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Copyright Training for Staff task force tests CUL staff knowledge, supports Copyright Services

The Copyright Training for Staff task force (CTS) was one of several groups convened by the Scholarly Communications Working Group (SCWG) in 2018. In a survey distributed by SCWG at the end of 2017, CUL staff identified copyright training as one of the projects they’d be interested in the SCWG pursuing, and several volunteered to join the task force. The CTS team was led by Director of Copyright Amy Dygert, and also included Tabitha Cary, Jim DelRosso, Dianne Dietrich, and Caitlin Finlay.

The task force assembled for 90-minute monthly working meetings throughout 2018, charged with creating and administering a survey to CUL staff to test their knowledge of copyright.​ CTS didn’t want to make any assumptions about CUL staff knowledge, and in their day-to-day work task force members had witnessed a great deal of false confidence about copyright. By letting staff engage with questions about copyright, the task force would collect data that would either confirm what they’d seen anecdotally, or expose new trends for copyright training to address.

The task force reviewed several extant online quizzes for inspiration, and discussed their own personal experiences with gaps in faculty, staff, and student knowledge about copyright. This allowed them to categorize common copyright mistakes:

  • Copyright basics​
  • Public domain​
  • Fair use​
  • Exclusive rights​

CTS generated true/false questions about these topics and began work on the format of the quiz itself. Several different formats were tried and different quiz applications employed over a period of several months. During this time, the task force implemented two rounds of user testing with two different groups of CUL employees. The feedback received from those groups was crucial, with one of the most concrete reflections of that feedback being the inclusion of an “I don’t know” option on all questions. The task force wanted to make sure that a given true or false answer reflected real confidence on the part of the respondent, and felt it was important to word the questions so as to avoid “trickery” while accurately reflecting the law. Feedback from these tests also influenced the decision to move from Qualtrics to Google Forms, which provided an overall user experience that better fit the needs of the project.  

The final version of the quiz was deployed in July and August, to an enthusiastic response: 122 staff members took the quiz, representing 28% of CUL staff. The results confirmed the task force’s experiences from fielding colleague questions. For example, questions about copyright basics showed that staff had a general understanding that there are four different types of intellectual property, but were less knowledgeable about the details of each of those types. Similarly, it became clear that staff could benefit from training on topics including Creative Commons, the exclusive rights of copyright owners, and the University Counsel directive that CUL staff cannot tell a patron when fair use applies. 

Ultimately, the need for comprehensive copyright training for staff exists, and based on the original SCWG survey, the response to the CTS survey, and feedback received when these results were presented to the November R&O Forum, there is great enthusiasm and interest among staff for such training. In the coming year, the Copyright Services team will implement quarterly training sessions whose content will be informed by the task force’s work. The Copyright Training for Staff task force will also continue into 2019, providing support for that training, as well as looking at library websites that address copyright in order to ensure that staff are providing accurate guidance through those venues.

Happy Public Domain Day!

What is Public Domain Day (PDD)?  Simply put, it is an annual celebration observed on the first of every year, marking the expiration of another year of copyrights, such that the affected works enter the public domain.  When works enter the public domain, they become widely available for a range of uses, including online access, so every Public Domain Day gives us a set of new material that is freely available to the public, worldwide.

But for some decades, publications from the United States have been notably absent from works that have been freed during this annual event.  This is because of the affects of the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) of 1998, which had the net result of freezing the annual moving of US publications into the public domain for about two decades.  Copyright law is detailed and the details vary from country to country and over time.  Fortunately, Kevin Smith offers a good summary on OI of how the CTEA has affected US publications in their path towards the public domain.

HathiTrust has put together a collection of items of publications from 1923, some 53,409 books in all.  About 10,000 of these were already in the public domain, but the rest were in limited view due to copyright restrictions.  However, on January 1, 2019, the remaining ~43,000 were also moved into the public domain, without the effort or requirement of any HathiTrust partner institution.  Of these books, Cornell’s portion numbers almost 1,500 books.  By depositing our books in HathiTrust, we have enjoyed the curatorial oversight that this inter-institutional repository offers, and we have shared our books as widely as allowable by law with the world. I think a lot of people stand to win on this one, so Happy Public Domain Day to all!

