Access 2008

Access was great, my first time going, first time at a hackfest, first time presenting at a conference. I had to laugh to myself at some points. Presenters were throwing out their Access "street cred" - being at the '96 Access...I was in high school.

Worked on problem 7:

7 . Socialize Evergreen! John Blyberg just released SOPAC 2.0
( and built on a
Drupal, MySQL, and Sphinx platform, with interfaces defined for
sharing tags, reviews, and ratings of materials (Insurge). Your
mission: accomplish one or more of the following:
* Wouldn’t it be nice to have a different interface for Evergreen?
Maybe one built on Drupal, so you can host your whole site in it? You
can’t argue with those rhetorical questions, can you? So, stop
blubbering and build an ILS connector between Evergreen and Locum
(SOPAC’s catalog discovery layer). Right now the only available ILS
connector for Locum is to III. This aggression will not stand, man!
* Enable Evergreen to contribute tags, reviews, and ratings to
Insurge. Hmm, that means you’ll have to teach Evergreen how to store
tags, reviews, and ratings first. Okay, do both. And figure out how to
pull tags, reviews, and ratings from Insurge while you’re at it, okay?
Geez. Do I have to do everything here?
* Figure out how to replicate Insurge. Possibly to an entirely
different platform. CouchDB? Solr? PostgreSQL + Full Text Search? I
dunno, you’re the big-brained person. LOCKSS!"

I spend the majority of the day setting up an ideal test environment - installing mysql, php5, with any and every dependency necessary. Then setting up drupal, sphinx, locum, and insurge. My theory was going to be how I could scrape the web interface in Evergreen, but that was foiled by the bug I found in the server image. Dan Scott troubleshot for a bit, but it was almost 4 by then, and everybody was wiped. So we just chalked it up to experience for the future...although Dan was happy I found the bug...and had it fixed by the next morning!

Presentation went well. I presented on a panel with, Ilana Kingsley (University of Alaska Fairbanks), Dave Mitchell (London Public Library), Harish Nayak (University of Rochester), and Debra Riley-Huff (Ole Miss). We ran really tight on time, from what I hear, that always happens when presenting with panels. If you want to have a look at the slides, you can download them here. When the audio from Access gets all hashed out, I'll post that too.

PW20C Launch & Local Press Coverage

Here is the library press release:

The William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections at McMaster University Library is launching the latest in a series of digital initiatives aimed at bringing its unique collections to a wider, online audience. The new site, Peace and War in the 20th Century, has been developed with the assistance of almost $100,000 in funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage, through the Canadian Memory Fund.

This website aims to create an immersive virtual environment which invites users to explore two of the most central and formative aspects of twentieth-century culture: peace and war. Foregrounding McMaster’s extensive, unique and world-renowned archival collections, incorporating advice from the best subject experts in the field and utilizing state of the art, robust digital technology, the site tells the compelling story of how these two contrary impulses have shaped our country and our world.

Organized into compact thematic modules, constructed to appeal to a wide range of users, content presented in digital form ranges from wrenchingly personal diaries, letters and photographs to the powerful public propaganda of recruiting posters, peace bulletins, and popular songs. The site includes some 3000 database entries and almost 50 individual case studies as well as audio and video segments, maps and an animation of a First World War trench raid, recreated from original archival documents.

The site is already winning praise. Dr. Ken Cruikshank, Chair of the Department of History says: “what makes this website exciting to me is that it introduces students to the exceptional archival resources available to them in their own backyard, at McMaster University Library. The online sources are an exciting addition to research materials currently available on the Internet, and will motivate students interested in studying efforts to make peace, or the social, political and cultural impact of war.”

The project is the first developed by McMaster University Library in collaboration with two community partners, Local History and Archives at Hamilton Public Library and Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.

A launch event to celebrate the project is being held on Monday, September 29th at 10:30 am to 11:30am in Convocation Hall.

If you are interested in attending the launch or for more information, please contact Kathy Garay.

And the Hamilton Spectator story - History lessons online: Major collections contribute to Peace and War website

Got another grant!!! History of Canadian Publishing

Just we put the finishing touches on the Library and Archives Canada funded Peace & War in the 20th Century project, we received word from the granting agency that our newest grant application has been accepted. We have been awarded almost $100,000 to develop a state-of-the-art, interactive website on the history of Canadian publishing. The project will last for a year (same amount of time for the PW20C project), and will focus on the history of Canadian publishing houses, people in publishing, authorship, and aspects of unique to Canadian culture.

The William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections houses one of the most prestigious collections of the subject of Canadian publishing. We will also be collaborating with the Thomas Fisher Rare Library at the University of Toronto and Queen's University, who both also hold extensive archives on the subject.


Here is the link to the McMaster Daily News story:

Judy Donnelly, project specialist, Rick Stapleton, archivist librarian, Nick Ruest, digital strategies librarian, and Carl Spadoni, research collections librarian, pose with some of the artifacts that will be available on a website about the history of Canadian publishing. Photo by Susan Bubak.
Photo by Susan Bubak.

PW20C Launch!!!

