McClanahan onboarded Alexis Woolford, a first-year MLIS student, in mid-March. She will be performing quality control on the videos and programs of the grant-funded Liz Lerman digitization project. Welcome Alexis!
Conferences, workshops and professional development
Kate Dohe presented “The Digital is Critical: Designing Radical Library Systems” at Code4Lib 2020 in Pittsburgh, PA on March 8th. Video of her presentation is available on Code4Lib’s YouTube account.