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 email@example.com.
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.
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/
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 (firstname.lastname@example.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.
On Monday, June 24, 2013, Digital Commonwealth of Massachusetts held a free half-day workshop focusing on developing lesson plans featuring digital content. The workshop was held at the Whittemore Library, Framingham State University, and was attended by school library media specialists, new teachers, and professionals from cultural organizations interested in making (and using) digital content for educational purposes.
The workshop included an introduction to Digital Commonwealth the organization (a collaborative initiative promoting digital content of Massachusetts cultural institutions), the existing Digital Commonwealth portal and repository (an online discovery and storage platform), screenshots of the upcoming new system (currently in development by the Boston Public Library, a partner organization to Digital Commonwealth), and examples of existing lesson plans using digital content.
Attendees responded favorably to the variety of digital content available via the metadata within the existing portal which includes links to video clips from WGBH’s Open Vault; images of historical broadsides from the State Library of Massachusetts; and audio files and photographic images from NOBLE’s Digital Heritage. Marianne Brown, a new teacher, talked about how she developed a lesson plan featuring photographs from the Watertown Free Public Library (digital images of these photographs are stored in the current Digital Commonwealth repository). Marianne’s lesson plan is available as a PDF on Digital Commonwealth’s lesson plan page: http://digitalcommonwealth.org/lesson_plans
Kim Cochrane, Curriculum Librarian, Framingham State University, and Nancy Heywood, Digital Projects Coordinator, Massachusetts Historical Society, led the workshop. Both Kim and Nancy serve on Digital Commonwealth’s Outreach Committee and will review and revise the program. They hope to schedule two more workshops later this year. For information and notification about future workshops, email Nancy Heywood: email@example.com.
Over the next several months, until the end of the calendar year, Digital Commonwealth will be providing metadata production and quality control assistance for collections digitized under the BPL’s LSTA-funded statewide digitization program.
The goal is to assure that at least 40,000 records are prepared for ingest into the new repository system from at least 40 different organizations. A team of metadata workers, led by Amy Benson and the BPL Digital Services Department, has already begun to evaluate the current states and various forms of descriptive records and how to best transform and optimize them into standards and systems compliant metadata. This work is being supported with grant funds associated with the Digital Hubs Pilot Project of the Digital Public Library of America (http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/dplaalpha/about/digital-hubs-pilot-project/).
Amy Benson is currently the Librarian/Archivist for Digital Projects at Radcliffe’s Schlesinger Library. She is familiar to many due to the multiple workshops and presentations she has delivered, often in association with the NEDCC. Amy also served on the original Digital Commonwealth Executive Committee when the organization was first established.
If your organization has had anything digitized by the BPL for Digital Commonwealth and your descriptive records need to be created, transformed, or enhanced for ingest, then you will be contacted by Amy and/or the BPL team between now and December 2013. Please direct any questions about this initiative to Tom Blake (firstname.lastname@example.org; 617 859-2039).
Digital Commonwealth is pleased to announce the addition of three new members on the board of directors to replace outgoing board members. The three new members are Debra DeJonker-Berry from the Jonathan Bourne Public Library, Kelcy Shepard from Amherst College, and Elizabeth Thomsen from the NOBLE network.
These new members will be replacing Sarah Campbell from Holy Cross; Jessica Colati from Worcester Polytechnic Institute; and Kristi Chadwick, former President of Digital Commonwealth, who is the current Director of the Emily Williston Memorial Library in Easthampton.
Debra DeJonker-Berry has worked for the past year as the Information Systems Librarian in Bourne. Prior to this position she brings to the Board the experience of nearly twenty years service as the director of public libraries in Halifax and Provincetown Massachusetts.
Kelcy Shepard is currently the Head of Digital Programs at Amherst College. Previously she worked at UMass Amherst as the Digital Interfaces Librarian. She’s been publishing, teaching, and presenting widely on a multitude of archival-related topics such as metadata, EAD, XML, and The Archivist’s Toolkit since 2000.
Elizabeth Thomsen is a long-time Member Services Manager for NOBLE, the North of Boston Library Exchange. She is responsible for training of staff at the 28 public and academic libraries that belong to NOBLE. She also oversees NOBLE’s Digital Heritage Omeka repository. Perhaps she is also familiar as the presenter of “Future of the Past: Digital Libraries in the Age of Social Media” at this year’s Digital Commonwealth conference.
The Digital Commonwealth welcomes these three exceptional new members to its Board of Directors!
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: http://www.chicopeepubliclibrary.org/archives/soldiers_record
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.
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.