All posts by Molly Bragg

Time Management Zines and Other Confessions of a Project Management Nerd

As the Digital Collections Program Manager at DUL, I spend most of my time managing projects. I really enjoy the work, and I’m always looking for ways to improve my methods, skills and overall approach.  For this reason, I was excited to join forces with a few colleagues to think about how we could help graduate students develop and sharpen their project management skills.  We have been meeting since last Spring and our accomplishments include defining key skills, reaching out to grad school departments about available resources and needs, assembling a list of project management readings and resources that we think are relevant in the academic context (still a work in progress: http://bit.ly/DHProjMgmt), and we are in the process of planning a workshop.  But my most favorite project has been making project management themed zines.

Yes, you read that correctly:  project management zines.  You can print them on letter sized paper, and they are very easy to assemble (check out the a demo our friends in Rubenstein put together).  But before you download, read on to learn more about the process behind the time management related zine.

Part of the Introduction to Project Management zine.
Part of the Introduction to Project Management zine – click to view/download.

Gathering Zine Content

Early on in our work the group decided to focus on 5 key aspects of project management:  time management, communicating with others, logging research activities, goal setting, and document or research management.   After talking with faculty we decided to focus on time management and document/research management.

I’ve been working with a colleague on time management tips for grad students, so we spent a lot of time combing Lifehacker and GradHacker and found some really good ideas and great resources!  Based on our findings, we decided to break the concept of time management down further into smaller areas:  planning, prioritizing and monotasking.  From there, we made zines (monotasking coming soon)!  We are also working on a libguide and some kind of learning module for a workshop.

Part of a real time management zine! Click to view the whole thing.
Part of a the Planning and Prioritizing zine – click to view/download.

 

 

Here are a few of my favorite new ideas from our time management research:

  • Monotasking: sometimes focussing on one task for an extended period of time sounds impossible, but my colleague found some really practical approaches for doing one thing at a time, such as the “Pomodoro technique” (http://pomodorotechnique.com/)
  • Park your work when multitasking: the idea is that before you move from task a to task b, spend a moment noting where you are leaving off on task a, and what you plan to do next when you come back to it.
Part of the Monotasking zine - click to view/download.
Part of the Monotasking zine – click to view/download.
  • Prioritization grids:  if you don’t know where to begin with the long list of tasks in front of you (something grand students can surely related to), try plotting them on a priority matrix.  The most popular grid for this kind of work that I found is the Eisenhower grid, which has you rank tasks by urgency and importance (https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_91.htm).  Then you accomplish your tasks by grid quadrant in a defined order (starting with tasks that are both important and urgent).  Although I haven’t tried this, I feel like you use other variables depending on your context, perhaps impact and effort.  I have an example grid on my zine so you can try this method out yourself!
  • Use small amounts of time effectively: this is really a mind shift more than a tool or tip, and relates to the Pomodoro technique.  Essentially the idea is to stop thinking that you cannot get anything done in those random 15-30 minute windows of downtime we all have between meetings, classes or other engagements.  I often feel defeated by 20 minutes of availability and 4 hours of work to do.  So I tried really jumping into those small time blocks, and it has been great.  Instead of waiting for a longer time slot to work on a “big” task, I’m getting better at carving away at my projects over time. I’ve found that I can really get more done than I thought in 20 minutes.  It has been a game changer for me!

 

Part of the Project Manage Longer Writing Projects zine
Part of the Project Manage Longer Writing Projects zine -click to view/download.

Designing the Zines

I was inspired to make zines by my colleague in Rubenstein, who created a researcher how-to zine.  The 1-page layout makes the idea of designing a zine much less intimidating.  Everyone in the ad-hoc project management group adopted the template and we designed our zines in a variety of design tools: google draw, powerpoint or illustrator.  We still have a few more to finish, but you can see our work so far online:  http://tinyurl.com/pmzines

Each zine prints out to an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper and can easily be cut and folded into its zine form following an easy gif demo.

Available zines

Introduction to Project Management (you can use this one as a coloring book too!)
Monotasking for Productive Work Blocks
Planning and Prioritizing
Project Manage your Writing

Access them all at this link: tinyurl.com/pmzines

Ad hoc Project Management working group members
Molly Bragg
Ciara Healy
Hannah Jacobs
Liz Milewicz
Angela Zoss

We will have more zines and a libguide available soon, happy reading and learning!

Lessons Learned from the Duke Chapel Recordings Project

Although we launched the Duke Chapel Recordings Digital Collection in April, work on the project has not stopped.  This week I finally had time to pull together all our launch notes into a post mortem report, and several of the project contributors shared our experience at the Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN) Annual meeting.  So today I am going to share some of the biggest lessons learned that fueled our presentation, and provide some information and updates about the continuing project work.  

