Adventures in 4K

When it comes to moving image digitization, Duke Libraries’ Digital Production Center primarily deals with obsolete videotape formats like U-matic, Betacam, VHS and DV, which are in standard-definition (SD). We typically don’t work with high-definition (HD) or ultra-high-definition (UHD) video because that is usually “born digital,” and doesn’t need any kind of conversion from analog, or real-time migration from magnetic tape. It’s already in the form of a digital file.

However, when I’m not at Duke, I do like to watch TV at home, in high-definition. This past Christmas, the television in my living room decided to kick the bucket, so I set out to get a new one. I went to my local Best Buy and a few other stores, to check out all the latest and greatest TVs. The first thing I noticed is that just about every TV on the market now features 4K ultra-high-definition (UHD), and many have high dynamic range (HDR).

Before we dive into 4K, some history is in order. Traditional, standard-definition televisions offered 480 lines of vertical resolution, with a 4:3 aspect ratio, meaning the height of the image display is 3/4 the dimension of the width. This is how television was broadcast for most of the 20th century. Full HD television, which gained popularity at the turn of the millennium, has 1080 pixels of vertical resolution (over twice as much as SD), and an aspect ratio of 16:9, which makes the height barely more than 1/2 the size of the width.

16:9 more closely resembles the proportions of a movie theater screen, and this change in TV specification helped to usher in the “home theater” era. Once 16:9 HD TVs became popular, the emergence of Blu-ray discs and players allowed consumers to rent or purchase movies, watch them in full HD and hear them in theater-like high fidelity, by adding 5.1 surround sound speakers and subwoofers. Those who could afford it started converting their basements and spare rooms into small movie theaters.

4K UHD has 3840 horizontal pixels and 2160 vertical pixels, twice as much resolution as HD, and almost five times more resolution than SD.

The next step in the television evolution was 4K ultra-high-definition (UHD) TVs, which have flooded big box stores in recent years. 4K UHD has an astounding resolution of 3840 horizontal pixels and 2160 vertical pixels, twice as much resolution as HD, and almost five times more resolution than SD. Gazing at the images on these 4K TVs in that Best Buy was pretty disorienting. The image is so sharp and finely-detailed, that it’s almost too much for your eyes and brain to process.

For example, looking at footage of a mountain range in 4K UHD feels like you’re seeing more detail than you would if you were actually looking at the same mountain range in person, with your naked eye. And high dynamic range (HDR) increases this effect, by offering a much larger palette of colors and more levels of subtle gradation from light to dark. The latter allows for more detail in the highlight and shadow areas of the image. The 4K experience is a textbook example of hyperreality, which is encroaching into every aspect of our modern lives, from entertainment to politics.

The next thing that dawned on me was: If I get a 4K TV, where am I going to get the 4K content? No television stations or cable channels are broadcasting in 4K and my old Blu-ray player doesn’t play 4K. Fortunately, all 4K TVs will also display 1080p HD content beautifully, so that warmed me up to the purchase. It mean’t I didn’t have to immediately replace my Blu-ray player, or just stare at a black screen night after night, waiting for my favorite TV stations to catch up with the new technology.

The salesperson that was helping me alerted me to the fact that Best Buy also sells 4K UHD Blu-ray discs and 4K-ready Blu-ray players, and that some content providers, like Netflix, are streaming many shows in 4K and in HDR, like “Stranger Things,” “Daredevil” and “The Punisher,” to name a few. So I went ahead with the purchase and brought home my new 4K TV. I also picked up a 4K-enabled Roku, which allows anyone with a fast internet connection and subscription to stream content from Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, as well as accessing most cable-TV channels via services like DirecTV Now, YouTube TV, Sling and Hulu.

I connected the new TV (a 55” Sony X800E) to my 4K Roku, ethernet, HD antenna and stereo system and sat down to watch. The 1080p broadcasts from the local HD stations looked and sounded great, and so did my favorite 1080p shows streaming from Netflix. I went with a larger TV than I had previously, so that was also a big improvement.

To get the true 4K HDR experience, I upgraded my Netflix account to the 4K-capable version, and started watching the new Marvel series, “The Punisher.” It didn’t look quite as razor sharp as the 4K images did in Best Buy, but that’s likely due to the fact that the 4K Netflix content is more compressed for streaming, whereas the TVs on the sales floor are probably sourcing 4K Blu-rays, or perhaps 4K video from a hidden external hard drive system.

