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.

All the latest news from the Digital Commonwealth of Massachusetts!

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Updates for April, 2013

The annual conference is taking place May 1! Don’t forget to register!
ConfLogoDC2013 Featured at this year’s conference is the Keynote presentation by
Amy Rudersdorf, Assistant Director for Content for the Digital Public  Library of America.

 Amy’s talk will provide an introduction to DPLA and its mission and goals and make a case for opening up our nation’s library, archives, and  museum data to the world. We should also hear about how the DPLA intend to use Digital Commonwealth content in their plans.

 Besides Amy, the conference will also feature a second Keynote by Butch Lazorchak, Digital Archivist from the Library of Congress. Butch  will talk about Digital Stewardship and Digital Storytelling that includes crowdfunding, citizen archiving, personal digital archiving, and  digital mapping.  For anyone who follows the Signal Blog, as all of us should, you are well aware of Butch’s good work.

In addition the conference will offer nine breakout sessions covering digital collection preparation, continuing education opportunities,  digitizing newspapers, dealing with vendors, and two sessions introducing the new BPL repository for its first public debut display! (explained in more detail below)

For a full list and descriptions of the all the conference events including the nine breakout sessions please visit the Digital Commonwealth member’s site @ http://members.digitalcommonwealth.org.  Also available in this PDF document.

New BPL Repository to Debut at Digital Commonwealth Conference May 1

The late afternoon breakout session, “Digital Commonwealth 2.0: Creating Online Digital Collections with the Redesigned Repository System,” will provide the first full public introduction to the new Digital Commonwealth repository. The presentation will be provided by the repository’s two developers, Steven Anderson and Eben English.
An earlier afternoon session, “Digital Commonwealth 2.0 and Metadata: Make Morph, Manipulate, Master,” will demonstrate the process of creating, editing, and uploading descriptive records using the new repository system.
For the latest update on the development schedule, check out this blog post from Eben.

Digital Public Library of America harvests 20,400 records from Digital Commonwealth 

For it’s Initial Release on April 18, the DPLA gathered content from seven partner repositories, one of which was the Digital Commonwealth. 20,400 records were harvested from the Digital Commonwealth’s Omeka repository by the DPLA. That accounts for over 90% of the content available. The DPLA’s public launch will be celebrated at a two-day event at the Boston Public Library on April 18 and 19.  

Digital Commonwealth Images Featured in the DPLA  Public Release Promotion
Several images from the Digital Commonwealth will be highlighted in special exhibits, displays, and promotions for the upcoming Digital Public Library of America public release. Items from Watertown, Southbridge, and Williamsburg Public Libraries will be included in a special DPLA exhibit celebrating National Library Month. And if you are driving into Boston on rt. 90, be sure to look up at the WGBH digital mural for a massive display of selected images from Digital Commonwealth members! 
 
2012 Digitization Training Sessions Wrap-up Report
During 2012, Digital Commonwealth of Massachusetts offered 8 digitization training sessions for staff from libraries, archives, and cultural institutions who were interested in issues relating to the creation and enhancement of digital collections. A recent LSTA grant awarded to the Boston Public Library (BPL) by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) allowed the Digital Commonwealth to work with staff of the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) on the training sessions. The topics covered in the sessions included digital project planning, selecting and preparing materials for digitization, and file format and metadata issues. Read more on the Digital Commonwealth blog.


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 http://members.digitalcommonwealth.org/events.
Sincerely, Digital Commonwealth
Copyright © 2013 Digital Commonwealth. All rights reserved.
Contact email: digitalcommonwealth@gmail.com

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.

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.

Are you a teacher (4th grade to 12th grade) who is interested in developing lesson plans featuring digital content?  Could you benefit from a half-day workshop focused on learning about digital collections and ideas about how to use digitized primary source materials within the classroom?  Please consider attending a free workshop on June 24th!  The workshop will be held in the Room UM (Upper Mezzanine) 16, Whittemore Library, Framingham State University, State Street, Framingham, from 9:00 AM until 1:30 PM on Monday, June 24, 2013.

