Category Archives: Uncategorized

Vote!

In anticipation of next Tuesday’s midterm elections, here is a photo gallery of voting-related images from Duke Digital Collections. Click on a photo to view more images from our collections dealing with political movements, voting rights, propaganda, activism, and more!

This image is part of a series of photographs taken by James Karales on assignment for Look Magazine during the voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in March 1965.
Propaganda poster of the Italian Socialist Party. It reads: “Workers, vote for socialism means voting for women’s rights and labor.”
Image is part of “Thirteen-Month Crop: One Year in the Life of a Piedmont Virginia Tobacco Farm,” which documents the Moore family farm in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.
Poster with depiction of large PCI flag with the Italian flag behind it.
Leaflet created by the League of Women Voters of North Carolina.
Socialist Party literature, explaining their views.

If you haven’t already taken advantage of early voting, we at Bitstreams encourage you to exercise your right on November 6!

Community and Collaboration at Samvera Connect 2018

One of the pleasures of working in an academic library is the opportunity it presents for engagement with communities in our field of work. One such community that Duke University Libraries has been a member for some time now is Samvera, which is an open-source community for software development that supports digital repositories. I, along with my colleagues Jim Coble, Moira Downey, and Ayse Durmaz, recently attended the Samvera Connect conference in Salt Lake City, and this post is a report on our experience there.

It was my first time attending Samvera Connect, and so it was a chance for me to put faces with names that I had come to know from discussions on Slack and elsewhere. Moira and I participated in a panel with some of our colleagues from the University of Michigan and Indiana University, and it was great to have the opportunity to meet them in person and talk about our work on digital repositories. We spoke on the theme of using the Hyrax platform for research data; you can see our slides here. Moira and I also had a poster on the same theme.

I attended the meetup of the Samvera Interest Group for Advising the Hyrax Roadmap, or SIGAHR, as it is known. There was some introspection in the group about the suitability of the acronym, though it produced no resolution one way or another. Much of the conversation in that meeting focused on support and developer resources for the Hyrax platform. It’s one of the central questions for an open source community like Samvera, and one we’re giving some consideration at Duke after returning from the meeting.

Otherwise, there were several interesting presentations that I attended and would highlight. First, the team from the WGBH Media Library did a presentation titled “Building on Hyrax and Avalon for the American Archive of Public Broadcasting” that I enjoyed a lot. That team has great energy and has developed some interesting solutions for a complex and compelling project.

I also learned much at the workshop titled “Managing Samvera-based Projects & Services,” which was conducted by Hannah Frost, Nabeela Jaffer, and Steve Van Tuyl. Thinking in terms of an extended community requires a different mindset from they way we work locally and on our campuses.

Finally, one of the most interesting presentations came from Hannah Frost and Christina Harlow from Stanford Libraries, outlining the new architecture they have developed for the next iteration of the Stanford Digital Library. It was titled “Making TACOs for Hydras,” and the slides are not available, but much of what they covered is included in the github documentation here.

I’ll conclude there, and share the following sections were authored by two of my colleagues at Duke.

Valkyrie and Hyrax (contributed by Jim Coble)

A focus of attention at this year’s Samvera Connect was Valkyrie, a project which enables the use of multiple backends for storing files and metadata in Samvera applications.  Historically, Hydra/Samvera applications have had only one option for file and metadata storage; namely, a Fedora repository. Recent versions of Fedora have experienced performance problems in certain circumstances, leading the community to look for different options for storing files and metadata where performance is a key requirement.  Valkyrie allows a project to pick and choose among multiple backends depending on the needs of the project. Projects can still use a Fedora repository for storage if that is desired but also have the option of using a Postgres database or Solr for metadata storage and/or a disk filesystem for file storage. Other metadata and file storage adapters are under development to provide Valkyrie with even more options.

Discussions at the conference favored moving forward to convert Hyrax (a key Samvera project) to use Valkyrie and we’ll likely see work happening on that soon.  Our Research Data Repository is based on Hyrax, so the eventual Valkyrization of Hyrax would provide us with additional storage options for the files and metadata in that repository (which currently uses Fedora 4).  Valkyrie may also be a component in a future migration of the legacy Duke Digital Repository, enabling us to move it off the no-longer-supported Fedora 3 version.

