Digital Initiatives Symposium

usdDigitalI went to the Digital Initiatives Symposium on April 27-28 at the University of San Diego.  I’d like to say that I learned a lot but really I didn’t.  The symposium centered around the concept of Digital Humanities which according to Wikipedia “is an area of research and teaching at the intersection of computing and the disciplines of the humanities.”  Which is to say that DH is a broad category and difficult to define.  DH initiatives stretch from dissertations and thesis to 360° digital photography. Since Loma Linda University is a not known for its humanities, there were definitely aspects of the symposium that did not have direct parallels for LLU.  My main goals were to learn more about thesis and dissertations and the technical aspects for preservation.  Unfortunately there wasn’t enough focus for me on the technical side.

I attended a workshop on building DH capacity.  I didn’t know what to expect but out of the three offered, I picked this one because it was run by a person from Claremont.  It turned out to be similar to Gamifying a brainstorming session.  The attendees were grouped into teams and we brainstormed ideas on Post-It notes and poster board concerning  what a DH project would be and how to support it.  I was engaging and entertaining but I still do not think I came away with a concrete idea of what DH is.

I am sorry to say but the keynote speaker was not very engaging.  Either I drifted off being still asleep or tuned out but I don’t remember what he said.  He was a last minute substitute for the scheduled speaker who couldn’t make it.

The “Roles and Responsibilities” panel of library directors all came back with a common theme: get the dean or administration behind the digital humanities project.  The university represented were Santa Clara, Northern Iowa and Connecticut College.  They suggested the involvement of the university made the project more encompassing rather than just a library project.  This tended to get more involvement from the faculty.  Make the submission of dissertations into the IR mandatory and part of the process.  Create a sense of urgency to spark administration into action; “we are behind other universities.”

The “Credible Journal Criteria” was presented by Loyola Marymount.  It detailed their need to create a rubric to critically analyze Open Access Journals and give their faculty a means to judge the worthiness of these journals.  I.e. how to distinguish between predatory journals and credible journals.  The rubric was passed out and well received by the audience.  The audience wanted to know if Loyola’s scoring of OAJ would be shared at a latter time.  Parallels were made with Beall’s List of Predatory Publishers.

The “Library as Host” was presented by UNLV.  They went over their process of accepting to be the host of publications but leaving the publishing to the department.  This lets the library be the facilitator and consultant and not the designer and editor.  The request for a new journal goes through a proposal form which details the responsibility of each party.  There is no host fee.  The library may pass along BePress’s publishing fees to the publisher as more publishers request journals; right now it is too soon in the process.

I’d hoped the “Caltech, Digital Libraries of the Future”presentation would have been the most technical and it was but not technical enough to walk away with a plan for our archive.  Caltech uses: ArchiveSpace, ArchiveIt, ePADD, ePrints, Islandora and Invenio-TIND.  They are moving to a Fedora 4 – Islandora CLAW model and in the future moving everything to INVENIO.  Inventio was developed at CERN and is an open source digital library solution.  TIND is a vendor and host that specializes in Inventio.

The last presentation was the BePress user group meeting.  BePress featured advances coming in the digital dashboard and the percentile ranking method to compare each others digital output from previous years and each other.  Selected Works continues to grow.  Moving to include an Expert Finder feature for specialities in fields of study and eventually getting to Faculty Reporting of scholarship including ORCHID IDs.  New features for Digital Commons include: expanded dashboard, real time archive backup with Amazon S3 account, Responsive Re-design and author view dashboard in Selected Works.

The Digital Initiatives Symposium was very well organized and executed.  The facilities were good as well as the food provided.  It was a good value for the money spent.  Next year I would not need to do the workshop.

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Other duties to be assigned

There is always a clause in a job description, “other duties to be assigned;”  this is one of those “other duties.”   I was recently asked to remove a tape from a cassette recorder, yes a cassette recorder.  The eject mechanism broke so that it would not disengage the play head from the tape therefore, trapping the tape in the machine.  The library happened to have another tape player, exactly the same, but with a note on it, “No sound.”   I used the second tape player as a guide and eventually, forcefully, removed the tape undamaged.

But now, there were two broken tape players.  Ah, idea!  Take them apart and salvage the contains of one so that there would be one working player.  It is not like you can just go down to Walmart and pick up a tape player/recorder anymore; you have to make do.

I was eventually able to swap the system boards from the non-sound one with the broken eject one.  In the end, I soldered up one working player.  Here are the remains of the broken one: