Meet Information Technology Services: Core Services

Information Technology Services

Duke University Libraries

Meet our staff

Core Services

Core Services manages much of the day-to-day operations for staff, student, and patron computing within Duke University Libraries. We’re responsible for workstation support and management, AV and public scanning, system and application administration, project management, and management of our Integrated Library System. Our staff also act as liaisons to OIT, TTS, and external partners to ensure that DUL systems are well-integrated and supported.


John Pormann






Name:   John Pormann
Position:   Head, Core Services
Years at Duke:   24-ish

What I do at Duke:   I manage the Desktop Support, Specialized Computing Support, Server Support, and Discover Services teams.  A lot of what I do is interfacing with other DUL units to make sure we’re providing the right technology to get the work of the Library done.

If I had $5 million, I would:  travel around the world

My first ever job: Pizza Hut, in the kitchen cooking pizzas

My dream job: definitely not Pizza Hut!

If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: my daughters, Libby (5) and Kate (20 mo); I’m slowly becoming an expert on the color pink, all things princess, and My Little Ponies

What I love about Duke:  The people.  It’s a great atmosphere, there’s always something new going on, the research that goes on here is amazing, I love being a part of that!

When I’m not at work, I like to:  relax with my family

A Movie I like:  any of the Iron Man movies (he was my favorite comic book character growing up, I even have a beat-up copy of issue #19)

A unique thing in my office:  small Eeyore stuffed animal; he was my favorite Pooh character growing up, though I’m not so sure what that says about me

An interesting/memorable day at work for me:  We were getting ready to install one of the first dedicated cluster computing environments at Duke – this was somewhat exciting back in 1999 – and when the equipment arrived, it had clearly been dropped off the back of the truck, the front glass panel was shatterred, the 3” thick steel frame was actually bent, and they had then picked it up with a forklift which gouged the sidepanel. This was over $100,000 worth of equipment and we had to figure out how to get it fixed!






Name: Dorothy Coletta
Position: Section Head, Desktop Support
Years at Duke: 15

What I do at Duke: translate technology into English.

If I had $5 million, I would: buy everyone in the library all the technology they want.

My first ever job: counter clerk at McDonald’s.

My dream job: I’m in it!

If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: yoga

The best advice I ever received: rub screws on a bar of soap before screwing them into the wall.

What I love about Duke: Cameron.

When I’m not at work, I like to: be outside.

If I could have one superpower, it would be: being able to focus despite the commotion around me.

A Movie I like: Brainstorm and Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Something most people don’t know about me:I’ve met both Mother Teresa and Jane Goodall, two of my top role models.

A unique thing in my office: Library party posters that make my cube as beautiful as a museum.

An interesting/memorable day at work for me:all days are interesting because technology is always changing and the people in the library are fascinating to talk to.


Name:  Terence Bailey
Position: IT Analyst
Years at Duke: 1

What I do at Duke: I support the end users software and hardware needs.

My first ever job: I provided roadside environmental cleanup in Rock Creek Park as part of the DC Summer Youth Employment Program.

My dream job: basketball coach.

If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: the Washington Redskins and it would be a depressing conversation regarding the futility of my favorite football team.

The best advice I ever received: work smart, not hard.

What I love about Duke: being part the diverse workforce that supports a world-renowned University.

If I had $5 million, I would: pay off debts, invest wisely, set aside college tuition for my children, start a basketball program with heavy emphasis on skill-development and have my Wife run the education component of the program.

When I’m not at work, I like to: spend quality time with my family, watch Redskins games and study/coach basketball.

If I could have one superpower, it would be: the power to provide health to those that are ailing.

A Movie I like: Forrest Gump.

Something most people don’t know about me: I caught a pass from Joe Montana while mimicking ‘The Catch’ to Dwight Clark in the end zone.


Name: Chris
Position: IT Analyst
Years at Duke: 1

What I do at Duke: Drink lots of coffee! While I support the end user’s software and hardware needs, enhance automation and explore the uses of VDI for the Library.

My first ever job: McDonald’s

The best advice I ever received: just because its right doesn’t make it easy.

What I love about Duke: I love the campus, the Duke Gardens and the awesome work environment.

A Movie I like: Office Space



Name: Karen Newbery
Position: Section Head, Discovery Services
Years at Duke: 21

What I do at Duke: I support the integrated library system for Duke – the system that allows library material to be bought, described and circulated for Duke’s patrons.

If I had $5 million, I would: I would have a craft store and a staff at home so I could spend time doing what I want and not keeping up with the chores at home.

My first ever job: I got my first job at a Walgreens at a mall in Omaha with some friends from high school. We had a great time working together! I’ll still help “face” a shelf or put something back where it belongs in a retail store today.

My dream job: Being a full-time crafter.

If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: My son or my cats. I could regale you for hours on either subject!

The best advice I ever received: “It doesn’t matter what your degree is in, as long as you have a degree.” My Father

What I love about Duke: I love all the people I’ve worked with. They both challenge me and keep me sane.

When I’m not at work, I like to: Family is really important to me, so you’ll find me spending time with mine. I also run and do lots of crafts.

If I could have one superpower, it would be: To cure cancer. Stupid cancer.

A Movie I like: One of my favorite movies is Top Secret. I also really like Shawshank Redemption and Oh Brother, Where art thou?

Something most people don’t know about me: I’m really an introvert. Really!

A unique thing in my office: My counted cross stitch puzzle. Put together by Glenda Lacoste and her crew in the copy center years ago. I love it because I love cross stitch and it’s so colorful.

An interesting/memorable day at work for me: When I manage to make it through the entire day without blowing anything or anyone up.



Name: Jeff Fleming
Position: Analyst, IT, Sr – Discovery Services
Years at Duke: 7

 What I do at Duke: ILS and whatever else needs to get done.

If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about:  Talk to me about my twin girls.






Name: Matthew Harrington
Position: Analyst IT,  Discovery Services
Years at Duke: < year

What I do at Duke:  Help manage ILS-related configuration tables and custom reports

If I had $5 million, I would:  Pay off debt, help out family, and invest in my neighborhood/community

My first ever job:  Cutting grass (age 11-13)

My dream job:  Film reviewer/columnist (preferably pre-internet)

If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about:  Film history, electric cars, Hokie football, or best places to eat in (or out of) the Triangle

The best advice I ever received:   “You should apply for a job in the library.”  –mom, freshman year at Virginia Tech

What I love about Duke:  Campus is beautiful and staff are friendly

When I’m not at work, I like to:  Travel, play pool, try new restaurants, and watch film

If I could have one superpower, it would be:  Global cooling

A Movie I like:  Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries

Something most people don’t know about me:  I spent a few months in law school before entering a doctoral program.