Discoverability of Research Data (contributed by Moira Downey)

In addition to the back-end infrastructure, another growing area of interest around our Hyrax-based Research Data Repository has been increased visibility and discoverability of the content that we publish and preserve through our software applications. New services like Google’s Dataset Search are making it easier for scholars and researchers to find the data they need to support their scholarly endeavors. As institutions responsible for the publication of these data, we want to ensure that the scholarship our repositories are hosting is indexed by these services, heightening its visibility, and hopefully, its usability. Over a lunchtime breakout session, the Repository Management Interest Group compiled a list of services similar to Google Dataset Search in nature (Google Scholar, Unpaywall.org, Crossref, Datacite, and SHARE, among others) that we intend to investigate further, with a particular eye toward how our existing repositories are integrated with these services and where we might improve. The group also intends to consider what local practices we might implement to optimize the discoverability of our content, and what changes to the code base should be advocate for in order to connect our content to the web at large.

 

SMTL @ DUL

In my first six weeks at DUL (Duke University Libraries), I’m deciphering acronyms, even beyond those I absorbed at IBM, Toshiba, and LexisNexis, which is to say, a whole new lexicon.

Within the DST (Digital Strategies and Technology) organization, my ITS (Information Technology Services) team consists of three departments, located in the PBR complex (Perkins Bostock Rubenstein, not Pabst Blue Ribbon).

  • Core Services supports > 100 tools and platforms, deploys and maintains > 600 systems and workstations, and sets up all the specialized equipment you see throughout the libraries
  • Software Services develops state of the art applications such as the RDR (Research Data Repository)
  • LSIS (Library Systems & Integration Support) is preparing for the evolution to a new LSP (Library Services Platform) called FOLIO in collaboration with OLF (Open Library Foundation), Index Data, and EBSCO (Elton B. Stephens Co.)

We work in conjunction with Duke’s OIT (Office of Information Technology), and with many external organizations, such as SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), OLE (Open Library Environment), OCLC (Online Computer Library Center), ABCDEFG (no, I’m getting carried away…).

Unlike the commercial sector, we’re intent on collaboration rather than competition. I’m excited to be a part of TRLN (Triangle Research Library Network), and the Ivy Plus Libraries partnership of 13 leading academic libraries who sponsor the BorrowDirect initiative.

This is such a fun place to work! We have a staff yoga class given by Lindsey Crawford of Global Breath Studio, and I figured out how to use the meescan app , to check out an actual book, from which I learned from Smitten Kitchen that chaat masala is great on popcorn. Last night I was thrilled to attend the Durham Literacy Center’s event sponsored by DUL, with author Therese Anne Fowler.

Now if I could catch the PR1; bus which traverses the full mile between my office and parking….

SMTL (So Much To Learn)!

Laura Cappelletti
New Director – ITS @ DUL

Shiny New Chrome!

Chrome bumper and grill

In 2008, Google released their free web browser, Chrome.  It’s improved speed and features led to quick adoption by users, and by the middle of 2012, Chrome had become the world’s most popular browser. Recent data puts it at over 55% market share [StatCounter].

As smartphones and tablets took off, Google decided to build an “operating system free” computer based around the Chrome browser – the first official Chromebook launched in mid-2011.  The idea was that since everyone is doing their work on the web anyway (assuming your work==Google Docs), then there wasn’t a need for most users to have a “full” operating system – especially since full operating systems require maintenance patches and security updates.  Their price-point didn’t hurt either – while some models now top-out over $1000, many Chromebooks come in under $300.Acer Chromebook

We purchased one of the cheaper models recently to do some testing and see if it might work for any DUL use-cases.  The specific model was an Acer Chromebook 14, priced at $250.  It has a 14” screen at full HD resolution, a metal body to protect against bumps and bruises, and it promises up to 12 hours of battery life.  Where we’d usually look at CPU and memory specs, these tend to be less important on a Chromebook — you’re basically just surfing the web, so you shouldn’t need a high-end (pricey) CPU nor a lot of memory.  At least that’s the theory.

But what can it do?

Basic websurfing, check!  Google Docs, check!  Mail.duke.edu for work-email, check!  Duke.box.com, check!  LibGuides, LibCal, Basecamp, Jira, Slack, Evernote … check!

LastPass even works to hold all the highly-complex, fully secure passwords that you use on all those sites (you do you complex passwords, don’t you?).

Not surprisingly, if you do a lot of your day-to-day work inside a browser, then a Chromebook can easily handle that.  For a lot of office workers, a Chromebook may very well get the job done – sitting in a meeting, typing notes into Evernote; checking email while you’re waiting for a meeting; popping into Slack to send someone a quick note.  All those work perfectly fine.

What about the non-web stuff I do?

Microsoft Word and Excel, well, kinda sorta.  You can upload them to Google Docs and then access them through the usual Google Docs web interface.  Of course, you can then share them as Google Docs with other people, but to get them back into “real” Microsoft Word requires an extra step.

Aleph, umm, no.  SAP for your budgets, umm, no. Those apps simply won’t run on the ChromeOS.  At least not directly.

