Monday, September 29, 2008

New Collections Double Number of Resources

New collections have again been added to American Social History Online. There is now a total of 175 collections with 514,798 resources. The new items have been harvested from a selection of collections from:
  • University of Southern California
  • Cornell University
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Tennessee
  • University of Minnesota
  • Stanford University
  • University of Illinois
  • Public Broadcasting Service
Our new resources include 7 videos from the PBS series Frontline.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

New Collections Added to American Social History Online

New collections have been added to American Social History Online. There is now a total of 143 collections with 295,945 items. The new items have been harvested from a selection of collections from:
  • California Digital Library
  • Columbia University
  • Harvard University
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
DLF Aquifer actively seeks material that fits within an American culture and life theme, broadly defined. Collections contributed by June, 2008, will be included in the assessment activities of the Aquifer Services Working Group.

To contribute collections from your institution, please contact Katherine Kott at diglib dot org or Susan Harum at uiuc dot edu.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Progress on the Asset Action front

Recently, the issue of whether to integrate asset actions in American Social History Online has again become a hot topic for the Technology Working Group (TWG). Two events converged to provide the TWG with the impetus to move forward on the integration: the serialization of ORE in the Atom format, and the work with Zotero.

What is an asset action?

An asset action is an XML package of actionable URIs that delivers named, typed actions for a particular resource. What this means is that within the metadata for a resource there are URLs that allow the researcher to choose, (retrieve) versions or parts of a resource. For example, the researcher could:
  • get specific parts of the resource, like the table of contents or the abstract
  • get a specific version of the resource, like a thumbnail image, an archival-quality image, the pdf version,or a view of the object in context of its splash (web) page.
What do Zotero and Atom have to do with it? They're more widely used by data providers (providers of the resources) and researchers (consumers of the resources).

Although the syntax for asset actions has been available since early 2006, its use has never really taken off. The most likely contributing factor is the need for the XML syntax originally written by the group at UIUC to be incorporated into the metadata of the resources, which means extra work for the data provider. Atom provides a more ubiquitous way to provide XML feeds with asset actions in them. The hope is that since many more people are familiar with Atom feeds, the likelihood of data providers implementing asset actions will be much greater.

The other issue is the need for software to read the asset actions syntax. Although UVa Library's Collectus and ImageViewer allows users to view image files provided by asset actions, it is not yet widely used by many people. Zotero would provide a more ubiquitous way to read the feeds than Collectus.

Friday, December 14, 2007

User Stories for Academic Projects

For the next few weeks, I'll be revisiting the agile assessment method we used for the 8 weeks prior to the unveiling of the Aquifer American Social History Online portal at the Digital Library Federation's Fall Forum. With a small development team (Tom and Chick) using agile programming methods, and a short time span to pull a draft of the portal together (4 months for programming, 2 months for assessment), it seemed like a good time to experiment with using user stories as part of the agile development process. It didn't work out that way because Chick already had a draft of the portal up and running, so the questions I originally wrote to prompt the stories were not appropriate. They were too basic because they were written to elicit ideas for building the first iteration, not to elicit responses to a draft version, which we already had. Starting with the premise that the main purpose of the assessment was to identify useful ways for historians to find, organize and reuse historical resources, the Services Working Group came up with the following questions instead:

* What types of things are you typically trying to find?
* How would you go about doing exhaustive research on a topic within your area of expertise?
* How does this searching fit into your larger goal (e.g., writing your dissertation, writing a paper, teaching a class, putting together a presentation)
* What are some sample searches you've done recently?

I sent these questions out to the participants of the study ahead of time, along with the url to the draft of the portal for them to check out and scheduled a "brainstorming" conference call with 6 of the participants to jump-start the assessment.

In the next blog post, I'll talk about whether these questions elicited the responses we were looking for.

Friday, December 07, 2007

SEO for Aquifer Social History Online

One of the objectives of Aquifer Social History Online is to investigate the value of optimizing the portal for commercial search engines. Since the Services Working Group is planning for the assessment of this optimization right now, I took a look yesterday at where we appear in the rankings for Google. I searched for the entire phrase "Aquifer Social History Online" with and without quotes and came up with some interesting hits. Katherine's entry on ranked first and second for both searches, and Sarah Shreeve's DLF Aquifer MODS Implementation Guide presentation on slideshare ranked higher than the DLF Aquifer MODS Guidelines FAQ and MARCXML to MODS stylesheet on the OAI site. Links to Aquifer Social History Online from the homepages of the Cubberley Education Library at Stanford and the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library at UIUC also made an appearance within the first 3 pages, so thanks to whoever was responsible for getting those up. Blog entries are also starting to have an impact, so keep up the good work and post, post, post.