A unique thing in my office:  Serials Specialist award given to me at the 2015 NASIG Conference

An interesting/memorable day at work for me:  First day teaching a college composition course


Name: Paul Wilshire

Position: IT Analyst

Years at Duke: 10

What I do at Duke: I work with Library Desktop Support to provide internal computer support to the Duke Library staff.

If I had $5 million, I would: Buy a nice Cabin in the Mountains, retire early

My first ever job: Library Page in Public Library System

My dream job: Working with Dolphins

If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about:Anything?

The best advice I ever received: Do what you love and the money will come.

What I love about Duke: Work environment

When I’m not at work, I like to: Interact with My Kids, read, watch movies, travel, and hike

If I could have one superpower, it would be: Teleportation

A Movie I like: Gattica

Something most people don’t know about me: I like to scuba dive

A unique thing in my office: Butterfly picture of my daughter

An interesting/memorable day at work for me:My first day at work when I saw all the computer junk that no one had surplussed.







Name: Derrek Croney
Position: IT Analyst
Years at Duke: 5

What I Do At Duke: Drink lots of coffee!

And I manage the Libraries’ application servers, manage the Libraries’ public and intranet websites, serve as the Libraries’ liason with the central Office of IT, and occasionally write PHP, Ruby and Java code.

That, and drink lots of coffee!

If I had $5 million, I would… Have a wife who now had $5 million, and I would enjoy coming to work at Duke each day.

A Unique Thing My Office: A photograph of me posing next to the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.

The Best Advice I Ever Received: The first ‘IT Director’ I worked under once told me (in the deepest “southern drawl” known to man), “If you don’t like how something is going, wait six(6) months and things will change.”

What I love about Duke: Getting away to the Duke Gardens to decompress and unwind.

A Movie I Like: Tombstone



Name: Jack Hill
Position: IT Analyst
Years at Duke: 2

What I do at Duke: I do systems administration for the ILS and Repository projects. I try to configure the computers so that other people can do their work easier. Both of those projects are collaborations with people from around the world trying to solve the same problems.

My first ever job: I was a lab technician in a genotyping lab at UNC.

If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: Free Software and the Haskell programming language.

When I’m not at work, I like to: Do even more things with computers. I’m a board member of the Internet Hosting Cooperative (  I do other things as well, like make and consume food, amateur radio, and ultimate (Frisbee™).

Something most people don’t know about me: I am a Durham native.

A unique thing in my office: A real chalk board and a model-m keyboard.  Just because I’m a technologist doesn’t mean that I don’t see the value in older ways of doing things. I also have a “Notable Women in Computing” poster that was authored in part by Duke’s own Dr. Susan Rodger.

My favorite charities: Software Freedom Conservancy and Catholic Relief Services. Both empower people in different ways.



Meet Information Technology Services: Data and Visualization Services

Information Technology Services

Duke University Libraries

Meet our staff

Data and Visualization Services


Analyze, discover, manage, map, and visualize your data with Duke Libraries Data and Visualization Services.  Our team of six consultants and three interns provides a broad range of support in areas ranging from data analysis, data visualization, geographic information systems, financial data, statistical software and data storage and management.  Our lab provides 12 workstations with the latest data software and three Bloomberg Professional workstations nearly 24/7 for the Duke community.








Name: Joel Herndon
Position:  Head, Data and Visualization Services
Years at Duke:  12

I joined Duke University Libraries in 2003. Before coming to Duke, I was the head of the Electronic Data Center at Emory University Libraries. As the head of DVS, I lead the department, coordinate programs and services and act as a liaison with other data groups both at Duke and beyond. As part of the department’s consulting services, I work with researchers on a range of questions about data management (both planning and implementation), data visualization and digital mapping projects.


John Little





Name: John Little
Position: Data Analysis and Management Analyst
Years at Duke: 1 Score

What I do at Duke:  I consult with patrons through the Data & Visualization Services Department.  My goal is to help people identify, create and leverage Duke University services which involve data.  Typically this includes data analysis, data storage, data sharing, and data cleaning.

If I had $5 million, I would:  have $5 million dollars and try to figure out how to lose it without losing my sanity.

My first ever job: My very first money job was when I was about 10.  I used to cut grass for Mrs. Hangen.  She’d bring me Cokes and we’d sit on her back deck overlooking the Fox River.  I don’t remember what we talked about.  I wonder if I ever told her about my girlfriend Tracy Holland?  Mrs. Hangen paid me $10 and it took about 40 minutes to cut the grass — not including Coke breaks.  She was a real nice lady.  Back then I used to wish grass would grow faster and that I could spend more time with Tracy.

My dream job:  idk.  Maybe cutting grass for Tracy Holland?  lol.

If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about:  Do you recall Aimiee Mann, formerly of Til Tuesday?  She used to sing, “Hush Hush, keep it down now, voices carry?’  We could talk about that.  I think it would be a short conversation, potentially a very unpleasant conversation as well.

The best advice I ever received:  “You don’t have to catch fish to go fishin’.” –Alfred O’Brien

What I love about Duke:  The standard issue, dark blue jumpsuits and the bookmobile.

When I’m not at work, I like to:  Imagine myself sitting in a mystical office, working.

If I could have one superpower, it would be:  The Power of Perception.

A Movie I like[d]:  Have you ever seen the Bee Gees in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band?  Peter Frampton was in it.  So was Earth, Wind & Fire.  Frampton played Billy Shears.  The Fire playedthemselves; they were dope.  Anyway, when I was a child, I watched it on HBO and I thought it was pretty catchy.  Do you think Mrs. Hangen may have slipped a mickey into my Coke?  Because, I mean, I really don’t know what came over me.

Something most people don’t know about me:  I have $5 Million.

A unique thing in my office:  My imaginary pet Iguana, Remus.

An interesting/memorable day at work for me:  There was this one day when I truthfully answered all these questions about myself….



Name: Eric Monson
Position: Data Visualization Analyst
Years at Duke: 15

What I do at Duke: I help people visualize, organize and think about their data, for their own exploration or to effectively communicate their findings to others.

If I had $5 million, I would: Stash a bunch of it away for retirement and my kids’ education. Then, I would put a new, less stinky engine in my ’88 Dodge Ram 100 pickup and get the driver’s side window fixed so it could roll down in the summer. Some of those covered gutters for my house would be nice, too.

