Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - 17:52

[This post is shared on behalf of Jaclyn DeGasperin, who completed her UofT iSchool practicum at the Digital Scholarship Unit this winter term.]

I knew going into the Practicum course that it would be a challenge for me, I had never worked in a traditional library so this would be a lot of firsts for me (it's a good thing I decided to pick a project that would have me working in a non-traditional library, smart choice on my part) . But when on the list of projects was one called "Building and Assessing Digital Collections in Islandora: 15th century manuscripts" I figured I would give it a shot. With a name like that it was hard to say no; rare books? Yes, please. Digital Humanities? Exactly what I'm looking for. Islandora? I'm sure I can figure it out (this may have been a bad idea, overestimating my abilities to work with technology, but my overeager desire to challenge and prove myself as a competent librarian won out over my other sensibilities)

But here's the thing, I managed, and I can even say that I have the confidence to work with repositories; in a few short months I my knowledge digital repository software went from basically nothing to fairly developed (of course I still have room to grow, hopefully a job will come along that will allow me to meet this challenge, but that's for the future). You see, with supervisors like Lydia and Kim, who genuinely want you to succeed and understand and excel in the field that they themselves love, it's impossible to just coast by and not learn. The environment at the DSU is open and friendly, there was not a day that I came in and wasn't greeted with a smile by one of the wonderful women who worked in the office.

It turns out I like digital librarianship. My work at the DSU started with the Scarborough Oral History Project -- Stories of UTSC:1964-2014, which we started working on in February. The goal of the project was to draw attention to the voices within the UTSC community that are often ignored or overlooked; this project tells the untold and unofficial stories of the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus. It's finished and lives in a tiny corner of UTSC.

As we moved into working with the Gunda Gunde manuscripts our focus shifted from working with the surface of a repository to digging into how a collection is put together, pulling at the guts of Islandora and seeing what makes it ticks (and how to talk to it nicely so it does what you want it to do). For this project we were provided with digital photographs of manuscripts from the Gunda Gunde monastery in Ethiopia; they already had an Islandora collection and had been turned into what can only be called a digital book. It was our job to check that the metadata attached to the images was accurate and that the pages followed in the proper order to match the original artifacts.

While this quality checking was monotonous it provided me with access to wonderfully rare books that I enjoyed flipping through. More importantly though it was a chance to see how a digital repository worked in so far as it is a preservation platform.

Overall my experience with the DSU was positive; it gave me the chance to do work that I would not have otherwise been able to do and experience personal and professional growth. Also, the DSU now has a collection of photogenic animals in its virtual box - you're welcome (I think?).

Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - 10:37

[The following post is shared on behalf of Julia King, one of the practicum students hosted by the Digital Scholarship Unit this term.]

I went to library school in order to work with rare books. At the start of the degree, my list of courses I expected I would need included coursework in book history, archives, and “digital humanities”, whatever that was. But somehow, through work and school and projects, I found myself in my final semester without actually getting any digital scholarship experience. So, imagine my surprise and delight when I found a project on the practicum list called “Building and Assessing Digital Collections in Islandora: 15th century Manuscripts”! Not only was it digital scholarship, but it was also exactly in my area of research interest!

So, TL;DR, I came into this practicum with a lot of expectations.

So I signed up, made the trek out to Scarborough twice a week, and took my knowledge of digital repository software from absolute zero to being pretty confident in my knowledge and skills. Along with Jaclyn, my fellow practicum colleague and classmate at the UofT iSchool, we jumped into the world of Islandora and digital repositories head first.

We started our work on the Stories of UTSC project, which collected oral histories from members of the UTSC community to celebrate the campus’s 50th anniversary. When we started, what we had were collections of files that were saved onto the Islandora repository (an open source place to store and display files that the DSU uses for most if not all of its projects), and a spreadsheet of data gathered by the undergraduate students who did the interviews as part of a class project. We looked at those spreadsheets, changed them into functional metadata (which is basically data about data, or how information about the objects in the repository is sorted and then made searchable). We then used code magic to “ingest” (my favourite word from the practicum, which makes me feel like we are directing a giant digital Kirby) all of this information and attach it to the files in Islandora.


This is basically what an ingest looks like in my brain, but with more XML tags.

