Thursday, April 24, 2014

MWDL's Cool New Look

The Mountain West Digital Library is proud to introduce the launch of its brand new homepage design!  This redesign features new exhibit and topic browse sections to showcase some of MWDL's most popular items and events.  We have also changed some of the styles and fonts throughout the website, so be sure to browse around the site to get the full experience.  Don't forget to "refresh" the page or clear your browser cache to ensure you can view all of our new dynamic changes.  Thanks to everyone who made this change possible and to our partners and funders for their continued support!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

MWDL partners get national press for DPLA's one-Year Anniversary

The Digital Public Library of America celebrated its one-year anniversary on April 18, 2014 and has received significant press in celebration of this landmark occasion. In only one year, DPLA has tripled the size of its collections, growing from 2.4 million items to more than 7 million. Even more impressively, DPLA now aggregates items from more than 1300 institutions in the United States, up from 500 since their launch date in 2013.

MWDL items and partners have received wonderful press from DPLA's anniversary as well. In the past two weeks, MWDL partners have been featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times ArtsBeat blog. The following 1906  image from the Murray Museum in Utah has been featured in both national publications:

The Murray Fire Department in a 1906 parade

The Montana Memory Project has also received attention as a new state and new partner for MWDL and DPLA. In addition to being featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education and the NY Times ArtsBeat blog, MMP was a featured new partner in this DPLA blog post alongside the J Paul Getty Trust, the California Digital Library, and the U.S. Government Printing Office.

Congrats to the Digital Public Library of America on their one-year anniversary and the well-deserved press it has garnered!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

MWDL has over 900,000 records!

It is time to celebrate! MWDL has over 900,000 records!

Boy clearing hurdle (ca. 1911), University of Nevada, Reno Special Collections 

We have 903329 records in MWDL right now! Now, the big question is, when will we hit one million items?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Free Digitization Training for Public LIbrarians in Utah

The Mountain West Digital Library (MWDL) is pleased to announce a free training and partnership opportunity starting this summer for Utah public librarians in “Digitization and Digital Exhibits at Your Library.” Utah public librarians and other public library staff are invited to participate in training in a workshop setting with a small group of their peers, where they will learn valuable skills in setting up digital collections and online exhibits.
  • Selecting appropriate materials for digitization and sharing
  • Digitizing materials according to widely-accepted guidelines
  • Describing the content with metadata and assigning appropriate rights for access and reuse
  • Uploading digital materials to a digital asset management system for online sharing
  • Creating digital exhibits among themes of national and regional intertest

The training has been tailored for librarians and other staff in Utah public libraries that hold special collections of historical, cultural heritage, and/or genealogical materials about their communities or region. Following a one-day workshop, each participant will be paired with an experienced hosting hub, whose staff will provide digitization services and technical support to help participants to share their materials via digital collections and online exhibits. Alternatively, digitization may be done at the participant's library, with assistance from MWDL staff and partners.

The digital materials will be shared for public use under Creative Commons license via the Mountain West Digital Library portal at and via the Digital Public Library of America portal at The exhibits will be included with DPLA Exhibitions at

The Public Library Partnership is made possible by generous funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through a Global Libraries project managed by the Digital Public Library of America, the nation's first digital library. The Mountain West Digital Library is one of four digital collaboratives around the country that are working with DPLA in this pilot project to develop and implement public library training curricula for digital skills training, which will be shared publicly as models for future use.

Participants may choose from a workshop in May, July, or August 2014. The ideal candidates for this training and support will be public librarians or other public library staff who work with locally held materials about history, genealogy, and similar unique content. One staff member per library will be given priority, and approval from the library director is required. Travel stipends are available. For more information and to apply, go to

MWDL staff and hubs representatives will be at the UALC Booth, #108, during the upcoming ULA conference, so please stop by! Also, feel free to email or call Anna Neatrour ((801)587-8883, or Rebekah Cummings ((801)58708893, if you have any questions about this training opportunity.  


Monday, April 7, 2014

Ingestion Update and Metadata Office Hours

We are continuing to add more new collections to the Mountain West Digital Library!

You can see the list of partners under Montana grow larger as we add more collections from the Montana Memory Project. We have even more collections to add, so that list will be getting even longer.

We've recently added additional collections from the Idaho State Historical Society, the Roland Onffroy Collection and the Idaho Statehouse Images.

Coming soon are more collections from Brigham Young University, Utah State University, the Arizona Memory Project.