Chapel Recordings Digital Collection landing page
Chapel Recordings Digital Collection landing page

Just to remind you, the Chapel Recordings digital collection features recordings of services and sermons given in the chapel dating back to the mid 1950s.  The collection also includes a set of written versions of the sermons that were prepared prior to the service dating back to the mid 1940s.

What is Unique about the Duke Chapel Recordings Project?

All of our digital collections projects are unique, but the Chapel Recordings had some special challenges that raised the level of complexity of the project overall.   All of our usual digital collections tasks (digitization, metadata, interface development) were turned up to 11 (in the Spinal Tap sense) for all the reasons listed below.

  • More stakeholders:  Usually there is one person in the library who champions a digital collection, but in this case we also had stakeholders from both the Chapel and the Divinity School who applied for the grant to get funding to digitize.  The ultimate goal for the collection is to use the recordings of sermons as a homiletics teaching tool.  As such they continue to create metadata for the sermons, and use it as a resource for their homiletics communities both at Duke and beyond.
  • More formats and data:  we digitized close to 1000 audio items, around 480 video items and 1300 written sermons.  That is a lot of material to digitize!  At the end of the project we had created 58 TB of data!!  The data was also complex; we had some sermons with just a written version, some with written, audio, and video versions and every possible combination in between.  Following digitization we had to match all the recordings and writings together as well as clean up metadata and file identifiers.  It was a difficult, time-consuming, and confusing process.
  • More vendors:  given the scope of digitization for this project we outsourced the work to two vendors.  We also decided to contract with a  vendor for transcription and closed captioning.  Although this allowed our Digital Production Center to keep other projects and digitization pipelines moving, it was still a lot of work to ship batches of material, review files, and keep in touch throughout the process.
  • More changes in direction:  during the implementation phase of the project we made 2 key decisions which elevated the complexity of our project.  First, we decided to launch the new material in the new Digital Repository platform.  This meant we basically started from scratch in terms of A/V interfaces, and representing complex metadata.  Sean, one of our digital projects developers, talked about that in a past blog post and our TRLN presentation. Second, in Spring of 2015 colleagues in the library started thinking deeply about how we could make historic A/V like the Chapel Recordings more accessible through closed captions and transcriptions.  After many conversations both in the library and with our colleagues in the Chapel and Divinity, we decided that the Chapel Recordings would be a good test case for working with closed captioning tools and vendors.  The Divinity School graciously diverted funds from their Lilly Endowment grant to make this possible.  This work is still in the early phases, and we hope to share more information about the process in an upcoming blog post.

 

Duke Chapel Recordings project was made possible by a grant from the Lilly Endowment.
Duke Chapel Recordings project was made possible by a grant from the Lilly Endowment.

Lessons learned and re-learned

As with any big project that utilizes new methods and technology, the implementation team learned a lot.  Below are our key takeaways.

  • More formal RFP / MOU:  we had invoices, simple agreements, and were in constant communication with the digitization vendors, but we could have used a more detailed MOU defining vendor practices at a more detailed level.  Not every project requires this kind of documentation, but a project of this scale with so many batches of materials going back and forth would have benefitted from a more detailed agreement.
  • Interns are the best:  University Archives was able to redirect intern funding to digital collections, and we would not have finished this project (or the Chronicle) with any sanity left if not for our intern.  We have had field experience students, and student workers, but it was much more effective to have someone dedicated to the project throughout the entire digitization and launch process. From now on, we will include interns in any similar grant funded project.
  • Review first – digitize 2nd:  this is definitely a lesson we re-learned for this project.  Prior to digitization, the collection was itemized and processed and we thought we were ready to roll.  However there were errors that would have been easier to resolve had we found them prior to digitization.  We also could have gotten a head start on normalizing data, and curating the collection had we spent more time with the inventory prior to digitization.
  • Modeling and prototypes:  For the last few years we have been able to roll out new digital collections through an interface that was well known, and very flexible.  However we developed Chapel Recordings in our new interface, and it was a difficult and at times confusing process. Next time around, we plan to be more proactive with our modeling and prototyping the interface before we implement it.  This would have saved both the team and our project stakeholders time, and would have made for less surprises at the end of the launch process.

Post Launch work

The Pop Up Archive editing interface.
The Pop Up Archive editing interface.

As I mentioned at the top of this blog post, Chapel Recordings work continues.  We are working with Pop Up Archive to transcribe the Chapel Recordings, and there is a small group of people at the Divinity School who are currently in the process of cleaning up transcripts specifically for the sermons themselves.  Eventually these transcriptions will be made available in the Chapel Recordings collection as closed captions or time synced transcripts or in some other way.  We have until December 2019 to plan and implement these features.