Once the metadata was safely attached to the files in the repository, we cleaned it up, added thumbnails, and basically made the collection look presentable for its big unveil in late February.

After this project finished, we jumped into working with the manuscripts. Of course, the DSU isn’t a rare book library, or a physical library at all—we instead take data given to us by professors and store it in a usable way on the internet. So in this case, we had photographs of manuscripts from the Gunda Gunde monastery in Ethiopia, and they had already been ingested into Islandora and turned into essentially a digital book using the Internet Archive Bookreader. Our job was to check that the metadata that was attached to each image was accurate, and that the pages in the book had actually uploaded in the correct order.

Metadata checking is monotonous—you look at a .pdf, and then make sure the fields in your metadata form say the same thing. But, this also was where I used the majority of my rare book skills. For example, I noticed that the “author” field on the form was being used for donor and owner names—so we set up a new section of the form to accommodate this. I made suggestions on improving the system for citing which folios information came from (although this has yet to be resolved, because we couldn’t figure out an easy way to do it that didn’t involve insane amounts of coding or, worse, re-checking all the metadata by hand.)

Checking the page ordering could have been even worse—except that we were actually working with the individual pages, so we were able to experience the manuscripts visually—and there are some stunners in the project. You can look at all of them here, or get a taste through my excited Instagram that I took in March:


Screen at #practicum at #utsc with medieval Ethiopian Nativity. by @julialilinoe

As a closing project, we also created our own mock collections in the Islandora virtual box (basically a place where you can test features of Islandora on a fake collection in order to play with the functionality of the repository). This was by far the hardest and most rewarding thing we did on this project. Both the Stories of UTSC project and the Gunda Gunde project were easy enough to figure out—you filled in a form, or uploaded a document. But with this project, we really had to do research and dig deep to understand what exactly the system was doing, and what our collection needed to be like in order to help the system do its thing. We built our own forms for metadata, and had to figure out how to do this within the confines of the extremely confusing Islandora form builder, we figured out how to make our forms autocomplete, and we struggled with the concept of dynamic websites vs. static ones.

Basically, we figured out what the “?” was, where Phase 1 was “ingest items into Islandora”.

Take aways from this experience include:

An understanding of what a repository is, and how it can work to organize data online How repositories can be used in the rare books world An introductory understanding of how dynamic websites work vs. static websites A visual understanding of what medieval Ethiopian manuscripts look like A job offer to work on a medieval digital humanities project with another unit at U of T!

This practicum changed my understanding of what my role could be in a library working with rare books, and as you’ve just read, I’ll be continuing on in the digital world working with manuscripts. I am positive that without this practicum, I wouldn’t be able to jump into such a role, and I would recommend anybody with a passing interest in Digital Humanities or metadata to jump at the chance to work here. This is definitely one of the most valuable things I’ve done during the MI degree. The team is very friendly, supportive, and ready to explain anything about digital repositories and the digital scholarship role in the library. This practicum definitely exceeded my expectations of what knowledge and experience I would gain through the course, and I encourage other students to consider choosing to work here or in a similar project in the future!

Monday, August 17, 2015 - 11:18
310+ people have RSVP'd so far

Date: Sunday, September 27, 2015
Time: Event starts at 8pm. Total eclipse starts at 10:11pm
Location: Rm 309, Science Wing Building, University of Toronto Scarborough Campus
Email address for more information: Subject line: Lunar Eclipse Live Event

Amaury Triaud, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Toronto
Ari Silburt, PhD Candidate, Astrophysics, University of Toronto
Daniel Tamayo, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Toronto
Hanno Rein, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto

In celebration of Science Literacy Week, join us for an evening to view the last visible total lunar eclipse until 2019 accompanied by a series of short lectures on astronomy.  On September 27, the moon will pass through Earth's shadow, blocking any direct sunlight to the moon and causing it to glow red.  The eclipse will also be streamed live on screen in case of weather. Attendees will get a chance to tour UTSC's observatory and look through our telescopes.
Refreshments will be provided.

