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David Rosenthal: Gossip protocols: a clarification

planet code4lib - Mon, 2014-11-10 18:11
blogged on the Library of Congress' Digital Preservation blog about one of his take-aways from the Library's Designing Storage Architectures workshop; the importance of anti-entropy protocols for preservation. He talks about these as "a subtype of “gossip” protocols" and cites LOCKSS as an example, saying:
Not coincidentally, LOCKSS “consists of a large number of independent, low-cost, persistent Web caches that cooperate to detect and repair damage to their content by voting in “opinion polls” (PDF). In other words, gossip and anti-entropy.The main use for gossip protocols is to disseminate information in a robust, randomized way, by having each peer forward information it receives from other peers to a random selection of other peers. As the function of LOCKSS boxes is to act as custodians of copyright information, this would be a very bad thing for them to do.

It is true that LOCKSS peers communicate via an anti-entropy protocol, and it is even true that the first such protocol they used, the one I implemented for the LOCKSS prototype, was a gossip protocol in the sense that peers forwarded hashes of content to each other. Alas, that protocol was very insecure. Some of the ways in which it was insecure related directly to its being a gossip protocol.

An intensive multi-year research effort in cooperation with Stanford's CS department to create a more secure anti-entropy protocol led to the current  protocol, which won "Best Paper" at the 2003 Symposium on Operating System Principles. It is not a gossip protocol in any meaningful sense (see below the fold for details). Peers never forward information they receive from other peers, all interactions are strictly pair-wise and private.

For the TRAC audit of the CLOCKSS Archive we provided an overview of the operation of the LOCKSS anti-entropy protocol; if you are interested in the details of the protocol this, rather than the long and very detailed paper in ACM Transactions on Computer Systems (PDF), is the place to start.

According to Wikipedia:
a gossip protocol is one that satisfies the following conditions:
  • The core of the protocol involves periodic, pairwise, inter-process interactions.
  • The information exchanged during these interactions is of bounded size.
  • When agents interact, the state of at least one agent changes to reflect the state of the other.
  • Reliable communication is not assumed.
  • The frequency of the interactions is low compared to typical message latencies so that the protocol costs are negligible.
  • There is some form of randomness in the peer selection. Peers might be selected from the full set of nodes or from a smaller set of neighbors.
  • Due to the replication there is an implicit redundancy of the delivered information.
The current LOCKSS anti-entropy protocol does not meet this definition. Peer communications are periodic and pairwise, but each pairwise communication forms part of a poll (anti-entropy operation) not the whole of one. When peers communicate, their state may change but the new state may not be a reflection of the state of the other. There is no implicit redundancy of the delivered information, the information delivered between two peers is specific to that pair of peers and is never shared with any other peer.

The redundancy of preserved content in a LOCKSS network is a higher-level concept than the details of individual peer communication. The current protocol is a peer-to-peer consensus protocol.

OCLC Dev Network: Learning Linked Data: Some Handy Tools

planet code4lib - Mon, 2014-11-10 17:30

I’ve been working with Linked Data off and on for a while now but really the last year has been my deepest dive into it. Much of that dive involved writing a PHP library to interact with the WorldCat Discovery API. Since I started seeing how much could be done with Linked Data in discovery, I’ve been re-adjusting my worldview and acquiring a new skills set to work with Linked Data. This meant understanding the whole concept of triples and the subject, predicate, object nomenclature. In our recent blog posts on the WorldCat Discovery API, we touched on some of the basics of Linked Data.  We also mentioned some tools for working with Linked Data in Ruby.

Library of Congress: The Signal: Digital Preservation Capabilities at Cultural Heritage Institutions: An Interview With Meghan Banach Bergin

planet code4lib - Mon, 2014-11-10 16:55

Meghan Banach Bergin, Bibliographic Access and Metadata Coordinator, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

The following is a guest post by Jefferson Bailey of Internet Archive and co-chair of the NDSA Innovation Working Group.

In this edition of the Insights Interview series we talk with Meghan Banach Bergin, Bibliographic Access and Metadata Coordinator, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries. Meghan is the author of a Report on Digital Preservation Practices at 148 Institutions. We discuss the results of her research and its implications of her work for digital preservation policies in general and at her institution in particular.

Jefferson: Thanks for talking with us today. Tell us about your sabbatical project.

Meghan: Thank you, I’m honored to be interviewed for The Signal blog.  The goal of my sabbatical project last year was to investigate how various institutions are preserving their digital materials.  I decided that the best way to reach a wide range of institutions was to put out a web-based survey. I was thrilled at the response. I received responses from 148 institutions around the world, roughly a third each were large academic libraries, smaller academic libraries and non-academic institutions (including national libraries, state libraries, public libraries, church and corporate archives, national parks archives, historical societies, research data centers and presidential libraries).

It was fascinating to learn what all of these different institutions were doing to preserve our cultural heritage for future generations.  I also conducted phone interviews with 12 of the survey respondents from various types of institutions, which gave me some additional insight into the issues involved in the current state of the digital preservation landscape.

Jefferson: What made you choose this topic for your sabbatical research? What specific conclusions or insight did you hope to gain in conducting the survey?

Meghan: We have been working to build a digital preservation program over the last several years at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries and I thought I could help move it forward by researching what other institutions are doing in terms of active, long-term preservation of digital materials.  I was hoping to find systems or models that would work for us at UMass or for the Five Colleges Consortium.

Jefferson: How did you go about putting together the survey? Were there any specific areas that you wanted to focus on?

Meghan: I had questions about a lot of things, so I brainstormed a list of everything I wanted to know.  When I reviewed the resulting list, four main areas of inquiry emerged: solutions, services, staffing and cost.  I wanted to know what systems were being used for digital preservation and what digital preservation services were being offered, particularly at academic institutions.  Here at UMass we currently offer research data curation services and digital preservation consulting services, but we don’t have a specific budget or staff devoted to digital preservation, which was why I also wanted to know what kind of staffing other institutions had devoted to their digital preservation programs and the cost of those programs.

Jefferson: What surprised you about the responses? Or what commonalities did you find in the answers that you hadn’t considered when writing the questions?

Meghan: I was surprised at the sheer volume and variety of tools and technologies being used to preserve digital materials.  I think this shows that we are in an experimental phase and that everyone is trying to figure out what solutions will work best for different kinds of digital collections and materials, as well as what solutions will work best given the available staffing, skill sets and resources at their institutions.  It also shows that there is a lot of development happening right now, and this makes me feel optimistic about the future of the digital preservation field.

Jefferson: Did any themes or trends emerge from reading people’s responses?

