On March 21st, Digital Commonwealth was co-awarded the New England Archivist’s Archival Advocacy Award along with BPL’s Digital Services. The award was presented on Saturday morning at the NEA business meeting (part of the Spring NEA meeting).

NEA’s former president Alyssa Pacy presented the award and highlighted the work BPL’s Digital Services staff members have been doing to help institutions share content in Digital Commonwealth. Alyssa acknowledged the important work BPL’s digital services staff had been able to for cultural organizations because of federal funding (the initial grant funding), and ongoing state funding.  Amy Ryan thanked the New England Archivists for the award and said she was honored to accept on behalf of the BPL but wanted Tom Blake to say a few words because of all he has done with the work that was being recognized. Tom acknowledged that the BPL’s plan to assist others with digitization tasks when the BPL has over a million items to digitize is ambitious but he feels like it is important and he appreciated the fact that Amy Ryan has been so supportive of the efforts.  He acknowledged the work of all in his department and the receptiveness of the organizations they have assisted.  He thanked everyone from the NEA/MARAC meeting who had volunteered to help with geo-coding at the BPL on Thursday (3/19); this was the “Day of Service” activity offered in conjunction with the conference.

Nancy Heywood accepted the award on behalf of Digital Commonwealth.  Nancy complimented the BPL’s developers for their excellent work on the website and also the excellent work of Tom Blake’s department.  She also had the opportunity to mention that Digital Commonwealth’s partnership with the BPL (in which the BPL takes the lead on the repository and portal) is allowing Digital Commonwealth the non-profit organization to think about programming/events/training sessions that will help the people involved with digitization efforts become knowledgeable about relevant issues. Nancy also thanked everyone who worked at institutions who have contributed content to the Digital Commonwealth website.

MapVisitors to the Digital Commonwealth site can now browse the ever-growing collection using a number of different map views. These maps show the locations of cities and other landmarks depicted or described within items in the collection. By clicking on a marker on the map, visitors can search for all items from a specific location. Visitors can also use the map’s search button to find all items from within a particular geographic area displayed in the map window. This new feature offers a powerful and exciting way to explore the collections, and provides vivid evidence of the global scope and relevancy of the collections contributed by Massachusetts cultural institutions.
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This past year resulted in several members leaving the Digital Commonwealth Board. Anne Sauer, who served as vice president, left her job at Tufts for a new position at Cornell. Ryan Hanson, who took over for Anne as vice president, left his position at the Newton Free Public Library for a job with a company in the Back Bay of Boston.

Besides these unexpected and regretful departures, the normal matriculation of board members resulted in the resignations of Margaret Morrissey, Director of the Jacob Edwards Library in Southbridge, and Kim Cochran, the ex officio representative from the Massachusetts School Library Association. Both of these board members served three years.

Nancy Heywood, past president of Digital Commonwealth, agreed to re-join the board as a temporary replacement for Anne and Ryan. Nancy has since agreed to remain on the board and serve as its new treasurer. Since Kim’s position is reserved for an MSLA member, the only remaining positions to fill by member application were those left by Margaret and Ryan.

Five exceptional candidates submitted applications for the two open board positions. It was a close vote, but the board decided on accepting Jean Maguire, Library Director of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and Susan Stearns, who last year became the new Executive Director of the Boston Library Consortium.

Jean Maguire brings to the board a long and broad experience in libraries, beginning as a public library employee in 1987 and moving on to private and academic positions. She began working in the NEGS as a technical services librarian in 1999. Jean has a proven record of leadership in the region and should prove instrumental in helping Digital Commonwealth reach out to a larger membership constituency among smaller organizations not currently served very well, such as the many historical societies within the state.

With over 25 years serving in senior and strategic management positions, Susan Stearns offers the Digital Commonwealth extensive experience in marketing management and communication. At the other end of the member spectrum, Susan should help Digital Commonwealth attract more of the local area’s numerous academic institutions. In addition, she will provide enormous assistance with outreach — both to existing and prospective members. This is an area of concern that Digital Commonwealth needs to expand.

We welcome our two new board members and expect that they will provide enormous benefits to the organization.

