This posting outlines the possibilities for ingesting PastPerfect content into the "Catholic Portal".

As membership in the Catholic Research Resources Alliance (CRRA) grows, so does the number of metadata formats the "Catholic Portal" is expected to support. When the CRRA was just beginning MARC was the predominate metadata format. After the content of university archives was recognized as significant, EAD became very important. Some institutions use neither MARC nor EAD to describe their special collections but instead use systems like ContentDM. These sorts of things are often accessible via OAI-PMH, and thus, at the very least, harvestable Dublin Core is available. In order to support discovery, all of these types of metadata need to be parsed, mapped to VuFind's underlying Solr schema, and indexed.

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Harvesting metadata

It is imperative for CRRA member institutions to make their metadata available for harvesting via a Web server.

A couple of years ago, when the "Portal" was just beginning, the modus operandi for ingesting MARC and EAD metadata was to send it to Notre Dame, save it on local hard disk, and index it. That process worked then, but as we grow it becomes less and less scalable.

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"Catholic Portal" usability efforts

This page has become the home page for the usability efforts of the "Catholic Portal".

The Digital Access Committee had a conference call on Thursday, May 12. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss usability studies. The resources (time and money) required to do the studies was emphasized. Similarly, the need to have the studies done with the intended audience of the Portal -- upper-class man, graduate students, faculty, and scholars -- was also stressed.

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This is the home page for a mailing list called CRRA-Tech.

The Catholic Research Resources Alliance (CRRA) or "Catholic Portal" brings together data and metadata for the purposes of Catholic research and scholarship. This process is facilitated through a number of groups dealing with administrtive issues, collection issues, metadata issues, etc. CRRA-Tech is a mailing list intended to support and discuss the computer technology issues of the CRRA such as but not limited to the harvesting of content and metadata, the validation of content and metadata, indexing technologies, library "discovery systems", the programming languages (PHP, Java, Perl, and Javascript) used, log file analysis, casscading stylesheets, debugging tools, the role of open source software, etc. In short, CRRA-Tech provides a forum for discussing the computer infrastructure of the Portal.

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CATLA Spring Conference

On Friday, April 15 I had the honor and pleasure of giving a presentation to the Chicago Area Theological Library Association. This posting documents the experience.

[caption id="attachment_343" align="aligncenter" width="320"]To and from Berrien Springs (MI) To and from Berrien Springs (MI)[/caption]

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April 2011 Update

The CRRA April 2011 Update is now available at:

Highlights in this issue include:

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Digital Humanities Forum -- A Travelogue

This is the briefest of travelogues -- a description of what went on at the Digital Humanities Forum, February 24, 2011.

On Thursday, February 24, the Hesburgh Libraries and the Catholic Research Resources Alliance (CRRA) sponsored the Digital Humanities Forum. The purpose of the event was to raise the awareness of the digital humanities across campus just a little bit. To that end we hosted two speakers and a couple of hands-on workshops.

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CRRA All-Members Meeting: A Travelogue

Just about this time last week I was attending the CRRA All-Members Meeting in Philadelphia (March 29-30, 2011). This posting documents the experience.

slideshowThe Meeting began Tuesday afternoon, March 29, at Villanova University where attendees were treated to a number of show & tell presentations describing the digital library goings-on of the Falvey Library. Joseph Lucia began by listing a number of well-articulated reasons why open source software is akin to the values of librarianship. Most notably, he alluded to the Second Enclosure and the very real threats to the public commons. Other presentations outlined local digitization efforts using Tesseract, their institutional repository implementation, scholarly publishing with Open Journal System, and their newly released digital library software called VUDL. I am continually impressed with the work being done by the folks at Villanova. Administration has a vision, a plan, and puts the plan into practice. "We do things for the sake of scholarship... We collaborate and find partners." This approach to digital librarianship seems to me to be the best long-term strategy and ensures sustainability. It is not so much about getting more money but instead about setting priorities and allocating resources accordingly.