Meghan: Some common themes did emerge.  Most people reported that budgets are tight and that they are trying to manage digital preservation with existing staff that also have other primary job responsibilities aside from digital preservation. Almost everyone I talked to said that they thought they needed additional staff.  Also, most of those interviewed were not completely satisfied with the systems and tools they were using. One person said, “No system is perfect right now. It’s a matter of getting a good enough system.” Others mentioned various issues such as difficulties with interoperability between systems and tools, lack of functionality such as the ability to capture technical or preservation metadata or to migrate file formats, and struggles with implementation and use of the systems. People were using multiple systems and tools in an effort to get all of the different functionality they were looking for. One archivist described their methods as “piecemeal” and said that “It would be good if we could make these different utilities more systematic. Right now every collection is its own case and we need an overall solution.”

Jefferson: Your summary report does a nice job balancing the technical and managerial issues involved with digital preservation. Could you tell us a little bit more about what those are and what your survey revealed in these areas?

Meghan: The survey, and the follow-up phone interviews, highlighted the fact that people are dealing with a wide range of technical issues, including storage cost and capacity, the complexities of web archiving and video preservation, automating processes, the need for a technical infrastructure to support long-term digital preservation, the complexity of preserving a wide variety of formats, and keeping up with standards, trends, and technology, especially when there aren’t overall agreed-upon best practices.  The managerial issues mainly centered around staffing levels, staff skill sets and funding.

Jefferson: I was curious to see that while 90% of respondents had “undertaken efforts to preserve digital materials” only 25% indicated they had a “written digital preservation policy.” What do you think accounts for this discrepancy? And, having recently contributed to writing a policy yourself, what would you say to those just starting to consider it?

Meghan: We were inspired to write our policy by Nancy McGovern’s Digital Preservation Management workshop, and we used an outline she provided at the workshop.  It was time consuming, and I think that’s why a lot of institutions have decided to skip writing a policy and just proceed straight to actually doing something to preserve their digital materials.  This approach has its merits, but we felt like writing the policy gave us the opportunity to wrap our heads around the issues, and having the policy in place provides us with a clearer path forward.

Some of the things we felt were important to define in our policy were the scope of what we wanted to preserve and the roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders.  To those who are just starting to consider writing a digital preservation policy, I would recommend forming a small group to talk through the issues and looking at lots of examples of policies from other institutions.  Also, I would suggest looking at Library of Congress Junior Fellow Madeline Sheldon’s report Analysis of Current Digital Preservation Policies: Archives, Libraries and Museums.

Cover page of Staffing for Effective Digital Preservation: An NDSA Report

Jefferson: Your survey also delved into both staffing and services being provided by institutions. Tell us a bit about some of your findings in those areas (and for staffing, how they compare to the NDSA Staffing Survey (PDF).

Meghan: Almost everyone said that they didn’t have enough staff.  One librarian said, “No one is dedicated to working on digital preservation. It is hard to fulfill my main job duties and still find time to devote to working on digital preservation efforts.” Another stated that, “Digital preservation gets pushed back a lot, because our first concern is patron requests, getting collections in and dealing with immediate needs.”  My survey results echoed the NDSA staffing survey findings in that almost every institution felt that digital preservation was understaffed, and that most organizations are retraining existing staff to manage digital preservation functions rather than hiring new staff.  As far as services, survey respondents reported offering various digital preservation services such as consulting, education and outreach.  However, most institutions are at the stage of just trying to raise awareness about the digital preservation services they offer.

Jefferson: Your conclusion poses a number of questions about the path forward for institutions developing digital preservation programs. How does the future look for your institution and what advice would you give to institutions in a similar place as far as program development?

Meghan: I think the future of our digital preservation program at UMass Amherst looks very positive.  We have made great advances toward digital preservation over the last decade.  We have implemented an institutional repository to manage and provide access to the scholarly output of the University, created a digital image repository to replace the old slide library and developed a Fedora-based repository system to manage and preserve our digital special collections and archives. We wrote our digital preservation policy to guide us in our path forward.

We are planning to join a LOCKSS PLN to preserve the content in our institutional repository; we just joined the Hathi Trust which should provide digital preservation for the materials we have digitized through the Internet Archive; and we are working with the Five Colleges to test and possibly implement new digital preservation tools and technologies.  It helps to have the support of the administration at your institution, which we are very fortunate to have.  My guess is that we will see an increase in collaboration in the future, so my advice would be to pay attention to the development of national-level collaborative digital preservation initiatives and to think about state or regional opportunities to work together on digital preservation efforts.

Jefferson: Finally, after conducting the survey and writing your sabbatical report, how do you feel about the current state of digital preservation?

Meghan: I think it’s really encouraging to see institutions trying different technologies and experimenting with what will work even with limited resources and uncertainty over what the best solution might be.  Despite the many challenges, we aren’t just throwing our hands up in the air and doing nothing.  We are trying different things, sharing the results of our efforts with each other, and learning as a community.  It’s an exciting time of innovation in the digital preservation field!

Eric Lease Morgan: My first Python script, concordance.py

planet code4lib - Mon, 2014-11-10 16:43

Below is my first Python script, concordance.py:

#!/usr/bin/env python2 # concordance.py - do KWIK search against a text # # usage: ./concordance.py <file> <word>ph # Eric Lease Morgan <emorgan@nd.edu> # November 5, 2014 - my first real python script! # require import sys import nltk # get input; needs sanity checking file = sys.argv[ 1 ] word = sys.argv[ 2 ] # do the work text = nltk.Text( nltk.word_tokenize( open( file ).read( ) ) ) text.concordance( word ) # done quit()

Given the path to a plain text file as well as a word, the script will output no more than twenty-five lines containing the given word. It is a keyword-in-context (KWIC) search engine, one of the oldest text mining tools in existence.

The script is my first foray into Python scripting. While Perl is cool (and “kewl”), it behooves me to learn the language of others if I expect good communication to happen. This includes others using my code and me using the code of others. Moreover, Python comes with a library (module) call the Natural Langauge Toolkit (NLTK) which makes it relatively easy to get my feet wet with text mining in this environment.

Islandora: iCampBC T-Shirt Logo Contest

planet code4lib - Mon, 2014-11-10 16:23

One of the features of Islandora Camp is the camp t-shirt given to all attendees. Every camp has its own logo. This is the logo won a free registration for our last Islandora Camp, in Denver:


 

 We want to give a free registration and a couple of extra t-shirts to the iCampBC attendee who comes up with the best logo to represent our first trip to western Canada.

Entries will be accepted through January 3rd, 2015. Entries will be put up on the website for voting and a winner will be selected and announced January 10th, 2015.