Arts & Sciences Grant Awards 2018 Announced

As you probably know, with Oya Reiger transitioning into new roles at Cornell and with digital scholarship at large with Ithaka S&R, I will be joining Eric Rebillard (Classics) in the role of Co-Chair of the Visual Resources Advisory Group. I’d like to thank Eric for his continued leadership and collaboration on this program. It continues to be a rich connection between the library and the communities we serve.

We were delighted to receive fifteen strong proposals for the eighth year of the visual resources grants program and are pleased to support seven exciting projects, including two from graduate students. Through these initiatives, we’ll continue to expand our digital collections for research and teaching and contribute to the field of digital scholarship through the integration of new research methods, innovative data visualization, and tools that enable novel ways of analysis and interpretation. Read the Cornell Chronicle’s coverage here.

Continued thanks to Dianne Dietrich, in her role as DCAPS Coordinator, as she helped shepherd and scope proposed projects in wonderful ways. In working with the applicants, both faculty and graduate researchers, she ensured the library can both meet the goals of the researcher and keep its commitments as the steward of the digital content. As you well know, this balance is imperative in an ever-changing technical landscape. I also want to thank Agata Okulicz-Kozaryn (DCAPS Administrative Assistant), Jasmine Burns (Visual Resources Metadata Librarian), Tabitha Cary (RMC, Digital Projects Assistant), Melissa Wallace (UX Designer), Rhea Garen (CUL’s Imaging Specialist), Simon Ingall (Visual Resources Collections Coordinator) and the Cornell Conservation Lab for support through the process of scoping and budgeting.

Here are the awarded proposals:

Akwe:kon Press Collection

Investigator:  Jolene Rickard, History of Art and American Indian & Indigenous Studies Program (AIISP)

Collaborators: Urszula Piasta-Mansfield, AIISP

This project will digitize the entire publication of the Akwe:kon Press (1984-2002), a Cornell University and American Indian Program (AIP) initiated press that garnered the attention of Indigenous and human rights scholars. The Akwe:kon Press was authored by the first generation of Indigenous scholars with direct access and responsibility to the ongoing formation of Indigenous survivance and was one of the only sources in North America that provided this perspective.

Dynamic Breakthroughs in 20th Century Mathematics

Investigator: John H. Hubbard, Mathematics

Collaborators: Beverly H. West, Mathematics

The more we learn, the more we realize we do not understand (our take on a quote attributed to both Einstein and Aristotle). Computer graphics in the late 20th century brought a revolution to teaching and research in mathematics. Cornell was the forefront internationally in the study of dynamical systems, which includes differential equations and iterative equations, as well as complex dynamics, which expands on the popularized pictures from the Mandelbrot Set. But some of the most important outcome are not well known. Lest this history be forgotten, our collection captures the history and brings important resources to educators and researchers alike.

Excavations of the Maroni Complex, Cyprus

Investigator: Georgia Andreou, Classics

Collaborators: Sturt Manning, Classics

The Maroni Complex is a 2nd millennium BCE coastal settlement on the island of Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean. From its early exploration by the British Museum in the late 19th century to its scientific excavations in the 1980s and 1990s and its multidisciplinary investigation in the past 10 years with geophysical and underwater surveys, Maroni has attracted significant scholarly attention. The material recovered from the site comprises, among other things, an impressive number and variety of imported artefacts from international trade, along with evidence for a centralized agricultural economy, a large, still well-preserved, urban center, as well as extensive underwater remains.

Langtang Memory Project

Investigator: Austin Lord, PhD Candidate, Anthropology

On April 25th 2015, the village of Langtang in Nepal was destroyed by a co-seismic avalanche that killed over 300 people. Over the course of the past three years, the Langtang community has attempted to rebuild their lives while honoring the memory of those who were lost. The Langtang Memory Project is a collaborative volunteer effort that seeks to create a ‘living archive’ of Langtangpa culture and heritage, while supporting intergenerational dialogue about place, identity, and memory within the Langtang community. This project will fund local image and metadata creation in Langtang, supported by library imaging experts.

Nuclear Fallout Shelter Collection, 1959-1961

Investigator: Ji Hyun Lee, PhD Candidate, English

On August 6, 1945, the world changed forever: nuclear war became a possibility. The Nuclear Fallout Shelter Collection, 1959-1961, held by the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, contains pamphlets, booklets, and newsletters issued by the United States federal and state governments that instruct citizens on how to prepare for and survive a nuclear attack. Encapsulating the heyday of American civil defense, this collection is relevant not only as a piece of Americana but also as an investigative tool into the values and mores of the United States during the early Cold War.

