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.

On April 18 and 19, 2013, the Boston Public Library will host an event at which the Digital Public Library of America will be formally launched.

The underlying system of the DPLA will both aggregate and re-expose metadata drawn from a variety of regional digital library systems. These regional systems will include the initial network of Content and Service Hubs of which Digital Commonwealth has been included. Digital Commonwealth was selected as a pilot DPLA Hub because of the richness and diversity of its content as well as its ability to help members leverage the resources at the Boston Public Library for local digitization projects. As a result of this partnership, descriptive metadata currently searchable and harvestable via Digital Commonwealth systems will also become searchable and harvestable via the DPLA web interface and API. Students, researchers, digital humanists, and applications developers from around the world will now have, at their fingertips, valuable metadata describing digitized cultural heritage materials from Massachusetts, the United States, and beyond. We look forward to the creative and innovative lesson plans, research projects, and learning tools that this consolidated online resource will inspire now and into the future.

At the launch event, Digital Commonwealth will unveil an online exhibition based on the Sports Temples exhibit currently on display at the BPL in Copley Square. The online exhibition will be one of several examples of what will be possible once digital content is made available through the DPLA. Digital Commonwealth has been asked to provide some representative samples of images and corresponding descriptive metadata to be put on display in a variety of formats during the event. Please contact Tom Blake (tblake@bpl.org) if you would like any of your materials to be included in this event, and for further details on how to participate.

All the latest news from the Digital Commonwealth of Massachusetts!

Digital Commonwealth logo


Updates for November, 2012

Digital Commonwealth chosen as “Service Hub” for Digital Public Library of America

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is working to establish the first truly national digital library of the United States. As an initial stage toward accumulating content for its collection, the DPLA has chosen seven regional or state digital repositories as “Service Hubs” from which the DPLA will harvest content. We are proud to announce that the Digital Commonwealth was chosen as one of those Hubs. For information about the DPLA and the Hubs Pilot program, view this announcement on the DPLA website. The page also includes a video presentation by Emily Gore, the DPLA’s first paid staff member.

MIT Communications Forum features Robert Darnton speaking about the DPLA
On November 1, 2012, Robert Darnton, Director of Harvard Libraries, spoke about the vision of the Digital Public Library of America at an MIT symposium “Digitizing the Culture of Print: The Digital Public Library of America and Other Urgent Projects.” Also included on the panel were Ann Wolpert, Director of MIT Libraries, and Susan Flannery, Director of Libraries for the city of Cambridge.

Dr. Darnton serves on the steering committee of the DPLA. As a distinguished scholar of 18th century American and French history, Darnton spoke about the motivation of the DPLA project to extend the democratization of access to knowledge by freely offering not just the choicest publications from imminent research collections but also digitized historical primary source materials.

Emphasizing the democratic nature of the DPLA enterprise, Darnton stressed the motivation to reach and involve people at the grassroots level. He even envisioned the DPLA organizing mobile scan labs he called “scannebagoes” that would go out and help people digitize stuff from their attics. Perhaps that is a bit far fetched, to think of pulling a scanning van in front of someone’s house, but it certainly isn’t fanciful to think of providing personalized services to small community libraries and historical societies. This is indeed a vision shared by the Digital Commonwealth as we partner with the BPL and now the DPLA to broaden access to the rich cultural heritage of Massachusetts too often hidden in small community collections and work toward sharing that historical record with the world.

The DPLA, Darnton explained, now has a staff of eight at the Berkman Center at Harvard plus over a thousand volunteers around the country working toward creating a nonprofit organizational structure. Currently they are actively seeking a director and the best place for their headquarters.

To view Darnton’s presentation along with Wolpert’s and Flannery’s, the complete video has been made available by MIT.

Digital Commonwealth partnership with the Boston Public Library

One year ago the Digital Commonwealth and the Boston Public Library signed a letter of agreement to work together toward creating new state-wide digital services and repository system that would greatly expand and improve the existing Digital Commonwealth structure. So far this partnership has resulted in a second year of free digital scanning services provided by the BPL and funded by generous grants from the MBLC along with a series of free training workshops organized by the Digital Commonwealth. Our DPLA involvement is yet another result of this lucrative partnership. And next year, the BPL will release a new repository system to replace the aging system that the Digital Commonwealth has been using for the past six years.