Here are the details to enter:

The Rules:
  • Camp Registration is not necessary to enter; anyone with an interest in Islandora is welcome to send in a design - however, the prize is a free registration, so you'll have to be able to come to camp to claim it.
  • Line art and text are acceptable; photographs are not.
  • You are designing for the front of the shirt for an area up to 12 x 12 inches. Your design must be a single image.
  • Your design may be up to four colours. The t-shirt colour will be determined in part by the winning design.
  • By entering the contest you agree that your submission is your own work. The design must be original, unpublished, and must not include any third-party logos (other than the Islandora logo, which you are free to use in your design) or copyrighted material.
The Prizes:
  • One free registration to Islandora Camp BC (or a refund if you are already registered)
  • An extra t-shirt with your awesome logo
  • Bragging rights
How to Enter:
  • Please submit the following by email to community@islandora.ca:
    • Your full name
    • A brief explanation of your logo idea
    • Your logo entry as an attachment. Minimum 1000 x 1000 pixels. High-resolution images in .eps or .ai format are preferred. We will accept .png and .jpg for the contest, but the winner must be able to supply a high resolution VECTOR art version of their entry if it is selected as the winner. Don't have a vector program? Try Inkscape - it's free!
  • Entries will be accepted through January 3rd, 2015.
Details:
  • Multiple entries allowed.
  • Submissions will be screened by the Islandora Team before posting to the website for voting.
  • By submitting your design, you grant permission for your design to be used by the Islandora project, including but not limited to website promotions, printed materials and (of course) t-shirt printing.
  • We reserve the right to alter your image as necessary for printing requirements and/or incorporate the name and date of the camp into the final t-shirt design. You are free to include these yourself as part of your logo.
  • The Islandora Team reserves the right to make the final decision.
Previous Camp Logos

Thank you and good luck!

OCLC Dev Network: November Release Update

planet code4lib - Mon, 2014-11-10 14:30

Deployment of the latest software release was unsuccessful.  We have restored the software to its current release. We will let you know when another installation date is established.

OCLC Dev Network: November Release Update

planet code4lib - Mon, 2014-11-10 14:30

Deployment of the latest software release was unsuccessful.  We have restored the software to its current release. We will let you know when another installation date is established.

Islandora: Islandora Show and Tell: Barnard College

planet code4lib - Mon, 2014-11-10 14:23

Today marks the launch of a new regular blog item for islandora.ca: Islandora Show and Tell. Credit for the idea belongs to the crowd at iCampCO, who reacted to our usual impromptu parade of Islandora site demos from the community by suggesting that this sort of thing should happen far more often. Colorado Alliance's Robin Dean coined the name "Islandora Show and Tell," and here we are.

The launch of Show and Tell coincided handily with the launch of a particularly innovative and beautifully designed Islandora site: Barnard Digital Collections.

Right off the bat, the site stands out for its striking home page, with a full photo background and simple search/browse box as a gateway to the collection:

Other customizations include landing pages for the collection (with new thumbnails), school newspaper, and yearbook; modifications to the OpenSeadragon viewer to add thumbnails; and a custom content model for digital exhibits that pulls in Islandora objects based on PID. If you want to see how the peices work, you can check out Barnard's custom code up on GitHub . They have also shared a detailed MODs form for photos with our Islandora Ingest Forms repo.

The collection itself is a delight, especially the newspaper and yearbooks. I always start any visit to a new Islandora site by dropping "cats" into simple search, because that's how my head works and odd words reveal interesting objects. In Barnard's digital collection, it helped me learn about 1938's Playful Play Day, a 1976 assurance from Allied Chemical that stockholders are people too, and a comic strip that captures the true spirit of 1991:

I highly reccomended taking your own tour of the collection and seeing what you can discover. Even if you're not a Barnard alum, it's a facinating and very accessible collection - and you can always share cool finds with the rest of us on #islandora. You can also check out the story of Barnard College's site development from the point of view of discoverygarden, Inc, who published a recent case study.

Now, for the actual Show and Tell. Martha Tenney, Digital Archivist at Barnard, agreed to answer some questions about their site and how it came together:

What is the primary purpose of your repository? Who is the intended audience?

The Barnard Digital Collections feature materials from the Barnard Archives and Special Collections. We currently have three collections of digitized materials--the school newspaper, the yearbook, and photographs--but we hope to grow the collections substantially to include other digitized as well as born-digital materials. The intended audience is primarily the Barnard community--students, staff, alums, and faculty--as well as researchers and anyone with an interest in the history of Barnard and/or our special collections.

Why did you choose Islandora?

I came into my position with a strong inclination towards using Fedora and open-source software in general, but I wanted to do my due diligence and completed an environmental scan of various repository software solutions, both open-source and commercial. Islandora seemed to have the most features that we wanted, and I was excited about the active user community populated by other small institutions. (In particular, Joanna DiPasquale, at Vassar, was a tremendous help, providing us with guidance and advice throughout this process. I also talked with folks at the University of New Hampshire, Hamilton, and Grinnell, and they all provided great advice and guidance about the technical and administrative infrastructure that we would need to have to make Islandora work for us.) I would add that we chose Islandora over Hydra--another open-source Fedora-based repository stack that I think is really exciting--because we needed a more turnkey approach, and we felt that it would be easier to hire and train for the expertise needed to support Islandora in-house. 

Which modules or solution packs are most important to your repository?

We lean a lot on the different solution packs for the various formats we have in the collections--the book solution pack, the newspaper solution pack, and the large image solution pack--as well as their dependencies. I also use the Solr module quite a bit, coupled with the form builder and the simple workflow module, to configure the search interface and manage the process of undergraduates ingesting and creating metadata for photographs.

What feature of your repository are you most proud of?

I love our front page. And I'm really proud of all the batch ingesting and metadata scripting that Dillon Savage (our applications developer) did to make the newspapers and yearbooks accessible. 
 
Who built/developed/designed your repository (i.e, who was on the team?)

Lisa Norberg, Dean of the Barnard Library, had the initial vision for the digital collections and put the pieces into place so that I could be hired and so that we could bring on Dillon. Shannon O'Neill, Associate Director of the Barnard Archives and Special Collections, helped to make the case for an open-source solution and supported me as I worked with many of Barnard's IT staff--particularly Rodolfo Nunez and Laura Hopwood from our systems group--to make sure we had the infrastructure required for Islandora and maintain our installation. On a day-to-day basis, Dillon Savage and I do the most work on the repository. Dillon works on custom development, fixing bugs, and scripts and batch ingests, while I work more on metadata, design, and overseeing individual ingests. Many undergraduates who work in the Archives, as well as other library staff, contribute to the collections by ingesting and describing photographs and creating digital exhibits. We've received input from many other folks at Barnard as well, and I hope the collections will become an even more collaborative project--bringing in faculty, students, staff, and alums--in the future. Finally, we contracted with discoverygarden to do our install and support; their expertise has been indispensable.

Do you have plans to expand your site in the future?

The photograph collection is still growing and will continue to grow quite a bit, and we hope to add more collections soon--likely starting with some manuscript collections. We'll continue to add items to the collections individually and do larger-scale digitization projects when time and funds allow. I'm also excited to see how we can use Islandora for born-digital materials, and Dillon and I are working all the time to improve searchability and add new features to the site.

