Notes from NERCOMP

Stepping Into the Digital Media Paradigm: Preserving Unique Collections, Sharing Resources, and Creating new IT-Library-Faculty Partnerships
Sponsored by the Northeast Regional Computing Program – April 14, 2011

Martin Schreiner, Harvard University
Example of new media initiative from Harvard: created an informational video about their collections, workspaces, expertise. The lab is run by both librarians and academic technology staff (Multimedia Librarian and Academic Computing). Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences is pushing technology in academic learning.  Lab staff have been working with faculty and classes for 3 terms now.

Secondary PhD field in Critical Media Practice – incorporating tech, tools and the ‘writing with media’ component into the PhD project.  Examples of media sets: maps (historic and GIS), media, environmental information, data & government, data storage and retrieval for faculty research. Library has both a collaborative learning space and a media lab.  Key piece of staffing is new flexible job descriptions (i.e. half time IT, half time media lab / half time reference, half time media lab)

Panel #1 Preserving Unique Collections

The Role of the Audio Engineer

David Ackerman, Senior Audio Engineer, Harvard University

Why not just plug a tape player into your computer and go?

  • Odd, rare, or unconventionally-recorded formats
  • Materials in poor condition

Audio engineers bring:

  • Knowledge of arcane formats, recording techniques,
  • Catching problems and correcting issues during the transfer process (physical and electronic)
  • Evaluative listening
  • Knowledge of legacy formats, how they were recorded, how they are designed to be reproduced, and how they degrade
  • Knowledge of audio signal flow (digital and analog)
  • Experience with frequency and dynamic based manipulation tools, de-noising strategies, noise resection, encode/decode process
  • Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC)
  • AES 57 and 60 metadata standards for audio -integrated into their workflow.

Question: Is it OK for me to transfer the spoken word and use the professionals for audio?
A: Consult with a professional regardless of the program on the tape, and keep bringing them back on a regular basis.  The challenges in transferring media properly are not in the recorded content, but the media itself and the equipment used to record. Develop a bootcamp and ear training exercise to teach novice/non-professionals what to look and listen for to evaluate materials, how to solve common problems.

Open Vault

Karen Colbron, WGBH Digital Archives Manager, WGBH-TV
Karen Cariani, Director of the WGBH Media Library and Archives, WGBH-TV

WGBH is:  TV, Radio and interactive, On the air since 1951/1955, retaining master level programming.
Catalog is home-grown in Filemaker – descriptive information harvested directly from the production process (not professional catalogers).  Preservation has been tape-to-tape but is moving to digital.  Grant funding dependent for transferring their analog collections.

Trying to make the collections accessible (to the public and higher education)

  • Older programs, b-roll, raw materials, production research
  • Interview and transcripts linked
  • Social tagging
  • 30 hours archival footage
  • Stills collection with community tagging

Steps to create

  • OCR the transcripts (not in OCR friendly format)
  • Digitize the audio
  • Use Oxygen and LOC and Getty to tag transcript text
  • Record page in the catalog has an embedded video linked with the transcript
  • Social: Tags are public, annotations can be public or private depending on scholar’s use
  • Built-in cite mechanism for each piece of media

Case Study:

Columbia University’s implementation of a similar project using Vietnam in teaching…Metadata is in FEDORA; Content model is available on the WGBH (need more info on the tech breakdown).
WGBH has an API that allows collections to be drawn into an interactive system for extraction, writing, viewing, presenting.


Panel #2 Sharing Resources

Variations Project

Philip Ponella, Director of the William and Gayle Cook Library and Associate Professor, Indiana University

Audio delivery service that includes pedagogical tools to work with the collections.  Audio course reserves is run off of the system – mostly commercial recordings.  Collection development policy was developed, still used.
Collection consists of 200,000 sound recordings – many on analog tape which are handled by a grant-funded audio engineer.  New concerts are coming in all the time –  600-700 per year; new media comes in, is auto-formatted for various procedures (archive, access, etc).  Metadata in the .WAV file is used to create a preliminary catalog record.
Variations is now available as an open-source program that can be used at other institutions

  • Create bookmarks
  • Create track lists
  • Create listening drill by removing metadata from the tracks and playing them in a random order
  • Hierarchies, annotations, etc can be edited and created by faculty and students – listening prompts
  • Synchronize the score and the audio
  • Beta testing it in iOS; also a web player that does not require the Java player client

Question from audience: What about video compatibility? Answer:  Variations team has applied for a grant from the Museum of Library Services that would expand the functionality to include video – will know result of the grant application in September 2011.

Implementing Variations 6.0: A Pilot Project @ UConn

Anna Kijas, Music and Dramatic Arts Librarian, University of Connecticut

Moving to variations from a homegrown music reserves service to Variations 6.0

  • Gained functionality for users (previous system was not interactive – playback only)
  • Collaboration between library IT and music librarian
  • If successful, the switch will allow library IT department to relinquish use of proprietary/paid server (RealPlayer); a benefit to them as well as a benefit to the librarian and users, etc.
  • Understanding and implementing the initial install took less than a week; time to process each CD takes 12 minutes (from encode to finalizing the access link)
  • Students can help because workflows are simplified and the time commitment per CD is lowered

Brandeis Streaming Video – WALDO Services

Tim O’Neil, Associate Director of Media and Technology Services, Goldfarb Library, Brandeis University

Previous status quo:

  • Digitize only media owned by the library.
  • Conditional access moderated by the campus registrar and course management system
  • Using VideoFurnace for on-campus media delivery (also using this for live TV, student-run TV station, digital signage)

Happy with the service, so why did they look at other trials?