About Science Literacy Week
Science Literacy Week is a coast to coast celebration encompassing over 100 such institutions from nearly 50 cities. It is a forum for all these great organizations to showcase the amazing work they do year round.  Whether it’s in highlighting great books, hands on demonstrations, talks by great scientists or so much more, my hope is that you’ll learn a lot and have a great time in the process.

Register Here: Loading...
Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - 13:43

Check out the conference website and save the date for great speakers and discussions about digital literacy in the classroom!

Monday, April 20, 2015 - 13:33

The following sessions may be of interest to Humanities faculty and library staff this Friday, April 24th.

11.30-1.30 (lunch provided), Instructional Centre, Room IC 318 

"BigDIVA: Search as Research” Laura Mandell (Texas A&M)

"The Renaissance Knowledge Network as Social Knowledge Hub" Daniel Powell (Kings College London), with William Bowen (UTSC) and Ray Siemens (University of Victoria)

2:00-3:00 BigDiva update, Humanities Wing, Room HW 525C

3:00-5:00 ARC Metadata Committee presentation, Humanities Wing, Room HW 525C

Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 09:19
Thursday, April 2, 2015 - 10:10

Are you a doctoral student (or an advanced MA student) wondering about all the buzz around “the Digital Humanities”? Do you wish you could get a concise introduction to this emerging field as it applies to your own research (and meet a community of scholars working in this area)? If so, please join UTSC faculty, digital librarians, and other graduate students for a day-long workshop on April 21st, 2015. In addition to an overview of the field of DH and a sneak peak of some exciting projects being developed at UTSC, you’ll learn about key principles, methods, and tools available to you right now. No coding or prior experience necessary -- just register to secure your spot by filling out this brief survey. As a bonus, your feedback will help us finalize the schedule to ensure that the training provided is as useful as possible. We will provide lunch, instructional materials, and lots of food for thought. All you need to bring is your laptop and questions.

Please note: All graduate students are welcome to register to this free event, but as seating is limited, priority will be given to pre-candidacy students in the Departments of History, Classics, East Asian Studies, Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, and the Collaborative Programs in Women and Gender Studies and South Asian Studies. Register by April 13th, and you’ll be notified of acceptance by April 15th.

This event is hosted by the Department of Historical and Cultural Studies, in partnership with the UTSC Library.

If you have any questions, please contact us at

Social Media

Tweet the day at #utscDH15

Join our Facebook Group.


Getting Here

Location - the Social Sciences Building (MW) at the University of Toronto Scarborough, RM 120



According to the TTC Trip Planner
Take the 198 ROCKET towards U OF T SCARBOROUGH - EAST
198 Bus Schedule


Preliminary Schedule

9:30 - Welcome, housekeeping, roundtable, what is DH?

10:00 - Introduction to Digital Humanities at UTSC (Faculty Projects)

10:30 - Open Discussion/break

10:45 - Zotero, and Beyond Bibliographic Managment - What is Zotero? How do you use features for data collection and research collaboration? Intro to open-source community and plugins

12:00 - Lunch (Provided)

1:00 - Academic Blogging, Digital & Data Storytelling, Natural Language Processing & Social Media Analysis

3:00 - break

3:15 - Structuring and Analyzing Data (Network Visualizations) - Structured data and your thesis

4:15 -Closing remarks (Frontiers & Data Curation)

4:30 -  Exit survey

Register Now Event Updates!

We have a full house! Thanks to all for applying to attend this workshop. We're excited at the amount of interest it has garnered. For those of you attending, we have some updates.

Learn more about who's attending!

Join our Facebook Group.


Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 09:51

We’re on day 4 of Open Access (OA) Week! We had a great turn out yesterday at the button making station outside the library and the social media activity is still going strong.  Photos are posted on the @digitalUTSC Instagram and Twitter accounts, as well as the EPSA Facebook page. Thanks to all who have been participating!  

