Together, we are developing an affordable, open-source, and collaborative institutional repository solution based on the Hyku software.
- Recent Feature Highlights for Hyku Commons
(Contribution by Nicholas Stanton-Roark.)
The past couple of months have been a whirlwind of development. In December the upgrade from 2.1 to 4.1.0 was finalized and the attendant bugs addressed; in the same month we finished a mini-sprint of enhancements mostly related to long-standing bugs; and in January we finalized a request order for metadata enhancements based on community feedback.
In this post, we want to highlight some of the features that have undergone significant improvement in the past couple few months.
For some time, the collections that appear on each repository homepage have been beyond anyone’s control. Frequently, editing a collection would cycle it off the homepage—but not always. There was no reliable way to control which collections would appear on the homepage except to limit the repository to only a few collections.
This has been addressed by replacing the random collection placement with a Featured Collection panel on the homepage. Collections can be toggled to be featured/unfeatured from the collection view page, just as works can for the Featured Works panel. Once featured, collections can be reordered on the homepage by any admin user.
Previously, the search bar built into the collection page only searched the titles of works and required an exact string match even then. We have addressed this by building a full solr database search into this field. This means that searches from that central search bar work as a typical user would expect: it searches all fields and contents (including OCRed text) of works and subcollections within the collection.
For some time, the batch edit function on the Works dashboard has been bugged, returning an error message when attempted. We have repaired this functionality, and multiple works can be edited by selecting them from the dashboard and clicking the Edit Selected button. From this screen, information shared by the selected works will appear in the relevant fields, and new data can be supplied to fields and will update all selected works simultaneously.
The Hyku Commons homepage has had a renovation, greatly improving the look and feel as well as the clarity of the shared repository space. Whereas the previous, placeholder homepage was very static, this presentation dynamically displays a variety of directory images as they are toggled from unlisted to public.
By navigating to Settings → Appearance → Favicon, users can set a custom favicon image for their tenant. If you often have 30-50 tabs open at any time, we expect you will find this helpful going forward.
New analytics visualizations and information have been added to various dashboards. In particular, a new Analytics section contains a Works report and Collections report, with some configuration and export options.
With the upgrade came the capacity for us to support cross-tenant searching. This will include a Hyku Commons wide search (of public tenants, not unlisted ones), with a search bar to be added to the Hyku Commons homepage, but will also permit more custom shared searches.
This is only a cross-section of the work that has been done in recent months, but these are some broad changes we want to make sure stakeholders don’t miss. See our patch notes document for more granular information about enhancements and bug fixes. We’re looking forward to bringing metadata improvements shortly!
- PALSave Textbook Creation Grant program releases first open textbook, “The Bible and Music”
What do works like Handel’s “Messiah” and Bach’s “Passions” have in common with contemporary songs like Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” or Kendrick Lamar’s “How Much a Dollar Cost?”
Like much of the world’s favorite music, these songs draw inspiration from biblical stories, and a new, free and open textbook published by the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI) offers a unique learning approach to the subject.
In “The Bible and Music,” the first open textbook published with a grant from the PALSave: PALNI Affordable Learning program, author James McGrath, Ph.D., Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, explores the intersection of faith and music while inviting readers to experience the material firsthand through interactive video and audio clips.
“The chance first to teach a course on the Bible and music, then write a cutting-edge textbook on the topic, has been a dream come true,” says McGrath. “My career has been in the academic study of the Bible and religion. Alongside that has always been a love of listening to and playing music I never did anything with professionally, but that has been profoundly important to me nonetheless. Teaching the course provided the opportunity to figure out how best to explore this intersection for an audience that may not have a background with either the Bible or music. Writing the book has given me the opportunity to share what I have learned and what I teach, and to make it available not just for my future students, but anyone interested.”
“The Bible and Music” offers what no previous textbook on the subject has before. It provides readers with an overview of the highly influential—yet sometimes surprising—connection between song and faith, with material dating back from ancient Israelite music and the musical notation in ancient Hebrew manuscripts, to the reception of the Bible in classical, rock, hip hop, country, and other genres of today.