What is your favourite object in your collection to show off?

I love the issue of the school newspaper, the Barnard Bulletin, from February 25th, 1965: a brief report on Malcolm X's final speech, delivered at Barnard three days before his assassination, is next to a story about the new editor of the Bulletin and an announcement about a campus SNCC meeting. I think it encapsulates the breadth of the collections--how they speak not only to the history of Barnard but also to the trajectory of women's higher education and to broader historical narratives.

 

Many thanks to Martha Tenney and Barnard College for kicking off Islandora Show and Tell. Stay tuned for more great islandora sites in the weeks to come!

Islandora: Islandora Show and Tell: Barnard College

planet code4lib - Mon, 2014-11-10 14:23

Today marks the launch of a new regular blog item for islandora.ca: Islandora Show and Tell. Credit for the idea belongs to the crowd at iCampCO, who reacted to our usual impromptu parade of Islandora site demos from the community by suggesting that this sort of thing should happen far more often. Colorado Alliance's Robin Dean coined the name "Islandora Show and Tell," and here we are.

The launch of Show and Tell coincided handily with the launch of a particularly innovative and beautifully designed Islandora site: Barnard Digital Collections.

Right off the bat, the site stands out for its striking home page, with a full photo background and simple search/browse box as a gateway to the collection:

Other customizations include landing pages for the collection (with new thumbnails), school newspaper, and yearbook; modifications to the OpenSeadragon viewer to add thumbnails; and a custom content model for digital exhibits that pulls in Islandora objects based on PID. If you want to see how the peices work, you can check out Barnard's custom code up on GitHub . They have also shared a detailed MODs form for photos with our Islandora Ingest Forms repo.

The collection itself is a delight, especially the newspaper and yearbooks. I always start any visit to a new Islandora site by dropping "cats" into simple search, because that's how my head works and odd words reveal interesting objects. In Barnard's digital collection, it helped me learn about 1938's Playful Play Day, a 1976 assurance from Allied Chemical that stockholders are people too, and a comic strip that captures the true spirit of 1991:

I highly reccomended taking your own tour of the collection and seeing what you can discover. Even if you're not a Barnard alum, it's a facinating and very accessible collection - and you can always share cool finds with the rest of us on #islandora. You can also check out the story of Barnard College's site development from the point of view of discoverygarden, Inc, who published a recent case study.

Now, for the actual Show and Tell. Martha Tenney, Digital Archivist at Barnard, agreed to answer some questions about their site and how it came together:

What is the primary purpose of your repository? Who is the intended audience?

The Barnard Digital Collections feature materials from the Barnard Archives and Special Collections. We currently have three collections of digitized materials--the school newspaper, the yearbook, and photographs--but we hope to grow the collections substantially to include other digitized as well as born-digital materials. The intended audience is primarily the Barnard community--students, staff, alums, and faculty--as well as researchers and anyone with an interest in the history of Barnard and/or our special collections.

Why did you choose Islandora?

I came into my position with a strong inclination towards using Fedora and open-source software in general, but I wanted to do my due diligence and completed an environmental scan of various repository software solutions, both open-source and commercial. Islandora seemed to have the most features that we wanted, and I was excited about the active user community populated by other small institutions. (In particular, Joanna DiPasquale, at Vassar, was a tremendous help, providing us with guidance and advice throughout this process. I also talked with folks at the University of New Hampshire, Hamilton, and Grinnell, and they all provided great advice and guidance about the technical and administrative infrastructure that we would need to have to make Islandora work for us.) I would add that we chose Islandora over Hydra--another open-source Fedora-based repository stack that I think is really exciting--because we needed a more turnkey approach, and we felt that it would be easier to hire and train for the expertise needed to support Islandora in-house. 

Which modules or solution packs are most important to your repository?

We lean a lot on the different solution packs for the various formats we have in the collections--the book solution pack, the newspaper solution pack, and the large image solution pack--as well as their dependencies. I also use the Solr module quite a bit, coupled with the form builder and the simple workflow module, to configure the search interface and manage the process of undergraduates ingesting and creating metadata for photographs.

What feature of your repository are you most proud of?

I love our front page. And I'm really proud of all the batch ingesting and metadata scripting that Dillon Savage (our applications developer) did to make the newspapers and yearbooks accessible. 
 
Who built/developed/designed your repository (i.e, who was on the team?)

Lisa Norberg, Dean of the Barnard Library, had the initial vision for the digital collections and put the pieces into place so that I could be hired and so that we could bring on Dillon. Shannon O'Neill, Associate Director of the Barnard Archives and Special Collections, helped to make the case for an open-source solution and supported me as I worked with many of Barnard's IT staff--particularly Rodolfo Nunez and Laura Hopwood from our systems group--to make sure we had the infrastructure required for Islandora and maintain our installation. On a day-to-day basis, Dillon Savage and I do the most work on the repository. Dillon works on custom development, fixing bugs, and scripts and batch ingests, while I work more on metadata, design, and overseeing individual ingests. Many undergraduates who work in the Archives, as well as other library staff, contribute to the collections by ingesting and describing photographs and creating digital exhibits. We've received input from many other folks at Barnard as well, and I hope the collections will become an even more collaborative project--bringing in faculty, students, staff, and alums--in the future. Finally, we contracted with discoverygarden to do our install and support; their expertise has been indispensable.

Do you have plans to expand your site in the future?

The photograph collection is still growing and will continue to grow quite a bit, and we hope to add more collections soon--likely starting with some manuscript collections. We'll continue to add items to the collections individually and do larger-scale digitization projects when time and funds allow. I'm also excited to see how we can use Islandora for born-digital materials, and Dillon and I are working all the time to improve searchability and add new features to the site.

What is your favourite object in your collection to show off?

I love the issue of the school newspaper, the Barnard Bulletin, from February 25th, 1965: a brief report on Malcolm X's final speech, delivered at Barnard three days before his assassination, is next to a story about the new editor of the Bulletin and an announcement about a campus SNCC meeting. I think it encapsulates the breadth of the collections--how they speak not only to the history of Barnard but also to the trajectory of women's higher education and to broader historical narratives.

 

Many thanks to Martha Tenney and Barnard College for kicking off Islandora Show and Tell. Stay tuned for more great islandora sites in the weeks to come!

Patrick Hochstenbach: Homework assignment #9 Sketchbookskool

planet code4lib - Mon, 2014-11-10 07:44
“Spend a few hours drawing one person. Follow them around make drawings. “ I wanted to draw my wife, but she complained and said that I should draw the cat. But where was that animal? I grabbed  some cat candy

John Miedema: Using Orlando and Watson Named Entities to analyze literature from Open Library. A simple example.

planet code4lib - Mon, 2014-11-10 03:10

Jane Austen’s Letters are a collection of Austen’s personal observations about her family, friends, and life. Great stuff for a literary researcher.The Letters are in the public domain. Public domain books provide a corpus of unstructured content for literary analysis. I am very grateful to Jessamyn West and Open Library for obliging my request for a download of public domain novels and related literary works, over 2100 titles. It allows this first simple example of how Orlando metadata and IBM Watson technology can work together to analyze literature.