There are still great OA Week activities happening across the tri-campus the rest of the week. Check out what is happening today at across all 3 U of T campuses

Of particular interest to those at UTSC:

We're back TODAY 10:30am-3pm outside the library so if you have a spare moment, please drop by to say hello, make a button and share your thoughts on OA. 
  Drop by the Library Instruction Lab (AC286A) 2-3pm today and Friday if have any questions about depositing copies of your publications in our research repository (TSpace) or want to know more about publishing in an OA journal. 
  If you’re looking to publish in an OA journal but don’t have any funding remaining, you may want to consider the Library’s OA Author Fund pilot which has been extended into 2015. We also have RSC Gold-for-Gold vouchers if you’re publishing in an RSC publication. Questions? Email me or come to one of the drop-in sessions listed above.
  I’ve been periodically tweeting out links to OA publications/open data/other open research outputs to showcase the amazing scholarly output of UTSC researchers.  If you have something you’d like me to highlight, please either email me or include the Library's Digital Scholarship Unit (@digitalUTSC) or my personal (@4Bes) Twitter handle if you decide tweet out a link yourself.
  There will also be more oaweek trivia coming tomorrow! Show off your OA skills on the @UofTSCCO FB page to win a Starbucks gift card
Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 09:28
Open Access Week 2014: Events Listing   Monday, October 20 Wednesday, October 22 Thursday, October 23 Friday, October 24
  Monday, October 20 Open Access Week 2014 Kick Off Event at the World Bank: Generation Open (WEBCAST)

3:00 - 4:00 pm (EDT)

VIEW THE WEBCAST: (pre-registration not required)

Join the World Bank and SPARC (The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) as they host the International Open Access Week Kick Off Event, live streamed from Washington D.C. The event seeks to provide a forum for early-career researchers and students to discuss how a transition to open access could affect researchers at various stages in their careers.  A panel of experts will also discuss how academic and research institutions can become involved in supporting early-career researchers to make their scholarly articles and data accessible to all.

The following panelists will be involved in the event:

Stefano Bertuzzi: Executive Director, American Society for Cell Biology José-Marie Griffiths: Vice President for Academic Affairs, Bryant University Meredith Niles: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Sustainability Science Program, Harvard University Jerry Sheehan: Assistant Director for Policy Development, National Library of Medicine
  Wednesday, October 22 Humanities Informational Drop-In Session with a Scholarly Communications Librarian

2:00 - 3:00 pm

AC286A Library Instruction Lab

Have questions about publishing your research? Inquiries about copyright or open access? Or just want to explore your options for the future? Come in from 2 to 3 pm to the Library Instruction Lab to talk one-on-one with the UTSC Scholarly Communications Librarian!

  Student Social Media & Button Table

10:00 am - 3:00 pm

Outside the Library

Is access to research important to you? Are you considering publication of your research someday? Come chat with Sarah Forbes, the UTSC Scholarly Communication Librarian, and EPSA representatives to learn more about open access and show your support by making personalized buttons and sharing on social media how much these issues matter to UTSC students.


Thursday, October 23 Social Sciences Informational Drop-In Session with a Scholarly Communications Librarian 

2:00 - 3:00 pm

AC286A Library Instruction Lab

Have questions about publishing your research? Inquiries about copyright or open access? Or just want to explore your options for the future? Come in from 2 to 3 pm to the Library Instruction Lab to talk one-on-one with the UTSC Scholarly Communications Librarian!


Student Social Media & Button Table

10:30 am - 3:00 pm

Outside the Library

Is access to research important to you? Are you considering publication of your research someday? Come chat with Sarah Forbes, the UTSC Scholarly Communication Librarian, and EPSA representatives to learn more about open access and show your support by making personalized buttons and sharing on social media how much these issues matter to UTSC students.


Friday, October 24 Sciences Informational Drop-In Session with a Scholarly Communications Librarian

2:00 - 3:00 pm

AC286A Library Instruction Lab

Have questions about publishing your research? Inquiries about copyright or open access? Or just want to explore your options for the future? Come in from 2 to 3 pm to the Library Instruction Lab to talk one-on-one with the UTSC Scholarly Communications Librarian!


