Dan Cohen, Steve Dalton, Richard Pearce-Moses, Gregor Trinkaus-Randall, and Nancy Heywood enjoying the Annual Conference. Photo credit: Molly Stothert-Maurer.
Dan Cohen, Steve Dalton, Richard Pearce-Moses, Gregor Trinkaus-Randall, and Nancy Heywood enjoying the Annual Conference. Photo credit: Molly Stothert-Maurer.

On April 5 the Digital Commonwealth held its 10th annual conference and 10th anniversary celebration at the Hogan Center at the College of Holy Cross in Worcester MA.  It was the largest conference in years and afterwards over 90 people joined us to commemorate the anniversary.

Thanks to the hard work of the conference committee and our excellent speakers and sessions, we had nearly 200 people at this year’s conference — the best attended conference in recent years. Many presenters’ slides and presentations can be found on the Digital Commonwealth conference web site.  You can also download our final conference program to learn more about the speakers at this year’s event.

Digital Commonwealth President Elizabeth Thomsen poses with NDSR Boston residents after their presentation. Photo credit: Molly Stothert-Maurer
Digital Commonwealth President Elizabeth Thomsen posing with NDSR Boston residents after their presentation. Photo credit: Molly Stothert-Maurer

The anniversary reception gave us all the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the creation and growth of Digital Commonwealth.  Digital Commonwealth President Elizabeth Thompson shared remarks prepared by Greg Pronevitz of the Massachusetts Library System, a key player in the formation of Digital Commonwealth. Carolyn Noah, Gregor Trinkaus-Randall, and Bill Talentino shared memories of the growth of Digital Commonwealth.  David Leonard, Director of Administration and Technology at Boston Public Library and Dan Cohen, President of the Digital Public Library of America, gave their perspective of Digital Commonwealth as partners on a common journey.



Digital Commonwealth President Elizabeth Thomsen speaking at the 10th Anniversary Reception. Photo credit: Jean Maguire.
Elizabeth Thomsen speaking at the 10th Anniversary Reception. Photo credit: Jean Maguire.

It was a great opportunity to gather together, reflect on what we have accomplished and set our sights on the future of the Digital Commonwealth and our partners.  We thank you all our members and all those who attended the conference this year. If you attended the conference, and have not yet done so, please share your feedback by completing the online evaluation form.

We hope to see you all at the 2017 Digital Commonwealth Annual Conference!

From the Digital Commonwealth Conference Committee

Don’t miss another great Digital Commonwealth conference and our 10th anniversary reception. The conference will be held on Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at the Hogan Center at the College of the Holy Cross.

This year’s keynotes addresses are:

Piles of Stuff: On the Challenges and Opportunities for Aggregating Digital Collections with Paul Conway

For the past 25 years, libraries, archives, and museums have been digitizing their collections for access and, increasingly, as a preservation alternative. The pace, scope, and scale of these activities have increased dramatically. So too have new efforts to combine digital collections from individual repositories into large scale aggregations that promise improved search and discovery capabilities.

The Archival Edge Revisited: Reflections on the Purpose of Archives in the Digital Era with Richard Pearce-Moses

Over the past several decades, archival practice has changed significantly to adapt to the digital information ecosystem.  The rise of born-digital records has raised interesting questions about the very nature of records, while also forcing archivists to rethink how they do their job. Cloud computing, data mining, open data, and other technologies have enormous potential for novel approaches to use.  As important, these new technologies reverse traditional archival questions of what to preserve: some individuals argue – seriously – that all information can be saved.

This year’s sessions include:

  • Brookline’s Wild-Sargent House of 1822: New life through digital and physical preservation
  • Community Scan Projects
  • Update on the Digital Commonwealth Repository
  • Privacy Panel with Library Freedom Project and ACLU of Massachusetts
  • Preservation/Digitization
  • Back to the future – Digitizing the Next Generation of Historic Maps
  • SHRAB (Mass. Historical Records Advisory Board) and Roving Archivist
  • Digital preservation projects
  • Creating online exhibits

The 10th anniversary reception will take place at the Hogan Center, immediately after the conference.