My first ever job: My mom would pay my sister and me five cents for each mosquito we killed inside the house.

My dream job: Getting to work with smart, passionate people every day and use my strangely broad background to help them accomplish their goals – exactly what I’ve been doing for the past few years!

If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: Kerning

The best advice I ever received: Be yourself and don’t worry about the fact that not everyone will like you. (I have trouble following that advice.)

What I love about Duke: It’s a beautiful place to work that feels like home.

When I’m not at work, I like to: Practice photography, baking and woodworking, and watch My Little Pony with my two girls.

A Movie I like: I like many movies, but one I feel doesn’t get enough attention is Steve Martin’s 1991 film, L.A. Story. It’s a bit dated, but I love how the story mixes satirical, romantic and surreal elements.

Something most people don’t know about me: I like to practice target shooting with my friend who used to be a Marine Sniper/Scout Team Leader in Iraq.

A unique thing in my office: A folded-card polyhedron constructed during a workshop led by the mathematician/artist George W Hart during his visit to Duke a few years ago.

An interesting/memorable day at work for me: One of my most memorable was the day of my on-campus interview for this position. I was nervous about the timing of my talk, but other than that I was surprised and encouraged by the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed every event and interaction that whole day!








Name: Mark Thomas
Position: GIS and Map Librarian
Years at Duke: 21

What I do at Duke: Librarian for GIS, Economics, Geography, Maps, and Federal Government Documents; work in the Library’s Data and Visualization Services Department

If I had $5 million, I would: Relax a little

My first ever job: Bread baker at a Schlotzky’s sandwich shop

My dream job: Something related to vernacular music sound recordings

If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: Really old country and roots music; railroads; Volkswagens with air-cooled engines

The best advice I ever received: Don’t spend your capital.

What I love about Duke: Work around smart people

When I’m not at work, I like to: Ice skating with family.

If I could have one superpower, it would be: Make everyone happy

A Movie I like: The Searchers.

Something most people don’t know about me: Used to do a radio show on WXDU featuring “vintage” country music (fiddles and steel guitars from the 1920s to early 1970s), called “A Broken Heart and a Glass of Beer,” after the theme song

A unique thing in my office: A canister from the pneumatic tube system that was in the 1948 stacks.

An interesting/memorable day at work for me: Anytime a patron says this is just what they needed.


Angela Z






Name:  Angela Zoss
Position:  Data Visualization Coordinator
Years at Duke: 5

What I do at Duke: I help students, faculty, and staff learn about or produce data visualizations, incuding charts, graphs, and maps. I teach workshops, give presentations to classes or at conferences, develop online instructional materials, and provide one-on-one advice and technical support. I am also a member of the Visualization and Interactive Systems group ( and co-organize the Visualization Friday Forum (

My first ever job:As a junior in high school, I started working as a math tutor at a local state university branch campus. The tutors had open office hours, and while most of the questions came from later-life returning education adults needing refreshers on basic algebra, we would occasionally get to struggle through harder problems with students from pre-Calculus and Calculus courses. Around that time I also got a job as a research assistant to a local mystery writer who was a family friend. I would often head to the library and comb through microfilm and microfiche to help her contextualize a historical novel.

The best advice I ever received: “You must learn to love to learn.” My French teacher in high school, too soon lost to cancer, was an extremely passionate woman who wanted to share her energy with her students. She understood all too well that learning was not a means to an end but a lifelong journey that should be cultivated and cherished.

What I love about Duke: I love how ready people at Duke seem to be to get their hands dirty learning a new skill or technique. Both inside and outside the library, I’ve been very impressed by the mentality that it’s okay to learn by doing, even if it’s a small project at first.

When I’m not at work, I like to: play music. I’m a member of the Duke Medicine Orchestra, for which I also serve as the Communications Chair. I play French Horn in the orchestra, but I’ve played many instruments in many different kinds of ensembles. I also enjoy singing.




Name: Mara Sedlins
Position: CLIR/DLF Postdoctoral Fellow in Data Curation for the Social Sciences
Years at Duke: 1

What I do at Duke: I am working with Duke Libraries and the Social Science Research Institute to develop and promote best practices for managing a variety of research data in the social sciences.

My first ever job: As a summer job I worked as a teller at a small local bank in Minnesota (where the air conditioning made it feel almost as cold as Minnesota winters!)

My dream job: I think this is it!

If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: traveling in San Miguel de Allende and Oaxaca, Mexico

What I love about Duke: the friendly and talented people, the beautiful wooded trails

When I’m not at work, I like to: run, do yoga, explore Durham’s restaurants and breweries, go to the Old Time Learning Jam at High Strung Violins & Guitars and play fiddle tunes

A Movie I like: Tarkovsky’s Stalker

Something most people don’t know about me: For a while I had a second career as a rock violist.


Name:  Sophia Lafferty-Hess
Position: Research Data Management Consultant
Years at Duke: 1

What I do at Duke: I work in Data and Visualization Services where I provide consultations and instruction in research data management strategies to help researchers organize, describe, share, and preserve their data.

My first ever job: I worked at my neighbor’s blueberry farm where I did “odd jobs” during the summer.

If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: Science fiction movies and/or books

The best advice I ever received: After I graduated college, my favorite professor told me “to go out and fail.” At the time, this seemed like odd advice to me, but as I have grown, I found this to be great advice that taught me that life will never go exactly the way you plan and resilience is an important life skill.

When I’m not at work, I like to: Watch movies, read books, and eat good food (I am lucky to have a husband who likes to cook!)

If I could have one superpower, it would be: Telekinesis

A Movie I like: So many to choose from….Fifth Element, Serenity, Running Man (to name a few)

Something most people don’t know about me: In undergrad I majored in Classical Studies and focused my studies on Latin and Roman culture

A unique thing in my office: I have a “stress cow” from the 90th Anniversary of the UNC Odum Institute, where I previously worked. The cow was inspired by the fact that Howard Odum raised prize-winning jersey cattle.


Name:  Jen Darragh
Position:  Senior Research Data Management Consultant
Years at Duke: 1

What I do at Duke: I’m a member of Data and Visualization Services. With my counterpart Sophia, I provide guidance and assistance to Duke researchers from all disciplines in managing their research data, whatever that “data” might be. Right now we’re working on developing workshops on data management topics and workflows for data deposit in the Duke Digital Repository.