As a test, I went back and forth between watching The Punisher in 4K UHD, and watching the same Punisher episodes in HD, using an additional, older Roku though a separate HDMI port. The 4K version did have a lot more detail than it’s HD counterpart, but it was also more grainy, with horizons of clear skies showing a lot of noise, as if the 4K technology is trying too hard to bring detail out of something that is inherently a flat plane of the same color.

Also, because of the high dynamic range, the image loses a bit of overall contrast when displaying so many subtle gradations between dark and light. 4K streaming also requires a fast internet connection and it downloads a lot of data, so if you want to go 4K, you may need to upgrade your ISP plan, and make sure there are no data caps. I have a 300 Mbps fiber connection, with ethernet cable routed to my TV, and that works perfectly when I’m streaming 4K content.

I have yet to buy a 4K Blu-ray player and try out a 4K Blu-ray disc, so I don’t know how that will look on my new TV, but from what I’ve read, it more fully takes advantage of the 4K data than streaming 4K does. One reason I’m reluctant to buy a 4K Blu-ray player gets back to content. Almost all the 4K Blu-ray discs for sale or rent now are recently-made Hollywood movies. If I’m going to buy a 4K Blu-ray player, I want to watch classics like 2001: A Space Odyssey,” The Godfather,” “Apocalypse Now” and Vertigo” in 4K, but those aren’t currently available because the studios have yet to release them in 4K. This requires going back to the original film stock and painstakingly digitizing and restoring them in 4K.

Some older films may not have enough inherent resolution to take full advantage of 4K, but it seems like films such as “2001: A Space Odyssey,” which was originally shot in 65 mm, would really be enhanced by a 4K restoration. Filmmakers and the entertainment industry are already experimenting with 8K and 16K technology, so I guess my 4K TV will be obsolete in a few years, and we’ll all be having seizures while watching TV, because our brains will no longer be able to handle the amount of data flooding our senses.

Prepare yourself for 8K and 16K video.

 

Interactive Transcripts have Arrived!

Interactive Transcripts have Arrived!

This week Duke Digital Collections added our first set of interactive transcripts to one of our newest digital collections: the Silent Vigil (1968) and Allen Building Takeover (1969) collection of audio recordings.   This marks an exciting milestone in the accessibility efforts Duke University Libraries has been engaged in for the past 2.5 years. Last October, my colleague Sean wrote about our new accessibility features and the technology powering them, and today I’m going to tell you a little more about why we started these efforts as well as share some examples.

Interactive Transcript in the Silent Vigil (1968) and Allen Building Takeover (1969) Audio Recordings

Providing access to captions and transcripts is not new for digital collections.  We have been able to provide access to pdf transcripts and caption both in digital collections and finding aids for years. See items from the Behind the Veil and Memory Project digital collections for examples.

In recent years however, we stepped our efforts in creating captions and transcripts. Our work began in response to a 2015 lawsuit brought against Harvard and MIT by the National Association of the Deaf. The lawsuit triggered many discussions in the library, and the Advisory Council for Digital Collections eventually decided that we would proactively create captions or transcripts for all new A/V digital collections assuming it is feasible and reasonable to do so.  The feasible and reasonable part of our policy is key.  The Radio Haiti collection for example is composed of thousands of recordings primarily in Haitian Creole and French.  The costs to transcribe that volume of material in non-English languages make it unreasonable (and not feasible) to transcribe. In addition to our work in the library, Duke has established campus wide web accessibility guidelines that includes captioning and  transcription.  Therefore our work in digital collections is only one aspect of campus wide accessibility efforts.

To create transcripts and captions, we have partnered with several vendors since 2015, and we have seen the costs for these services drop dramatically.  Our primary vendor right now is Rev, who also works with Duke’s Academic Media Services department.  Rev guarantees 99% accurate captions or transcripts for $1/minute.

Early on, Duke Digital Collections decided to center our captioning efforts around the WebVTT format, which is a time-coded text based file and a W3C standard.  We use it for both audio and video captions when possible, but we can also accommodate legacy transcript formats like pdfs.  Transcripts and captions can be easily replaced with new versions if and when edits need to be made.