  • Video course delivery has become expected/required (not an optional benefit)
  • Allows off-campus access

Fall 2010: Began trials with Films Media Group and Swank

  • Netflix may be interested in working with consortia of academic institutions at some point.
  • Content was rolled out side-by-side with in-house streaming solution; students received no training and there was no negative impact on user support
  • Comparative costs between in-house server support vs. buying titles from a vendor

Robert Karen, Director of Member Services, WALDO

  • WALDO is focused on procurement; 65% of membership is small libraries
  • Entered into an agreement with Swank Motion Pictures
  • Remote users stream directly to Digital Campus (freeing off-campus users from the campus network)
  • Libraries in the consortium pay per title (approx $130)
  • Swank is willing to add titles (if they have the performance rights) by request from users
  • Swank is working on full HD video version of their collections


Panel #3 IT/Library Collaborations

Digital Initiatives to Increase Digital Literacy

Katie Vale, Director of Academic Technology at Harvard University

Moved the “media showcase” (a testbed showcase lab in the science building) to a Multimedia Lab in the library (co-run by the library and IT).
Primary focus is Digital Literacy Training for students and faculty:

  • Workshops on software, how-to-storyboard
  • Work with faculty on grading rubrics and assignment design
  • Basics of “how to tell a story” – integrating with the writing program
  • Foundations of digital storytelling – foundation of an outline, development of an argument, etc
  • Include copyright and Creative Commons information

Governance conversations, quarterly meetings with production staff and staff training opportunities.
Hashed out a way to bridge IT and library; hashed out details of who is paying for what, how will staffing work, escalation paths; communication.  Trying to figure out how to expand these spaces and services in other locations (other libraries, dorms, other buildings).

Harvard Shorts Film Festival

  • Short films about scholarly or academic issues – 3 minutes or under; assignments for a class
  • Annual competition
  • Special topics each year: importance of the humanities; using library resources
  • Winners receive cash prizes and public recognition
  • Staff offer extra training around the time of the competition
  • Students vote on the videos and choose the winners

Also partnering with public affairs and other groups on campus interested in creating promotional digital videos

Course Trailers

  • Faculty work with media lab and General Education Program to produce the trailers
  • Introduce the goals of our new undergraduate curriculum to students and faculty
  • Some faculty allow students or teaching assistants to create the course trailer, others create it themselves

Collaborative Innovation: Designing an Integrated Faculty Services Model at Dartmouth College

David Seaman, Associate Librarian for Information Management at Dartmouth College

How can we better support faculty and inform one another about what we can provide?

  • Overload of available services adds to confusion.
  • Some faculty shop around to different service providers on campus.
  • Not much of a referral network; ‘illusion of collaboration’.

Faculty support teams:

  • Covers curricular support, research needs, data curation, digital publishing, desktop support, etc
  • Currently in a planning year to define the project of creating the three new support teams: sciences, social sciences, and humanities; implement communication plan
  • Desktop Support staff in computing are the first line of contact with faculty, hence they become the primary triage, referral and marketing arm
  • As the project moves forward it looks more and more like a referral network internal to IT/Library
  • Possibility of extending the LibGuides program to the faculty/IT support teams so that non-libray staff can put support information online
  • Extend library workshop calendar to be a unified faculty workshop calendar

Questions to be answered as the final support model takes shape:

  • How to change day-to-day work of all library/IT staff to reinforce the referral network and communication?
  • What communications tools and expectations do we need for a rapid referral system?
  • Do we need a trouble ticket system?  What about a ‘Patient records’ model – a long-term record of help received and skills gained?
  • Do we needs some “all hands” meetings?

The Digital Learning Studio (DLS) at UMASS Boston

Mary Simone, Digital Learning Studio Manager, University of Massachusetts – Boston

IT and Library Merger Trends:

  • Computer apps manage library resources
  • Students have skills closer to IT skills than library skills
  • Distributed computer resources and distributed digital libraries are being linked together using a common type of communications networking

At UMass Boston library has been relinquishing their IT purview by either outsourcing or asking IT to run the technology back-end.  There is a shared mission between IT and Library of easy round-the-clock access to materials, technology and support.

Programs and Projects

  • Digital Learning Studio – equipment, production specialists who help with research, production, training; also instructional designers who help develop courses
  • 3 Training Facilities in the library, plus computer labs
  • Paired an IT person into a subject discipline with the subject librarian
  • Shared Information Services Include the areas of Technology, Intellectual Property, Teaching and Learning, Training, and Media Production.  Some services are offered by the library or IT, many are offered jointly.
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