Grace Swinnerton Appointed New Visiting Librarian for Digital Library Program and Institute for Veteran and Military Families

Grace “Gigi” Swinnerton was recently appointed as Syracuse University Libraries’ new visiting librarian for the Digital Library Program and Institute for Veteran and Military Families (IVMF). This position is a one-year appointment. Swinnerton recently obtained her master’s in library and information science from Syracuse University and was a member of the Libraries’ first Information Literacy Scholars cohort. While a graduate student, she worked as peer manager of the IVMF student library team and has played a lead role in developing the IVMF Digital Resource Library, an index of locally produced and curated content. She will be presenting at the Dublin Core™ Metadata Initiative (DCMI) 2021 virtual forum in October with other student team members around their work on the topic “Maximizing Interoperability through Metadata: a Student Initiative.”  In her position, Swinnerton will continue to develop the IVMF Digital Resource Library while gaining competencies in digital library work, especially around the institutional repository and how it relates to and synthesizes practices in digital stewardship and digital scholarship.


Libraries Creates Department of Digital Stewardship

Syracuse University Libraries recently created the Department of Digital Stewardship as the next step in the ongoing development of its Digital Library Program. The new department will enhance organization-wide focus on a variety of specialized, digital activities and the necessary infrastructure to ensure persistent access to our unique digital collections. The newly formed department supports the campus community by efficiently managing the Libraries’ digital collection initiatives through the entire digital curation lifecycle. Déirdre Joyce, who has served as head of the Digital Library Program, will now also assume responsibility as the Head of Digital Stewardship. Other initial team members include Suzanne Preate, Digital Initiatives Librarian, and Sarah Pohley, Library Technician for Digitization. Three additional permanent positions are currently being recruited that will fall within the Department of Digital Stewardship once filled: Digital Content Coordinator, Digital Preservation Librarian, and Metadata Strategies Librarian.  

“A solid digital library rests on the twin pillars of digital scholarship and digital stewardship. Digital scholarship supports teaching and learning through the active curation of digital collections, including digitizing and describing locally held materials to create digital objects, making these available to end users. Digital stewardship coordinates and manages the activities and infrastructure related to the production, description, maintenance, preservation, and delivery of the Libraries’ unique digital resources so they can be available to users for years to come. One activity is essentially public facing, the other more behind the scenes, but both are equally necessary to ensure success. With creation of the Libraries’ Digital and Open Scholarship Team within the Department of Research and Scholarship in 2020 and now the Department of Digital Stewardship, we are better able to address both pillars to support the growing needs of University research and teaching in this area,” said Scott Warren, Associate Dean of Research Excellence.

“Activities as critical as ensuring platform and object accessibility, coordinating digital preservation and digital production, creating and implementing metadata strategies, managing repositories and processing of digital collections now all have the same home within the Libraries’ organizational structure,” said Déirdre Joyce, Head of Digital Stewardship and the Digital Library Program. “Our newly formed team will build on many years of successful digital projects and initiatives, for example the Marcel Breuer Digital Archive; Belfer Latin American 45s; and  SURFACE, our institutional repository, which serves as an open access digital repository for faculty, staff, and student scholarship as well as a publishing platform for several open access journals, published here at SU.”



Libraries to Adopt Quartex, an Adam Matthew Digital Platform, for its Digital Collections

Syracuse University Libraries recently selected Quartex as its new platform for in-house digital collections. Quartex, designed by Adam Matthew Digital, is a flexible and responsive hosted digital asset management platform with extensive front-end capabilities that enables organizations to showcase, share and celebrate their archival materials with a global community of users. Déirdre Joyce, head of the Libraries’ Digital Library Program, led a comprehensive review of digital collection platforms before the Libraries chose Quartex. With Quartex, the Libraries will provide a more user-friendly system for students and scholars to use their’ unique digital materials. The first collections published will likely include materials from the Special Collections Research Center’s (SCRC) Plastics Collection Area, Glass Plate Negatives from the University Archives, and selections from various holdings related to Central New York social reformer and abolitionist, Gerrit Smith. Users may expect to see digital collections on the new platform by fall 2021, with a projected completion date by 2023.

Syracuse University Libraries has an established relationship with Adam Matthew Digital and, along with utilizing the Quartex digital collections platform, acquired most Adam Matthew published primary resource collections in 2020, adding a significant amount of interdisciplinary content for the Syracuse community.

“Adoption of this new platform will make it easier for Syracuse students and faculty to use our important collections in their courses and research,” said Déirdre Joyce. “In addition, we are working with the Quartex team to take advantage of innovative enhancements to their product, including greater platform accessibility, integration with third-party media players, expanding capabilities in the creation and use of transcript files for handwritten and audio-visual assets, and other practices that will enhance our digital stewardship work.”