Examples from the Silent Vigil (1968) and Allen Building Takeover (1969) Audio Recordings

When WebVTT captions are present, they load in the interface as an interactive transcript.  This transcript can be used for navigation purposes; click the text and the file moves to that portion of the recording.

Click the image above to see the full item and transcript.

In addition to providing access to transcripts on the screen, we offer downloadable versions of the WebVTT transcript as a text file, a pdf or in the original webVTT format.

An advantage of the WebVTT format is that it includes “v” tags, which can be used to note changes in speakers and one can even add names to the transcript.  This can require additional  manual work if the names of the speakers is not obvious to the vendor, but we are excited to have this opportunity.

As Sean described in his blog post, we can also provide access to legacy pdf documents.  They cannot be rendered into an interactive version, but they are still accessible for download.

On a related note, we also have a new feature that links time codes listed in the description metadata field of an item to the corresponding portion of the audio or video file.  This enables librarians to describe specific segments of audio and/or video items.  The Radio Haiti digital collection is the first to utilize this feature, but the feature will be a huge benefit to the H. Lee Waters and Chapel Recordings digital collections as well as many others.

Click the image above to interact with linked time codes.

As mentioned at the top of this post, the Duke Vigil and Allen Building Takeover collection includes our first batch of interactive transcripts.  We plan to launch more this Spring, so stay tuned!!

A New & Improved Rubenstein Library Website

We kicked off the spring 2018 semester by rolling out a brand-new design for the David M. Rubenstein Library website.  The new site features updated imagery from the collections, better navigation, and more prominent presence for the exhibits currently on display.

Rubenstein website, Jan 2018
January 2018: New design for the Rubenstein Library homepage.

 

Much credit goes to Katie Henningsen and Kate Collins who championed the project.

Objectives for the Redesign

  • Make wayfinding from the homepage clearer (by reorganizing links into a primary dropdown navigation)
  • Dynamically feature Rubenstein Library exhibits that are currently on display
  • Improve navigation to key Rubenstein site pages from within research center / collection pages
  • Display larger images illustrative of the library’s distinctive and diverse collections
  • Retain aspects of the homepage that have been effective, e.g., hours and resource search boxes
  • Improve the site aesthetic

Internal Navigation

With a new primary navigation in hand on the Rubenstein homepage that links to key pages in the site, we began to explore ways to get visitors to those links in an unobtrusive way when they aren’t on the homepage.  Each research center within the library, e.g., the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History, has its own sub-site with its own secondary menus, which already contend a bit with the blue Duke Libraries menu in the masthead.  To avoid burying visitors in a Russian nesting doll of navigation, we decided to try dropping the RL menu down from the breadcrumb trail link so it’s tucked away, but still accessible when needed. We’re eager to learn whether or not this is effective.

Rubenstein primary navigation menu available from breadcrumb trail.

A Look Back

Depending on how you count, this is now the seventh or eighth homepage design for the Rubenstein Library (formerly the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library; formerly the Special Collections Library). I thought I’d take a quick stroll down memory lane, courtesy of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, to reflect on how far we have come over the years.

1996

Duke Special Collections Library website, 1996
October 1996 (explore)

Features:

  • prominent news, exhibits, and online collections
  • links to online SGML- and HTML-encoded finding aids (42 of them!)
  • a site search box powered by Excite!

1997

April 1997 (explore)

Features:

  • two-column layout with a left-hand nav
  • digitized collections
  • a special collections newsletter called The Broadside
  • became the “Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library” in 1997

2005

December 2005 (explore Jan 2006)

Features:

  • color-coded navigation broken into three groups of links
  • image from the collections
  • featured exhibit with image
  • rounded corners and shadows
  • first use of a CMS (content management system named Cascade Server)*

2007

August 2007 (explore)

Features:

  • first time sharing a masthead with rest of the Duke University Libraries
  • retained the lists of links, single collection image, and featured exhibit from previous iteration

2011

September 2011 (explore)

Features:

  • renamed as the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
  • first time with catalog and finding aids search boxes on the homepage
  • first appearance of social media & RSS icons
  • first iteration to display library hours
  • first news carousel appearance

2014

January 2014 (explore)

