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Lake Surprise Research by Daniel Ibarra from http://purl.stanford.edu/zd652gs8988

It is no longer a surprise how ancient lakes in the western US -- such as Lake Surprise -- managed to become so large. Research undertaken by Daniel Ibarra, a graduate student working at the time with Kate Maher, assistant professor of geological and environmental sciences, showed that the root cause was a lower rate of evaporation than we see today.

See: Wayne, Charlotte.  Determining parentage in a population of harvester ants.  Department of Biology, Stanford University, 2014.  http://purl.stanford.edu/bm095mq0480

Starting with the Class of 2014, the Department of Biology is depositing undergraduate senior honors theses in the Stanford Digital Repository (SDR).  In May and June, 49 students deposited theses in the department’s Senior Honors Theses Collection.

English Department

The English Department was delighted this year to begin offering its honors students the opportunity to deposit their theses in Stanford Digital Repository.  We are excited that SDR has given us a new opportunity to celebrate, share, and preserve the accomplishments of our undergraduates.

Student reception

2014 Honors theses written by undergraduates in Engineering were self-deposited by the authors for the first time this year. Stanford Electrical Engineering and BioEngineering students were quick off the mark to get their draft deposits ready for final check and inclusion in the SDR archive.  2014 research topics range from Deer Antler Genetics to Thermionic Emitters.

The benefits of having a PURL (permanent URL) for their digital honors thesis which they can include in resumes, CVs, and grad school applications is something students really appreciate.  It preserves their research for the future and makes it easy to share with others, if they choose.

The five theses submitted this year are now available in SearchWorks alongside 30 digital honors theses from prior years collected and deposited in the SDR by Terman Library staff.

Eight new digital collections are now available in SearchWorks. Several of these collections take advantage of recently enhanced functionality which better integrates material in the Stanford Digital Repository with data contained in Symphony and enables discovery of and access to media files.

Screen shot of Maps of Africa exhibit front page

The Stanford University Libraries (SUL) is pleased to announce the release of Spotlight, an innovative solution that enables libraries and other cultural heritage institutions to build online exhibits from content in their repositories to better highlight their digital collections.

Spotlight is a plugin for Blacklight, which is a popular open source solution for building library discovery environments.  Spotlight enhances Blacklight by providing a self-service forms-based user interface that allows exhibit-builders, such as librarians or faculty, to customize the search interface and homepage, and to build media-rich feature pages to better contextualize their collections. 

Stanford first announced the development of Spotlight in early February of 2014, following a months long process of design and community outreach to validate the need for such a solution in the digital library community and obtain feedback on our approach.  This was followed by a twelve-week cycle of software development that has culminated in the release of Spotlight version 0.1.0, available as open source software on Github.

This first release of Spotlight is best suited to featuring digitized still image collections.  The first production exhibit built with Spotlight was recently completed by SUL's Digital and Rare Maps Librarian, and features a spectacular set of digitized maps of Africa.  A brief video tour of this first online exhibit can be viewed on YouTube.


Spotlight enables an exhibit builder to heavily customize many elements of the user experience, and to build rich feature and about pages to give viewers a deeper understanding of the collection and its items.  This YouTube video gives a tour of Spotlight from the exhibit-builder's perspective, and demonstrates many of the available customization features.


The 0.1.0 release of Spotlight is only the beginning.  Our goal at Stanford is to work with library staff and content experts to build several more sites in the coming months as a way to user-test the software, identify bugs and enhancement opportunities, and most importantly to begin exposing more of Stanford Libraries' rich image resources.  We are also working with peer institutions to adopt and test this first version with the intention that Spotlight will grow as a community supported, open-source solution. We encourage you to download it, give it a try, and send us feedback.

And certainly the engineering work is far from complete.  There is a backlog of issues to address and several areas we have identified for future development:

  • Selection and indexing : the tools and workflow for adding new content to a Spotlight index and updating metadata as it changes in the repository. 
  • Support for more content types : Spotlight currently supports digital still image collections, and we hope to add support for audio, video, PDF, datasets, geospatial objects, web archives and more.  
  • Theming : the ability for builders to choose from multiple visual themes to apply to an exhibit or collection, and to add custom header images and branding. 
  • Repository integration : currently, a Spotlight exhibit can be built on top of any Solr index. Work has begun to more easily create new Spotlight indexes directly from digital repository systems, and to save exhibit-specific metadata and supporting content into repositories. OUr initial integration efforts are focussed on the Fedora repository system, but we hope integration with other platforms will follow.  

Spotlight is being built by an exceptionally talented group of engineers in the Digital Library Systems and Services division of SUL, with support from the software engineering firm Data Curation Experts (DCE).  The team includes Gary Geisler, Chris Beer, Jessie Keck, Jack Reed and Christopher Jesudurai (all from Stanford), and Justin Coyne from DCE.

Follow our progress, or better yet download and install the software at http://github.com/sul-dlss/spotlight.

Send us feedback at exhibits-feedback@lists.stanford.edu.

Black Flag poster

Our blog series highlighting new materials deposited to the Stanford Digital Repository has been on a quasi-hiatus for the last few months. But don't let the quiet fool you: deposit activity in the SDR has been stronger than ever!  In this catch-up post, we draw attention to some of the most exciting items and collections added to the SDR recently. Also keep your eyes open for more Deposit of the Week posts throughout the summer! A number of SUL staffers have been working hard to build digital collections of current work by Stanford students and faculty through the use of the SDR Online Deposit application, and they are going to tell you all about it.

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