The Libraries needed a system with an intuitive user interface, powerful tools to build and publish collection sites, and a platform that could host their diverse and complex multi-format digital objects. Using Quartex, their Digital Collections will become more discoverable and searchable thanks to improved metadata, Handwritten Text Recognition technology, and full-text searching of audio-video transcription files. The Handwritten Text Recognition functionality improves searchability of content using algorithms and artificial intelligence, marking a significant upgrade in user experience. Finally, Quartex will offer additional, multiple entry points into the world-class special collections and archival content held by SCRC – along with other locally-curated digital materials – that enhance teaching and learning.


Special Collections Research Center Launches Latin American 45s Digital Collection

Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC), working in partnership with the Digital Library Program (DLP), recently launched the Belfer Latin American 45s Digital Collection. The digital collection will eventually provide access to over 12,000 recordings that date from the 1950s to the early-1960s and include many rare and little-known issues on small independent record labels from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Mexico, the United States, and elsewhere.

This major digitization project to preserve and make accessible this unique collection began in 2017 as an early partnership with the Libraries’ newly launched DLP. As a result, images of record labels and covers in the collection, as well as basic descriptions of the recordings, are now publicly available online. New images and audio files will be added to the collection on an ongoing basis as recordings are digitized over the next several years.

Primarily sourced from 45-rpm discs, the digital collection encompasses a wide range of musical genres, including merengue, bolero, guaracha, cha cha, Pachanga, mambo, and others. It also includes a large selection of salsa recordings from the 1970s, reflecting the origins and development of that musical genre. Recordings were selected from The Bell Brothers Collection of Latin American and Caribbean Recordings, which is housed within  the Special Collections Research Center. Max and Joseph Bell, the owners of Bell Music Box, a New York City record store, were avid collectors of Latin and Caribbean Music. In 1963, Syracuse University acquired the entire inventory of the Bell Music Box store. The acquisition constitutes the bulk of Latin American 45-rpm discs in SCRC’s Belfer Audio Archive.

The digitization was also made possible by several generous financial gifts, such as those from Elias Savada, for sound digitization and preservation.

“One of our greatest priorities as stewards of the rare and unique materials that comprise Special Collections Research Center is preservation. Our other priority is making these collections accessible,” said Petrina Jackson, Director of Special Collections Research Center. “We are delighted to be able to provide access to sound recordings through this digital collection to researchers and our SU community.”

For more information, watch the Libraries’ virtual event recording that outlines the process of creating the Latin American 45s Digital Collection.


Virtual Event on Teaching and Learning with Digital Library Program, Featuring Architectural Working Drawings

Syracuse University Libraries’ Digital Library Program will host a virtual event on Friday, October 16, 2020 at 12 p.m. EST to discuss how it supports the University’s mission of teaching and experiential learning through digital projects. The program will include a behind-the-scenes look at the Libraries’ Digital Production Unit, which supports digital imaging requests and in-house digitization projects such as the Architectural Working Drawings.

This virtual event will highlight learning experiences from a graduate student’s perspective, along with how a School of Architecture professor will use the architectural working drawings to teach.

The Digital Library Program comprises an interdisciplinary team of professionals from across the Libraries who come together to commit their time and talent in spearheading a variety of digital initiatives that spotlight the richness of the Libraries’ myriad collections and enhance the Libraries’ campus partnerships.

This program is the second in a series about the Digital Library Program and how it engages with partners and colleagues to bring the University’s hidden, unique content into the digital light. The program is open to the public. Advance registration is required by emailing libevent@syr.edu with your name and email. The Zoom link will be sent to registered attendees in advance.

If you require an accommodation, please indicate in your email.


Virtual Event on Digital Library Program and Special Collections Research Center: Building the Latin American 45s Collection

Syracuse University Libraries’ Digital Library Program will host a virtual event on Wednesday, September 23 at 4 p.m. EST to discuss how it is partnering with the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) to build the Latin American 45s digital collection. Through cross-department partnerships, the Digital Library Program is providing campus access to the University’s unique digital offerings while promoting their innovative reuse and exploration through teaching and learning.

This virtual event will highlight the challenges around the digital stewardship of rare and unique materials and share examples of current projects, including a multi-year effort to digitize, describe, and preserve the Bell Brothers Collection of Latin American and Caribbean Recordings, due to be released for the campus community as a stand-alone digital collection through a newly designed portal in Fall 2020. The virtual event will include a behind-the-scenes look at SCRC’s Belfer Audio Laboratory and Archive, home to the first studio ever designed solely for audio preservation.

The Digital Library Program comprises an interdisciplinary team of professionals from across the Libraries who come together to commit their time and talent in spearheading a variety of digital initiatives that spotlight the richness of the Libraries’ myriad collections and enhance the Libraries’ campus partnerships.

This program is the first in a series about the Digital Library Program and how it engages with partners and colleagues to bring the University’s hidden, unique content into the digital light. The program is open to the public. Advance registration is required by emailing libevent@syr.edu with your name and email. The Zoom link will be sent to registered attendees the day prior.