Features:

  • new site in Drupal content management system
  • first responsive RL website (works well on mobile devices)
  • array of vertical image panels from the collections
  • extended color palette to match Duke University website styles (at the time)
  • gradients and rounded buttons with shadows
  • first time able to search digital collections from RL homepage
  • first site with Login button for Aeon (Special Collections request system)

2017

January 2017 (explore)

Features:

2018

Rubenstein website, Jan 2018
January 2018

Features

  • lightened the overall aesthetic
  • featured image cycling from selections at random (diagonally sliced using css clip-path polygons)
  • prominent current exhibits feed with images
  • a primary nav with dropdown menus

How long will this latest edition of the Rubenstein Library homepage stick around? Only time will tell, but we’ll surely continue to iterate, learn from the past, and improve with each attempt. For now, we’re pleased with the new site, and hope you will be as well.


* Revised Feb 9, 2018 to reflect that the first version using a content management system was in 2005 rather than 2007.

Hugh Mangum, Family and 100 years

What could me growing up in South West Virginia have to do with an itinerant photographer from Durham who was born in 1877?  His name was Hugh Mangum and he had a knack for bringing out the personalities of his subjects when, at the time, most photographs depict stiff and stoic people similar to the photograph below.

Hugh Mangum N475

We all have that family photo, taken with siblings, cousins or friends, that captures a specific time in our life or a specific feeling where you think to yourself “look at us” and just shake your head in amazement.  These photographs trigger memories that trigger other memories.  The photo below is that for me.  These are my siblings and cousins at my grandparents’ house in the early 90’s.  My siblings and I grew up on the same street as my grandparents and my cousins in the town of Blacksburg Virginia.  It seemed like we were always together but oddly there are very few pictures of all of us in one shot.

Adamo siblings and cousins circa 1990.

Even though this photograph was taken only a few decades ago a lot has changed in the lives of everyone in this photograph and also in the world of photography.  This picture was taken using ‘traditional’ film where, after taking the picture, you had to rewind the film, drop it off at the Fotomat to get your film processed and prints made before you could even see the images! We never knew if we had a “good” shot until days, sometimes weeks after an event.

Here is where my path intersects with Hugh Mangum.  We recently digitized some additional glass plate negatives from the Hugh Mangum collection.  Hugh was an itinerant photographer that traveled throughout North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.  In Virginia he traveled to Christiansburg, Radford and Roanoke.  These cities surround my hometown on three sides (respectively 8, 15 and 38 miles away).  These images were taken from 1890 to 1922.  This would put him in the area about 100 years before the family photo above.  I wonder if he passed through Blacksburg?

Hugh Mangum negatives N574, N576, N650.

Fast forward to 2018.  We carry computers in our pockets that have cameras that can capture every aspect of our lives.  We have social media sites where we post, share, tag, comment and record our lives.  I bet that even though we can now take thousands of photographs a year there are still the keepers.  The ones that rise to the top.  The ones that capture a moment in such a way that the younger generations might just say to themselves one day “look at us” and shaking their heads.

 

 

Snow Daze: Winter Weather Survival Tips

Snow is a major event here in North Carolina, and the University and Library were operating accordingly under a “severe weather policy” last week due to 6-12 inches of frozen precipitation. While essential services continued undeterred, most of the Library’s staff and patrons were asked to stay home until conditions had improved enough to safely commute to and navigate the campus. In celebration of last week’s storm, here are some handy tips for surviving and enjoying the winter weather–illustrated entirely with images from Duke Digital Collections!

  1. Stock up on your favorite vices and indulgences before the storm hits.

2. Be sure to bundle and layer up your clothing to stay warm in the frigid outdoor temperatures.

3. Plan some fun outdoor activities to keep malaise and torpor from settling in.

4. Never underestimate the importance of a good winter hat.

5. While snowed in, don’t let your personal hygiene slip too far.

6. Despite the inconveniences brought on by the weather, don’t forget to see the beauty and uniquity around you.

7. If all else fails, escape to sunnier climes.

8. Be thankful that Spring is on the way!

The images in this post are taken from the following digitized collections:  J. Walter Thompson Ford Motor Co. Advertisements, Ad*Access, William Gedney Photographs and Writings, Paul Kwilecki PhotographsW. Duke, Sons & Co. Advertising Materials, and Americans in the Land of Lenin: Documentary Photographs of Early Soviet Russia.