The Divinity School is also creating specialized metadata that will help make the the collection a more effective homiletics teaching tool.  They are capturing specific information from the sermons (liturgical season, bible chapter and verse quoted), but also applying subject terms from a controlled list they are creating with the help of their stakeholders and our metadata architect.  These terms are incredibly diverse and range from LCSH terms, to very specific theological terms (ex, God’s Love), to current events (ex, Black Lives Matter), to demographic-related terms (ex, LGBTQ) and more.  Both the transcription and enhanced metadata work is still in the early phases, and both will be integrated into the collection sometime before December 2019.  

The team here at Duke has been both challenged and amazed by working with the Duke Chapel Recordings.  Working with the Divinity School and the Chapel has been a fantastic partnership, and we look forward to bringing the transcriptions and metadata into the collection.  Stay tuned to find out what we learn next!

The Chronicle Digital Collection (1905-1989) Is Complete!

The 1905 to 1939 Chronicle issues are now live online at the Duke Chronicle Digital Collection. This marks the completion of a multi-year project to digitize Duke’s student newspaper. Not only will digitization provide easier online access to this gem of a collection, but it will also help preserve the originals held in the University Archives. With over 5,600 issues digitized and over 63,000 pages scanned, this massive collection is sure to have something for everyone.

The ever issue of the Trinity Chronicle from December 1905!

The first two decades of the Chronicle saw its inception and growth as the student newspaper under the title The Trinity Chronicle. In the mid-1920s after the name change to Duke University, the Chronicle followed suit. In Fall of 1925, it officially became The Duke Chronicle.

The Nineteen-teens saw the growth of the university, with new buildings popping up, while others burned down – a tragic fire decimated the Washington Duke Building.

The 1920s was even more abuzz with construction of West Campus as Trinity College became Duke University. This decade also saw the death of two Duke family members most dedicated to Duke University, James B. Duke and his brother Benjamin N. Duke.

Back in 1931, our Carolina rivalry focussed on football not basketball

In the shadow of the Great Depression, the 1930s at Duke was a time to unite around a common cause – sports! Headlines during this time, like decades to follow, abounded with games, rivalries, and team pride.

Take the time to explore this great resource, and see how Duke and the world has changed. View it through the eyes of student journalists, through advertisements and images. So much occurred from 1905 to 1989, and the Duke Chronicle was there to capture it.

Post contributed by Jessica Serrao, former King Intern for Digital Collections.

Survey Says: The Who, Why, What Answers you have been Waiting for!

Last Summer, Sean and I wrote about efforts we  were were undertaking with colleagues to assess the research and scholarly impact of Duke Digital Collections.   Sean wrote about data analysis approaches we took to detect scholarly use, and I wrote about a survey we launched in Spring 2015.  The goal of the survey was to gather information about our patrons and their motivations that were not obvious from Google Analytics and other quantitative data.   The survey was live for 7 months, and today I’m here to share the full results.

In a nutshell (my post last Summer included many details about setting up the survey), the survey asked users, “who are you,” “why are you here,” and “what are you going to do with what you find here?” The survey was accessible from every page of our Digital Collections website from April 30 – November 30, 2015.  We set up event tracking in Google Analytics, so we know that around 43% of our 208,205 visitors during that time hovered on the survey link.  A very small percentage of those clicked through (0.3% or 659 clicks), but 20% of the users that clicked through did answer the survey.   This gave us a total of 132 responses, only one of which seems to be 100% spam.    Traffic to the survey remained steady throughout the survey period. Now, onto the results!

Question 1:  Who are you?

Respondents were asked to identify as one of 2 academically oriented groups (students or educators), librarians, or as “other”.   Results are represented in the bubble graphic below.  You can see that the majority of respondents identified as “other”.   Of those 65 respondents, 30 described themselves, and these labels have been grouped in the pie chart below.  It is fascinating to note that other than the handful of self-identified musicians (I grouped vocalists, piano players, anything musical under musicians) and retirees, there is a large variety of self descriptors listed.

Question 1 responses to "I am a (choose one)" (127 total)
Responses to Question 1, “I am a (choose one)” (127 total – click to enlarge)
Question 1 fill-in responses (39 total)
Question 1 fill-in responses (39 total – click to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The results breakdown of responses to question 1 remained steady over time when you compare the overall results to those I shared last Summer.    Overall 26% of respondents identified as student (compared to 25% in July), 14% identified as educator (compared to 18% earlier), 9% identified as librarian, archivist or museum overall (exactly the same as earlier), and 51% identified as other (47% in the initial results).  We thought these results might change when the Fall academic semester started, but as you can see that was not the case.

Question 2:  Why are you here?