In Figure 1, I observe in Watson Content Analytics (WCA) that there are 129  works from Open Library matching on the Orlando entry for Jane Austen. I could continue to explore the Orlando relationships available as facets here, but for this example I just add the Jane Austen entry to the search filter.

In Figure 2, I look at the WCA Named Entity Recognition (NER) annotators for Person. NER is automatic annotation of content by Person, Location and Organization. It is enabled with a simple switch in WCA. In this view, I suppose I am interested in Austen’s publisher, Frank S. Holby, who matches on 28 of the 128 works. Note that this Person was not Orlando metadata but rather discovered from the body of works by NER. I add Holby’s name to my search criteria.

In Figure 3, I switch to the WCA Documents view to begin inspecting the search results. I see a number of works, the Letters, highlighting the Orlando match on Jane Austen and the NER match on Frank S. Holby.

 

Nicole Engard: Bookmarks for November 9, 2014

planet code4lib - Sun, 2014-11-09 20:30

Today I found the following resources and bookmarked them on <a href=

  • Shareabouts Shareabouts is a flexible tool for gathering public input on a map.
  • Blueimp's AJAX Chat AJAX Chat is a free and fully customizable open source web chat implemented in JavaScript, PHP and MySQL
  • Firechat – open source chat built on Firebase Firechat is an open-source, real-time chat widget built on Firebase. It offers fully secure multi-user, multi-room chat with flexible authentication, moderator features, user presence and search, private messaging, chat invitations, and more.
  • Live helper chat Live Support chat for your website.

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DPLA: Board Governance Committee Executive Session: November 12, 2014

planet code4lib - Sat, 2014-11-08 18:46

The DPLA Board of Directors’ Governance Committee will hold an executive session conference call on Wednesday, November 12, 2014. The purpose of the call is to discuss a slate of Board nominees and to come up with next steps.

Pursuant to DPLA’s open meetings guidelines, this call will be closed to the public, as the Board Governance subcommittee will deliberate and consider matters of personnel. The agenda is available below.

For more information about DPLA’s open calls, including a schedule of upcoming calls, click here.

Agenda
  • Discussion of nominees
  • Discussion of timeline and next steps

All written content on this blog is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. All images found on this blog are available under the specific license(s) attributed to them, unless otherwise noted.

Dan Scott: How discovery layers have closed off access to library resources, and other tales of schema.org from LITA Forum 2014

planet code4lib - Sat, 2014-11-08 16:41

At the LITA Forum yesterday, I accused (presentation) most discovery layers of not solving the discoverability problems of libraries, but instead exacerbating them by launching us headlong to a closed, unlinkable world. Coincidentally, Lorcan Dempsey's opening keynote contained a subtle criticism of discovery layers. I wasn't that subtle.

Here's why I believe commercial discovery layers are not "of the web": check out their robots.txt files. If you're not familiar with robots.txt files, these are what search engines and other well-behaved automated crawlers of web resources use to determine whether they are allowed to visit and index the content of pages on a site. Here's what the robots.txt files look like for a few of the best-known discovery layers:

User-Agent: * Disallow /

That effectively says "Go away, machines; your kind isn't wanted in these parts." And that, in turn, closes off access to your libraries resources to search engines and other aggregators of content, and is completely counter to the overarching desire to evolve to a linked open data world.

During the question period, Marshall Breeding challenged my assertion as being unfair to what are meant to be merely indexes of library content. I responded that most libraries have replaced their catalogues with discovery layers, closing off open access to what have traditionally been their core resources, and he rather quickly acquiesced that that was indeed a problem.

(By the way, a possible solution might be to simply offer two different URL patterns, something like /library/* for library-owned resources to which access should be granted, and /licensed/* for resources to which open access to the metadata is problematic due to licensing issues, and which robots can therefore be restricted from accessing.)

Compared to commercial discovery layers on my very handwavy usability vs. discoverability plot, general search engines rank pretty high on both axes; they're the ready-at-hand tool in browser address bars. And they grok schema.org, so if we can improve our discoverability by publishing schema.org data, maybe we get a discoverability win for our users.

But even if we don't (SEO is a black art at best, and maybe the general search engines won't find the right mix of signals that makes them decide to boost the relevancy of our resources for specific users in specific locations at specific times) we get access to that structured data across systems in an extremely reusable way. With sitemaps, we can build our own specialized search engines (Solr or ElasticSearch or Google Custom Search Engine or whatever) that represent specific use cases. Our more sophisticated users can piece together data to, for example, build dynamic lists of collections, using a common, well-documented vocabulary and tools rather than having to dip into the arcane world of library standards (Z39.50 and MARC21).

So why not iterate our way towards the linked open data future by building on what we already have now? As Karen Coyle wrote in a much more elegant fashion, the transition looks roughly like:

  • Stored data -> transform/template -> human readable HTML page
  • Stored data -> transform/template (tweaked) -> machine & human readable HTML page

That is, by simply tweaking the same mechanism you already use to generate a human readable HTML page from the data you have stored in a database or flat files or what have you, you can embed machine readable structured data as well.

That is, in fact, exactly the approach I took with Evergreen, VuFind, and Koha. And they now expose structured data and generate sitemaps out of the box using the same old MARC21 data. Evergreen even exposes information about libraries (locations, contact information, hours of operation) so that you can connect its holdings to specific locations.

And what about all of our resources outside of the catalogue? Research guides, fonds descriptions, institutional repositories, publications... I've been lucky enough to be working with Camilla McKay and Karen Coyle on applying the same process to the Bryn Mawr Classical Review. At this stage, we're exposing basic entities (Reviews and People) largely as literals, but we're laying the groundwork for future iterations where we link them up to external entities. And all of this is built on a Tcl + SGML infrastructure.

So why schema.org? It has the advantage of being a de-facto generalized vocabulary that can be understood and parsed across many different domains, from car dealerships to streaming audio services to libraries, and it can be relatively simply embedded into existing HTML as long as you can modify the templating layer of your system.

And schema.org offers much more than just static structured data; schema.org Actions are surfacing in applications like Gmail as a way of providing directly actionable links--and there's no reason we shouldn't embrace that approach to expose "SearchAction", "ReadAction", "WatchAction", "ListenAction", "ViewAction"--and "OrderAction" (Request), "BorrowAction" (Borrow or Renew), "Place on Reserve", and other common actions as a standardized API that exists well beyond libraries (see Hydra for a developing approach to this problem).