If I had $5 million, I would: Pay off my debt, buy a house here in Durham and then a house over on the OBX. Save what’s left for retirement, as I know I’d still be working.

My first ever job: Dog walker (my own business at all of 12), actual “real” job was busgirl at my friend’s parents’ Chinese restaurant.

My dream job: Anything that involves travel, good food and drink. So probably a food/wine/beer critic. Although the Craft Beer Historian position at the Smithsonian probably would have been really sweet (I’m very proud to see that a woman holds that position).

If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: Pittsburgh. It’s my home town. I have a lot of love for it, the food, the people and the Steelers.

The best advice I ever received: Don’t borrow trouble (from my Mom) – as in, don’t worry about things that haven’t happened yet. Waste of time and effort.

When I’m not at work, I like to: Go to the gym and wail on the heavy bag, do anything outdoors with my husband (especially now that we’re south), cuddle with my dog, explore new microbreweries, discover new restaurants as well as cook. As I’m new to Durham there is a lot to explore.

A Movie I like: Constantine. I don’t know why but I can watch that movie over and over again.

Something most people don’t know about me:I’m an extroverted introvert.

A unique thing in my office: A caricature of me that my high school boyfriend drew. It’s over 20 years old but hasn’t fallen apart yet.

An interesting/memorable day at work for me: Well I imagine there will be many more to come, but perhaps trying to walk to the shuttle (that never came as the lot was closed) after the big ice storm in January. I didn’t fall, but it was probably a good show for anyone that saw me.

Meet Information Technology Services: Digital Curation Services

Information Technology Services

Duke University Libraries

Meet our staff

Digital Curation Services

DCS provides program management for the Duke Digital Repository, along with metadata support, content curation, and R&D. We also perform web and content development for a variety of library programs, including exhibits.



Name: Will Sexton
Position:  Head of Digital Curation Services, and Program Manager for the Duke Digital Repository
Years at Duke:  15

What I do at Duke: I lead the effort to build a digital repository initiative that supports both our campus community and the collecting efforts of the Libraries. I also lead a small team that focuses on some of the architectural and technical aspects of digital content curation, as well as web development

My first ever job: Lot boy at a used car & mobile home dealer on Bragg Boulevard in Fayetteville, NC.

If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: Cooking usually works.

What I love about Duke: Nothing’s easy but most of it’s fun.

When I’m not at work, I like to: Cook, go mountain biking, play video games, get silly with my family.

Something most people don’t know about me: I lived in Tokyo, 1990-1993.

An interesting/memorable day at work for me: The day we moved into Bostock.



Name: Maggie Dickson
Position: Metadata Architect
Years at Duke: 1

What I do at Duke: I manage the creation and maintenance of metadata for materials deposited into the Duke Digital Repository. I wrangle spreadsheets and love normalizing data.

If I had $5 million, I would: What do you mean, ‘if’? (Just kidding! I would pay off my debts, set up college funds for my kids, and give the rest to Doctors Without Borders.)

My first ever job: My first job out of college was working at the animal shelter. I made everyone I know adopt a cat or dog (or a couple of both), and learned a lot about humanity.

A Movie I like: Overboard



Name: Michael Daul
Position: Digital Projects Developer
Years at Duke: 4

 What I do at Duke: In general I don’t do well working on the same thing day after day, so I’m fortunate in that I’m able work on a wide variety of projects in the library. As a member of Digital Projects and Production Services, most of my time involves working on interfaces that enable access to resources at the library. Primarily I work on building, enhancing, and maintaining the web properties that the Library owns. Most recently I’ve been working on developing a drupal module to display ‘bento’ search results across several different search silos. I also get to work on digital exhibits, both online and physical kiosks. I particularly enjoy working on exhibits.

A quarter of my time is dedicated to working with Duke CIT (center for instructional technology). I mostly do similar things there, working on their web properties and the like. CIT also tends to do the occasional print or multimedia project, so I get to exercise my design and multimedia production muscles from time to time.

If I had $5 million, I would:  Pay off debt, invest/save a good chunk, help out family and friends, start some sort of foundation that could help people.

If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: I love music – I play a bunch of different instruments and have a well-stocked home studio. I love art (I was a fine art / philosophy double major in undergrad). I love animals – I have four cats at home. I also enjoy cars, comic books, basketball, movies, and all sorts of other things J

 A Movie I like:  I used to dedicate much more time to watching movies, especially in the theater, but for the past few years I’ve mostly reduced my consumption to what I can get for ‘free’ on netflix or amazon prime. That being said, I love movies. It’s hard to pick a single favorite, and this list would most likely be different next week, bu I’ll throw out five off the top of my head:

  • Old Boy (the Chan Wook Park version, not the terrible 2013 remake)
  • Godfather Part II
  • Akira
  • Rushmore
  • The station agent


Name: Susan Ivey
Position: Digital Repository Content Analyst
Years at Duke: 1

What I do at Duke: My position (and a second identical position) were created this year to support services around the Duke community’s research data needs. The Content Analysts oversee the ingest, description, access, and maintenance of materials in the Duke Digital Repository (DDR).

If I had $5 million, I would: Pay off my debts, buy a home, help family, invest, travel, and donate time and funds (particularly for St. Jude and the American Heart Association, but definitely others, as well). And never, ever, ever clean my house myself again.

My first ever job: A camp counselor for an after school program at an elementary school.

My dream job: Two things that I love are photography and traveling, so I think it would be amazing to be a travel photographer for a magazine.

If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: Food. Or wine.

When I’m not at work, I like to: Exercise (gym, yoga, and hiking are my go tos), cook, learn about (and drink!) wine, spend time with my friends and family, and visit new places.

If I could have one superpower, it would be: I used to say I’d like to be able to be invisible, but I think that could get me into too much trouble, so these days, I lean towards being able to fly.

A Movie I like: Back to the Future (part 1, of course).

A unique thing in my office: I have a framed sketch that I had at my previous job (at the University of Mississippi) that’s an advertisement for a song. It has a drawing of a man and says, “Oh! What a Mug!” It was in my office there when I started, and no one in the archive knew where it came from. It moved to several different office spaces during my time at UM, and we decided when I left that it should come with me to my office at Duke.


Name: Moira Downey
Position: Digital Repository Content Analyst
Years at Duke: 1

What I do at Duke: Digital repository content analysts were hired to support services around the Duke community’s research data needs. The Content Analysts oversee the ingest, description, access, and maintenance of materials in the Duke Digital Repository (DDR).

If I had $5 million, I would: Donate liberally and travel widely.