Although individual teachers are certainly welcome, this workshop is an excellent place for team teachers or grade-level teams to hear about a statewide initiative presenting digital content from cultural institutions in Massachusetts, learn about some existing lesson plans,  and get some advice about how to prepare new plans featuring digital content.  The workshop will also include some hands-on time when attendees will start developing something to use in their classrooms!

To register: http://members.digitalcommonwealth.org/events

For information and notification about future workshops, email Nancy Heywood: nheywood@masshist.org.

During 2012, Digital Commonwealth of Massachusetts offered 8 digitization training sessions for staff from libraries, archives, and cultural institutions who were interested in issues relating to the creation and enhancement of digital collections.   Thanks to grant funding, no registration fees were charged to attendees!

A recent LSTA grant awarded to the Boston Public Library (BPL) by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) allowed the Digital Commonwealth to work with staff of the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) on the training sessions.   The topics covered in the sessions included digital project planning, selecting and preparing materials for digitization, and file format and metadata issues.   The same basic program was given 8 different times, at 7 locations all over the state as well as one online webinar.

Each training session included an afternoon discussion period in which representatives from Digital Commonwealth spoke about the statewide collaborative effort to promote the creation and discoverability of digital collections of Massachusetts cultural institutions and representatives from the BPL spoke about the current grant-funded opportunity for Digital Commonwealth members to have some collections digitized by the BPL Digital Services team.  (The same LSTA grant from the MBLC covers the digitization services and the training sessions.)

Donia Conn, Education and Outreach Coordinator, NEDCC, led the training sessions.  Although a large number of attendees were from public libraries in Massachusetts, staff from special libraries, historical organizations, museums, academic libraries, local municipalities, state or federal agencies, and various archives were also in attendance at the training sessions.

The Digital Commonwealth is grateful to the following seven organizations for hosting a training session:  Massachusetts Library System office, Marlborough; SAILS, Middleborough;  Massachusetts Library Systems office, Whately;  UMass Boston’s electronic classroom in the State Archives Building in Boston;  NEDCC (Northeast Document Conservation Center) in Andover; Snow Library, Orleans;  Bushnell Sage Library, Sheffield.  (One other training session was an online webinar, coordinated by the staff of the NEDCC.)

The main goal of 2012 training sessions was to provide an overview to digitization issues.  Responses from participants indicate there is interest in additional trainings sessions, especially future training or work parties focused on metadata. Participants also suggested some other possible topics for future training sessions:  digitization best practices; funding models for digitization; or nuts and bolts of imaging and image processing.

What topics would you like to see covered by future training sessions? Please leave comments below.

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.

ConfLogoDC2013

   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

All the latest news from the Digital Commonwealth of Massachusetts!

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Updates for January, 2013

This Issue highlights three reports about repository projects involving Digital Commonwealth and the Boston Public Library

Digital Commonwealth announces the release of its new Omeka repository system

Last week Digital Commonwealth released its new open-source Omeka repository system as a temporary replacement for its aging Portal. Now when you navigate to http://digitalcommonwealth.org you access our new Omeka installation. 

This is considered an interim step while the BPL completes development of the system that will ultimately replace both the Portal and DSpace repository. In the mean time, Omeka will enable Digital Commonwealth to continue providing active member services, such as continuing to harvest metadata and ingest images from new collections. 

The new site, which includes a WordPress blog, also allows Digital Commonwealth to better update and disseminate information about our activities. In fact, you can read more about the new Omeka site in this recent blog post.

 
Development Team Report from the BPL: a technical overview of the new Fedora Repository

 Two new programmer hires at the BPL are working full time on the creation of an open- source repository system that will become the future home of Digital Commonwealth. Their report provides a technical overview of the project with some explanation of the Fedora platform being used and its other components such as Hydra and Blacklight.

