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OIS News -- July 2001

Feature

Introducing Digital Repository Services (DRS)

What is DRS?
Why do we need a digital repository?
Who can use DRS? How to get started?
What is in DRS now?
What are DRS costs?
How to deposit to the DRS: owner and depositing agent
Support when using DRS
Future developments

HOLLIS ILS

FY01 Mediated report requests
Using HOLLIS Distributed Reporting for Fiscal Year Reporting
Invoice file weeded

Under development

Aleph Implementation Project update
Harvard test system
Implementation team activities
Staff training plans
Harvard attends North American Aleph User Group

Migration to the University PIN service for HOLLIS Portal Resources

Notes & reminders

LDI Internal Challenge Grant Program
New on the OIS web site

URLs in this issue

 

Feature

Introducing Digital Repository Services (DRS)

The Digital Repository Service (DRS) offers Harvard-affiliated owners of digital material a secure, managed storage and retrieval system for their collections. DRS has been in operation for LDI projects since Fall 2000 but became more generally available during Spring 2001. At a 24 May open meeting, OIS introduced DRS to an overflow crowd from the Harvard library, archive, and museum communities. This article summarizes the major points of the presentation. Slides from the presentation are also available on the web:

http://hul.harvard.edu/ois/systems/drs/introdrs.html

Sections in this article include:

What is DRS?

What is in DRS now?

Support when using DRS

Why do we need a digital repository? What are DRS costs? Future developments
Who can use DRS?
How to get started
How to deposit?  

 

What is DRS?

DRS is a repository for digital objects, similar in concept to the Harvard Depository (designed for printed materials). Both offer a storage facility for materials as well as services that make the deposit, management and delivery of materials efficient and secure. In both cases, preserving the usability of deposited materials is an important concern. DRS services and facilities include:

  • an electronic storage facility for digital objects created, purchased, or licensed by Harvard agencies,
  • management of administrative and structural metadata associated with stored objects,
  • preservation policies and procedures to insure the continued usability of stored objects, and
  • secure delivery of objects for use outside of DRS (for example, access from an online catalog, a web browser, etc.).

DRS is a key component of the Library Digital Initiative's (LDI) technical infrastructure -- a collection of common systems and services that make it possible to store, organize and access digital materials.

Why do we need a digital repository?

Harvard organizations involved in digitization or digital reformatting projects quickly realize that the number of objects these projects generate proliferates rapidly. For example, a set of technical reports in a print collection might occupy 20 or 30 linear feet of shelf space, while the digitized versions can easily mean hundreds of thousands of digital objects and a large amount of metadata about the objects. Managing objects and their metadata over time is a difficult and expensive endeavor, given the high volume and complexity of the data. And then there is the challenge of maintaining the usability of objects in an environment of rapid technological change.

Detailed examples of why DRS is necessary appear in the slide presentation.

Who can use DRS? How to get started?

Any Harvard organizational entity is eligible to use DRS. An organizational entity might be a library, a museum, an archive or a department within such an organization. Individual members of the Harvard community are also welcome, with an organizational sponsor. The key criteria for eligibility is that an organization is prepared to provide long-term financial and curatorial responsibility for digital collections deposited in DRS. Details about eligibility appear in the DRS Policy Guide.

Planning to use DRS takes 3-4 months. Potential customers are encouraged to contact the DRS Coordinator in OIS well in advance of the expected start date of their project. The DRS section of the OIS web site has Instructions on how to participate. Also, OIS sends out a quarterly DRS capacity survey asking existing and potential customers their future DRS plans. This survey is sent directly to current customers and also appears on the HULINFO discussion list. Information about the survey (and survey form) are available from the OIS web site.

What is in DRS now?

Objects deposited into DRS must be "library-like" materials with persistent value that are intended to support research. Any file format is acceptable, but only objects in approved formats are eligible for DRS preservation services. Consult the DRS Policy Guide for detailed eligibility requirements of deposited objects.