Ok, kids. Finally, done. The Peace & War in the 20th Century is finally done - The site is now official. The site consists of nearly 3000 records, and is divided between two over archiving themes, Waging Peace and Waging War. The over arching themes are broken down into sub categories, and case studies, covering an expansive wealth of information. Images digitized for the collection include posters, letters, 3-D objects (grenades, metals, etc.), audio, and video. The also invites the user to interact with it, allowing logged in users to comment on records, vote comments left up or down, bookmark records to their account for future reference (the Bookbag feature), and share records (like digg) with the Curate It! button. Logged in users can also access the site-wide contact form for questions, concerns, bugs, etc. One last key feature of the entire digital collection ( is OAI2 compliance. The site was submitted to Open Archives, and OAIster this afternoon. Anyone who would like to harvest the site, can do so at:

Screen shots below, and from the site:

Why this website?

"The twentieth century has been a century of war. It began with the Boer War in South Africa and ended with the Gulf War in Kuwait and Iraq. This tragic legacy suggests that citizens of the twenty-first century have a shared responsibility to attempt to understand how and why these conflicts occurred and to discover how peace efforts contributed to the resolution of international conflicts. The work of understanding, conscientiously conducted, must draw on primary sources of many kinds, including oral histories, newspapers, contemporary journals, government documents, regimental histories, and archives. Archival resources provide us with a direct link to the past. We present here a wealth of archival materials for students, researchers, and all who seek a better understanding of the past in order to comprehend and guide the decisions of the future.
We invite you to explore it."

Kirtas Launch Event Photos & Local Press Coverage

We've added pictures from our Mass Digitization and Publishing Launch to the blog, including pictures of or brand new Kirtas scanner. The event was a huge success, drawing over 100 guests, and press coverage. The Hamilton Spectator Catherine Baird, our Marketing, Communications, and Outreach Librarian and myself about the project. The article can be viewed here: released into the wild

Ok, the Digital Collections website is ready for beta testing. Registered users can comment, vote on comments, and tag records - and updated version of the "bookbag" will be added soon. Collections with content include; Peace and War in the 20th Century, Russell Library, and World War II Concentration Camp Correspondences. At this time, AICT, and Kirtas Book Collection are outlines for content to be added later.

For the technical nerds! The site runs on Drupal, and takes advantage of the CCK Module. Each collection has its own content type, allowing it to expose its own unique metadata. All of the collections share Dublin Core fields, which combined with a modified version of the OAI2 module, provide OAI2 compliance. As of the right now, there are approximately 165,000 nodes - with the great majority of those records being an experimental version of BRACERS (more of this some other time).

*the bookbag is a feature that allows registered users to bookmark records

Institutional Repository Update

ummmmm, I don't know how to make a post about the Institutional Repository funny or witty, so I'll go a little corporate sounding. bleh. I have been updating the repository quite a bit since the beginning of this year. We were apart of the first batch of upgrades from Bepress last month. We added categories and series, for most of the departments on campus so faculty can begin submitting scholarly output. Three additional journals that reside at McMaster are also in the process of being setup on the IR. Global Labor Journal, a completely open access journal that will launch on our IR. Energy Studies Review will follow an access model similar to the Russell Journal, where the current four years are subscription based, and the back catalogue is open access. 18th Century Fiction is in the works, the process of putting the journal in will begin in July. Finally, with the help of colleagues, I formed a Instituional Repository Steering Committee. The committee will:

1. Form a "collection" plan (strategy for getting specific types of materials into the DC (subject/formats ; McMaster faculty output, university archives, explore the possibility of creating a "subject" archive where none currently exists to serve a broad scholarly community
2. An infrastructure, whereby scholars can easily contribute materials
3. A communication plan for raising awareness about the IR on campus
4. Regular updates to stakeholders on progress (once/term)

if(robot.is_beeping){ ruest.scamper(); }

So, we have this robot now, and it loves to ingest books just like Johnny 5. It isn't quite as spectacular as Johnny 5, but it gets the job done so far. It is the center of a top secret project here at McMaster, code named "otto." [need input, need more input] Ok, I'll get a little serious...The machine is a Kirtas 2400RA and can scan up to 2400 pages in an hour. It is powered by two 16.7 Canon DSLRs, uses a vacuum to pick up the pages, and numerous pages sensors to let the operator know if it picked up more than one page, or dropped one. Hence the beeping. More information on the project will be provided later...after the May 26th launch here at Mac. In the mean time, here are some pics that you are more than welcome to salivate over.


Work, Job, Stress, Drupal

I have failed to write/blog about this for quite some time because of shear busyness (

With the help of a web designer/programmer (Ryan Barrett) hired for the Peace & War for the 20th Century and other staff members, we have been able to begin to mold Drupal into the beast that it can be. We have taken advantage of the CCK module (and the plethora of compliments to it) to develop individual collections, with their own unique meta data combined with Dublin Core for OAI compliance. In the next week or so, we will move from developing collections in FileMaker Pro, to exclusively Drupal. Soon after students will be able to test the alpha version of the site for research, and submit comments, errors, and bugs to a forum we have setup for them on the installation.

This spring the Peace & War in the 20th Century will launch, powered by Drupal. Authenticated users will have to ability to comment, tag, and contact research staff with any questions.