My first ever job: Harris Teeter cashier.

My dream job: Probably something graphic arts related.

If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: UNC basketball, modern art, or Soviet Russia.

The best advice I ever received: Foul shots win ball games.

What I love about Duke: I’m a Tarheel, so this question is hard. I’ll just say: Everyone I’ve met is amazing!

When I’m not at work, I like to: Mostly read.

A Movie I like: I don’t watch many movies, but one I saw recently that stuck with me was A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.

Something most people don’t know about me: I occasionally make [really] simple furniture?

A unique thing in my office: There’s not yet much in my office, but I was made an honorary member of the digital repository’s Metadata Task Force at my last job, and was given a MTF badge as a parting gift. It lives on the wall behind my desk.

Meet Information Technology Services: Tim McGeary


Name:  Tim McGeary

Position: AUL for IT Services

Years at Duke: 3 years


What I do at Duke: I lead the ITS organization and participate in the Executive Group for the Libraries. In any given day, I spend my time keeping up with the business of ITS to manage priorities and resources, take time to learn about, research, and analyze trends in IT that can benefit or impact the Libraries and ITS. I also plan build partnerships around campus and beyond that will strategically benefit the Libraries.

If I had $5 million, I would: payoff any debts and use the rest of the money to travel with my family so we could travel regularly and to wherever we wanted.

My first ever job: I cleaned automated bowling pin setting machines by hand with machine cleaner or crawling under the machines to vacuum.

My dream job: Being a professional golfer.

If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: My kids or anything Pittsburgh.

The best advice I ever received: No one is perfect, so don’t try to be and You learn best by learning from failure, so make little bets, fail fast (if it fails) and adapt.

What I love about Duke: Everyone has been so welcoming and I love the campus architecture and grounds.

When I’m not at work, I like to: Be the best dad I can be and occasionally run, bike, or on rare occasions play golf.

If I could have one superpower, it would be: To heal people – my grandfather was a pediatrician. I got to see and hear firsthand the positive outcomes of the thousands of people he helped get well.

A Movie I like: Stranger than Fiction

Something most people don’t know about me: I’ve written a half dozen or so musical compositions that have been publicly performed by others.

A unique thing in my office: a panoramic composite of the City of Pittsburgh from the top of Mt. Washington taken by my wife Andrea. It’s about 3 ½ feet long.

Meet Information Technology Services: Digital Collections

Information Technology Services

Duke University Libraries

Meet our staff

Digital Collections


DC provides digitization services and manages Duke’s Digital Collections Program (   The department partners with experts across the libraries to digitize, preserve and publish library collections.



Name:  Molly Bragg
Position:  Head of Digital Collections
Years at Duke:  5+ (includes an internship in University Archives and my time as move coordinator for the Rubenstein Library)

What I do at Duke: Spin Plates! I manage the Digital Collections department which includes the Digital Production Center and all the digital collections projects that come through our door from idea to implementation. 

 My first ever job:  Part time:  in high school I worked at The Imaginarium, a fancy toystore at the local mall.

Full time:  I worked at a Hostelling International Youth Hostel in downtown San Francisco while “taking a break” from college.

If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: Big Poodle

 What I love about Duke:   The people and the projects – I feel so lucky to work with such an exciting range of people and projects throughout the library.  The variety is never boring!

When I’m not at work, I like to:   I enjoy live music, running, cycling, visiting with friends and yoga.  I wish I had more time for reading, cycling and gardening (I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to gardening).

Something most people don’t know about me:    I was almost in a Kip Winger video in the  mid/late 90s when I was in college in New Mexico.  He was still going strong even in the 90s!

A unique thing in my office:   My ceramic lucky cat is an admittedly cheap trinket. Soon after I started working at Internet Archive (2003) a new colleague (who later became a good friend) gave it to me for my birthday.  Lucky cat has been on my work desk (whereever that may be) ever since.








Name: Mike Adamo
PositionDigitization Specialist  -Still Image
Years at Duke: 13

What I do at Duke: Assess Library collections for digitization. Create high-end digital content for the preservation and access using specialized capture equipment.

My first ever job: My Dad owned a construction company so I was shoveling gravel and cleaning up job sites by the time I was 7. After that I moved up to being a cook at Long John Silvers and the rest, they say, is history.

My dream job: Helicopter pilot. Theoretical Physicist.

Favorite quote from my Grandfather: My grandfather was always cold. Sometimes he would even start a fire in the summertime. I always thought it was funny that he would walk into the living room with the fire blazing in the middle of the summer and ask “is it hot in here?.   Everyone would say it feels fine… then slowly migrate to the backyard where it was much cooler.

Something most people don’t know about me: I have 2 brothers and 3 sisters who were all born in a 7 year span. My older sister and I were born in the same year. I also have 2 foster brothers and a foster sister. I grew up living on the same street as my Grandparents and an Aunt and Uncle who had 5 kids of their own. Needless to say there was always lots of family around.








Name: Alex Marsh
Position: Digitization Specialist  – Video
Years at Duke: 7

What I do at Duke: I digitize obsolete audio & video formats, and do high-resolution photography of still image materials for long-term preservation and online access.

My first ever job: Delivering Ad-Pak newspapers door-to-door when I was 14-yrs-old.

The best advice I ever received: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”

What I love about Duke: It’s such a beautiful campus: the gothic architecture, giant oak trees, expansive gardens and the big chapel. It sure beats working in a corporate office park.

Something most people don’t know about me: My grandfather played basketball for Duke in 1921, back when it was called Trinity College. No one camped out for tickets.

A unique thing in my office: Two giant racks housing obsolete videotape playback decks, such as U-matic, Betacam, Hi-8 and VHS. These are worthless relics to most people, but crucial to the library’s goals for moving image preservation and access.

An interesting/memorable day at work for me: One morning, I was asked to digitize a box of materials from our Rubenstein Library. I opened a plain white box to find original printings of some of the most sought-after comic books in the history of the genre: Batman #1 (1940), Amazing Fantasy #15 (Spider-Man’s debut),  Avengers #4 (Captain America’s return), X-Men #1, and many more. These historic titles are part of Duke’s Edwin and Terry Murray Comic Book Collection.