Photographs & Travel Journals from the Hedda Morrison Collection

Investigator: Kaja McGowan, History of Art

Collaborators: Shorna Allred, Natural Resources

This collaborative project examines the cultural resilience of the Penan people in the state of Sarawak in northwestern Malaysia. Hedda Morrison spent 20 years living and working in Sarawak, starting in the late 1940s and she frequently returned to the region throughout the 1970s and 1980s. She began photographing the Penan at a time when they were still predominantly nomadic, but a shift to a more settled life is evident in later photographs. A selection of photographs from the Hedda Morrison photographs, [ca. 1950-1985] collection held by the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections were used to conduct ethnographic interviews with the Penan in 2018, aiding in the collection of stories, memories, and ecological and cultural knowledge from Penan elders.

Postcards of European Cross-dressers, 1880s-1920s

Investigator: Durba Ghosh, History and Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies

Collaborators: Leslie Adelson, German; Mitchell Greenberg, Romance Studies; Tamara Loos, History; Brenda Marston, Cornell University Library; Kristin Roebuck, History

At the turn of the twentieth century, postcards of men dressed as women and of women dressed as men circulated across Europe, as performers, musicians, dancers, and actors challenged (and reinforced) gender norms and binaries. This collection draws together French, German, and Swedish postcards held by the Divison of Rare and Manuscript Collections that represent different ways of performing gender. The images, as the one on the right, show bodies in various states of dress, undress, and redress, troubling the ways that clothing expressed a range of identities. The form of the postcard was public in that many were sent through the mail; the images, however, were taken in photography studios in intimate encounters between anonymous photographers and their subjects. The images play with depictions of race, colonialism, desire, and questions related to LGBT history. The collection supports research and teaching for gender and sexuality studies, performance studies, language and literature.


In addition to the grants program, the Arts and Sciences digitization program continues to support instructional needs by providing timely and convenient digitization services, especially for the History of Art and Visual Studies, Anthropology, Archaeology, History, Classics, and Music departments. By digitizing instructional materials and loading them into image databases, we provide campus-wide access to these resources in support of academic goals and allow their reuse and repurposing. We have a promotional schedule and have begun to target new faculty to build awareness of this and other library services.

On behalf of the Arts and Sciences Visual Resources Advisory Group, we would like to express our gratitude for your support of the program that fosters the use of visual resources in teaching and research through a range of creative and interdisciplinary digital scholarship collaborations. We welcome your questions and comments.

Best regards,

Tre Berney (Cornell University Library) & Eric Rebillard (Classics)

Co-chairs, Arts and Sciences Visual Resources Advisory Group


Invitation to Apply for CUL Fellowship (formerly Digital Scholarship Fellowship)

We are pleased to invite applications for the CUL Fellowship.  This year’s program builds on the Digital Scholarship Fellowship, which was hosted by the DSPS unit since 2012, by expanding it to all library programs. It aims to provide opportunities for CUL staff to expand their skills and experiences in developing, delivering, and assessing services and empower staff to explore gaps in their areas of expertise” and “promoting flexible staffing among the units.

The application deadline is April 6, 2018 for fellowship terms starting during August-October 2018 time-frame.

CUL Fellowship Ideas

Here are some examples of fellowship projects to consider (proposals on other topics are welcome, these are just examples):

