As part of the ArchivesSpace Public User Interface (PUI) implementation at Yale University Library, a Usability and Accessibility Workgroup was formed and tasked with assessing the usability and accessibility of the new ArchivesSpace PUI. Set to replace the current Yale Finding Aid Database (YFAD), the PUI presents archival description in a very different way than current static online finding aids.
The second annual Blacklight Summit was held this year at Princeton University on November 2-4. Blacklight is an open source discovery interface used in libraries, museums, and other public institutions. At Yale we use Blacklight both for our Quicksearch discovery service and for the public interface of our Findit Digital Collections repository.
The summit included representatives from 24 institutions from the U.S. and Canada. Two people attended from the Yale Library, Kalee Sprague and Tracy MacMath. The first day of the conference consisted of a morning round-robin of presentations from each institution, followed by an afternoon workshop on best practices for localizing Blacklight. The afternoon workshop was led by Blacklight core developers Chris Beer and Justin Coyne from Stanford. The workshop was also on opportunity to get hands on experience with Blacklight 7.1, a new release of Blacklight expected sometime in late Spring of 2017.
The second day of the conference featured informative presentations on different Solr configurations, the Traject MARC record indexing tool, Blacklight plugins, and other topics, followed by several break-out sessions. One break-out session focused on upgrading to the latest production release of Blacklight, version 6.7. As part of the break-out session, the group worked together to upgrade Yale’s Quicksearch code to release 6.7, which was an exciting and very practical outcome of the Summit. Although the upgrade isn’t completely finished, the workshop resulted in very real progress on the upgrade work currently happening at Yale.
Yale also participated in a breakout session on UX and Blacklight. Many members of the Hydra UX interest group were present, so it was decided that Blacklight-specific UX issues would be discussed by the Hydra UX group rather than a separate Blacklight interest group. Methods of group communication were discussed, including the creation of a GitHub repository for sharing of documents, usability testing results and findings, and anything else of interest.
This past June, the Digital Humanities Summer Institute convened at the University of Victoria in Victoria, BC. For those who are not familiar with DHSI, here is a brief introduction from DHSI’s website:
“Every summer, the institute brings together faculty, staff, and students from the Arts, Humanities, Library, and Archives communities as well as independent scholars and participants from areas beyond. A time of intensive coursework, seminars, and lectures, participants at DHSI share ideas and methods, and develop expertise in using advanced technologies. The Digital Humanities Summer Institute provides an ideal environment for discussing and learning about new computing technologies and how they are influencing teaching, research, dissemination, creation, and preservation in different disciplines, via a community-based approach.”
This year’s gathering was one of the largest in its 15-year history. The Institute was in session for two weeks, and over 50 courses and short workshops were offered. Tracy MacMath of Yale University Library IT attended “Accessibility and Digital Environments”, which explored the theoretical and practical aspects of web accessibility. Students read and discussed key works from disability studies scholarship, and obtained hands-on experience with tools that allowed them to audit their institutions’ websites for compliance with accessibility standards. Some of the auditing tools used were the WAVE Chrome extension and HTML Code Sniffer. Major topics in the course included emerging standards for accessibility in digital environments, the social model of disability, user-centered design, and embodiment.
Both weeks of the Institute concluded with a “show and tell” session in which each class demonstrated what they had learned through interactive projects. The Web Accessibility class performed on-the-spot audits of academic websites, and made the results available to participants, along with suggestions on how to improve compliance with accessibility guidelines.
For those who are interested in attending next year’s sessions, course information can be found on DHSI’s website.