A limited release is scheduled for mid-April to coincide with the initial public release of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and the upcoming Digital Commonwealth annual conference. The full report is available in the Omeka blog.

Celebration planned at the BPL for the public release of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA)

A two-day series of events is planned at the BPL in mid-April for the initial public release of the DPLA. Highlights in this release will include selections from Digital Commonwealth and the Boston Public Library digital image collections. More information about this event is available here.

Date and Place change for Annual Conference:

May 1, 2013 @ Devens Commons Center

Due to circumstances beyond our control, the Digital Commonwealth has been forced to move the conference to Wednesday, May 1 at the Devens Commons Center in Devens, Massachusetts.  Planning is well underway. We hope to announce our keynote speakers soon. Among the sessions being developed are ones on metadata, dealing with vendors, social media, continuing education opportunities for digital curation, and a series of short presentations highlighting some of the projects the Boston Public Library has digitized under the LSTA grant they’ve been administering.

 Special Shout-Out to The Curious Genealogist Blog

Don’t forget to keep in touch with the continuing LSTA/MBLC scanning grant projects at the BPL by reading their blog updates!

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Copyright © 2012 Digital Commonwealth. All rights reserved.

Contact email: digitalcommonwealth@gmail.com

Digital Commonwealth is pleased to announce the release of an Omeka replacement for the digital harvesting Portal. Now when you navigate to http://digitalcommonwealth.org, instead of accessing the old Portal you access a new site built on the open-source Omeka repository platform. We pursued this replacement to allow us to continue providing customer services while the Boston Public Library (BPL) develops a permanent repository solution that will combine our old Portal functionality with the member digital collections hosted currently in our DSpace repository.

First some background information

The Digital Commonwealth technology infrastructure has always been difficult to grasp. From the beginning our system structure consisted of two platforms: (1) the primary system running our Portal at http://digitalcommonwealth.org that harvested member metadata records and made them discoverable through a robust interface and (2) a DSpace digital repository (http://repository.digitalcommonwealth.org) to host digital collections for those members who lacked the means to host their own content. Metadata about the digital content stored in the DSpace repository has also been discoverable via the search tool in the Portal.

At the time Digital Commonwealth’s original system was developed, Open Source repository solutions for providing OAI-PMH harvesting (such as Omeka) were not available. DSpace, for example, only recently began offering that functionality.  Our initial  Portal was a solution developed by an independent programmer. Although the system was quite advanced for its time – offering faceted browsing, thumbnails, and indexing – it was difficult to maintain and prone to inexplicable service interruptions. The back end also restricted our abilities to harvest new collections or update information pages and provide timely updates of our organizational goals and achievements. These latter limitations were considered particularly critical this past year as Digital Commonwealth undertook several major initiatives and attracted many new members.

The two major components of our system (the Portal and DSpace repository) were originally hosted on a server at the BPL and then later moved to the library at the University of Mass Amherst who have generously hosted our server services for the past few years.  As time went by we began to face several challenging issues.  One, our server was aging and needing replacement. Two, it was hard to maintain both components of the system and difficult to make adjustments and upgrades.

We were weighing options for a replacement of our aging system when the BPL stepped up with an offer to help establish a second generation Digital Commonwealth. They offered to construct the repository side, focusing on technology by developing and managing a new state-of-the art system that would combine the services and functionalities of DSpace and the Portal. We forged a partnership, explained in this blog post, and the BPL went on to hire two programmers and are now well on their way to making their offer a reality. A member of the BPL development team offers some details about their project in this recent blog post.

At the same time, Digital Commonwealth began the process of becoming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We have also revamped our bylaws and have begun work on a new strategic plan. Another part of this transition to what may be termed Digital Commonwealth 2.0 was to establish Omeka as a transitional system until the BPL repository was ready for prime time.

