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Today marks a major milestone in Stanford University LIbraries' ability to provide easy and seamless access to digital collections.  As of today, digital collections will begin appearing in SearchWorks, the Libraries' discovery interface. This means that collections can be discovered in the course of searching and browsing through the totality of Stanford's library collection. For example, a search on the "burning of San Francisco" will not only turn up books, videos and conference proceedings, but also a 1906 lithograph of the city burning, from the Reid Dennis collection.  
 
Because each collection item links to its parent collection object within SearchWorks, researchers can easily discover and browse through entire digital collections, such as this set of 1,402 portraits from the Leon Kolb collection, just by discovering any item from the collection.  This is a signifcant enhancement to scholars' abilities to see "items in context" and for discovering related items.   
 
Prior to this major SearchWorks enhancement our digital collections were available either through special digital collections web sites, such as http://collections.stanford.edu/, or through PURL (persistent URL) pages for individual objects, such as this 18th century map of California as an Island: http://purl.stanford.edu/hm809qj3660
 
A big part of the work leading up to these additions is creating the pipeline to add future collections automatically to SearchWorks. Next month we expect the advent of more new collections for manuscripts, maps and data sets, and then an ever increasing flow of records. 

It should come as no surprise that University Archives is brimming with a diverse body of digital content gathered from all corners of Stanford, files documenting student life, campus affairs, and the administration of the University. Since his introduction to SDR Self-Deposit, University Archivist Daniel Hartwig has made frequent use of the system to preserve and provide access to these historic materials. Here are some deposits of particular interest:

  • Project MKULTRA collection - Documents related to Stanford’s involvement in covert research projects on mind control conducted by the CIA during the Cold War.
  • Stanford Commencement Collection - Transcripts of commencement speeches delivered on The Farm, including the speech by George Elliot Howard at the second commencement in 1893.
  • The Stanford Flipside - A complete set of the Flipside’s weekly newspaper edition. Readers in Canada can now access the back issues for free!

Many more interesting items from University Archives are available and preserved in the SDR. In fact, Daniel's enthusiastic engagement with the SDR has won him the honor of depositing the 100th item using the online deposit system.  Kudos, Daniel, and thanks for helping us to reach this milestone! 

This week, while things were otherwise quiet at Stanford due to Spring Break, 35 technologists from 20 institutions* descended upon Stanford for our annual library developers' (un)conference: LibDevConX, hosted by SUL's Digital Library Systems & Services group. For the fourth year in a row, the event brought together some of the best and brightest technical experts from different places with like concerns, to explore needs, common solutions, and learn from each others' innovations. This year, topics included: 

  • comparing media and digital asset management solutions
  • the latest features in Hydra 6
  • exploring Hydra-not-on-Fedora
  • what it would take to replace DSpace with a Hydra head
  • requirements for a robust digital exhibits engine
  • image interoperability
  • effective approaches to testing web front-ends
  • performance tuning for Ruby on Rails apps
  • successful recipes for devOps

The event site is online at http://lib.stanford.edu/ldcx4, and notes are being posted in GitHub at https://github.com/ldcx/ldcx-2013 Work on some of the many ideas generated at the event has already begun, and will be coming to a digital library system near you in the coming quarters. 

 

*CDL, Cornell, Columbia, Digital Curation Experts, the Danish Royal Library, Danish Technical University, Duke, the Getty Research Institute, Harvard, Indiana University, MIT, Notre Dame, NYU, Oregon State, Penn State, Princeton, the Southern California Chinese American Society, University of Virginia, and WGBH

 

We’re pleased to share the news of today’s official release of the Bassi Veratti digital collection website. A video highlighting the historical import of the project and resulting site can be viewed on youtube . A version with narration in Italian is also available via youtube.

The digital Bassi Veratti Collection was first conceived in 2010 through discussion between the Stanford University Libraries, the Biblioteca comunale dell’Archiginnasio di Bologna (Archiginnasio) and the Istituto per i Beni Artistici, Culturali e Naturali della Regione Emilia-Romagna (IBC) along with Stanford Professor of History, Paula Findlen. Its development was truly an international collaboration, with the Archiginnasio providing the archive itself, its inventory and expertise about the collection’s contents, history, and arrangement, and Stanford librarians, digital technology specialists and web application designers and engineers transforming the inventory into a digital finding aid, managing the digitization work from afar, and conceptualizing and creating the bilingual discovery and delivery interface. The IBC provided regular support for the initiative, thanks to considerable experience gained through international projects.

In the eighteenth century, Laura Bassi was a scientist, professor at the University of Bologna, and member of the Bologna Academy of Sciences. Among the very first female professional scholars, her life (1711 - 1778) and work can tell us much about the personal and professional lives of early women scientists, their place in Enlightenment intellectual networks, as well as the spread of Newtonian physics in the Italian peninsula. Stanford history professor Paula Findlen is currently completing a scholarly biography on Laura Bassi.

The Bassi Veratti Collection website features high-resolution digital images of the complete contents of the Bassi e famiglia Veratti Archive presented in a robust discovery and delivery environment. This remarkable project managed by the Digital Library Systems and Services department (DLSS) is notable for the extent of cooperation with colleagues in Bologna. A fully bilingual website, it showcases the fresh approach taken by DLSS engineers to use existing open source technologies in exposing this richly-described archival collection to researchers. 672 letters, diplomas, poems, and other documents have been digitized, while the detailed inventory created by Archiginnasio archivists has been transformed into a fully indexed search interface to the collection. These two components have been seamlessly united in an intuitive and well designed scholarly website.  For a full description of the technologies in use throughout the project and on the website, please refer to the technical summary on the site.