Acer ChromebookBut just as many of you currently “remote” into your work computer from home, e.g., you _can_ use a Chromebook to “remote” into other machines, including “virtual” machines that we can set up to run standard Windows applications.  There’s an extra step or two in the process to reserve a remote system and connect to it.  But if you’re in a job where just a small amount of your work needs “real” Windows applications, there still might be some opportunity to leverage Chromebooks as a cheaper alternative to a laptop.

Final Thoughts:

I’m curious to see where (or not) Chromebooks might fit into the DUL technology landscape.  Their price is certainly budget-friendly, and since Google automatically updates and patches them, they could reduce IT staff effort.  But there are clearly issues we need to investigate.  Some of them seem solvable, at least technically.  But it’s not clear that the solution will be usable in day-to-day work.Google Chrome logo

If you’re interested in trying one out, please contact me!

 

“We have so much time and so little to do. Strike that; reverse it.”

We are an ambitious organization, and that is a wonderful trait which directs our motivations and intentions towards good service to our users and community.  But what happens when we realize that we have so much to accomplish in a short period of time?  It can either cripple us or make us excited and frantic, like Willa Wonka’s reaction when he reveals to Charlie that he has won the contest.   Within the Libraries, there are so many great ideas and valuable projects worth doing that it creates competition for the time and people available.

Image for multitasking

In the summer and early fall of 2017, the ITS leadership team developed a roadmap document for valuable projects we believed were established priorities for the Libraries requiring ITS resources.  The visualization was intended to be an indication of just how much was in the queue rather than a timeline of scheduling and completing projects.  Moreover, the visualization indicates how much operations and maintenance consume the capacity to do new projects, eventually and completely overwhelming opportunity for new projects.  It served its purpose of showing how even a subset of projects can look daunting, but it also only reveals a glimpse of the preparation, effort, and actual work it takes to manage multiple projects in a portfolio.  It also lacks information about the projects that are not in the roadmap or what the process should be to shift priorities when a new initiative is created, how to react to unexpected opportunities for funding, or a when a grant proposal is awarded.  Most importantly, it lacks the detail about the people involved in the projects, the most important part of project management.

ITS major projects 3+ year roadmap
ITS major projects 3+ year roadmap

The realignment of the Libraries announced this spring gave me the opportunity to reconsider staff strengths and roles in the face of the priorities already documented, and specifically I wanted to consider a new way of managing the streams of projects within the portfolio being created.  Project management, regardless of the methodology, creates a culture, and, at its best, creates an inclusive, open, collaborative, and cooperative culture.  My ultimate goal for the new Digital Strategies and Technology division is to create opportunity for that culture to develop throughout the Libraries, led by the example of DST.

Digital Strategies and Technology organizational chart
Digital Strategies and Technology organizational chart

At its foundation, it is important to establish that no one department owns any project completely.  Leadership may come from one department, while project staff will come from another, and stakeholders may come from one or more other departments throughout the Libraries.  Starting off with three streams of project leadership, Library Systems (Karen Newbery), Web Experience (Tom Crichlow), and Application Development (Cory Lown), provides the Libraries new pathways to envisage how ideas can become successful and completed projects.  We hope creating these three streams will ease the engagement for stakeholders with project leaders, as well as create a reasonable pipeline and queue for evaluating and prioritizing prospective projects and ideas.

image for team work

Project leadership requires executive support and broad awareness of the strategic priorities across the Libraries.  The new position of Director of ITS will oversee the portfolio of projects from ensuring that project timelines are properly defined, ITS staff are assigned to the right projects based on their strengths and capacity, expectation management with project stakeholders, as well as advocating for resources, changes to priority, and on going and consistent communication.  Because the project leaders do not have their own teams, ITS and DUL staff will have the opportunity to work with different leaders for various projects.  Balancing a limited number of project team staff across three (or more) parallel projects will require detailed planning, agility, and effective communication that we are searching for in the new Director of ITS.

Beyond the organizational changes, the Digital Strategies and Technology Leadership Team has begun to develop definitions and guidelines to help new projects start off strong.  Over the next couple of months, we will publish a wiki that documents what we believe are critical elements for the strong foundation of projects.  There will be definitions of projects roles, setting expectations from the start of roles and responsibilities, a template for a project charter that the project sponsor, project leader, stakeholders, and team can use to set the initial agreement for the project, and a guide for setting timelines and sprint planning so that project team members can manage their time within the project and with respect to other projects or priorities.

We look forward to sharing these ideas soon and continuing the conversations about the best ways to fulfill our ambitions and strategic directions together.