  • Work with Assessment and Communication staff to conceptualize and plan a student-centered orientation program to enhance the student experience. Assessment results and communication principles will guide your work on re-envisioning this CUL-wide program and you will be able to rely on the Reference and Outreach Committee for additional guidance. Host: Assessment and Communication
  • Build on the Repository Executive Inventory Working Group’s  work (see by creating for a method to visualize this data.  CUL staff often ask for a way to understand and rationalize our repository environment; the inventory has a lot of information in it, but it is difficult to see and compare offerings in the spreadsheet alone.  This opportunity could include scoping, design and/or actual building of the visualization.  Host: Digital Scholarship and Preservation Services
  • Collaborate with the Digital Scholarship and Preservation Services staff to design and conduct a comprehensive survey of CUL digital assets – characterizing them in terms of origin (born-digital/digital analog) aggregate size, content type, security class (sensitive information or not/rights and/or rights clearance information), and stakeholder requirements for access, discovery, etc. The intent would be to triage these towards various preservation solutions as needed based on the significant properties of the materials involved, surface gaps in our fabric of repositories, and support any appropriate recommendations. Host: Digital Scholarship and Preservation Services
  • Metadata facilitates resource discovery across the library as well as many other services supported at CUL. To empower staff to gain further expertise in metadata practice, Library Technical Services is offering CUL colleagues the opportunity to apply for a fellowship in metadata design, management or operations for MARC and/or non-MARC metadata. Examples of potential projects include: Performing batch processing of MARC metadata with existing tooling (e.g. LSTools); Clean and enhance existing Shared Shelf metadata to adhere to application profile and enhance user experience through use of tools (e.g.: OpenRefine) or scripting languages; Model metadata for existing repository or digital collection challenge experienced at your home unit; Review data in external environments (e.g.: Wikipedia) and define reuse cases for enhancing discovery locally. Host: Library Technical Services 
  • Instruction and instructional materials, such as workshops for colleagues or patrons, LibGuides, online tutorials, and more, are critical to enabling success for scholars at all levels, as well as to providing opportunities for staff development. Olin/Uris Research and Learning Services staff invite those with technical expertise in a variety of areas to apply for a fellowship to work with RLS instructional specialists to develop instructional capacity and materials in a variety of areas, particularly those that support various aspects of digital scholarship, productivity, and information management. Possible topics of focus for the development of workshops and/or instructional materials include, but are not limited to: Generating OCR; Managing image files; Using Excel for managing non-numerical information; Creating a basic Access database. Host: Olin/Uris Research and Learning Services
  • Assess the needs of CUL selectors, Library administration, and other stakeholders in CUL collection development and management for collections metrics and analytics. Collections data analysis can help to improve the quality of CUL’s collection and the alignment of collecting activity with the needs and strategic directions of the University; it can identify cost savings and inform decisions about the allocation of library resources. This project would entail determining who in the Library needs collections data to answer which questions and identifying potential sources of relevant cost, usage, and demographic data to address high-priority needs. The project would also produce recommendations for the useful analysis of collections data to support routine collection development decisions, periodic reports, internal and inter-institutional collaborations, special projects, etc. Host: Scholarly Resources

These are just some examples to illustrate the nature of fellowship projects. Other ideas related to any of the CUL programs and goals are welcome. 

For More Information About the Program:

  • Interested CUL staff members are encouraged to discuss the fellowship position with their supervisors first.
  • If you have questions regarding the HR arrangements and funding please contact Lyndsi Prignon at <>.
  • Issues related to the program areas, potential projects, and the scope of the fellowship should be addressed to Oya Rieger <>.
  • Oya Rieger and Lyndsi Prignon will be glad to talk with interested staff and their supervisors about  logistical details such as making back-up arrangements and ways to accommodate the candidates’ existing responsibilities and goals.

Application Information:

  • We will have 2 positions open to CUL staff with 6-month, part-time (0.25 FTE) terms.
  • Although there are no prerequisite skills required, the candidates need to be familiar with the recent trends and practices related to the program of interest.
  • To apply, send a copy of your CV to with a cover letter describing the program areas of interest and expectations from the fellowship.
  • The applications will be reviewed by a small committee with input from the candidate’s supervisor.
  • The application deadline is April 6, 2018 for fellowship terms starting during August-October time-frame.

Digital Scholarship Fellows, 2012-2017

During the last six  years, DSPS has been very fortunate to host several excellent fellows, all very motivated, creative, and resourceful.  We are grateful for their contributions and hope that they found the experience useful and gratifying. They are available to talk with interested parties about their fellowship experiences.

Here is a brief description of their fellowship projects and their titles and affiliations during their fellowship:

Jim DelRosso, Hospitality, Labor, and Management Library

JimDelRosso_headJim’s fellowship  focused on digital repositories. His primary goal was to work with DSPS and stakeholders around CUL to craft a digital repository policy that addresses questions of software, workflow, collection development, and sustainability, while fulfilling the need for both straightforward access to and robust preservation of the items stored in CUL’s digital repositories.  As a component of his fellowship, he contributed to the efforts in creating an agenda for the newly established Repository Executive Group and became the first chair. Jim’s DSPS fellowship was for one year at 0.25 FTE.