Stay warm!

Upgrading DukeSpace

The year 2006 was charged with epoch-defining events: Zidane head-butted Materazzi, the astronomers downgraded Pluto, Google bought Youtube, and Duke University Libraries rolled out DukeSpace (PDF). Built on the DSpace platform, DukeSpace has served as our institutional repository for almost a dozen years now, providing access for electronic theses and dissertations and Duke faculty publications.

While the landscape of open access has changed much over the intervening period, we can’t really say the same about the underlying platform of DukeSpace.

At Duke, faculty approved an open access policy in March of 2010; it was a few weeks previous that DSpace 1.6 was released. By the end of the year it had moved ahead a dot release to 1.7.  Along the way, we did some customization to integrate with Symplectic Elements – the Research Information Management System (RIMS) that powers the Scholars@Duke site. That work essentially locked us into that version of DSpace, which remains in operation despite its final release in July 2013, and having reached its end of life four years ago.

Animated GIF of Zinedine Zidane head-butting an opponent in the final game of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
If only I had the skills to photoshop DSpace 6.2 in for Zidane, and 1.7 for Materazzi. GIF from Something Awful.

Beginning last November, we committed to a full upgrade of the DukeSpace platform to the current version (6.2 as of this writing). We had considered alternatives, including replacing the platform with Hyrax, but concluded that that approach would be too complex.

So we are currently coordinating work across a technology team and the Libraries’ open access group. Some of the concerns that we have encountered include:

  • Integrating with updated versions of Symplectic Elements. That same integration that locked us into a version years ago lies at the center of this upgrade. We have basically been handling this process as a separate thread of the larger project. It will be critical for us to maintain the currency of this dependency with subsequent upgrades to both products.
  • Rethinking metadata architecture. The conceptual basis of the institutional repository is greatly informed by the definition and use of metadata. Our Metadata Architect, Maggie Dickson, mentioned this area in her “Metadata Year-in-Review” post back in December. She highlighted the need to make “real headway tackling the problem of identity management – leveraging unique identifiers for people (ORCIDs, for example), rather than relying on name strings, which is inherently error prone.” Many other questions have arisen this area, requiring extensive and ongoing discussion and coordination between the tech team and the stakeholders.
  • Migration of legacy stats data. How do we migrate usage stats between two versions of a platform so remote from each other in time? It has taken some trial-and-error to solve this one.
  • Replicating or enhancing existing workflows. Again, when two versions of a system are so different that an upgrade seems more like a platform migration, and our infrastructure and staffing have changed over the years, how do we reproduce existing workflows without disrupting them? What opportunities can we take to improve on them without destabilizing the project? Aside from the integration with Elements, we also have the important workflow related to the ingest of electronic theses & dissertations, which employs both self-deposit and file transfer from ProQuest. Re-envisioning and re-implementing workflows such as these takes careful analysis and planning.

While we have run into a few complicating issues during the process so far, we feel confident that we remain on track to roll out the upgraded version during the first quarter of 2018. Pluto remains a dwarf planet, Zidane manages Real Madrid (for now),  and to Mark Cuban’s apparent distress, Google still owns Youtube. Soon our own story from 2006 should reach a kind of resolution.

Photograph of the surface of Pluto, taken by the New Horizons spacecraft.
“Pluto’s Majestic Mountains, Frozen Plains and Foggy Hazes” – Image from NASA. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI.

 

Moving the mountain (of data)

It’s a new year! And a new year means new priorities. One of the many projects DUL staff have on deck for the Duke Digital Repository in the coming calendar year is an upgrade to DSpace, the software application we use to manage and maintain our collections of scholarly publications and electronic theses and dissertations. As part of that upgrade, the existing DSpace content will need to be migrated to the new software. Until very recently, that existing content has included a few research datasets deposited by Duke community members. But with the advent of our new research data curation program, research datasets have been published in the Fedora 3 part of the repository. Naturally, we wanted all of our research data content to be found in one place, so that meant migrating the few existing outliers. And given the ongoing upgrade project, we wanted to be sure to have it done and out of the way before the rest of the DSpace content needed to be moved.

