random quote Link: Publications Link: Forum Link: About DLF Link: News
Search this site
Link: Digital Collections Link: Digital Production Link: Digital Preservation Link: Use, users, and user support Link: Build: Digital Library Architectures, Systems, and Tools
photo of computer chip
Back to all DLF Newsletters

Back to all Publications

New York University
Report to the Digital Library Federation
October, 2004

I. Collections, services, and systems

A. Collections

Afghanistan Digital Library

The ultimate purpose of the project is to make available, both on readable electronic media and on the internet, the entire publishing output of Afghanistan, searchable by title, author, subject, and date. The project will begin with the earliest books and proceed chronologically. At some point, a decision may be made to expand the scope to include rare newspapers, journals, and government documents but at the outset the project will be limited to books.

Database of Recorded American Music

The Database of Recorded American Music (DRAM) is a joint project of New World Records and New York University, aimed at developing a searchable, comprehensive collection of recordings of American music. The scope of the database has been expanded from the holdings of New World Records to include music from the CRI and Albany Records catalogs, as well as a variety of other music publishers. Authentication and authorization services for DRAM are now handled by the Internet2 Shibboleth protocol, and the project is now providing Indiana University and Dartmouth College with access to DRAM.

Hemispheric Institute

The Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, based at the Tisch School of the Arts, and NYU's Digital Library program are developing a digital video library focusing on the overlapping areas of aesthetic and political performance in the Americas. The library, when completed, will provide students, scholars and artists with access to rare documentation of social performance. It is also providing NYU Libraries with a unique opportunity to explore the issues surrounding the preservation of digital video materials.

Richard Maass Collection

New York Historical Society, The Fales Library at NYU and NYU's Digital Library Team are currently collaborating on a project to create a digital library of primary source material from the American Revolutionary War documenting events in the New York City region. Material to be added to the library include all of the items in the Richard Maass Collection at Fales, one of the more significant collections of material documenting activities during America's Revolutionary War in New York State, the William Alexander manuscripts from the New York Historical Society, and the Robert Erskine/Simeon De Witt collection of survey maps from New York Historical Society.

B. Services

The Arch

Both NYU students and faculty continually request the ability to identify electronic resources broadly applicable within their discipline. In order to support this, NYU Libraries have created The Arch, a HTTP/Z39.50 gateway which exploits enhanced descriptive metadata within the BobCat OPAC system to allow NYU's users to hunt for electronic resources by topic and format.

C. Systems

Shibbolized Darwin Streaming Server

NYU's Digital Library Team has implemented the Shibboleth
system for authentication and access control in the Database of Recorded American Music (see above). This involved developing a bridging mechanism to allow the credentials established in a Shibboleth-based login taking place through an Apache module to be carried over into the user's interaction with the Darwin Streaming Server we are employing for delivering streaming audio files. Both the Apache code and our modifications to the Darwin Streaming Server are available upon request. http://dram.nyu.edu/

II. Projects and programs

A. Projects

New Project Announcements

Digital Archive of Public Television (NDIIPP)
In collaboration with the Educational Broadcasting Corporation (EBC), WGBH Educational Foundation, and the Public Broadcasting Service, New York University (NYU) is participating in a project sponsored under the National Digital Information Infrastructure Preservation Program to establish the first procedures, structures and national standards necessary to preserve public television programs produced in digital formats. EBC and WGBH are the two largest producers of public television content in the United States. Through PBS, their productions are made available to audiences from coast-to-coast. Together, these three entities produce and distribute the majority of public television in the United States. The four partners will focus on such influential series as "Nature," "American Masters," "NOVA" and "Frontline," which are increasingly being produced only in digital formats, including the new high-definition standard (HDTV). The project will also examine issues associated with the preservation of important corollary content, such as Web sites that accompany broadcasts.

Archiving the Political Web (NDIIPP)
Working with the California Digital Library, the University of North Texas, San Diego Supercomputer Center, Stanford University Computer Science Department and Sun Microsystems Inc., NYU's Digital Library Team is seeking to develop Web archiving tools that will be used by libraries to capture, curate and preserve collections of Web-based government and political information. The collections will focus on local political activities and movements, such as the California gubernatorial recall election of 2003.

