A Retrospective of the 2018 ELUNA Conference


The Ex Libris Users of North America (ELUNA) hold an annual meeting for the regional user group of Ex Libris in the United States and Canada. Steelsen Smith, Technical Lead for Client Services and IT Operations, attended the conference this past in May and has written about the sessions and news from the conference.

Continue Reading A Retrospective of the 2018 ELUNA Conference

Library IT Out and About

The last six weeks have been a productive period for many staff members in Library IT — they have been traveling to various conferences to hone their craft and learn new skills.

Continue Reading Library IT Out and About

Workgroup Presents at Boston Regional ArchivesSpace Forum

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.

Continue Reading Workgroup Presents at Boston Regional ArchivesSpace Forum

Highlights from Samvera Connect 2017

Several of Library IT’s staff attended the Samvera Connect 2017 conference in Chicago, this past November 6-9th.  The conference had nearly 200 attendees from over 90 institutions, representing mostly higher-education institutions but a few corporate, non-profit and government agencies were in attendance as well. The Samvera Connect conference is an opportunity for users of the Samvera framework to come together to share knowledge, collaborate in technical development, and build the Samvera community.

The 2017 Samvera Connect conference offered many new changes — a new name, new tools and a new framework. Starting with the name, Samvera is the new name for Hydra, the open-source framework Yale University Library uses for digital collections discovery, FindIt.

The Stack Is Getting a Makeover 

Currently, Samvera  has 3 major components:

  • the Fedora repository software as the repository layer.
  • Solr indexes, providing quick access to information about an institution’s resources.
  • Blacklight, a Ruby on Rails plugin that sits above Solr and provides faceted searching, browsing and tailored views on objects.

Announced at the conference, coming late spring of 2018, Samvera will be rolling out a new framework and tools. In the new paradigm, institutions will have the ability to implement one or all of the components in the framework to develop a repository.

New Tools:

  • Hyrax: the user interface around common repository features. This tool replaces Blacklight. This tool can be used independent of the other components and gives developers one consistent tool to use to create solutions instead of disparate home-grown ones. Hyrax continues to use Fedora 4 and Solr.
  • Hyku: a complete turn-key repository solution
  • Valkyrie: a new tool that enables multiple backends for storage of files and metadata

Library IT staff conference attendees were:

  • Nadia Boumahdi, Application Programmer
  • Martin Lovell, Application Programmer
  • Tracy MacMath, User Interface Programmer
  • George Ouellette, Digital Collections and Repository Service Manager
  • Kalee Sprague, Senior Systems Librarian for Integrated Access

The consensus among the group was that there will be exciting developments to watch for in the Samvera community over the next year.

Library IT Presents at the IGeLU Conference

This past September, Cindy Greenspun, Chairperson of the Voyager Product Working Group for Ex Libris Users of North America (ELUNA), presented at the International Group of Ex Libris Users (IGeLU) conference held in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The conference was hosted by the National Library of Russia. The IGeLU conference is a venue for users of Ex Libris products to come together collectively to learn from other institutions as well as advocate for changes.  The IGeLU conference draws a wide representation from over 350 institutions worldwide, with user groups in over 40 countries participating.

ELUNA is the regional user group for Ex Libris in the United States and Canada.  The ELUNA /IGeLU Voyager Product Working Group meets monthly to discuss product upgrades and enhancements.  Ex-Libris works with the user groups to gather important input on their products. The Voyager Product Working Group leadership is comprised of both ELUNA and IGeLU members. Not all regional or national user groups sit together with their international counterparts in IGeLU on product working groups, but others are starting to follow this model for increased communication.

National Library of Russia

Cindy Greenspun, Business Systems Analyst in Library IT, gave two presentations; her first presentation was to discuss the  ELUNA /IGeLU Voyager Product Working Group accomplishments for 2017 and the goals for the upcoming year — a requirement as Chairperson. The highlight of the presentation was moving the Voyager User Group to use the Ex Libris Development Network, a forum created by Ex Libris for users to communicate with one another and share ideas.

In Cindy’s second presentation, she partnered with Aleph Chairperson Allen Jones from The New School. Jones and Greenspun gave presentations on how each of  their institutions made the transition from Oracle to Workday. Cindy’s focus was on the Workday and Voyager integration.

This was Cindy’s second attendance at a IGeLU Conference and she commented “It is beneficial to see how other organizations are using the same product and learn about innovative workflows. . . . “I learn something new every year.”

The 2018 ELUNA Conference will be held in Spokane, Washington, from May 1-5th. For more information on how to register see their site. Ex Libris announced it will be offering attendance grants for first-time attendees at ELUNA meetings, including the upcoming 2018 meeting in Spokane, Washington.

For more information about the Voyager Product Working Group, ELUNA and IGeLU, contact Cindy Greenspun at cindy.greenspun@yale.edu.

