Yale University Library
Report to the Digital Library Federation
October, 2005


  1. Collections, services, and systems
  2. Projects and programs
  3. Digital library publications, policies, working papers, and other documents

I. Collections, services, and systems

A. Collections

Beinecke Digital Library

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library is Yale University's principal repository for literary papers and for early manuscripts and rare books in the fields of literature, theology, history, and the natural sciences. The library is actively developing its collection of digital images of its holdings and providing online access to over 100,000 images. Beinecke Digital Images Online contains images of photographs, manuscripts (many scanned in entirety), correspondence, artwork, objects, and illustrations as well as selected pages from printed works in the Beinecke's collections.

Medical Library Digital Library

The Cushing/Whitney Medical Digital Library is a growing collection of digital resources made available on the Web for scholarship. The collections are powered by Greenstone digital library software.

Portrait Engravings Collection

In the era before photography, portrait engravings were the only means of distributing images of famous individuals, including noted physicians and scientists. Many of these portraits were engraved from oil paintings, though some were based on sketches from life. Historians have recently begun to examine them for insights into the medical profession's self-image. The Historical Library's engraved portraits number in the thousands, and date from the sixteenth to the late-nineteenth century. They are stored in folders by sizes: small, medium, and large. The project to scan them for the Digital Library is ongoing. We have begun with the Vesalius portraits, many collected by Harvey Cushing, and are continuing with the portraits in the medium size folders, arranged alphabetically.

Harvey Cushing, a Biography

John F. Fulton’s biography of his mentor and friend, Harvey Cushing, was the first book-length biography of the great neurosurgeon and teacher and has remained the standard source on his life. When Cushing died in 1939, he left funds in his will for his wife and Fulton, his literary executor, to compile a biography if they “feel that the publication of my biography may be of interest or help to medical students.” Copiously illustrated with photographs and Cushing’s own drawings, Harvey Cushing: A Biography was published for the Historical Library in 1946 and dedicated to Cushing’s wife, Kate Crowell Cushing.

B. Services

MetaLib Development

MetaLib (v.3.12) was made available to our patrons in June 2005. Currently, an implementation group is modifying the public interface based on the results of usability studies and simultaneously implementing new features available in v.3.13. Additional work includes: investigating deep linking applications, using MetaIndex to harvest local Open Archives Initiative-Protocol for Metadata Harvesting-compliant databases (such as Yale Finding Aids), and integrating MetaLib services into Yale's portal and course management systems.

C. Systems

Digital Repository Review

The Yale University Library has begun a trial with a vendor to evaluate a digital repository based on Fedora architecture. Any digital repository at Yale would have to support a diverse community of scholars with idiosyncratic requirements for their specialized digital collections. The Library is exploring this product through a group of stakeholders with in-depth knowledge of the content of various collections throughout the Library. These stakeholders are specifying the required infrastructure of the repository by defining use cases; descriptions of real-world applications that the repository must be able to perform. We believe this process provides the best opportunity to establish community adoption and use of a common information infrastructure for both centralized and distributed digital collections.

Electronic Resource Management

The Yale University Library has begun to implement the Electronic Resource Management (ERM) software from Ex Libris, Verde. The ERM will provide a receptacle for administrative, subscription, holdings, and licensing information about electronic resources, and will allow integration with SFX for display of access and permissions information to patrons. The implementation process will involve migrating information from a homegrown database, and establishing connections to acquisitions records in the Voyager integrated library system.

Library Integration with Uportal

The Library continues efforts to integrate dynamic library content with the University's uPortal application. Notices about Library news, events and exhibits are available to all uPortal users. Authenticated Library affiliates also have access to their patron information including a list of the books they have checked out, their fines and availability of requested items. Current development focuses on the integration of course-specific reserved reading materials from the Voyager integrated library management system.

Rescue Repository

This system established centralized, well-protected storage for master digital resources from Library digital collections. Since many files originally resided on potentially unstable CDs, DVDs, tape and other media, the rescue repository serves as a "safe haven" for these resources. The purpose is to provide short-term relief from concerns such as media decay, obsolescence, damage, loss, etc., while a more robust open archival information compliant digital preservation repository is carefully planned, designed and implemented over the next three years. The rescue repository is a simple file-level system containing the master files residing within a directory structure designed to emulate the hierarchy from the original source collections. A Java-based administration tool manages file ingest, retrieval and deletion and incorporates JSTOR/Harvard Object Validation Environment (JHOVE) for format validation.

II. Projects and programs

A. Projects

New Project Announcements

Collections Collaborative

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Yale University $409,000 to undertake an initiative to improve the visibility of and access to the archival, manuscript, and other unique collection holdings of its museums and libraries. The three year initiative will support the development of search capabilities across the disparate systems maintained in the repositories, enhancements to reference and referral networks, and sharing of specialized processing and technological expertise and capabilities. Funding supports the initiative coordinator; meetings, consultants, and consultation with related projects outside Yale; and a regrant program within the university for collaborative projects that advance the initiative's goals.

Library Groupware Project

The Library Groupware project is a joint effort of Yale University Library, the Yale Center for Medical Informatics and Yale Academic Media and Technology. The project seeks to develop and assess a collaboration environment linking broad areas of web resources with the University Learning management system through a web service for collecting, annotating, and selectively sharing links. Groups using the service can be preauthorized through the University Central Authentication Service to access one or more public or private areas where resources related to a particular course or project are gathered. Students or instructors can also search the associated metadata for each cited resource to discover related materials. OpenURL links are automatically resolved. The site is also enabled for direct SRU/SRW searching and by predefined RSS and MODS streams for distribution, both of which can be used in the construction of Course materials. An early version of the service was linked to the Medical Library Blackboard Course Management System, and the current version is accessible from the newer Sakai based Classesv2 site. The link sharing and tagging portion of the project is based on the unalog open source social bookmarking system. The tools for incorporation into Sakai are planned for Sakai release 2.1 in January.