The Integrated Precipitation and Hydrology Experiment

Most of the datasets that required moving were relatively small–a handful of files, all of manageable size (under a gigabyte) that could be exported using DSpace’s web interface. However, a limited series of data associated with a project called The Integrated Precipitation and Hydrology Experiment (IPHEx) posed a notable exception. There’s a lot of data associated with the IPHEx project (recorded daily for 7 years, along with some supplementary data files, and iterated over 3 different areas of coverage, the total footprint came to just under a terabyte, spread over more than 7,000 files), so this project needed some advance planning.

First, the size of the project meant that the data were too large to export through the DSpace web client, so we needed the developers to wrangle a behind the scenes dump of what was in DSpace to a local file system. Once we had everything we needed to work with (which included some previously unpublished updates to the data we received last year from the researchers), we had to make some decisions on how to model it. The data model used in DSpace was a bit limiting, which resulted in the data being made available as a long list of files for each part of the project. In moving the data to our Fedora repository, we gained a little more flexibility with how we could arrange the files. We determined that we wanted to deviate slightly from the arrangement in DSpace, grouping the files by month and year.

This meant we would have group all the files into subdirectories containing the data for each month–for over 7,000 files, that would have been extremely tedious to do by hand, so we wrote a script to do the sorting for us. That completed, we were able to carry out the ingest process as normal. The final wrinkle associated with the IPHEx project was making sure that the persistent identifiers each part of the project data had been assigned in DSpace still resolved to the correct content. One of our developers was able to set up a server redirect to ensure that each URL would still take a user to the right place. As of the new year, the IPHEx project data (along with our other migrated DSpace datasets) are available in their new home!

At least (of course) until the next migration.

A Year in the Life of Digital Collections

2017 has been an action packed year for Digital Collections full of exciting projects, interface developments and new processes and procedures. This blog post is an attempt to summarize just a few of our favorite accomplishments from the last year. Digital Collections is truly a group cross-departmental collaboration here at Duke, and we couldn’t do complete any of the work listed below without all our colleagues across the library – thanks to all!

New Digital Collections Portal

Regular visitors to Duke Digital Collections may have noticed that our old portal (library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/) now redirects to our new homepage on the Duke Digital Repository (DDR) public interface. We are thrilled to make this change! But never fear, your favorite collections that have not been migrated to DDR are still accessible either on our Tripod2 interface or by visiting new placeholder landing pages in the Digital Repository.

Audiovisual Features

Supporting A/V materials in the Digital Repository has been a major software development priority throughout 2017. As a result our A/V items are becoming more accessible and easier to share. Thanks to a year of hard work we can now do and support the following (we posted examples of these on a previous post).

  • Model, store and stream A/V derivatives
  • Share A/V easily through our embed feature (even on Duke WordPress sites- a long standing bug)
  • Finding aids can now display inline AV for DAOs from DDR
  • Clickable timecode links in item descriptions (example)
  • Display captions and interactive transcripts
  • Download and Export captions and transcripts (as .pdf, .txt.,or .vtt)
  • Display Video thumbnails & poster frames

Rights Statements and Metadata

Bitstreams recently featured a review of all things metadata from 2017, many of which impact the digital collections program. We are especially pleased with our rights management work from the last year and our rights statements implementation (http://rightsstatements.org/en/). We are still in the process of retrospectively applying the statements, but we are making good progress. The end result will give our patrons a clearer indication of the copyright status of our digital objects and how they can be used. Read more about our rights management work in past Bitstreams posts.

Also this year in metadata, we have been developing integrations between ArchivesSpace (the tool Rubenstein Library uses for finding aids) and the repository (this is a project that has been in the works since 2015. With these new features Rubenstein’s archivist for metadata and encoding is in the process of reconciling metadata between ArchivesSpace and the Digital Repository for approximately 50 collections to enable bi-directional links between the two systems. Bi-directonal linking helps our patrons move easily from a digital object in the repository to its finding aid or catalog record and vice versa. You can read about the start of this work in a blog post from 2016.

