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Digital Access Committee (DAC) Meeting

Today we had a CRRA Digital Access Committee (DAC) meeting via the telephone. Attendees included:

  • Ann Hanlon
  • Demian Katz
  • Eric Frierson
  • Eric Morgan
  • Kevin Cawley
  • Pat Lawton
  • Susan Leister
  • Thomas Leonhardt

I did a bit of "Portal" show & tell demonstrating the work done to date on indexing EAD files. (See the previous blog posting.) We then discussed ways the indexing/display could be improved. Suggestions included:

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Indexing MARC and EAD in VUFind with Solr for the CRRA

This posting outlines how I am currently indexing MARC and EAD files in VUFind with Solr for the CRRA. (Boy, there are a lot of acronyms in that sentence!)


The Catholic Research Resources Alliance (CRRA) is a member-driven organization with the purpose of making available "rare, unique, and uncommon" research materials for Catholic scholarship. Presently the membership is primarily made up of libraries and archives who pool together their metadata records, have them indexed, and provide access to the index. My responsibility is to build and maintain the technical infrastructure supporting this endeavor.

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Very satisfying!

I have made significant progress in the process of harvesting EAD files and preparing them for ingestion into the "Catholic Portal". This posting outlines the successes.

Assuming a Catholic Research Resources Alliance members place their EAD files in a HTTP-accessible directory, and those files have a .xml extension, then the following Perl scripts enable me to harvest and prepare them for indexing:

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EAD @ Marquette 4 CRRA

This is the briefest of travelogues reporting on a meeting about EAD files at Marquette University for the Catholic Research Resources Alliance on September 20, 2010.

marquette sights

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Today I indexed some of the metadata I extracted yesterday using a script called Of all the scripts I've written so far, this one is the most straight-forward. Read locally-developed XML file. Extract the unique identifier, title, and date. Associate each with VUFind/Solr fields. Commit.

You can (temporarily) see the fruits of these labors because all of the records have been associated with the Eric Lease Morgan Foo Bar Library. The result is a list of container-level records with very little additional information.

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CRRA Update September 2010

CRRA Update

In this update …

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Preparing EAD files for indexing

This posting outlines how I plan to prepare EAD files for indexing with Solr, the underlying indexing technology of VUFind.

The problem

I am aggregating sets of EAD files from Catholic Research Resource Alliance members. I am expected to index these files at the most granular level possible -- meaning at the did level. In order to satisfy both human and computer requirements, each indexed record needs at least a unique identifier, a human-readable descriptor, and a location code. The unique identifier can be gotten from the unitid element. The human-readable descriptor can come from the unittitle. The location code can be inferred from the url attribute of the eadid element.

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Adding unitid elements to did elements

This posting outlines how I believe I will add unitid elements to did elements of EAD files.

The problem

As the CRRA matures, I expect a greater amount of the metadata ingested into the "portal" will come from EAD files. In order to index EAD files meaningfully, I need to extract unique identifiers from each container-level element, a human-readable description of the container, and a location code. The identifier and human-readable description can easily come from unitid and unititle elements of did elements.

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VuFind 2.0 Conference

VUFind is the technical backbone of the "Catholic Portal", and this posting documents my experiences at the VuFind 2.0 Conference held at the Villanova Conference Center on September 15 & 16, 2010. In short, it provided an opportunity for the community to share successes, challenges, and visions for the future.

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CRRA in San Diego, January 2011

We invite you to attend the CRRA reunion and discussions in San Diego on Thursday afternoon, January 6, 2011. We are scheduling this meeting before the ALA Midwinter Meeting meetings begin on Friday in hopes that many of you who are attending the ALA meetings will be able to join in the CRRA discussions as well.

At this time, we are putting together what promises to be a set of lively and informative discussions. This will be an opportunity to talk about CRRA activities taking place at your library, to discuss progress to date on the 2010/11 goals in the strategic plan, and to explore our readiness to promote the Catholic portal to librarians and scholars. VuFind 1.0 will be very near to being ready for implementation and this will be an opportunity to explore its functionality. Also, we will take a look at how the contents on the portal are growing particularly in regard to adding rare, unique and uncommon archival collections and other materials. The outlines of the proposal to be submitted to the NEH Challenge Grant will be ready for discussion. And, we want to hear from everyone – new and continuing members – how things are going at your library. Very importantly, this is an occasion to network and socialize with your CRRA colleagues.

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VUFind "Midwest" User's Group Meeting

An inaugural VUFind "Midwest" User's Group Meeting was held Friday, September 3, and this posting outlines my perceptions of what happened there.

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Collection Policy Statement for the Catholic Portal

(The following is the current collection policy for the Catholic Portal.)

Collection Policy Statement for the Catholic Portal

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CRRA Update August 2010

CRRA Update AUGUST 2010

We are pleased to announce that St. Joseph’s University’s (Philadelphia) Francis A. Drexel Library, under the leadership of Evelyn Minick, is the newest and twelfth member of the CRRA. St. Joseph’s brings a host of resources to the CRRA, including the Jesuitica Collection.

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Where in the world is the CRRA?

Pat and I are in the process of mapping the locations of CRRA members, below:

View CRRA Members in a larger map

Harvesting, updating, and re-indexing

This posting describes the automated process I am currently using to harvest, update, and re-index the MARC records of the "Catholic Portal".

Step #1 - Make a list

Librarians love lists, and I am no exception. The process begins with a list (databases) of CRRA members who have MARC metadata to share. Each item in the list includes the following fields:

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Making your content available

Pat Lawton and I created this (updated) outline -- a recipe -- for getting CRRA member metadata records into the "Catholic Portal." It is also available as a PDF document designed for printing.

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Web 2.0 features

After tweaking with VUFind's configuration files, our "sandbox" implementation of the "Catholic Portal" now supports many (if not all) of VUFind's Web 2.0 features -- faceted browse, favorites, cover art, reviews, author blurbs, etc. Please give them a whirl. Create an account for yourself and add some items to your Favorites.

NTS ("note to self"), the account creation process did not work until I changed the value of RewriteBase in my httpd.conf file from /vufind to /.

Help wanted

Help wanted. Is there anybody out there in CRRA Land who can help me customize the look & feel of our "Catholic Portal"?

For better or for worse, people increasingly rank their likes or dislikes of a website based on it's graphic design. Certainly, usability, functionality, and completeness are very important qualities but so are aesthetics.

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VUFind (version 1.0.1)

I have installed VUFind (version 1.0.1) on our development server, and the address is

At the present time you won't find very much there except our indexed metadata records -- about 60,000 of them. The next steps are to edit some of the underlying configurations to enable bits of functionality (call number displays, cover art, user reviews, etc.) The bigger issues to be resolved include: 1) giving our implementation the CRRA look & feel, and 2) indexing did-level data found in EAD files. More on these things later.

CRRA Update July 2010

CRRA Update JULY 2010

  • Highlights from the June 29, 2010 CRRA All-Members Meeting at Georgetown
  • Next steps
  • Member News
  • Might be of interest ...
  • Mark your calendars ... For two upcoming CRRA Gatherings January 6, 2011 (San Diego) and March 29, 2011 (Philadelphia)

Highlights from the June 29, 2010 CRRA All-Members Meeting at Georgetown

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