Archive for 2011

Summer Is Gone!

summer-2011As in most places, this week is the last official summer week and soon campuses will start a new school year.  So this afternoon, I decided to review my notes and found a list of activities that kept me “entertained” in the last 2-3 months.  It’s always interesting to look back and realize that even though we don’t always get done with everything we plan to, there are also unexpected and positive activities that we can accomplish -on the way- sometimes without too much time for planning.

Anyway, my 2011 summer went … somehow like this:

  • Open Repositories Conference, in early June I joined a group of poster presenters at this conference in Austin, TX … and as I follow up, I’m now finishing up a manuscript on the topic of Document Viewers for DSpace.
  • Diversity & Inclusion, in late June I joined a group of Miami colleagues in a two-day seminar on Privilege and Allies facilitated by Frances Kendall; on the first day, it was great to complement a conversation and point out a couple of digital collections we have on the topic of diversity.
  • New Office, in July I got a “new” office, this was part of the renovation of our new department –now known as the Center for Digital Scholarship, it’s an expansion to Digital Initiatives, but now with a more public focus to faculty’s research and scholarship.
  • ALAO Board Retreat, as co-chair of TEDSIG and since I missed last year’s meeting, in July I attended this two-day meeting at the Deer Creek State Park.  In early June I also contributed an entry for the ALAO Newsletter.
  • New Website, a big chunk of my summer was devoted to customizing a new front-end for our digital collections using DSpace and hosted at OhioLINK; the new site should go live soon and it will include a new jp2 viewer developed by OhioLINK. Modifying the behavior of the AspectBrowser was a big lesson.
  • ALA recruiting, in late July we re-connected with our group and in early August we began working on the publicity materials for this program; my goals will be to contact a couple of candidates -either Latinos or someone with interest in computer programming and libraries.
  • Flickr Commons, in July we learned that our two collections in Flickr are “ready” to be added to The Flickr Commons; I’ve helped drafting a copy of the copyright statement and it should be officially added soon!
  • Writing & Proposals, in June I helped in completing and submitting a manuscript on Technical Skills for New Digital Librarians; I also helped in translating and submitting two case studies for an IFLA publication on Libraries for Indigenous Population.
  • Replying inquiries, in July I received and replied two emails and a phone call regarding our 2010 LSTA project on migrating a student newspaper collection from CONTENTdm to DSpace; it’s always good to get some feedback and share with others about the work we’ve done.
  • Civil War, in June I helped in developing a temporary website for our new Civil War collection; in July we also began working on a grant-funded project for a series of book discussion on the Civil War –this is part of the ALA/NEH program.
  • SAA & Accessibility, as part of this working group’s preparation for the upcoming 2011 SAA conference, this week I completed a second revision/update to the Spanish version of the pamphlet on Accessibility & Archives … I also recorded an mp3 file for the MOVER card.

…ok, that’s it for this summer, now it’s time to get ready for a short presentation scheduled for Monday afternoon!


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2011 Open Repositories Conference

OR-2011-logoLast week, I was back in Austin for about two days.  I know that doesn’t sound enough for a place where I actually lived for more than two years :-( …anyway, on Wednesday, June 8, I attended the first day of the Sixth Annual International Conference on Open Repositories.  It was great to join a group of 300+ technologists/advocates/developers of digital repositories from 20 countries and 30 states.

The first full session I attended was on Cloud Solutions.  The first speaker was Peter Nuernberg from the Texas Digital Library and he talked about the work they have done in storing data on cloud machines.  I think it was interesting to hear that regardless of some of the recent issues with Amazon, he commented on how the cloud option has changed from a backup to a primary alternative for some of their projects.  For DSpace test-instances at OhioLINK, I know Amazon EC2 was a successful experiment!  The second half was a panel on the DuraCloud Pilot Program led by Michele Kimpton; two cases were presented (MIT Libraries & Northwestern) and the speakers shared their experiences in using the service for preservation and access services.  It was good to learn about features like Image Transforming, Video/Audio Streaming, and Image Serving.  These features are definitely similar to what some of us are “prototyping” and wanting to have as a default option in DSpace … so maybe we’re not alone in our journey/confusion in using a software for something that it wasn’t designed for :-)

In the afternoon, I attended one of the new 24X7 sessions, where each presenter had a maximum of 24 slides and 7 minutes to present.  My favorites were: a) Linked Data: The Future for Open Repositories?, Adrian talked about the importance of putting archival and bibliographic data in a Linked Data format for the benefit of education and research –he also talked a bit about the LOCAH project and how it supports goals such as exposing (semantic) data and enabling new visualization of data; b) Value and Impact Metrics for Open Repositories, the presenter talked about OpenSky and its ability to generate custom (annual) reports as well as staff help for populating online CVs or departmental/personal web pages –such services are definitely appreciated by IR users; and c) Don’t Bold the Field Name!, Simeon talked about the need for presenting “relevant” data in a meaningful way for end-users (consumers) … it seems like regular usability tests can be part of this custom data presentation work, but how often?

In the last session, I was part of a group of 30+ poster presenters,
2011 Open Repositories (poster)
…each had a one-minute for a quick elevator speech -too bad I couldn’t sing, but I think I said what I needed to say in 55 seconds :-) … anyway, I really enjoyed talking to about 11poster visitors, I understand I’m biased to my topic “file viewers for DSpace” but I was glad to learn that at least three other institutions are working on similar work for their DSpace repositories.  Will we see an out-of-the-box viewer in DSpace for non-born-digital objects?, I definitely hope so.

