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!

Check us out on FaceBook!!
135 Likes!! We appreciate your support!!
Thank you for being part of Digital Commonwealth!!
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.