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!

Digital Commonwealth logo


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.

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!

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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