Name: Zeke Graves
Position: Digitization Specialist  – Audio
Years at Duke: 7

What I do at Duke: Create high-quality digital versions of analog media for preservation and access

If I had $5 million, I would: Build and maintain an arts commune/retreat, support organizations that help North Carolinians in need, travel the globe and beyond

My first ever job: breakdancing for tips at a kiln opening

My dream job: banjo builder / basketball coach

If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: what I’m reading, what I’m listening to

Something most people don’t know about me: I grew up in a wood-heated geodesic dome

A unique thing in my office: Otari MX-5050 Reel-to-Reel


SNCC Digital Gateway Homepage Updates

Earlier this summer I worked with the SNCC Digital Gateway team to launch a revised version of their homepage. The SNCC Digital Gateway site originally was launched in the Fall of 2016. Since then much more content has been incorporated into the site. The team and their advisory board wanted to highlight some of this new content on the homepage (by making it scrollable) while also staying true to the original design.

The previous version of the homepage included two main features:

  • a large black and white photograph that would randomly load (based on five different options) every time a user visited the page
  • a ‘fixed’ primary navigation in the footer

Rotating Background Images

In my experience, the ‘go to’ approach for doing any kind of image rotation is to use a Javascript library, probably one that relies on jQuery. My personal favorite for a long time has been jQuery Cycle 2 which I appreciated for it’s lightweight, flexible implementation, and price ($free!). With the new SNCC homepage, I wanted to figure out a way to both crossfade the background images and fade the caption text in and out elegantly. It was also critical that the captions match up perfectly with their associated images. I was worried that doing this with Cycle 2 was going to be overly complicated with respect to syncing the timing, as in some past projects I’d run into trouble keeping discrete carousels locked in sync after several iterations — for example, with leaving the page up and running for several minutes.

I decided to try and build the SNCC background rotation using CSS animations. In the past I’d shied away from using CSS animations for anything that was presented as a primary feature or that was complex as the browser support was spotty. However, the current state of browser support is better, even though it still has a ways to go. In my first attempt I tried crossfading the images as backgrounds in a wrapper div, as this was going to make things work with resizing the page much easier by using background-size: cover property. But I discovered that animating background images isn’t actually supported in the spec, even though it worked perfectly in Chrome and Opera. So instead I went with the approach where you stack the images on top of each other and change the opacity one at a time, like so:

<div class="bg-image-wrapper">
  <img src="image-1.jpg" alt="">
  <img src="image-2.jpg" alt="">
  <img src="image-3.jpg" alt="">
  <img src="image-4.jpg" alt="">
  <img src="image-5.jpg" alt="">

I setup the structure for the captions in a similar way:

<div id="home-caption">
  <li>caption 1</li>
  <li>caption 2</li>
  <li>caption 3</li>
  <li>caption 4</li>
  <li>caption 5</li>

I won’t bore you with the details of CSS animation, but in short they are based on keyframes that can be looped and applied to html elements. The one thing that proved to be a little tricky was the timing between the images and the captions, as the keyframes are represented in percentages of the entire animation. This was further complicated by the types of transitions I was using (crossfading the images and linearly fading the captions) and that I wanted to slightly stagger the caption animations so that they would come in after the crossfade completes and transition out just before the next crossfade starts, like so:

Crossfade illustration
As time moves from left to right, the images and captions have independent transitions

The SNCC team and I also discussed a few options for the overall timing of the transitions and settled on eight seconds per image. With five images in our rotation, the total time of the animation would be 40 seconds. The entire animation is applied to each image, and offset with a delay based on their position in the .bg-image-wrapper stack. The CSS for the images looks like this:

.bg-image-wrapper img {
  animation-name: sncc-fader;
  animation-timing-function: ease-in-out;
  animation-iteration-count: infinite;
  animation-duration: 40s;

@keyframes sncc-fader {
  0% {
  16% {
  21% {
  95% {
  100% {

.bg-image-wrapper img:nth-of-type(1) {
  animation-delay: 32s;
.bg-image-wrapper img:nth-of-type(2) {
  animation-delay: 24s;
.bg-image-wrapper img:nth-of-type(3) {
  animation-delay: 16s;
.bg-image-wrapper img:nth-of-type(4) {
  animation-delay: 8s;
.bg-image-wrapper img:nth-of-type(5) {
  animation-delay: 0;

The resulting animation looks something like this:

SNCC example rotation

The other piece of the puzzle was emulating the behavior of background: cover which resizes a background image to fill the entire width of a div and positions the image vertically in a consistent way. In general I really like using this attribute. I struggled to get things working on my own, but eventually came across a great code example of how to get things working. So I copied that implementation and it worked perfectly.

Fixed Nav

I was worried that getting the navigation bar to stay consistently positioned at the bottom of the page and allowing for scrolling — while also working responsively — was going to be a bit of a challenge. But in the end the solution was relatively simple.

The navigation bar is structured in a very typical way — as an unordered list with each menu element represented as a list item, like so:

<div id="navigation">
      <li><a href="url1">menu item 1</a></li>
      <li><a href="url2">menu item 2</a></li>
      <li><a href="url3">menu item 3</a></li>

To get it to ‘stick’ to the bottom of the page, I just placed it using position: absolute, gave it a fixed height, and set the width to 100%. Surprisingly, worked great just like that, and also allowed the page to be scrolled to reveal the content further down the page.

You can view the updated homepage by visiting

Turning on the Rights in the Duke Digital Repository

As 2017 reaches its halfway point, we have concluded another busy quarter of development on the Duke Digital Repository (DDR). We have several new features to share, and one we’re particularly delighted to introduce is Rights display.

Back in March, my colleague Maggie Dickson shared our plans for rights management in the DDR, a strategy built upon using rights status URIs from, and in a similar fashion, licenses from Creative Commons. In some cases, we supplement the status with free text in a local Rights Note property. Our implementation goals here were two-fold: 1) use standard statuses that are machine-readable; 2) display them in an easily understood manner to users.

New rights display feature in action on a digital object.

What to Display

Getting and assigning machine-readable URIs for Rights is a significant milestone in its own right. Using that value to power a display that makes sense to users is the next logical step. So, how do we make it clear to a user what they can or can’t do with a resource they have discovered? While we could simply display the URI and link to its webpage (e.g., ) the key info still remains a click away. Alternatively, we could display the rights statement or license title with the link, but some of them aren’t exactly intuitive or easy on the eyes. “Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International,” anyone?


Looking around to see how other cultural heritage institutions have solved this problem led us to very few examples. is still fairly new and it takes time for good design patterns to emerge. However, Europeana — co-champion of the initiative along with DPLA — has a stellar collections site, and, as it turns out, a wonderfully effective design for displaying rights statuses to users. Our solution ended up very much inspired by theirs; hats off to the Europeana team.

