Hopscotch Design Fest

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Hopscotch Design Festival, a 2-day precursor to the music event of the same name in Raleigh, NC. The Design Fest used a very wide tent in gathering speakers from the world of design — they included urban planners, architects, musicians, and writers, in addition to more typical designer/illustrator/interactive types. While I haven’t been to that many conferences, the ones I’ve attended have usually been heavy on the tech side, typically exemplified by a sea of glowing silver macbook pros. During the opening keynote, so far as I could see, I was the only one with a laptop. This crowd was heavy on the analog side (pens and moleskines). This ethos was reinforced by Austin Kleon’s presentation on essential tools for the analog desk. I wasn’t all that familiar with Kleon, but he was clearly a very skilled presenter and offered some interesting tips on maintaining creativity. I was particularly impressed with his newspaper poetry. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the conference and will hopefully be able to attend again in the future.

Here are some of the speakers I particularly enjoyed:

JustinJustin LeBlanc

I don’t watch much TV. But one show I really enjoy, thanks to my wife, is Project Runway. My favorite contestant, by far, has been Justin LeBlanc. Not only did he come across as a genuinely wonderful person on the show, his designs were amazing. I especially appreciated how his work incorporated non-traditional materials and technology, like 3D printing. Which is all to say that I was super excited to seem him in person. He talked a lot about his creative process, showed off some projects he’d worked on in grad school [before he hit the big time], and also showed some newer work that he’ll debut on the runway soon. He stressed that his latest work is heavily influenced by living in North Carolina. He’s collaborated with local companies to procure materials, print fabrics, and more. The whole thing felt very positive to me.

SteveSteve Frykholm

While I had never heard of Steve Frykholm before, I was immediately impressed by him. He’s been a designer at the famed Herman Miller company for 45 years. He’s clearly seen a lot of things change in the design industry over that time, so the perspective he shared was really insightful. He told an interesting story of the first Herman Miller catalog that was designed by George Nelson in 1952. The original proposal was for a highly stylized, photo-heavy book printed on nice paper — a sharp contrast to the text-heavy catalogs of the day. The top brass shot it down, saying it would be incredibly expensive to produce, and asked the team to come up with a new and more affordable version. The next iteration kept the same design, but added a bound cover and a $3 price tag. No one had ever charged for a product catalog, so this was a bold step. However, the bosses eventually relented and the catalog went on to be a huge success. The next year their competitors were charging $5 for their catalogs. [As an aside, an original copy of the catalog is available at the UNC Art Library.] His point in sharing this story was that sometimes you need to be the first at something — it’s OK to take bold steps and try something new. It won’t always work out, but sometimes it does. He also shared a bit about his creative process and how design work happens at Herman Miller. Towards the end of his time he talked about a series of posters he designed for the company’s annual Spring Picnic. These posters were recently added to the permanent collection at MoMA. I could have listened to him talk for much longer. He’s truly an inspiring individual.

CheetieCheetie Kumar

I first encountered Cheetie Kumar as the lead guitarist for her band, Birds of Avalon. I just thought she was a great musician. Then I learned she was also a recording engineer/producer, an entrepreneur, a chef and restaurateur, a designer, and generally an awesome person. So, I was excited to attend her talk. She came across to me as very humble, but she was also very inspiring. She talked about how she first settled in Raleigh and how she and her band mates / business partners have been dedicated to making it a better place ever since. She explained that they would be out on the road for months at a time then come back home only for a short time, almost like visiting, and with this fresh perspective they were able to find new and exciting things to love about the city that they probably wouldn’t have otherwise. She also highlighted the design features she came up with in creating the space for her restaurant — wood floors salvaged from a basketball court, an awning made from leftover construction material, a penny-covered floor in the bathroom, and a wall of paintings towards the back of the space. She mentioned multiple times how much hard work friends and others contributed to making it all a success. It’s literally amazing how much she juggles in her day to day life. She also said she doesn’t get a lot of sleep.

GrahamGraham Roberts

I was familiar with Graham Roberts’ work without realizing it. He’s worked on some truly amazing projects at the New York Times, such as Inside the Quartet, Music and Gesture, and Skrillex, Diplo, and Bieber make a hit. During his talk he essentially walked us through the process of working on these projects. There were way more people involved in building these things than I would have guessed. For the Kronos Quartet piece, they captured real-time 3-D data using multiple microsoft connect cameras. He then had to visualize what ended up being a staggering amount of data. The end result is beautiful; abstract, but graceful in capturing the essence of their performance movements. He also talked about what it’s like working at the Times and how he approaches his work from the perspective of a journalist, not just as a designer/animator/3D artist. In short, his work is stunning. And while it’s inspiring, in a way it’s also hard to imagine being able to create something so amazing. But I’m hopeful with the richness and diversity of our collections at DUL that we’ll continue to make our own inspiring work.