Finally, for social and non-conference chats, it was absolutely great to talk to Kent, Yolanda, and Jee … next time, WE will definitely plan for more time to spend in Austin.


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Linked Data

As part of some pre-reading activities for the upcoming TEDSIG Spring Workshop on Linked Data (LD), I’ve found a couple of interesting pages that can help explain the benefits/implications of LD for libraries and non-libraries communities.  Although LD isn’t new, I still find this 2009 TED video by Tim Berners-Lee as a must watch when explaining the foundation of the term.

A set of more recent videos and publications about the topic include:

  • Linked Data and Libraries at the 2010 British Library Conference, they have videos for most of the presentations; two of my favorites are: Introduction Talis and the World of Linked Data as well as Linked Data, RDF, and SPARQL.  An article about the presentations is also available at:
  • The Strongest Link: Libraries and Linked Data, a publication in D-Lib Magazine where the authors talk about some of the benefits that linked data could have for libraries, discuss some of the non-technical obstacles, and offer suggestions for ways in which libraries can participate in the development of the semantic web.
  • Linked Data and Libraries, a publication in The Serials Librarian Journal where the authors describe the concept of linked data … suggested new opportunities for libraries to assist organizations with their information needs and to weave knowledge workers, library users, and librarians together in a new enterprise.

In short, LD will have the potential to empower an interlinked world where machines could talk to each other … which also means that organizations (e.g. libraries, government agencies, etc.) could better meet user expectations in securing availability of data in a standard format that is understandable and reusable by others.   Ok, I think that’s it for now, I look forward to learning more about LD at the TEDSIG workshop next week. :-)

And finally, examples of great upcoming events include:


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Code4Lib - Virtual Lightning Talk

I know I was late and therefore I couldn’t join the group this afternoon, when I tried to login I got a message “Error: you cannot attend the meeting because its capacity has been reached.” :-(

Anyway, in case anyone is interested on the topic of File Viewers for DSpace Collections, here is a link to a PDF file with a basic outline of the talk; also, key points of what I was going to talk about include:

Why viewers for DSpace?
DSpace is quite popular in the academic world, many institutions are using it now for a variety of objects –e.g. manuscripts, maps, books, videos, etc.  In January 2011, there was a discussion on this topic in the DSpace tech listserv; several people jumped in and talked about the need/importance of an out-of-the-box solution for DSpace.

How others are doing it?
- Texas A&M -the developers of the XMLUI framework- for a folio collection, they’re using thumbnails as links to individual pages, the page images are then displayed on a pop-up window using some Lightbox script.
- Another solution is provided by @mire –a commercial organization that develops modules for DSpace.  Their Document Streaming Module enables in-browser viewing of document files and it based on the Scribd’s iPaper document viewer.
- There is also a test/prototype using PDFs and the Google Docs Viewer.

Local evaluation of alternatives (workarounds)
- In the summer of 2010 we implemented a flash-based viewer that reads jp2 files and feeds a dynamic viewer based on OpenZoom -a front end of the IIPImage server; the viewer includes zoom and full-screen options and it seems to work great for newspaper or magazine files.
- More recently, we tested an existing PHP script that can take a DjVu file and creates JPG files for each page; in the same script, we customized a basic toolbar that can help users navigate from page to page or use a drop-down menu to jump to any page.
In both cases, we’re using some PHP scripts to generate the preview files and then using an identifier to embed them into DSpace.

What’s next?
Obviously, the desired goal in implementing a file/document viewer in DSpace is to optimize the interaction between a DSpace record page and users.  With the current default option, there is no preview and if users need to view a page or some pages in a multi-page file, they would need to manually download the file … and for a file with 100+ pages and/or 50+ MB, this can be an issue.  So I think the hope is that someday with the help of others, we can have an Out-Of-The-Box Document Viewer for DSpace, which ideally can include features like: zooming, searching, options for exporting to other formats, as well as something that can work on any device -regardless of their screen size, OS or browser.

Oh well, that’s it for now … feliz fin de semana!  :-)


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Testing & Prototyping: File Viewers for DSpace

As more institutions continue to work with large and diverse type of content for their digital repositories, there is definitely a “new” need to evaluate, prototype and implement file viewers to adequately display files from non-text collections.

When displaying a record in DSpace -by default- users will only see the metadata and a box with basic description of the file/s associated with the record.  This method may be fine IR projects where most files are in PDF format; however, for non-text collections users will most likely expect to get a “snapshot” of the file/s in the record.  Displaying something on the first page of a record becomes particularly important for unique and/or complex files such as: maps, manuscripts, books, or multimedia.  For these types of files, there is usually a need for features like: zooming, magnifying, searching, streaming, etc.

Then, the question/challenge is: how to implement viewers using the DSpace files that can be embedded on the record’s page along with the metadata?  For image collections, there seems to be a good number of examples –including many using some combination of Lightbox script.  An afternoon test for multi-page documents using a DjVu file seems to produce some decent results.  The trick is to create a set of JPG files for every page -using a local PHP script based on DjVuLibre- and embedded it in the item_view element.  This option (prototype) would allow users to view pages sequentially or jump to any page of the document and of course they will have the option to download a PDF version of the file if they need to.  In short, this workaround seems to work fine as an early prototype, an OCR feature will make it perfect.

Below is a screenshot of today’s test:
In since the output file is a JPG, it works perfectly fine on the iPads and probably most other tablets as well.


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