Recently, Digital Repository Developer Steven Anderson and Web Services Developer Eben English presented at the Open Repositories 2014 conference in Helsinki and at the Northeast Fedora Users Group (NEFUG) meeting in Boston.

Open Repositories is an annual international conference that brings together people and institutions responsible for the development, implementation, and management of digital repositories to share information and strategies for long-term preservation and access. Steven’s presentation was entitled “When Metadata Collides: Lessons on Combining Records from Multiple Repository Systems.” It summarizes the practical challenges involved in combining diverse descriptions, authorities, and technologies into the shared Digital Commonwealth repository and highlights the imaginative ways Steven and Eben have addressed them with the help of the Digital Projects department. Watch the seven-minute presentation online. Move the slider to the 52 minute mark to start with Steven’s talk. (Editor’s note: the previous link has had intermittent connection issues. Please continue to try the link until it resolves correctly.)

During the NEFUG meeting, Eben and Steven gave a presentation titled “digital_commonwealth_presentation” during the Hydra session. Steven presented on slides, that can be viewed here, and Eben gave a 10 minute demonstrations of teh actual portal. Steven also gave a lightening talk (aka “Dork Short”) about metadata combination challenges.

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.

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Library has partnered with Archive-It to harvest web content created for the 55th Venice Biennale. The Venice Biennale 2013 Web Collection of organizational websites, video, blogs, and social media sites documents the international art exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, 2013.

This virtual collection complements the Library’s growing Venice Biennale physical collection of exhibition catalogues, press kits, and ephemera beginning with the 52nd iteration of the Biennale, the oldest and most widely recognized cultural event in the world of contemporary art.

More than a decade ago the Clark library began to concentrate on collecting rare artists’ books and other, less conventional book-like works produced by artists around the world since the 1960s, and it has since built substantial holdings.  In 2007, the library decided to begin gathering such materials at the Biennale and asked Thomas Heneage, a veteran London art-book dealer, to represent the library at the Biennale as its “personal catalog, ephemera and art-book gatherer.”  Through the Clark/Heneage Biennale partnership, the library added oddities like The Whole Universe  created by artist Terence Koh and Used Swim Wear by collaborative duo Han & Him for the 2009 Danish/Nordic Pavilion’s “goodie bag.”

With the 53rd Venice Biennale came a sea change in the Library’s collection. In addition to the collection of traditional paper press kits, Thomas Heneage sent back electronic materials in the form of cds, flash drives, and web address hyperlinks. The library needed not only to preserve the physical objects but the videos, images and text contained within them. To accommodate this new electronic press material, the Library created the Venice Biennale (E-Biennale) Preservation Archive a restricted collection in the library’s digital management system.  New accessions connected with the 54th Venice Biennale (2011) generated even more independent Biennale web content, for example Christian Boltanski’s web game Chance to “induce global participation” beyond his installation in the French Pavilion, that the library set out to preserve as well.

The Venice Biennale 2013 iteration and the Library’s collaboration with the web-archiving service Archive-It has brought the capture of intellectual content to a new level. The Library worked with Archive-It’s Sylvie Rollason-Cass to create the “url seeds” and provide descriptive metadata and faceting using Dublin Core fields.

The Archive-It crawl on behalf of the Library began April 28, 2013 and will continue through to the end of the exhibition in November.  This year also promises to be a banner year for our physical Biennale Collection with Russian gold from Vadim Zakharov’s project titled Danaë and Golden Lion award winner for the Angola Pavilion Edson Chagas’ Found not Taken series of posters.

This blog post explores the Lee Library Association’s project and is the first in a series presenting and following up on members’ projects from their perspective.

Mary Philpott, President of the Lee Library Association Board of Directors, sees her library’s partnership with the Digital Commonwealth and the Boston Public Library as a great community building activity.   The Lee Library project includes more than 1,000 photographs that were digitized by the Boston Public Library thanks to funding from an LSTA grant awarded by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

The library originally provided access to photocopies of these images, along with title descriptions organized in albums arranged by broad subject areas.  Mary pursued the digitization project because the albums could not provide access to people from a distance, were not searchable, and would preserve Lee’s history by (digitally) duplicating the photos.  In addition, a collection of glass plate negatives was made accessible.

Before the collection can go online in the upcoming new Digital Commonwealth repository (currently under development by the BPL), volunteers have to enter all the descriptions (metadata) either into an Excel spreadsheet or online.  Even though the digitized images are not online, Mary said the Library used them from day 1.  Lee had important marble and paper manufacturing industries, and many important historic buildings in the country contain marble from Lee. Now, the library can answer a lot of the telephone and email reference questions as a result and email the image back to the patron.  Sometimes in return, the library learns more about the town’s history.

This photo is one of the glass slides from the Lee Library photo collection. There is no written information about these slides, but in this photo, the men are carving a piece of marble that is most likely from one of the Lee marble quarries. The carving’s destination is the Bolkenhayn House in Central Park. The Bolkenhayn House was built on the last vacant plot at the Fifth Avenue entrance to Central Park. The name of the building, The Bolkenhayn, was taken from a town in Silesia, and “some significance attaches to it because the suggestion of the style of architecture is taken from a palace in the place named.” (NY Times, Feb. 6, 1894) This building was designed and owned by Alfred Zucker. There is a carving of a palace above the name and in one of the pictures of the building the carved piece is above the door. The building was completed in 1895. This building has been well-documented nationally and has housed prominent residents through the years.

