The BPL is pleased to announce that they have now moved into the “beta launch” phase of the rollout of the Hydra-based Digital Commonwealth repository platform.

The new URLs are:
Search (public discovery):
Admin (ingest & management):

Not all features are fully implemented as yet. Here is what’s available:

Public Search app:

  • keyword search
  • faceted browsing of search results by format, subject, date
  • browse by collection, institution, or geographic location
  • image viewer with zooming functionality for viewing hi-res images in detail
  • users can create bookmarks and personalized folders of their favorite items
  • users can create an account, or log in via their BPL/MBLN library card or Facebook account
  • easily share items on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media
  • site designed to play well with tablets and phones

Member Admin app:

    • create digital collections
    • upload images
    • add metadata
    • edit existing objects (might be of special interest to members with items in DSpace)

For admin access, contact Tom Blake ( to get started.

Features to be added soon:

  • batch uploads
  • support for other content types, such as postcards, books, and audio

Content from the initial test (alpha) server is being migrated to the new production-server repository. Upon completion all data from the current Digital Commonwealth DSpace server,, will be available in the new Fedora/Hydra repository. So far about 80% of the DSpace content is available. More is added every day. Once the complete migration is assured, the process will begin to shut down the DSpace server, currently hosted at UMass Amherst Libraries.

As the new repository is now in “beta,” the public link can be shared with colleagues both inside and outside your institution(s). The BPL will be doing a small amount of promotion for this, but intend to save the grand ribbon-cutting for when the system finally replaces Coming soon! Stay tuned!

We are still actively seeking feedback, suggestions, etc., so feel free to send comments by using the feedback form at

Earlier this month the Governor approved the inclusion of $147,532 in the state FY14 budget to continue digitization for Digital Commonwealth members under the BPL’s Library for the Commonwealth program.

This money will continue the digital-imaging services that the BPL has provided in partnership with Digital Commonwealth since 2011 through funding provided by a LSTA grant awarded through the MBLC. The state expenditure attests to the valuable work achieved these past two years by the BPL and Digital Commonwealth. Thousands of significant historical items have been digitized and will soon be made available collectively through a new state-of-the-art repository under development at the BPL that just this past week celebrated its initial public beta release.

With this new funding, the BPL will continue to accept project applications and hope to grow this program to include metadata creation and other services in the near future. The BPL and Digital Commonwealth look forward to working with DC members on their digital projects throughout FY14 and beyond.

For more information about participating in this program, details are provided at the BPL’s project blog.

On Monday, June 24, 2013, Digital Commonwealth of Massachusetts held a free half-day workshop focusing on developing lesson plans featuring digital content.  The workshop was held at the Whittemore Library, Framingham State University, and was attended by school library media specialists, new teachers, and professionals from cultural organizations interested in making (and using) digital content for educational purposes.

The workshop included an introduction to Digital Commonwealth the organization (a collaborative initiative promoting digital content of Massachusetts cultural institutions), the existing Digital Commonwealth portal and repository (an online discovery and storage platform), screenshots of the upcoming new system (currently in development by the Boston Public Library, a partner organization to Digital Commonwealth), and examples of existing lesson plans using digital content.

Attendees responded favorably to the variety of digital content available via the metadata within the existing portal which includes links to video clips from WGBH’s Open Vault;  images of historical broadsides from the State Library of Massachusetts; and audio files and photographic images from NOBLE’s Digital Heritage.  Marianne Brown, a new teacher, talked about how she developed a lesson plan featuring photographs from the Watertown Free Public Library (digital images of these photographs are stored in the current Digital Commonwealth repository).  Marianne’s lesson plan is available as a PDF on Digital Commonwealth’s lesson plan page:

Kim Cochrane, Curriculum Librarian, Framingham State University, and Nancy Heywood, Digital Projects Coordinator, Massachusetts Historical Society, led the workshop.  Both Kim and Nancy serve on Digital Commonwealth’s Outreach Committee and will review and revise the program. They hope to schedule two more workshops later this year.  For information and notification about future workshops, email Nancy Heywood:

Digital Commonwealth is pleased to announce the addition of three new members on the board of directors to replace outgoing board members. The three new members are Debra DeJonker-Berry from the Jonathan Bourne Public Library, Kelcy Shepard from Amherst College, and Elizabeth Thomsen from the NOBLE network.

These new members will be replacing Sarah Campbell from Holy Cross; Jessica Colati from Worcester Polytechnic Institute; and Kristi Chadwick, former President of Digital Commonwealth, who is the current Director of the Emily Williston Memorial Library in Easthampton.

Debra DeJonker-Berry has worked for the past year as the Information Systems Librarian in Bourne. Prior to this position she brings to the Board the experience of nearly twenty years service as the director of public libraries in Halifax and Provincetown Massachusetts.

 Kelcy Shepard is currently the Head of Digital Programs at Amherst College. Previously she worked at UMass Amherst as the Digital Interfaces Librarian.  She’s been publishing, teaching, and presenting widely on a multitude of archival-related topics such as metadata, EAD, XML, and The Archivist’s Toolkit since 2000.