Registration is available on the Digital Commonwealth web site at: http://digitalcommonwealth.memberlodge.org/DCAC2016



Early bird registration ends on March 23rd, so make sure you sign up today for the annual 9th Digital Commonwealth Conference. The Conference “Cloud Bursts and Brain Storms,”  will be held on April 2nd at the Hogan Center at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester. In addition to the two keynote speakers, Clifford Lynch, director of the Coalition for Networked Information, and Dan Cohen, executive director of the DPLA, the conference will also feature many interesting breakout sessions. Some breakout sessions include Packaging Collections for Public Consumption with Sara Slymon and Elizabeth Thomsen, Copyright Issues and Libraries with Emily Kilcer and Kyle Courtney, The Policy Cycle with Diane Brenner and Ed Lewis, and our ever popular Rapid First Inspiring Projects. We hope we’ll see you  there!

Join us at the Hogan Center at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester on Thursday, April 2, 2015 for the 9th annual Digital Commonwealth Conference. This year’s featured morning keynote speaker is Clifford Lynch, director of the Coalition for Networked Information. The lunchtime keynote speaker is Dan Cohen, executive director of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).

“Cloud Bursts and Brainstorms” is our theme, and Breakout sessions are planned on topics ranging from social media to copyright to digital preservation to crafting policies to online exhibits, with more to be announced. Join with your colleagues from across the state in sharing projects, successes, failures, and lessons learned.

Early bird registration opens soon. Member early bird registration is $100; non-member registration is $130. For more information, visit the Digital Commonwealth Conference website

Developing a Born-Digital Preservation Workflow

Presenters: Bill Donovan and Jack Kearney, Boston College

Bell Tower image
Postcard image of the Boston College Bell Tower, ca. 1930-1945. From the Tichnor Brothers Postcard Collection at the Boston Public Library.

Our presenters described the workflow followed to access records on an external hard drive included in the personal papers of Irish soprano and harpist Mary O’Hara, their first dive into the sea of digital preservation. They described how workflows start as baseline best practices. What happens when the unanticipated occurs? Hearing about the steps taken at Boston College to appraise, ingest and clear unanticipated hurdles along the way reinforced that processing plans/workflows are a starting point. What you find when you open the files can and will drive changes to workflows – sound familiar? Tags: Writeblocker, UNIX, 8.3 Constraint, Fixity (software), Identity Finder (software), XENA tool, Policy writing, FITS tool, JHOVE tool, LOCKSS, DP in a box, Digital Forensics.

Digital Commonwealth 2.0: It’s Alive!

Presenters: Steven Anderson and Eben English

Despite the migration to our new platform in Fedora and Hydra literally happening while we met, our intrepid presenters gave before & after comparisons of the repository website with its streamlined visual presentation and enhanced search capabilities. If you haven’t already, check it out!

Rapid Fire Inspiring Projects

Benjamin Sewall Blake jumping, ca. 1888. From the Francis Blake photographs at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Benjamin Sewall Blake jumping, ca. 1888. From the Francis Blake photographs at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Presenters: Christine Clayton, Worcester Art Museum (WAM); Abigail Cramer, Historic New England (HNE); Sean M. Fisher, Department of Conservation (DCR) and Recreation and Rebecca Kenney, Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA); Larissa Glasser, Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Library (AAHL); Nancy Heywood, Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS); Michael Lapides, New Bedford Whaling Museum; Sara Slymon, Turner Free Library

WOW! Our presenters offered up a smorgasbord of formats, collections and projects they undertook to make records available to their users. For some, their users were internal, like the WAM, which digitized exhibition catalogs, HNE digitized their collection of photographs by Nathaniel Stebbins, DCR and MWRA digitized 8800 images, the largest collection undertaken by Digital Commonwealth so far. AAHL digitized a collection of glass plate negatives…the results? Unanticipated revenue streams – from interior decorators, increased hits on websites, object provenance authentications, access to the identities of early American movers and shakers as reported in contemporary newspapers, accessible Town Reports and High School yearbooks. Several of these projects are still in the pipelines, so not yet searchable on the Digital Commonwealth website.

Submitted by guest reporter Elizabeth Cousins, First Parish in Brookline.

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


Registration is now open for “Practically Digital: Doing What it Takes”, to be held on Tuesday, April 8th, at the Hogan Center at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester.

The conference will feature keynote sessions by Melissa Levine, the Lead Copyright Officer from the University of Michigan Library, and Liz Bishoff, of the Bishoff Group.

Breakout sessions topics include:

  • audience engagement and crowdsourcing
  • conservation and digitization
  • digital preservation
  • online exhibits
  • lightning round presentations from Digital Commonwealth members

In addition, staff from the Boston Public Library will be on hand to provide metadata consultations throughout the day.

