Library Service Overview Updates

Library IT began an initiative last year in 2016 to implement a standard set of documentation for library services establishing expectations and documenting the resources required to provide ongoing operational support. Borrowing elements from service-level agreements, these overviews are internal agreements between the service owner and the library units that support the service, all of whom have an interest in service success and sustainability. These are living documents that will change as the nature of the service evolves.

To date the following services now have approved overviews:

Library IT is working with various stakeholders, user groups, and committees to move forward overviews for Avalon, GFA LAS, FindIt, Emulation as a Service, as well as the MSSA payment gateway application. For existing services, events such as an upgrade, migration, or enhancement will trigger the creation of a new overview should one not already exist. The creation of an overview is now included as a step in the implementation and deployment of new Library IT supported services.

Should you have any questions about these documents or the process Library IT has established, please do not hesitate to reach out to Ray Frohlich at for more information.

Upcoming Staff Departure

It is with humble gratitude and some measure of sadness that Shareq Rashid, Sr. Administrative Assistant at LIT, has announced his resignation from his current position effective Thursday, June 8th, 2017. He will thereafter be transferring to a Senior Executive Assistant position at the Yale Law School’s Office of Development under the tutelage of Mary Matheron, the Associate Dean for Development.

Shareq wishes to thank every single staff member he’s had the privilege of working with over the last two years, for welcoming him into the LIT family and allowing him the autonomy to mold this position into a highly enjoyable professional experience.  As he prepares for his departure, he has committed to extensively documenting each and every process he oversees, in order to  ensure that his successor will be able to hit the ground running.

Shareq hopes to stop by and say goodbye to everybody in the department in person prior to his last day. This visit may or may not coincide with a nudge to provide pending receipts. He also insists that he had nothing to do with the drafting of this blog post.


Recent Staff Departures

The Digital Library & Programming (DL&P) team in Library IT is in the process of addressing the departure of three of its valued members. With the recent departures of Mike Friscia, Osman Din, and Eric James, we will have the following interim reporting structure in DL&P.

On an interim basis, Dale Hendrickson has taken over Mike Friscia’s role managing DL&P, with Kalee Sprague and Lakeisha Robinson serving as interim team leads. Kalee and Lakeisha will be responsible for two teams within the unit to handle day-to-day activities. Kalee’s team will be comprised of Anju Meenattoor and the Programmer III position we are currently in the process of filling. Lakeisha’s team will be comprised of Tracy MacMath and a potential term position. These two teams are designed to be interdependent and will cross allocate workloads.

Despite these vacancies, Library IT staff are making every effort to remain on track with our critical goals while keeping an eye on the future. We thank the YUL community for its understanding as we navigate this period of transition.

New Staff Announcements

Over the last two months, Library IT has had the distinct pleasure of welcoming two new staff members.

In April, Cvetan Terziyski joined us as an IT Support Technician on the Workstation & Technology Services Team in Library IT. Cvetan is originally from Sofia, Bulgaria and has attended the University of Sofia St. Kliment Ohridski, where he earned a Masters’ degree in Computer Science/Information Security.  During his studies, he worked for WEBCOM Consult Ltd., where he provided network administration and desktop support for the Bulgarian subsidiaries of large multinational companies, including but not limited to McDonalds, TEVA Pharmaceuticals, and Starbucks. He also worked extensively with many local firms.  Cvetan moved to the United States in 2016 and was hired as a contractor with Library IT thereafter. He had been working for W&TS for six months as a contractor before being brought on full-time.

On June 5th, Patrick Stone will start at Library in the capacity of a Workflow Analyst/Programmer. In this position, Patrick will work with the Access Services and Technical Services departments to evaluate needs, identify process improvements, and implement technical solutions to improve efficiencies and drive organizational change. Patrick most recently worked at UBS AG in Stamford as a Software Developer/Engineer for the Infrastructure Software Group.  He had significant responsibilities related to application design, engineering, project management, and full life cycle development of server provisioning tools for UBS.  Prior to that he worked for both UBS and Citigroup providing support and development for their global Citrix implementations. Patrick holds a BA in Computer Science from SUNY Oswego, and a MS in Technology Management from Mercer University in Atlanta.

Cvetan and Patrick can be reached at and respectively. We thank all the staff members within and beyond Library IT who contributed to the search process for these positions. Welcome to the Team!

DevOpts for Rails Training

During the week of January 9-12th Rob Kaufman of notch8 led a class on dev-opts attended by developers and sys-admins from the digital library programming group, library IT and central ITS. The focus was on deployment strategies for rails based applications. The class began with an overview the basic components behind applications – servers (apache and nginx), rails modules such as passenger, standalone rails servers (puma, unicorn, thin, and webrick), database components (mysql, postgres, oracle), digital repository (fedora), and index applications (solr). The overview was also framed in terms of 12 factors – codebase, dependencies, config, backing services, build, processes, binding, concurrency, disposability, dev/prod parity, logs, and admin processes. Architecture of the application components was also key to understanding the parts and their various connections.