Complete listing of tri-campus events   For more information contact:

Sarah Forbes

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - 10:29

For the original post, visit

Recently we found that we needed to revisit our old friend the Drupal Feeds module and get it to play nice with Zotero's API. This time we wanted to use it with Culinaria's Zotero library. Our goal was to pull all of the items and their content from the library into their UTSC website (much like how an RSS feed works). In the original post, Kirsta brought up that she was having trouble when the processor was set to periodically import items to keep the feed up to date with the Zotero Library. What happened was that every time the import ran, the Processor wouldn't just add any new items and update existing ones , but it would create a new item every single time from the API. This meant that there were lots of duplicate entries in Drupal that needed to be removed. We got it to work now, but first:

A Recap

How to set up a Zotero feed in Drupal:
1. Create 2 new content types: Custom Feeds Processor, Custom Feed Item (under Structure)
2. Add a new Feed Importer (under Structure)
3. Add a new Custom Feed Processor (under Add Content)
4. Configure the new Feed Importer: attach it to the Custom Feed Processor, map it to the fields in the Custom Feed Item which will be pased with XPath (under Structure)
5. Go to the Custom Feed Processor-> use XPath as your field output (under Content)
6. Run the Import in your Custom Feed Processor. You should see that every entry in the Zotero library has created a new custom feed item in Drupal in your Content view. You can then create a page with all of your feed items using the Views module.


You can see the final page here:

We needed to set a unique key that we can use to match up with any existing feed item in Drupal. It seemed to work best when we used the element zapi:key in the Title field. That way every time the import runs, it checks if that key exists and if it does it will update (but not create) a new feed item with that key.

These are the fields we selected in the Feed Importer  to map to the processor.  We also set Title as the unique key in the target configuration column. 

Here are the XPaths we used in our Custom Feeds Processor:


Other Tips

The Zotero API maxes out at 100 items, but we had 115 items. Our workaround was to import all the items in the library by running your processor twice, once by sorting your items in descending order, once by sorting your items in ascending order. Then we set the API to sort by descending order from hereon out so it will only grab the 100 most recent items.

Earlier we used Oxygen to get the XPaths, but Google Chrome has an XML tree extension that you can use that will also quickly get you automatic XPaths:

In your Feed Importer, it's useful to use the Tamper settings to clean up your feeds.  We used HTML entity decode  and URL decode which converts hex values such as "&" into "&".  You can also use plugins such as Find and Replace, Filter empty values, or Explode.

You can turn tags in the Zotero into a taxonomy in Drupal, then create a Menu for those terms.  First you'll need to create the new terms from your Feed Importer:

Thursday, October 2, 2014 - 11:40

Date: Monday October 6th, 2014

Time: 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm

Location: Doris McCarthy Gallery, University of Toronto Scarborough 

Co-presented by the Art History Program, Chemistry Program, and the Doris McCarthy Gallery

Calling all art and science students!

Attend this FREE workshop to learn about the role of conservation in technical art history - led by Art Gallery of Ontario conservators:

Margaret Haupt - Deputy Director, Collections Management and Conservation

Maria Sullivan - Manager, Conservation


Monday, September 1, 2014 - 20:53

I feel no shame in the sense of accomplishment that I got from learning how to make a solution pack module for Islandora!

Working at the DSU has given me the chance to explore the possibilities and push the boundaries of what I'm capable of. It was great because I came out of the process learning a lot more about the mechanics behind Islandora, Fedora and Drupal and how the existing processes faciliate the lifecycle of a digital object in the system.

To me, a solution pack module is like the blueprint used to set up a digital object factory in Islandora city™. The module specifies what objects to produce, how they should look and what data types and packages are associated with an object. This is all done the programming languages understood by Drupal and Islandora.

When it is installed, the Living Research Lab solution pack designed for the DSU creates 5 collections (Births, Mice, Protocols, Publications, Experiments) that is used to manage and add objects.  The objects in each collection are ingested using specially designed forms in Darwin Core Standard (Mouse, Birth, Protocol, Experiment, Publication, and Data Session). What I've done is a really basic setup.  You can and should add hooks and configure so much more to streamline the way your data is ingested, processed and accessed.

The github link for the Living Research Lab Solution Pack can be found here:

I should note that so far module works well in development mode, but it is in definite need of debugging and refining before it can actually be used in a production environment.

It began with XML

In one of our projects we needed to build custom XML forms to store metadata in Islandora. We soon realized that customization would be really important in order to automate some of the actions and to improve usability. Building a solution pack was the next logical step to explore customization.