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Doing usability against the "Catholic Portal"

This posting describes a process for iteratively studying usability issues against the "Catholic Portal" with the expectation that it will be applied by each institutional member of the Digital Access Committee within the current calendar year. The posting is divided into the following sections:

This document is also available as a PDF document for printing, a second PDF document designed as a set of slides, and just for fun, an EPUB file for your mobile device.

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Usability results from Team Catholic Portal

This posting lists the results of a usability study done against the "Catholic Portal".

In a previous posting called "Usability testing" (dated February 14, 2011) a set of eight usability questions was outlined. Since then Team Catholic Portal here at Notre Dame facilitated six usability studies made up of five graduate students and one faculty member. These participants were scholars in philosophy and theology. We used the simple facilitator/note-taker approach. We employed usability software (Silverback), but didn't use it to evaluate our results. Using our notes as well as professional judgement, we evaluated the results and came up with the following prioritized list of things to be addressed with the Portal's interface:

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Goals for 2011/2012 draft

At our March 30 All-members meeting in Philadelphia , we will take a look at where we've been and where we are going.  The strategic draft plan:  Goals for 2011/2012 will guide our discussion.  You can have a sneak preview here:


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February 2011 Update

Please mark your calendars for the

March 30 All-Members Meeting and

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Join virtually the "CRRA/ND Digital Humanities Forum" Thursday Feb. 24

Dear CRRA members and friends,

Are you interested in learning more about Catholic digital scholarship and innovations in text mining and visualization to facilitate knowledge discovery within the Catholic portal?  Please join us virtually or in person this Thursday, Feb. 24 from 1:00 to 5:00 pm EST (noon Central, 10am Pacific).  For event details, see

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Usability testing

As we move the "Portal's" sandbox implementation into production we plan on doing some usability testing. Below are the question we will be asking:

  1. Identify the library or archive holding the papers of Dorothy Day.
  2. Find a record whose author is Graham Greene. Create an account, then add the Graham Greene record to your favorites, tagging it as "ggreene."
  3. Locate resources, including primary resources, on the Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice.
  4. Find a set of records on the topic of "Catholic social action." Choose 1-3 from the retrieved set and email them to yourself for future reference.
  5. Locate materials on the topic of sermons and the Lutheran church.
  6. Who owns "Our Sunday Visitor Records"? What telephone number would you call in order to schedule a time to visit the collection?
  7. Which library has the most French-language materials in the "Portal"?
  8. What is the most frequently used word in the pamphlet owned by Notre Dame entitled "Pastoral instruction for the application of the Decree of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council on the Means of Social Communication"? (hint: see the record with the call number BV 4319).
  9. How would you describe the overall scope of the collection?

Wish us luck.

Visitors' Info - February Digital Humanities Forum

Visitor Information

February 24-25, 2011 ND/CRRA Digital Humanities Forum

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CRRA Update January 2011

CRRA Update

In this update …

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Data warehousing Web server log files

I have begun to create a data warehouse for CRRA (VuFind) Web server log files. This posting introduces the topic.

The problem

There is an understandable need/desire to know how well the "Catholic Portal" is operating. But for the life of me I was not able to enumerate metrics defining success. On the other hand, Pat Lawton had no problem listing quite a few. Here are most of her suggestions:

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Really simple movies

I have created a set of really simple movies demonstrating the features and functions of the "Catholic Portal" -- Enjoy!?

CRRA/ND Digital Humanities Forum, February 24-25, 2011

Digital Humanities Forum
and Workshops
February 24-25, 2011

sponsored by
Hesburgh Libraries, the Center for Research Computing (CRC), and the
Catholic Research Resources Alliance (CRRA)

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VuFind, OAI-PMH, and the "Catholic Portal"

Without undue difficulty I have been able to harvest metadata from a ContentDM site via OAI-PMH, index the data in Solr, and successfully search & retrieve this metadata in VuFind all for the "Catholic Portal". This posting outlines how I did this and why it is important.


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