The first wave of DRS deposits have included objects generated from LDI-funded grant projects. But non-LDI projects are equally welcome. Samples of objects and cost information from three projects were described at the May open meeting:

  • Hedda Morrison Photographs of China (Harvard-Yenching Library)
    From the presentation see: sample object | project costs
  • Nineteenth-Century American Trade cards (Baker Library Historical Collections)
    From the presentation see: sample object | project costs
  • Annual Presidential Reports (part of the Online Historical Reference Shelf, a joint project of the Harvard University Archives and Radcliffe Institute Archives)
    From the presentation see: sample object | project costs

More information on these three projects is available from the LDI web site.

What are DRS costs?

DRS operating costs are funded through a partial cost-recovery model. Customers pay for the incremental cost of object storage (currently $20.50 per gigabyte of data per year). Infrastructure costs (hardware and software, system operation and maintenance) are considered a "common good" and are covered by the existing annual HOLLIS assessment.

For the first two years of any LDI-funded project, LDI will fund DRS storage and the owner will not be billed. Consult the Billing section of the DRS Policy Guide for the details.

Consult the What is in DRS now section of this article for examples of project costs.

How to deposit to the DRS: owner and depositing agent

There are two important roles in the deposit process: the object owner and the depositing agent. The object owner is responsible for making curatorial and financial decisions about deposited objects. This includes decisions about object deposit (selecting formats/preservation level and administrative metadata) as well as object delivery (since DRS policy requires that some form of object be made available to the Harvard community). Owners also must assist OIS in planning for additional DRS capacity by responding to the quarterly DRS capacity survey (details are on the OIS web site). An object owner must register with OIS before using DRS for the first time (see the DRS registration page).

The actual deposit of objects is handled by a depositing agent -- usually a reformatting facility (like an imaging lab). The agent handles the reformatting of collection materials (if needed), generates the administrative metadata (information about the objects), and deposits both objects and metadata to DRS. Owners will be able to deposit objects themselves or contract with a different organization. For many existing DRS customers, the Harvard College Library Digital Imaging Group (DIG) is providing DRS loading services. While Bill Comstock and his DIG crew are HCL-based, any Harvard organization can contract with them for DRS loading services.

The May presentation detailed the deposit and delivery decisions for three sample projects:

Support when using DRS

With a new and complex service like DRS, determining the best levels and types of support will be an ongoing challenge for OIS. General questions about DRS services and billing can be directed to an e-mail address (drs-support@hulmail.harvard.edu). Inquiries from potential new users of DRS should be directed to a different address (drscoordinator@hulmail.harvard.edu). Of course, human contact is also welcome -- call OIS (617-495-3724) and ask for either Julie Wetherill or Wendy Gogel.

The DRS section of the OIS web site offers a growing amount of information and documentation. At the moment this includes:

  • an Introduction to DRS (slide presentation)
  • DRS policy guide
  • User Manual for data loading (including the deposit DTD)
  • Owner registration form and FAQ
  • Capacity planning form

Future developments

Future releases will provide a number of service enhancements for DRS. Enhancements in DRS version 2 (due fall of 2001) include production of regular billing reports for customers and an administrative interface that will allow owners to add, update, or delete deposited objects from a web browser. Version 3 (winter 2001/2002) is expected to include object use statistics, collection management reports, and lower cost storage options. Ì

HOLLIS ILS

FY01 Mediated report requests

Mediated HOLLIS ILS reporting heats up in July and August with fiscal year report requests. After the start of the new fiscal year, OIS will produce all standard Fiscal Year reports. If you requested special reports last year, Martha Creedon will be contacting you to verify that you want the same reports this year. Please contact Martha Creedon at OIS as soon as possible to discuss new report requests. Ì

Using HOLLIS Distributed Reporting for Fiscal Year Reporting

HOLLIS Distributed Reporting users have the opportunity to produce their own ad hoc reports. This memo provides a summary of data and searching considerations for fiscal year reporting.

