Over the past few months, the development work on the new Digital Commonwealth repository at the Boston Public Library has focused on functionality for ingesting metadata records via the Open Access Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH). This functionality enables Digital Commonwealth to include metadata created by institutions around the state in the central search interface, with links that point back to the original item hosted by the provider. (Digital Commonwealth currently harvests records from ten institutions and consortia, including the State Library of Massachusetts, NOBLE, SAILS, and C/W MARS to name a few.)

BPL development staff have been working closely with each OAI provider to tailor the ingest process to their preferred metadata format (Dublin Core, PBcore, MODS, etc.) as well as the system used by each institution to provide the records (CONTENTdm, Omeka, etc.) The crosswalking process, which converts the incoming metadata records into MODS, also involves a number of data standardization routines, including the transformation of date data into a facet-able and sortable date format based on W3C Date-Time Format, and the conversion of geographic subject/coverage data into hierarchical geographic subjects (state, county, city, etc.) and numeric latitude/longitude coordinates using data from the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names. Whenever possible, the ingest process also generates thumbnail images for each object which are then stored in the Digital Commonwealth repository, along with an archival copy of the original metadata record prior to crosswalking.

While all of this involves significant time and effort, the result will be more accurate and more complete metadata records from these providers, and a better search and discovery experience for users as well as better representation of the data within larger shared contexts such as DPLA.

So far the OAI harvesting has been restricted to a test platform. By late February the BPL expects to finish the work on the OAI feeds at which point the feeds will be added to the public repository site (https://search.digitalcommonwealth.org). The focus will then turn to migrating the last few remaining collections from the DSpace repository into the new repository, and integrating the informational content on the current Omeka site into the new design. While no official date has been set for when the new repository will replace the existing systems and be launched as the “official” Digital Commonwealth site, it is anticipated that this milestone will be completed sometime in March.

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Updates for January, 2014

 

Save the Date!! April 8, 2014

 

8th Annual Digital Commonwealth Conference

Hogan Center at Holy Cross in Worcester

 

This one-day conference features keynote addresses from two nationally known speakers: Melissa Levine and Liz Bishoff

 

Melissa Levine is the Lead Copyright Officer from the University of Michigan Library. She will speak about current copyright issues. 

 

Liz Bishoff, of the Bishoff Group, was previously the Executive Director of the Colorado Digitization Project. She will discuss statewide and regional digital collaborations and the need for sustainability planning.


Planned breakout session topics include audience engagement and crowdsourcing, conservation and digitization, online exhibits and lightning round presentations from Digital Commonwealth members. More details regarding sessions and pricing will be available in early February.
Repository update
The BPL has been busy working on adding OAI-PMH harvesting feeds from member sites to the new repository. In this latest blog post, read about the work being done and the anticipated completion dates: http://digitalcommonwealth.org/blog/?p=211.  
 
DPLA Plans Training Sessions
The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is working with four content hubs, including Digital Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and planning a series of training sessions for public librarians. The goal is to help public librarians modernize their skills in a digital age, and in turn, communicate their work and their locales to the world.   
 
Digital Commonwealth and its partner organization, the Boston Public Library, will be announcing more details soon about the three upcoming training sessions.  Digital Commonwealth is delighted that Anna Fahey-Flynn, BPL’s Collaborative Library Services Manager, is helping to implement this exciting training program.

Member Projects: Blog Post Series

Two recent blog posts add to our series about member digitization projects. Both of these happen to focus on the challenges of creating metadata:

Lee Library Association’s Digitization Project

In a followup with Library  Trustee Mary Philpott, she discusses her experiences using the admin interface of the new repository at the BPL to create metadata for Lee Library’s digital objects: http://digitalcommonwealth.org/blog/?p=199

The Accidental Metadatalyst

Cara Marcus, Director of Library Services at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, also examines metadata creation in this blog post, only in this instance using the Excel spreadsheet template provided by the BPL:  http://digitalcommonwealth.org/blog/?p=209
If you would like to highlight your institution and add your experiences to this ongoing series, please send details in an email to digitalcommonwealth@gmail.com
DPLA offices located at the Boston Public Library

