Together, we are developing an affordable, open-source, and collaborative institutional repository solution based on the Hyku software.


  • PALNI and PALCI continue to remove barriers to Hyku adoption with IMLS grant

    Midway through funding period, project organizers have completed UX research and major system upgrade, with the Consortial Institutional Repository Toolkit in production

    The Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI) and The Partnership for Academic Library Collaboration & Innovation (PALCI) are midway through a 2-year, $248,050 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to support Hyku for Consortia: Removing Barriers to Adoption. With this award, granted in 2021 as part of the National Leadership Grants for Libraries Program, the partners are increasing the flexibility, accessibility, and usability of Hyku, the multi-tenant repository platform system.

    Why Institutional Repositories?

    Repositories are a critical piece of library infrastructure, enabling access to many types of digital materials created by an institution’s students, faculty, staff, and researchers. Libraries, cultural heritage institutions, and other organizations also use repositories to provide access to digitized special collections.

    In the face of continued budgetary pressures, libraries seek cost-saving approaches to their work. Due to costs or other constraints, those unable to deploy Institutional Repository (IR) services are increasingly looking to consortia to serve this role. This project specifically advances Hyku to support the repository needs of library groups by increasing affordability and flexibility in a scalable, multi-tenant environment.

    “This grant has provided the foundation for PALNI and PALCI to apply open source software, new business models, and collaboration to remove barriers to widespread adoption of repository software,” says Kirsten Leonard, Executive Director for PALNI. “Thanks to this award and the critical feedback provided by our pilot participants—including those from partnering consortia VIVA and LOUIS—we have made progress in building and sustaining an open, community-led repository service that has the potential to impact thousands of libraries. We leverage the advances in the Samvera open source community and contribute our advances back to the community through our developer, Software Services by Scientist.com.”

    “We place a high value on the opportunities for innovation, collaboration, cost savings, and agency that come from community-owned infrastructure and solutions like Hyku,” says Jill Morris, PALCI Executive Director. “It frees us to define scaled solutions in ways that proprietary software and fully outsourced solutions can’t. The Hyku community is active and vibrant, allowing us to partner and take advantage of momentum happening in other projects. It also puts libraries back in the driver’s seat as they make technology choices about how and where to store, discover, integrate, and access their digital assets and materials.”

    The first year of the project culminated with PALNI and PALCI making significant progress on their initial goals to:

    • Produce a comprehensive gap assessment for Hyku, focusing on the barriers to adoption.
    • Complete user-focused development sprints tightly scoped around high-priority features of the system.
    • Create a toolkit to share with other library groups considering collaborating on a repository.

    Engaging the User Community

    The partners completed extensive user experience (UX) research with UX firm Samhaeng. Pilot participants identified barriers and had a central role in defining, reviewing, prioritizing, and approving the features of the Hyku service that are being developed. 

    “Engaging with the Hyku Commons community is key to achieving the major goals for Hyku for Consortia,” says Amanda Hurford, PALNI Scholarly Communications Director. “Together, the ‘PALs’ have built a user community to identify gaps in Hyku, deduplicate work, and encourage sharing of solutions across institutions.”

    That community includes pilot participants from two other major consortia, VIVA and LOUIS, bringing the total number of Hyku Commons tenants across all four partnering consortia to 50. The UX research report, combined with user satisfaction surveys, is the basis of the project’s gap assessment report, which informs development decisions by directly addressing the needs articulated by these stakeholders. 

    “The support and responsiveness of the grant team to VIVA member pilot institutions has made the Hyku for Consortia project a joy to work on,” says Genya O’Gara, Acting VIVA Director. “VIVA has already gained a deeper understanding of the breadth of needs across the consortium and what future functionality would allow for a broader range of institutional engagement. With the recent release of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) advancing open repository principles, this work couldn’t be more timely—it is more critical than ever that we support the development of open repository solutions that are community-led, scalable, and sustainable for a wide range of academic library types.”

    “The Hyku for Consortia project team’s community-building efforts around Hyku have been especially beneficial for LOUIS pilot members as they’ve tested the platform,” says Laurie Blandino, Associate Commissioner and Executive Director for LOUIS. “Monthly meetings to go over product developments and updates, as well as open discussions about repository practices and policy development, have enabled LOUIS’s member institutions to learn and share best practices with a wide range of academic libraries. The development of local collections of faculty and student works helps our members demonstrate their value to higher education in accordance with LOUIS’s strategic plan. It is essential to the development of such repositories that affordable, user-friendly platforms with robust support are available to meet the vastly different needs of our member institutions. The Hyku for Consortia project is a welcome addition to the institutional repository landscape.”