Lichens, Bryophytes and Climate Change

As 2015 winds down, the Digital Production Center is wrapping up a four-year collaboration with the Duke Herbarium to digitize their lichen and bryophyte specimens. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation, and the ultimate goal is to digitize over 2 million specimens from more than 60 collections across the nation. Lichens and bryophytes (mosses and their relatives) are important indicators of climate change. After the images from the participating institutions are uploaded to one central portal, called iDigBio, large-scale distribution mapping will be used to identify regions where environmental changes are taking place, allowing scientists to study the patterns and effects of these changes.


The specimens are first transported from the Duke Herbarium to Perkins Library on a scheduled timeline. Then, we photograph the specimen labels using our Phase One overhead camera. Some of the specimens are very bulky, but our camera’s depth of field is broad enough to keep them in focus. To be clear, what the project is utilizing is not photos of the actual plant specimens themselves, but rather images of the typed and hand-written scientific metadata adorning the envelopes which house the specimens. After we photograph them, the images are uploaded to the national database, where they are available for online research, along with other specimen labels uploaded from universities across the United States. Optical character recognition is used to digest and organize the scientific metadata in the images.


Over the past four years, the Digital Production Center has digitized approximately 100,000 lichen and bryophyte specimens. Many are from the Duke Herbarium, but some other institutions have also asked us to digitize some of their specimens, such as UNC-Chapel Hill, SUNY-Binghamton, Towson University and the University of Richmond. The Duke Herbarium is the second-largest herbarium of all U.S. private universities, next to Harvard. It was started in 1921, and it contains more than 800,000 specimens of vascular plants, bryophytes, algae, lichens, and fungi, some of which were collected as far back as the 1800s. Several specimens have unintentionally humorous names, like the following, which wants to be funky, but isn’t fooling anyone. Ok, maybe only I find that funny.


The project has been extensive, but enjoyable, thanks to the leadership of Duke Herbarium Data Manager Blanka Shaw. Dr. Shaw has personally collected bryophytes on many continents, and has brought a wealth of knowledge, energy and good humor to the collaboration with the Digital Production Center. The Duke Herbarium is open for visitors, and citizen scientists are also needed to volunteer for transcription and georeferencing of the extensive metadata collected in the national database.

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.

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.

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.

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

Baby Steps towards Metadata Synchronization

How We Got Here: A terribly simplistic history of library metadata

Managing the description of library collections (especially “special” collections) is an increasingly complex task.  In the days of yore, we bought books and other things, typed up or purchased catalog cards describing those things (metadata), and filed the cards away.  It was tedious work, but fairly straightforward.  If you wanted to know something about anything in the library’s collection, you went to the card catalog.  Simple.

Some time in the 1970s or 1980s we migrated all (well, most) of that card catalog description to the ILS (Integrated Library System).  If you wanted to describe something in the library, you made a MARC record in the ILS.  Patrons searched those MARC records in the OPAC (the public-facing view of the ILS).  Still pretty simple.  Sure, we maintained other paper-based tools for managing description of manuscript and archival collections (printed finding aids, registers, etc.), but until somewhat recently, the ILS was really the only “system” in use in the library.

Duke Online Catalog, 1980s

From the 1990s on things got complicated. We started making EAD and MARC records for archival collections. We started digitizing parts of those collections and creating Dublin Core records and sometimes TEI for the digital objects.  We created and stored library metadata in relational databases (MySQL), METS, MODS, and even flat HTML. As library metadata standards proliferated, so too did the systems we used the create, manage, and store that metadata.

Now, we have an ILS for managing MARC-based catalog records, ArchivesSpace for managing more detailed descriptions of manuscript collections, a Fedora (Hydra) repository for managing digital objects, CONTENTdm for managing some other digital objects, and lots of little intermediary descriptive tools (spreadsheets, databases, etc.).  Each of these systems stores library metadata in a different format and in varying levels of detail.

So what’s the problem and what are we doing about it?