As I said above, our goal in all of our assessment work this time around was to look for signs of scholarly use so we were very interested in knowing if visitors come to Duke Digital Collections for academic research or for some other reason. Of the 125 total responses to question 2, personal research and casual browsing outweighed academic research ( see in the bar graph below).    Respondents were able to check multiple categories.  There were 8 instances where the same respondent selected casual browsing and personal research, 4 instances where casual browsing was paired with followed a link, 3  where academic research was tied to casual browsing, and 3 where academic research was tied to other.  Several users selected more than 2 categories, but by in large respondents selected 1 category only.  To me, this infers that our users are very clear about why they come to Duke Digital Collections.

Question 2 responses (125 total)
Question 2 responses (125 total – click to enlarge)

Respondents were prompted to enter their research topic/purpose whether it be academic, personal or other.  Every respondent that identified with other filled in a topic, 73% of personal researchers identified their topic, and 63% of academic researchers shared their topics.  Many of the topics/purposes were unique, but research around music came up across all 3 categories as did topics related the history of a local region (all different regions).  Advertising related topics also came up under academic and personal research.   Several of the respondents who chose other entered a topic that suggested that they were in the early phases of a book project or looking for materials to use in classes. To me these seemed like more academically associated activities, and I was surprised they turned up under “other”.  If I was able to ask follow up questions to these respondents, I would prompt for more information about their topic and why they defined it as academic or personal.  Similarly, if we were designing this survey again, I think we would want to include a category for academic related uses apart from official research.

The results to question 2 also remained mostly consistent since our first view of the results last Summer.    Academic research and casual browsing were tied at a 28% response rate each initially, and finished tied at a 30% response rate.  The followed a link response rate when down from 17% to an overall 11%, personal research also went down from 44% to 36% overall, and other climbed slightly from 11% to 15% overall.

Question 3:  What will you do with the images and/or resources you find on this site?

The third survey question attempts to get at the “now what” part of resource discovery.   Following trends with the first two questions, it is not surprising that a majority of the 121 respondences are oriented towards “personal” use (see bar graph below).    Like question 2, respondents were able to select multiple choices, however they tended to choose only one response.

Question 3 responses (121 total - click to enlarge)
Question 3 responses (121 total – click to enlarge)

Everyone who selected “other” did enter a statement, and of these a handful seemed like they could have fit under one of the defined categories. Several of the write-ins mentioned wanting to share items they found with family and friends assumably using methods other than social media.    Five “others” responded with potentially academic related pursuits such as “an article”, “a book”, “update a book”, and 2 class related projects.  I re-ran some numbers and combined these 5 responses with the academic publication, teaching tool, and homework respondents for a total of 55 possibly academically related answers or 45% of the total response to this question.   The new 45% “academicish” grouping, as I like to think of it, is a more substantial total than each academic topic on its own.  I propose this as an interesting way to slice and dice the data, and I’m sure there are others.

Observations

My colleagues and I have been very pleased with the results of this survey.  First, we couldn’t be more thrilled that we were successfully able to collect necessary data (any data!).    At the beginning of this assessment project, we were looking for evidence of research, scholarly and instructional use of Duke Digital Collections.  We did find some, but this survey along with other data shows that the majority of our users come to Duke Digital Collections with a more personal agenda.     We welcome the opportunity to make this kind of individual impact, and it is powerful.  If the respondents of this survey are a representative sample of our user base, then our patrons are actively performing our collections (we have a lot of music), sharing items with family, friends, and community, as well as using the collections to pursue a wide variety of interests.

While this survey data assures us that we are making individual impacts, it also reveals that there is more we can do to cultivate our scholarly and researcher audience.   This will be a long term process,  but we have made some short term progress.  As a result of our work in 2015, my colleagues and I put together a “teaching with digital collections” webpage to collect examples of instructional use and encourage more.  In the course of developing a new platform for digital collections, we are also exploring new tools that could serve scholarly researchers more effectively.     With a look towards the longer term, all of Duke University Libraries has been engaged in strategic planning for the past year, and Digital Collections is no exception.  As we develop our goals around scholarly use,  survey data like this is an important asset.

I’m curious to hear from others, what has your experience been with surveys?  What have you learned and how have you put that knowledge to use?  Feel free to comment or contact me directly! (molly.bragg at duke.edu)

 

Catch You on the Flip Side – 1970s Duke Chronicle Digitized and Online

The 1970s are here!  That is, in digital form.  The Duke Chronicle digital collection now includes issues from the grooviest decade of the twentieth century.  

WatergateThe American memory of the 1970s is complex, wavering from carefree love to Vietnam and civil rights.  As the social turmoil of the 1960s flowed into the 1970s, Terry Sanford was sworn in as president of Duke University.  This marked the beginning of his sixteen-year term, but also marked the decade in which Sanford twice ran for president and partook in heated debates with Alabama governor George Wallace.  He presided over the university In the midst of the Vietnam War and national protests, the Watergate scandal, and the aftermath of the Allen Building occupation in 1969.