    User-Driven Enhancements

    In addition to completing initial UX research, project organizers recently concluded a major system upgrade from Hyku 2.1 to Hyku 4.1. Launched in November, the upgrade includes improvements to analytics, featured collections and cross-site search functionality, and an enhanced index and homepage. Other previous developments include improvements to bulk import and export workflows, an area defined as a high priority by users. Developments were completed in partnership with Software Services by Scientist.com (SoftServ), an open-source software development firm and long-time contributor to the Hyku project. 

    “This upgrade has brought in many desired enhancements, especially in areas where users noted room for improvement, such as reporting analytics, as well as many ‘quality of life’ improvements for repository administrators,” says Nic Stanton-Roark, PALNI’s Institutional Repository Project Coordinator and Archivist at Anderson University. “We look forward to our continued work addressing gaps identified by our user community. We expect metadata flexibility to be the next area for development post-upgrade, as suggested by the first satisfaction survey and UX report.”

    The project’s next phases include continued UX research and data collection to identify and assign priority to other gaps in functionality, especially those that present a barrier to Hyku adoption. Emphasizing the goal to help other consortia and library groups stand up a Hyku instance, the partners are creating a Consortial Institutional Repository Toolkit that will provide guidelines, documentation, and other materials to support the development of similar collaborative repository services.

    For more project information, news and updates, visit the Hyku for Consortia website.

    About the Institute of Museum and Library Service

    The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

    About the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana, Inc. (PALNI)

    PALNI is a non-profit organization supporting collaboration for library and information services to the libraries of its twenty-three supported institutions. Over time, the library deans and directors who sit on the PALNI board have adjusted the organization’s strategic direction as the internet and information services landscape has changed. PALNI has expanded beyond providing a resource management system to sharing expertise in many areas, including strategic planning, reference, information flue, outreach, data management, and configuration, and has identified greater collaboration in acquisitions as a key goal. www.palni.edu

    About The Partnership for Academic Library Collaboration & Innovation (PALCI)

    The PALCI organization was originally founded as the ‘Pennsylvania Academic Library Consortium, Inc.,” and was formed in 1996 as a grassroots federation of 35 academic libraries in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Today, PALCI is known as Partnership for Academic Library Collaboration & Innovation, with membership consisting of 74 academic and research libraries, in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, and New York. PALCI’s mission is to enable cost-effective and sustainable access to information resources and services for academic libraries in Pennsylvania and surrounding states. PALCI Members serve over 800,000 students, faculty, and staff at member institutions, through a variety of programs, including the highly-regarded EZBorrow resource sharing service. PALCI also serves as the home for the Affordable Learning PA program, creating a community of practice for open textbooks and related educational resources. https://palci.org

    About LOUIS: The Louisiana Library Network

    LOUIS is a consortium of public and private college and university libraries in the state of Louisiana. This partnership was formed in 1992 by the library deans and directors at these institutions, in order to create a cost-effective collaboration among the institutions for the procurement of library technology and resources. We are currently forty-seven members strong.

    About VIVA

    VIVA is the academic library consortium serving 71 nonprofit higher education institutions in Virginia, including 39 state assisted colleges and universities, 31 independent private, nonprofit institutions, and The Library of Virginia. VIVA’s mission is to provide, in an equitable, cooperative, and cost‐effective manner, enhanced access to library and information resources for Virginia’s academic libraries serving the nonprofit higher education community.

    About Scientist.com

    Scientist.com’s mission is to empower and connect scientists worldwide. By transforming the way scientific research is performed, our Science as a Service® platform accelerates discoveries that cure disease, address climate change and help secure global food and energy supplies. We combine sophisticated AI technology with white-glove Research Concierge® support to enable researchers to run more innovative experiments faster and cheaper. Scientist.com acquired Notch8, a San Diego-based company offering application and software development services, in 2022. The acquisition of the company—now called Software Services (SoftServ)—enabled Scientist.com to begin offering web services—such as web and mobile application development, code audits, framework upgrades, deployment optimization and monitoring and support—to its existing global network of researchers and service providers.

  • Improving Bulk Import and Export in Hyku

    (Feature photo by Pixabay.)

    Introduction

    Back in 2020, we wrote a duo of blog posts about bulk upload: part one examining the background of batch operations and why they are challenging, and part two talking about our specific work selecting and installing the Bulkrax importer tool into the shared Hyku for Consortia repository Hyku Commons. Today, we are writing about the wrap-up of a recent development sprint to improve Bulkrax importing and exporting.

    In the user satisfaction survey performed at the kickoff of the Reducing Barriers to Hyku Adoption IMLS grant, we found that “Uploading and creating works in batches” was one of the areas that users were least satisfied with. The recent UX report on Hyku Commons administrative functionality similarly highlighted batch workflows as an area requiring attention.

    In order to respond to user feedback about batch/bulk import, and to further add functionality for users to be able to export data, Hyku for Consortia worked with SoftServ (formerly known as Notch8) to complete a development sprint around import and export.