Omeka

For simplicity purposes, the new Omeka system was meant to replicate the old Digital Commonwealth Portal as much as possible. We retained the same basic design for example. Although we sacrificed some functionality, such as faceted searching, and have limited the harvesting of some collections, such as the Massachusetts State Library and UMass Amherst because of their size and complexity, we have gained much in our ability to continue maintaining active services. Omeka provides a much more stable and easily maintained system that is also much more easily updated and kept current.

Keep in mind that this is a temporary “bridge” solution while the real replacement of our old system is under development. We appreciate your patience as we navigate this complicated transition to the next exciting phase of Digital Commonwealth.

As a previous blog post has noted, Digital Commonwealth and the Boston Public Library have embarked on a partnership that will soon result in a new state-of-the-art digital repository that will provide a range of vastly improved hosting and presentation services to Digital Commonwealth members. Based on the Fedora Commons/Hydra open-source repository system, development of the new architecture is well under way thanks to the hiring of two programmers by the BPL. Its initial public release is planned for April, 2013, to coincide with the debut launching of the Digital Public Library of America.

Fedora 

For those of you not familiar with Fedora Commons, the name Fedora is an acronym that stands for Flexible Extensible Digital Object Repository Architecture. It is often confused with the Fedora Red Hat Linux operating system, but has no relationship. Rather, it is a flexible, modular, repository platform for the management and dissemination of digital content. First developed at Cornell University, the Fedora Commons and DSpace organizations joined forces in 2009 to establish DuraSpace. Both repository platforms are now managed and developed under the auspices of the DuraSpace nonprofit group.

Hydra  

The Hydra Project  is an open-source application framework which is supported by a community of partner institutions including Stanford, University of Virginia, Notre Dame, and other major research universities. Hydra adds additional functionality for creating customizable digital object ingest workflows on top of Fedora’s stable and highly scalable file management back-end. Other components of the system include Solr for indexing and retrieval and Blacklight as a front-end interface for discovery and access to the content stored in the Fedora repository.

New BPL Digital Commonwealth Repository

The new platform will provide a reliable technical infrastructure for Digital Commonwealth, with the benefits of greater stability, increased control, and the ability to support an extensible and flexible application which offers more detailed description of collections and items, efficient management of digital objects, and an array of interactive and user-friendly features for both contributing institutions and end-users.

The development of the new repository by the BPL will proceed in stages. Its initial release in April simply aims to replicate the basic functionality of the existing Digital Commonwealth repository (http://repository.digitalcommonwealth.org/) using the Hydra framework and an updated metadata schema for description based on MODS. All objects and metadata records that are currently in the repository will be migrated to the new platform prior to this release. Records currently harvested by the Digital Commonwealth Portal will also be harvested by and made available in the new repository. Since OAI-PMH harvesting may not be added prior to this initial release, however, the inclusion of the Portal records may have to occur at a later date.

Features of the new repository will include:

  • Deposit of simple digital objects (images, text) in the repository via a web-based upload form
  • Creation and description of collections to organize digital objects
  • Description of digital objects using a “basic” or “advanced” metadata entry form
  • Keyword searching (basic and advanced)
  • Faceted browsing by collection, institution, format, subject, date, etc.
  • Feature-rich interaction with digital images (zooming, panning, etc.)
  • Ability for end-users to create, manage, and share personal collections of items

All functionality will be contained within the web application — there will be no need for contributors to download or install any software locally or deal with upgrades or migrations. Additional functionality, such as support for batch uploading of items, deposit of more complex digital objects (such as double-sided postcards, books, oral histories, video, etc.), GIS-based graphical browsing, and embedded audio/video players, is currently in the planning stages and will be added in future releases, which are expected to be released frequently.

The Digital Commonwealth Portal, Repository, Technology, and Standards (PRTS) committee is working closely with the BPL on the development of this new system.

Please direct any questions, comments, or concerns to digitalcommonwealth@gmail.com.