Elizabeth Thomsen is a long-time Member Services Manager for NOBLE, the North of Boston Library Exchange. She is responsible for training of staff at the 28 public and academic libraries that belong to NOBLE. She also oversees NOBLE’s Digital Heritage Omeka repository. Perhaps she is also familiar as the presenter of “Future of the Past: Digital Libraries in the Age of Social Media” at this year’s Digital Commonwealth conference.

The Digital Commonwealth welcomes these three exceptional new members to its Board of Directors!

All the latest news from the Digital Commonwealth of Massachusetts!

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Updates for May, 2013

Annual Conference: The Results Are In! 

Overall, the Digital Commonwealth Annual Conference was a huge success! We had 123 attendees. This was an impressive increase from the past few years, and surely reflects not only the increase in DC membership but also the enthusiasm and excitement apparent as new members tackle new digital projects, many for the very first time!
Survey results indicate that nearly half of the attendees represented public libraries while a quarter came from academic institutions. The remainder worked in schools, special libraries, archives, and historical societies.

Over half of the survey respondents gave the overall conference an excellent rating and another 30% rated it good. The keynotes were by far the most popular presentations, with Amy Rudersdorf’s talk about the Digital Public Library of America receiving a 71% excellent rating while Butch Lazorchak’s look at Digital Storytelling achieved a 61% excellent rating.  

Comments were also very encouraging, both expressed in the survey and related personally to members of the Digital Commonwealth Board, that the facilities were comfortable and convenient and the conference highly rewarding and appreciated.

The challenge to the Conference Committee now is to make the 2014 conference even better! If you would like to share other comments about the conference or volunteer to help plan future conferences, please email

2013 Annual Conference Presentations Available
Presentations from the 2013 Digital Commonwealth Annual Conference are now available for viewing and download in PDF format:
Legislative Amendment to Continue BPL Scanning Services in Conference Committee
Amendments in both the House and Senate have passed to provide $148,000 in funding for continued digitization support to Digital Commonwealth members — but the House version of the amendment did not include the proper language. As such, the expenditure would go to the MLS. The Senate version did include the correct language specifically earmarking the $148,000 to the BPL for statewide digitization as a per capita increase in their state line-item funding. The two amendments are now being discussed in conference committee in order to resolve the difference. If you wish to advocate for continued digital scanning services by the BPL, then please contact the representatives listed below and ask that they resolve to the Senate version of the amendment : “amendment 103: Library of the Commonwealth (7000-9401) that the bill be amended, in Section 2, in item 7000-9401, by striking the figure “35.9” and inserting in place thereof the following figure:-“38.3” and in the same item by striking out the figure “$9,231,475” and inserting in place thereof the following figure “$9,379,475.”

Here are the committee members:
House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey, Representative Stephen Kulik ( Worthington) and Representative Viriato deMacedo (Plymouth); Senate Ways and Means Chair Stephen Brewer, Senator Jennifer Flanagan (Leominster) and Senator Michael Knapik (Westfield)


Digital Commonwealth has never done a great job at organizing volunteer assistance, but that is about to change. We received a number of responses in the conference survey from members interested in becoming more involved, and we are determined to take full advantage of the enthusiasm and talent!

Areas needing help in the coming new fiscal year include an IMLS grant that will be submitted in February. Digital Commonwealth has always been a volunteer organization, but it has become apparent that we desperately need a paid staff person. The IMLS has encouraged us to apply for a grant to supply funding for that position with the directive that we devise a model of sustainability that could be applied nationally by other state-wide digital libraries. This is an enormous challenge, and we could use help by grant writers and others who are willing to research details about other existing comparable organizations.

Other projects include help with this newsletter and the Digital Commonwealth blog. As you can see, the May delivery is occurring in June. (refer above to that need for a staff person!) With a little more volunteer help, though, we might be able to stick to an actual monthly deadline! The Conference Committee is another endeavor that could use research help. We would like to keep it growing with more reputable speakers and corporate sponsorship. 

If any of these projects is of interest, please email We would love to have your assistance!

Chicopee Public Library Adds Collections
The Chicopee Public Library has established an Omeka repository that now houses its online archives: The site presently contains three collections: Soldiers Record, Chicopee Weekly Journal, and The Olive Leaf. Metadata from the first two of these collections, 427 records in total, have been harvested into the Digital Commonwealth Omeka repository. For more information about the Chicopee archive and its collections, please read this blog post by Amber Clooney, the Electronic Reference Services Librarian at Chicopee Public Library.

Digital Commonwealth at MLS Conference
Digital Commonwealth members Worcester Public Library and the Perkins Library for the Blind will represent the Digital Commonwealth at the Massachusetts Library System conference, “Making Change: Transfer Creativity in Libraries,” as part of the Ten table talks by Massachusetts institutions that foster creativity. The conference will be held Thursday, June 13th, at the DCU in Worcester.

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
Sincerely, Digital Commonwealth
Copyright © 2013 Digital Commonwealth. All rights reserved.
Contact email:

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:

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 @  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
Sincerely, Digital Commonwealth
Copyright © 2013 Digital Commonwealth. All rights reserved.
Contact email:

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 ( 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.