    Process

    Over the spring and summer of 2022, SoftServ upgraded Hyku Commons’ Bulkrax utility to introduce several functional improvements and bug fixes. They also improved the ingest data display, particularly resolving inaccuracies around the number of entries processed, entry failure, and the total number of entries. The import status message was also corrected to indicate when imports are successful and to provide a link to the imported work.

    Before: Inaccurate Item Link text
    After: Link to the successfully imported Work

    SoftServ also introduced improvements to Bulkrax’s export functionality and user interface. According to Hyku for Consortia’s specifications, the ability was added to export all descriptive metadata, available provenance, administrative data, and structural and technical metadata needed to reconstruct works if available. Also added was functionality to export digital objects and their thumbnails, as well as a complete manifest of downloaded materials using a bagit integration.

    Results

    In summary, this sprint resulted in the following for Hyku Commons:

    • Upgraded Bulkrax functionality and bug fixes
    • Fixes to the display of inaccurate import data and status messages
    • Ability to export data necessary to reconstruct works
    • Metadata export for works, items, and collections
    • Export of digital objects and their thumbnails
    • Bagit integration for export

    The Hyku Commons User Guide and Training Video Playlist are being updated to reflect the new Bulkrax importer and exporter functionality.

    Next Steps

    We will continue to support our users’ utilization of import/export, and note any problems and suggested improvements. Soon, we will re-survey Hyku Commons users regarding their satisfaction, and we hope to see improvements in the area of “Uploading and creating works in batches” based on the completed work. We also invite other Samvera users to take advantage of the Bulkrax improvements sponsored by Hyku for Consortia.

    Further next steps for our project are to continue working on the development sprint currently underway — an upgrade of our instance from Hyku 2.1 to 5. This sprint will bring forth many desired improvements, including improved reporting analytics, which was another where users expressed dissatisfaction. We look forward to providing Hyku Commons users with improvements in this area.

    Continuing data collection is taking place in order to identify and assign priority to other gaps in functionality, especially those that present a barrier to Hyku adoption. We expect metadata flexibility to be the next area for development post-upgrade, as suggested by the first satisfaction survey and UX report.

    IMLS logo

    This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, LG-36-19-0108.

  • Hyku Commons User Experience Report 

    Introduction

    Early in 2022, the Hyku for Consortia team started working with Samhaeng, a UX (user experience) firm out of Denmark.  As part of the Reducing Barriers to Hyku Adoption 2021-2023 IMLS grant, we commenced the first official phase of user research with this partnership. This phase focused on Hyku administrative functions in PALNI and PALCI’s shared multi-tenant installation of Hyku, which we refer to as Hyku Commons. Samhaeng produced a UX report for the purposes of:

    1. Identifying issues with existing Hyku Commons repository interfaces and workflows
    2. Identifying needs for library/end-user metadata customization
    3. Creating specific suggestions for improvement and enhancements 

    Process

    After meeting team members to get a scope of the project and introduction to our setup, the consultant, Filip Jakobsen (CEO and founder of Samhaeng), held four in-depth interviews with Hyku Commons users to see how Hyku is used in their environment, listen to ideas for improvement, and even to co-design some solutions.

    Results

    The report starts with an acknowledgement that users are generally happy with using the software.  

    “…even though this report focuses on the many points of constructive criticism given by users, the overarching message from users was that the data input workflows in the software work quite well for them already.”

    The report provides helpful contextual overviews of the software ecosystem and worker setups.  Several points of feedback are presented in the areas of Public UI (user interface), Staff data input UI, Settings and configuration UIs, and Non-UI aspects of the system.  

    Candidates for further research suggested are: 

    • “Work type” templates workflow
    • “Work” public page layout
    • Multi-Value input workflow
    • Workflow for adding of additional data for items
    • Batch workflows

    It ends with a suggestion to continuously involve users in development decisions:

    “I encourage you to continue running a process that gives users a central role in defining, reviewing and approving the features that are prioritized and developed.”

    View the report in its entirety here (30MB download). 

    Next Steps

    The next step for the Hyku for Consortia team is to synthesize the feedback provided in this report into a gap assessment.  This gap assessment will also include satisfaction survey data, comments from the user community Basecamp forum and meetings, as well as legacy suggestions from earlier phases of the project.  This is currently taking the form of a spreadsheet sorting enhancement requests into the following buckets: Metadata, Workflow, and Front-end User Interface.  

    Following the completion and sharing of the gap assessment, we will gather additional quantitative (via surveys) and qualitative data (via focus groups) about needs and priorities in each of these areas from the Hyku Commons User Group, as well as ascertaining which gaps are true barriers to adoption.  Our team will then create user-informed decisions about upcoming development sprints based on this research, and we encourage others working in this space to advance the defined priorities as well.

  • What Do Hyku Users Think? Hyku Commons Satisfaction Survey Results

    Feature image by Lukas from Pexels

    You can download this report here.

