Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Celebrating Batman Day with Bat-themed items from MWDL

It is Batman Day today! Batman may be 75 years old but he can take out criminals with a car battery better than any other superhero. Let's celebrate this wonderful occasion by checking out some Bat-items from MWDL collections.

We might not have any pictures of Batman in our collections, but we do have a picture of Bat Masterson!

Photo from Arizona Memory Project, Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records
I am happy to see that some students at BYU have studied Batman as an academic focus. Check out these great items from the Brigham Young University Theses and Dissertations Collection:

The American Way: What Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and the X-Men Reveal About America
Mythic Symbols of Batman
It's What You Do That Defines You: Batman as Moral Philosopher

Lastly, turn down the lights, listen to bat sounds from the Western Soundscape Archive, and pretend that you are Batman lurking in the Bat Cave.

Happy Batman Day!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

MWDL Fall Webinar Schedule Announced!

Greetings, information professionals! MWDL is pleased to announce the final schedule for the Fall Webinar Series. We hope many of you can join us in the upcoming weeks to learn about a variety of digital library topics. We have ten exciting sessions lined up this summer and fall and wonderful speakers from inside and outside our network.

Want to learn more about assigning something meaningful to that pesky rights field? Tune in to hear Amy Rudersdorf from the DPLA provide an overview of public domain, creative commons licenses, orphan works, and implications for take-down notices.

Want to learn about generating funding for your digital project? Join Tom Scheinfeldt from the University of Connecticut Digital Media Center to talk about the best ways to raise money (and garner support) for your digital collections.

Need to convey the impact of your online collections to administrators and funding agencies? MWDL's own Sandra McIntyre and Evan Young will teach you how to generate usage statistics for your collections using Google Analytics.

Mark your calendars for one or all of these online session. Our webinars are free and there is no password required. All you need is an Internet connection and an interest in digital library topics!

Tiny schedule available here
Or, for those of you with human eyes that can't read the tiny text above, check out our new webinar page for the full schedule of events.

Hope you can join us!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Great New Collections from Weber State University

We've added a large batch of new collections from the Weber State University Stewart Library recently! I knew that Weber State University had a series of name changes, but I hadn't realized how extensive the name changes were until I was working directly with these collections.

You can learn more about Weber State University's institutional history, read student literary publications, and learn more about the communities in Weber and Davis counties in the following recently harvested collections:

Weber College Whip Club
Weber and Davis Counties (UT) Community Oral History Project
Weber State College Catalog 1963-1991
Weber State University Student Master's Theses
Weber Bell Tower History
Weber Stake Academy Literary Magazine The Acorn 1904-1916
Weber State College Literary Magazine Scribulus 1935-1966
Weber Additional Literary Publications 1931-1980
Weber Literary Journal 1921-1926
Weber State University Catalog 1991-Present

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The new Web Development Assistant

Hi, my name is Evan Young, and I am the new MWDL web development assistant. Starting this month, I will be working with the MWDL team to maintain and enhance our website at I was born and raised in Oklahoma and have lived in Utah for 14 years now with my wife, Holly, and soon-to be four children.

I completed my undergraduate degree in Mathematics at the University of Utah and have stayed there to work on my Master of Science in Computational Engineering and Science.  My specialty is computational statistics and will be helping to analyze some of the usage statistics that we get from Google Analytics in addition to my other duties at MWDL.

I am very excited to be part of this preservation and digitization movement and am certain that this work will pave the way for more learning and study as the world moves toward a more electronic future.  If you need anything from me please feel free to email me at

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

How to Make Your Very Own DPLA Twitter Bot

When I saw that @HistoricalCats had launched as part of DPLA’s very nice App Library, I was a bit surprised that it wasn’t followed by a ton of other DPLA Twitter Bots. I had heard other people comment on the lack of a @HistoricalDogs twitter bot and thought that this would be a good project for me to try, especially since the examples in the @HistoricalCats source code pointed out the need for equal feline and canine representation. I thought I would write up my experiences adapting @HistoricalDogs for anyone else who needs a recipe to follow when adapting @HistoricalCats. Maybe we will soon see @HistoricalHats or @HistoricalBirds next!

Skills you need to do this:
I’m not a computer programmer, but I have some basic web administrative skills. I’ve installed mysql and php applications on a web server before. If you’re comfortable with doing some light editing (basically just copying and pasting) of php files it is easy to set up a twitter bot with the @HistoricalCats code that is provided. I did it in an hour or so one evening after work.

Things you need:

  • Web server space
  • A text editor
  • FTP program
  • Knowledge of how to set up cron jobs (optional)
First step: Get accounts and keys
Second step: Get all the files!

The Code for Historical Cats is available on GitHub (, just download the master zip file and open it.
Wow, that was fast and easy!

Third step: Modify the files for your new twitter bot and upload to your server space

Follow the instructions ( for modifying the historicalcat.php file and the keys.config.php files, adding in your own DPLA API key and Twitter consumer key, secret, access token, and access secret. If you look at the source code, you can see the cat phrases and the search terms that you can change to whatever you wish.

These are the only areas that you might need to modify in order to get your bot up and working. If you chose to, you can set up a sql database that will save your tweets and prevent tweet duplication. I didn’t set this up as part of my process, but if you have access to phpMyAdmin or something similar on your server, you can easily import the provided HistoricalCat.sql structure to a new database on your server. If you are using the database option when installing the code, you will also need to put this information into your config file.

Now you’re ready to upload the files! You should ftp these files up to your web server space. Note that you need to upload the twitteroath folder as well as historicalcat.php, config.php, and tweetcat.php to make everything run.