In response to the demands from the Allen Building takeover, the Duke University community worked to improve social inequalities on campus.  The 1972 incoming freshman class boasted more than twice as many black students than ever before in university history.  Black Studies Program faculty and students struggle to create their own department, which became a controversial event on campus throughout the ‘70s.  One Chronicle article even tentatively labeled 1976 as “The Year of the Black at Duke,” reflecting the strides made to incorporate black students and faculty into campus life and academics.

black student increase

The 1970s was also a decade of change for women at Duke.  In 1972, Trinity College and the Woman’s College merged, and not all constituents agreed with the move.  Women’s athletics were also shaken by the application of Title IX implemented by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW), that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex.  This regulation significantly impacted the future of the Physical Education Department as well as women’s sports at Duke.  

Look Familiar?
Look Familiar?

Amidst this sea of change at Duke, there were many things that brought students joy — like the Blue Devils defeating UNC 92-84 in basketball, and snowball fights in November.  

The addition of the 1970s to the Duke Chronicle digital collection marks a milestone for the Digital Projects and Production Services Department.  We can now provide you with a complete run of issues from 1959 to 1989, and the 1950s will be heading your way soon!  We invite you to explore the 1970s issues and see for yourself how history unfolded across the nation and across Duke campus. 

Post Contributed by Jessica Serrao

OHMS-in’ with H. Lee Waters’ Movies of Local People

Q: How is a silent H. Lee Waters film like an oral history recording?
A: Neither is text searchable.

But, leave it to oral historians to construct solutions for access to audiovisual resources of all stripes. No mistake, they’ve been thinking about it for a long time. Purposefully, profoundly non-textual at their creation, oral histories have since their postwar genesis contended with a central irony: as research they are exploited almost exclusively via textual transcription. Oral histories that don’t get transcribed get, instead, infamously ignored. So as the online floodgates have opened and digital media recorders and players have kept pace, oral historians have seen an opportunity to grapple meaningfully with closing the gap between the text and its source, and perhaps at the same time free the interview from the expectation that it should be transcribed.

Enter OHMS (http://www.oralhistoryonline.org/). In 2013, Doug Boyd at the University of Kentucky debuted the results of an IMLS-funded project to create the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer. A free, open-source tool, OHMS empowers even the smallest oral history archive to encode its media with textual information. The OHMS editor enables the oral historian to easily create item level metadata for an oral history recording, including an index or subject list that can drop a researcher into an interview at that selected point. OHMS can also timestamp an existing transcript, so that researchers can track the audio via the text. In its short life, OHMS has demonstrated a way to bridge the great divide among oral history theorists, which reads something like this: Should our focus be the audio or the transcript?

While it springs from the minds of oral historians, OHMS might more accurately be termed the Media Metadata Synchronizer. When I saw Doug’s presentation on OHMS at the Oral History Association meeting in 2013, two alternative uses immediately came to mind: OHMS had the potential to help us provide bilingual entry to the 3,500+ recordings in our Radio Haiti Collection (currently being digitzed), and it could dramatically enhance access to one of Duke’s great collections, the H. Lee Waters Films. Waters filmed his Movies of Local People in mostly smaller communities around North Carolina from 1936-1942, using silent reversal film stock. Waters’ effort to supplement his family’s income has over the intervening years become a major historical document of the state during the Great Depression. And yet as rich as the collection is, it is difficult for students, scholars, and filmmakers to find specific scenes or subjects among the thousands of two-second shots Waters put to film. Several years ago, an intern in the archive created shotlists for some of the films, but these existed independently of the films and were not terribly accurate in matching times since they were created using VHS tapes (and VHS players are notorious for displaying incorrect times). OHMS would give us the opportunity to update the shotlists we had and create some new ones, linking description to precise points within the films.

Implementing OHMS at Duke Libraries was a pleasure, mostly because I had the opportunity to work with my colleagues in Digital Projects and Production Services, an outstanding team that can do amazing things with our equally amazing archival resources. Recognizing the open-source spirit of OHMS, Sean Aery, Will Sexton, and Molly Bragg immediately saw how the system could help us get deeper into the Waters films without having to build out a complex infrastructure (or lay out lots of cash). And so, when the H. Lee Waters website went live last year with 35 hours of mostly undescribed digital video (although we did post those older shotlists too, where we had them), it was generally agreed that a phase two would happen sooner rather than later and include a pilot for OHMS shotlists. Rubenstein Audiovisual Intern Olivia Carteaux worked diligently through the spring to normalize existing shotlists and create new ones where possible. This necessitated breaking down the descriptive data we had into spreadsheets, so we could then “crosswalk” the description into the OHMS xml file that is at the heart of the system.