Dianne Dietrich, Physical Sciences Library, EMPSL

DianneDianne joined the team of our NEH-funded project on Preservation and Access for Digital Art Objects as the lead Digital Forensic Analyst. This project represented a collection-wide investigation of preservation and emulation strategies for complex born-digital media. Dianne led the project’s technical team and helped develop preservation workflows that would be a baseline for CUL digital forensics services in the years to come.  As a part of her fellowship, she has been representing the project at national forums and conferences. Dianne’s fellowship was for two years at 0.5 FTE and continued as CUL’s digital forensics specialist at 0.20 FTE.
Erin Eldermire, Research and Assessment Unit

ErinEldermireheadErin’s goals for the DSPS fellowship were to contribute to the development of the library website; to explore assessment-related issues for CUL’s digital collections; and to learn from the members of the DSPS Unit towards her future career as a librarian.  In her DSPS Press   blog, she shared her thoughts on how the Library can enable users to employ a simple search box such as Google, while still allowing them to dive into our vast collection. Erin’s fellowship was for six months at 10 hours/week.

Steven Folsom, Library Technical Services

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 12.26.31 PMSteven’s primary goal was to identify and develop strategies for improving discovery and access of CUL’s content archived in HathiTrust, including outreach and community building (e.g., communication with HathiTrust and data aggregators about interoperability opportunities). He also contributed to the CUL’s efforts to migrate the DLXS-based image databases to other systems such as HathiTrust, Hydra, and SharedShelf. Included in his goals was engaging in the CUL efforts to assess Omeka/Spotlight/Drupal as platforms for creating web-based exhibits and rich-media collections. Steve’s DSPS fellowship was for one year at 0.25 FTE.

Noah Hamm, Mann Library

Noah_Hamm_jan2014Final_jpg_crop_displayDuring his fellowship, Noah was interested in exploring how GIS and visualization techniques and tools are being used in supporting humanities research and teaching, in collaboration with the library staff interested in digital humanities programs. He also was involved in a campus-wide group to survey AV preservation needs across Cornell by conducting stakeholder interviews and gathering data about the condition and value of digital content. His fellowship term was 6-month, 12 hours/week.

Hannah Marshall, (formerly) Library Technical Services

hannahHannah Marshall has assumed a 0.25FTE, 5-month term to coordinate the Digital Consulting and Production Services (DCAPS) during the DSPS reorg transition stage.  Currently she is coordinating the DCAPS operation and works closely with the DCAPS team members to facilitate communication. She has been instrumental in coordinating the outreach process for the Arts and Sciences Grants Program. She also networks with stakeholders such as library subject specialists to make sure that there is sufficient user input to support the development efforts.


Gail Steinhart, (formerly) Mann Library

GailAs the first DSPS fellow,  over the course of her one year fellowship with DSPS (2012-2013. 0.5FTE), she chaired a newly formed group to address issues related to the management of Cornell’s electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs), including facilitating discussions with the Graduate School, which led to a revised set of embargo options that will be implemented when upgrades are made to the online submission tool used by graduate students to submit their theses ETDs. She reviewed and reported on the results of a pilot project examining the use of Johns Hopkins’ Data Conservancy to host data sets associated with papers uploaded to arXiv, led the production of a white paper examining current approaches to digital repositories within CUL, and contributed to other DSPS efforts such as educating librarians on current issues in scholarly communication (with particular emphasis on research data management and sharing). Finally, she led the development of a collaborative grant proposal to the Institute for Museum and Library Services with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Columbia University and CalPoly, to develop and share a set of best practices for collecting, documenting and disseminating the research data of faculty nearing retirement.

Jeff Piestrak, Mann Library

Co-sponsored by the eXtension Foundation, Jeff’s one year .2 FTE “Land Grant Informatics” fellowship identified ways institutions like Cornell might more seamlessly and effectively link people, technology and information in support of our Land Grant mission and the communities we serve, on and off campus. Drawing on his own background and a diverse global network of researchers, educators and practitioners (including Cooperative Extension), Jeff focused on how an informatics approach might specifically support healthy, resilient food systems. His final report is available on eCommons. A complete record of his work including a blog series can be found on the eXtension website here: Jeff is now applying and expanding on research from his fellowship through graduate studies in Community and Economic Development at SUNY Empire State College, with a concentration in Social and Community Informatics.