Image from Europeana site.
Europeana Collections UI.


Both Creative Commons and provide downloadable icons at their sites (here and here). We opted to store a local copy of the circular SVG versions for both to render in our UI. They’re easily styled, they don’t take up a lot of space, and used together, they have some nice visual unity.

Rights & Licenses Icons
Circular icons from Creative Commons &

Labels & Titles

We have a lightweight Rails app with an easy-to-use administrative UI for managing auxiliary content for the DDR, so that made a good home for our rights statuses and associated text. Statements are modeled to have a URI and Title, but can also have three additional optional fields: short title, re-use text, and an array of icon classes.

Editing rights info associated with each statement.

Displaying the Info

We wanted to be sure to show the rights status in the flow of the rest of an object’s metadata. We also wanted to emphasize this information for anyone looking to download a digital object. So we decided to render the rights status prominently in the download menu, too.

Rights status in download menu
Rights status displays in the download menu.


Rights status also displays alongside other metadata.

What’s Next

Our focus in this area now shifts toward applying these newly available rights statuses to our existing digital objects in the repository, while ensuring that new ingests/deposits get assessed and assigned appropriate values. We’ll also have opportunities to refine where and how the statuses get displayed. We stand to learn a lot from our peer organizations implementing their own rights management strategies, and from our visitors as they use this new feature on our site. There’s a lot of work ahead, but we’re thrilled to have reached this noteworthy milestone.

Infrastructure and Multispectral Imaging in the Library

As we continue to work on our “standard” full color digitization projects such as Section A and the William Gedney Photograph Collection, both of which are multiyear projects, we are still hard at work with a variety of things related to Multispectral Imaging (MSI).  We have been writing documentation and posting it to our Knowledgebase, building tools to track MSI requests and establishing a dedicated storage space for MSI image stacks.  Below are some high-level details about these things and the kinks we are ironing out of the MSI process.  As with any new venture, it can be messy in the beginning and tedious to put all the details in order but in the end it’s worth it.

MSI Knowledge Base

We established a knowledge base for documents related to MSI that cover a wide variety of subjects:  How-To articles, to do lists, templates, notes taken during imaging sessions, technical support issues and more.  These documents will help us develop sound guidelines and workflows which in turn will make our work in this area more consistent, efficient and productive.

Dedicated storage space

Working with other IT staff, a new server space has been established specifically for MSI.  This is such a relief because, as we began testing the system in the early days, we didn’t have a dedicated space for storing the MSI image stacks and most of our established spaces were permissions restricted, preventing our large MSI group from using it.  On top of this we didn’t have any file management strategies in place for MSI.  This made for some messy file management. From our first demo, initial testing and eventual purchase of the system, we used a variety of storage spaces and a number of folder structures as we learned the system.  We used our shared Library server, the Digital Production Center’s production server, Box and Google Drive.  Files were all over the place!  What a mess!  In our new dedicated space, we have established standard folder structures and file management strategies and store all of our MSI image stacks in one place now.  Whew!

The Request Queue

In the beginning, once the MSI system was up and running, our group had a brainstorming session to identify a variety of material that we could use to test with and hone our skills in using the new system.  Initially this queue was a bulleted list in Basecamp identifying an item.  As we worked through the list it would sometimes be confusing as to what had already been done and what item was next.  This process became more cumbersome because multiple people were working through the list at the same time, both on capture and processing, with no specific reporting mechanism to track who was doing what.  We have recently built an MSI Request Queue that tracks items to be captured in a more straightforward, clear manner.  We have included title, barcode and item information along with the research question to be answered, it priority level, due date, requester information and internal contact information.  The MSI group will use this queue for a few weeks then tweak it as necessary.  No more confusion.

The Processing Queue

As described in a previous post, capturing with MSI produces lots of image stacks that contain lots of files.  On average, capturing one page can produce 6 image stacks totaling 364 images.  There are 6 different stages of conversion/processing that the image stack goes through before it might be considered “done”, and the fact that everyone on the MSI team has other job responsibilities makes it difficult to carve out a large enough block of time to convert and process the image stacks through all of the stages.  This made it difficult to know what items had been completely processed or not.  We have recently built an MSI Processing Queue that tracks what stage of processing each item is in.  We have included root file names, flat field information, PPI and a column for each phase of processing to indicate whether or not an image stack has passed through a phase.  As with the Request Queue, the MSI group will use this queue for a few weeks then tweak it as necessary.  No more confusion.

Duke University East Campus Progress Picture #27

As with most blog posts, the progress described above has been boiled down and simplified as to not bore you to death, but this is a fair amount of work nonetheless.  Having dedicated storage and a standardized folder structure simplifies the management of lots of files and puts them in a predictable structure.  Streamlining the Request Queue establishes a clear path of work and provides enough information about the request in order to move forward with a clear goal in mind.  Developing a Processing Queue that provides a snapshot of the state of processing across multiple requests and provides enough information so that any staff member familiar with our MSI process can complete a request.  Establishing a knowledge base to document our workflows and guidelines ties everything together in an organized and searchable manner making it easier to find information about established procedures and troubleshoot technical problems.

It is important to put this infrastructure in place and build a strong foundation for Multispectral Imaging at the Library so it will scale in the future.  This is only the beginning!


Want to learn even more about MSI at DUL?



A Summer Day in the Life of Digital Collections

A recent tweet from my colleague in the Rubenstein Library (pictured above) pretty much sums up the last few weeks at work.  Although I rarely work directly with students and classes, I am still impacted by the hustle and bustle in the library when classes are in session.  Throughout the busy Spring I found myself saying, oh I’ll have time to work on that over the Summer.  Now Summer is here, so it is time to make some progress on those delayed projects while keeping others moving forward.  With that in mind here is your late Spring and early Summer round-up of Digital Collections news and updates.

Radio Haiti

A preview of the soon to be live Radio Haiti Archive digital collection.

The long anticipated launch of the Radio Haiti Archives is upon us.  After many meetings to review the metadata profile, discuss modeling relationships between recordings, and find a pragmatic approach to representing metadata in 3 languages all in the Duke Digital Repository public interface, we are now in preview mode, and it is thrilling.  Behind the scenes, Radio Haiti represents a huge step forward in the Duke Digital Repository’s ability to store and play back audio and video files.

You can already listen to many recordings via the Radio Haiti collection guide, and we will share the digital collection with the world in late June or early July.  In the meantime, check out this teaser image of the homepage.