For those who applied this year and were not chosen as well as others who might be interested, please consider that there is turnover on the board every year, so although your expertise might not have fit the board’s greatest needs this time around, it well might at another time. There are also many other ways to participate, and the board encourages interested applicants to consider a volunteer position on one of the committees. We can always use the extra help!

Digital Commonwealth has recently hired Alison Kemp as a temporary employee to help manage member accounts and perform other administrative tasks as time permits. She is beginning at ten hours per week.

Alison currently works part-time as the administrative assistant at the Newton Free Library. She has held previous positions as a resource and communications specialist, magazine writer and editor, and tutor for students with disabilities. 

For Digital Commonwealth business, Alison will be using her Digital Commonwealth email address: akemp@digitalcommonwealth.org. If you have questions about your membership, feel free to contact Alison at that address. She is available to help with any of your membership problems.

 

The 2014 Annual Conference is approaching!
April 8 at the Hogan Center, Holy Cross, Worcester.

Registration begins at 8:00 am and sessions will run from 9:00 pm – 4:00 pm.

Breakout sessions include:

  • Introduction to the Digital Commonwealth
  • New and Improved Digital Commonwealth System
  • Digital Preservation
  • Conservation and Digitization
  • Fundraising and Grant Writing
  • Digital Public Library of America
  • Online Exhibits
  • Audience Engagement and Crowdsourcing
  • Lightning Round Presentations

 

Congratulations to the Digital Commonwealth Movers & Shakers of 2014 just announced by Library Journal (http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/03/people/movers-shakers-2014/movers-shakers-2014). Featured in the new selection of stellar talent are two local librarians who have had a long and significant involvement with Digital Commonwealth: current board member Tom Blake as well as retired board member and past president Kristi Chadwick.

Tom is recognized for his leadership in pursuing a partnership between the BPL and Digital Commonwealth that was part of an organizing effort to attain a LSTA digitization grant in 2011. The successful grant  was funded for $200,000 for a two-year project to digitize historical materials for members of the Digital Commonwealth. As the entry about Tom explains, “So far, Blake and his team have digitized more than 75,000 objects from 100 institutions, and the DC has grown to 200 members, from large academic libraries to small independent museums. The collections, now in beta, will soon be available via the DC portal and repository system.”

Tom is also credited for helping establish the strong relationship that has transpired between the BPL, the Digital Commonwealth, and the Digital Public Library of America who chose Digital Commonwealth as one of its initial service hubs.  For more about that experience, check out Tom’s recent blog post: Life as a Service Hub for the Digital Public Library of America.

And if that were not honor enough, Kristi Chadwick is also included in this year’s selection. Kristi is awarded for her work as the Director of the Emily Williston Memorial Library & Museum in Easthampton where she achieved tremendous strides in increased staff appreciation and public support for the library in the short amount of time she has worked there.

Certainly many remember Kristi for her long association with Digital Commonwealth  that included several years serving on the board of directors and a year as president in 2011 and 2012.

Our appreciation goes out to these two for all they have done for librarianship in Massachusetts and particularly for the efforts they have committed to the success of Digital Commonwealth. A well-deserved thank you and congratulations!

The Boston Public Library received an award for its digitization work for Digital Commonwealth members at last month’s Griffin Museum of Photography’s eighth annual Focus Awards ceremony. The Focus Awards recognize contributions to the promotion, curation, and presentation of photography. The BPL received the Commonwealth Award, which is given to an organization that brings prominence to the local photographic scene.

“We are honored to receive this award for our digitization work,” said Amy E. Ryan, President of the Boston Public Library. “It is our great pleasure to contribute to Digital Commonwealth and help increase access to photos archives, cultural treasures, and other historical materials for people across Massachusetts and around the world.”

The annual Focus Awards was created by the Griffin Museum in 2006 in order to recognize critical contributions to the promotion of photography made by institutions and individuals. Tom Blake, Digital Projects Manager for the BPL, accepted the Commonwealth Award on the library’s behalf.

The award was presented to Tom by Bob Cullum, the grandson of photographer Leslie Jones (1886-1967). The Leslie Jones collection of nearly 40,000 glass negatives was digitized by the BPL and is now available for viewing in the new Digital Commonwealth repository that the BPL designed and built and now hosts — https://search.digitalcommonwealth.org/collections/commonwealth:2j62s484w.