Tips to get started Look at other solution packs! When you're starting with nothing, it helps to look at something. What I did was look at simple examples, going through and breaking down the code line by line, and trying to trace the lines in the code and when each step is called in Islandora. Draw. Creating diagrams made it easier for me to make connections between different the little parts that contribute to the module's functionality What I used* Sandbox Virtual Machine Image ( - the testing environment Creating a shared folder from a local folder to the VM - that way I could modify module on my desktop Drupal's Devel module ( - Selected Display $page array, Display machine names of permissions and modules, Kromo backtrace). Used to debug and quickly re-install the module Islandora Documentation ( Sublime Text - the code editor Module Examples - a reference, comparing across multiple solution packs when you're trying to start your own helps Islandora Porcus ( - basic and heavily commented Biological Entity ( - usage of Darwin Core and multiple content models Biodiversidad ( - lots of customization and uses Darwin Core

Update 2014-09-11 - other useful resources:

PHP code checker: Documentation: The start of something

The first step I took to understand module building was to create map to see where and how variables and files were being referenced. What I soon discovered is that most files, functions and variables are initially called from the .module file. The .module file is the main file that contains the configuration and hooks and variables. It's in there where you add hooks, and where you wield a lot of power in if you know what you're doing.

The map below is a neater version to my original sketch.  It lists all of the hooks from the .module file and what files they refer to.  It also shows what component it affects in the Islandora system architecture.

Here are my original notes that went with the map when I was going through the Islandora Porcus module. I wrote out the names of all of the files contained in the module and within those files I wrote out all of the function names and tried to figure out what they did:

islandora_porcus.install > install and uninstall the module under Modules, module_load_include draws from islandora modules usually .inc islandora_porcus.module > everything comes together > SEE BELOW > info under Modules ./css/slandora_porcus.css > for Object View Page called from .tpl.php ./images/piggie.png > for Object View Page, called from ./includes/ > SEE BELOW > upload form > admin config page when you go to Islandora > Click on Module ./js/islandora_porcus.js > for Object View Page from .tpl.php ./theme/islandora-porcus.tpl.php > Object View Page, when you create a new object this is what appears ./xml/islandora_porcus_form_mods.xml > the form!

Questions: So content models customized for your own datastreams and way you want things to be what is a hook even - when you go to a page something (function, template) is activated?

function islandora_porcus_menu() > the admin menu item, getting things started and loading
function islandora_porcus_theme($existing, $type, $theme, $path) > the Theme is the Template - the Object View Page
function islandora_porcus_preprocess_islandora_porcus(array &$variables) > sets up variables to be placed within the template (.tpl.php) files. From Drupal 7 they apply to templates and functions
function islandora_porcus_islandora_porcusCModel_islandora_view_object($object, $page_number, $page_size) > first content model association, if object is a Cmodel that you specify here
function islandora_porcus_islandora_porcusCModel_islandora_ingest_steps(array $configuration) > hooks ingest steps
function islandora_porcus_islandora_porcusCModel_islandora_object_ingested($object) > calls
function islandora_porcus_islandora_xml_form_builder_forms() > load form
function islandora_porcus_islandora_content_model_forms_form_associations() > form association, for the form
function islandora_porcus_islandora_required_objects(IslandoraTuque $connection) > construct content model object, ingests it
function islandora_porcus_create_all_derivatives(FedoraObject $object) > derivative spec for the .txt uploaded object, potential file conversion
function islandora_porcus_transform_text($input_text) > for the .txt uploaded object
function islandora_porcus_upload_form(array $form, array &$form_state) > http://localhost:8181/islandora/object/porcus%3Atest/manage/overview/ingest this page to upload the file
function islandora_porcus_upload_form_submit(array $form, array &$form_state) > submit into what datastream

islandora-porcus.tpl.php connects to things from preprocess theme

Even if you don't want to create a module from scratch, this should help you modify existing modules in little ways that could make using Islandora easier.  Feel the power.

[*] My secret wish for tutorials is to list tools and strategies for troubleshooting.  That would help immensely.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - 10:28

Working at the Digitial Scholarship Unit this summer has been amazing. I can’t believe how complementary it has been for my education. I have learned so much in a practical sense but also in a much broader sense of real workplace experience in a library with digital initiatives. It’s hard to list all the skills and knowledge I have acquired from such an immersive experience but let me talk a bit about the highlights of this summer.

