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Libraries create software system that's adopted by the Library of Congress

Front page image of the Moving Images Collection website.


Front page image of the New Jersey Digital Highway website.

The Rutgers University Libraries continue to impress prominent federal agencies.

In 2003 the Libraries, in partnership with the New Jersey State Library, received a $460,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The grant funded efforts to build the "New Jersey Digital Highway," a web-based portal to the state's rich historical and cultural heritage materials. The Libraries selected Fedora, an open source information architecture, as the framework for the New Jersey Digital Highway. Fedora is an impressive program that allows the Libraries to manage and preserve in perpetuity digital 'objects' such as scanned documents and photos, webpages, records, and other materials accessible from the New Jersey Digital Highway.

Yet the Libraries required other functions that Fedora doesn't offer, such as the capability to load digital objects into the system, to attach data both to the objects and related items, and the means to track the 'life' of an object through a number of 'events.' So the Libraries created a sophisticated software program to accomplish all these ends and called it the Workflow Management System.

Meanwhile another federally funded project based at the Rutgers University Libraries, the Moving Images Collections (MIC), was making good progress. Yet an important need had been identified that called out for a solution.

MIC was developed through a $900,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, received in 2002. Project co-investigators at the Rutgers University Libraries, Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Washington collaborated to build the first comprehensive online catalog of film, television and digital video images. Grace Agnew, Associate University Librarian for Digital Library Systems at Rutgers University Libraries was the principal investigator for the NSF grant and the MIC architect.

MIC currently contains more than 300,000 records from organizations such as the Library of Congress, the Peabody Collection at the University of Georgia, National Geographic Television, CNN and more. MIC has been very successful in its primary role to share information about the nation's moving image heritage. Since its launch in October 2004, MIC has been visited more than 6 million times, averaging 686 visitors each day, for a total of almost one million visitors since 2004. MIC is now in the process of transitioning to become a permanent service of the Library of Congress.

The MIC co-sponsoring organizations--the Library of Congress and the Association of Moving Image Archivists, identified as a next step the active collaboration among the nation's archives, libraries and museums, to collect data about the condition and lifecycle of their moving image collections and to share this information with each other in a MIC digital collaboration space. The Library of Congress' project manager for MIC, Jane Johnson, a visiting scholar at the Rutgers University Libraries, assessed the Workflow Management System and felt that, with some customization, the Rutgers' system could address the community's needs for a dynamic and efficient information, management and collaboration tool for moving image preservation.

The Library of Congress recognized the merits of the Workflow Management System as a "next generation" information management tool and granted the Libraries $145,000 to tailor the Workflow Management System for MIC.

The Workflow Management System has enabled the Libraries to make other contributions to the fields of inquiry, scholarship, and intellectual growth outside Rutgers as well. The Libraries will be moving the Workflow Management System into the open source software community to benefit other libraries and digital consortia. In summer 2007 the Libraries will share the Workflow Management System with the libraries at Northwestern University, Penn State and Princeton University, who will collaborate in its further development and release as an open source product in a library cyberinfrastructure consortium led by Rutgers University Libraries.

In addition, Virginia Tech is seriously considering joining the consortium as it seeks to build a digital repository for its campus and users. The Rutgers University Libraries will be assisting Virginia Tech in opening a digital memorial collection to the tragedy that occurred on that campus last spring, by sharing its Workflow Management System and its "dynamic collection" capability. The Rutgers University Libraries will enable the Virginia Tech Library to build a full repository from community members submissions.

The Workflow Management System is a component of RUcore, the Libraries robust collection and service cyberinfrastructure that also includes the Fedora repository and a dynamic collections facility. RUcore's capability to host a 'dynamic collection' provides the appearance that the collection is hosted on an outside group's website, while the searches and retrieving of resources take place through the RUcore repository. The intent behind dynamic collections is that content ownership, organization and look and feel belong to the 'local' division, department, or office, while preservation, management and dynamic updating are handled by RUcore.

For more information on the New Jersey Digital Highway, please see:
http://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/rul/news/archive_03/2003_10_njh.shtml

For more information on the Moving Images Collection project, please see:
http://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/rul/news/archive_02/2002_11_moving_images_grant.shtml

Posted July 25, 2007