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The Stanford University Libaries is one of the founding partners of the International Image Interoperability Framework (http://iiif.io), which aims to enable broad access to cultural heritage images on the web. This exciting initiative is in its fifth year and is beginning to have an impact on the way digital images are used to support research and teaching.  The IIIF editors recently released version 2.0 the IIIF API's, which is a major step towards creating a stable and sustainable technology framework for image interoperability.   

To celebrate this progress, the IIIF community is hosting a one day information sharing event at the British Library about the use of images in and across cultural heritage institutions.  The day will focus on how museums, galleries, libraries and archives, or any online image service, can take advantage of a powerful technical framework for interoperability between image repositories.   This event will be valuable for organizational decision makers, repository and collection managers, software engineers, and anyone interested in exploring the wide range of use cases that are seamlessly enabled by the framework.  

Attendance is free, and widespread dissemination of the event is encouraged.

A detailed program is available at http://iiif.io/event/2014/london.html and those interested can register to attend at http://bit.ly/iiiflondon2014.

 

Yesterday, (Sunday, September 7, 2014), SearchWorks 3.0 was released. This marks a near-complete rewrite of the SearchWorks application, and the first major update to the look and feel of SearchWorks in four years. With the new release come numerous enhancements to the Stanford Libraries' catalog. Highlights of the new features include...

Mobile-friendly

The new SearchWorks interface is optimized for any size screen--from phone to tablet to laptop to cinema-sized display. Fonts and line spacing have been enhanced to work for touch navigation on small screens, and "jump to" links and expandable menus have been added in key places to assist with navigation for users on any device. 

Search results 

Search results pages now feature more information, and more actionable information, to help patrons accomplish key tasks more quickly. An expandable panel reveals summary information with a single click, letting users browse more easily across large result sets. Brief location information is available at a glance, and detailed information (including location, call number, availability and request links when applicable) with a single click.  

Gallery view & Brief view

In addition to the normal view, search results now also include an updated "gallery view" (for a page of thumbnail images) and "brief view" (for a concise list of titles, call numbers and locations). Each of these presents an expandable "preview" pane that provides more information on any item with a single click--all without leaving the search results screen. 

Detailed record view

The detailed record view has been dramatically updated, and factors in several years of user feedback and usability study. The record view has been reduced to a simpler two-column layout with a logical information flow; jump-to links make it easy to navigate very long records. The display of item location (with request links, where applicable) has been streamlined, and location information now links to each holding library's web page on the Stanford Libraries website, along with Today's Hours (also powered by the library website). 

Browse related items

For several years, one of SearchWorks' key features has been the ability to "browse by call number", and view similarly classified items regardless of where they are physically shelved. This feature was often overlooked, however, as it was tucked into the left-most corner of the detailed record view. With SearchWorks 3.0, this information is now prominently displayed at the bottom of each record page with a scrolling film strip.

Integration with the Library website

Integrating the information and services from the Libraries' website with SearchWorks was a major design objective. In addition to crosslinking library web pages and hours (see above), patrons can now open up a "chat with a librarian" session when offering feedback, or if they hit zero search results. The main navigation of Library.stanford.edu is available from an expandable menu in SearchWorks' top menu. 

Digital collections

Digital collections have a much improved display in SearchWorks, reflecting SUL's rapidly growing materials in this space. In addition to being able to browse across all digital collections easily, viewing collection details and searching within a collection is now easier and richer than ever. See the Bob Fitch photo archive record or search within it, for examples. 

New "resource type" and "media type" facets

The "format" facet in the previous version of SearchWorks had a somewhat uneven mix of resource types (e..g., "image"), media type (e.g., "microformats") and genre (e.g., "thesis"), including less than helpful or antiquated categories, like "other" and "computer file". The new SearchWorks now breaks these into different facet families: Resource Type features human-friendly categories for items by which patrons might typically search (book, dataset, image, map, newspaper, etc.) while Media Type indicates the physical container of the object (microfilm, DVD, CD, Blu-Ray, etc.). 