Archivists' Toolkit
This project, a collaboration between the UCSD Libraries, New York University Libraries, and the Five Colleges, Inc., is developing an open source application that will provide archives with a turn-key system to support major archival functions and activities. The objective is a system that will support all aspects and functions of archival administration and description (including components for digital and analog media asset tracking and management), and which will be easily deployable in a range of archival repositories from small historical societies to large multi-repository consortia such as the Online Archive of California.

B. Programs


NYU continues to take a leading role in the Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS). METS has been submitted to the National Information Standards Organization for registration. The METS editorial board has begun to actively reach out to other standards efforts, such as the IMS Global Consortium developing standards for courseware systems, in order to promote and insure METS' interoperability with other relevant document standards for research and education.


The increasing amount of content contained within NYU's digital library server has mandated the quick implementation of a repository system to assist in the process of managing our content. We have selected the DSpace software as the basis for our digital library repository. We will be working with the DSpace Federation to try to augment the DSpace code to add support for the enhanced descriptive, administrative and structural metadata that libraries need to manage complex content.

III. Specific Digital Library Challenges

Colloborating to build on Prior Work

Our experiences at the NYU Digital Library Team over the past several years have taught us that we do not have the staff resources sufficient to develop the various systems we need to create, manage, disseminate and preserve content on our own. Not only our future growth, but our survival will depend on effective collaboration with partners, both in the DLF and outside, to combine and build upon our various efforts to create digital library systems to support the services we wish to provide our users. However, mechanisms for in-depth technical collaboration on digital library systems, while available, do not appear to have been widely used by our community, and many institutions appear to be reluctant to share much of their internal work. While there are some positive signs in this regard, such as the use of SourceForge as the new home for development the DSpace institutional repository system, there are still many unresolved questions regarding how multiple institutions can effectively work together on a common, large-scale project to develop tools that work for all of us.

Colloborating with New Communities

As libraries increase their holdings of electronic media and their use of network systems to make those holdings available, we are increasingly finding that standards and best practices established by other communities impinge on our abilty to serve our patrons, and our own standards and practices are, in turn, impinging on other organizations' ability to do their work. Standards set for network authentication and access control determine how we are able to securely deliver content; systems for digital rights management directly affect our ability to preserve material for future use; our standards with respect to creating digital content and organizing have a direct impact on our users' ability to take advantage of the materials we offer, as well as on the ability of other systems, such as eLearning and courseware software, to easily integrate with our own. We in the library community need to become more active participants in standards bodies which we previously have ignored, and must do a better job of identifying stakeholders outside our community and proactively work to include them in discussions regarding standards and practices which affect us all.

Need for Standards

While we have made great progress in the past several years in developing standards for handling of digital materials, there is still a great deal of work that needs to be done in this arena. Technical metadata standards for audio/visual materials are being developed, but are highly settled, and standards for technical metadata for formats such as vector graphics, 3D images, and executables are non-existent. We also badly need standards for preservation metadata, particularly for maintaining an audit trail documenting a digital object's life-cycle. While there are standards available for digital rights & permissions information, these were for the most part not developed by the library community (with the notable exception of the DLF-sponsored Electronic Resource Management Initiative) and there is a need to experiment with these standards from other communities and see if they can be adopted for library use.

IV. Digital library publications, policies, working papers, and other documents

  • McDonough, Jerome. "Preservation-worthy Digital Video: or, How to Drive your Library into Chapter 11." Proceedings of the Electronic Media Group of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works Annual Meeting, Hilton Portland and Executive Tower Portland, Oregon, June 9-14, 2004 http://aic.stanford.edu/sg/emg/pdfs/McDonough-EMG2004.pdf

  • Reilly, Bernard, Gretchen Tuchel, James Simon, Carolyn Palaima, Kent Norsworthy and Leslie Myrick. Political Communications Web Archiving: Addressing Typology and Timing for Selection, Preservation and Access. http://bibnum.bnf.fr/ecdl/2003/proceedings.php?f=reilly

return to top >>