The variety of metadata standards and systems isn’t the problem.  What is the problem–a very painful and time-consuming problem–is having to maintain and reconcile description of the same thing (a manuscript, a folder of letters, an image, an audio file, etc.) across all these disparate metadata formats and systems.  It’s a metadata synchronization problem and it’s a big one.

For the past four months or so, a group of archivists and developers here in the library have been meeting regularly to brainstorm ways to solve or at least help alleviate some of our metadata synchronization problems.  We’ve been calling our group “The Synchronizers.”

What have The Synchronizers been up to?  Well, so far we’ve been trying to tackle two pieces of the synchronization conundrum:

Problem 1 (the big one): Keeping metadata for special collections materials in sync across ArchivesSpace, the digitization process, and our Hydra repository.

Ideally, we’d like to re-purpose metadata from ArchivesSpace to facilitate the digitization process and also keep that metadata in sync as items are digitized, described more fully, and ingested into our Hydra repository. Fortunately, we’re not the only library trying to tackle this problem.  For more on AS/Hydra integration, see the work of the Hydra Archivists Interest Group.

Below are a couple of rough sketches we drafted to start thinking about this problem at Duke.

Hydra / ArchivesSpace Integration Sketch, take 1
Hydra / ArchivesSpace Integration Sketch, take 2


In addition to these systems integration diagrams, I’ve been working on some basic tools (scripts) that address two small pieces of this larger problem:

  • A script to auto-generate digitization guides by extracting metadata from ArchivesSpace-generated EAD files (digitization guides are simply spreadsheets we use to keep track of what we digitize and to assign identifiers to digital objects and files during the digitization process).
  • A script that uses a completed digitization guide to batch-create digital object records in ArchivesSpace and at the same time link those digital objects to the descriptions of the physical items (the archival object records in ArchivesSpace-speak).  Special thanks to Dallas Pillen at the University of Michigan for doing most of the heavy lifting on this script.

Problem 2 (the smaller one): Using ArchivesSpace to produce MARC records for archival collections (or, stopping all that cutting and pasting).

In the past, we’ve had two completely separate workflows in special collections for creating archival description in EAD and creating collection-level MARC records for those same collections.  Archivists churned out detailed EAD finding aids and catalogers took those finding aids, and cut-and-pasted relevant sections into collection-level MARC records.  It’s quite silly, really, and we need a better solution that saves time and keeps metadata consistent across platforms.

While we haven’t done much work in this area yet, we have formed a small working group of archivists/catalogers and developed the following work plan:

  1. Examine default ArchivesSpace MARC exports and compare those exports to current MARC cataloging practices (document differences).
  2. Examine differences between ArchivesSpace MARC and “native” MARC and decide which current practices are worth maintaining keeping in mind we’ll need to modify default ArchivesSpace MARC exports to meet current MARC authoring practices.
  3. Develop cross-walking scripts or modify the ArchivesSpace MARC exporter to generate usable MARC data from ArchivesSpace.
  4. Develop and document an efficient workflow for pushing or harvesting MARC data from ArchivesSpace to both OCLC and our local ILS.
  5. If possible, develop, test, and document tools and workflows for re-purposing container (instance) information in ArchivesSpace in order to batch-create item records in the ILS for archival containers (boxes, folders, etc).
  6. Develop training for staff on new ArchivesSpace to MARC workflows.
courtesy of xkcd.com


So far we’ve only taken baby steps towards our dream of TOTAL METADATA SYNCHRONIZATION, but we’re making progress.  Please let us know if you’re working on similar projects at your institution. We’d love to hear from you.

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.


A Welcoming Embrace to Huginn, our Yahoo! Pipes Replacement

Yahoo! Pipes
Google Images search for Yahoo Pipes. I tried to screenshot some of ours, but they’re no longer viewable.

Six or seven years ago, we discovered a handy new data mashup service from Yahoo! called Yahoo! Pipes. It had a slick drag-n-drop visual programming interface that made it easy to grab data from a bunch of different live sources, then combine, reshape, and conditionally change it into a new dynamic feed modeled however we happened to need it. “Pipes” was a perfect name, a nod to the | (pipe) character used in Unix to chain command-line inputs and outputs, and evocative of the blue pipes you would drag to connect modules in the Pipes UI to funnel data from one to another. It was—quite literally—a series of tubes.

Over the years, we grew to rely on Yahoo! Pipes’ data-mashing wizardry for several features central to the presentation of information on our library website. If you’ve read Bitstreams in the past, you probably have followed a link that was shuttled through Pipes before ultimately being rendered on the website.

