Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tuesday afternoon at TCDL...focus on ETDs

Tuesday afternoon I attended the ETD Forum which made the entire trip worthwhile. Laura Hammons of the Texas A&M University Graduate School facilitated the afternoon and provided a lot of great information. First, she's been instrumental in creating a group called TxETDA, the Texas ETD Association, which is dedicated to developing a network of support for ETD users in the state of Texas, providing a forum for professional development and sharing of best practices, promoting ETD submission at institutions throughout the state, and guiding future development of the TDL Thesis and Dissertation Management System, Vireo.

One of the things their education committee did was share best practices and share information about training and other resources outside of ETDA on their web page (above) and their blog which is located at

Another was to increase the visibility of the association through conference planning and creating links to other etd related groups.

Their listserv is at They are also creating a list of institutions with links to grad schools and libraries who are doing ETDs. In collaboration with the Ohio ETD Association they're working to create a national ETD Association.

Tuesday morning at TCDL....ennhh

Ok, I'll admit it. Some of this is way over my head. And some of it is a bit on the dull side. This morning I heard four speakers. The first three were essentially updates on different pieces of the digital library puzzle that relate to the TDL. Chris Jordan spoke about the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) which provides storage and preservation for TDL. Then Michael Phillips spoke about the Lonestar Education and Research Network (LEARN) which supports data transfer for TDL. Peter Nurnberg spoke about the TDL Preservation Network (PresNet). Reagan Moore from the UNC Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science was supposed to give the closing keynote address but the technology failed (the laptop/projector combination stopped working) so he led a conversation on data management that was so technical that I was lost.

However, during the break between the first three speakers and the last I had the luck to meet folks from both TAMU-Kingsville and UT Brownsville who are at roughly the same point in TDL/IR installation & set up that we at TAMU-CC are. Both very nice, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic about collaborating. UT Brownsville is going to be holding a "TDL Day" for their faculty this fall and has invited me down for the event.

Monday, May 17, 2010

More from TCDL

This afternoon's sessions brought us up to date with the work that's going on at TDL. It's really pretty amazing.

A couple of faculty from the ISchool here at UT Austin, Unmil Karadkar and Luis Francisco-Revilla, suggest that one solution for meeting TDL's increased needs (financial, temporal, human resources) is to partner with other units on TDL campuses. Not to be confused with the beta versions of institutional IRs hosted by TDL e.g., TDL Labs is a test bed for that collaboration. Among their ideas are research conducted by students and a collaborative matchmaking database where projects for which specific skills are needed would be matched with scholars at TDL institutions who possess those skills.

Peter Nurnberg, Chief Technology Officer for the Texas Digital Libraries, presented an update of progress on Vireo, TDL's electronic thesis and dissertation management software. Although not all TDL institutions are using Vireo, they have deployed Vireo lab instances for all TDL institutions in order to respond to requests for trials more quickly. Of the TDL institutions that are in production with Vireo, Texas
A&M and Texas Tech maintain their own Vireo servers, the rest are hosted at TDL and thus upgraded all at the same time and in the same way.

They’re going to put Verio into open source production on 1 September 2010. Both MIT and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have signed on as developers/users and they’re in talks with the California Digital Library.

One of the really interesting things about this conference is learning a little more about the software development process and work flows for collaboration and momentum and development methodologies like kanban (used for Vireo) and scrum (used for TDL).

Finally, Mark McFarland, co-director of TDL, gave an update on TDL overall. He recapped some of what was included in the Vireo update and then moved on to several other TDL project. First, TxLOR (Texas Learning Objects Repository) will be “hardened” (that's a development term I learned that means settled on for sure) this summer and deployed this fall. Their other focus for the upcoming summer is the Preservation Network.

Mark also mentioned that TDL has signed a contract Texas Advanced Center for Computing which will provide them with 80 terabytes of storage (that's 1024 gigs per terabyte). They'll distribute this to TDL member institutions at a minimum of 8 TB for each Tier 1 institution, 4 TB for each Tier 2 institution and 2 TB for Tier 3 institutions. These minimum amounts will be included in each institution's membership fees. Additional storage will be available at an additional, but still deeply discounted prices.

They've also done some work on providing usage stats to TDL members. They’ve outsourced the development and plan to begin to integrate it into TDL over the summer. And finally, they’ve “gotten out of the business” of "hand holding" through the Shibboleth install process. Paul Caskey from LEARN is now providing Shibboleth support for TDL members.

TCDL 2010

So here I am at the Texas Conference on Digital Libraries in Austin, TX. It’s an interesting crowd in attendance. There are about 110 of us (intimate compared to ALA) including lots of computer scientist from the looks of the list of attendees. And lots of suits in the audience this morning. Wonder if they’re really administrative types with computer science “roots”?

Keynote speaker this morning is Leslie Carr, senior lecturer in the Intelligence, Agents, and Multimedia Group in the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southhamton, on the directions IRs have taken in the UK, Europe, Australia, and the US. He suggests that, in UK there is greater emphasis and requirement for institutions to take responsibility for accounting for the federal, public research funds that they receive. There’s a national research assessment process. He doesn’t see that emphasis being made in the US. The response is/was for repositories to position themselves as providing a catalog of research output. The advantage of this is that it positions the repository at the heart of the institution. The disadvantage is that it diverts the repositories’ attention to their original goal of providing open access to research results.

I guess I disagree, from the perspective of the US, I think the assessment side goes hand in hand with providing open access to research results to the people who really paid for it, the taxpayers.

Interesting closing idea, that librarians are mediating new practices, e.g. the creation of repositories, open access, and science 2.0, at the same time they are enforcing historic norms like copyright, privacy, and intellectual property.

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