Section A

My colleague Meghan recently wrote about our ambitions Section A digitization project, which will result in creating finding aids for and digitizing 3000+ small manuscript collections from the Rubenstein library.  This past week the 12 people involved in the project met to review our workflow.  Although we are trying to take a mass digitization and streamlined approach to this project, there are still a lot of people and steps.  For example, we spent about 20-30 minutes of our 90 minute meeting reviewing the various status codes we use on our giant Google spreadsheet and when to update them. I’ve also created a 6 page project plan that encompasses both a high and medium level view of the project. In addition to that document, each part of the process (appraisal, cataloging review, digitization, etc.) also has their own more detailed documentation.  This project is going to last at least a few years, so taking the time to document every step is essential, as is agreeing on status codes and how to use them.  It is a big process, but with every box the project gets a little easier.

Status codes for tracking our evaluation, remediation, and digitization workflow.
Section A Project Plan Summary








Diversity and Inclusion Digitization Initiative Proposals and Easy Projects

As Bitstreams readers and DUL colleagues know, this year we instituted 2 new processes for proposing digitization projects.  Our second digitization initiative deadline has just passed (it was June 15) and I will be working with the review committee to review new proposals as well as reevaluate 2 proposals from the first round in June and early July.  I’m excited to say that we have already approved one project outright (Emma Goldman papers), and plan to announce more approved projects later this Summer. 

We also codified “easy project” guidelines and have received several easy project proposals.  It is still too soon to really assess this process, but so far the process is going well.

Transcription and Closed Captioning

Speaking of A/V developments, another large project planned for this Summer is to begin codifying our captioning and transcription practices.  Duke Libraries has had a mandate to create transcriptions and closed captions for newly digitized A/V for over a year. In that time we have been working with vendors on selected projects.  Our next steps will serve two fronts; on the programmatic side we need  review the time and expense captioning efforts have incurred so far and see how we can scale our efforts to our backlog of publicly accessible A/V.  On the technology side I’ve partnered with one of our amazing developers to sketch out a multi-phase plan for storing and providing access to captions and time-coded transcriptions accessible and searchable in our user interface.  The first phase goes into development this Summer.  All of these efforts will no doubt be the subject of a future blog post.  

Testing VTT captions of Duke Chapel Recordings in JWPlayer

Summer of Documentation

My aspirational Summer project this year is to update digital collections project tracking documentation, review/consolidate/replace/trash existing digital collections documentation and work with the Digital Production Center to create a DPC manual.  Admittedly writing and reviewing documentation is not the most exciting Summer plan,  but with so many projects and collaborators in the air, this documentation is essential to our productivity, communication practices, and my personal sanity.   

Late Spring Collection launches and Migrations

Over the past few months we launched several new digital collections as well as completed the migration of a number of collections from our old platform into the Duke Digital Repository.  

New Collections:

Migrated Collections:

…And so Much More!

In addition to the projects above, we continue to make slow and steady progress on our MSI system, are exploring using the FFv1 format for preserving selected moving image collections, planning the next phase of the Digital Collections migration into the Duke Digital Repository, thinking deeply about collection level metadata and structured metadata, planning to launch newly digitized Gedney images, integrating digital objects in finding aids and more.  No doubt some of these efforts will appear in subsequent Bitstreams posts.  In the meantime, let’s all try not to let this Summer fly by too quickly!

Enjoy Summer while you can!

On TRAC: Assessment Tools and Trustworthiness

Duke Digital Repository is, among other things, a digital preservation platform and the locus of much of our work in that area.  As such, we often ponder the big questions:

  1. What is the repository?
  2. What is digital preservation?
  3. How are we doing?




What is the repository?

Fortunately, Ginny gave us a good start on defining the repository in Revisiting: What is the Repository?  It’s software, hardware, and  collaboration.  It’s processes, policies, attention, and intention.  While digital preservation is one of the focuses of the repository, digital preservation extends beyond the repository and should far outlive the repository.

What is digital preservation?

There are scores of definitions, but this Medium Definition from ALCTS is representative:

Digital preservation combines policies, strategies and actions to ensure access to reformatted and born digital content regardless of the challenges of media failure and technological change. The goal of digital preservation is the accurate rendering of authenticated content over time.

This is the short answer to the question: Accurate rendering of authenticated digital content over time.  This is the motivation behind the work described in Preservation Architecture: Phase 2 – Moving Forward with Duke Digital Repository.

How are we doing?

There are 2 basic methodologies for assessing this work- reactive and proactive.  A reactive approach to digital preservation might be characterized by “Hey!  We haven’t lost anything yet!”, which is why we like the proactive approach.

Digital preservation can be be a pretty deep rabbit hole and it can be an expensive proposition to attempt to mitigate the long tail of risk.  Fortunately, the community of practice has developed tools to assist in the planning and execution of trustworthy repositories.  At Duke, we’ve got several years experience working in the framework of the Center for Research Libraries’ Trustworthy Repositories Audit & Certification: Criteria and Checklist (TRAC) as the primary assessment tool by which we measure our efforts.  Much of the work to document our preservation environment and the supporting institutional commitment was focused on our DSpace repository, DukeSpace.  A great deal has changed in the recent 3 years including significant growth in our team and scope.  So, once again we’re working to measure ourselves against the standards of our profession and to use that process to inform our work.

There are 3 areas of focus in TRAC: Organizational Infrastructure, Digital Object Management, and Technologies, Technical Infrastructure, & Security.  These cover a very wide and deep field and include things like:

  • Securing Service Level of Agreements for all service providers
  • Documenting the organizational commitments of both Duke University and Duke University Libraries and sustainability plans relating to the repository
  • Creating and implementing routine testing of backup, remote replication, and restoration of data and relevant infrastructure
  • Creating and approving documentation on a wide variety of subjects for internal and external audiences


Back to the question: How are we doing?

Well, we’re making progress!  Naturally we’re starting with ensuring the basic needs are met first- successfully preserving the bits, maximizing transparency and external validation that we’re not losing the bits, and working on a sustainable, scalable architecture.  We have a lot of work ahead of us, of course.  The boxes in the illustration are all the same size, but the work they represent is not.  For example, the Disaster Recovery Plan at Hathi Trust is 61 pages of highly detailed thoughtfulness.  However, these works build on each other so we’re confident that the work we’re doing on the supporting bodies of policy, procedure, and documentation will make ease the work to a complete Disaster Recovery Plan.

Notes from the Duke University Libraries Digital Projects Team