Recently, Digital Repository Developer Steven Anderson and Web Services Developer Eben English presented at the Open Repositories 2014 conference in Helsinki and at the Northeast Fedora Users Group (NEFUG) meeting in Boston.

Open Repositories is an annual international conference that brings together people and institutions responsible for the development, implementation, and management of digital repositories to share information and strategies for long-term preservation and access. Steven’s presentation was entitled “When Metadata Collides: Lessons on Combining Records from Multiple Repository Systems.” It summarizes the practical challenges involved in combining diverse descriptions, authorities, and technologies into the shared Digital Commonwealth repository and highlights the imaginative ways Steven and Eben have addressed them with the help of the Digital Projects department. Watch the seven-minute presentation online. Move the slider to the 52 minute mark to start with Steven’s talk. (Editor’s note: the previous link has had intermittent connection issues. Please continue to try the link until it resolves correctly.)

During the NEFUG meeting, Eben and Steven gave a presentation titled “digital_commonwealth_presentation” during the Hydra session. Steven presented on slides, that can be viewed here, and Eben gave a 10 minute demonstrations of teh actual portal. Steven also gave a lightening talk (aka “Dork Short”) about metadata combination challenges.

First Parish in Brookline (FPB) Archives Project to bring 300 years of history out of the woods…

by Elizabeth Cousins, Archivist, First Parish in Brookline


Chapter One: First Steps on the “road of yellow bricks.”

Lyon Chapel at FPB, named after William Henry Lyon, Sixth Minister, is a lovely space where spirits are moved, ideas are exchanged and plans put into action. This is where ‘archives talk’ evolved into the Archives Project, driven by several factors: In 2012 the basement flooded. The rescued records were moved to premium space that administration could put to other use since our parish is growing; I, a trained Archivist, finally had time to commit to volunteering; and, FPB is anticipating its’ Tercentennial in 2017. During coffee hour over several Sundays, parishioners, the Minister and committee members expressed interest in access to historical records for a variety of reasons. These reasons in turn became the driver for joining Digital Commonwealth. Certain record series have high informational value for ongoing planning, strategic initiatives and reference purposes. We want to digitize these series so multiple committee members can access them remotely, so that Dr. Rev. Sherblom can search sermons by keyword, and to enable parishioners and the community at large to discover and explore our 300 years of evolution as a community of worship and social action.

During the Digital Commonwealth Conference (2014), I spoke with BPL Digitization Services staff. I described where the records were on the continuum of arrangement and description. In preparation for developing work plans for our processing priorities, I wanted to obtain their spreadsheet to capture required metadata before processing is begun. As it turns out, the spreadsheet is being revised, and the actual first step is submitting the online application for digitization servicesDONE!

The next step is a Team site visit, scheduled for early July. I’ll report on my second step down the “road of yellow bricks” next month!

Congratulations to the Digital Commonwealth Movers & Shakers of 2014 just announced by Library Journal ( Featured in the new selection of stellar talent are two local librarians who have had a long and significant involvement with Digital Commonwealth: current board member Tom Blake as well as retired board member and past president Kristi Chadwick.

Tom is recognized for his leadership in pursuing a partnership between the BPL and Digital Commonwealth that was part of an organizing effort to attain a LSTA digitization grant in 2011. The successful grant  was funded for $200,000 for a two-year project to digitize historical materials for members of the Digital Commonwealth. As the entry about Tom explains, “So far, Blake and his team have digitized more than 75,000 objects from 100 institutions, and the DC has grown to 200 members, from large academic libraries to small independent museums. The collections, now in beta, will soon be available via the DC portal and repository system.”

Tom is also credited for helping establish the strong relationship that has transpired between the BPL, the Digital Commonwealth, and the Digital Public Library of America who chose Digital Commonwealth as one of its initial service hubs.  For more about that experience, check out Tom’s recent blog post: Life as a Service Hub for the Digital Public Library of America.

And if that were not honor enough, Kristi Chadwick is also included in this year’s selection. Kristi is awarded for her work as the Director of the Emily Williston Memorial Library & Museum in Easthampton where she achieved tremendous strides in increased staff appreciation and public support for the library in the short amount of time she has worked there.

Certainly many remember Kristi for her long association with Digital Commonwealth  that included several years serving on the board of directors and a year as president in 2011 and 2012.

Our appreciation goes out to these two for all they have done for librarianship in Massachusetts and particularly for the efforts they have committed to the success of Digital Commonwealth. A well-deserved thank you and congratulations!

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.

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 ( if you would like any of your materials to be included in this event, and for further details on how to participate.

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 ( 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