While the OHMS index viewer allows for metadata including title or description, partial transcript, segment synopsis, keywords, subjects, GPS coordinates and a link to a map, we concentrated on providing a descriptive sentence as the title and, where it was easy to find, the location of the action.

The OHMS interface in action
The OHMS interface in action

While on the face of it generating description for the H. Lee Waters films might seem fairly straightforward, we found a number of challenges in describing his silent moving images. For starters, given Waters’ quick edits, what would adequate frequency of description look like? A new descriptive entry at every cut would be extremely unwieldy. At the same time we recognized that without a spoken or textual counterpart to the image, every time we chose not to describe would deprive potential users of a “way in.” We settled on creating entries whenever the general scene or action changed; for instance, when Waters shifts from a scene on main street to one in front of a mill or school, or within the scene at a school when the action goes from schoolyard play to the pledge of allegiance. Sometimes the shifts are obvious, other times they are more subtle, so watching the action with a deep focus is necessary. We also created new entries whenever Waters created a trick shot, such as a split screen, a speed up or slow down of the action, a reverse shot, or a masking shot. Additionally, storefront signs, buildings, and landmarks also became good places to create entries, depending on their prominence; for these, too, we attempted to create GPS coordinates where we could easily do so.

Our second challenge was how much to invest in each description. “A picture is worth a thousand words” and “every picture tells a story” sum up much of the Waters footage, but brevity was of value to the workflow. One sentence, which did not have to be properly complete — a sort of descriptive bullet point — was decided on as our rule of thumb. In the next phase of this process I hope to use the keywords field more effectively, but that requires a controlled vocabulary, which brings me to our third challenge: normalizing description was the most difficult single piece of describing the films. Turns out there’s not a lot of library-based methodology for describing moving images, although there are general recommended approaches for describing images for the visually impaired. Then, of course, there’s the difficulty in deciding how to represent nuanced factors such as race, ethnicity, class, and gender. It is clear that in the event we undertake to create shotlists for all the Waters films, the first order of business will be to create a thesaurus of terms, to provide consistent description across the films.

When we felt like we had enough transformed shotlists for a pilot OHMS project for the Waters website, the OHMS player was loaded onto a server and the playlists uploaded. Links to the 29 shotlists were then placed below the video windows on their respective pages. To access the video and synchronized description, simply click on the link that says “Synchronized Shot List.” In this initial run we’re hoping to upload about 20 more shotlists, and at that point take a breath and see how we can improve on what we’ve accomplished. Given the challenges of presenting audiovisual resources online, there’s never really a “done,” only steady improvement. OHMS has provided what I believe is a clear step forward on access to the Waters films, and has the potential to help us transform other audiovisual collections into deeply mined treasures of the archive.

Post contributed by Craig Breaden, Audiovisual Archivist, Rubenstein Library

Digital Projects and Production Services’ “Best Of” List, 2015

Its that time of year when all the year end “best of” lists come out, best music, movies, books, etc.  Well, we could not resist following suit this year, so… Ladies in gentlemen, I give you in – no particular order – the 2015 best of list for the Digital Projects and Production Services department (DPPS).

Metadata!
Metadata!

Metadata Architect
In 2015, DPPS welcomed a new staff member to our team; Maggie Dickson came on board as our metadata architect! She is already leading a team to whip our digital collections metadata into shape, and is actively consulting with the digital repository team and others around the library.  Bringing metadata expertise into the DPPS portfolio ensures that collections are as discoverable, shareable, and re-purposable as possible.

An issue of the Chronicle from 1988
An issue of the Chronicle from 1988

King Intern for Digital Collections
DPPS started the year with two large University Archives projects on our plates: the ongoing Duke University Chronicle digitization and a grant to digitize hundreds of Chapel recordings.  Thankfully, University Archives allocated funding for us to hire an intern, and what a fabulous intern we found in Jessica Serrao (the proof is in her wonderful blogposts).  The internship has been an unqualified success, and we hope to be able to repeat such a collaboration with other units around the library.

 

dukeandsonsTripod 3
Our digital project developers have spent much of the year developing the new Tripod3 interface for the Duke Digital Repository. This process has been an excellent opportunity for cross departmental collaborative application development and implementing Agile methodology with sprints, scrums, and stand up meetings galore!  We launched our first collection not the new platform in October and we will have a second one out the door before the end of this year.   We plan on building on this success in 2016 as we migrate existing collections over to Tripod3.

Repository ingest planning
Speaking of Tripod3 and the Duke Digital Repository, we have ingesting digital collections into the Duke Digital Repository since 2014.  However, we have a plan to kick ingests up a notch (or 5).  Although the real work will happen in 2016, the planning has been a long time coming and we are all very excited to be at this phase of the Tripod3 / repository process (even if it will be a lot of work).   Stay tuned!