Here’s are some of the things we had done in the library website that Pipes made possible:

  • Library Events. Make a single library-sponsored event RSS feed combining raw XML data from the Duke University Events Calendar with RSS feeds from six or more departmental calendars.
  • New Additions. Create media-rich RSS feeds of New Additions (by category) to the library catalog by mashing raw XML into MediaRSS.
  • Blogs. Combine RSS feeds from ten or more library blogs into one shared feed.
  • Jobs. Create a shared RSS feed of library job postings matching any of four job types.

Imagine our dismay in June, when Yahoo! announced it was pulling the plug on Pipes, shutting it down for good in September. In our scramble to find a suitable replacement, we saw Huginn as the best alternative.


Huginn Logo
The amazing Huginn logo, from https://github.com/cantino/huginn/blob/master/README.md

Cleverly named after a raven in Norse mythology, Huginn is an open-source data mashup application. It can do a lot of the things Yahoo! Pipes could, but it’s also quite different.

Similarities to Yahoo! Pipes

  • Collect data from various sources on the web and transform it
  • Combine disparate data into a single stream
  • Emit a new customized feed at a URL for other services to access

Differences from Pipes

  • No visual editor; instead, you hand-code JSON to configure
  • Open source rather than hosted; you have to run it yourself
  • Constantly being improved by developers worldwide
  • A Ruby on Rails app; can be forked/customized as needed

To recreate each feed we’d built in Pipes, we had to build two kinds of Huginn Agents: one or more “Website Agents” to gather and extract the data we need, then a “Data Output Agent” to publish a new customized feed. Agents are set up by writing some configuration rules structured as JSON.

Website Agent

Huginn description: “The Website Agent scrapes a website, XML document, or JSON feed and creates Events based on the results.”

With a Website Agent, we’re gathering data from a source (for us, typically RSS or raw XML). We specify a URL, then start structuring what elements we want to extract using XPath expressions.

Data Output Agent

Huginn description: The Data Output Agent outputs received events as either RSS or JSON. Use it to output a public or private stream of Huginn data.

The Data Output Agent uses one or more Website Agents as data sources. We configure some rules about what to expose and can further refine the data in the output using Liquid Templating. In the case of New Additions to the catalog, it’s here where we make a <media:content> element in our feed and assemble a URL to a cover image from bits of data extracted from the raw XML.


Huginn Agents for converting catalog data to a media-rich RSS feed for New Additions widgets.
Huginn Agents for converting catalog data to a media-rich RSS feed for New Additions widgets.
Huginn Data Output Agent to publish a single RSS feed from several contributing feeds.
Huginn Data Output Agent to publish a single RSS feed from several contributing feeds.

Looking Ahead

So far, so good. Huginn is now successfully powering most of the feeds that we had previously managed through Yahoo! Pipes. We look forward to seeing what kinds of features are added by the developer community.

Shoutouts to Cory Lown & Michael Daul for all their work in helping make the transition from Pipes to Huginn. 

Future Retro: Images of Sound Technology in the 1960s Duke Chronicle

Many of my Bitstreams posts have featured old-school audio formats (wax cylinder, cassette and open reel tape, Minidisc) and discussed how we go about digitizing these obsolete media to bring them to present-day library users at the click of a mouse.  In this post, I will take a different tack and show how this sound technology was represented and marketed during its heyday.  The images used here are taken from one of our very own digital collections–the Duke Chronicle of the 1960s.

The Record Bar

Students of that era would have primarily listened to music on vinyl records purchased directly from a local retailer.  The advertisement  above boasts of “complete stocks, latest releases, finest variety” with sale albums going for as little as $2.98 apiece.  This is a far cry from the current music industry landscape where people consume most of their media via instant download and streaming from iTunes or Spotify and find new artists and songs via blogs, Youtube videos, or social media.  The curious listener of the 1960’s may have instead discovered a new band though word of mouth, radio, or print advertising.  If they were lucky, the local record shop would have the LP in stock and they could bring it home to play on their hi-fi phonograph (like the one shown below).  Notice that this small “portable” model takes up nearly the whole tabletop.


The Moon

Duke students of the 1960s would have also used magnetic tape-based media for recording and playing back sound.  The advertisement above uses Space Age imagery and claims that the recorder (“small enough to fit in the palm of your hand”) was used by astronauts on lunar missions.  Other advertisements suggest more grounded uses for the technology:  recording classroom lectures, practicing public speaking, improving foreign language comprehension and pronunciation, and “adding fun to parties, hayrides, and trips.”

