Sunday, February 22, 2009

Caldwell collection

The Cooper-Hewitt Library is celebrating the release of Shedding Light on New York: Edward F. Caldwell Collection. The collection contains more than 50,000 images consisting of approximately 37,000 black & white photographs and 13,000 original design drawings of lighting fixtures and other fine metal objects that they produced from the late 19th to the mid-20th centuries.

Caldwell & Co. was America’s premier producer of lighting and other metal objects during the turn of the 20th century through the 1940s, and the archives are currently stored in the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Library in New York City. Notable clients of Caldwell lighting fixtures included the Rockefellers, the Carnegies, and the Roosevelts, and the company was also commissioned for famous landmarks such as the Grand Central Terminal, Radio City Music Hall, and the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. Caldwell & Co. manufactured unique and intricate lighting fixtures in their Manhattan factory, such as chandeliers, electrified lamps and wall scones, which were then shipped to prominent residences all over the United States.
New York Public Library also has Caldwell & Co records.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Catalogue of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts

A team at UCLA has launched the Catalogue of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts, a centralized online archive of holdings worldwide.

The Catalogue first began to take form in Christopher Baswell's talk at the MLA conference in December, 2005. Generous support by the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, has enabled Professors Matthew Fisher and Christopher Baswell to develop this site, and make it publicly available in its current form through the CMRS web site. An additional grant from the UCHRI (University of California Humanities Research Institute) made possible additional data entry, and substantive refinements to the back-end technologies in place.
Eventually, the site will have a collaborative layer of some sort, so that scholars can share their expertise with other researchers and with libraries, which do not always have the most accurate information for each manuscript, according to Mr. Fisher. He’d like the catalog to provide a general set of digital tools, too, so that similar databases can be built in other fields.
To date the project has located over 5,000 digitized manuscripts, and over 1,o00 have been cataloged for inclusion. An article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed provides background on the project.

Friday, February 20, 2009

FDsys federal content management system

Via Open Access News, the FDsys (Federal Digital System) of the US Government Printing Office (GPO) has entered its public beta. FDsys is an advanced digital system that will enable GPO to manage Government information in a digital form, and enable GPO to manage information from all three branches of the U.S. Government.

For more detail, see Joab Jackson's article about it in Government Computer News, February 5, 2009. There are five major releases planned over the next three years.

Duke Library's Trident Metadata Tool

The Duke University Library is blogging about its Trident Metadata Tool development. Their February 13 post is the first on their architecture.

good week for open source releases

The Indiana University Library has released open source software to create a digital music library system.

Indiana University today announces the release of open source software to create a digital music library system. The software, called Variations, provides online access to streaming audio and scanned score images in support of teaching, learning, and research.

Variations enables institutions such as college and university libraries and music schools to digitize audio and score materials from their own collections, provide those materials to their students and faculty in an interactive online environment, and respect intellectual property rights.

A key feature of the system for faculty and students is the ability to create bookmarks and playlists for use in studying or in preparing classroom presentations, allowing easy access later on to specific audio time points or segments. A key feature for libraries is a flexible access control and authentication system, which allows libraries to set up access rules based on their own local institutional policies.

This software is the culmination of nearly fifteen years of development and use of digital music library systems at Indiana University. Creation of the current Variations software platform was originally funded by the National Science Foundation. In 2005, the Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded Indiana University a National Leadership Grant to extend this highly successful system to the nationwide library community. Beyond IU, the software is currently being used at the Ohio State University, University of Maryland, New England Conservatory of Music, and the Philadelphia area Tri-College Consortium (Haverford, Swarthmore, and Bryn Mawr).

This open source release of Variations complements IU’s earlier release of the open source Variations Audio Timeliner, which lets users identify relationships in passages of music, annotate their findings, and play back the results with simple point-and-click navigation. This tool is also included as a feature of the complete Variations system.

Indiana University plans to offer a free one-hour Variations webinar at 4:00 PM EST on March 4, 2009 for institutions and individuals interested in learning more about the system. To register, e-mail

The Indiana University Digital Library Program created Variations in collaboration with faculty and students in IU’s Jacobs School of Music. The IU Digital Library Program is a collaborative effort of the Indiana University Libraries and the Indiana University Office of the Vice President for Information Technology.

For more information on the Variations open source release, see:

The Washington Times released some Django open source tools (has a newspaper even released open source software before?):

The Washington Times has always focused on content. After careful review, we determined that the best way to have the top tools to produce and publish that content is to release the source code of our in-house tools and encourage collaboration.

The source code is released under the permissive Apache License, version 2.0. The initial tools released are:

  • django-projectmgr, a source code repository manager and issue tracking application. It allows threaded discussion of bugs and features, separation of bugs, features and tasks and easy creation of source code repositories for either public or private consumption.

  • django-supertagging, an interface to the Open Calais service for semantic markup.

  • django-massmedia, a multi-media management application. It can create galleries with multiple media types within, allows mass uploads with an archive file, and has a plugin for fckeditor for embedding the objects from a rich text editor.

  • django-clickpass, an interface to the OpenID service that allows users to create an account with a Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, Hotmail or AIM account.

The web site will be hosting the code and issue tracking software, using django-projectmgr.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Yiddish books online

In October 2008 at an Open Content Alliance meeting, I saw a presentation about the National Yiddish Book Center. It has just been announced that over ten thousand Yiddish texts -- estimated as over half of all the published works in Yiddish currently in existence -- are now available online through a joint venture with the Internet Archive. From the press release:

The National Yiddish Book Center is proud to offer online access to the full texts of nearly 11,000 out-of-print Yiddish titles. You can browse, read, download or print any or all of these books, free of charge. These titles were scanned under the auspices of our Steven Spielberg Digital Yiddish Library, and have been made available online through the Internet Archive.

Original, used copies and new, print-on-demand hardcover reprints of most titles in our collection are available at nominal cost.

Some of rights issues are apparently unclear, but it seems so important to make this collection available -- works written in an at-risk language that were at one point systematically destroyed -- that any potential legal risk is worthwhile in my mind.

A brief announcement appeared in the New York Times.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

wikipedia loves art

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has announced its participation is a really interesting initiative -- help illustrate Wikipedia articles with your images of art from their collection. Photograph items from the collection, following some guidelines, upload your images to flickr, and your images will likely be used to illustrate a Wikipedia article.

Over the next month we are participating in Wikipedia Loves Art, a scavenger hunt and free content photography contest among 15 museums and cultural institutions worldwide. The project, in conjunction with Flickr, is aimed at illustrating Wikipedia articles. The event is planned to run for the whole month of February 2009.

We're inviting you to come into the museum and shoot photos of our artworks based on various themes. You can shoot on your own or form a small team (10 people, tops). The photogs or teams with the most points will win prizes.

The details about participation are available at Wikipedia.

This is part of the larger Wikipedia Loves Art project where a number of museums are participating in a scavenger hunt. The only thing that is not clear to me is what the Wikipedia articles that these images will illustrate are about. Scholarly topics? Topics related to art and art history? Articles about the museums or the specific works of art? I am curious.

DCC paper on interoperability

The Digital Curation Centre has released a short briefing paper on interoperability. Its a good, brief primer on the basic issues.

JHOVE2 requirements available

The latest version of the JHOVE2 Functional Requirements have been posted. I'm still interested in what isn't documented yet, e.g., the final list of formats that will be supported.