MSI

At the end of 2016, Duke Libraries purchased Multispectral Imaging (MSI) equipment, and members of Digital Collections, Data and Visualization Studies, Conservation Services, the Duke Collaboratory for Classics Computing, and the Rubenstein Library joined forces to explore how to best use the technology to serve the Duke community. The past year has been a time of research, development, and exploration around MSI and you can read about our efforts on Bitstreams. Our plan is to launch an MSI service in 2018. Stay tuned!

Ingest into the Duke Digital Repository (DDR)

With the addition of new colleagues focussed on research data management, there have been more demands on and enhancements to our DDR ingest tools. Digital collections has benefited from more robust batch ingest features as well as the ability to upload more types of files (captions, transcripts, derivatives, thumbnails) through the user interface. We can also now ingest nested folders of collections. On the opposite side of the spectrum we now have the ability to batch export sets of files or even whole collections.

Project Management

The Digital Collections Advisory Committee and Implementation Team are always looking for more efficient ways to manage our sprawling portfolio of projects and services. We started 2017 with a new call for proposals around the themes of diversity and inclusion, which resulted in 7 successful proposals that are now in the process of implementation.

In addition to a thematic call for proposals, we later rolled out a new process for our colleagues to propose smaller projects in response to faculty requests, events or for other reasons. In other words, projects of a certain size and scope that were not required to respond to a thematic call for proposals. The idea being that these projects can be easily implemented, and therefore do not require extensive project management to complete. Our first completed “easy” project is the Carlo Naya photograph albums of Venice.

In 2016 (perhaps even back in 2015), the digital collections team started working with colleagues in Rubenstein to digitize the set of collections known in as “Section A”. The history of this moniker is a little uncertain, so let me just say that Section A is a set of 3000+ small manuscript collections (1-2 folders each) boxed together; each Section A box holds up to 30 collections. Section A collections are highly used and are often the subject of reproduction requests, hence they are perfect candidates for digitization. Our goal has been to set up a mass-digitization pipeline for these collections, that involves vetting rights, updating description, evaluating their condition, digitizing them, ingesting them into DDR, crosswalking metadata and finally making them publicly accessible in the repository and through their finding aids. In 2017 we evaluated 37 boxes for rights restrictions, updated descriptions for 24 boxes, assessed the condition of 31 boxes, digitized 19 boxes, ingested 4 boxes, crosswalked metadata for 2 boxes and box 1 is now online! Read more about the project in a May Bitstreams post. Although progress has felt slow given all the other projects we manage simultaneously, we really feel like our foot is on the gas now!

You can see the fruits of our digital collection labors in the list of new and migrated collections from the past year. We are excited to see what 2018 will bring!!

New Collections Launched in 2017

Migrated Collections

‘Tis the Season for New Beginnings

New Additions

Brief summaries of articles pulled from a future digitized issue published by The Chronicle, as part of the 1990s Duke Chronicle Digitization Project

The time has come for the temperature to drop, decadent smells to waft through the air, and eyes become tired and bloodshot. Yep, it’s exam week here at Duke! As students fill up every room, desk and floor within the libraries, the Digital Collections team is working diligently to process important projects.

One such project is the 1990s decade of The Duke Chronicle. By next week, we can look forward to the year 1991 being completely scanned. Although there are many steps involved before we can make this collection available to the public, it is nice to know that this momentous year is on its way to being accessible for all. While scanning several issues today, I noticed the last issue for the fall semester of 1991. It was the Exam Break Issue, and I was interested in the type of reading content published 26 years ago. What were the students of Duke browsing through before they scurried back home on December 16, 1991, you may ask…

  • There were several stories about students’ worst nightmares coming true, including one Physical Therapy graduate student who lost her research to a Greyhound bus, and an undergraduate dumpster diving to find an accidentally thrown away notebook, which encompassed his final paper.
  • A junior lamented whether it was worth it to drive 12 hours to his home in Florida, or take a plane after a previous debacle in the air; he drove home with no regrets.
  • In a satirical column, advice was given on how to survive exams. Two excellent gems suggested using an air horn instead of screaming and staking out a study carrel, in order to sell it to the highest bidder.

This is merely a sprinkling of hilarious yet simultaneously horrifying anecdotes from that time-period.

Updates to Existing Collections

Digital collections, originally located on the old Digital Collections website, now have new pages on the Repository website with a direct link to the content on the old website.