Right out of the gate I was given the daunting task of preparing metadata for 7000 plus photographs in UTSC’s Photographic Services Collection, one of the archival collections currently housed at the DSU. The end goal of the item level description was to create detailed metadata to be used in an online collection that intended to be representative of the collection and to compliment UTSC’s 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2015.

My first task was to design a workflow and a selection criteria for the series. I was assisted by two excellent work-study students, Vrishti Dutta and Mary-Ellen Brown, who took on the very exciting work of individually numbering each image. This was extremely time consuming but very necessary as it allows us to easily find and process specific images. The numbering, measuring and meta-data creation took approximately one month.

During this time I was also selecting images for the future online collection. Though, as my eyes started to hurt and my brain was sluggish I inexplicably stopped this practice halfway through. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. By the time I finished processing everything I was able to look at the collection differently. Having seen every image, I had gathered a better understanding of what would best represent the collection and was able to create five sub-series. The sub-series or subjects are Student Life, Academic Life, Campus, Faculty and Staff, and Community. It was very exciting when we finally reached the last box and I realised that I had written metadata for over 7000 images. My feelings of brain-melting and elation are preserved via Twitter and reproduced here for future generations.

But even through all the brain hurt I could tell that this project was so useful. Here I was able create and execute a curation and digitization workflow. This provided me with a better understanding of what it means to work with digital initiatives. After the meta-data was finished, we used OpenRefine and exported the MODS spreadsheet lines as .XML files. I had assigned each image a digital identifier so we used that identifier to name both the .XML files and the .TIF’s of the images, creating neat little packages of images and their metadata. These packages were then ingested into Islandora over the course of a week and make available online.

In addition to processing the series I was also able to assist with archival reference questions. Some people were interested in finding interested photographs for the 50th Anniversary celebration projects. One user was interested in discovering why Pierre Eliot Trudeau had visited UTSC between 1979 and 1980, we were able to find a photograph and a newspaper article, though, no reason was given. Another user was hoping to find a photograph of her sister performing in UTSC’s student theatre for her upcoming 50th birthday party. When we were able to find a previously unseen photograph she was so happy there were tears and hugs. My previous experience with Archives had been as a researcher so it was exciting to be given the chance to be on the other side of the exchange.

To round out the experience I had the opportunity to attend workshops, camps and conferences. First, a workshop on AtoM and Archivematica see earlier blog post. A couple weeks back I volunteered to help out at Islandora Camp GTA. In between coffee breaks I was able to sit in on the admin track sessions. The sessions were expertly run and were very useful whether you were just starting out or building on foundation. I’ve already been working with the Islandora system for some time now but with the help of the sessions I was able to better understand what I had been working with all this time. I look forward to continuing to learn about all the customizable options in Islandora’s offerings.

Lastly, I was able to attend many of the sessions offered at the Digital Pedagogy Institute put on by the Digital Scholarship Unit at UTSC. There I learned about all the incredible educators, librarians, and faculty members that were making use of digital tools in their classrooms. So many of the presenters were embroiled in the most engaging projects and it was refreshing to see such novel uses for technology in the interest of learning and teaching. One great take away was how lucky we seem to be at the University of Toronto to have administrators and librarians dedicated to digital initiatives and how this kind of openness will only become more important as we continue to move in that direction. One attendee of the DPI told me that her takeaway was TTYL (Talk To Your Librarian). I’m constantly blown away by the expertise and commitment of people working in the fields where libraries, archives and technology intersect.

Some final points I’ve gleaned from my time here are a general but nonetheless important for someone starting in this field.

1) Professionalism, attention to detail and the ability to communicate well are key.

2) Staying connected to colleagues via social media is extremely useful, there are many interesting discussions and helpful tips that go down on twitter on a daily basis.

3) Whatever you don’t know, you can learn.

4) If you have a question, Google it first. Chances are someone else has already answered it.

5) Volunteer at conferences. They are excellent opportunities to learn and meet people. I can’t believe I made it this far without volunteering.