We will provide updates and details about the new system being developed by the BPL in future newsletter installments. Meanwhile, please read more details about the Digital Commonwealth/BPL partnership available here.

Free Workshop in the Berkshires
Digital Commonwealth is offering another free workshop  on managing digital projects, this time  in the Berkshires at Sage-Bushnell Library in Sheffield on December 13, 2012. There are still plenty of seats available!!

Also in December, seats are still available for the free workshop at Snow Library in Orleans on Cape Cod taking place on Thursday, December 6, 2012.

Both of these workshops are available for FREE to all Digital Commonwealth members, thanks to the generous grant provided by the MBLC to the Digital Commonwealth and Boston Public Library. For more information and registration please view the workshop information web page.

Save the Date for the 2013 Annual Digital Commonwealth Conference
The date has been set for the next annual Digital Commonwealth Conference to be held on Thursday, April 25, at the Cambridge Hyatt Regency. Once again the Digital Commonwealth will be holding its conference in collaboration with the Massachusetts Library Association’s annual conference. We hope to see you there!

Member Votes still  needed to ratify Bylaws revision:

Because the Digital Commonwealth incorporated this year as a nonprofit in Massachusetts, we revised our Bylaws to better suite the requirements of our new status. Three-quarters of the membership must approve the revisions before they can be officially filed with the state. If you haven’t submitted a ballot as yet, please do so as soon as possible. We need your vote!!

Digital Commonwealth is on Facebook!
Check out the many highlights available from Digital Commonwealth collections posted on our Facebook page! Look for us there and ‘like’ us!

Digital Commonwealth’s Partnership with the Boston Public Library

Last fall (November 2011) representatives of the Digital Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Digital Commonwealth) and the Boston Public Library (BPL) signed a letter of agreement stating the intention and commitment of both organizations “to work together towards a shared goal of creating, maintaining and expanding a successful and thriving statewide system to provide access to digital resources found in Massachusetts.”

Since 2007, Digital Commonwealth, a membership-supported collaboration of cultural organizations in Massachusetts, has taken significant steps towards its mission of enabling Massachusetts cultural institutions to create and share digital resources and creating a community of support for participating institutions.  Digital Commonwealth also continues to promote the discovery and use of digital content from the state’s libraries, archives, historical societies, and other cultural institutions, to many audiences

Last fall, within its Library for the Commonwealth program, the Boston Public Library made it clear that it is committed to the development and maintenance of a statewide digital library system as well as the development of a sustainable model for the provision of digital production services for institutions throughout Massachusetts.

The letter of agreement between Digital Commonwealth and the BPL acknowledges that both organizations will share the responsibility of envisioning the functionality of the technical infrastructure, contribute to building a membership base of cultural organizations from all areas of the state, and develop affordable and easy methods for members to share metadata within the statewide system.

The letter of agreement also states that Digital Commonwealth will take the lead on planning outreach activities and conferences and that the BPL will take the lead on developing and maintaining the technological infrastructure, creating user-friendly instructions, and providing some customer service for participating members.

The timing of the partnership between Digital Commonwealth and the BPL is advantageous because Digital Commonwealth’s existing portal and repository (www.digitalcommonwealth.org) need to be updated and reworked.  BPL’s repository developers are working on the new system and the plan is for it to be available in spring 2013.  We plan to share updates about the new portal and repository in future newsletters!

When the letter of agreement was written it was acknowledged that the partnership is a work-in-progress.  Over the next couple of months, representatives from Digital Commonwealth’s Executive Committee will be meeting with the appropriate staff of the BPL to review our letter of agreement and work to ensure our partnership is proceeding as smoothly as possible.

Written for the Digital Commonwealth e-newsletter, November 2012

All the latest news from the Digital Commonwealth of Massachusetts!

Digital Commonwealth logo


Updates for October, 2012

Welcome to the new Digital Commonwealth Monthly Newsletter!

We are embarking on an exciting new era with the Digital Commonwealth and look forward to sharing our developments and accomplishments as we establish ourselves as an official non-profit organization and strengthen our partnership with the Boston Public Library as we work together to build a new state-of-the-art Digital Commonwealth repository and portal. We hope that you will enjoy hearing our news every month as this eventful year progresses!