In addition to The Chronicle, Emma Goldman Papers, and other new projects, there is a continued push to make already digitized collections accessible on the Repository platform. Collections like Behind the Veil, Duke Papyrus Archive, and AdViews were originally placed on our old Digital Collections platform. However, the need to provide access is just as relevant today as when they were originally digitized.

As amazing as our current collections in the Repository are, we have some treasures from the past that must be brought forward. Accordingly, many of these older digital collections now possess new records in the Repository! As of now, the new Repository pages will not have the collections’ content, but they will provide a link to enable direct access.

New Page:

Vs.

Old Page:

The new pages will facilitate exposure to new researchers, while permitting previous researchers to use the same features previously allowed on the old platform. There are brief descriptions, direct links to the collections, and access to any applicable finding aids on the Repository landing pages.

Now that the semester has wound down to a semi-quiet lull of fattening foods, awkward but friendly functions, and mental recuperation, I urge everyone to take a moment to not just look at what was done, but all the good work you are planning to do.

Based on what I’ve observed so far, I’m looking forward to the new projects that Digital Collections will be bringing to the table for the Duke community next year.

 

 

References

Kueber, G. (1991). Beginning of exams signals end of a Monday, Monday era. The Duke Chronicle, p. 26.

Robbins, M. (1991). Driving or crying: is air travel during the holidays worth it? The Duke Chronicle, p. 13.

The Duke Chronicle. (1991). The Ultimate Academic Nightmares – and you thought you were going to have a bad week! pp. 4-5.

Metadata Year-in-Review

As 2017 comes to a close and we gear up for the new year, I’ve spent some time reflecting on the past twelve months. Because we set ambitious goals and are usually looking forward, not back, we can often feel defeated by all the work we haven’t gotten done. So I was pleasantly surprised when my perusal of the past year’s metadata work surfaced a good deal of impressive work. Here are a few of the highlights:

Development and Dissemination of the DDR MAP

Perhaps our biggest achievement of the year was the development of the DDR’s very first formally documented metadata application profile, the DDR MAP. A metadata application profile defines the metadata elements and properties your system uses, documenting predicates, obligations & requirements, and input guidelines. Having a documented and shared metadata application profile promotes healthy metadata practices and facilitates communication.

In addition to the generalized DDR MAP, we also developed a Research Data Metadata Profile and a Digital Collections Metadata Profile for those specific collecting areas.

Rights Management Metadata

It’s been written about on this blog a couple of times already (here and here) but I think it bears repeating: this year we rolled out a new rights management metadata strategy that employs the application of either a Creative Commons or RightsStatement.org URI to all DDR resources, as well as the option of applying an additional free text rights note to provide context:

We feel great about finally being able to communicate the rights statuses of DDR resources in a clear and consistent way to our end-users (and ourselves!).

Programmatic Linking to Catalog Records

Sometimes a resource in the DDR also has a record in the library catalog, and sometimes that record contains description that is either not easily accommodated by the DDR MAP, or it is not desirable to include it in the repository metadata record for a particular reason. It wasn’t in the cards to develop a synchronization or feed of the MARC metadata, but we were able to implement a solution wherein we store the identifier for the catalog record on the resource in the repository, and then use that identifier to construct and display a link back to the catalog record.

And Lots of Other Cool Stuff

There were a lot of other cool metadata developments this year, including building out our ability to represent relationships between related items in the DDR, developing policies regarding the storage and display of identifiers, and a fancy new structural metadata solution for representing the hierarchical structure of born digital archives. We also got to work on some amazing new and revamped digital collections!

Looking Ahead

Of course, we are setting ambitious goals for the coming year as well – plans to upgrade our current Dspace repository, DukeSpace, and implement the new RT2 connector to Elements, will involve substantial metadata work, and the current project to build a Hyrax-based repository for research data presents and opportunity for us to revisit and improve our Research Data Metadata Profile. And ideally we will be able to make some real headway tackling the problem of identity management – leveraging unique identifiers for people (ORCIDs, for example), rather than relying on name strings, which is inherently error prone.

And there is a whole slew of interesting metadata work for the Digital Collections program slated for 2018 , including adding enhanced homiletic metadata to the Duke Chapel Recordings digital collection.

Notes from the Duke University Libraries Digital Projects Team