To celebrate the culmination of this important collaboration and the launch of the website, and to shine a spotlight on this remarkable woman on her 300th birthday, “The Papers of Laura Bassi and her Family: The Digitization of the Bassi Veratti Collection” will take place in Bologna on 20-21 March 2013. Findlen and University Librarian Michael Keller will be among the dignitaries and speakers participating.

The project was supported by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Marini Foundation, and Silicon Valley executive Guerrino de Luca (who serves on the Libraries Advisory Council). The contents of the digital Bassi Veratti archive will be permanently preserved in the Stanford Digital Repository.

 

Imagine this scenario:

You worked hard on your research project and are publishing your results in a well-respected journal. You even go so far as to carefully organize the supporting data so that you can share the details of your experiments with others by posting these data online on your web space at Stanford. And you publish that URL in your journal article so everyone will know where to go.

Time passes, and you move on to another institution and another research project. But your data no longer has a home. Once you leave Stanford your web space is no longer accessible. Other researchers find your paper and are interested in your data, but when they type in the URL, all they see is a big ugly notice that says, "Access Denied."

The Oversized Imaging Lab has recently imaged a 70 x 90 inch rolled Map of Santa Clara County from 1914.

It was shot in 108 tiles and stitched together to create a 600 ppi, 55554 x 42686 or 2.371 gigapixel, 7.11 GB digital surrogate. This is the largest object we have imaged in the Map Scanning Lab thus far - it is an exciting milestone!

There are approximately 40 more oversize rolled maps in the Branner Map Collections that are waiting to be digitized. These maps are challenging from an access standpoint due to their cumbersome size.  As the Assistant Map Librarian Jane Ingalls put it "these maps are so large that the patron can't see the center of the Map when it is laid out on a table for viewing and it is hard to get to the center with a magnifying glass." Digitization solves this problem!

The Stanford Digital Repository Self-Deposit service has only been in use for a handful of weeks, and we already see a number of deposits that underscore the needs of Stanford researchers for a central, longterm home where they can archive and share the results of their work. Take this dataset in the Folding@home collection, submitted last week by T.J. Lane.

Lane and his colleagues in the Pande Lab published a 2011 article in the Journal of the American Chemical Society about one of the exciting outcomes of the Folding@home project. While the article is accessible online via the journal web site, the same cannot be said for the data upon which the published findings are based. 

Many scholarly journals do not offer supplemental data hosting services for their authors. This gap creates an awkward situation for both researchers and the readers of their publications. How can other scientists investigate the reproducibility of the research without access to the underlying data? How can others explore the data to build on it, to uncover new discoveries? How can research groups effectively manage their collective work over time as team members, and their desktop computers, come and go?

Enter the SDR. As Lane explained in an unsolicited promotion to his peers, "The primary benefit of [depositing in the SDR] is to ensure that your data live on forever (even after graduation!) and are easily available to whomever. For anyone who's had to go digging for data when someone asks for it, or had to ask another group for their data …, the benefits should be clear. Hope you'll join me as an adopter of SDR!"

The SDR team is particularly pleased to be involved in sustaining the Folding@home research, which has pioneered methods for studying protein structural dynamics in disease research. "Since its launch on October 1, 2000, the Pande lab has produced [over] 109 scientific research papers as a direct result of Folding@home", according to Wikipedia. We expect the Folding@home collection in the SDR will grow as this vital research continues. We also are confident that it will lead to deposits by other research projects: word-of-mouth is clearly a primary way of spreading news about the SDR self-deposit service to researchers around campus.

The Lane data deposit is one of several that came to the SDR as a result of a data archiving pilot now underway in an important collaboration between the SDR team, Data Management Services and the Social Science Data Service.  We have three other research data deposits like this one already completed or nearly so.  

This post is the first in a series featuring notable SDR deposits as the data pilot continues and as the Self-Deposit service rolls out. 

 

In an unassuming low-rise building on a side street in Naples, Florida sits the Revs Institute.  The Institute, which is open to invited scholars and guests, houses a collection of fully restored historically significant automobiles, as well as a library containing images, books and ephemera.  Since the images are carefully stored, many as negatives, a large number of them may not have been seen since they were taken.  Up until now, this entire collection was housed under one roof, one large hurricane away from being damaged or lost. 

We haven't yet figured out how to digitally preserve automobiles, but digitization of the large and unique image collection of the Revs Institute is underway.  Working with Pixel Acuity and the Revs Institute, over 100,000 images representing over 1 terabyte of data have been digitized and preserved in the Stanford Digital Repository (SDR) in just over a year since the project began.  The Revs Digital Library website, built on top of SDR by engineers in the Stanford University Libraries,  allows users to search and view all the images.  The website is currently available only to members of the Stanford University community.

Each image can be viewed at full resolution using the zoom and pan controls familiar to users of Google Maps.  Collections can also be browsed or viewed in a slideshow format.  Next we plan to engage the automotive community by adding tools to help improve the metadata, thus adding additional value to the collection.

The initial internal launch of the Revs Digital Library is an important milestone - not only does it ensure these images will be preserved for the future, it also makes them readily available to scholars in the Revs Program at Stanford for research purposes. 

But the work is only beginning. Over the next three years, along with additional tools and features, another 300,000 images are expected to become available in the digital library.  And the history of the automobile will continue to be preserved for future generations.

 

 

 

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