Advanced Search

The Advanced Search page has been simplified, with updated instructions on power search techniques (AND, +, truncation and wildcarding, e.g.)

Zero results page

When searches can't find any matches, the zero results page now offers suggested alternate searches that might have some results, as well as helpful links to other sources, such as WorldCat or "Chat with a Librarian". 

In addition to all of the above, there are numerous other features and enhancements throughout the application. The redesign also positions SearchWorks to add new functionality in the future, including more "browse" views, article / finding aid / website search, and augmenting records with more data.

The redevelopment effort also had the happy effect of reducing the total amount of code in SearchWorks, increasing the test coverage and number of team members capable of contributing to SearchWorks, increasing the amount of shared code with Blacklight (the open source application on which SearchWorks is based).

The SearchWorks team will continue to make enhancements and monitor feedback related to the release over the coming weeks and months. 

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.

Spotlights in the Centre Ceramique, Maastricht

by Stu Snydman & Gary Geisler

The Stanford University Libraries (SUL) have a rich and diverse collection of digital content. Users can discover collections and content from the Stanford Digital Repository through the library website, library catalog (SearchWorks), and persistent citation (PURL) pages. SUL also develops robust, custom-built websites for selected  collections (see Parker on the Web and the French Revolution Digital Archive) that provide a rich discovery environment and a range of features that enable users to more effectively work with the collection items. But these sites require significant investment in time and development resources to produce and maintain, limiting the number and variety SUL can support.

Creating a last minute gift and you need that perfect photo? Search Flickr Creative Commons portal, Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online, Clip Art, and stock photos sites through the University of Washington's Images libguide.

DRAFT of wire frame for ePADD program.

SUL’s Special Collections received an Innovation Grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission to develop a software program (ePADD) for processing and making email archives discoverable. The end goal is to produce an open-source tool that will allow repositories and individuals to interact with email archives before and after they have been transferred to a repository. It would consist of four modules, each based on a different functional activity: Processing (arrangement and description), Appraisal (collection development), Discovery (online via the web), and Delivery (access).  

The project website was launched in August 2013 and lists: project goals, work plan, team, and collaborators. A twitter feed for the project was just launched although project updates and news will primarily be posted iSpecial Collections Unbound.  

Results from browsing lexicon keywords.

Since its inception in the early 1970s, email has become a durable form of communication – one that presents a massive problem for donors, repositories, and researchers. Over 140 billion email messages are sent every day, and many, if not all have research value as part of an archival collection. Email is used for more than just communication. It is used for collaboration, planning, sharing, conducting transactions, and as an aid to memory – a self-archive. It documents relationships – personal, business, and communal. Our reliance on and daily use of email over the past 40 years has developed rich archival material with a secondary benefit of recording social networks in the header information of senders and recipients.

The Department of Special Collections at SUL proposes to address important facets of stewarding email archives that have not been tackled in previous projects. Characteristics of email such as its relatively stable format standardization as well as the inherent structure itself – header, body, attachments – make email an ideal candidate for automated tools to support archival workflows, such as appraisal and processing, as well as benefitting the user through discovery and delivery. 

Last week Stanford open sourced the code responsible for the Nearby on Shelf feature in SearchWorks as the Blacklight Browse Nearby gem.  This feature has been highly sought after by various Blacklight institutions to be contributed back to the community.  In keeping with the spirit of the vibrant open source community around Blacklight, Stanford has contributed the development effort to get this codebase available for use and contribution by other Blacklight implementers.

The release of this software was the culmination of a re-write of the SearchWorks code making it an installable package, more generalizable, and suitable in an open source context.  Due to that fact, the end product is much more generic that SearchWorks'  version (as you can see in the side-by-side screenshots below with SearchWorks being on the right) however it is infinitely more customizable.

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