Marsha Taichman, Fine Arts Library

Marsha’s fellowship addressed the lifecycle and workflows of digital projects. The Digital Consulting & Production Services (DCAPS) unit of DSPS knows how to create digital image collections, but we have a lesser understanding of how digital collections are being used based on quantitative data (such as statistics on site use from Google Analytics and Piwik) and qualitative data (such as focus groups and personal interviews). In Marsha’s DSPS fellowship, she assessed how digital collections were being used with these data points as metrics. She also examined how we promote our digital collections, and created a checklist for how we can systematically spread the word about new collections when they are launched and thereafter. The checklist can be found here, as an appendix to the project report: Marsha’s DSPS fellowship was 8 hours a week for 6 months.

A day in the life of the arXiv admin team

The arXiv administrator team handles the 500-600 new article submissions that come into arXiv every day (double that on Mondays). When a user sends a paper to arXiv it goes through a series of checks to detect technical issues with the paper and also to make sure it meets our moderation standards. The administrators shepherd this process by responding to automated technical flags and communicating with our volunteer moderators who consider the classification and quality aspects of articles. We are also sending a constant stream of email to users in response to their questions or if we find issues with their papers.

In addition to those new papers, we have 300-400 daily submissions that update existing papers, either for replacement versions, journal references, or withdrawal requests. Each of those types of submissions are also checked to make sure they are well formed and appropriate.

Working on a system that has evolved over 25 years involves a workaround or two and different components working in parallel to complete some tasks. We jump from our user support email, to our submission discussion system used by moderators, to perl scripts for metadata and postscript fixes, to debugging LaTeX.

100% of the submissions are sent through our automated checks. We also eyeball the metadata for every submission. Typically around 15% of submissions get ‘fixed’ with some human curation, either cleaning up the metadata, classification changes by our moderators, or asking the user to fix technical issues. A small portion of submissions end up getting rejected from arXiv. It is one of those jobs where the vast majority of our effort is spent on a fairly small number of problem submissions. For most arXiv users our work, and that of our 160 volunteer moderators, is invisible. We get emails everyday from authors who are surprised to find out that not only can papers be delayed but that their own paper has been held up.

While our goal is rapid dissemination and to address all issues in a single day there are a variety of reasons why papers may be delayed. Some submissions just need an extra day or two for our volunteer moderators to look them over. Some raise challenging questions that we discuss at our weekly team meetings and may involve extensive discussion with our moderators.

For especially complex technical, policy or legal questions we can tap other members of the arXiv team. We work closely with Gail Steinhart, Cornell Scholarly Communication Librarian and arXiv Program Associate, on author disputes, developing best practices for user support, user engagement/testing, and researching copyright questions. We chat daily with arXiv’s developers for user reported bugs or to help answer user questions about bulk data access. Challenging policy issues may escalate to Steinn Sigurdsson, our Scientific Director.

On a daily basis the work has a mix of the fascinating and the mundane. We repeatedly see the same issues over and over, such as the author not noticing that their references did not appear to compile correctly in the final PDF (likely because they tried to upload references in bib format rather than bbl). While much of the technical help we provide, such as fixing TeX errors is routine, we also get some zingers that are fun to dive into and figure out. We also get drawn into challenging situations. We continually facilitate discussions with moderators and authors about what is ‘acceptable for arXiv’, professional ethics, scientific discourse, and arXiv moderation standards and transparency.

What is the arXiv admin team up to today? Amanda Bartley, arXiv Administrator, is working on user support. She had a hum dinger this morning of disentangling user accounts for what turned out to be an unauthorized proxy submitter which is against arXiv policy. Rebecca Goldweber, arXiv Associate Administrator, has been responding to system flags and following the moderator discussions, including a rare case where moderators from different subject areas both thought the paper best fit into their field. Jake Weiskoff, Senior arXiv Administrator, has over time become our resident TeX-spert . He has been debugging papers and working on a project to improve our process for fixing TeX accents in the metadata.