In general, using HOLLIS Distributed Reporting for Fiscal Year reporting will be no different than the reports that you have been generating throughout the fiscal year. The main point to remember is that DATE SELECTION is critical to getting the right information in your reports. In addition, be prepared to wait a little longer for some of these queries to return; not only is there much data to summarize, but system load is generally heavier at this time of the year.

To select dates for FY01, use Qualify on a given date BETWEEN 7/1/00 and 6/30/01. If you have questions about using the BETWEEN operator, refer to online help, your BI Query user documentation, or contact Martha Creedon at OIS.

For example, to produce a report showing items cataloged at your library by format during FY01, qualify on your Loc and on Date Cataloged BETWEEN 7/1/00 and 6/30/01. Group by FORMAT, and use Query...Modifiers...Count all to produce a count.

The following is a summary of what impact the fiscal year rollover has for certain data in HOLLIS Distributed Reporting:

ITEM DATA

The Charges YTD field in the reporting database will be RESET two weeks after the beginning of the new Fiscal Year. The reload is scheduled for Saturday, July 14. Until July 14 the table will contain the FY00 counter (except for any item records that are "touched" between July 1 and July 14; these records will be updated to reflect the online file. This lack of synchronization is why we cannot maintain the old charges counter for too long into the new fiscal year).

CIRCULATION DATA

The Circulation History file contains the previous fiscal year, current fiscal year to date, and all live charges since the beginning of online circulation. The Circulation data table will be reloaded overnight on July 1 (new data available on July 2 will contain ALL of FY01 and all live charges). Ì

Invoice file weeded

39,279 records for invoices completed before 7/1/00 were weeded from the invoice file. No fiche are produced as part of this process since invoices from FY00 were written to fiche at the end of FY00. The weeding of these records is done annually at the close of the fiscal year. If you have any questions about this, please contact Maureen O'Drisceoil or Jean Spoolstra in OIS. Ì

Under development

Aleph Implementation Project update

Implementation activities continue at a steady pace, including progress in data conversion tests, work of the implementation teams, and plans for training. Also of note: Harvard representatives attended the 2001 annual North American Aleph User Group (NAAUG) conference.

Harvard test system

OIS technical team members Charles Husbands and Richard Wenger continue to work through HOLLIS record types one-by-one, converting samples of data from each according to the Aleph specification. Ex Libris staff load these samples into Harvard's local test Aleph system and then OIS and implementation teams review the result. Since the May update, a test conversion of vendor information is done, and test conversions of patron and item information and loans are nearly done. Work on order/pay/receipt (OPR) and associated financial data has started. These are only subset test conversions; full database conversion (and loading) tests of all data will happen in early 2002.

Implementation team activities

Implementation teams have been busy learning all they can about Aleph functions. The first step for teams is to learn enough basic Aleph functionality so that they can move to the second step: changing system configuration tables to suit Harvard's organization and workflow requirements. While there has been progress, the going is sometimes slow. Initially, Aleph client interfaces feel un-intuitive to implementers accustomed to the familiarity of HOLLIS record displays and functions. To work through this, team members have been picking the brains of a few Ex Libris functional experts, in town for four days of consultation. Early reports are that these meetings have been helpful in clarifying our understanding of system functions.

Also frustrating have been problems with desktop clients. These difficulties are characteristic of the challenges of getting a test system up and running. Rocky client performance can be attributed in part to early instability of Harvard’s test system, installed with a "beta" version of the latest Aleph release (14.2). At the end of June, Harvard and Ex Libris staff had some success identifying the issues involved; improved client stability seems to be close at hand.

Despite client problems, implementation teams have been learning a great deal about Aleph. At an "all team meeting" in June, representatives from each team gave small presentations on their discoveries so far. Eventually all the teams will give presentations at the monthly Aleph Project Liaisons meeting to give liaisons a sense of how Aleph may impact library operations and workflow. Ellen Cohen presented a report from the Financial Operations team in June.

Staff training plans

The training critical needs survey process is winding down – all but a few responses have been received. The Training Advisory Group has begun to analyze the results. Staff training needs identified by this survey will be important to design of the training program.