DCcardfrontDigital Collections Promotional Card
This is admittedly a small achievement, but it is one that has been on my to-do list for 2 years so it actually feels like a pretty big deal.  In 2015, we designed a 5 x 7 postcard to hand out during Digital Production Center (DPC) tours, at conferences, and to any visitors to the library.   Also, I just really love to see my UNC fan colleagues cringe every time they turn the card over and see Coach K’s face.  Its really the little things that make our work fun.

New Exhibits Website
In anticipation of opening of new exhibit spaces in the renovated Rubenstein library, DPPS collaborated with the exhibits coordinator to create a brand new library exhibits webpage.  This is your one stop shop for all library exhibits information in all its well-designed glory.

Aggressive cassette rehousing procedures
Aggressive cassette rehousing procedures

Audio and Video Preservation
In 2014, the Digital production Center bolstered workflows for preservation based digitization.  Unlike our digital collections projects, these preservation digitization efforts do not have a publication outcome so they often go unnoticed.  Over the past year, we have quietly digitized around 400 audio cassettes in house (this doesn’t count outsourced Chapel Recordings digitization), some of which need to be dramatically re-housed.

On the video side, efforts have been sidelined by digital preservation storage costs.  However some behind the scenes planning is in the works, which means we should be able to do more next year.  Also, we were able to purchase a Umatic tape cleaner this year, which while it doesn’t sound very glamorous to the rest of the world, thrills us to no end.

Revisiting the William Gedney Digital Collection
Fans of Duke Digital Collections are familiar with the current Gedney Digital Collection. Both the physical and digital collection have long needed an update.  So in recent years, the physical collection has been reprocessed, and this Fall we started an effort to digitized more materials in the collection and to higher standards than were practical in the late 1990s.

DPC's new work room
DPC’s new work room

Expanding DPC
When the Rubenstein Library re-opened, our neighbor moved into the new building, and the DPC got to expand into his office!   The extra breathing room means more space for our specialists and our equipment, which is not only more comfortable but also better for our digitization practices.  The two spaces are separate for now, but we are hoping to be able to combine them in the next year or two.

 

2015 was a great year in DPPS, and there are many more accomplishments we could add to this list.  One of our team mottos is: “great productivity and collaboration, business as usual”.  We look forward to more of the same in 2016!

Who Are you and Why are you Here: a Duke Digital Collections Poster

This week, my colleague Will Sexton and I (as well as several other Duke folks) are attending the Digital Library Federation conference in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.  While here, we presented a poster on our work to assess scholarly use of digital collections.   Please have a look at our poster below.

DC.DLF-poster.FINAL copy
Click image for a larger version

 

If you are interested in learning more about our assessment project, check out these previous blog posts:

We will also publish a report based on our survey findings sometime in the next few months – so stay tuned!

Introducing the Digital Monograph of Haiti

In 2014 the Rubenstein Library acquired the Monograph of Haiti, an aggregation of intelligence information gathered by the U.S. Marine Corps during their occupation of the country between 1915-1934. This item has recently been digitized, and this week guest bloggers Holly Ackerman and Sara Seten Berghausen introduce us to the monograph and its provenance.

MonographOfHaiti1932_0418
Interior image from the Monograph of Haiti

The catalog of the U.S. Marine Corps Archives is not publically available. Marine regulations make it necessary for researchers wanting to explore the Archives’ holdings to physically go to Quantico, Virginia. Once there, they must rely on expert staff to conduct a search for them. Researchers are then free to look at the materials.

Like any prohibition, the lack of direct access creates both frustration and allure. As the number of Duke faculty and students studying Haiti increased over the last five years, Holly Ackerman, Duke’s Librarian for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, felt the pull of possible treasure and traveled to Quantico. Since the U.S. Marines had occupied Haiti from 1915 – 1934, it seemed likely that there would be significant collections that might interest our scholars.

moh
An image of the Monograph prior to digitization.

The archives did not disappoint. Chief among the treasures was The Monograph of the Republic of Haiti, a book that looks more like an old accountant’s ledger than the accumulation of intelligence information from the U.S. occupation era that it really is. On its opening page the Monograph declares its purpose,

“The object of this book is to provide operative and war information upon the Republic of Haiti. A monograph aims to be so thorough a description of the country upon which it is written that the Commander of any Expedition approaching its coasts will have at his disposal all the information obtainable to commence active operations in case of a hostile invasion or a peaceful occupation, and to facilitate his diplomatic routine mission in time of peace.”

Since the Marine Corps Archive owned two of only six known copies of the Monograph, they offered to donate one to the Rubenstein Library at Duke. It was received in the Spring of 2014. The intent of the Marine Corps Archive was to share the monograph as widely as possible. To fulfill that pledge, the Duke Libraries’ Digital Production Center cataloged, conserved and digitized the Monograph in 2015, making it available worldwide via the Internet Archive. Scholars in Haiti and the U.S. have begun using the resource for research and teaching.

