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Updates for May, 2013

Annual Conference: The Results Are In! 

Overall, the Digital Commonwealth Annual Conference was a huge success! We had 123 attendees. This was an impressive increase from the past few years, and surely reflects not only the increase in DC membership but also the enthusiasm and excitement apparent as new members tackle new digital projects, many for the very first time!
Survey results indicate that nearly half of the attendees represented public libraries while a quarter came from academic institutions. The remainder worked in schools, special libraries, archives, and historical societies.

Over half of the survey respondents gave the overall conference an excellent rating and another 30% rated it good. The keynotes were by far the most popular presentations, with Amy Rudersdorf’s talk about the Digital Public Library of America receiving a 71% excellent rating while Butch Lazorchak’s look at Digital Storytelling achieved a 61% excellent rating.  

Comments were also very encouraging, both expressed in the survey and related personally to members of the Digital Commonwealth Board, that the facilities were comfortable and convenient and the conference highly rewarding and appreciated.

The challenge to the Conference Committee now is to make the 2014 conference even better! If you would like to share other comments about the conference or volunteer to help plan future conferences, please email

2013 Annual Conference Presentations Available
Presentations from the 2013 Digital Commonwealth Annual Conference are now available for viewing and download in PDF format:
Legislative Amendment to Continue BPL Scanning Services in Conference Committee
Amendments in both the House and Senate have passed to provide $148,000 in funding for continued digitization support to Digital Commonwealth members — but the House version of the amendment did not include the proper language. As such, the expenditure would go to the MLS. The Senate version did include the correct language specifically earmarking the $148,000 to the BPL for statewide digitization as a per capita increase in their state line-item funding. The two amendments are now being discussed in conference committee in order to resolve the difference. If you wish to advocate for continued digital scanning services by the BPL, then please contact the representatives listed below and ask that they resolve to the Senate version of the amendment : “amendment 103: Library of the Commonwealth (7000-9401) that the bill be amended, in Section 2, in item 7000-9401, by striking the figure “35.9” and inserting in place thereof the following figure:-“38.3″ and in the same item by striking out the figure “$9,231,475″ and inserting in place thereof the following figure “$9,379,475.”

Here are the committee members:
House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey, Representative Stephen Kulik ( Worthington) and Representative Viriato deMacedo (Plymouth); Senate Ways and Means Chair Stephen Brewer, Senator Jennifer Flanagan (Leominster) and Senator Michael Knapik (Westfield)


Digital Commonwealth has never done a great job at organizing volunteer assistance, but that is about to change. We received a number of responses in the conference survey from members interested in becoming more involved, and we are determined to take full advantage of the enthusiasm and talent!

Areas needing help in the coming new fiscal year include an IMLS grant that will be submitted in February. Digital Commonwealth has always been a volunteer organization, but it has become apparent that we desperately need a paid staff person. The IMLS has encouraged us to apply for a grant to supply funding for that position with the directive that we devise a model of sustainability that could be applied nationally by other state-wide digital libraries. This is an enormous challenge, and we could use help by grant writers and others who are willing to research details about other existing comparable organizations.

Other projects include help with this newsletter and the Digital Commonwealth blog. As you can see, the May delivery is occurring in June. (refer above to that need for a staff person!) With a little more volunteer help, though, we might be able to stick to an actual monthly deadline! The Conference Committee is another endeavor that could use research help. We would like to keep it growing with more reputable speakers and corporate sponsorship. 

If any of these projects is of interest, please email We would love to have your assistance!

Chicopee Public Library Adds Collections
The Chicopee Public Library has established an Omeka repository that now houses its online archives: The site presently contains three collections: Soldiers Record, Chicopee Weekly Journal, and The Olive Leaf. Metadata from the first two of these collections, 427 records in total, have been harvested into the Digital Commonwealth Omeka repository. For more information about the Chicopee archive and its collections, please read this blog post by Amber Clooney, the Electronic Reference Services Librarian at Chicopee Public Library.

Digital Commonwealth at MLS Conference
Digital Commonwealth members Worcester Public Library and the Perkins Library for the Blind will represent the Digital Commonwealth at the Massachusetts Library System conference, “Making Change: Transfer Creativity in Libraries,” as part of the Ten table talks by Massachusetts institutions that foster creativity. The conference will be held Thursday, June 13th, at the DCU in Worcester.

Free Workshop: Developing Lesson Plans with Digital Content from Digital Commonwealth
Are you a teacher (4th to 12th grade) who is interested in developing lesson plans featuring digital content? Here is an opportunity for a FREE workshop offered by Digital Commonwealth at Framingham State University on June 24, 2013. Full details are available in this blog post and registration is available at
Sincerely, Digital Commonwealth
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Two of the three collections in the new Chicopee Public Library’s Chicopee Archives Online, 427 records in total, have been harvested into the Digital Commonwealth’s Omeka repository: Chicopee Weekly Journal and Soldiers Record.

Amber Clooney, Electronic Reference Services Librarian at Chicopee Public Library, provided the following information about the archive’s collections and future plans:

Chicopee Archives Online was developed to enhance access to some of the city’s unique historical items. The site was initially developed to host the Soldiers Record, which is a handwritten ledger that contains the personal stories of over 500 local men who served in the Civil War. The stories contained in the Soldiers Record seem to be primarily based on interviews with the soldiers themselves, or based on contemporary records and accounts from friends and relatives if a particular soldier died during the war.

According to an article in New England Magazine from 1898, most of the records were compiled by George Dexter Robinson, who lived in Chicopee after the Civil War, before he became Governor of Massachusetts (Robinson is also famous for being Lizzie Borden’s defense attorney). Transcription of each page is an ongoing volunteer project. There is a full description of the Soldiers Record here:

In addition to the Soldiers Record, the site includes scanned copies of a partial run of the Chicopee Weekly Journal from the mid 1860s; and a year long run of The Olive Leaf from 1849, a literary newspaper for local factory girls.

In near future, we will be adding scans of the local City Directories. The Directories are the most used items in the local history room, and are showing a lot of wear and tear as a result. When the Directories are added to the site, patrons will be directed to use the digital copies so the print copies can be preserved. We also plan to add a photo collection from the 1920s , and we hope to add some items from the collections of the Chicopee Historical Society.

For further questions, contact Amber Clooney at Chicopee Public Library.