I want to thank Richard Wallis for inviting me to co-present with him; it was a great experience, and I really enjoy meeting and sharing with others who are putting linked data theory into practice.

District Dispatch: Network Neutrality update

planet code4lib - Sat, 2014-11-08 00:48

FCC headquarters in Washington, D.C.

About eight months and 4 million comments after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on preserving and protecting the Open Internet, a decision could come as soon as the December 11th FCC open meeting.

The American Library Association (ALA) and a host of higher education and library colleagues have been engaged in this conversation throughout, and yesterday added more detail to what we propose as an “internet-reasonable” standard for network neutrality protections.

We developed the “internet reasonable” approach to provide much stronger protections to preserve the openness of the Internet than the FCC’s original proposal (“commercially reasonable”). This proposal obviously isn’t a good fit for non-commercial entities like libraries and other educational institutions. Most public interest groups shared our deep concern that this approach would fail to preserve the open platform that has defined the internet from its inception. (And, to its credit, it sounds like the FCC is seriously considering alternative approaches.)

So, we asked: What would preserve an internet originally built to serve research and learning and now a vital engine of innovation, education, engagement and empowerment? How could the FCC best support our principles of network neutrality, including prohibiting blocking content and paid prioritization, protecting against unreasonable discrimination and providing transparency? Fundamentally, once an internet subscriber pays for service, the subscriber should be able to access the content of their choosing and communicate without interference from the internet service provider (ISP).

We envision an “internet reasonable” standard that would establish a mix of bright line rules, rebuttable presumptions (where the burden is on the internet service provider to demonstrate how any action in opposition to the presumption would be in the public interest) and some areas of discretion for the FCC to consider as the market changes.

Adopting an “internet reasonable” standard is a strong, enforceable policy approach to protecting the openness of the internet, regardless of whether the FCC adopts a legal approach under Title II reclassification, under Section 706, or some combination thereof. As ALA and others stated in our original comments in this proceeding, Title II and Section 706 could each provide a viable legal path for protecting the openness of the internet.

The filing also touches on recent news that the FCC is strongly considering a “hybrid” approach to its new rules. The Verizon v. FCC decision in January 2014 opened the door to this train of thought by suggesting that the service provided by ISPs to edge providers could be regulated differently than the service provided by ISPs to consumers. Mozilla and Tim Wu/Tejas Narechania (of Columbia Law School) have proposed that the service provided to edge providers should be regulated under Title II, allowing the FCC to regulate ISPs’ relationship with consumers under a different regulatory regime.

We’re not quite sure how this hybrid would work—particularly for organizations like libraries that are both consumers and creators. The prospect of applying two different legal regimes over different components of internet access seems confusing and impractical, at the least. We need more details and plan to meet with FCC staff and commissioners to better understand how this might work in practice.

But I’m willing to hear them out. In a world where the “art of the possible” seems harder and harder to achieve, I don’t want to miss a path forward that might achieve our goal of developing strong, legally enforceable rules that keep the internet open and free for creation, free speech and inquiry, research and learning for all.

Unfortunately, with so many perspectives and so much at stake, it’s likely that whatever path the FCC takes, a legal challenge will follow (as has been true twice before). We may reach a stopping point before the end of the year, but not an end to this complex and critically important issue. As always, stay tuned.

The post Network Neutrality update appeared first on District Dispatch.

CrossRef: CrossRef Workshops and Annual Meeting Live Stream Details

planet code4lib - Fri, 2014-11-07 20:59

We will be recording and streaming most of the session of next week's 2014 CrossRef Workshops and Annual Meeting.

Links to the live stream have been posted below and on our annual meeting information page.

2014 CrossRef Workshops - Agenda

LIVE STREAM - will start on Tuesday, Nov 11 at 10:00 GMT (London, UK)

Check the World Clock for correct local time.

The CrossRef Workshops will cover technical, operational and workflow issues will be held on Tuesday, 11 November, from 8:30 AM (registration) to 4:15 PM.

2014 CrossRef Annual Meeting - Agenda

LIVE STREAM - Wednesday, Nov 12 at 10:00 GMT (London, UK)

Check the World Clock for correct local time.

The CrossRef Annual Meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 12, from 8:30 AM to 6:15 PM and will include CrossRef updates, compelling industry speakers and will conclude with a cocktail reception.

This year's program will include:

Data That's Fast, Data That Lasts

Laurie Goodman, Editor-in-Chief of GigaScience, will discuss the importance of citing data and making it persistently available. She has stories too, showing the risks and rewards of rapid data sharing--even before peer review and publication. Her talk will be entitled Ways and Needs to Promote Rapid Data Sharing.

Peer Review: New Methods and Models
Recently, a raft of innovative peer review models have been floated and are charting new waters. Our speakers will each address a different system--different from the traditional peer review of the past, and different from each other.

The roster includes:

Our closing keynote speaker will be Richard Jefferson, from Cambia. His talk will focus on impact and innovation and will be entitled Innovation Cartography: Creating impact from scholarly research requires maps not metrics.

OCLC Dev Network: ETag Change in WMS Acquisitions API

planet code4lib - Fri, 2014-11-07 19:30


We wanted to provide you with some more information about the ETag change in the WMS Acquisitions API we posted about for the November 9th release.

 

District Dispatch: Thinking About Rural

planet code4lib - Fri, 2014-11-07 17:43

White House Rural Council Convening With NTCA                             (photo by NTCA)

Rural has been on my mind of late. In part because of having traveled recently to a conference in the Midwest and looking out the plane window over the patchwork fields and thinking about how remote some of the farms are and wondering whether the families have a fiber connection, or dial-up or satellite internet—or none at all and then wondering how far it was to the town I could see in the distance and then wondering if the town had a library and what the connection speed was like at the library. Then I wondered what kinds of services the library would be providing and whether it had robust Wi-Fi for the kids who come in after school. Then I wondered how much the library was paying for the connection. And, of course I wondered if the library had access to a fiber connection or whether it too was limited in the speeds it could receive.

Airplane musings aside, I really have rural on my mind because of the ongoing efforts at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to get those libraries and those families and their communities connected to the kind of speeds I (in theory, anyway) have access to back on the ground in D.C. The importance of what we’re trying to accomplish through the E-rate proceeding was made ever more clear to me last week. I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend an event hosted by the White House Rural Council for members of NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association. The event focused on the association’s Smart Rural Community initiative and specifically on the 2014 award winners in that initiative. While I am still learning the details of everything NTCA members do for their communities, what I have gained thus far is a further appreciation for the difference strong, committed, and collaborative leadership can make in building a successful community broadband solution. The White House event provided a forum for awardees to highlight the impact their smart rural community has on the opportunities and quality of life for the residents of those communities.