One new thing that we are also starting in response to feedback about MWDL partners wanting more metadata training is some informal metadata office hours, to be held on the first and third Thursday each month. Join me for Tuesdays with Metadata if you want to check in about any metadata related issue!
Roland Onffroy Collection

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

MWDL Hubs Meeting Recap

Last month, MWDL hosted our first ever Hubs Meeting at the Utah State Archives in Salt Lake City, UT. We had 30 representatives from 20 different institutions in Utah, Nevada, Montana, and Idaho. The purpose of the meeting was to determine the future mix of services that will be offered throughout the Mountain West Digital Library network and who will ultimately provide each service - the partner, hub, or MWDL.

Our current infrastructure

In addition to the discussions, we sprinkled in digital library training on assigning rights in metadata records, linked data, and digital preservation. Cory Lampert from UNLV once again blew our minds with the possibilities of Linked Data and Emily Gore from DPLA gave us a crash course in rights metadata for digital libraries. Spoiler alert: digital copies of objects out of copyright are not copyrightable! See this Wikipedia article for the legal reasons behind this.

One of the most important products of the Hubs Meeting was the tremendous feedback we received from our hub representatives. If you are a hub rep that couldn't making the meeting or a partner interested in the possible direction of MWDL, here is a summary of the feedback we received regarding future services provided in our network. If you have more to add, feel free to comment below:

MWDL Hubs Services Recap:

The feedback from the Services Breakout is that hub representatives are generally content with the current tiered services model but foresee sustainability issues if MWDL continues to accelerate its growth, which we anticipate with our new funding, capacity, and visibility as a DPLA service hub.

When asked what services hub representatives would like to see MWDL provide, the most cited service was centralized metadata training for new partners. MWDL is responding to this concern by initiating metadata office hours with Anna Neatrour where she will answer any and all metadata questions for our MWDL partners. Anna will host “Tuesdays with Metadata” the first and third Tuesday of the month from 1:00-2:00 pm starting on April 8th (MST).  The staff at MWDL is also considering hosting quarterly metadata training sessions in-person and/or online and metadata webinars via Adobe Connect.

Hub representatives also expressed that they would like to see MWDL provide a consortial option for digital preservation for our hubs that do not already have a digital preservation solution in-house. MWDL will continue to explore options and inform the network on possible solutions.

When the hub representatives discussed how our hub model should evolve, many hub managers thought an “a la carte” suite of services would be more appropriate than the current three-tiered hub model. Regarding new service models, the hub representatives were generally supportive of an MWDL repository as a fallback option for new partners without an obvious hub to rely on. Hub representatives, however, cited concerns about overloading the MWDL staff or about weakening relationships between potential new partners and their geographic hub.  

Many hubs also expressed a desire for enhanced usage statistics to share with their administration. In response, the staff at MWDL will provide training in Google Analytics via webinars to teach partners and hubs how to acquire better data.  Hand-in-hand with the concern for better usage statistics was a desire for advocacy/ internal marketing materials that could be shared with administration.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Hubs Meeting. We hope to see the rest of you at the Partner Summit this fall!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Welcome aboard, Montana!

The Mountain West Digital Library is growing like crazy, and we are so happy to announce the addition of a brand new state. Montana has become the sixth state to be represented in MWDL along with Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, and Hawaii.

Montana Historical Society Research Center Image

Thanks to the diligent efforts of our Metadata Librarian, Anna Neatrour, we have ingested 40 collections from over 15 different partners via the Montana Memory Project.

Another huge thank you to Jennifer Birnel at the Montana Memory Project for opening up MMP's wonderful collections to MWDL! Our staff is thrilled to make these historic collections more visible on a regional and national level.

15 new partners harvested via the Montana Memory Project

I've only just started looking at the collections and have already discovered these wonderful items:

Archival photograph from the University of Montana

Come explore MMP's wonderful new collections in the Mountain West Digital Library and learn more about the history of "Big Sky Country".
The addition of Montana to the Mountain West Digital Library also means that our collections now cover a major swath of the Western United States from Canada to Mexico. Our updated partners map shows MWDL's geographic coverage with the addition of the Montana Memory Project's collections.

Welcome aboard, Montana!  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

DPLA Metadata Model Introduction now available

The folks at DPLA just published this handy guide to the DPLA Metadata Model. This blog post has more information. This is interesting reading if you would like to get an overview of some of the metadata aggregation issues DPLA deals with on a national level. MWDL deals with similar issues at a regional level, by using our Application Profile to articulate best practices and standardization before we send our metadata up to DPLA.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Training Opportunity: Making Sense of Data Free Online Class

One thing that came across my twitter feed today that I thought was interesting was this online course, Making Sense of Data offered through Google. According to the course description, the class will cover:
  • Learn about the basics of data, including the structure and organization of data 
  • Learn about the steps of the data process 
  • Create and use Google Fusion Tables 
  • Organize, summarize, and create charts from data 
  •  Learn about different data analysis techniques and when to use them
This might be an interesting opportunity to learn about the possibilities for data wrangling through Google Fusion Tables!