The Art of Revolution

 

Model for Monument to the Third International, Vladimir Tatlin

Russia has been back in the news of late for a variety of reasons, some, perhaps, more interesting than others. Last year marked the centennial of the 1917 Russian Revolution, arguably one of the foundational events of the 20th century. The 1917 Revolution was the beginning of enormous upheaval that touched all parts of Russian life. While much of this tumult was undeniably and grotesquely violent, some real beauty and lasting works of art emerged from the maelstrom. New forms of visual art and architecture, rooted in a utopian vision for the new, modern society, briefly flourished. One of the most visible of these movements, begun in the years immediately preceding the onset of revolution, was Constructivism.

 

As first articulated by Vladimir Tatlin, Constructivism as a philosophy held that art should be ‘constructed’; that is to say, art shouldn’t be created as an expression of beauty, but rather to represent the world and should be used for a social purpose. Artists like Tatlin, El Lissitzky, Naum Gabo, and Alexander Rodchenko worked in conversation with the output of the Cubists and Futurists (along with their Russian Suprematist compatriots, like Kazimir Malevich), distilling everyday objects to their most basic forms and materials.

Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge, El Lissitzky, 1919

As the Revolution proceeded, artists of all kinds were rapidly brought on board to help create art that would propagate the Bolshevik cause. Perhaps one of El Lissitzky’s most well-known works, “Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge”, is illustrative of this phenomenon. It uses the new, abstract, constructed forms to convey the image of the Red Army (the Bolsheviks) penetrating and defeating the White Army (the anti-Bolsheviks). Alexander Rodchenko’s similarly well-known “Books” poster, an advertisement for the Lengiz Publishing House, is another informative example, blending the use of geometric forms and bright colors with advertising for a  publishing house that produced materials important to the Soviet cause.

 

Lengiz, Alexander Rodchenko, 1924

Constructivism (and its close kin, Suprematism) would go on to have an enormous impact on Russian and Soviet propaganda and other political materials throughout the existence of the Soviet Union. The Duke Digital Repository has an impressive collection of Russian political posters, spanning almost the entire history of the Soviet Union, from the 1917 Revolution on through to the Perestroika of the 1980s. The collection contains posters and placards emphasizing the benefits of Communism, the achievements of the Soviet Union under Communism, and finally the potential dangers inherent in the reconstruction and openness that characterized the period under Mikhail Gorbachev.  I wanted to use this blog post to highlight a few of my favorites below, some of which bear evidence of this broader art historical legacy.

 

Literacy, the road to Communism, 1920
Easter. Contrast of joyous Easter of Long Ago with Serious Workers of Com.[mmunist] Russia, 1930
Member of a Religious Sect Is Fooling the People, 1925
Young Leninists are the children of Il’ich, 1924
Female workers and peasants, make your way to the voting booth! Under the red banner, in the same ranks as the men, we inspire fear in the bourgeoisie!, 1925

 

Learn from the Past, Organize for the Future

This Friday and Saturday, March 23 – 24, veterans of the Civil Rights Movement, contemporary activists from the Movement for Black Lives, scholars, librarians, educators, and students are gathering in Durham for the culminating events of the SNCC Digital Gateway Project. We hope you can be there too.

The SNCC Legacy Project, the Center for Documentary Studies, and Duke University Libraries joined forces over four years ago to create the SNCC Digital Gateway, where those who made the history are central to telling the story. Now as the project nears completion, we’re reflecting on the collaboration and celebrating the good work.

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)—the only youth-led national civil rights group—organized a grassroots movement in the 1960s that empowered Black communities and transformed the nation. Veteran SNCC activists have been collaborating with Duke University to build the SNCC Digital Gateway, a website told from the perspective of the activists themselves that documents SNCC’s work building democracy from the ground up and makes those experiences, thinking, and strategies accessible for the generations to come.

Over 20 SNCC veterans, members of the Durham chapter of BYP100, phillip agnew of Dream Defenders, Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, co-director of Highlander Center for Research and Education, local activists, educators, students, and more are coming together this weekend to reflect on the creation of the SNCC Digital Gateway and to explore how grassroots organizing work of the past can inform today’s struggles for justice and democracy.

Events on Friday, March 23, taking place in the Richard White Lecture Hall at Duke University, will focus on the partnership between SNCC veterans and the academy and the nuts and bolts of doing collaborative digital humanities work. Then on Saturday, March 24, participants will gather at the Walker Complex at North Carolina Central University to explore how SNCC’s organizing can inform today’s struggles and strategize about electoral politics and power, grassroots organizing, controlling the public narrative, coalition building, and more.

You can find more information about closing events here. Don’t miss this chance to learn from and interact with those who were organizing in the sixties and those who are organizing today. Bring yourselves. Bring others. It’s free, and you’re invited.

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!

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.