The award is certainly very well deserved, not just for the work the BPL has done for the membership and organization of Digital Commownwealth, but the enormouse value this work provides the reputation of the Commonwealth as a whole. Congratulations!!

Both Digital Commonwealth and the BPL were represented at the annual MBLC Legislative meeting on September 12 where members of the library and information community were invited to comment on line items in the MBLC budget. The objective is to improve the MBLC’s presentation of needs to the legislature.

This year, a big push by the MBLC concerns the societal digital divide. The MBLC sees Digital Commonwealth — and more specifically the partnership achievements of Digital Commonwealth and the BPL — as a large part of that initiative.

At the beginning of the meeting, a demonstration of the new BPL repository by developers Stephen Anderson and Eben English was received with great enthusiasm. Afterwards, Michael Colford read a statement in support of the BPL’s partnership with Digital Commonwealth and its Library of the Commonwealth digital scanning services.

Afterwards, Karen Cariani, President of Digital Commonwealth, read a statement and presented a handout that offered further support of the work done by the BPL in partnership with the Digital Commonwealth.

Downloads of the Digital Commonwealth’s statement and handout are available in PDF format:

Another big issue at the meeting concerned the plan to establish a state-wide system of buying and lending ebooks. One question considered was whether or not Digital Commonwealth could be involved in the distribution of electronic books. It is unclear at this point what Digital Commonwealth’s role might be, if any, but this is certainly something that will be further discussed.

Elizabeth Hacala, who has been providing administrative and financial management services to Digital Commonwealth for the past three years, is resigning due to family responsibilities. Elizabeth first became involved with Digital Commonwealth through her work with the MLA, which served as Digital Commonwealth’s fiscal agent until last year, and then through her own firm, Fitchdale Management.

Elizabeth’s service has extended far and beyond the handful of hours for which she was officially paid. She graciously tended to many membership issues as well as regularly attended monthly board meetings. In that venue especially, her background in software development and technology has been an invaluable added asset, particularly during this past year of transitions to new repository platforms.

Digital Commonwealth owes Elizabeth considerable appreciation as yet another key person who has been instrumental in the organization’s survival and success. Fortunately, though, Elizabeth is not leaving Digital Commonwealth entirely. She will continue to help manage the annual conference, and undoubtedly continue to contribute in other ways as well.

Elizabeth sends this personal message to the membership:

“After over three years working with the Digital Commonwealth I will be leaving my work running day to day operations. It has been wonderful to meet you all by phone, at trainings, and at conference.  I hate to say I am leaving to spend more time with my family, because that is such a cliche, yet that is exactly what I am doing.  It was difficult to give up working on a regular basis with such a great and dedicated board.

I will continue to work on some special projects like the Digital Commonwealth Annual Conference and look forward to seeing you all there in the spring.”

Please no longer email Elizabeth directly but send all future membership inquiries to membership@digitalcomonwealth.org.

Over the last month or so, the development of the new Digital Commonwealth repository currently ongoing at BPL has focused on refining the batch upload process. The repository developers have been working closely with the BPL Digital Services metadata team to create a standardized spreadsheet format for ingest that will offer institutions the ability to provide rich metadata about their digital objects, while also being flexible, intuitive, and simple to use. This work has brought the goal of allowing institutions to do self-mediated batch uploads much closer, though there are still several issues to tackle before this functionality is ready to roll out.

Meanwhile, the beta testing phase of both the “Search” and “Admin” applications is ongoing and has received quite a bit of helpful feedback from a number of institutions/individuals that have taken the system for a test-drive.

The URLs are:
Search (public discovery): http://search.digitalcommonwealth.org/
Admin (ingest & management): http://admin.digitalcommonwealth.org/

In late September, development of the workflow for ingesting material into the repository via OAI-PMH will begin in order to aggregate records from the numerous institutions around the state that provide access to digital objects through their own repository systems. The BPL will be reaching out to institutions that currently contribute material to Digital Commonwealth via OAI-PMH feed to learn a more about existing data structures, preferred metadata formats for harvesting, back-end systems being used, and other details that will help this phase of the project move forward more smoothly.

Lastly, the BPL has set up a public Google Group email list for institutions and users to provide feedback or report issues with the new repository system. Anyone may read content posted to the group; membership is required to send messages to the list. See https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/digitalcommonwealth for details.