The MWDL maps page has maps that were created in Google Fusion Tables and Google Maps. 

The class starts on March 18th, and registration is free.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

In praise of Trello

As the outreach librarian for MWDL, I am a notorious list-maker. Not only does it help me keep track of my many tasks related to the Mountain West Digital Library but there is something so psychologically satisfying about crossing things off a list as proof of forward momentum.

Thanks to Cheryl Walters and the digital initiatives crew at USU, I have discovered my new favorite tool for making lists, Trello. Trello is the fastest, easiest project management tool I have ever used, especially for tracking projects that are relatively bound. This tool has been particularly useful to MWDL in recent weeks as we've been planning the MWDL Hubs Meeting which is taking place next Monday and Tuesday. Event planning is still new to the staff here at MWDL (myself included) and sharing a single Trello board for the event has been invaluable to our communication and organization.We can assign each other tasks, create checklists, and track our progress in a single location. Best of all, Trello allows us to move things from the "To Do" column to the "Doing" column to the "Done" column with satisfying swipes to the right. It is so much better than my usual checklists.

Our "Done" column on the right actually stretches down several pages
If you need simple project management for bound tasks, I highly recommend Trello. It does not replace long-term project management software like BaseCamp or JIRA. You won't find ways to create timelines or to combine projects into one location for long-term team planning. But it is the simplest and most effective tool I have ever used for short-term planning of discrete projects.

Thank you, Cheryl, for the recommendation!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Twitter! What is it Good for!?

Even though twitter has been around what seems like forever in Internet time, I sometimes find myself explaining why it is useful to non-twitter users. I have a couple twitter accounts that I use for different reasons.
  • A personal twitter account (see if you can use your librarian super powers to find it). I joined twitter when I saw many of my online friends join it too! I use this account to tweet about non-library pursuits. This is a way for me to stay in touch with some of my friends, as well as follow along with tweets about my hobbies. A few years ago some of my friends and I launched a satirical twitter account that got a book deal, so I feel like my 15 minutes of Internet Fame also were due to twitter. 
  • A professional twitter account - I was a bit hesitant about setting up a more professional twitter account as part of my job with MWDL, but I ended up finding it really useful. I use this account to take notes on some of the conferences I've been to in the form of live tweeting, which would probably be fairly obnoxious if I did it on my personal account where my followers aren't used to getting that type of information from me. I've followed many people who work in digital libraries and digital preservation on my professional twitter account, so I've found it to be really useful as a system to alert me to articles published in the subject areas I'm interested in as well as some of the more informal conversations about library issues that pop up frequently on twitter. I also like to follow the twitter accounts from digital libraries that are similar to MWDL, as well as MWDL partners. I went from worrying that having two regular twitter accounts would be too much, to being happy that I use both accounts for different purposes. 
One other reason why I like twitter is that it isn't Facebook! I think I only have the attention span to be fully engaged in one social media platform at a time, and I much prefer twitter over Facebook, just because I enjoy the short form of the updates, easily being able to retweet things I find interesting, and it is much easier to track conversations through twitter like this one about OrphanWorks or LAMfutures

Do you follow MWDL on twitter?

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Day In the Life of Your Metadata Librarian

I've noticed that sometimes my work comes in different types of waves. When I first started my position my major project was adding the great collections from the Arizona Memory Project. Since then I've been adding new collections here and there as they come in, as well as working on a reharvesting project with our collections from Brigham Young University's Harold B. Lee Library.

I've recently been doing a great deal of metadata auditing, which means shortly after that's done we will be adding even more new collections to MWDL! Today we have new collections from Utah Valley University, and we'll soon be adding new collections from Brigham Young University, Montana Memory Project, University of Idaho, Northern Arizona University, Weber State University, Arizona Memory Project, and more!

When we add new collections to Primo, we also need to update our master tracking spreadsheet, update the php includes that make run so smoothly, and create new web pages for partners and collections. 

I'm about to take a class on XSLT and XQuery, which I'm hoping will help me become an even more efficient and useful metadata librarian! I'm hoping to come up with some procedures that will help me audit metadata against the MWDL application profile in a more comprehensive manner. Stay tuned for my adventures with XSLT and XQuery!