Deployment workflow traditionally has been a primarily manual process using ssh and command line for codebase, configuration, and server startup. Here we discussed more effective and efficient strategies in depth, namely capistrano, ansible, and docker. Capistrano is a methodology defining servers and basic commands for application code deployment so they’re encapsulated in basic commands. Ansible takes a role based approach that leverages recipes for the building of server components. Docker is a process that runs on top of the operating system kernel where “containers” consisting of the application and server environment are built, shipped and installed using using a basic domain language. In this context we explored continuous integration whereby these processes are integrated across the various environments (development, test, staging, and production) from which a living and breathing application is deployed using the code repositories and server configuration.

For the remainder of the course the class took a deep dive into creating deployment strategies for the main rails applications in the library: quicksearch and findit. As an exercise we broke up into groups and began working on docker implementations. Here we leveraged existing scripts currently in use in vagrant virtual-machine environments and translated them into docker containers. The challenges were many. First, as docker is layer based and built upon existing docker layers, we learned how to search the docker hub as a starting point for building the container, informed by choice of operating system, language, application, and their respective versions. Then through native package managers such as yum and apt-get, we exercised the process of getting all of the native libraries installed. Then the rails application code, including its dependencies in the form of ruby ‘gems’ were bundled in total creating a working docker image. Finally this image and images for external components (such as fedora,solr, mysql, and postgres), and environmental variables were orchestrated together using the docker-compose tool and stack-car convenience API to create a working application. By the end of the week a basic proof of concept for deploying containers using ansible and docker was generated, a pretty significant achievement! It is anticipated that the technology put in place through this week of training will be refined and expanded and what was once a laborious process will be optimized to the benefit all parties involved, developers, sys-admins, and most importantly the end user.

Hydra-In-A-Box Has a New Name!

Re-posted from the Hydra-In-A-Box team by Carol Minton Morris (

Hydra-In-A-Box Project Update                                 Vol 1, Issue 1, December 2016

An email newsletter from the Hydra-in-a-Box team with news and information
about community progress, plans, and pilots.


The Hydra-In-A-Box Project team knew early on that the repository product needed to have a distinct name (What’s in a Name? The Many Facets of Hydra-In-A-Box). We wanted a name that would relate to the Hydra theme, but that would also be distinct and new. Over the course of 2016, we gathered suggestions from the community and had a lot of fun brainstorming (you should see our Slack discussions!). The idea for the name “Hyku” came about during a Cramer family trip to the Grand Canyon. By September, “Hyku” had made it to the project team’s short list, and after an internal project team vote, it was declared the winner.

The new name meets all the key criteria: short, easy to pronounce, starts with “Hy”, will not be confused with existing technology products, alludes to values we all hold dear-creativity, nature-and lends itself to playfulness. We can actually write haikus about it and riff on the name in fun ways for service marketing and promotion, e.g., Hykurate, Hykurry, Hykurumba… We hope you like “Hyku” as much as we do!


We have made significant progress towards releasing a feature-filled version of Hyku with code contributions from 6 additional institutions beyond the core partners. Your ongoing help will ensure a successful 2017 launch of Hyku-designed to meet your needs now and into the future.

As plans for the launch of Hyku pilot programs are completed we will be in touch to learn more about how you would like to be involved in testing early releases of Hyku, and in piloting HykuDirect, our hosted repository service. Please be in touch with any questions at

A special thank you to the Hydra community institutions that have contributed so much to developing Hyku and the software on which it depends: Penn State University; Northwestern University; University of Michigan; University of Notre Dame; Oregon State University; Indiana University; the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and others.

Blacklight Summit 2016

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.

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.



Digital Humanities Summer Institute 2016 at the University of Victoria

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.



Library Service Overviews

Library IT began an initiative in early 2016 to implement a standard set of documentation for library services that establish expectations and the resources required to provide ongoing operational support. Borrowing similarities from service-level agreements, these overviews are internal agreements between the service owner and the library units that support the service, all of whom have an interest in service success and sustainability. These are living documents that will change as the nature of the service evolves.

To date the following services now have approved overviews:

Library IT is working with various stakeholders, user groups, and committees to move forward overviews for Ares, Avalon, FindIt, ILLiad, and other key services. For existing services, events such as an upgrade, migration, or enhancement will trigger the creation of a new overview should one not already exist. The creation of an overview is now included as a step in the implementation and deployment of new library supported services.

Should you have any questions about these documents or the process Library IT has established, please do not hesitate to reach out to Ray Frohlich for more information.