UCL Centre for Digital Humanities


Managing library collections with friends, favours and a spoonful of sugar

22 March 2017, 5:30 pm–6:30 pm

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UCL Centre for Digital Humanities
Gower Street
United Kingdom

The SOAS library holds over 850,000 printed items focusing on the study Africa, Asia and the Middle East regions.  Its archives and special collections holds primary materials documenting the British interactions with these regions. The Digital Collection holds over  20 thousand digital resources grouped into varied collections such as the Land of Braj, Old Kanembu Islamic Manuscripts, Ukiyo-e Art, and Palm Leaf Manuscripts.   In 2014, the Library Digital Services team was formed to enable the systems and tools used to manage the growing digital resources within the collections.  The key research tools available now are:  SobekCM, LAT, OLE, ePRINTs and VuFind.  These five systems are all open source.  The services they deliver, the SOAS Digital Collections, SOAS Language Archive, SOAS Library Catalogue and SOAS Research Online, have introduced a new way of working to the library.

The seminar will describe how the team has installed a web-scale discovery system that blends resources from these collections.  It will share the key challenges that arise when providing a service platform using purely Free and Open Source Software (FOSS).  There will be a detailed view of the process on becoming the first library in the UK to install Kuali-OLE (and the third in the world). And, a practical guide will be shared on participating in community groups, working with distributed soft-ware development teams, and linking your institutions' IT team with non-proprietary partners.  Time permitting, 'wait for the clunk' will be explained.

The slides from the seminar are available to view below


Claudia Mendias began her research training in eyewitness memory labs, this lead to a PhD in decision making and discretion in police decisions. In 1999, she transferred her knowledge of decisions and rationality to insurance underwriting.  Specifically, verifying  insurance risk calculator software.  This work lead to a range of system implementation/installation projects for call centres, HR and timekeeping,  student management, course development, and online examinations, among others. 

In 2014, she joined SOAS to help install the new Library Management System.  Now she manages the Library Digital Services team responsible for the SOAS Library Catalogue and the databases servicing it.