In a recent blog post, Dan Cohen, Executive Director of the DPLA, describes the physical office space of the Digital Public Library of America within the Boston Public Library. Digital Commonwealth is glad to hear that its partner organization, the BPL, has been so welcoming to the DPLA!

 http://dp.la/info/2014/01/08/location-location-location/

 
 
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This is the second part of the Lee Library blog posts that examine their recent digitization projects. Part I is available here: http://digitalcommonwealth.org/blog/?p=125

This month, we are following up with Lee Library Association Trustee Mary Philpott. Mary has had access to the forthcoming new Digital Commonwealth Repository’s Administrative pages to help test the new repository and work with BPL staff to learn how to enter metadata. (The new Digital Commonwealth web-site will be available to the general public in early 2014.)

Figure 1. View of a draft record summary in new repository. The edit link is above the image

In entering metadata, Mary and her volunteers will be working from inventory sheets that were created decades ago.   These sheets have descriptions, subjects and provenance information.  Lee has only one copy of these sheets for each image, so having the metadata entered solves access and preservation goals for the Lee Library.  All levels of metadata, from descriptive to administrative, can be entered using the repositories new templates: Mary can not only enter descriptions, but who provided the information, as well as their relationship to the images, thus establishing the authority behind the descriptions themselves.   Tom Blake (Digital Projects Manager, BPL) and Danny Pucci (Lead Digital Projects Librarian, BPL) reviewed the inventory sheets with Mary and offered guidance as to how to transpose the printed metadata onto the templates on the Digital Commonwealth’s new repository.

After the review with Tom and Danny and actual practice with adding image files and metadata on the test repository, Mary was able to compare the pros and cons in the workflow using Excel spreadsheets vs. the templates from the new repository.  Working on the new repository is “much easier than using excel.  The new data entry form is clear and easier to use. You can see [your work] in a format that will be viewable to everyone.  Once you enter a description, the system remembers it when you enter new records, so, for example, entering the size of an image becomes easier as the system offers choices of the various sizes previously entered.”

“Not being a librarian, I am not used to the formatting rules.  Eben English was helpful explaining the types of data and format that belongs in the various data entry boxes.” Eben sent Mary a sample record of the Boston Red Sox image.  Mary compared that to a Fire Department photo she was working on and went on to enter another half dozen test records.

Figure 2. Partial view of record template in new repository. Note the drop down boxes and help features

After having the experience of entering the metadata live and seeing the immediate results, “I now understand why the formatting rules are so important in researching the material.  Entering the metadata in the templates is slow for the first few records but once you have a sense of the choices from the drop down boxes, a pattern develops.   It will be faster now that I have become familiar with the templates.  I will be able to show other board members, staff and volunteers how to enter our descriptions.  I am pretty exited about using the software.  I want to see our collection online and want this project to be finished so we have something to show people and be able to share all this information.   It will also help to get additional information from people who know and are familiar with the images.”

Mary explained that judgment calls will need to be made for each of Lee’s collections along the way.  Once all the metadata for these images is complete, Mary is looking forward to working with Lee’s scrapbooks, letters and business ledgers.  The business ledgers, for example, can paint fascinating glimpses into Lee’s history, such as the ledgers of a present-day restaurant/inn that was once a stagecoach stop in Lee and the names of guests are recorded as well as ads from local businesses.

Mary has had time to think a lot about the realization of her dream to see Lee’s history come alive online.  The new repository “has to be one that people can use-not just librarians.”  It’s important for people who know a particular community to be able to help with metadata entry, giving a more complete sense of the unique history of the town.  The volunteers as well as the staff have a vested interest in the town and they want to share that history with the younger populations.  The new repository has made that possible.

The collaboration between the professional librarians at the BPL and volunteers like the ones Mary will be working with provides the best of both worlds.  The professionals offer guidance and training allowing the local historians the opportunity to produce new digital content that will highlight the “distinct personalities” of each community. “Now, we are at the next step, a very concrete step.”

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Updates for October/November, 2013

             New Officers and Bylaws Ratified

The votes are in! The new Board of Directors members are official and the Bylaw changes ratified. With that step out of the way, Digital Commonwealth can now officially apply for non-profit status. 