One of the big motivators for our team is the exciting developments in the communities we serve. We get caught up in the buzz of discovery as it happens. There is great sense of connection and commitment that comes from working alongside arXiv’s 170 moderators who volunteer their time and expertise every day for the benefit of arXiv users. We also have professional interest in the evolving communication needs of the scientists. In our desire to continually improve arXiv as a tool for the community we are thrilled by the major upgrades underway to arXiv’s infrastructure. We have an extensive wish list for improving the system and many feature requests from users that were not feasible in our legacy system but are making their way into planned updates.

~ Jim Entwood, arXiv Operations Manager

(Originally posted on the arXiv blog)

Meet the People Behind eCommons

We provided a short history of eCommons in a previous post. Now we’d like to introduce you to the staff who keep things running! I should note that we also get occasional help on special projects from other folks in Metadata Services, CUL-IT, and the UX group, but this is the core “all the time” team.

Mira Basara: eCommons administrator and user support, batch upload support

  • Years with eCommons: 11
  • Other projects I work on: packaging books for HathiTrust ingest, metadata and image correction in HathiTrust, HathiTrust User Support, LOCKSS box administration, Optical character recognition (OCR) creation, part of team for Archivematica implementation.
  • Favorite eCommons collection or item: New York State Integrated Pest Management Program.

George Kozak: eCommons administrator and developer, technical support

  • Years with eCommons: 15
  • Other projects I work on: many library digital collections as well as Samvera, ArchivesSpace, Scholars@Cornell and server administration.
  • Favorite eCommons collection or item: Internet-First University Press: Multimedia and Videos.

Wendy Kozlowski: eCommons data curator and metadata specialist

Chloe McLaren: eCommons administrator and user support

Gail Steinhart: eCommons service manager, liaison to Graduate School for ETD processing, backup for user support and administration

And you can reach ALL of us anytime at

~ Gail Steinhart, Scholarly Communication Librarian

Updates from Digital Consulting & Production Services (DCAPS) – January 2018


Your idea + our technical expertise = a great digital collection

Grants Program for Digital Collections in Arts & Sciences

We are pleased to announce the ninth round of the Grants Program for Digital Collections in Arts and Sciences, a program funded by the College and coordinated by the Library. The goal is to build enduring digital resources in support of scholarly and teaching activities in the College of Arts and Sciences, and at Cornell in general.

This program is open to all Arts and Sciences faculty and post-A exam graduate students.
Express initial interest by February 16, 2018 | Application deadline is March 16, 2018

See list of past awards.



Through the Arts & Sciences Teaching Digitization program, Cornell University Library will digitize various material types in support of teaching, for instructors within the College of Arts & Sciences. This service includes metadata creation and online delivery of images, audiovisual, and other visual resources. This is a free service to the College faculty and researcher, and aims to support the teaching mission. For more information, please contact us at


Featured Collections

U.S. President’s Railroad Commission Photographs

The U.S. Presidential Railroad Commission was established by executive order in 1960 to consider a disagreement between railroad carriers and their union-represented employees. To support the position that firemen were necessary to have aboard diesel locomotives, unions asked members to document their workplaces. These photographs present us with a remarkably complete picture of the railroad industry at that time, as well as the surrounding towns and cities serviced by the railroads.
This collection is housed within the Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, and was processed and digitized with the help of generous funding from the National Historic Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).



Vicos Collection

The Vicos Collection documents collaboration between North American social scientists and some 360 peasant households in the northern Peruvian highlands between 1952 and 1965, illuminating critical variables of cultural change in the region. This digital collection includes over 2,000 images and papers selected from the Allan R. Holmberg Collection on Peru, which is housed in the University Archives in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections. |

arXiv Update

We are pleased to post our annual arXiv update to report on our 2017 accomplishments and share plans for 2018. During 2017, we witnessed another important milestone as arXiv logged its one billionth download. We recently added Electrical Engineering and Systems Science (EESS) and Economics (Econ) as new subject domains. During 2017, the repository saw 123,523 new submissions and over 187 million downloads from all over the world.

Based on a series of vision-setting processes that were held during 2016, in 2017 we have embarked on the next-generation arXiv (arXiv-NG) initiative with a cornerstone grant of $450,000 from the Sloan Foundation to improve the service’s core infrastructure. The ongoing Phase I planning activities (December 2016-May 2018) aim to evaluate different scenarios for the overall development and replacement process, settle on a specific one, and initiate technical development work. Based on our evaluation, we have decided to pursue a strategy of incremental and modular renewal of the existing arXiv system (“Classic Renewal”), rather than building an entirely new system and migrating to it.