    Introduction

    In the fall of 2021, as part of our 2021-2023 IMLS grant, the Hyku for Consortia team surveyed users of the collaborative Hyku Commons Repository. The survey gathered baseline data about satisfaction with the Hyku Commons platform and service overall, administrative functions, front end user interface, and support/training provided.

    We provided a PDF preview of the questions, and used Google Forms as our data collection instrument. The survey had 16 questions, which were a combination of Likert scale and open ended response. A total of 15 responses from PALNI, PALCI, LOUIS, and VIVA users were recorded, and the anonymous survey results are provided below. We very much appreciated this feedback to help us determine future directions for Hyku. We plan to check back periodically with users to gauge improvement.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to report an increase in satisfaction as a result of the developments made throughout the IMLS-supported grant project.

    Overall Satisfaction

    The vast majority of users reported that they are either Satisfied or Very Satisfied  (80% combined) with Hyku Commons overall.

    Hyku Administrative Functions

    Most users report that they are either Satisfied or Very Satisfied (48% combined) with Hyku’s administrative functions.

    There are many Haven’t evaluated this or Not Sure responses (42% combined), likely due to the fact that several of our users are new to piloting Hyku and/or haven’t taken a deep dive into all the administrative functions.

    Users were most satisfied with Uploading/creating single works, Uploading/creating works in batches, and Adding works to collections, as seen by the number of Very Satisfied responses below.

    When looking at Very Unsatisfied, Unsatisfied, and open-ended responses together, we find that users are least satisfied with Existing metadata templates (worktypes), Uploading/creating works in batches, and Repository statistics. 

    The three Very Unsatisfied responses recorded were for Describing/editing works in batches, Availability of repository activity statistics, and Availability of other repository statistics. The number of Unsatisfied responses are presented below.

    The bulk of the open-ended responses called for improvement to administrative functions, and specifically called out the need to customize both metadata and administrative tools.

    Open-ended response categoryNumber of responses
    Metadata customization8
    Repository statistics6
    Uploading/creating works in batches3
    Admin customization3

    User Interface

    Most users report that they are either Satisfied or Very Satisfied (63% combined) with Hyku’s end-user interface.

    There were also several Haven’t evaluated this or Not Sure (23% combined)  responses in this category.

    Users were most satisfied with Usability, Digital object presentation, and Customization options for site design, as seen by the number of Very Satisfied responses below.

    When looking at the Very Unsatisfied, Unsatisfied, and open-ended responses together, users were least satisfied with Searching and search results, Metadata display, and Customization options for site design.

    The two Very Unsatisfied responses recorded were for Metadata display and Customization options for site design. The number of Unsatisfied responses are presented below.

    Some open-ended responses called for improvement to the user interface, especially Customization options for site design.

    Open-ended response categoryNumber of responses
    Customization options for site design3
    Digital object presentation1
    Searching and search results1
    Metadata display1
    Usability1

    Support and Training

    Slightly more than half of users report that they are either Satisfied or Very Satisfied (51% combined) with Hyku Commons support and training. A little less than half reported Haven’t evaluated this or Not Sure (49% combined) responses in this category.

    Users were most satisfied with Documentation and Help with troubleshooting, as seen by the number of Very Satisfied responses below.

    There were no Unsatisfied responses in this category, although there was one open-ended response requesting screenshots/visuals to be added to the documentation.

    Discussion

    It’s interesting to note that users expressed both satisfaction and dissatisfaction with some features, for example: Uploading/creating works in batches and Customization options for site design. This will require more investigation to understand fully, but we suspect that users may be happy that a feature exists, but unsatisfied with quirks with its workflow; and/or users might be satisfied with the usability of a feature, but wish it were more customizable.

    The data provided by this survey has directly influenced our plans for the next phase of development. We are currently in discussion with developers at Notch8 to implement the following:

    • Allinson Flex (a gem providing the building blocks for customizable metadata in Hyku)
    • Analytics work from the Oregon Digital project
    • Improvements to the Bulkrax bulk import tool. We are also planning to add export functionality.

    The Hyku for Consortia team will continue to collect and evaluate both informal and formal feedback on Hyku, and we’ll prioritize future development cycles based on user priorities. We have also started working with Samhaeng, a UX firm out of Denmark, to start our first official phase of user research. This phase will focus on Hyku administrative functions and will produce a report of recommendations for improvements in this area. Stay tuned for more updates!

  • Hyku Accessibility audit published on the Hyku for Consortia Shared Repository

    The completed accessibility audit for Hyku that Notch8 undertook in preparation for work with The University of Tennessee Knoxville has been released. The audit was conducted on Hyku 3.0 via the PALNI and PALCI Hyku for Consortia application.

    For more information and a link to the full report, visit the full write-up at the Hyku blog.