First PALS Islandora Community Workday

First annual workday: Empowering our community 

The PALS Islandora community held our first annual workday at Minnesota State University-Mankato on Thursday 4/27/2017.   A few of our partners were not able to make it, but we had a great turnout.

Everyone had a lot of energy and eagerness to discuss a number of issues from workflow to records management and how to manage access to objects in Islandora.   We also had a great tour of MSU-Mankato’s ARCHives.

Islandora workday tour.jpg

Pictured left to right: Pam Gladis (Southwest Minnesota State University), Hayley Jackson (Luther College), Jolie Graybill (Minitex), Alyssa Inniger (Bethany-Lutheran College), Ryan Gerde (Luther College), Steve Roos (Minnesota Water Research Digital Library), Michael Collins (MSU-Mankato), Heidi Southworth (MSU-Mankato), Kendall Larson (Winona State University), Anne Stenzel (MSU-Mankato)

Workflow management

Anne Stenzel from MSU-Mankato led a great discussion on workflow.  Her slides are available here.

MSU-Mankato probably has the most developed and tested workflow from our group.   They lean heavily on student workers and we recommend taking a look at their slides if you are considering or able to use student help.

Training students/engaging students: Tips from MSU-Mankato 

MSU leans on their student help a lot.  Often they will have specialized cleanup projects for student workers.

MSU likes to start by showing their students what they are working on.  On the first day they get to simply explore Arch and see what the end product is of the work they will be doing.

They also start small with training, and do “chunks” to get students started.  They recommend that students start with just 10 objects (photographs, or negatives).  A lot of 1-1 time is recommended.  MSU-Mankato focuses a lot of training on teaching students the description of a photograph, answering the question “What is this photo?”

In their ingest forms MSU-Mankato has a lot of links out to further documentation and helpful resources.

A big bonus is that MSU-Mankato is able to tell by logins which students are entering which objects.  This is especially useful in catching errors and keeping track of students’ progress.

MSU-Mankato also lets the student decide what to start with – something easy or hard? They also hold fun contests throughout to encourage, and make it fun.  In this space it’s OK to chat and laugh.  MSU-Mankato believes that the more engaged you are with the students, the more you will get back from them.

Developing workflows

Luther College is developing workflow for ingesting their newspaper, the College Chips.  Currently they are uploading the master to OwnCloud for a backup, converting original PDFs to TIFFs, and then saving the TIFFs at the optimal resolution and clarity for loading into Islandora.  This is a bit tedious, but easy, and will give the best clarity in Islandora and also provides the best setting for OCR which is needed for the full text searching.  See this document for our recommend settings.  Luther College has not yet done in-house digitization.

Bethany Lutheran College does not have a workflow for born-digital objects.   For physical material, they have an intern cut up yearbooks for scanning, which are then saved to that computer, and then exported to Dropbox as a backup to Islandora.  They would like to have additional backup as well (perhaps just external hard drives).

One takeaway is that workflow is always changing, but there is a lot more focus on developing it now than before our partners started using Islandora.  They have more support and do not have to focus as much on the day-to-day work freeing up their time for other work.

Scanning equipment examples 

What scanning equipment you use can impact workflow in different ways.  It will often depend on the software you use and what steps you need to take to save a format, what formats you can save, and how you can export them/store the digital files until you are ready to ingest them into Islandora.

MSU-Mankato has lots of equipment and formats.

Their scanners are:

  • Microfilm: ST Imaging STI 3
  • Images: Epson Perfection V850 Pro
  • Books: Fujitsu fi-7160
  • Oversize: Epson Expression 10000XL


  • Microfilm: S-T ViewScan Premium
  • Images and Oversized: VueScan 9 x 64 (9.5 74)
  • Books: PaperStream Capture 1.0.8

A note: An equipment replacement schedule can be helpful, to ensure that computers get upgraded.  This is essential because with older machines, the ports may no longer work.

Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, MN has the largest scanner in our community.

Bethany Lutheran College uses Fujitsu for their scanner, and 1 overhead scanner, which can do up to 600 dpi.   PALS recommends using either 300 dpi or 600 dpi depending on the material.  600 dpi will end up with a clearer image online, but will take more storage space.  300 dpi is not as clear but takes up a little less space.

Important to backup

PALS supports and encourages a consensus reached during the discussion:  That in addition to the strong preservation tools Islandora brings, it is important and good practice to have preservation copies elsewhere as well.  One never knows what might happen and backing up is encouraged practice.

Another consensus reached is that server space is highly valuable, and that it would be a good idea to integrate records management into your digitization workflows.  This can really help identify priorities for backup and help ensure that space is not wasted on unnecessary material.

Building support for records management

Building support and obtaining buy-in for records management policies can be difficult! One approach is to remind people that “We are here to help you…follow the rules…”  What records management can really do is help people figure out how to organize and save their digital records.  There are so many different ways to do so and so many different formats available it can easily get overwhelming.  Records management can help alleviate the stress of worry about which records to save or how to store them.

Try to get embedded into IT practices.  Early collaboration between IT and the Library can really help build support for records management.

Another way to build support is to talk with administration assistants (they often know a lot about the digital files and how they are stored and what should be kept) as well as Department Heads.

Our community also recommends starting with Departments already using records management.  This will help you move forward, and continue conversations.  Other Departments can become aware through these conversations.  When people start to run out of physical or virtual storage space, they will hopefully be aware of the records management policy from these earlier conversations.  Or they may contact you only when it becomes an immediate problem.

One way to raise awareness of records management is to have a space on campus and hold mini seminars/webinars on the topic.  This can work really well to help educate faculty, staff, and others.

A good records management policy and digital asset management solution can really help ease problems with messy storage practices.   These initiatives can lead to cleaning up a lot of data that doesn’t need to be saved, clearing up precious storage space.


Everyone was excited to get the chance to meet in person and talk.  Webinars and online meetings do work, but there is something about being in the same space together that really allows conversation and ideas to spark.

As a group the community decided that they would like to hold an annual workday each year, at different locations throughout the state, to allow everyone the chance to attend.

PALS will hold topic-focused webinars about every two months.   The next one may continue the topic of records management, or workflow.

The community also decided that PALS will continue to act as its representative to the larger international Islandora community, though some did express interest in perhaps attending an Islandora Camp or Conference.

PALS staff will also write a quarterly newsletter regarding the Islandora community and news from our own partners.

Our goal is to move everyone forward into becoming a true collaborative, innovative community that will help ensure that Islandora remains a strong viable solution.


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