Since we started the arXiv sustainability initiative in 2010, an integral part of our work has been assessing the services, technologies, standards, and policies that constitute arXiv. The 2018 Roadmap includes our goals as we strive to improve the technical infrastructure, moderation system, user support, and the sustainability framework. Please see a full version of the 2018 Annual Report for additional information.

A Brief History of eCommons

A lot of eCommons history is ingrained in institutional memory, so I thought I would take a stab at documenting it a bit. Much of what follows was gleaned from a 2008 white paper by the CUL IR task force, whose members included Terry Ehling, Peter Hirtle, Eileen Keating, George Kozak, Mary Newhart, Joy Paulson, David Ruddy, John Saylor (chair), Gail Steinhart, Patrick Stevens, and Glen Wiley. I’ve also passed this by a couple of eCommons veterans, but take responsibility for any errors or omissions (and welcome corrections!).

The first CUL-developed repository resembling something like an institutional repository was the Cornell University Library Technical Reports and Papers system, begun in 1999 and built on an early version of the DPubs platform. It was originally populated with content from the Networked Computer Science Technical Reference Library (NCSTRL), which had been hosted by Cornell’s Computer Science Department. Faculty were encouraged to deposit to the CUL-based repository, regardless of departmental affiliation, though few outside of CS chose to do so. Eventually the collection was migrated into CUL’s current general purpose IR, eCommons.

In 2002, Bob Cooke (then Dean of Faculty) secured funding from Atlantic Philanthropies to develop an institutional repository for Cornell on the open source DSpace platform, and we called our local instance simply “DSpace” for several years. The stated objective of the proposal was to “stimulate a fundamental reshaping and enhancement of the way research universities and their faculties function by creating an economical vehicle for openly-shared access to formerly inaccessible, but intellectually-rich digital resources, and by implementing affordable alternatives for more formal scholarly publishing.” Cooke himself was an enthusiastic and early contributor, establishing the community “Internet-First University Press (IFUP).” He also actively promoted the use of the IR to faculty; I recall watching him give his pitch at a CALS Department chairs meeting around 2005. Cooke continues to contribute to this day, primarily materials related to the history of Cornell and its faculty (including an extensive collection of faculty interviews).

In 2007, with Atlantic Philanthropy funding exhausted, John Saylor (then AUL for Scholarly Communication and Collections) convened the task force referenced earlier to review the status of the IR and make recommendations to senior library leadership for its continued support. At that time the repository was renamed “eCommons” and got a cosmetic makeover.

Since then, eCommons has grown to hold nearly 50,000 items, and now supports a much wider range of uses than originally anticipated. Here’s a quick sampling of some of the more important and distinctive collections in eCommons:

In a future post, we’ll introduce the team that keeps eCommons running. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to contact us with questions or comments.

~Gail Steinhart, Scholarly Communication Librarian

CUL Kaltura: Audiovisual and Accessibility Developments

As many of you may remember, DCAPS manages the Library’s installation of Kaltura, a platform for online delivery of audiovisual content. Kaltura allows users to store, catalog and publish videos and other media collections on the web. Included in our Kaltura installation is MediaSpace, a YouTube-like interface for discovery and delivery of media stored in Kaltura. In addition to MediaSpace, embedded, streaming media from Kaltura is also delivered through other Library websites, such as eCommons and Digital Collections.

We’d like to alert you as to new accessibility features and documentation for the Library’s Kaltura instance and how it interacts across the discovery landscape. Melissa Wallace (UX Designer, DSPS) created an FAQ page for Kaltura and MediaSpace that explains how to upload content into MediaSpace and how to engage with DCAPS to achieve your streaming content goals for delivery.

Through a new version of Kaltura, we can now use ASR (Automatic Sound Recognition) technology to create captions for any newly deposited content. These caption files will live in the Library’s Kaltura Media Console along with the AV files themselves and can be downloaded and edited on your local computer, or in your browser through MediaSpace.

Tre Berney, along with Karl Fitzke, Sean Taylor, Erin Faulder and Evan Earle, have been working with Mann Library and IT@Cornell to create workflows for Cornell-created content to be preserved in the University Archives in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections. This has been going smoothly and will be reviewed in the coming months.

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) below for more information about

Kaltura, or contact us at with any additional questions.

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