For additional information and to register, visit the conference website: http://members.digitalcommonwealth.org/events?eventId=856673&EventViewMode=EventDetails

7th Annual Digital Library Conference

May 1, 2013, 8:30 am to 4:00 pm, at the Devens Commons Center,
31 Andrews Parkway, Devens, Massachusetts.

Registration Fees:

Digital Commonwealth Members: $95
Students: $95
Non-Members: $110
Advanced Registration Deadline: April 20, 2013

Register Today!

For full schedule and program descriptions, view this PDF document

9:45 – 10:45        First Keynote

The Digital Public Library of America: Interconnection and Advocacy on a National Scale

Amy Rudersdorf, Assistant Director for Content, Digital Public Library of America

When DPLA launches in April 2013, it will become a central repository for a vast array of data about digitized and born-digital collections from all over the United States, from public to academic to special libraries (think Digital Commonwealth) and national collections (the Smithsonian and the National Archives, for two). Access to the data will be available centrally through a DPLA portal, but also as an open API, enabling anyone, anywhere to develop apps, services, and tools to answer their personal or organizational needs. Keeping the data open in the “cloud” so it can be used by the “crowd” means that librarians in New York and Texas can use it one way, historians in Florida and Alaska another, and maybe even schoolchildren in Australia still another.This talk will provide an introduction to DPLA and its mission and goals, update our Digital Commonwealth partners on our progress, and make a case for opening up our nation’s library, archives, and museum data to the world.

12:00– 1:30       Lunch and Second Keynote

Share and Tell: Digital Stewardship and Digital Storytelling

Butch Lazorchak, Digital Archivist, Library of Congress

Libraries, archives and museums provide the “building blocks” for lifelong learning. Organizations like Digital Commonwealth provide the technical infrastructure to ensure that these digital building blocks are stored, described, made accessible and preserved over time.

The stewardship of digital information is an incredibly valuable service that requires technical expertise and diligence along with significant resources, both human and monetary. But while our community’s expertise in format obsolescence, ingest mechanisms and administrative metadata helps to ensure that the digital materials under our care are technically protected, it doesn’t ensure that people outside our community understand the work we do and its value.

That’s why, more than ever, we need to remember that we’re in the storytelling business.

Storytelling is a way for us to talk passionately about the resources under our care and to build the emotional case that the work we do has value. These are not fairytales; many of the stories we tell don’t necessarily have happy endings. But the resources we steward are the building blocks for our patron’s stories and help people understand their place in history, the economy and the world.

There are so many exciting advances in technology that affect the work we do. We’ll take a quick survey of some interesting things (crowdfunding for government; citizen archivists; personal digital archiving; digital mapping) and try to get to the essence of why they’re important to our profession and our patrons and explore how we can leverage them to tell stories about the incredible value we have in our digital commonwealth.

7th Annual Digital Library Conference

May 1, 2013, 8:30 am to 4:00 pm, at the Devens Commons Center,
31 Andrews Parkway, Devens, Massachusetts.


   Registration Fees:

Digital Commonwealth Members: $95
Students: $95
Non-Members: $110
Advanced Registration Deadline: April 20, 2013


Keynote Speakers:

Breakout Sessions:

Introduction to the Digital Commonwealth
Karen Cariani, WGBH and Digital Commonwealth Vice-President

Preserving and Preparing Materials for Digitization
Donia Conn, Preservation Consultant for Cultural Heritage Collections

Continuing Education Opportunities
Jamie Roth, JFK Library and Society of American Archivists instructor.
Ross Harvey, Simmons College, Digital Stewardship Certificate Program.
Joseph Fisher, UMass Lowell, graduate of the DigIn Certificate Program.

Digital Commonwealth 2.0 and Metadata — Make, Morph, Manipulate, Master
Tom Blake and Danny Pucci, Boston Public Library

The Future of the Past: Digital Libraries in the Age of Social Media
Elizabeth Thomsen, NOBLE

Digitized Local Newspapers
(presenters to be announced)

Rapid Fire Inspiring Projects Lightning Round 
Presentations by several Digital Commonwealth members

Dealing with Vendors
Michael Bennett, University of Connecticut and Paul Coute, Massachusetts Higher Education Consortium

Digital Commonwealth 2.0: Creating Online Digital Collections with the Redesigned Repository System
Steven Anderson and Eben English, Boston Public Library