Hey! You! Get into our (Dura)Cloud!

DuraCloud logo

The Weinberg Memorial Library’s got a brand new cloud – and unlike Mick Jagger’s, on ours, not even two terabytes are a crowd.

Thanks to our new partnership with DuraCloud, the master files from our digital collections are now being preserved in a more robust repository, where we can monitor the health of our bitstreams, discover and repair any corruption or damage, and automatically back everything up offsite in Amazon S3 and Amazon Glacier cloud storage.

This is a pretty important step up for us. Since our beginnings in 2008, our digital collections have expanded from 0 to 1.75 terabytes (that’s about 1,792 gigabytes!), with no signs of stopping anytime soon. At that scale, it was getting difficult for us to manage our own local and remote backups, and we were quickly running out of local storage space. The move to DuraCloud not only smooths out our workflow, it also gives us plenty of room to grow for the future.

As an added bonus, thanks to interoperability between DuraCloud and our Archive-It web archiving service, all of the web content that we capture for preservation from University-related sites will be automatically backed up in DuraCloud, too.

All of these changes are on the back end, so users won’t notice any difference – you can still search and browse our digital collections at www.scranton.edu/library/digitalcollections.

Archiving the University Web


Thanks to combined support from the University of Scranton’s Academic Affairs and Planning and Information Resources divisions, the Weinberg Memorial Library has partnered with Archive-It (a subscription service from nonprofit Internet Archive) to capture and preserve University-related websites for the enduring future.

Part of the Weinberg Memorial Library’s mission is to “preserve and promote the history of the University,” and our University Archives has long collected and preserved photographs, documents, and other records from the past.

Increasingly, though, our students, faculty, and staff communicate using dynamic digital media instead of paper or film. For example, the University’s undergraduate catalog is no longer a print publication but a database, and instead of finding printed newsletters in our mailboxes, we get our weekly University news digitally via Royal News. And unfortunately, this kind of web content is surprisingly vulnerable to digital degradation and loss over the long term.

We could preserve a paper version of that dynamic information (say, by printing out Royal News each week) or take a PDF or image screenshot of it, but in doing so we’d lose its interactivity and searchability. Ideally, in the future we’ll want to be able to access archived web content the same way we access it now — that is, by browsing and searching.

That’s where web archiving comes in. Archive-It’s web archiving service allows us to crawl and capture web pages in ways that preserve their dynamic and functional aspects – including active links and embedded media like images, videos, animations, and PDF documents.

We’re certainly not the first ones to recognize the importance of web archiving in higher education. 97 other colleges & universities have already signed on with Archive-It, including fellow Jesuit universities Georgetown, Creighton, and Marquette, and fellow Pennsylvania schools Penn State, Drexel, and Bucknell. Several universities have created web archives that document important topics or events, like the American University in Cairo’s January 25th Revolution project or the University of Virginia’s collection of web and social media content relating to the resignation and reinstatement of President Teresa Sullivan.

Here at the Weinberg we plan to focus our early web archiving efforts on our own University web content (like our main website and our athletics site) and the University-related social media sites (like our YouTube channel and many Facebook pages) where our community shares its stories. Over time, as we develop expertise (and hopefully secure recurring funding!), we’ll work with faculty to identify and explore the possibility of collecting external websites relevant to current and future scholarship at the University of Scranton.

Our first step, though, is to seek input from our campus community regarding what is most important to preserve for the future. We invite members of the University community to send us questions, concerns, or suggestions. Take a peek at our first experimental crawls, and let us know if you’d like to be involved in web archiving at the University of Scranton!

Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine has some snapshots of the University website dating back to 1998. With Archive-It, we can periodically and systematically capture and preserve the entire University website – and any other related web content our community needs.

Preserving Your Family Memories – Workshop

There’s still time to register for our last Technology on Your Own Terms workshop of the semester! All faculty and staff members are welcome, but please let us know you’re coming by signing up at www.scranton.edu/ctleregistration (under Technology On Your Own Terms).

Preserving Your Family Memories: Part II  (Digital)
Thursday, April 5 from 12:00pm – 1:00pm in WML305

Increasingly, we capture moments to remember in digital rather than physical format: we document our lives in digital photographs, videos, social media, email, and websites.  In this workshop, Digital Services Librarian Kristen Yarmey will introduce you to the concept of digital preservation.  We’ll talk about common misconceptions (for example, why digitizing your photos is not the same as preserving them), some of the major challenges involved in maintaining digital files over time, and some basic strategies you can take to help make your digital memories last.  A light lunch will be provided. (Taught by Kristen Yarmey, Weinberg Memorial Library)

(Image courtesy of Flickr user ehpien, under a Creative Commons license)

Preserving Your Family Memories – Workshop

Next week is our spring break, and even though our students will be gone, the rest of the University will still be open and working. This year, we decided to take advantage of the  break as a good time to host one of our Technology on Your Own Terms series workshops.  While we usually focus on forward-looking emerging technologies and how we can create and explore new information, we thought it would be interesting to take a different view this time and learn about how we can preserve existing information.   In a two-part workshop, we’ll examine how to preserve physical records (Part I) and digital records (Part II) of your personal and family history.

Preserving Your Family Memories: Part I (Physical)
Tuesday, March 13 from 12:00pm – 1:00pm in WML305

Special Collections Librarian Michael Knies will discuss the basic preservation problems relating to personal collections of books, photographs, negatives, personal papers, audio/visual recordings, and other paper-based collectibles.  Limited attention will be paid to three dimensional objects. Proper storage and handling will be emphasized. A light lunch will be provided. (Taught by Michael Knies, Weinberg Memorial Library)

All faculty and staff members are welcome, but seats are limited, so please register for sessions you plan to attend at www.scranton.edu/ctleregistration (under Technology On Your Own Terms).