Archive for the ‘Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries’ Category

Working Together Out West

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Recently (ok, VERY recently, as in less tha 24 hours ago), we here at the Alliance submitted three different program proposals for the upcoming Open Repositories 2011 conference in Austin later this summer. The proposals, ranging from a consortial  panel to a seven-minute/twenty-four-slide overview of our soon-to-be-launched ADR Basic repository software platform built on Islandora and supported by DiscoveryGarden, capture much of the good that has emerged from the not-so-good ADR drama of 2010  - and yes, apparently we can have drama in repository services. Even if the sessions are not accepted, the process of preparing them has been beneficial to our activities here, it has codified our understanding of  day-to-day work we do, and helps us think about how we approach that work.

I’ll share the proposals’ working  titles here and note that we are also listed on proposals from UPEI and DuraCloud –  you can “read between the lines” if you’d like. if you want the full story, buy us the proverbial “drink” at Open Repositories…or an LTO4 tape or two, or some RAM for the VM boxes…come to think of it, a couple of cloud-based terabytes would be much appreciated, too!

OR2011 Program Proposal Titles:

Working Together Out West: Conosrtial Repository Services and Local Implementations
The Occasional (Un)Realities of Managing, Manipulating, and Migrating a Conosrtial Digital Repository Service
ADR Basic Digital Repository Platform: One to One…to Many

Off the shelf and into the [digital] fray?

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

(On reflecting on the title of this entry, and whether “fray” was appropriate, perhaps I should also qualify the term as a “friendly” skirmish, contest, or quarrel…)

Ed, George, and I spent the morning in a meeting discussing Shelf2Life, a project encompassing the digitization of public domain texts, distribution of e-versions of the texts to various online vendors, and the ability to print these works on demand at the point-of-sale, at BCR. Several of our members are participating in the initiative, while others are generally interested.

We’ve begun to explore whether there is a consortial interest, as well as how to offer long-term digital archiving of the e-texts, if our members desire. Local access to and distribution of the e-texts is tied up in contracts and business models, but at the very least, we should be able to provide tiers of secure preservation services for the e-texts, and auto-loading workflows not unlike our developing OA ProQuest ETDs auto-load service. There are a lot of stakeholders involved in the Shelf2Life project, not to mention a heck of a lot of ISBNs – for the e-text, for the hard cover, for the soft cover, for the online edition, etc. There are also multiple sources of metadata, multiple formats, and many questions still to be answered regarding server and system security from the prospective of a profit-oriented vendor. The meeting – and attendees – were upbeat and positive, while we hammered out what we all thought we needed to know more about…

There is some homework, certainly future meetings, and some continued testing…but, all in all, it appears to be an interesting project. Now, I just have to lobby for the members’ royalties from the sale of these works to be dedicated to the on-going storage and preservation costs of these texts…Another “fray” to be sure!

DataLink Issue 152 (July 2009)

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

A heavily ADR-focused issue of DataLink, the Alliance’s newsletter, is now available here.

The Name Game: Consortial and Institutional Identity-Making in the ADR

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Identity is becoming the major focus of our repository and member interests. Or, I should say, it always has been a major focus, but as we have been building the preservation, management, and discovery and access foundations, it hasn’t had the same resources directed towards it as other components, since internally it has been seen as a bit more “finish” than “foundation.” Both are important (who wants to live in a house with unpainted walls?), but from a functional perspective we’ve been working on getting the repository up and running and stable…

At each step of ADR construction to date, though, we have incorporated features and taken actions that will support institutional branding/skinning, as well as scoped management and preservation activities. Unfortunately, these are mostly about function and have little visible impact on the oh-so-important-to-stakeholders “curb appeal,” but the need for that curb appeal and the programmatic support for has always been on the horizon and speeding straight toward us!

It may not be immediately apparent, but to ultimately get to the “my banner” and “my colors here” level of activity, the Alliance already has reworked Fedora and Fez code to accommodate institutional “buckets” for data deposit, storage, and management under Fedora. We have also made a commitment to providing customizable, best practice driven metadata profiles for a variety of material types, with the hope that one institution’s image object is both interoperable within and beyond the ADR community, while also meeting local needs. This translates to a lot of code, a lot of cloning of XSDs, and a lot of hand-holding of the relationship between Fedora and Fez.

We recently decided to pursue individual Fez instances on top of the consortial Fedora instance, to better support branding as well as security, authentication, and administration. This decision was not made lightly, as it presents a bit of a management challenge, but the gains, we feel, outweigh the costs. Multiple Fezzes has always been seen a s a “Plan B” – which inevitably has become THE plan. Our initial foray into reworking a single Fez to support not just “a look” but large chunks of underlying functionality supporting searching, browsing, administration, and authentication was more than we – or the web interactive firm we contracted out to – could do.

Each of these individual Fezzes will also have its own “name” and identity…along the lines of “DigitalUNC,” “CU Scholarship,” or maybe “BooneDocs?” (The last has been vetoed, I believe, by the powers that be at DU…but I thought it was pretty clever….DU’s recently resurrected mascot is “Denver Boone”). It will also have its own LDAP configuration, if desired, as well as its own material type templates (XSDs), communities, collections, and workflows. Essentially, from the “curb” it will appear as though every institution will have its own repository.

In October 2006, the Board of Directors of the Alliance approved a plan for the ADR that included two related, yet somewhat conflicting, deliverables – a branded interface to the repository for each member library/institution (see above) AND a consortial view that brought together all of the diverse, yet complimentary open access materials that could aid the end-user in their research, whether they be the casual “K to Gray” visitor, or the hard-core researcher… So, we add a consortial interface to the list of institutional interfaces…easy, right? We’ll see…

From a functionality perspective, initially, we thought we’d add another Fez instance and index all open Fedora objects into it, but now we are leaning toward an OAI-like (or maybe OAI with no “like”…) service – the simpler the better…

In the identity building process, it’s also time to start “branding” that consortial repository interface, much like the individual member interfaces. To date, ADR has meant the whole repository service, the Fez Interface, and Fedora repository – and any combination thereof. We tried to call the Fez interface ADRLib – but its gained little traction and we’ve heard that it is confusing. I’ve been bouncing around a couple of ideas internally, looking for traction – my goal is to come up with a name for web presence/user interface for the consortial aggregator of open repository content.

So, name-wise, what do you think of…

…MINeR: Multi-Institution Networked Repository?

This is an obvious play on the Alliance’s love of mining themed products: Prospector, Goldrush…turned into a somewhat sensible acronym

or

…ProspectorPlus?

More than once George has described the ADR as being like the existing Union Catalog for “digital stuff” – although the ADR is much more than that, for discovery and redirection for access purposes, it does make sense…

I’m hoping our member library representatives have some additional ideas we can knock around on Friday at our monthly steering committee meetings…

Pipes and Switches

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

Recently, the Alliance migrated its Internet connection from two T1s to a 10 MB connection on the Front Range GigaPop’s uPop service, and in the process switched IP addresses for its 20+ servers. All things considered, the move went very smoothly and connectivity performance has exponentially improved. The ADR service experienced one small hiccup in the migration, as an unrelated switch malfunction slowed performance down significantly for all ADR “reads and writes” and initially left us scratching our heads about why the ADR service slowed down when everything else sped up! With a “switch work around” in place, we are now seeing upload times of the ADR being 7-10 times faster than before the uPop migration…and are very pleased!