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.

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.

 

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Updates for August, 2013

New Officers to serve on the Digital Commonwealth Board of Directors

The acceptance by the DC Board of Ellen Dubinsky (Bridgewater) to serve as Secretary for the current fiscal year, now rounds out the officer positions for the Board of Directors. Karen Cariani (WGBH) has stepped up to fill the President’s position while Anne Sauer (Tufts) will serve as Vice-President. Ryan Hanson (Newton) will continue another year as Treasurer. Joseph Fisher (UMass Lowell) now serves as Past-President.

Be on the lookout soon for an email voting process to begin, since it requires majority approval by the membership to ratify the new office appointments.

Information about and links to the new Digital Commonwealth Fedora Repository

The BPL has now moved into the “beta launch” phase of the the Hydra-based Digital Commonwealth repository platform. Information about the functionality available and links to the front and back end are explained in this recent blog post:  http://digitalcommonwealth.org/blog/?p=117

Amy Benson hired to advise members on Metadata procedures

For the remainder of this calendar year, Amy Benson will be providing metadata production support and quality control assistance for collections digitized under the BPL/Digital Commonwealth LSTA-funded statewide digitization program.

LSTA funding has also enabled the hiring the Amy.

Many members should recognize Amy through the numerous digital-production workshops she has given in the area, often in association with the NEDCC. Amy also served on the original Executive Committee of Digital Commonwealth. She currently works as the Librarian/Archivist for Digital Projects at Radcliffe’s Schlesinger Library.

For more information and instructions on how to request assistance from Amy, please read this Digital Commonwealth blog post: http://digitalcommonwealth.org/blog/?p=104

Vote for new officers and By-law changes

With the new fiscal year and the change in the Digital Commonwealth board of directors membership also comes a change in officer positions. Now that Joseph Fisher (UMass Lowell) has completed his year of service as president of the board, Karen Cariani (WGBH) has moved up from serving as vice-president to president for the next 12 months. Anne Sauer (Tufts) has accepted to serve as the new vice-president. Since Anne has been serving as secretary this past year, that position is now vacant.

At the next board meeting in late July, open officer and committee positions will be filled. The slate of officers will require ratification by the membership. In addition, further adjustments to the By-laws are being prepared that will also require ratification. Be on the lookout for an email coming later this summer announcing the voting procedure.

C/W MARS members meet to learn about Digital Commonwealth

The C/W MARS network arranged for a members  meeting at the Palmer Public Library on June 27th to discuss the future of digitizing and the Digital Treasures service.  Danny Pucci, Lead Digital Projects Librarian at the Boston Public Library, presented a power point presentation on the Digital Commonwealth and current partnership with the BPL that has provided LSTA-funded scanning services to members within the past two years.

There were many questions about the future plans for digitization at the state-wide level and clarification was sought on the role of Digital Commonwealth. Margaret Morrissey, public library director in Southbridge and Digital Commonwealth board member, spoke about the evolving partnership between the BPL and Digital Commonwealth.

The general consensus from the meeting was that C/W MARS would let the status quo prevail for now and take a vote on the continuation of the service at a future date.

Lesson Plan Workshop

On Monday, June 24, 2013, Digital Commonwealth of Massachusetts held a free half-day workshop focusing on developing lesson plans featuring digital content. Kim Cochrane, Curriculum Librarian, Framingham State University, and Nancy Heywood, Digital Projects Coordinator, Massachusetts Historical Society, led the workshop. For more information please view this Digital Commonwealth blog post: http://digitalcommonwwealth/blog/?p=108

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

Digital preservation is an issue of interest to many Digital Commonwealth member institutions and virtually all organizations that are responsible for managing and preserving digital content.  One of the keynote speakers at the 2013 Digital Commonwealth conference was Butch Lazorchak, Digital Archivist, Library of Congress.  Butch is involved with the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA).

The NDSA along with NDIIPP (National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program) held an annual meeting (Digital Preservation 2013) on July 23-24, 2013 in Alexandria, Virginia.  (NDSA and NDIIPP are both programs of the Library of Congress.)

Even if you missed the meeting focused on issues and some solutions relating to the challenges of caring for digital content over the long-term, thanks to two different blog posts you can read informative summaries and even view video clips of some of the speakers including Hilary Mason, the chief scientist at bit.ly;  Emily Gore of the Digital Public Library of America; and Cal Lee of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who is involved with BitCurator.

One blog, “Preserving Our World,” (link: http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/NewsBreaks/Preserving-Our-Digital-World-digpres2013-91060.asp), written by Barbie E. Keiser, an information resources management consultant, provides summaries about the talks and links to some of the speakers’ slides and/or institutional websites.

Another post, “Digital Preservation 2013 Trip Report,” (link:  http://ws-dl.blogspot.com/2013/07/2012-07-25-digital-preservation-2013.html), by Mat Kelly, includes summaries and embedded YouTube videos.  Kelly’s piece is posted on the blog of Web Science and Digital Libraries Research Group (a department of Old Dominion University).

Some of Digital Commonwealth’s member institutions are also members of NDSA and a few attended the meeting.  Karen Cariani, WGBH (and also President of Digital Commonwealth), spoke on a panel at the Digital Preservation 2013 meeting about her workplace during the “Digital Preservation Tools” session.    Digital Commonwealth will explore ways (other blogs and/or a future conference panel) for its members to hear more about NDSA and digital preservation activities.

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