Arabic and Middle East Electronic Library (AMEEL)

Yale University Library has received funding to develop an Arabic and Middle East Electronic Library (AMEEL). This grant of $750,000 was awarded under the US Department of Education's Title VI TICFIA (Technological Innovation and Cooperation for Foreign Information Access) Program. Under the four-year term of the AMEEL grant, which begins on October 1, 2005, Yale library staff will lead and coordinate a team of publishing, library, and other partners around the world in a collaborative virtual library project that will make available important Middle Eastern resources. The project aspires to: (1) develop an infrastructure for digital content from diverse sources to be integrated into AMEEL; (2) digitize key journals on or about the Middle East, with particular emphasis on fully searchable Arabic texts; (3) build and expand capacity for Arabic full text scanning into US and other libraries through workshops developed and led by experts in this area; and (4) develop protocols to facilitate interlibrary lending between US and Middle Eastern libraries.

Update on Existing Projects

Electronic Records Preservation

Manuscripts and Archives of Yale University Library and the Digital Collections and Archives, Tufts University continue to collaborate on a National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) electronic records research grant project to synthesize electronic records preservation research with digital library repository research in an effort to develop systems capable of preserving university electronic records at both institutions. Recent projects outcomes include the completion of the Ingest Guide for University Electronic Records, a research document for which the project seeks public input and comment. The Ingest Guide describes the interaction between university archives and records producers and discusses the challenges of preserving electronic records in a meaningful way such that the authenticity and integrity of records is preserved during their movement from a record-keeping system to a preservation system. Other forthcoming products from the project include a report on requirements for trustworthy recordkeeping and preservation systems, a guide to maintaining electronic records in a preservation system, and a report on Fedora's (Flexible Extensible Digital Object and Repository Architecture) ability to maintain electronic records.

OACIS for the Middle East (Online Access to Consolidated Information on Serials)

The project completed its original three-year term on September 30, 2005. Yale University Library and the institutions making up the OACIS Advisory Board have agreed to sustainability agreements on a repeating 3-year basis so that OACIS will continue to serve the academic community. The union catalog now has 14 US, 1 German, and 4 Middle Eastern universities involved in the project. Three more US libraries, one from the United Kingdom, and one from Lebanon are poised to add their serials data to the catalog. The project team finished the final year with two successful experiments: 1) to incorporate digitized text into the catalog holdings, and 2) to facilitate Inter Library Loan requests.

B. Programs

Digital Preservation Program

Concluding the first year of a three-year effort to develop a digital preservation infrastructure, the library recently published a Digital Preservation Policy. The Library is establishing procedures and best practices for institutional standards governing the quality, type and source of digital assets to be archived, life-cycle management of these assets, and preservation metadata elements to be used to manage digital resources of all kinds. The ultimate goal of this program is an affordable, sustainable and standards-based digital preservation program that is integrated among the Library's core services.

Digital Production and Integration Program

The library has launched a Digital Production and Integration Program (DPIP), a nascent initiative whose definition has evolved over the past several months to include three major components: a) Market/User Research Services (including assessment and usability efforts), b) Digital Production and Content Integration Services and c) Consultation, Advisory, Referral and Management Services. With a sharp focus on the second of these objectives, a newly appointed DPIP Production and Content Integration Working Group will analyze needs for digitization services in the library (e.g. scanning, text markup, metadata creation), will develop plans and priorities for implementation of targeted services, and will in the course of the coming year introduce selected services along with associated policies and guidelines for best practices. The primary goal will be to satisfy important unmet needs.

Portal Opportunities Group

The Library is engaged in an initiative to integrate its services in the diverse external environments where our readers and researchers conduct their daily intellectual lives: course management systems, non-library portals, personal information management tools, etc. The Portal Opportunities Group (POG) was charged to investigate and document library portal and interface development projects at peer institutions and at Yale, with particular emphasis on opportunities presented by the local implementation of the Sakai course management system. The POG report discusses the results of its environmental scan and outlines recommended policies, projects, and use cases that together form a vision of an integrated library services program at Yale.

Usability Program

The Library is developing a three-year plan to incorporate user-centered design and usability standards and best practices into all its digital services. The goal of the usability program will be ensure that the needs of the end-user are represented, considered and acted upon in the life cycle of all digital projects. The Library has begun early stages of implementation with the creation of a portable usability "lab" which will provide a means of gathering data from users during usability protocol tests. Morae software has been purchased to facilitate both the capture of video, audio and live screen shots of the user-tests; and the dissemination of test results to Library staff. The first use of this software has been in testing the Library's Metalib implementation.

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

Digital Repository White Paper

The Yale Library recently issued a report on the issues surrounding digital repositories from a broad institutionalized perspective. The research project sought to articulate the different interpretations of institutional repositories and illustrate then with examples from other academic institutions. For example, a typology of digital repositories was defined that showed that digital repositories are used in academic institutions as (1) safe harbors for faculty output (2) mechanisms for supporting scholarly publishing, open access and institutional branding (3) homes for digital collections and (4) infrastructure for long term preservation. The report places digital repositories within a framework of services and interfaces and presents needs assessments and use cases as ways of evaluating roles of digital repositories. The report also acknowledges that the application of digital repositories, on campus, will be influenced by faculty-driven requirements, content management practices and sustainability models.