6) The archivist/librarian divide is often arbitrary in a digital context and the rivalry is dumb

I am so happy to have been given the opportunity to work at the DSU this summer. I feel as though my experiences here have taught me new skills and given me the confidence to pursue fields where I may have been uncomfortable before. I feel privileged to have worked with so many incredible people here, that they have let me to pick their brains and that they have offered me excellent advice for the future. Thanks to them, I have now secured part-time employment as the Digital Curation Intern at Information Technology Services (ITS) at Robarts Library this school year. I am confident that my time at the DSU has prepared me for new challenges both at ITS and after graduation. I am so very thankful for everything they have done for me this summer.

Rachelann Pisani

Wednesday, August 6, 2014 - 11:37

by Sara Allain

Islandora Camp GTA kicked off with nearly 40 librarians, developers, and archivists gathered at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Fortified by coffee and muffins, we got down to the business of getting to know each other. Campers hailed from throughout Ontario and the East Coast, as well as Oklahoma, Michigan, Ohio, and Florida, and represented a diverse range of use cases and experience levels. The group ran the gamut from people who'd heard the word "Islandora" thrown around but had never touched the platform to folks who've been developing/administering Islandora for years. Leading us through the day's activities were Nick Ruest (York University), Jordan Dukart (discoverygarden), Kirsta Stapelfeldt (UTSC), and David Wilcox (Duraspace).

Introductions included the question, "If you were a sandwich, what kind of sandwich would you be?"

Turkey rueben, an acquired taste (our own Kirsta) Ice cream sandwich, because he's also interested in Android development (University of Toronto ITS's Ken Yang) Poutine, because she'd always choose poutine over a sandwich (University of Toronto ITS's Kelli Babcock) Montreal smoked meat with wayyyy too much stuff in the middle (DuraSpace's David Wilcox) (That's all I can remember - if you recall any more, leave them in the comments!) New Release and Future Developments

Nick described the new modules and tools that are contained within the newest release, Islandora 7.x-1.3. In particular, he talked about the suite of modules - Checksum and Checksum Checker, FITS, BagIt, and PREMIS - that make Islandora so much stronger as a preservation system. Some excellent work here.

David talked about Fedora 4, which is a major rearchitecting of the repository software that Islandora works on. David highlighted the way that Fedora will now structure data within the repository, as well as the linked data capabilities and performance enhancements. Jordan Dukart talked about Drupal 8, which is much more object-oriented. 

Community Overview

We looked at some cool things being done with Islandora in the community:

Nick presented York U's browse map using Solr queries + Leaflet.js MJ Suhonos presented Ryerson's usage stats tracking module Nick talked about the Islandora Deployments github repo, a place where developers can write out their deployment stories, which he created with Mark Jordan during Open Repositories 2014 Mark Jordan's Background Processes Discussion Paper, looking at what's going on under the hood when Islandora ingests objects University of Southern Carolina's Moving Image Research Collections, which uses PBCore and runs a lot of non-standard processes York U's Solr Views galleries - specifically, dogs and cats Using Fedora Connector to represent Islandora objects via Omeka Interest Groups

There are currently four Islandora Interest Groups. The groups are formed and maintained by community members (read: anyone who wants to convene one) in order to address specific problems or questions related to the software and/or the community.

Nick Ruest, Donald Moses, and Mark Jordan convened the Preservation Interest Group to standardize and steward some of the new preservation modules in Islandora, including Checksum, FITS, BagIt, Vault, and PREMIS. The Preservation Interest Group is also working with Archivematica (/Artefactual Systems).

The Documentation Interest Group, convened by Kirsta, Kelli Babcock, and Gabriela Mircea, is focused on improving the Islandora documentation wiki as well as creating new documentation for training and development purposes.

David convened the Fedora 4 Interest Group to help plan how Islandora will integrate with the new version of the repository during the next phase of development.

The newest group is the Archival Interest Group, convened by me, which focuses on how archivists and archival collections interact with Islandora, incorporating questions of training, development, and linked services.


Random notes and recurring themes:

Deployment - specifically, issues with deployment that are consistent across implementations Integration with other systems, specifically archival description systems (AtoM and ArchivesSpace) and Omeka Ontologies, migrations, systems, integration with other systems, deployment Good idea/bad idea: multi-sites Drupal 8 and Fedora 4 and how Islandora 7/8 releases will play with one or both of these "It depends"