Offered digitally, it is the first textbook of its kind to engage readers in actively listening to the subject matter as they follow the readings. Best of all, it does this as an open educational resource (OER), meaning it costs readers—primarily college students and their instructors—nothing.
McGrath was one of the first open textbook authors to apply for and receive a PALSave Textbook Creation Grant from PALNI in 2021. Offered to faculty from PALNI-supported institutions, the grant allows educators to develop open textbooks that are freely available online, making them part of a nationwide effort to reduce the cost of course materials for college students. Financed with support from Lilly Endowment Inc., each grant provides a maximum of $6,500 per project or $5,000 per author.
As an inaugural grant recipient, McGrath agreed to have his book serve as the pilot project for the entire Textbook Creation Grant program. Since the release of McGrath’s book, there are now eight grant-funded titles in production with seven additional titles to be selected for creation in March 2023.
“It is extremely rewarding to see faculty authors like Dr. McGrath, who is so committed to creating high quality, low-cost course material, receive funding for a project and then see it come to fruition,” says Amanda Hurford, PALNI Scholarly Communications Director. “It is because of these educators that textbook affordability is becoming a reality. PALNI is grateful to them, and to our funding organization, Lilly Endowment, for enabling us to support them in the process.”
PALNI’s OER Publishing Task Force, including Project Manager and Butler University Librarian Jennifer Coronado and PALNI Publishing Project Coordinator Heather Myers, supported the creation of the book.
“The Bible and Music” by James McGrath is available for free through the PALNI Press.
Visit PALSave: PALNI Affordable Learning online to learn more about Textbook Creation Grants and other OER opportunities offered through PALNI.
About the PALSave Textbook Creation Grant Program
With support from Lilly Endowment Inc., PALNI’s PALSave Textbook Creation Grant Program awards funding to faculty members from PALNI-supported institutions to create open textbooks.
Faculty are periodically invited to submit creation grant proposals for the courses they teach. Textbooks may cover any discipline at the undergraduate or postgraduate level. PALNI seeks proposals for textbooks geared toward specific fields of study that meet the inclusion criteria for the Open Textbook Library.
The PALNI Open Educational Resource (OER) Publishing Task Force selects projects for funding based on proposal quality, clearly defined goals, need within the current open access body of work, and adoption potential within PALNI schools and beyond.
PALNI coordinates peer review, copyediting, layout, and hosting services to assist grant recipients in their textbook creation. Each textbook is also supported by a local project manager to monitor progress and answer questions throughout development. The open textbooks are published on the PALNI Press-supported Pressbooks platform alongside other faculty-contributed works and are ultimately submitted to the Open Textbook Library and OER repositories.
About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family — J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli — through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. More information can be found at www.lillyendowment.org.
About the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana
The Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI) is a non-profit organization that supports collaboration for library and information services for 24 colleges, universities and seminaries throughout the state. From its inception in 1992, the PALNI collaboration has been a key avenue for its supported institutions to contain costs while providing more effective library services. More recently, PALNI has adopted a model of deep collaboration that pools resources and people as a tool to expand services while keeping costs down. PALNI’s board of directors, composed of all 24 library deans and directors from the supported organizations, convened a Future Framing Task Force in 2019 to address ongoing demographic challenges in higher education. The board has escalated this work in the wake of COVID-19, as the consortium seeks to manage the increased need for online support while reducing costs. Simultaneously, PALNI is expanding collaboration within its institutions and with external library partners to address challenges and build cost-effective services. Visit the PALNI website for more information.
PALNI Supported Institutions
Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary | Anderson University | Bethel University | Butler University | Concordia Theological Seminary | Christian Theological Seminary | DePauw University | Earlham College | Franklin College | Goshen College | Grace College | Hanover College | Huntington University | Manchester University | Marian University | Oakland City University | University of Saint Francis | Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College | Saint Mary’s College | Saint Meinrad’s Seminary and School of Theology | Taylor University | Trine University | University of Indianapolis | Wabash College
- 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.”
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, LG-36-19-0108.
- Hyku Commons User Experience Report
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:
- Identifying issues with existing Hyku Commons repository interfaces and workflows
- Identifying needs for library/end-user metadata customization
- Creating specific suggestions for improvement and enhancements
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.
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.”
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.