A list of current board members is available on the DC Omeka web site:  http://www.digitalcommonwealth.org/board

The vote completion also means that, in accordance with the new bylaw changes,  Ex-officio members on the board have the right to vote on board decisions. Besides the BPL, currently represented by Tom Blake, this change also effects representation by the Mass Board of Library Commissioners (represented by Gregor Trinkaus-Randall), Mass School Library Association (represented by Kim Cochrane),  and the Mass Library System (represented by Greg Pronevitz).

Digital Commonwealth owes a great deal of gratitude to each of these members and the institutions they represent for all of the work, support, and advice they have provided for many years. It is certainly fitting and long overdue that they be allowed the privilege of full participation with their vote on future board decisions. 

An updated posting of the revised bylaws is available @  http://digitalcommonwealth.org/bylaws
and in PDF download @  
http://digitalcommonwealth.org/docs/DCofMA-Bylaws-Revision-FINAL-2013-8-1.pdf

 

Digital Commonwealth changes its mailing address

Digital Commonwealth has finally established a permanent mailing address. We Promise!! Please direct all future correspondence to the following:
                         Digital Commonwealth, Inc.
                         321 Walnut Street
                         Newton, MA  02460

 The BPL Receives Award for Digitization Work 

The Boston Public Library received the Commonwealth Award for its digitization work for Digital Commonwealth members at last month’s Griffin Museum of Photography’s eighth annual Focus Awards ceremony. For a complete report view this blog post:  http://digitalcommonwealth.org/blog/?p=172

  The BPL Expands its Collections in the new Digital Commonwealth Repository 

The new Digital Commonwealth repository under development at the Boston Public Library is continuously expanding its collection holdings. Two recent additions are large photographic collections: Arthur Griffith Photographs from the Griffith Museum of Photography and the Lesslie Jones Collection from the BPL.

Besides over 36,000 Leslie Jones photographs documenting the history of the greater Boston area from the 1920s to 1950s, the BPL has been busy adding other parts of its extensive collections to the new Digital Commonwealth repository that have not previously been included, such as a collection of 64 Circus Posters, 351 vintage Travel Posters from the 1920s-1940s, 180 sports photographs from the Michael T. “Nuf Ced” McGreevey Collection, and 101 Robert McClosky sketches from Make Way for Ducklings.

These are just a few examples of the growing abundance of state-wide collections represented in the new Digital Commonwealth repository that the BPL is hosting and continuously developing and improving. Check out the full list of collections now represented: https://search.digitalcommonwealth.org/collections.

By early next year we expect that all of Digital Commonwealth will be included in the new repository at the BPL, and the current Omeka and DSpace sites will at that time be discontinued.

DPLAfest at BPL

Last month Northeastern, Simmons, and the BPL hosted the first annual DPLAfest at the BPL in honor of the successful launch in April 2013 of the new Digital Public Library of America website. For a personal account of the event, please view this blog post by guest reporter Molly Stothert-Maurer:  http://digitalcommonwealth.org/blog/?p=167

     DPLA Launches the DPLA Bookshelf

At its DPLAfest in Boston, the Digital Public Library of America introduced the DPLA Bookshelf, a browsable collection of a million online books. For a full report, view this DPLA blog post:  http://dp.la/info/2013/10/24/bookshelf-announcement/

      DPLA Announces Million-Dollar Grant

The Digital Public Library of America announced that it has received $990,195 grant the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to train public librarians in Digital Technologies. For a full report, view this DPLA blog post:  http://dp.la/info/2013/10/24/gates-announcement/

Sincerely, Digital Commonwealth
Copyright © 2013 Digital Commonwealth. All rights reserved.
Contact email: digitalcommonwealth@gmail.com

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!!

The following is a guest post from Molly Stothert-Maurer from the Perkins School of the Blind who attended the recent DPLA gathering at the BPL and provided this report:

DPLAfest

On October 24-25, 2013 Northeastern University, Simmons College, and the Boston Public Library hosted the first annual DPLAfest, in honor of the successful launch in April 2013 of the new Digital Public Library of America.