For example, in the presentation by Nancy J. White, chief executive officer of North Central Telephone Cooperative (Lafayette, Tenn.), we heard about the work her company has undertaken to improve access to state-of-the-art healthcare for her rural community. Keith Gabbard, general manager of Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative (McKee, Ky.) described a program to provide virtual classes to students during extreme winter weather when schools close and also a partnership with the public library to provide digital literacy training which is especially important as this community has the highest unemployment rate in the state. We also heard from Brian Thomason, general manager and chief executive officer of Blue Valley Tele-Communications, Inc. (Home, Kan.) who spoke eloquently about the role of high-capacity broadband in spurring economic development and allowing rural America to flourish.

Libraries support smart rural communities

Anecdotes from libraries in rural America echo the experiences of the NTCA members I spoke with at the event. A library in Mississippi that helped a family with a special needs child connect to classes that allowed him graduate from school; libraries in Georgia that helped over the road truckers complete an online certification course so they can maintain their license and their livelihood; a library in Maine where a self-employed video editor uploads work for his clients across the country because his home connection is too slow; a library in Alaska that connected a parent to a medical specialist so she could complete six weeks of training to take care of her child with diabetes; a library that provides Wi-Fi for a mother to Skype regularly with her son stationed in Afghanistan; or a library that streamed a granddaughter’s graduation in Germany for her grandmother. These examples should be commonplace and could be if there were more communities where the lack of access to affordable high-capacity broadband was not an issue.

The well-connected library is the quintessential community access point for completing Education, jumpstarting Employment and Entrepreneurship, fostering individual Empowerment, and encouraging community Engagement. High-capacity broadband is the crucial foundation on which The E’s of Libraries™ are built. The NTCA members that were recognized for their role in developing smart rural communities  provide important opportunities for libraries (and other anchor institutions), but it is the difference of opportunity for the residents which we all work to ensure that was highlighted that day.

As Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of NTCA, said in her remarks at the event, it is the storytelling that should be celebrated. I would add, especially in D.C. where the policy making is so often divorced from the potential impact it could have if done right. Right when it comes to broadband and rural libraries means having options for affordable high-capacity broadband so that more libraries can be part of the stories I heard from the Smart Rural Community award winners.

The post Thinking About Rural appeared first on District Dispatch.

M. Ryan Hess: New Thoughts on Digital Publishing Services

planet code4lib - Fri, 2014-11-07 16:32

Back in early 2011, I gave an overview of the library as a disruptive publishing platform. Three years is a long time in “disruptive agent” years. So where do we stand today?

First of all, the publishing industry has not fallen yet…but the great disruption goes on.

A friend of mine was recently describing his rodent control neighbor, a charmingly opaque Eastern European gentleman whose central point about controlling rats can be summed up in a single pronouncement: “Fighting rats is F@#%ing 24×7 War!”

I’m seeing value in this statement for the effort to liberate information. As I’m learning in my contact with faculty and other librarians, the rat warrens run deep into our institutions. So invasive are their labyrinths that they threaten the very financial underpinnings of our information services.

Luckily, we are not passive observers in this state of affairs. We are active participants in creating something new. We have tools at our disposal to fill in the rat holes with a digital foundation that will ensure a long, fruitful future of open access publishing that will empower our users in ways traditional publishing could never do.

New Openings

I’m seeing a number of openings libraries are beginning to exploit that build on the “library as publishing platform” model I wrote about earlier. Namely, librarians are often becoming central hubs for a variety of digital services that include:

  • digital humanities and academic computing support
  • digital project consultant services for everything from how to migrate online content to advice on metadata to search engine optimization (SEO) and usability
  • helping faculty navigate scholarly communications issues from copyright to developing readership and recognition
  • and, of course, providing the place on campus for online publishing

Taken together, all of these emerging services suggest a fairly promising future for librarians interested in transforming the profession into something more in line with current and future trajectories for information.

Ready to enlist as a disruptive agent yet?

Over the next few posts, I’ll explore each of the above and how my library is building new services or augmenting older services to meet these emerging digital publishing needs.

First up, that thing that goes by the very vague and unhelpful term of digital humanities…

Ground Zero for Digital Humanities

At my Library, we have not rolled out a formal digital humanities support program…yet.

Nonetheless, we receive regular, unsolicited inquiries about platforms like Omeka and Digital Commons from faculty interested in creating exhibits and online course projects. To meet the demand so far, we’ve rolled out Omeka.net services, but what people really want is full-blown Omeka with plugins like Neatline and others the hosted version does not support.

Clearly, this organic demand suggests a far more robust DH service is required. As I write, we’ve deployed a faculty survey based loosely on one created by Rose Fortier’s work at Marquette University. With this, we hope to not only build awareness of our digital collections and services (spoiler: early results have 60% of faculty being unaware of our institutional repository, for example…24×7 war indeed!), but also we want to learn what services, like digital humanities support, would interest faculty.

Based on our Omeka.net experience, my guess is that digital humanities support services will generate healthy interest. If this is the case, then we will probably role out self-hosted Omeka plus Neatline and GeoServer, along with trainings and baseline technical support, sometime in 2015. The one hitch that will need to be overcome, will be multi-site capability, which will enable us to install Omeka once and then launch as many separate sites as are required with a single click of a button. That particular feature does not exist yet outside Omeka.net, but according to Omeka.org, the forthcoming Omeka 3/Omeka-S will provide this, greatly enhancing the practicality of launching an Omeka service for any library.

Meanwhile, as I recently presented at the 2014 Digital Commons Great Lakes User Group, we are also continuing to provide a measure of digital humanities support on our Digital Commons institutional repository. While not as sexy as Neatline, we are posting student-generated Map of the Month from the Geography Department, for example, in PDF format.

The recent enhanced, zoomable image viewer available in Digital Commons may also help in this regard.

We’ve also seen a few faculty interested in using Digital Commons for student projects, particularly around courses focused on digital publishing issues.

But, of course, as non-librarian content creators enter the collection-building business, they come ill-prepared for overcoming the kinds of problems library professionals excel at solving. And so, this is where I’d like to turn to next: the library as a digital project consultant service.


Library of Congress: The Signal: The Value of the NDSR: Residents and Mentors Weigh In

planet code4lib - Fri, 2014-11-07 14:49

The following is a guest post by Vicky Steeves, National Digital Stewardship Resident at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. This is the first in a series of posts by the residents from NDSR class of 2014-2015.

I wanted to take this opportunity, as the first 2014-2015 resident to post on The Signal, to discuss how valuable the National Digital Stewardship Residency program is. Among many things, it has given me the opportunity to work at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, surveying scientific research data and recommending preservation strategies. Nowhere else could I have gotten this opportunity. In this post I will look at the value of NDSR, showing that the NDSR is an innovative and important program for furthering the field of library and information science.

Current 2014-2015 NDSR-NY Cohort (left to right): Vicky Steeves, Peggy Griesinger, Karl Blumenthal, Shira Peltzman, and Julia Kim. Photo by Alan Barnett.