MonographOfHaiti1932_0272
Image of an interior page from the Monograph of Haiti

Post Contributed by Holly Ackerman, Librarian for Latin American, Iberian and Latino/a Studies and Sara Seten Berghausen, Associate Curator of Collections, Rubenstein Library

Recognizing the Garden While Managing the Weeds

Life in Duke University Libraries has been even more energetic than usual these past months.  Our neighbors in Rubenstein just opened their newly renovated library and the semester is off with a bang.  As you can read over on Devil’s Tale, a lot of effort went on behind the scenes to get that sparkly new building ready for the public.  In following that theme, today I am sharing some thoughts on how producing digital collections both blesses and curses my perspective on our finished products.

When I write a Bitstreams post, I look for ideas in my calendar and to-do list to find news and projects to share.  This week I considered writing about “Ben”, those prints/negs/spreadsheets, and some resurrected proposals I’ve been fostering (don’t worry, these labels shouldn’t make sense to you).   I also turned to my list of favorite items in our digital collections; these are items I find particularly evocative and inspiring.  While reviewing my favorites with my possible topics in mind (Ben, prints/negs/spreadsheets, etc), I was struck by how differently patrons and researchers must relate to Duke Digital Collections than I do.  Where they see a polished finished product, I see the result of a series of complicated tasks I both adore and would sometimes prefer to disregard.

Let me back up and say that my first experience with Duke digital collections projects isn’t always about content or proper names.  Someone comes to me with an idea and of course I want to know about the significance of the content, but from there I need to know what format? How many items? Is the collection processed? What kind of descriptive data is available? Do you have a student to loan me? My mind starts spinning with logistics logistics logistics.   These details take on a life of their own separate from the significant content at hand.   As a project takes off, I come to know a collection by its details, the web of relationships I build to complete the project, and the occasional nickname. Lets look at a few examples.

There are so many Gedney favorites to choose from, here is just one of mine.

William Gedney Photographs and Writings

Parts of this collection are published, but we are expanding and improving the online collection dramatically.

What the public sees:  poignant and powerful images of everyday life in an array of settings (Brooklyn, India, San Francisco, Rural Kentucky, and others).

What I see:  50,000 items in lots of formats; this project could take over DPC photographic digitization resources, all publication resources, all my meetings, all my emails, and all my thoughts (I may be over dramatizing here just a smidge). When it all comes together, it will be amazing.  

Benjamin Rush Papers
We have just begun working with this collection, but the Devil’s Tale blog recently shared a sneak preview.

What people will see:  letters to and from fellow founding fathers including Thomas Jefferson (Benjamin Rush signed the Declaration of Independence), as well as important historical medical accounts of a Yellow Fever outbreak in 1793.

What I see: Ben or when I’m really feeling it, Benny.  We are going to test out an amazing new workflow between ArchivesSpace and DPC digitization guides with Ben.  

 

Mangum’s negatives show a diverse range of subjects. I highly recommend his exterior images as well.

Hugh Mangum Photographs

This collection of photographs was published in 2008. Since then we have added more images to it, and enhanced portions of the collection’s metadata. 

What others see:  a striking portfolio of a Southern itinerant photographer’s portraits featuring a diverse range of people.  Mangum also had a studio in Durham at the beginning of his career.

What I see:  HMP.  HMP is the identifier for the collection included in every URL, which I always have to remind myself when I’m checking stats or typing in the URL (at first I think it should be Mangum).   HMP is sneaky, because every now and then the popularity of this collection spikes.   I really want more people to get to know HMP.

They may not be orphans but they are “cave children”.

The Orphans

The orphans are not literal children, but they come in all size and shapes, and span multiple collections.  

What the public sees:  the public doesn’t see these projects.

What I see: orphans – plain and simple.  The orphans are projects that started, but then for whatever reason didn’t finish.  They have complicated rights, metadata, formats, or other problems that prevent them from making it through our production pipeline.  These issues tend to be well beyond my control, and yet I periodically pull out my list of orphans to see if their time has come.  I feel an extra special thrill of victory when we are able to complete an orphan project; the Greek Manuscripts are a good example.   I have my sights set on a few others currently, but do not want to divulge details here for fear of jinxing the situation.  

Don’t we all want to be in a digital collections land where the poppies bloom?

I could go on and on about how the logistics of each project shapes and re-shapes my perspective of it.  My point is that it is easy to temporarily lose sight of the digital collections garden given how entrenched (and even lost at times) we are in the weeds.  For my part, when I feel like the logistics of my projects are overwhelming, I go back to my favorites folder and remind myself of the beauty and impact of the digital artifacts we share with the world.  I hope the public enjoys them as much as I do.