Improving Accessibility of Digital Resources

This past June, Yale colleagues attended a NERCOMP workshop, Web Accessibility in Higher Education, in Norwood, Massachusetts. The focus of the one-day workshop was improving accessibility of digital resources in higher education. Two Yale staff members were presenters at the workshop, Lisa Sawin, Director of User Experience & Digital Strategy, and Michael Harris, Information Architect also at User Experience & Digital Strategy. Lisa Sawin gave an overview of accessibility and why it is important. Micheal Harris followed up with information on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), guidelines for creating accessible digital resources.

Also in attendance from Yale was Tracy MacMath, User Interface Programmer at Library IT. Tracy’s attendance was sponsored by DiversAbility at Yale also known as DAY. DAY creates an open and inclusive environment for all individuals impacted by disability through engagement, education and advocacy. DAY is open to all Yale staff, faculty, and postdocs, with or without a disability.

The workshop was designed to educate designers, developers and administrators. The workshop also provided tools and resources to improve the accessibility of an institution’s digital content. The workshop attendees were well represented drawing from a variety of roles and perspectives.

One large takeaway of the workshop was with the demonstration of a screen reader, which allows blind or visually impaired users to hear the content of the page read to them through a speech synthesizer. The demo reviewed a website to see how accessible it was for blind or visually impaired users.  Attendees were able to experience the difficulty in accessing information that blind or visually impaired users would experience if a page was not structured properly.  The demonstration illustrated how important accessibility is when creating digital resources for higher education, the resources need to be accessible for all end users. It is the core mission of an educational institution to provide equal access to educational opportunities.

Links to Resources:

DiversAbility at Yale
Email DAY for more information.

For more information about developing and designing for accessibility you can visit ITS’s webpage at: http://usability.yale.edu/.

Stanford Hosts Geo4LibCamp 2017

On the week of January 29 Stanford hosted geo4libcamp where 48 people of similar but varying persuasions convened with the common goal of building repository services for geospatial data. Introductions included naming 3 personal interests and “discovery”, “metadata” were among the most frequently cited. The format was of “unconference” design Monday through Wednesday with additional sessions Thursday and Friday. There were 6 planned presentations, a round of lightning talks, a morning spent at the Rumsey Map Center, and unconference planning that determined the 10 unconference sessions chosen by popular demand. Additional sessions included an introduction and tutorial on Geoblacklight, hydra plugin development, and selling the importance of geodata repository to administrators. For more details of the week see: https://geo4libcamp2017.sched.com.

Geoblacklight is an open source GIS discovery platform for geospatial holdings built on the blacklight discovery application and solr index. At Yale, the Library Executive Committee has made creating a Geoblacklight instance a high priority and it was assuring to see that the community is moving with concerted effort in that direction. Highlighted throughout the week were the common challenges, from technically standing up the software stack, metadata best practices, sharing and interoperability, to specific issues with scanned maps, indexed maps, and hierarchical data. One key takeaway was the compelling argument to adopt geoconcerns: It leverages the existing hydra/sufia/hyrax model, there was a critical mass of buy-in and support, the data model is robust, and the infrastructure and architecture are well defined. Through contributing to the community effort and custom development at Yale with the Ladybird collection management tool and existing metadata, a geoblacklight/geoconcerns solution holds much promise as a leading application to offer Yale patrons in the geospatial realm.

Hydra Connect 2016

Hydra Project
This week, from October 3rd to October 6th, Boston Public Library hosted the Hydra Connect 2016 conference. Project Hydra is a repository solution managing components involved in storing and providing access to digital content. Project Hydra can be described in broad terms as the confluence of community and collaboration made manifest in the development of open source software, and the conference brought together close to 200 people from institutions across the globe to connect. Seven people attended from Yale Library, Mike Friscia, Anju Meenattoor, Lakeisha Robinson, George Ouellette, Youn Noh, Osman Din, and Eric James.

The conference was organized as workshops on Monday, a plenary session Tuesday morning, a poster session Tuesday afternoon, multi-tracked presentations/panels/lightning talks Wednesday, and breakout sessions Thursday. Topics were varied but commonly themed. There was discussion of service management and project management taking into consideration issues such as adoption, migration, and upgrade paths. There was a focus on the learning, sharing and best practices of the technology itself – the software stack, infrastructure, deployment, and monitoring. Much of the presentation centered around the community efforts driving base applications such as the Sufia institutional repository, the Avalon AV system, and the Fedora repository. Content specific challenges were addressed from both an an abstract modeling perspective to the unique considerations of GIS assets, newspapers, images, AV materials, and research data, through frameworks such as the PCDM/hydra works and the IIIF specifications.

The enthusiasm was palpable and the project hydra motto “if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together” was evident, but in many ways there what prevailed was a constant tension between customization and consolidation – the need for diverse institutions to implement a variety of special features while simultaneously developing towards an easily maintainable common core. In any case the takeaways from the conference will influence the direction of services provided by the Yale Library longterm, from the digital collections interface FindIT, the Yale instance of the AV Avalon Platform, to the unified search interface Quicksearch.