Digital Commonwealth Conference

Planning for the Digital Commonwealth’s annual conference is underway. To be held in late April, 2013 at the Cambridge Hyatt, this day-long meeting will focus on issues relating to creating and maintaining digital collections. If you have a program suggestion, please contact Alix Quan at the State Library of Massachusetts (alix.quan@state.ma.us)

Digital Commonwealth Executive Committee Welcomes Four New Members:

We are pleased to announce that the Digital Commonwealth Executive Committee has been joined by four very exciting new members that bring a wealth of highly qualified expertise to the aid of Digital Commonwealth as we undertake exciting new challenges. Please welcome the following new Executive Committee members:

Jessica Collati, Digital Initiatives Librarian, Worcester PolyTech
(formerly Director of Preservation Services, NEDCC)

Ellen Dubinsky, Digital Services Librarian,Bridgewater State University

Ryan Hanson, Assistant Director, Newton Free Public Library

Anne Saurer, Director Digital Collections and Archives, Tufts University

Coming Soon: Bylaws Revision

The Digital Commonwealth recently incorporated and is in the process of becoming a non-profit organization. As part of this process, the bylaws are undergoing a thorough revision. The revision will need to be voted on by the membership of Digital Commonwealth before the end of October so they can be submitted to the State Attorney General’s office along with our first corporate annual report. If your organization is a Digital Commonwealth member, please be on the lookout for an email next week regarding an electronic ballot for approving the revised bylaws. We need your vote!

Member Vote to Ratify New Digital Commonwealth Officers:

In addition to the vote for the Bylaws revision, included in next week’s ballot is the need to vote for the new slate of Digital Commonwealth officers. Beginning this fiscal year in July, Joseph Fisher, Database Management Librarian at UMass Lowell, moved into the President’s position of Digital Commonwealth while Karen Cariani, Director of the Media Library and Archives at WGBH, accepted the role of Vice President. Other officers include Anne Saurer as Secretary and Ryan Hanson as Treasurer. Another reminder — please respond to next week’s ballot. We need your vote to ratify these officers for our report to the State Attorney General’s Office.

Digital Commonwealth Committees

As an all-volunteer organization, the Digital Commonwealth is seeking membership participation in its various committees:

Conference (Alix Quan, chair): Plans and publicizes the Digital Commonwealth annual conference.

Development (to be determined): Seeks grant-funding and donations to support the further development of the Digital Commonwealth.

Outreach (Margaret Morrissey, chair): Oversees training and other workshops for Digital Commonwealth members, as well as member relations and promoting the organization.

Portal, Repository, Technology and Standards — PRTS (Jessica Collati, chair): Oversees the current Digital Commonwealth’s portal and repository, as well as detailing metadata and other standards. This committee is also working closely with Boston Public Library staff members on the development of a new portal and repository system based on the Fedora Commons/Hydra repository platform, due to have its initial soft-launch in the spring, 2013, in time for the Digital Commonwealth Annual Conference.

Please contact Digital Commonwealth (digitalcommonwealth@gmail.com) if you are interested in becoming involved in one of these committees.

Connect to Digital Commonwealth on Facebook!

Digital Commonwealth is on facebook! Why not look for us there and ‘like’ us!

Digital Commonwealth presents free training workshop at Snow Library in Orleans, Thursday, December 6, 2012 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Are you looking to digitize a collection, but don’t know where to start? Do you have questions about selection, metadata, and delivering content online? Would you like to work through these issues with experts and discuss these and other digitization topics with colleagues?

The Digital Commonwealth, a statewide collaboration for digital projects, is pleased to announce a workshop to current members and potential members looking to start or enhance their digital collections. The topics covered in the sessions will include: digital project planning, selecting and preparing materials for digitization, and file format and metadata issues, along with opportunities for discussions about projects and Digital Commonwealth.  The program will be presented by Donia Conn, Education and Outreach Coordinator of the NEDCC, on behalf of the Digital Commonwealth.

You can register for this session today at through our online registration system.

Participating in a training session will facilitate the steps required of current Digital Commonwealth member institutions interested in receiving free digitization services (grant funding permitting) from the Boston Public Library.

Please pass this message to any cultural institutions in your area such as: Historical Society, Museum, and Town Clerk who may also be interested.

These training sessions are supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

Vivien Goldman is the contact person for this workshop. She can be reached at viviengoldman@comcast.net