A side benefit of the digitization project was discovering new material.  Even though the images had been well described in the albums, the Library staff found images they did not even know they had when they selected images to be digitized. These “new “pictures hadn’t been categorized.  These images now present an opportunity for staff and patrons alike to identify them and they have been exhibited in the gallery.  Mary noted that this exhibit brought people into the Lee Library who had not visited for quite a long time and sees opportunities to use the photos everywhere from newsletters to local cable TV spots.

This project is also helping the Lee Library to build new collections.  The Library is currently hosting “Picture Lee 2013: Preserving the Present for the Future.” The Library invited community members to submit photos of Lee people, places and things taken in 2013. The Library recently used 300 digitized photos as background images at their annual meeting and is using the images for advocacy by planning exhibits to coincide with its spring budget meeting.

For the Lee Library, digitizing local history is a priority because there is no public access to the basement historical room.  The Library was determined to digitize their collections.  Initially, Mary wrote an LSTA grant for the project that was not funded.

For Mary, the hardest part of this project was the steep learning curve.  When she started, she knew nothing about digitizing collections and did a lot of homework.  When she wrote the LSTA, the information from vendors was difficult to compare as she tried to overcome the steep technological barriers. Mary attended a Digital Commonwealth Conference three years ago but left very frustrated because the terminology was daunting, and the process was too complicated at the time.  She did not give up, however, and attended a Digital Commonwealth workshop in which the material was presented in such a way that the complicated terminology was translated and simplified.  Mary is also grateful to the many librarians who helped, mentored and encouraged her and especially the Digital Commonwealth and the Boston Public Library.

Building off of their achievements and using their new digital collections and know how as leverage, the library recently received a grant from the Berkshire Bank Foundation for a digital microfilm reader to make the Berkshire Gleaner (1857-1944) and other local history microfilm accessible.

Watch Lee Library’s digitization progress at http://blog.bpl.org/dcbpl/about-the-program/participating-institutions/lee-library-association/

Mary can be reached at maryphilpott@mindspring.com

The BPL is pleased to announce that they have now moved into the “beta launch” phase of the rollout of the Hydra-based Digital Commonwealth repository platform.

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

Features
Not all features are fully implemented as yet. Here is what’s available:

Public Search app:

  • keyword search
  • faceted browsing of search results by format, subject, date
  • browse by collection, institution, or geographic location
  • image viewer with zooming functionality for viewing hi-res images in detail
  • users can create bookmarks and personalized folders of their favorite items
  • users can create an account, or log in via their BPL/MBLN library card or Facebook account
  • easily share items on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media
  • site designed to play well with tablets and phones

Member Admin app:

    • create digital collections
    • upload images
    • add metadata
    • edit existing objects (might be of special interest to members with items in DSpace)

For admin access, contact Tom Blake (tblake@bpl.org) to get started.

Features to be added soon:

  • batch uploads
  • support for other content types, such as postcards, books, and audio

Content from the initial test (alpha) server is being migrated to the new production-server repository. Upon completion all data from the current Digital Commonwealth DSpace server, http://repository.digitalcommonwealth.org, will be available in the new Fedora/Hydra repository. So far about 80% of the DSpace content is available. More is added every day. Once the complete migration is assured, the process will begin to shut down the DSpace server, currently hosted at UMass Amherst Libraries.

As the new repository is now in “beta,” the public link can be shared with colleagues both inside and outside your institution(s). The BPL will be doing a small amount of promotion for this, but intend to save the grand ribbon-cutting for when the system finally replaces digitalcommonwealth.org. Coming soon! Stay tuned!

We are still actively seeking feedback, suggestions, etc., so feel free to send comments by using the feedback form at http://search.digitalcommonwealth.org/feedback.

Earlier this month the Governor approved the inclusion of $147,532 in the state FY14 budget to continue digitization for Digital Commonwealth members under the BPL’s Library for the Commonwealth program.

This money will continue the digital-imaging services that the BPL has provided in partnership with Digital Commonwealth since 2011 through funding provided by a LSTA grant awarded through the MBLC. The state expenditure attests to the valuable work achieved these past two years by the BPL and Digital Commonwealth. Thousands of significant historical items have been digitized and will soon be made available collectively through a new state-of-the-art repository under development at the BPL that just this past week celebrated its initial public beta release.

With this new funding, the BPL will continue to accept project applications and hope to grow this program to include metadata creation and other services in the near future. The BPL and Digital Commonwealth look forward to working with DC members on their digital projects throughout FY14 and beyond.

For more information about participating in this program, details are provided at the BPL’s project blog.

Here is the latest update from Eben English, Web Services Developer at the BPL, who is helping develop the new Fedora/Hydra repository for the Digital Commonwealth:

The initial development phase for the new digital object management system to store and provide access to digital collections from Digital Commonwealth members is currently underway and will soon be complete. Items and metadata from the existing DSpace repository (http://repository.digitalcommonwealth.org) have begun to be migrated into the new system, and functionality for the item ingest forms as well as the end-user search interface is in the process of being implemented. It is anticipated that all basic objects from the DSpace repository will be ingested by the end of April, and support for (and ingest of) more complex digital objects (items with multiple images, books, oral histories, etc.) will be added by the end of May.

The new repository will be debuted at the Digital Commonwealth annual conference on May 1 – the 3:00 breakout session, “Digital Commonwealth 2.0: Creating Online Digital Collections with the Redesigned Repository System,” includes a full demonstration of the application, while a related session at 1:45, “Digital Commonwealth 2.0 and Metadata,” will demonstrate how to create metadata for digital objects using the new system.

For a full schedule of the conference and program descriptions, view this PDF document.