Visit to generate your first automatic tweet! If you don’t see any error messages you will see a tweet appear on your new twitter bot account. I didn’t have any problems getting this set up, except I needed to slightly adjust the filepath for twitteroath due to the way I uploaded my files. If you get error messages, they will specify the line of code in the file where the problem is. Most text editors will let you zero in on the line number where the problem is so you can do some troubleshooting.

Now, you could generate tweets automatically by just pointing your web browser at tweetcat.php whenever you want a post to appear, but if you want your twitter bot to run automatically, you will need to set up a cron job, so the page is just automatically visited at whatever times you want your tweets to be posted. Your web host may have some additional tools you can use to easily create a cron job for your new twitter bot.

Happy tweeting!!!!

Thanks very much to Adam Malantonio for creating the @HistoricalCats code, and for giving me feedback on this blog post.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Four great new collections from Utah State University

We recently added four great new collections from Utah State University! They are:

Historic Postcards of Utah - Browse great postcards of Utah from the early to mid 1900s.

Real photo postcard of Dave White on Headlight
Jack London Collection - View correspondence, book inscriptions, photos, book covers and more.

Alfred G. Erickson Photograph Collection - This collection includes photos from the 1940s and 1950s documenting military life as well as Jack London's California ranch.

Monumental Highway Collection - Take a virtual historic road trip to Monument Valley, Zion National Park, and the Colorado River.

Maxwell automobile in front of monument in Monument Valley

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

MWDL Statistics from DPLA

Here is some information sent our way from DPLA that gives us an idea of how popular our collections are. I've shared this information in some recent conference presentations and training sessions, but I thought it would be nice to put this out as a blog post too!

Top ten DPLA hubs by usage:

Top three most requested items, note that Cooking Supper from SUU is the most requested item:

MWDL has five partners in DPLA's top twenty-five partners by usage:

Thursday, May 29, 2014

MWDL Server Upgrade

MWDL had upgraded to Primo 4. The update includes some additional date and faceting search capabilities. Enjoy searching the updated site, and let us know if you have any questions!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Public Librarian Partnerships Training yesterday funded by DPLA and the Gates Foundation

Eleven public librarians congregated yesterday at the Utah State Library to take part in the Mountain West Digital Library's first public librarian training. We had a jam-packed day that started at 8:30 am over a yogurt bar, fruit, granola, pastries, and coffee. Over the 30-minute breakfast, the 11 public library participants mingled with six trainers from MWDL, the Digital Public Library of America, the University of Utah Marriott Library and several representatives from the Utah State Library before we embarked on seven hours of digital library training. 

In a single day, the participants learned about MWDL and DPLA, content selection for digitization projects, rights management, digitization, metadata, and curating online exhibits. Our public librarians had a spirited conversation about content selection and choosing items that fit into a national story and could be featured in Digital Public Library of America exhibits. They also participated in a great hands-on metadata exercise led by MWDL's metadata librarian Anna Neatrour that emphasized the importance of good metadata for online discoverability. Matt Brunsvik, Digital Operations Coordinator at the University of Utah, illuminated the process of working with a Mountain West Digital Library hub and explained the basics of digitization.

Matt Brunsvik from the U, breaking down the digitization lingo
Emily Gore teaching fair use. Learn it, love it. 
A great day was had by all as evidenced by the glowing reviews that the training received in our post-workshop evaluations. This is what some of the participants had to say about the training:

“I had no clue about any of this. Now I have a basic understanding and am excited to start. Presenters made it easy to understand all what goes into this.”
“It was great realizing how our local collections relate to broader projects like DPLA”
“For me, it was just right. The info about MWDL and DPLA was useful and not previously understood by me.”
“Gave me a starting point and direction I need to begin”
“Easy to understand, great info”
“All presenters were very knowledgeable about their subjects. Emily was delightful to listen to and learn from.”
“Diverse presenters and hands-on metadata and discussion of possible ideas for projects.”
“Loved it”

Thanks to all public librarians that come to the training and the Digital Public Library of America and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who provided the funding for these workshops.  If you are interested in attending future MWDL Public Library Partnerships workshops, sign up on our website! Two more workshops have already been scheduled for July and August. Hope to see you there! 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Top ten reasons to attend a Public Library Partnerships training through MWDL

MWDL is preparing three upcoming workshops to train public librarians in Utah on digitization and curating digital exhibits. Here are ten great reasons to consider signing up for any of the Public Library Partnerships trainings:

#1 - 100% free training provided by six experienced and enthusiastic digital library staff. You will learn about content selection, digitization, rights management, metadata, curating exhibits, and more!

#2 - MWDL and DPLA are providing travel reimbursements if you need to drive more than 50 miles.

#3 - Workshop participants receive funding to digitize a 100 item pilot collection for their public library. This is the easiest "grant" you will ever receive!

#4 - Free breakfast and lunch. Who doesn't like free food?

#5 - The opportunity to have your collection available in the Digital Public Library of America, which brings national and international attention to your local collection.

#6 - Network and build relationships with other public librarians embarking or refreshing their skills in digitization

#7 - Work with MWDL to build three online exhibits that will be featured in DPLA's Exhibitions

#8 - A free packet of resources that you can take back to your library and share.

#9 - Getting to know the staff of MWDL and DPLA. We're very nice!

#10 - Help build a national digital library by capturing history where it exists... in your public library!

For more information or to register today go to the Public Library Partnerships page on our website.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Preservation Week!

This week is Preservation Week! There are many resources to discover. One great way of finding great learning materials and online commentary is to follow the #PreservationWeek hashtag on twitter. There's also a Preservation Week Facebook Page.

Here are some more resources:
Current and Past Webinars from ALCTS for Preservation Week