The National Digital Stewardship Residency participants (hosts and residents) have demonstrated how this residency fulfills the need for emerging professionals to be placed in important institutions. Here, residents’ skills have the space to expand. This allows for the growth of the field in two ways: residents contribute to the growing body of research in digital preservation and gain skills which they can use throughout their careers as they continue to advance the field. For host institutions, the ability to bring in additional, knowledgeable staff at little or no cost is transformative.

When evaluating the NDSR program, it’s important to look at both simple numbers and testimonials. In terms of the quantitative, 100% of  the residents from the 2013-2014 team in Washington DC have found relevant positions upon completion of the residency. (See previous posts on that subject, parts one and two.) I sought out this first class of residents, and asked them how important they feel NDSR has been for them:

Vicky Steeves: Why did you apply to the NDSR program?

Margo Padilla, (Strategic Programs Manager at Metropolitan New York Library Council): “It seemed like a great way to meet and collaborate with people doing critical work in the field. I was also excited about all the projects and knew that even though I was the resident at only one location, I would learn a lot from the other residents and projects.”

Molly Schwartz, (Fulbright Scholar, Aalto University and the National Library of Finland): “As a new graduate I knew that I needed more hands-on experience and I wasn’t sure exactly what type of institution would be the right professional fit for me. NDSR seemed like a great option for many reasons: I would get more experience, come out of it with a completed project, I would learn what it is like to work at a small non-profit institution (ARL), and I would have the freedom to dive into digital information research full-time, both working on my own project and attending conferences and meetings where I could collaborate with others in the field.”

Julia Blase, (Project Manager, Field Book Project, Smithsonian Libraries): “I was very interested in working on the digital side of libraries and archives after graduate school, but knew that it could be difficult to find entry-level positions in the field, particularly those that would provide practical, complex experience in multiple aspects of the field and train me for the next step in my career. NDSR seemed to offer that chance.”

Vicky Steeves: Why do you think it’s important (or not) for the library science field to have programs like this?

Margo Padilla:  “I think programs like this are important because it helps new graduates grow into the field, discover their niche, and contribute to a larger body of research. Recent graduates lend a fresh perspective to work already being done. It is also a chance for them to learn, make mistakes, and test what works and what doesn’t.”

Molly Schwartz: “The digital information field, especially from the information steward perspective, is at a point where we need to retain and cultivate professionals who have the desire to work in a fast-paced environment and have the skill sets to get employed elsewhere. It is crucial that we provide opportunities for these types of people to develop within the field and get exposed to all the cool work they can do, work that will have real impact, if we are to tackle the challenges facing the profession.”

Julia Blase: “It is very difficult, in my experience and in the experiences of my friends, for a young professional to make the jump from an entry-level or paraprofessional position to a mid-level position, which may begin to incorporate more complex projects, strategic planning, and perhaps even the management of a project, program or other staff members. Programs like the Residency offer that in-between path, supporting and training their graduates so that they are prepared and qualified for that first mid-level position after the program, advancing both the individual careers and also, by providing motivated and prepared staff, the quality of the profession as a whole.”

Heidi Elaine Dowding, (Ph.D. Research Fellow at the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences, Huygens ING Institute): “I think paid fellowships like this are really important, especially for students who can’t afford to accept unpaid internships to forward their career. They even the playing field in some ways, and help build really strong networks of practitioners.”

These testimonials demonstrate how impactful the NDSR curriculum is to professional development and career opportunities for postgraduates. The current resident at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, Peggy Griesinger, remarked, “I applied to NDSR because I wanted the opportunity to contribute to how cultural heritage institutions are developing long-term digital preservation practices.”  The ability to “test drive” a career and preferred setting (public institution, private, non-profit, etc.) while accumulating and refining skills in digital preservation is an invaluable part of the program. Residents also had the opportunity to network and establish relationships with mentors who have invaluable experience in the field, which often led to gainful employment.

Additionally, having diverse institutions buy into this program affirms the value of NDSR. While these institutions are getting a resident at little or no cost to them, it takes a lot of trust to give an incubating project to an outside professional, especially one fresh from their master’s degree. In this way, NDSR takes an important step in public trust for digital archives. I reached out to a few mentors from the 2013-2014 Washington D.C. host institutions, to get their take on the value of the NDSR program.

Vicky Steeves: How useful was the program for you and your institution in hindsight? Are you using the results from the project that your resident worked on?

Shalimar White, (Manager of the Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection): “One of the benefits of the NDSR program was the ability to bring in someone like Heidi [Dowding] who could evaluate a complex organization like Dumbarton Oaks from an external perspective. Heidi’s report was delivered to our new Manager of Information Technology. As recommended in the report, the IT Manager is currently developing DO’s general technical infrastructure and building out the operations of the new IT department. In the future, when the IT Manager is able to turn her attention to more strategic planning, she has indicated that the report will be a helpful guide for developing the systems and operational procedures necessary for long-term digital asset management at Dumbarton Oaks. We expect that Heidi’s work will continue to be useful and valuable in the long-term.”

Vickie Allen, (Director of the Media Library at the Public Broadcasting Service): “Having a skilled NDSR fellow at our organization for an extended period of time was critical in getting the necessary focus, interest and leadership support for our efforts to launch a complex digitization initiative. As a direct result of the quality and scope of our resident’s work, we were allocated internal funds during the final month of the residency to begin digitization. The completed project plan and associated documentation were invaluable in filling critical knowledge gaps, allowing us to move forward quickly and confidently with our digitization initiative. We plan to use these guidelines long into the future as we continue our digitization efforts, as well as translate findings into strengthening digital media management policy for our born digital content.”

Christie Moffatt, (Manager of the Digital Manuscripts Program at the National Library of Medicine): “The NDSR program was a valuable experience for the National Library of Medicine, both in terms of project accomplishments with the addition of a new thematic Web archive collection, and our participation the NDSR community. Maureen [McCormick Harlow] shared her experiences wrestling with the technical and intellectual challenges of scoping out and creating a new collection with NLM staff involved in Web collecting, which enabled us all to learn together and apply lessons learned throughout the duration of the project. The collection Maureen developed, “Disorders of the Developing and Aging Brain: Autism and Alzheimer’s on the Web,” serves as a model for thematic Web collecting at the Library, and the workflows that she helped to develop are now being implemented in our current Ebola Outbreak web collecting initiative announced earlier this month.  NLM’s web collecting efforts have and will continue to benefit from this experience.”

These host institutions have not only used their resident’s work, but will continue to use their project deliverables, recommendations and associated documentation as digital initiatives are further developed. In this way, residents are contributing to the future developments at their host institutions. This ability to impact the present and future of host institutions is what makes NDSR such an advantage. As one of the newest members of the NDSR program, I can say that the opportunities granted to me have been phenomenal. As a resident, you truly have endless possibilities in this program.

 

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