The call for trainers was very successful – 32 staff members have been appointed as Aleph trainers. Each has been assigned to a functional area (cataloging, acquisitions/fund accounting, serials, circulation, course reserves, OPAC). All will be participating in functional training offered by Ex Libris, coming up in July and August. Activity at the moment involves the logistics of assigning trainers to Ex Libris-run training classes. Actual course development is expected to begin in the early Fall.

Harvard attends North American Aleph User Group

In early June, representatives from Harvard attended the second annual North American Aleph Users Group (NAAUG) meeting at McGill University in Montreal. The purpose of NAAUG is to represent the interests of North American customers and to influence the direction of Ex Libris development activities. It is also a great opportunity for customer sites to share their experiences, documentation and training materials. More about the June 2001 NAAUG meeting will appear in the next OIS News issue. Ì

Migration to the University PIN service for HOLLIS Portal Resources

Planning for migration to the University PIN services continues with involvement from OIS, Central Administration and HCL. This migration will move the university closer to a single sign-on for web-based systems at Harvard, and will provide a more secure authentication system than the current name/Harvard ID combination. The migration is scheduled for August 19th, 2001 which represents the lowest use period for the HOLLIS Portal. The HOLLIS online catalog will be unaffected by this change, and HOLLIS Portal users within library buildings will also be unaffected.

Ensuring that as many people as possible obtain PINs before they need them has been a central aim of the project. Many individuals at Harvard already have Pins, which are required for checking grades online at FAS and for registration at the Law School. All students currently receive Pins along with registration materials. In addition to PIN letter delivery to an on-campus address, Central Administration has recently developed an email-based delivery system for Pins Anyone with a valid Harvard ID may currently obtain a PIN at the Harvard University PIN Administration Site at http://www.pin1.harvard.edu/. Once obtained, a PIN must be changed in order to prevent its expiration.

Mechanisms to help those who forget their PIN are also being developed by Central Administration. Over the next few weeks, a system of "challenge response" questions and answers will allow those who have forgotten the PIN to obtain access by answering predetermined questions. A sample question might be "What is the name of your first grade teacher?"

Publicity for the PIN migration is also underway, and is expected to include the HOLLIS Portal site and the PIN Administration site, articles in printed publications, a handout for use in libraries, a notice about HOLLIS Portal on the PIN letter itself and mass mailings to individuals who do not currently have valid Pins Libraries are encouraged to add publicity to their own home pages, and to inform users about the project in orientation and library instruction settings.

Please contact Caren Smith in OIS for more information about the project. Ì

Notes & reminders

LDI Internal Challenge Grant Program

The new call for proposals for Round 5 of the Library Digital Initiative (LDI) Internal Challenge Grant Program will be announced October 19, 2001. Since LDI resources are fully dedicated to the development of the core infrastructure that supports projects awarded in Rounds 1-4, new proposals must show how they will use existing LDI infrastructure in a production environment. New infrastructure projects will be on hold for the next two rounds. Round 5 will be competitive with only visual material projects eligible. These projects will require matching funds on a 1:1 basis. Contact Wendy Gogel, 495-3724, for more information. Ì

New on the OIS web site

Just added to the Systems section is information on the new Digital Repository Service (DRS). Notable additions include the DRS Policy Guide (policies on operation and use of the DRS) and an Introduction to DRS (a slideshow highlighting DRS policies and services, including examples of collections on deposit). Ì

URLs in this issue

DRS overview:
http://hul.harvard.edu/ois/systems/drs/

Introduction to the Digital Repository Service (slide presentation):
http://hul.harvard.edu/ois/systems/drs/introdrs.html

DRS Policy Guide:
http://hul.harvard.edu/ois/systems/drs/policyguide.html

Current LDI projects:
http://hul.harvard.edu/ldi/html/funded_projects.html

HOLLIS assessment FY2002:
http://hul.harvard.edu/ois/about/assessment.html

Harvard University PIN administration site:
http://www.pin1.harvard.edu/

 

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