Ponds>Lakes>Oceans

One of the great take-home messages from the event is the clever analogy drawn between the pooling of the United States’ digital assets into the DPLA via content and service hubs, as a water ecosystem whereby small libraries, archives, historical societies, and other communities (ponds) contribute their assets to state consortia and other larger networks like the Digital Commonwealth (lake) which are subsequently harvested by the DPLA (the ocean). This model allows the DPLA to ingest assets with great efficiency by culling large, standardized data sets with metadata that can be easily mapped, allowing for a streamlined and efficient process that keeps the DPLA slim and trim (think few employees and sustainable finances) for the benefit of users worldwide- and the benefits are many. For small institutions: the power of having assets searchable equitably alongside major institutions on an attractive and user-friendly portal , with a rapidly expanding toolbox of custom apps, widgets and other “hacks” thanks to the DPLA’s open API (public docks?)- is a true rainfall for us all (pun intended). Furthermore, the DPLA is committed to sending web traffic back to individual institutions, and building support through community programs. This is evidenced by one of their credos: “Plan Nationally, Scan Locally”.

For more information about the DPLAfest check out their Recordings and Notes page.

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Updates for September, 2013

Vote!  Vote!  Vote!

Emails were sent this week asking designated members who represent their institutions to vote for the new slate of officers on the Board of Directors plus revisions made to the Digital Commonwealth By Laws.

A minimum of 15 more votes are needed, so please vote today! Voting will be extended another week as necessary.

A list of the current board officers and members is available at http://digitalcommonwealth.org/board. An essential change to the By Laws included the addition of a conflict of interest provision, necessary for the Digital Commonwealth’s transition to official nonprofit status (see below).

Another significant change to the By Laws will allow Ex-officio members the right to vote on board decisions. Most importantly, this change gives the BPL, currently represented by Tom Blake, the opportunity to fully participate in board actions. As Digital Commonwealth further solidifies its partnership with the BPL, this move was seen by the board as an essential element for stronger integration of the two organizations.

If you think you should have received an email directive to vote but did not, please contact membership@digitalcommonwealth.org

Nonprofit Status: 501(c)3 update

Why is voting so important? Because once the new officers and the By-Law revisions are officially ratified, Digital Commonwealth can submit it’s 501(c)3 application to the IRS for nonprofit status. The application is ready to go!

While an organization is waiting for processing of their application, they may operate as a tax-exempt entity. So vote today, and help Digital Commonwealth attain its non-profit status!

Repository Update at the BP

The BPL repository development team continues to make steady progress in rolling out new functionality, features, and fixes. Most significantly the batch upload process is nearing completion while work on OAI-PMH harvesting has begun. For a full September report, view this blog post: http://digitalcommonwealth.org/blog/?p=144

DC and BPL attend MBLC Legislative meeting

Both Digital Commonwealth and the BPL were represented at the annual MBLC Legislative meeting where members of the library and information community are invited to comment on line items in the MBLC budget. Details of the meeting can be read in this blog post: http://digitalcommonwealth.org/blog/?p=156. Digital Commonwealth’s statement and handout in support of the BPL’s Library of the Commonwealth digital services are available for download in PDF format:

Elizabeth Hacala resigns

Many Digital Commonwealth members know Elizabeth through email and phone conversations as she handled many of your problems  the past three years. Unfortunately, due to family matters, Elizabeth is resigning from her role as administrative and financial manger for Digital Commonwealth. For more about Elizabeth’s departure along with a personal note from her to the membership, please read this blog post: http://digitalcommonwealth.org/blog/?p=148.All email concerning membership questions and problems should now be sent to membership@digitalcomonwealth.org. 

Volunteers Needed: to Help with Member Management 

With Elizabeth’s departure comes the challenge of filling her service roles with the budget and membership management. The board is considering how best to replace Elizabeth, if we should have one or two new paid positions and what those might entail. In the meantime, though, Ryan Hanson, Treasurer for Digital Commonwealth, will take on a larger role in helping with budgetary matters. And hopefully volunteers will step forward to help manage membership issues.If you are interesting in lending a hand, please email  membership@digitalcomonwealth.org.

Sincerely, Digital Commonwealth
Copyright © 2013 Digital Commonwealth. All rights reserved.
Contact email: digitalcommonwealth@gmail.com

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.