Tape Your Notes

Add a Track

Creative uses of the technology are also suggested.  The “Add-A-Track” system allows you to record multiple layers of sound to create your own unique spoken word or musical composition.  You can even use your tape machine to record a special message for your Valentine (“the next best thing to you personally”).  Amplifier kits are also available for the ambitious electronics do-it-yourselfer to build at home.

Tell Her With Tape

Amplifier Kit

These newspaper ads demonstrate just how much audio technology and our relationship to it have changed over the past 50 years.  Everything is smaller, faster, and more “connected” now.  Despite these seismic shifts, one thing hasn’t changed.  As the following ad shows, the banjo never goes out of style.



Request for Proposals – The SNCC Digital Gateway

Promotional postcard for One Person, One Vote site.
Promotional postcard for One Person, One Vote site.

Last year we at Duke University Libraries circulated a prospectus for our still-young partnership with the SNCC Legacy Project, seeking bids from web contractors to help with developing the web site that we rolled out last March as One Person, One Vote (OPOV). Now, almost 18 months later, we’re back – but wiser – hoping to do it again – but bigger.

Thanks to a grant from the Mellon Foundation, we’ll be moving to a new phase of our partnership with the SNCC Legacy Project and the Center for Documentary Studies. The SNCC Digital Gateway will build on the success of the OPOV pilot, bringing Visiting Activist Scholars to campus to work with Duke undergraduates and graduates on documenting the historic drive for voting rights, and the work of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

As before, we seek an experienced and talented contractor to join with our project team to design and build a compelling site. If you think your outfit might be right for the job, please review the RFP embedded below and get in touch.



FY15: A Year in Digital Projects

We experience a number of different cycles in the Digital Projects and Production Services Department (DPPS). There is of course the project lifecycle, that mysterious abstraction by which we try to find commonalities in work processes that can seem unique for every case. We follow the academic calendar, learn our fate through the annual budget cycle, and attend weekly, monthly, and quarterly meetings.

The annual reporting cycle at Duke University Libraries usually falls to departments in August, with those reports informing a master library report completed later. Because of the activities and commitments around the opening of the Rubenstein Library, the departments were let off the hook for their individual reports this year. Nevertheless, I thought I would use my turn in the Bitstreams rotation to review some highlights from our 2014-15 cycle.

Loads of accomplishments after the jump …

Continue reading FY15: A Year in Digital Projects

A Sermon: Moral Crisis in a Troubled South (1956)

The Library is currently in the middle of digitizing sermons from the Duke University Chapel recordings housed in the Duke University Archives, part of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Within this collection there are audio and video recordings along with printed sermons. While it takes many people to digitize and publish a collection of this size in its entirety, my part is to digitize the printed sermons.


While I didn’t have time to read all of the sermons, a few titles caught my eye.  Moral Crisis in a Troubled South, The Dangerous Gift of Freedom, The South Under God, Demonstrations in the Street and in the House of God, An Address on Occasion of a Memorial Service (for Martin Luther King Jr.), to name a few.  martinlutherkingAll in someway related to the Civil Rights Movement. Here is a link to Moral Crisis in a Troubled South written by Hilrie Shelton Smith and preached in the Duke University Chapel on April 29, 1956.  The sermon speaks directly to the state of race relations in the South in 1955 amid civil rights unrest related to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Supreme Court decision on Racial Segregation in Schools, and the tragic death of Emmett Till. This sermon speaks of the long road that may be ahead of us to achieve a nation of racial equality. Indeed.

This sermon struck me because of its direct reference to specific events related to the Civil Rights Movement (at least more than the others) and how closely it echoes current events across the nation, particularly the story of Emmett Till’s horrific murder and the fact that his mother chose to have an open casket so that everyone could see the brutality of racism.Emmett Till

I am in awe of the strength it must have taken Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till, to make the decision to have an open casket at her son’s funeral.

Duke has many collections related to the history of the Civil Rights Movement. This collection provides a religious context to the events of our relatively recent past, not only of the Civil Rights Movement but of many social, political and spiritual issues of our time.

Please visit Duke Digital Collections to see additional digitized material related to the Civil Rights Movement.

Again, here is a link to the sermon: Moral Crisis in a Troubled South


Notes from the Duke University Libraries Digital Projects Team